BMW having trouble shifting back into 1st gear

I have a 2000 328i manual, and when I get to a full stop, and try to shift back into 1st gear, I sometimes have trouble getting it into 1st gear to the point that I have to jam it into 1st or put it in reverse and then into 1st. The thing is that this only happens sometimes. I remember when I first had the car, it shifted like butter, but now it’s a little rougher. I don’t have the same problem with 2nd, 3rd, etc… only 1st and only when I’m at a complete stop. If the car is still rolling, I can depress the clutch and usually put it into 1st without a problem.

The car only has 63k miles on it, but a lot of city miles. Do I need a new clutch or flywheel, or is the problem worse than that?

Perhaps the clutch is not dis-engaging completely. Such a situation would produce exactly the symptoms you describe. How hard is it to shift into first with the engine not running?

It could be a clutch master or slave cylinder also. They are not too pricey.

Great question. I don’t seem to ever have problems doing it with the engine off. Never thought much about it. Thanks for the insight.

Good to hear… the car otherwise runs well, and I intend on having this for another 5 years at least. I was thinking that it was a transmission thing, but I confess that I don’t know much about clutch/flywheels…

If the clutch is “dragging” (not disengaging completely) it will “grind” going into reverse and resist going into first gear. Check the clutch fluid level first.

A dragging clutch can be caused by 5 things.

  1. Not enough movement in the (hydraulic) clutch linkage to release the clutch completely.
  2. Clutch cover (pressure plate) defective, not releasing completely or evenly.
  3. Clutch disk defective, “fuzzy”, or simply worn out.
  4. Pilot bearing dragging, not a clutch problem…
  5. Clutch disk binding on transmission shaft, it can’t move away from flywheel even when released, so it drags…

Yes I would check everything external first,the fact that it is easier to get in gear if the car is rolling makes me think first gear syncronizer. 63K is early for a clutch (unless it has been abused) and way early for a syncronizer problem.You dont mention any grinding noise when trying to go into first (this is good) but clutch/transmission trouble at 63K way early.

CaddyMan listed all the suspects. Based on the type of car it is, my money would be on the slave cylinder that actuates the clutch. What baffles me is that you can put it into reverse and then put it in first. That seems really odd.