Transmission lost 1st gear?



Sometimes, when I start my 1994 BMW 325i automatic, 194,000 mi, and put it in drive, it starts to roll forward as I release the brake (like normal) and then in 1-2 seconds there’s a “clunk,” the car lurches to a stop, and from then on, when I try to accelerate, the revs go very high and the car is REALLY slow to get moving from a stop. Once this “clunk” occurs, sometimes I will turn the car off, restart it, and everything will be fine. Other times, I will restart the car over and over with no resolution of the problem. Any ideas? Is my transmission dead?


Have you checked the transmission fluid level? If it’s ok and the fluid does not have a burnt smell then the best thing to do is to drain the fluid and replace the filter. Do not “flush” the transmission fluid. It’s worth a try as this procedure saves a lot of transmissions. If the fluid is very dark and is burned then you may need to go to a good transmission shop. Avoid the “chain” places.


The first thing to check is the level of transmission fluid in the transmission, the symptoms could be from too little fluid. If there is a transmission fluid dipstick, find it and check the fluid level. For most cars you check the level on a warmed up motor idling in “park”. Check your owner’s manual for the process in your car.

If there is no dipstick and you have a sealed transmission then you need to get it to a good independant trans specialty shop. It could be a bad transmission, but 1st get it filled with the proper fluid and see if the symptoms remain or disappear.

If you find you need to add fluid, be sure it is the correct type of fluid. Again refer to your owner’s manual, or there will be markings on the dipstick showing the specific fluid you need. If in doubt about fluid don’t add anything. Generic fluids or the wrong fluid can cause more problems. BMW’s can be touchy so if in doubt call a BMW dealer and talk to the parts guy about the fluid you need.


Thank you both.