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Complaints about BMW 3 Series - No Reverse

Archive: April 2008 - June 2008

Austin of Seattle, WA (6/30/08)
2000 323i wagon with 88K and no reverse. I have a Ford pickup (2002 f-150) with 70K, many of them towing, and no problems at all. Why should I accept less from the BMW? I am currently working with BMW Seattle to get it fixed. I will settle for no less then complete repair. They can fix mine, or recall all of them is my attitude. Any lawyers with this problem? I would love to see a class action law suit against BMW. This should be a safety recall.

Chris of Maryland (6/29/08)
I am an owner of a 2000 328I BMW with 112,000 miles. I am very meticulous about the care of my car. My car looks and runs excellent. Like many other owners of a BMW, I also suddenly loss the reverse gear after arriving to work one evening recently. My vehicle never showed any signs of transmission trouble. The vehicle got good gas mileage and never slipped. Later the next day, the reverse gear in the car worked fine.
I took my vehicle to AAMCO Transmission to have it serviced. The mechanic on duty said the transmission was fine. After talking with the mechanic, he agreed to keep the car for the day and drive the vehicle. The next day I got a telephone call from the mechanic telling me I needed transmission work. He said the reverse gear went out along with 5th gear. The original estimate was $1400.00 but after they pulled the transmission out the car, they realized the transmission was made in France. Needless to say, after getting a price on parts, the price quoted to me gave me sticker shock. I nearly died with an estimate of $6,300.
After searching the WEB for a transmission, I came across this WEB site and other sites talking about the same trouble I was having. I called BMW and the parts counter along with the service manager denied any knowledge about transmission trouble with the 3 series BMW. When I inquired as to a cost of a transmission I was quoted a price of $4343.00 with a core charge of $500.00. They were only giving a two year warranty with the transmission and the labor to install was around $1,000.00.
After talking with AAMCO they agreed to put the transmission in with a 3 year warranty for $5,900.00. I had to sit down and think about what to do. I decided to have the car repaired instead of paying for another car for 5 or 6 years. The math speaks for itself. I much rather have some extra money in my pocket in the long run. If there is a class action suit against BMW please let me know.

Matt of Littlehampton - United Kingdom (6/25/08)
I have a BMW 330i SE AUTO 3.0 currently the odometer reads 69,879 miles - the car was built March 2001 - purchased from a private seller only 11months ago. Took the car out today as usual without any issues, parked up and visited a client. I went back to the car approx an 1hr later where I reversed the car (without issue) and then proceeded to drive home. I then stopped on the way to get fuel and all was fine (had to use reverse to get out) and proceed to arrive at home. I then used the car to collect the kids from school and upon arriving back at home put the car into reverse and nothing, engine just revs and no movement whatsoever. I called BMW who said they had never heard of this issue, I then did some research of my own and found this site, along with the following article:
http://www.articlesbase.com/cars-articles/bmw-no-reverse-transmission-problem-274672.html
Also after some more searching, found this site with so many more people who had the same issue. I have been told by BMW that there is no recall in place, however there is a modified part available to correct the issue. BMW will only supply a new factory unit, they will not repair or recondition the unit. The cost quoted was in excess of 4000 (nearly $8000). I am not sure how to proceed, do I try and challenge BMW ? What are others success on this ? Or do I just dig deep and find a reputable company to recon the unit for me ? Thanks BMW - This will certainly will make be think twice before buying another 'Ultimate Driving Machine'
** Update **
I have now had the Transmission fully reconditioned at the cost of 1.5k with warranty. Shame BMW HO was not the slightest bit interested.

Anonymous of Maryland (6/25/08)
I just dodged a bullet. I bought a 2000 323i with 77k miles. 700 miles into the 30 day/1000 mile warranty from the dealer (not a BMW dealer), the car lost reverse without warning. I took the car back to the dealer and they sent it to the BMW dealer down the street for repair and now I have a spiffy new transmission and a copy of the invoice from BMW to my dealer for $4900. Wow...close one.

Clark Howard (aka Anonymous) of Atlanta, GA (6/19/08)
You guys should all kill yourselves. Get a real job, or a dog. A 50/50 split on parts on a car with 120k+ is acceptable.
*** The ip address of this comment came from
BMW & Mini Of South Atlanta (209.155.232.53) ***

Keith of Bremen, GA (6/19/08)
Owner of a BMW 323 2000 model. Transmission went out in 2005 with about 65,000 miles. Wondering if you have a list of people who live in the Atlanta area who might want to participate in a protest at Hank Aarron BMW Saturday the 28th of this month. I will be there with signs advertising noreverse.org and distributing flyers with details of the problem and alerting prospective buyers that mighty BMW builds their cars with parts made by Chevy's parent co. Contact me as soon as possible as I need to get organized. I will try and have local media there as well since I know a couple of people from CNN and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Thanks.

Dylan of Seattle, WA (6/17/08)
2000 323i with the reverse problem. I've contacted BMW NA and the dealer with no response yet. I would like to get the parts paid for by BMW and I will pay for the labor. If you have any experience with this please email me at jonesdyl__hotmail.com (replace the __ with @, no spam!)

Thanks and good luck to all.

Lisa of Maryland (6/13/08)
I have a 2000 323i with the same reverse problem. It just started within the last month. The problem is intermittent.

Richie of New Jersey (6/9/08)
~April 2008... bought 2001 BMW 330i ~87,000 miles, next day check engine for secondary air pump fault? 0491, within a week noticed difficult to shift from park to drive. In the shop 2x and check tranny, can't find any problem. Appointments scheduled 2 / 3 wks out each time. Next reverse gear out completely. Took back to shop charged $110 to tell me the transmission needs to be replaced, of course anyone at this website knows that. Call to pick up , service and sales manager will be in till 6:30pm, 8:30om. Show up 30 mins later, everyone gone/vacation/left early/ducking. Next day talk to general manager, a week later transmission is replaced. I paid $500 towards repairs as a "deductable", shop says paid $1200 toward unit and bmw provides replacement transmission. I had also called BMW USA prior to all this, and they seemed really friendly, concerned, and helpful. I have to say I am extremely satisfied with the service once getting past the repair department. I didn't have to file a 3 count felony charge for attempt, conspiracy, and theft by deception a violation of state laws 2c:20-4 or a lawsuit seeking punative damages. I am not making any claims of illegal activity, however I feel I have what is compelling evidence to support possible charges, which are then decided in court. Maybe mentioning that candidly helps? So maybe $1,200 saved them $15 - $70,000 or more. Maybe the car just tore up after driving it in foward for a few trips, or maybe they have experience with this car taking it in on trade, who knows. Any case, I am completely satisfied at the outcome, I have owned several other BMWs with no complains whatsoever. So I have to recommend keeping an open mind, talking to the general manager, knowing your state law concerning felonies, lawsuits, and drivetrain warranty mandated by state law based on used car milage / model years old... even if sold as is. This is only a minor problem in life, so above all, be friendly, keep an open mind, and know the law and you should do alright.

Matt of Australia (6/4/08)
I just bought a 1996 E39 BMW 535i a few weeks ago. I had been researching potential problems with the car before I bought it, and found this NoReverse.org site. I thought "Hmm. Well my car is a 5 series, so I should be ok." That was a mistake.
3 weeks after buying this thing, it loses all forward motion when placed in Drive- it just free-revs as if its in neutral.. It has a ZF branded 5HP24 automatic transmission, and apparently this will cost around $3-5000.00 to fix, which is cash I just don't have lying around. It still has reverse gear, but no forward movement. Which trust me, is worse than losing only reverse. BMW advises me that there isn't another replacement 5HP24 transmission in Australia, and they aren't too happy to rebuild it, so I'm stuck now. And still paying car payments on a lemon car which doesn't go. This has caused me a lot of stress, because I need my car to get to work, and if I lose my job, the car wont get paid, and it'll be bankruptcy for me. BMW is an appalling company which builds cars which are supposed to be "The ultimate driving machine".. Except that they're engineered to fail and cost you big money. I'm single and I rent, so I have only the one income to live on. I cant be blowing $5000.00 that I don't have, to put a transmission in my car. I bought this car for me, because I felt I deserved to drive something decent for once, and its been nothing but hell. I urge everyone researching buying a BMW, to read these posts and NOT BUY ONE. The transmission will bite you too, no matter how nice the rest of the car appears to be. Just buy a Toyota instead.

Daniel of Los Angeles, CA (5/31/08)
My dad got a 2000 323 wagon last year. it had a salvage title due to some front end damage. the engine and trany were fine. there was no frame damage or anything serious. so a while ago, at about 65k miles, the reverse just failed. it works most of the time on flat ground when I don't give it any gas. if its uphill or if i give gas, it just revs but nothing happens.

I thought that this had something to do with the accident so I didn't even bother going to the dealer. also, its a salvage title so they wouldn't even look at the car unless I had a blank check ready.

I am a big fan of bmw. this wont keep me from buy them, but it made me loose a lot of respect. it wouldn't be a bad thing if they admitted the problem. it would show some class. ignoring it just makes them seem like low class idiots trying to get rich.

If I didn't know much about cars I would just never buy bmw again...

Robert of Philadelphia, PA (5/30/08)
I was trying to back out of a parking spot yesterday when all of a sudden my reverse did not work. I have a 2000 323i with 68,000 miles on it. I took it into the dealership and they quoted me $5,200 for a new transmission. I did some research and found this site and how common this problem was. I then went back to the dealer and talked to the service manager. He admitted that this is a fairly common problem and he would talk to BMW NA for me, but also told me to call. I then called BMW NA to explain the situation. I just received a call from the dealer saying they would pay for the entire transmission, and I would only have to pay $1,100 in labor. This seemed like a great deal. I would like to thank everyone on this site for the information. I would also like to thank BMW on the Main Line and BMW NA for the help in making this easier.

Jay of Fort Worth, TX (5/27/08)
Even though if you found this site it may not be that great of a day. Add me to the growing list of no reversers. I purchased a very sharp looking 2001 E46 6 months ago. Last week while testing my own design for an integrated garage door opener, I experienced "no reverse" at the end of my driveway. This makes me regret trading in my venerable old friend, a 1987 Porsche 944, for what I thought would be another trustworthy steed.
I am an experienced aircraft mechanic and aircraft hydraulics man, so I did not hesitate to drop my valve body, only to discover the reverse drum lip had failed. With 118K miles I believe that this unit merely needs an updated drum and seal kit. I am researching the feasibility of repairing this unit at home. The only question I have now will be answered when I receive the appropriate repair manual and see what sort of special tools may be required. Barring excessive use of special tools for the disassembly and assembly of this unit, the cost of repair should be less than $1000.

Steve of Monroe, GA (5/27/08)
We had the same problem on our 2000 323i. We read all the on-line information and complaints. The dealer where we have always had the car serviced was absolutely no help, and they do not even have the integrity to admit that it is a problem. We printed out 150 pages of complaints, and gave it to the dealer, but they still offered no help. Finally, we sent the entire package, almost 200 pages, including complaints, our vehicle history, GM's resolution (recall) to the CEO of BMW NA via FED-EX. About 1 week later we received a phone call from BMW NA (but not the CEO), and we came to an agreement that BMW would pay all but $2,700 to replace the transmission including the 2 year unlimited mileage warranty on the new part (which has been redesigned). They are not admitting it is a problem, but at least we feel comfortable with the parts being new, and it will help the resale that BMW did the install.

Jody of Staten Island, NY (5/13/08)
I have a BMW 2000 323i with 95K miles on it. Last Tues, the car failed to go in reverse when I attempted to parallel park. I did a google search and found this website. I immediately called Open Road BMW in Edison (which is where I got the car from) and explained the situation. I have been a loyal customer there for 10+ years now and just bought an X5 from them in January. They immediately offered 50% off the rebuilt transmission, but I said no, that I'd be willing to pay labor only and that THEY pay for the transmission since this is a known issue. They have agreed to do this and I'm bringing the car in on Thurs for repair. My cost is $625+tax for the labor.

Mark of Fullerton, CA (5/5/08)
I only wish that I had discovered this website before getting rid of my 2000 328I with 85K miles. My Beemer, like so many others, stopped going into reverse. But my situation was a little but different in that it was only intermittent. Sometimes reverse worked; sometimes it didn't. As time went on though, the car's inability to go into reverse was happening a lot more. I found myself parking in such a manner so I could leave my parking spot by going forward. When you find yourself parking that way it's not fun; even in a BMW.

I took the car to my mechanic (he only works on BMW's); he ran all the fault diagnostics and they call came back clean. And of course while the car was in his care it went into reverse each and every time. He though I was imagining it. A few months later though he saw for himself that the car would not go into reverse. I asked what it would take to fix and he mentioned a new transmission for about $7500 including labor. I call BMW NM and I get the stock reply as everyone else; sorry but it's not our problem. You have 85K and that is a lot of miles. Must be the way you drive.

Thanks BMW.

So here is the issue: I now have a 7 1/2 year old car with 85K miles needing a new transmission. And I start to think what else is going to happen or go wrong with this car. After 7 1/2 years of BMW ownership (and quite a few very expensive repair bills - brakes, airbag computer, various sensors, sunroof) I decide it's time to cut my losses and get rid of the car.

I took the car to a new car dealer and used it as a trade in. And no, I did not go to a BMW dealer. They have lost me forever as a customer. If BMW had owned up to the fact it was bad engineering of a part and were willing to work with me on a resolution I just might have been driving that car today. It's too bad; but I am sure BMW understood what was causing the no reverse issue. And I hope they loose everyone who has this problem as a customer in the future; because that is what BMW deserves.

Lori of Andrews, TX (5/5/08)
Well, well well. I thought I just had bought a bad used 2000 323i. I bought my car in august of 2007. It was running well until two weeks ago when my reverse went out at a local restaurant and had to have the manager and two other workers push me out of my parking spot. It has been at aamoco transmission for two weeks. I was getting frustrated and so I was going to take my car to the local BMW dealer, but they have never heard of such a problem and after reading hundreds of complaints with the exact same problem and the lack of customer service form BMW, I will never deal with them again. As soon as I get my car working, I am probably trading it in for another car. NOT A BMW!!!!

Chris of New London, CT (5/3/08)
I've purchased my car in October of 2007 and I've had zero problems thus far. Today I put it into reverse and it happened! I heard a strange noise and felt a odd vibration. I put it back into drive, pulled forward and tried it again. My car still backs up but if I press on the gas the gears don't catch. My car is paid off and now I don't know what to do. I'm glad I found this site. Hopefully we can get a recall... :(

Kenyatta of River Ridge, LA (5/2/08)
Final Update:
Shortly after receiving an email from BMWna saying that they weren't willing to assist me with repairing my transmission, I got a phone call from BMW in New Jersey. The representative asked me a few questions about my car and the transmission failure, then he called back in a few days and offered to to pay for half of the part if I repair the car at the BMW dealer local to me. Although they offered to pay for half of the part, take note that BMW never admitted to knowledge of the websites or knowledge of the widespread transmission problems. I thought that was interesting...but anyway, It took a couple weeks to coordinate the repair, but finally I took my car to Peake BMW in Kenner and the service was great! They installed the new or 'rebuilt' trans. Even after BMW paid for half of the part, I still ended up paying (1/2 plus labor) $2893.54! The entire ordeal took almost 2 months...Yeah It sucks but I'm glad this transmission nightmare is over!

Peter of Fairfax, VA (4/29/08)
My car, a 2001 BMW 330ci had an initial complete transmission failure at 90 miles. BMW replaced it and promised this was an anomaly that would not re-occur. They told me it was a manufacture defect. Well defect or not, the new transmission suddenly stopped going into reverse at about 105,000 miles. I called and complained that I had wanted to return the car to them, but they guaranteed me it would not happen again, yet it did. All I wanted was help with the labor and I'd pay for a new transmission. They refused saying I was way over the warranty. The BMW dealer also lied they have never seen or heard of this, but a service tech told me it was BS and actually a very common thing on E46 3 series both coupe and sedan. They had already replaced a few in this shop alone. I relayed it to BMW NA who then claimed they had heard or known of this as an issue. Anyway, the new replacement transmission developed a weird slack or play in the wheels at 125,000 miles (car still ran very well.). The shop told me it was drive shafts that had developed play in the joints because of the transmission change. Anyway, I had enough. Spent too much on it, and transmission or no transmission, I was unwilling to take another chance with it, and sold it to an auto-shop who said they would buy it and fix it.

Lisa of Atlanta, GA (4/28/08)
The reverse went out on my 2000 323ci at about 80k miles. When the dealership told me the transmission needed to be replaced and acted like this was just a normal problem (no mention that this is common), I found this website. Thanks to everyone that has posted and provided links and docs. I also talked to a repair shop that worked on BMWs looking for a lower price than the dealership to repair, and I could not get out a full sentence after saying I had a 2000 BMW 3-series before the repair guy said "Let me guess - you lost reverse, right?" He went on to tell me the problem was common, I should call NA BMW, but cautioned me that they would never pay for the whole thing, but they might cover parts OR labor if I was calm and pleasant and made my case without being demanding. He said the dealership would get farther with NA BMW than I would. Thanks to the very helpful info here and getting educated, I called the dealership back and they said they would talk to BMW NA. I was calm and said that there should obviously have been a recall, I was shocked by the magnitude of the problem, and shocked that they did not tell me this was a common problem that BMW is well aware of, etc. I asked of the $5k+ price what part was labor and what was parts. He told me that the part was the vast majority of the price. The key to the relief I got (I believe) is that the dealership called NA BMW, not me, and that I bought my car at the dealership new, AND had 100% of all of my service at that dealership. I will do the same with any new car I get. This problem showed that it was worth paying the dealership a bit more for service! First they said they lowered the labor charges to what they charge for warranty work, getting the labor down to $700+ and they would pay 1/2 the part. After that call, I said that I would pay them for their labor, but that NA BMW should cover the part, because they should have recalled the faulty transmissions to begin with.

Gabriel of Kennesaw, GA (4/23/08)
Hi, and special Thanx to the rest of you "reverseless" people that organized all of these web pages so nicely. I have 2000 323i sportswagon with 140 000 miles. Reverse stopped working without a warning. I did hear grinding once only, but all forward gears work great. Year 2000 was a split year for trannys on the 3 series. Some have a ZF transmission some have a GM. Mine is a ZF, but from what i hear some people say they have the same problem with the GM trannys.
Bill, the guy with the transmission autopsy doesn't specify which one he has. It would help me to know. From what i hear the ZF's are hard to rebuild, because you need special tools, and nobody wants to do it. What now?

Danny of Westminster, CA (4/20/08)
I have 2001 330i, and experiencing no reverse gear problem just yesterday. I didn't know that many having the same problem as I do. My car is 115k already. Already decided to sale my car and getting a Honda instead. average spending on this car is 2k/yr already ...

Ken of Staten Wilmington, NC (4/16/08)
Hi, our 2000 BMW 3 series with 51k miles on it lost its reverse this past month. Original quote from dealer was $6,900 to replace with re manufactured transmission. This car had been babied and maintained for 7 years. Needless to say its a big disappointment. I did call BMWUSA and pleaded my case sanely and calmly and they ended up getting with my dealer and paying for 1/2 the parts and reduced the labor rate so I ended up paying $2,900 which still stinks but was worth the call. Definitely a problem with this model year. Good luck everybody.

Mike of Staten Island, NY (4/13/08)
Just bought the car a few months back with 80k miles on it. Drove for about 1 hour yesterday and when I finally went to reverse park it would go, you could here the engine rev, but nothing!. I'm ready to join a class action ASAP someone get the ball rolling.

Beth of Cincinnati, OH (4/8/08)
Ugh. I own a 2000 323i with 70k miles on it. Yesterday, it would no longer go in reverse. Just like that. Sorry to hear I'm definitely not alone. BMW store says it will cost $6,500 to replace transmission. They also just told me that this is a highly unusual situation. (Apparently not.) My car is currently at the dealership -- I just called to tell them that I'll be back tomorrow to pick it up. Now I'll be exploring any options possible to fix it for less than $6,500. Called BMWNA -- haven't heard back from them. This is ridiculous. I've gone from a huge fan to a huge critic, literally overnight. Good luck everyone!

Nick of Kansas City, MO (4/6/08)
I bought A 1999 BMW 323I auto. in march, I did research on the car before I bought it I thought. I seen what I thought where normal complaints. Well I drove the car back from where I bought it around 800 miles, the car ran great. About a week or two later the shifter knob got stuck, and would not go into reverse. It would go into every other gear but reverse, I would even drive down the road, no problems. The reverse would come back every once and awhile, but it seemed like every time I lost my reverse The shifter knob would not engage. Now I have no reverse because the shifter knob won't engage. It s not the transmission, Its in the shifter knob.

Chris of CO (4/5/08)
My research indicated a common theme of failing transmissions in the year 2000 BMW's. In particular when all of the sudden the reverse gear doesn't work. This was my experience a few days ago when I put the car in reverse and the engine revved up but nothing happened. It takes only a little time and research to find this same problem with many other BMW's. Many owners who are frustrated with a defective transmission even with proper care taken as many BMW enthusiasts do so. My experience is the same my reverse gears are not working and it needs to be rebuilt for $3000 which is basically a best case scenario according the mechanic. In my mind there is nothing best case about that. I am researching what can be done and how. There are way too many people having this same issue leaving the responsibility with BMW. Since no recall has been issued then we need to take further actions.

Dallas of Pensacola, FL (4/5/08)
Well...I had hoped to find an answer why my car wasn't going into reverse- however I found that I was one of MANY people that have this same problem. I have read where BMW blames it on bad driving habits- however I seriously doubt this many people can have the SAME exact issue. I am the 2nd owner of this car, and I have had it serviced and maintained more than the average person (I have a bit of OCD when it comes to this sort of thing). I think it's terrible when a company has this widespread of an issue and try to pass the blame. Shame on you BMW. BMW refuses to take responsibility for the faulty transmissions and will not even acknowledge that there's a widespread problem. I'm truly appalled at BMW's lack of responsibility. I am willing to do WHATEVER it takes to be heard. I'm a father and this is our only car- and we have a family of 4. I bought it thinking that as long as I maintained it- it would last almost forever. Right now- this car is worth about 8 to 9k in my region. The local dealership wants over $6k to fix it. I'm sorry- that's two thirds the cost of the car!!! If I need to sign any petition, or get involved in a class action lawsuit- please let me know. My email is Dallas_1973@hotmail.com

I will say this again...Shame on you BMW!

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