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Picket Fence
Sat, Nov-27-2010, 01:52:50 AM
I have a '97 M3 with about 170,000 miles on it. It has the 5 speed manual transmission. Lately, there has been a whining noise coming from the transmission. The noise changes pitch with the rpm of the engine. It gets louder when accelerating or decelerating, and almost goes away when coasting with no load. Pushing in the clutch makes the noise go away, as does taking it out of gear while moving. Since I bought it, there has been a problem with the 3rd gear syncro, especially when it's cold, but this whining problem just started recently, like maybe 1000 miles. When the noise first started, I changed out the fluid and put in Red Line, but it didn't have any effect. Actually, the 3rd gear syncro problem got worse, but there was no effect on the whining sound.

So, now I'm thinking I have a bad bearing on the input shaft in the transmission, and I'm going to have to replace it. I can pull the transmission myself and take it somewhere, but I don't have the skills or the tools to rebuild it myself.

I'm asking for help from you guys. Has anybody ever had this problem with their M3? Does anybody know of a good place in North Carolina, or anywhere for that matter, that can do a great job rebuilding a ZF transmission? Also, does anybody have a heads up on transmission shops to aviod?

tia

Synenergy52
Sat, Nov-27-2010, 02:54:01 AM
My 2002 330i 5-speed which uses the same exact transmission as your car is experiencing the same exact symptoms as you are. A whine under load whether accel or decel, but goes away with coasting (no load) and goes away when clutch is pushed in. The trans has no other issues and runs absolutely perfect. I havent changed my gearbox fluid yet but will within the next few days (D4 ATF) I hope this noise goes away... hopefully someone can chime in.

Supered ///M
Sat, Nov-27-2010, 06:14:36 AM
It sounds like an input shaft bearing to me. Can you take a video of it? If you hear the noise with the clutch engaged and it goes away when you press the clutch pedal in, that's a dead giveaway usually.

Synenergy52
Sat, Nov-27-2010, 08:00:47 AM
The noise for me isn't heard at idle, only like when driving at speed. As the car comes to a stop, the noise goes away. The noise is mainly there when theres a load.

Think of it as a high-pitched hum/whirring noise. Almost like a supercharger whine...

DrSpiv
Mon, Nov-29-2010, 03:10:23 PM
Are you sure it isn't the differential whining?

Supered ///M
Mon, Nov-29-2010, 04:21:46 PM
The noise for me isn't heard at idle, only like when driving at speed. As the car comes to a stop, the noise goes away. The noise is mainly there when theres a load.

Think of it as a high-pitched hum/whirring noise. Almost like a supercharger whine...

One of the symptoms of a bad input shaft bearing is whinning under load. Sometimes the noise will go away completely and other times it will not. It's not very predictable but in my experience, when you push the car you'll usually hear it more.

JPoland
Mon, Nov-29-2010, 04:27:26 PM
The Diff wouldn't be RPM dependent. Only things that would be are something in the trans, the input shaft bearing, or the pilot bearing.

I'm betting it isn't the pilot bearing from my own experience. It probably is the input shaft bearing though. Mine makes the same noise but I don't have any dirveline vibration so I am just going to let it happen until it needs to be replaced.
I'd be careful about where you take that trans OP. Take it to a reputable shop that has experience with the ZF trans. I also wouldn't pay any more than $500 max. Otherwise you can get a good low mileage trans on bf.c or something for around $500.

Supered ///M
Mon, Nov-29-2010, 04:33:41 PM
The Diff wouldn't be RPM dependent. Only things that would be are something in the trans, the input shaft bearing, or the pilot bearing.

I'm betting it isn't the pilot bearing from my own experience. It probably is the input shaft bearing though. Mine makes the same noise but I don't have any dirveline vibration so I am just going to let it happen until it needs to be replaced.
I'd be careful about where you take that trans OP. Take it to a reputable shop that has experience with the ZF trans. I also wouldn't pay any more than $500 max. Otherwise you can get a good low mileage trans on bf.c or something for around $500.

You might just want to look for a tranny with less miles, throw on the necessary seals (output shaft, input shaft, selector rod etc.) and do some other basic maintenance and swap out trannys. With 170k on a tranny, you may end up having other problems unless the shop is willing to replace other parts without charging you too much extra.

I have a feeling a reputable shop will charge you more than $500 though...

Picket Fence
Tue, Nov-30-2010, 03:35:52 AM
I thought about the pilot bearing, but I don't think that's it because of the way the noise changes with the load.

If it was the diff, the sound would depend on the speed of the car, but my sound varies with the rpm of the engine.

I'm not wild about buying a used transmission because I might be buying someone else's problem.

I've always done all my own work, but I'm getting lazy in my old age and with winter coming I don't relish the thought of crawling around under the car in the cold. A nice warm garage to work in would be sweet, but I don't have it.

I definately would want to change everything I could though, as long as I had the tranny out. Clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing, pilot bearring, rear engine seal, and so on.

If I could find a reputable shop that would do it for $500 it would be great, but I don't know of any around here. I don't even know of a reputable shop that I would trust to change the oil without screwing it up, much less the transmission and all the related stuff.

Thanks for all the input guys. You all have confirmed my suspicions. Now I have to do some hunting.

Supered ///M
Tue, Nov-30-2010, 05:07:59 AM
I thought about the pilot bearing, but I don't think that's it because of the way the noise changes with the load.

If it was the diff, the sound would depend on the speed of the car, but my sound varies with the rpm of the engine.

I'm not wild about buying a used transmission because I might be buying someone else's problem.

I've always done all my own work, but I'm getting lazy in my old age and with winter coming I don't relish the thought of crawling around under the car in the cold. A nice warm garage to work in would be sweet, but I don't have it.

I definately would want to change everything I could though, as long as I had the tranny out. Clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing, pilot bearring, rear engine seal, and so on.

If I could find a reputable shop that would do it for $500 it would be great, but I don't know of any around here. I don't even know of a reputable shop that I would trust to change the oil without screwing it up, much less the transmission and all the related stuff.

Thanks for all the input guys. You all have confirmed my suspicions. Now I have to do some hunting.

If you only just started noticing this noise, more than likely you have some time before things go really bad. If, in fact, it is your input shaft bearing, the noise will gradually get worse until finally you start to leak oil. Once you leak oil you NEED to service it.

I've known people who have driven 10K+ miles with a bad input shaft bearing, so I wouldn't necessarily make it an absolute priority yet to get fixed. Definitely start looking, but take your time and make sure you find the right place. Even traveling a distance is worth it if it's not too much of an inconvenience (and buy the parts beforehand...you might save some money on that end as well).

cracky
Tue, Nov-30-2010, 05:14:33 AM
enjoy your car sounding like it has a dog box ;)

JPoland
Tue, Nov-30-2010, 12:57:13 PM
The transmission I recently got was used. I made a post on bf.c and stated that I wanted a ZF manual in known good working condition, I didn't care about any 5th gear lean, and I didn't say anything about milage. I paid $350 plus a little in shipping since it wasn't local and then about another $80 to put in new detent pins, shift pins, selector rod seal, and redline fluid. Then I just transfered over the remaining good parts from my old trans and it shifts better than my old one did when I first got the car over 2 years ago.

These transmissions are tough and yes sometimes they do have problems but if you buy it from a reputable forum member, lets say, who vouches for the good working condition of the trans (as in it worked perfectly and had zero issues when it was removed) then you should be fine. You will pay a little more for lower miles and a guarantee that it works perfectly but it sounds like that is what you want.

You may also find someone near by who is parting their M3 out and says the trans worked perfectly. There are plenty of good used transmissions out there.

Picket Fence
Wed, Dec-01-2010, 11:32:49 PM
Good idea about bf.c. I completely forgot about the parts section over there. There was a zf just sold over there for $500, but it looks like the deal went horribly wrong. Check out the "E36 M3 ZF Manual Tranny and Swap Parts State: Kentucky" thread on the first page of the parts section. I don't believe it usually ends up this bad though, I think most folks are pretty honest. It' still a little freaky that the first add I looked at was so messed up!

Picket Fence
Thu, May-05-2011, 03:21:31 AM
OK, so here's an update. The weather warmed up nicely and I finally decided to swap out the whining transmission. I found two (zf s5d320z) at a junk yard near by, one for $300 and one for $450. The $300 one came out of a '99 328 that had been hit in the front quarter. The $450 one was in a '99 328 that was t-boned on the passenger side. I got the $300 one.

It was pretty easy to change, except for the inconel studs that attach the headers to the cat pipes. 4 out of 6 broke, and I had a hard time getting them pressed out. I ended up making a special tool because there wasn't room get in there with a 2 jaw gear puller. I replaced all the studs with stainless steel bolts and nuts, heavily coated with copper anti-seize. I also put in new shifter bushings. The old one had the ATF sticker, and the new one had the lifetime MTF sticker, but I put in new RP syncromax. I strained the old fluid thru a cloth and didn’t see any metal particles at all.

Anyway, the new transmission made the same whining sound as the old one, although it shifted very much smoother. But it had the same noise I described earlier, whining in all gears depending on rpm, and more so when accelerating or decelerating than at steady speed.

So, I took it back out and returned it. They said "sorry about that" and swapped it for the $450 one at no extra cost. I just got done putting it in, and it makes the same noise, only less so. This time it was really easy because nothing was frozen and I had some practice. I saved the fluid from the last time, but I didn’t put it in yet because this one was full of the lifetime MTF.

But WTF??? Three separate transmissions making the same noise? What else could it be that whines like gears? I don’t think it’s anything behind the transmission like guibo or center driveshaft bearing or differential because the noise depends on engine rpm, not road speed.

Could it be something in the engine? The rear seal is not leaking a bit. Could it be something in the clutch/flywheel? Everything looked ok, and anyway, the noise is only with clutch engaged, not like throw out bearing or pilot bearing problems. Also, each transmission had its own throw out bearing and they all looked good.

Now I don’t know what to do, except to ask here for advice. Any ideas?

epj3
Thu, May-05-2011, 03:54:42 AM
I would say it's not the transmissions at this point - it really may be the pilot bearing.

Make sure you have enough oil in the transmission - and if so, you may want to replace the thrust bearing just in case.

I highly highly doubt it's the main trust bearings (crank), but it's still something to consider.

Richardsperry
Thu, May-05-2011, 11:52:48 AM
WTF? you go to the trouble of pulling a transmission, and you don't replace the pilot bearing, or the throughout bearing, or the pivot arm, or the pivot pin?
Penny wise and pound foolish...

JPoland
Thu, May-05-2011, 01:38:45 PM
Since we all can't be perfect like Richard here, let me be the first to say these things happen.

It might be a pilot bearing or a throwout bearing at this point. The pilot bearing may only whine when under load with the clutch engaged due to a greater deflection on the input shaft due to the load. It is something to consider at least.
I've been fighting with a loose pilot bearing for a while now. I finally found someone to just take some calipers and measure out several new pilot bearings before they sent them to me. This is a lesser known problem with these cars but it does happen. It is due to tolerance stack up and there is no guarantee that even had you replaced the bearing it would have fixed the problem... Richard :roll: Only if you got one that was nice and snug in there.

This is still only a theory at this point but it seems logical and isn't too expensive to try. FWIW I have the same whine and I am about to address my loose pilot bearing (hopefully with one that fits) so if you want to wait a few weeks, I can tell you if this fixes the problem. Also, if your whine is the same as mine then driving the car like that won't hurt anything at all. I've been doing it for a while now.

Richardsperry
Thu, May-05-2011, 08:58:43 PM
Look J, I'm not perfect by any means, but, I am a firm believer in only doing work once. Pulling a transmission is work. If it's got to come out, then I'm replacing the clutch, pressure plate, taking a hard look at the flywheel, TO bearing, pilot bearing, pivot and release arm, input seal, rear main seal, along with the slave.

Is just really short sighted not too.

Picket Fence
Fri, May-06-2011, 12:35:08 AM
I fixed it! Turns out it was the radio volume control knob. I cranked up the volume and the noise went away (haha, just kidding).

RS, I know that conventional wisdom says to replace everything that is replaceable whenever you have it apart. Not to do so is penny wise and pound foolish and short sighted. I even mentioned this in post #9 in this thread that I would prefer to put all new components. But that’s in an ideal world where cost is no object. There is another school of thought that says if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. Since I live in the cash limited (for me) real world rather than the ideal world, I am forced to go with the “if it ain’t broke” plan.

What it boils down to is time preference over money. I have lots of time, but not much money. If I had more money than time I probably wouldn’t be doing this myself; I would pay a shop to do it. Or else I would be driving a new M3 rather than a 14 year old one. M3s are good cars, but they aren’t cheap to maintain. I’m in the position of having to get the best bang for the buck, so I don’t want to replace good components when not necessary instead of worn out components that really need replacing.

There is an opportunity cost when it comes to replacing components that don’t need replacing when you are on a limited budget. The previous owner said he changed the clutch at 130k miles. The car has 170k now. If the present clutch lasts as long as the first one, then I should have 90k left on it before it needs replaced. A flywheel usually lasts thru 2 clutch disks, so I will need to replace it next time I do the clutch. With a new dual mass flywheel and clutch kit, it will be about $1400. Replacing those components 90,000 miles before their lifetime represents to me the opportunity cost of not having the $1400 to spend on things like suspension upgrades and other pressing needs. I see this as being pound foolish. It turns a $300 transmission job into a $1700 job.

If I really suspected the clutch components, I would change them. But I don’t suspect them of being the problem. The clutch is very smooth. There is no chatter, grab, or slip. There is absolutely no noise when I press the clutch pedal, as there would be if the throw out or pilot bearing was bad. No leakage of the rear main seal. The release fork and pin show very little wear and the slave cylinder doesn’t leak. So if it ain’t broke…

JP, I hadn’t thought about the input shaft deflection under load thing, but that’s a good idea. I can see how a side load would be applied by the gears. But when the clutch is engaged the pilot bearing doesn’t spin because the crankshaft and the input shaft are at the same rpm. So, if the pilot bearing was bad, wouldn’t the noise get louder when the clutch was pushed in and the bearing begins to spin? Same with the throw out bearing, it should get louder when the clutch is pressed, but it gets quieter.

If it was the engine it seems like it would make some noise when it was revved out of gear. But it doesn’t.

So, after thinking about it all day, now I’m thinking that I just got lucky to get 2 bad transmissions in a row. But the latest one is really not that bad. It shifts about 100% smoother than the original one, almost as good as my Miata, and the whine is only about half as loud as the first one. It has a 101 day warranty so I have some time to consider my options.

zottyzot
Thu, Jun-02-2011, 05:56:23 PM
Subscribed.

I have the same or similar problem rear it's ugly head about a month ago.

At the moment the whining sound is more pronounced when decelerating in gear, it seems to go away when I'm back on the gas. It sounds (to me) like it's coming from the rear, but it does seem to be rpm dependant rather than mph...

I'm curious to hear your findings.

I'm going to start w/ draining the rear and checking for metal shavings. I put RP in there about two years ago and switched it out w/ mobil 1 after reading some horror stories. I hope it's not related to that.

Supered ///M
Thu, Jun-02-2011, 06:29:36 PM
Subscribed.

I have the same or similar problem rear it's ugly head about a month ago.

At the moment the whining sound is more pronounced when decelerating in gear, it seems to go away when I'm back on the gas. It sounds (to me) like it's coming from the rear, but it does seem to be rpm dependant rather than mph...

I'm curious to hear your findings.

I'm going to start w/ draining the rear and checking for metal shavings. I put RP in there about two years ago and switched it out w/ mobil 1 after reading some horror stories. I hope it's not related to that.

From what I've read, it doesn't seem like there is necessarily a trend to hearing the noise vs. not hearing it when you compare it to RPM speed. I've had the issue for a while and some days it's bad and some days it isn't. I also doubt metal shavings are causing that problem.

I see you're in Abington. I live in Elkins Park in case you need an extra hand.

zottyzot
Fri, Jun-03-2011, 02:05:54 AM
Thanks for the offer Sam. :thumbsup2:

You're probably right about the metal shavings...I was just thinking that since I think the noise is coming from the rear, draining the fluid and inspecting it for signs of metal would be the best way to start...

cmzwirner
Fri, Jun-03-2011, 04:24:00 AM
Are you sure its the tranny? I have an alternator whine that makes my my car sound like a racecar with a sequential gearbox. :P

Supered ///M
Fri, Jun-03-2011, 04:28:24 AM
Are you sure its the tranny? I have an alternator whine that makes my my car sound like a racecar with a sequential gearbox. :P

You need a ground-loop isolator

cmzwirner
Fri, Jun-03-2011, 04:33:03 AM
You need a ground-loop isolator

For my flux capacitor?

Youre not speaking my language.

zottyzot
Wed, Jun-15-2011, 12:29:47 AM
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/diagrams/o/r/10.png

Is this the input shaft/bearing assembly?
Do I have to have the bearing pressed out/in?

Lear Jet
Fri, Jul-22-2011, 12:24:18 AM
Has anybody come to a conclusion on what caused the noise? I have the same problem.

Supered ///M
Fri, Jul-22-2011, 12:46:22 AM
For my flux capacitor?

Youre not speaking my language.

When the grounding points of the radio and the amp are at different voltages (radio in the front, amp in the back) and not isolated from each other (using a filter build in to either the radio or using an external one), you will get a whining interference. You can buy them at Radioshack. They are easy to install and you won't get that RPM-sensitive whine.

YAOGinanM3
Fri, Jul-22-2011, 01:14:22 AM
Has anybody come to a conclusion on what caused the noise? I have the same problem.


Have you changed your engine and transmission mounts recently? Is it possible the engine mounts have collapsed as they like to do and the tranny mounts have shifted and are misaligned causing the normal transmission noises to be transmitted into the cabin thought the chassis. Is the noise loud as the car drives past? If not it could be the engine and tranny mounts, have a look at them.

clytle
Fri, Jul-22-2011, 05:27:57 PM
I have sort of the same "issue". It sounds like big truck (ie: semi or dump truck). it didnt start this until this damn heat wave started (been over 100 degrees almost everyday for the last month). ive chalked it up to the tranny getting hotter then normal. Im probably wrong though. Any thoughts?

rastazcp
Sat, Sep-03-2011, 04:39:04 AM
Just passed 130K and a similar sound is now occuring

rastazcp
Mon, Sep-19-2011, 11:43:09 PM
bump!