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Dropping Your Transmission & Shift Pin Service

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Why do you need a shift pin service?
The first sign you need a shift pin service for your ZF transmission is if your shifter stays to the 5th gear gate after shifting into 5th gear. You may notice it starting when it's cold, but eventually it will happen all the time. If you want to see what it's like, check out the video below. It shows how things were with the shift pin getting stuck in the bushing and how it shifts afterwards. If you have this problem, you know exactly how frustrating it is.



Difficulty

This is probably one of the most difficult DIYs I've attempted by myself. If you had some friends to give you a hand, this could probably be done in half the time, but I took it out and put it in myself, which makes things a bit harder. I did it in a span of three days and took my time and in total it probably took me 12-15 hours. A lot of that time was spent getting it out and putting it back in. If you have a buddy and a free weeeknd, you could easily do this or a clutch jub. However, if you're just a weekend warrior, I recommend leaving this to a mechanic or a professional. If you have any hessitation, don't do it yourself. Take a read below if you want to see how things worked out and how I tackled my different issues.

I'm not going to use any specific mm or sizes in this DIY but rather will guide you along the way.  I will however include all the required tools to get the job done. If you've got an external torx set, some long socket extensions, and a good tool set you should be fine.

Download Description

BMW Shift Pin Service Part 1 (24K)

This is BMW's instructions that describe the problem and how to fix it. Take a read through this and you will learn that BMW does indeed know about the problem and you could provide this to a mechanic if you need to explain waht needs to be fixed.

BMW Shift Pin Service Part 2 (515K)

BMW Shift Pin Service Part 3 (185K)
BMW Shift Pin Service Part 4 (34K)

BMW Special Tools
In order to perform the transmission shift pin service you're going to need some tools.  Some people fashion their own out of parts and pieces around the garage, but I decided that the real deal would probably make things easier and save me some hassle.  Therefore, I had some tools manufactured based on another DIY out there (Click Here For Drawings and DIY).  It is an excellent DIY and I used it as a guide as I performed mine.  Once we get to this point in the procedure, I'll simply have you follow his directions because I'm all about not reinventing the wheel. They made the process simple and worked great!

If you're interested in getting a set of tools made for yourself, I recommend contacting Tom at Peterson Precision, who did an excellent job at making mine (Email me to get his contact information).


BMW Tools

Closeup of BMW Tools

Tools Needed
Torque Wrenches
Screwdrivers
Various Sockets and Wrenches
At lest 3-4 feet of socket extensions (some people may want wobble or u-joint type at some point)
Penetrating Oil (This will help do some of the work for you when things get stuck, I reccommend PB Blast)
BMW Special Tools (See above)
Hammer

Parts Needed
Repair Kit x2 (BMW P# 23-11-7-542-726) $6
Reverse Locking Pin (BMW P# 23-31-1-224-849) $6 (Optional)
5th Gear Locking Pin (BMW P# 23-31-7-502-165) $6 (Optional)
Anti-Sieze Compound (To make the job easier next time)

 

Instructions

Safely lift at least the car
1. Using a lift or a floor jack lift the entire vehicle. Instructions for jacking up your car can be found here. This can be a very dangerous step, so make sure that the car is properly secured before ever getting under it. Never get under a car that is just supported by a jack!

Note: The more room you can get to work on your transmission the better, so therefore I recommend getting some high lift jack stands or doing this on a lift if at all possible.


Disconnect the headers from the exhaust


Remove the bracket from the exhaust


Remove the bracket from the transmission

Remove the exhaust (Front First)
Warning! Make sure the exhaust has sufficient time to cool before working on or around it! Otherwise, you could get seriously burned!

2. Remove the four nuts holding the headers to the exhaust. The bolts are attached to the headers and will not come off.  If you've never taken these apart before or it's been a long time, spray them with PB Blast or another penetrating oil and wait about 30 minutes (you may want to consider repeating this a few times before attempting to remove these bolts).  They are going to be siezed on very good and they are about $25 a piece at the dealership to replace. I can also tell you from experience that they're a pain to replace, but that's an entirely different story. If you have an impact wrench, I highly recommend using it here as it will save you a ton of time. I also recommend putting some high temp anti-sieze on these when you're reassembling so things come apart much easier next time. Take your time as this is one of the hardest steps in this DIY and can be quite frustrating.
3. Next remove the bracket that stabalizes the exhaust from the transmission by using a series of wrenches.



Remove the front wheel


Remove the front wheel


Remove the front wheel


Remove the front wheel


Remove the front wheel

Remove the exhaust (Back Second)
Warning! Make sure the exhaust has sufficient time to cool before working on or around it! Otherwise, you could get seriously burned!

2. Remove the four nuts holding the headers to the exhaust. The bolts are attached to the headers and will not come off.  If you've never taken these apart before or it's been a long time, spray them with PB Blast or another penetrating oil and wait about 30 minutes (you may want to consider repeating this a few times before attempting to remove these bolts).  They are going to be siezed on very good and they are about $25 a piece at the dealership to replace. I can also tell you from experience that they're a pain to replace, but that's an entirely different story. If you have an impact wrench, I highly recommend using it here as it will save you a ton of time. I also recommend putting some high temp anti-sieze on these when you're reassembling so things come apart much easier next time. Take your time as this is one of the hardest steps in this DIY and can be quite frustrating.
3. Next remove the bracket that stabalizes the exhaust from the transmission by using a series of wrenches.


Conclusions

After performing the shift pin service, the car finally shifts like new again. I had been putting this off for years, but I promise you that it's totally worth it. It is quite a lot of work to replace a few bucks in parts, but if you want to finally shift like normal again, this is the fix.

 

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