Are BMW Transmissions Interchangeable?


BMW transmission

When it comes down to automatic and manual transmissions, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, it comes down to the preference of the driver. If you’re driving the right BMW with the wrong transmission and you’re wondering about converting it, you’ve come to the right place!

It is possible to convert the transmission in a BMW, both from a manual transmission to an automatic transmission and vice versa. In general, a manual to automatic transmission conversion is more common, especially for older vehicles. Modern cars are more difficult and expensive to convert due to the technology used in these cars.

In this article, we’ll break down the more common process of converting a manual transmission into an automatic transmission. We’ll then look at the less common process of converting an automatic car into one with a clutch pedal and all! Once we’ve covered these two modification processes, we’ll look at what most people consider to be the most realistic option.

Manual to Automatic Modification

BMW transmission

There are many advantages to driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. In general, most people find cars with automatic transmissions easier to drive. In fact, the majority of new cars released today come with an automatic transmission. In 2020, of the 327 new car models released by the world’s largest manufacturers, only 41 of those models were released with manual transmissions.

If you’re looking to convert your manual transmission to an automatic one, then we don’t need to tell you how frustrating, manual transmissions can be. If you’re looking to convert your car’s manual transmission to an automatic transmission, you’ll be happy to hear that – especially in recent years – this has become quite a common car modification.

Unfortunately, this process could set you back quite a bit. How much it sets you back ultimately depends on a few factors, such as the age of your vehicle. The reason your car’s age matters here is because the more modern the car, the more computerized its parts will be.

Most modern cars, regardless of which type of transmission they use, have an internal computer that plays an important role in the functioning of the car. Therefore, if you’re looking to convert a modern car with a manual transmission to an automatic transmission, the computer will need to be removed, rewired, and replaced as part of this process – this costs money.

If you convert a car with a manual transmission to an automatic one, the mechanic you use will need to replace your vehicle’s transmission console and your engine’s control unit. In addition to this, your car’s manual clutch system will need to be removed, and, of course, your automatic transmission will need to be installed.

You could always opt to convert your manual transmission into a semi-automatic, however, this could still be costly. The process, however, is slightly simpler, as your car will still use the same computers, but you won’t need to use a clutch pedal to change gears – you can just change them. If you’re determined to convert your car’s manual transmission, this may be the best option besides trading your car in.

Ultimately, it is a sizable and costly process to convert a transmission. However, as a general rule of thumb, it will be easier to convert older BMWs with manual transmissions than newer manual models. As tricky as the process of converting manual transmission to an automatic may seem, the process of converting an automatic transmission to a manual one is even harder.

Automatic to Manual Modification

Unlike the manual to automatic modification discussed above, not many people attempt to convert an automatic transmission into a manual transmission. Once we break down this conversion process for you, you’ll understand why few people attempt to modify their cars in this way.

BMW shifter

With this modification, the age of your vehicle doesn’t play as large a role as the one discussed above. This is because automatic cars, in general, are more modern. This can be seen in the decline of new cars released in 2020 that have a manual transmission option – only 13% of all cars released in 2020 could be bought with a manual transmission.

It can thus be said that in this day and age, it is far easier to buy a car with an automatic transmission. Nonetheless, buying a car with a manual transmission is hardly impossible. If you’re looking to convert an automatic car to a manual one, you might be better off simply purchasing a car with a manual transmission.

The conversion process from an automatic transmission to a manual one is a lengthy process that could end up being very costly. In addition to this, you’re lowering the resale value of your car by a substantial amount in order to attempt this modification process.

Due to the nature of cars with automatic transmissions, many of the components rely on these automatic processes. When you want to convert the transmission to a manual one, all these components need to be replaced or rewired to function properly with a manual transmission.

In addition to this, your brake pedal will need to be replaced with a manual transmission brake. You’ll also need to install a clutch pedal in your vehicle, as well as the clutch mechanism. From new bell housing to replacing your driveshaft, the list goes on and on.

Due to the complexity of this modification process, you’ll need a qualified mechanic with the right experience for the project. Again, that costs money! The tools they will need to convert an automatic car into one with a manual transmission are not your average tools.

If you’re willing to fork out the cash for an automatic to manual transmission conversion for your BMW, you should go to a transmission shop with a solid reputation. However, if you’re not willing to spend that kind of money, your best option may be to trade in your automatic vehicle for one with a manual transmission.

Swapping Transmissions Between BMWs

So what if you don’t want to swap an automatic transmission to manual or manual to automatic? What if you just have a blown transmission and you want to know if any other BMW transmission will work?

Generally, most BMW automatic transmissions are interchangeable with one another, as long as they are within the same generation. This is also true for manual transmissions. However, the EGS module will likely need to be reprogrammed if you plan on swapping transmissions, and the driveshaft may need to be adjusted depending on what automatic transmission you install.

The good news is that you can find out exactly which year and model BMW transmissions are interchangeable by accessing RealOEM. Replacing a transmission with an interchangeable transmission is a far cheaper and simpler process than what you would find yourself doing in going from manual to automatic or automatic to manual.

Trading is a Cheaper Alternative

At the end of the day, trading in your car and buying a car with the right transmission for you is usually the easiest and cheapest option. While it is possible to convert the transmission of a car, it can be a costly process that ultimately depreciates the resale value of your BMW.

By selling your car in order to get a new car with the transmission you’re looking for, you don’t risk destroying your vehicle’s resale value, and you get the transmission you’re looking for. This is, therefore, a safer option financially. Your new car’s resale value would, of course, also remain intact. This is why, for most people, trading in is the most realistic option.

Conclusion

In this article, we looked at the processes of converting a car’s transmission type, both from manual to automatic and vice versa. In general, manual to automatic conversion is more common, especially in older vehicles.

Most modern cars utilize internal computers that are wired to work with the existing transmission. In order to change the type of transmission, all of these computerized parts need to be replaced or rewired, in addition to the other physical modifications that need to be made to your car.


At the end of the day, converting a car’s transmission to a different type is a costly process that could damage the resale value of your car. Unless you’re ready to make that financial commitment, you’re likely better off trading your car in for one with the right transmission for you.

Sources

https://www.ucan2magazine.co.uk/blog/automatic-car

https://www.nationaltransmission.ca/converting-automatic-to-manual-transmission-calgary-alberta/

https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Discussion-t37376_ds630619

https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance/guides/car-buying/manual-vs-automatic-car-transmission-pros-cons.html

Stephen Metellus

I am a BMW enthusiast and owner of abetterbmw.com! I have been repairing, flipping, and parting out BMWs for nearly ten years. I love these vehicles and I hope you will find my articles and YouTube channel helpful for whatever BMW project you have in store!

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