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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone first post here, I’ve been active on E46zone for a few years, one of maybe 5 users left on that forum and the time has finally come for me to move on from E46’s.

I’ve set my sights on a 130i and as the supply is limited I’m considering an auto, how are these steptronic gearboxes at 15 years old? The information I can find tells me how they are to drive but nothing about it whether it will be leaving me at the side of the road with a red flashing cog on the dash, which may be a good thing as if no one has written about it they should be reliable!

Thanks!
 

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Welcome!

They're noticeably nicer than the E46 autos were at the same age in my experience, so if that's what you're coming from you're going to be happy. They're still slushboxes, so don't expect them to be as good as the modern stuff :)

If you can find one that's had its oil changed once or more in its history that would be ideal. BMW considered them lifetime fill so non-enthusiast owners often don't bother. Failure seems to be very rare, but logic suggests the more miles the box does before it's serviced, the more likely it'll be to play up.

Do keep an eye on the tax bands though - some of the 130i autos are a band up because they're a touch less efficient, so are £550 a year vs £350 for the manual. If in doubt, gov.uk will tell you 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The tax band! I hadn’t even considered that, I’d seen the manuals tax but wasn’t aware it was different on the auto. I’ve only ever had MT so it would be completely new territory, I’m far from convinced with the word slushbox being bandied about :ROFLMAO: if only there were more of them on the market!
 

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The tax band! I hadn’t even considered that, I’d seen the manuals tax but wasn’t aware it was different on the auto. I’ve only ever had MT so it would be completely new territory, I’m far from convinced with the word slushbox being bandied about :ROFLMAO: if only there were more of them on the market!
Would you consider a low mileage 135i? I have mine for sale in the classifieds.
 

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The tax band! I hadn’t even considered that, I’d seen the manuals tax but wasn’t aware it was different on the auto. I’ve only ever had MT so it would be completely new territory, I’m far from convinced with the word slushbox being bandied about :ROFLMAO: if only there were more of them on the market!
Just from a very quick look on auto trader...

Pre-LCI Manual £360
Pre-LCI Auto £615 :eek2:
LCI Manual £330
LCI Auto £330

Only way to find out about the gearbox will be to test drive one, I definitely wouldn't rule them out until you have, despite what the internet says 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
trust someone to come along and say something sensible like test drive it! I’ve got two lined up, an E81 and a E87 both LCI both local, hopefully they hang around as I’m away until next week but then it’s on like wheeler dealers
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
no the E81 is AT with lots of options and the E87 is MT with very low spec both msport, they’re both on auto trader, 07 plates in london black around £5.5k
 

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I'm happy with my auto, perfect as a daily beater and you can also flash the trans which makes sport mode feral. The auto also comes with a better final drive than the manual. As commented above, it's certainly not as good as a modern auto but leagues ahead of the e36/46 era craptastic units. If you go auto then I can also highly recommend the Nelson Racing Wheel aluminium paddles, they're vastly superior to the moronic BMW ones.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
nice one, that’s the kind of enthusiastic response I was looking for to enable me! am I correct in assuming both paddles are pull for upshift and push for down shift? is it just a simple repin at the connector to change this or is it a coding thing?
 

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nice one, that’s the kind of enthusiastic response I was looking for to enable me! am I correct in assuming both paddles are pull for upshift and push for down shift? is it just a simple repin at the connector to change this or is it a coding thing?
No worries but I do agree with others above, drive one before you emotionally commit, how a car feels is a pretty subjective thing.

You're correct with the stock paddles, both sides are push (-) and pull (+) which does my head in, in fact I consider it dangerous. They "fixed" this in 2009 with the LCI2 (they changed to the DCT L/R paddles from the 135i) but there aren't many of those around. You can repin the originals but they have a terrible form factor, a vague feel, and they don't extend down far enough, the NRW versions fix all of these shortcomings, even overcoming some of the limitations of the stock hardware you reuse, and are deliciously precise and ergonomic. If you go the NRW route message me first, their terminology is directed at the US market and it's easy to pick the wrong version.

 

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I'm happy with my auto, perfect as a daily beater and you can also flash the trans which makes sport mode feral. The auto also comes with a better final drive than the manual. As commented above, it's certainly not as good as a modern auto but leagues ahead of the e36/46 era craptastic units. If you go auto then I can also highly recommend the Nelson Racing Wheel aluminium paddles, they're vastly superior to the moronic BMW ones.
Is it the same GM Box as in the 125i? I didn’t know you could flash it. If so would you recommend getting it done?
 

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Is it the same GM Box as in the 125i? I didn’t know you could flash it. If so would you recommend getting it done?
No, mine's a ZF6 with an xHP flash. I wasn't aware there were different boxes until a recent post on here IIRC, it's possible they're market-specific, or possibly even date or production run specific. My 130 is a 2007 JDM spec FWIW.
 
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