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      02-15-2012, 10:33 PM   #1
northX3
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How to put the car in neutral ?

Hello everyone

How to put the car in neutral ? When you cannot start the engine, of course !

I understand that on the X5 there is a manual switch under the glove box to manually place the transmission on neutral, ie for towing. Where is that switch on the X3 ?

Maybe there is none ? and the electronic shifter is rendered useless when the car runs out of battery, or malfunctions ?
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      02-15-2012, 10:46 PM   #2
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Wondering this as well. There could be a lever under the car.

Also what's the correct way to go through automatic car wash? With the engine on and in neutral?
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      02-15-2012, 10:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northX3 View Post
Hello everyone

How to put the car in neutral ? When you cannot start the engine, of course !

I understand that on the X5 there is a manual switch under the glove box to manually place the transmission on neutral, ie for towing. Where is that switch on the X3 ?

Maybe there is none ? and the electronic shifter is rendered useless when the car runs out of battery, or malfunctions ?
I'm not sure on this one. I remember there was a thread about a special towing function. Try searching the forum for "neutral" or "towing." Until you find the answer, I say it's best you keep a battery trickle charger in the car.
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      02-15-2012, 10:51 PM   #4
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If there is no way to put it in neutral with the engine off, that's a big f-ing design mistake...
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      02-15-2012, 11:05 PM   #5
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Are you talking about a No Power situation? If so, BMW says that the procedure should only be done be BMW Service personnel. If you have no power, and your X3 is dead by the side of the road, the procedure just isn't going to happen. It requires that an underbody panel be removed, and then that a set screw be tightened to release the transmission. Without a jack and jackstands, that ain't safely happening. BMW Roadside Assistance typically doesn't have a clue what the procedure is, nor do they typically have the equipment to safely execute it.

The Google is your friend. "GA8HP Automatic Transmission" is a great keyword string to try. See what you find, and note that the X5 E70 uses the same GA8HP transmission.
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      02-15-2012, 11:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x3heh View Post
Wondering this as well. There could be a lever under the car.

Also what's the correct way to go through automatic car wash? With the engine on and in neutral?
I use a touchless carwash. I drive in, I put my X3 in Park, and when the process is complete I engage Drive and move forward to the blow dryer.

If I were to ever use a standard carwash, one that moves my X3 through the pads, brushes and blowers via a motorized belt (and Gasp! actually touches it!), I would fold my mirrors, move forward until the attendant told me to stop, shift to Neutral, wait until I got to the end, engage Drive, and move forward. Oh yeah, I would also pay extra for Wheels, in the hope that they would actually wash off a layer of brake dust.
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      02-15-2012, 11:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 02420X3 View Post
Are you talking about a No Power situation? If so, BMW says that the procedure should only be done be BMW Service personnel. If you have no power, and your X3 is dead by the side of the road, the procedure just isn't going to happen. It requires that an underbody panel be removed, and then that a set screw be tightened to release the transmission. Without a jack and jackstands, that ain't safely happening. BMW Roadside Assistance typically doesn't have a clue what the procedure is, nor do they typically have the equipment to safely execute it.

The Google is your friend. "GA8HP Automatic Transmission" is a great keyword string to try. See what you find, and note that the X5 E70 uses the same GA8HP transmission.
That's simply disgusting. What happens when they tow you in the city (like they know anything about this transmission!)? When they try to tow you without a flatbed? They wreck your transmission. And even if they tow it on a flatbed, they must use dollies for the rear wheels or they damage the transmission!
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      02-16-2012, 01:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x3heh View Post
That's simply disgusting. What happens when they tow you in the city (like they know anything about this transmission!)? When they try to tow you without a flatbed? They wreck your transmission. And even if they tow it on a flatbed, they must use dollies for the rear wheels or they damage the transmission!
I suffered that on my old E60 wagon. I got into a serious accident and the police called for a regular pulley tow-truck, not a flatbed. So the car was dragged about a quarter mile on its rear wheels. In park. Luckily, I had put the parking brake on, so I don't think the transmission was damaged as much as it would have been had I left the parking brake off.
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      02-16-2012, 04:16 AM   #9
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See (in german): http://www.motor-talk.de/forum/neutr...-t3745891.html

Quick translation to put a car in neutral when it doesn't start (we had some starting problems in europe with the diesel while -20 degrees. However it seems a problem with the fuel quality in low temparatures, not the car itself):

With ignition on:
Hold left button on the gear stick while doing
- put gear stick one step forwards and hold 2 seconds,
- then one step back again
- then one step forwards again
Then the car is in neutral for 15 minutes

i haven't (could not) tried it for myself. this procedure is for when the car doesn't start.
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      02-16-2012, 04:53 AM   #10
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I guess you also should ask how to release the electronic handbrake. I know on the landrover discoveries there is a panel on the centre consol that can be removed to pull a cable and release manually. Once released it has to reset at the dealer but you can leave the transmission in park until it is fixed.
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      02-16-2012, 08:37 AM   #11
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I thought there was a sensor that when the car is lifted to a certain angle the alarm (if going off) will turn off and put the car in neutral? I thought that was a US standard?
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      02-16-2012, 09:06 AM   #12
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The X5 has emergency transmission release AND electric parking brake release. However I read somewhere (forgot which forum) that a BMW mechanic told customer that BMW is trying to save few dollar by making those emergency releases go away. Bad move.
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      02-16-2012, 09:40 PM   #13
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so what I understand is that there is no way to manually put the car on neutral OR manually remove the handbrake in case of an accident or if stranded on the side of the road, waiting to be towed ?


WTF happened to the real BMW engineers for this car ???
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      02-17-2012, 01:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northX3 View Post
so what I understand is that there is no way to manually put the car on neutral OR manually remove the handbrake in case of an accident or if stranded on the side of the road, waiting to be towed ?


WTF happened to the real BMW engineers for this car ???
i repeat

With ignition on (but no motor start):
Hold left button on the gear stick while doing
- put gear stick one step forwards and hold 2 seconds,
- then one step back again
- then one step forwards again
Then the car is in neutral for 15 minutes
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      02-17-2012, 05:33 AM   #15
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When you do that, is there any indicator that lets you know it was done correctly? Other than the car rolling away . . .
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      02-17-2012, 12:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEVM View Post
i repeat

With ignition on (but no motor start):
Hold left button on the gear stick while doing
- put gear stick one step forwards and hold 2 seconds,
- then one step back again
- then one step forwards again
Then the car is in neutral for 15 minutes
Thanks, but what about when you can't get the ignition on ?
and what about the handbrake ?
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      02-17-2012, 01:50 PM   #17
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Wish it were a handbrake. It's a button brake. Finger brake.
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      02-17-2012, 03:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northX3 View Post
Thanks, but what about when you can't get the ignition on ?
and what about the handbrake ?
Ok. Found this awesome thread where Lotus7 explains it all:

http://x3.xbimmers.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10690120

Better not lose the battery... Also I think if one loses the battery/electric and engine simultaneously while moving - stopping would be quite difficult, not to mention the steering.
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      02-18-2012, 12:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x3heh View Post
Better not lose the battery... Also I think if one loses the battery/electric and engine simultaneously while moving - stopping would be quite difficult, not to mention the steering.
My e30 M3 had a Single Point Vulnerability (single failure point) that, if it still exists, and it might, would cause exactly that.

While nearing home after an almost 200 mile trip I looked at the instruments and they were doing wierd things. Just as I commented to my wife about something being goofy, the car just died, everything.

The ground strap between the alternator body and the engine block failed. The car ran with headlights and A/C on until there was no battery left to run the engine management computer. This 1988 technological wonder still had a manual transmission and mechanical steering so control of the car while coasting to the side of the street was not difficult. I used a jumper cable with one cable end clamped to the alternator and the other end to the body for a temporary fix. A good push on the door frame and a quick jump in the drivers seat to pop the clutch got us home.

I doubt highly this type of failure on an X3 (or most modern cars) would be so easy to recover from or allow the car to be so well behaved after all the electrics shutdown.
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      02-18-2012, 01:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhoXS View Post
I doubt highly this type of failure on an X3 (or most modern cars) would be so easy to recover from or allow the car to be so well behaved after all the electrics shutdown.
Very scary. Increased complexity eats at the safety and reliability, unfortunately.
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      02-18-2012, 03:55 AM   #21
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To summarise - here is how the 3 scenarios mentioned above can be handled:-

1) If the auto box is in gear (or park) and there is no power, it can be put in neutral using a lever and set screw under the gearbox - as mentioned by 02420X3

2) If the auto box is in gear (or park) and there is power, the gearbox can be put in neutral using the gear lever procedure mentioned by DEVM. Please note that this function only allows the vehicle to be maneuvered - NOT towed. The system then starts a 15 minute timer and will put the gearbox back into park once that timer expires. If the wheels start to move during the 15 minute period, the timer is reset.
I understand that the vehicle is capable of telling if it is being towed (probably by its inclination whilst wheel motion is detected). Given that the vehicle should not be towed (i.e must be transported on a flat bad), breaking these 'rules' will be classed as 'misuse' by the vehicle electrical system. In the event of misuse, an entry is stored in the fault memory.
So, like it or not, the car must only be transported on a flat bed truck. Although you can put the car in neutral and tow it, this will be classed as misuse and stored as a fault in memory. Indeed, the owner's manual clearly states that the vehicle must only be transported on a flat bed - towing it may result in damage.

3) An electromechanical parking brake (EMF) actuator is located in each of the rear brake calipers. The actuator is made up of an electric motor that drives a belt; that drives planetary gear train that pushes a spindle into the brake caliper to activate the brake function. Emergency release of the EMF parking brake by the customer is not provided for. However, it can be released by a service engineer by unscrewing the actuator and manually screwing back the EMF brake spindle.

So, there is emergency provision for each of the above scenarios. Whether or not the roadside recovery crew or service engineer know how to do this (or are willing to) is another matter. I guess the most important thing to note is that towing the vehicle will result in damage and 'misuse' being logged in the fault memory. Like it or not, the car must only be transported on a flat bed as per the owner's manual.

Hope that helps

Last edited by plob; 02-18-2012 at 04:30 AM.
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      02-18-2012, 07:31 AM   #22
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Just plopping this text here from Lotus7 that was noted above for easier reference. Seemed handy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus7 View Post
TCC: There is an electronically operated clutch in the transfer case that controls the amount of torque that goes to the front wheels. It can be set to "couple" power to the front drive-shaft at anything between 0% and 100% of available torque while the vehicle is running. If the rear wheels begin to slip, the transfer case clutch torque setting is increased and more torque is sent to the front wheels (reducing the torque at the rear and stopping the rear slippage). If the transfer case clutch is engaged, the front wheels cannot "freewheel". No battery = no electronics = no TCC = front wheels free to roll.

Park Mode: Although the transmission selector "Park" mode "brakes" the rear wheels, it is not actually a brake. Pressing the "Park" button on the gearshift lever OR shutting off all vehicle power engages a mechanical park "pawl". The "pawl" is a metal pin that drops into a gearwheel connected to the transmission output shaft (which is always connected to the rear driveshaft) that prevents it from turning. The park "pawl" will engage automatically when no power is applied. Ignition COMPLETELY off (second button press) OR dead battery= transmission locked = rear wheels locked. It's just like a older car with a mechanical park position on the gearshift, it will stay in park. When parked on a hill, the E-Brake should be used to hold the vehicle (and the front wheels turned to the curb), not just the transmission "Park' mode which will stress the transmission if used alone.

E-Brake: The Electronic "Emergency Brake", operated by the "pull/push" switch on the console behind the gearshift lever (often called the "Parking Brake") actually is a real braking system. When the E-Brake switch is actuated, a powerful electric motor operates mechanically to pull two metal cables that are coupled to the rear wheel brake calipers. The brake pads are engaged mechanically through the calipers. You can feel the brake pedal drop as the cables reduce hydraulic pressure in the rear calipers by mechanically pressing the pads. The motor is used to engage the E-Brake cables and is used again to dis-engage them. If the Brake Hold is on (green light), the E-Brake (red light) will automatically engage when the car ignition is shut off. The rear-only E-brake will remain in whichever state it was in when the power was removed. A dead battery will not apply the E-Brake if it was previously off, but without battery power, the E-Brake will not operate either. E-Brake only can lock the rear wheels.

Because of the transfer case clutch, the center differential will not explode if the vehicle is moved a short distance (enough to get it onto a flat bed truck) with the rear wheels elevated at low speed. It's effectively disconnecting the front drive-shaft, but not the rear drive-shaft. Even if the vehicle is in "Park" the front wheels are free to rotate (but NOT the rears). However, if the rear wheels rotate when in "park" (transmission park mode - not E-Brake "Park") the transmission will be likely be damaged.

In Neutral the park pawl is disengaged and the vehicle can roll with no damage, but ONLY if the ignition is on, ONLY if the E-Brake is off, and ONLY if there is battery power.

Sorry it's so complicated, but BMW designed it, not me.
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