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  1. #1
    skipsfcr
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    540i six speed swap finished...

    I'm not a "newbie" here but more of a "searcher"...I just thought I'd share (FYI) that I've read virtually every thread in the archives regarding the 5 speed automatic to 6 speed manual transmission swap. I've just completed mine and I'd like to share what I've learned. There is some conflicting information to be found (here and elsewhere)and frankly a lot of questions left unanswered. Bottom line is that the 6 speed IS a plug and play swap. I am aprofessional BMW technician so I may unerestimate the level of complexity for the average DIY'er but I believe if you can replace a clutch in an E34 you can perform this swap. The most difficult part of the swap (IMO)is replacing the pedal bracket...a $37 part (dealer list) btw. I used a dual-mass flywheel/ clutch / transmission from an E39 540i. All these parts are direct bolt ons and more readily available then E34 6 speed components. FYI,ALL E34 manual transmission pedal assemblies are IDENTICAL PERIOD...from '89 M20 powered 525i to M5 to '95 540i. Don't let anybody tell you anything different. Tbe clutch master cylinder is also the same between E34 models. The slave cylinder is inexpensive in the aftermarket as is the rubber clutch hose. The fluid container, its bracket, and clutch hydraulic lines are all relatively inexpensive from BMW. The shift lever support bracket, manual transmission crossmember, and selector rod attach directly to the E39 transmission without modification. These 3 components are less than $100 new from your local dealer. I opted to use a Z3 shift lever as it's well known as an inexpensive factory short throw upgrade (~$50) Other than the transmission itself the most expensive "must replace" component is the driveshaft. A rebuilt unit can be had for around $400. M/T E39 540i's are far more common than E34's so parts for this swap have gotten a lot easier to come by. I hope others will defy the "nay sayers" and perform this swap. Surprisingly, drivability is decent even with the original 2.73:1 rear differential (I'll be upgrading soon). This car was great with the automatic but with the 6 speed it's in a whole other realm.
    Chris "Skip" Leonard,
    Skip's Foreign Car Repair, Inc.
    Conway, Arkansas


  2. #2
    Gadjo Dilo
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    Nice write-up

    I drive an E34 540i myself with a manual 6-speed but the car came with it from the factory. Good to know about the high degree of interchangeability with respect to 6-speed transmissions from the E34 540i-6 and the E39 540i-6.

    Gadjo

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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    I have a high miles 95 525 wagon in very good shape and I would love to convert her into a 540 5/6 speed wagon, what do you recommend? Where do I find a good 540 donor?

  4. #4
    skipsfcr
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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    To make it as "easy" as possible I'd use an M60B40 (4 liter)engine from an E32 or E34 and the same E39 ('97 up) transmission & clutch components I used in my conversion. Supposedly the M60B44 (4.4 liter) engine found in E39 5 series and E38 7 series cars is an easy upgrade to the 4 liter but the electronics/ wiring harness etc. are not going to facilitate installation into the E34 platform...Additionally I'd use a '93-'94 DME as it doesn't have BMW's "EWS" security system. This would eliminate that hurdle altogether.

  5. #5
    skipsfcr
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    Re: Nice write-up

    Thanks very much! I just wanted to post something affirmative about the conversion. In searching the archives here, for instance, one response to a swap question states plainly (and incorrectly) that the E34 & E39 6 speed units are completely different. I did my homework before sourcing my parts and just wanted to share with others that the conversion isn't rocket science.

  6. #6
    skipsfcr
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    Oh...I forgot to mention

    the driveline components in the 540i's are substantially "beefier"than in the 525i models. A custom driveshaft will be in order and the durability of the differential might be questionable. In Europe the 540 was offered as a Touring so, theoretically, plug and play driveline parts migh be available at some expense. Frankly I'm not sure if the 540i diff will even bolt up to the 525i's rear subframe. Of course anything's "do-able"...It only takes time & money!

  7. #7
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    Nice Job!! >>>

    Glad to see that there are people out there who won't take NO for an answer.

    While gathering parts for a 1995 4.0 liter 840 6 speed swap, I fell into the trap regarding the pedal assembly that the ETK had waiting for me. It shows the same part number for both the Euro 6 speed (6 speed wasn't available in the U.S.) and the auto. It was very frustrating for the guy doing the swap to figure out where the clutch pedal return spring was supposed to go, until we figured out that back then there were actually two different pedal assemblies. Can't believe the bean counters allowed the parts supplier to get away with that. Now, BMW provides only the manual trans assembly which has has the spring perch but of course works with an auto as well. The E31, E32 and E34 all share the same part number.

    One big difference between 4 liter and 4.4 liter transmissions is that the 4.4 gets the crankshaft speed from the flywheel instead of the harmonic balancer. So it sounds like putting the later trans in a 4 liter is no problem, but the earlier trans won't work (as far as the engine harness goes) in a 4.4 liter. I was told that OBD II needs more accurate crankshaft speed sensing and the flywheel pickups are better for that.

    I found that 1st gear was so low with the six speed, it was acting like a compound low with the 2.93 diff. I didn't like being at 3000 rpm in the middle of an interstection after starting out from a traffic light, so I went with a 2.81 from a '96. That was much better for me, and in 40 or 50 years, the increased gas mileage will pay for the swap! ;0) But a 2.73! I can see why you'd want to change that.

    I'm in CA, so smog compliance was a question, since the car was never available in the U.S. with a stick. I called CARB beforehand and was told the state didn't care, but the "engineer" cautioned me that I'd have to "spend thousands" for a new engine harness. I was polite and didn't laugh at him. I've had no problems getting the car smog checked.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It's sure to give hope to the people who would rather shift, since most of the cars were automatics.

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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    First of all, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!
    I'm currently planning to do a similar swap on an euro-spec 540i. Does the driveshaft come from E39 or did you use one from E34 6-spd? And what are the diff options for this kind of setup?
    Much thanks,
    Tomek

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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    Awesome! I just picked up an e34 touring that I hope to swap a manual into. Good to see that it's a fairly straight-forward ordeal.

  10. #10
    mhax
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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    old thread but, do you know if slave cylinder is the same for every e34?

  11. #11
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    Re: 540i six speed swap finished...

    Yes. At least on both of my 525 and 540 they are.
    AIM: yaofeng4249
    '95 525i 5 speed built 5/94 w/93 m50tu engine
    '95 540ia built 7/94, converted to 6 speed w/93 e32 M60 4.0L Nikasil engine
    '01 540it, built 6/01
    '03 325i 5 speed, built 9/02

  12. #12
    Clutchplate
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    Question about E34 6speed trans to a E39

    Hi There,

    Thanks for that awesome info ! unfortunatly I can't find an E39 6speed box anywhere, but I have now found a 6speed from an E34 540i motorsport.

    this will fit on my '99 E39 540i right ? its currently steptronic, trying to convert it, what about the one guy said the E34's 540i has a crank sensor and then E39 540i has the crank sensor on the flywheel ?

    is it going to be insane for me to just fit the sensor to the E34's gearbox and still put it in my E39 540 ?

    Kind Regards,
    Clutchplate.

  13. #13
    Paul
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    Re: Question about E34 6speed trans to a E39

    Wrong bolt pattern, won't fit. Even if it would bolt up the gear ratio's are different.

  14. #14
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    Six Speed Swap in E34

    Quote Originally Posted by bimmerphile73 View Post
    Glad to see that there are people out there who won't take NO for an answer.

    One big difference between 4 liter and 4.4 liter transmissions is that the 4.4 gets the crankshaft speed from the flywheel instead of the harmonic balancer. So it sounds like putting the later trans in a 4 liter is no problem, but the earlier trans won't work (as far as the engine harness goes) in a 4.4 liter.
    I realize that this post is about four years old; however, once a Bimmer fan always a Bimmer fan, so hopefully you are still on here. I was wondering what year your E34 series might be. I have a 1994 E34 A/T that has a leaky secondary transmission cooler (under bell housing) and am considering swapping to a six speed manual. The A/T cooler is about $500.00 new and I thought for the price maybe I just needed to switch to a six speed so I can drive again. I recently rebuilt the valve body in the A/T, and now I hear what seems to be the A/T internal fluid pump whining so it may be getting ready to go. In any event, I am wondering about being able to swap over to the E39 M/T as you mentioned with my E34 of the 1994 vintage. I do prefer the six speed without hesitation.

    Thank you for your help!
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  15. #15
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    Thank you

    I did the swap took all summer To collect the parts .parts were a little bit more expensive get BMW then they were back then but felt most important to junk yards Cross the country and some new parts at auto Part store thanks
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  16. #16
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    E34 6 speed swap electronics

    As far as putting in the 6 speed from an e39 into an auto e34, do you have to do anything to the harness or computer? Can you still use the auto harness and dme with the manual transmission? Will using a manual transmission throw off any check engine lights? Is it possible to re program the dme from the e34 so it doesn't read as an automatic if it does throw a code?
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote 162.158.255.201

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