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Replacing a SMG Transmission with a Standard Transmission


Mike Latimer






SMG1, Savethemanual, nonm


I’m the proud original owner of a 2004 330i SMG sedan.  Since new, it’s been pretty reliable with only the most notorious issues arising, (window regulators, control arm bushings, etc).  A few years ago the SMGI which I believe also is referred to as the SSG, started having issues.  I had the actuator repaired to stop a leak, only to need to replace the pump a few weeks later.  Now, due to a leak from an as of yet undetermined source, the entire housing of the actuator and pump has been destroyed as well as the newly repaired/replaced parts attached to it.  Now for the entire assembly replacement with labor I have quotes of around $6,000.

My question pertains to how to convert a Non-M SMG into a traditional 3 pedal car.  Most write ups available online are only involving the SMGII from the M3, which as it turns out was also very problematic.  Is it possible to convert the SMG I to a 3 pedal manual using the same gearbox? What additional parts would be needed?  I appreciate any insight.


Hello Mr. Latimer, anything is possible given enough time and money, however, this is not a project you want to undertake if you are looking at it from a financial perspective. It can be done but it will be more than $6000 for sure.

I’ll use one of my cars to contrast with your car. I have a 1991 BMW 325 convertible, the car came with an automatic transmission and I’m in the process of swapping in a 5 speed. On my car, it is a straight mechanical project, there are no computers and very minimal electrical work that has to be done, it does take a lot of parts: transmission, pedal assembly, hydraulic system, driveshaft, etc… but very straight forward. It’ll be around 10 hours to complete.

On your car, you have all of the above plus the really hard part, dealing with all of the electronics involved, you have all of the computers that have to communicate with each other in order for all of the functions in the car to work and so that you do not have any warning lights on. also the wiring harness will have to be replaced or modified. It’ll probably take 15 to 20 hours at the very minimum, and that is just for the actual mechanical part, the research will add at least another 5 hours, locating all of the parts will take another few hours. All of the parts and labor, besides the fact that the car will likely drop in value after the conversion makes it a financially unsound decision.

If I were in your shoes I would repair the car, sell it and buy a traditional standard transmission car, if the goal is to repair the car for less than the $6000 estimate, I really do not see that being the case. I hope that I was able to help. Please contact me with any further questions. Thank you.

Gil Neves


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