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Matt, Mechanical Engineer
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 24818
Experience:  BEng hons Mech engineering, in auto industry 22 years
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E46 Clutch Judder Happens intermittently, usually when

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E46 Clutch Judder Happens intermittently, usually when stuck in traffic, I have read this is a common design problem caused by the bell housing on the E46 being too small to dissipate heat build up. Does BMW have a fix, other than replacing the clutch and flywheel which does not resolve the problem permanently Thanks 

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there's no official fix from BMW as it didn't effect all cars

however on the higher power M cars the Gertrag box on these has a vented bellhousing for this very reason to allow heat to escape

So if there's a rubber bung on the top remove it to allow the heat to escape

if there's no bung I'd suggest drilling some 6mm holes in between the stiffening webs to allow it to vent
Matt, Mechanical Engineer
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 24818
Experience: BEng hons Mech engineering, in auto industry 22 years
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks for answering my question


Can you confirm why it only affects some but not all cars? The E46 318i is a relatively low powered car so I don't understand why it affects this and not others.


Also can you advise exactly where the "rubber bung" that you are referring to is located or the stiffing webs that need to be drilled? I read BMW had produced a software update for affected vehicles that increases the revs before clutch byte but this is only of use if a new flywheel and clutch is fitted post 2011, can you advise if this is correct?


Sorry to ask so many questions but I really need to understand how to go about fixing the problem




a large part of it will be how the car is driven

lots of stop start traffic with clutch slip will overheat and eventually soften the clutch plate material

if the car is driven mainly on a roads and motorways then there's no issue

on some models of the transmisson there is a large rubber bung / plug that locates into a socket on the top of the gearbox - this was deleted on some models to save cost if your car has this bung then remove it to allow air to escape - however you may then want to produce a mesh guard to prevent stones ingressing

the software update is for later cars than yours I believe?

also unless the car is a semi automatic raising the revs isn't going to help the issue

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Matt,


Thanks for all the information, naturally I will give you a rating but if you could just explain how in the modern World that one can avoid even the occasional traffic jam which would cause the Clutch to over heat and melt I would be grateful ! My point is, how on earth can BMW deem only problem that affect cars stuck in traffic, what fix did they recommend for cars that were sold to people in cities?


How effective is taking the rubber bung/plug cover out of the gear box and if I don't have one to take out , is there any risk that drilling the 6 mm holes into the bell housing will let rain water into the system and cause other problems? Basically is there nothing that BMW can do to fix this problem of a melting clutch?