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View Full Version : NEED HELP --- Can't figure out why Trans FailSafe


hilarushi
11-27-2009, 09:09 PM
After searching any post I could find on Trans FailSafe problem I can not find an answer to my problem.
A long story short.
I just got a 2002 530i with 91k miles. I got it for cheap but now I have to figure out these problems. The main one is that transmission is in LIMP mode. As soon as you start the car without even driving it or putting in into drive I get the message TRANS FAILSALE. Because this is happening without even driving the car it makes me think it is an electrical problem and not the tranny. I took the alternator out and had it tested (autozone) and it showed good on their test machine. I got the battery replaced because the old one was bad but nothing has changed. I also have the DSC (the slip symbol) on all the time. I am running out of ideas and what way to go to troubleshoot the problem. I also unplugged the ABS unit located behind passengers headlight but nothing changed.

Any suggestions are appricated.
Please help. :(

gtxragtop
11-28-2009, 05:22 AM
Bring it to autozone and have them scan for any OBD2 codes

Fudman
11-28-2009, 06:15 AM
+1 on scanning codes. If possible, have them try to reset the code. If they can't, take it to the dealer, have them scan the codes and then reset. That will cost you 1 hr labor. Under no circumstances should you believe them (at first) when they say you need a new tranny.

The cause of this problem could be major or minor. You really could need a new tranny. However, more often than not, it is a sensor (not sure which one :dunno:) that trips the TRAN FAILSAFE PROG. I had this go off at 50K on my previous e39. It happened on a wet rainy drive. The dealer said I needed a new tranny. :mad: I had them reset the OBC and left (never to return). It NEVER recurred over another 35K. Do a search as others have had this issue.

hilarushi
11-28-2009, 08:36 AM
Thank you for the replies.
I actually have an OBDII scanner. I have scanned it and there are no codes stored. I also drove the car around that maybe some codes will be triggered but nothing. I disconnected the battery too but no help. The trans failsafe comes as soon as you start the car without even driving it so that's why I think it is electrical issue and not internal trany problem.
Is there any way to try to troubleshot the Trains FailSafe?

WHITE E39
11-28-2009, 09:11 AM
i would take it to the dealer to see what they say and clear the codes. drive it home to see if you still have the problem.

xraye39
11-28-2009, 09:48 AM
Probably nothing to do with Tranny light however may be worth looking at for DSC.

Read this (http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1324355&highlight=try+this+first).

hilarushi
11-28-2009, 10:36 AM
Thank you for the suggestions. I tried the ground method too. Didn't fix it. Also checked all the fuses and they seem good. The battery voltage is 12.3volt when car is off and the alternator runs around 14volt.
My problem is the DSC light is still on. The Tranny FailSafe is still on. And one odd thing, the outside temp shows as -40F, but it may be unrelated.


What else should I check?
I am going to check the fluid level maybe it is low.

Still lost.

hilarushi
11-28-2009, 10:49 AM
I also found this. It's for the X5 but I wonder if they are related?

Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
BMW / X5 2000-2001
Manufacturer: BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE Mfr's Report Date: MAY 18, 2001
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 01V196000
N/A
NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Component: POWER TRAIN:AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION:PARK/NEUTRAL START SWITCH
Potential Number of Units Affected: 14300
Summary:
VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: 4.4I SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES. OVER AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, ABRASION PARTICLES COULD DEPOSIT ON THE ELECTRICAL CONTACTS WITHIN THE SWITCH, CAUSING A DISRUPTION OF THE ELECTRIC CURRENT THROUGH THE CONTACTS. IF THE DISRUPTION OCCURS WHEN THE VEHICLE IS STATIONARY WITH THE TRANSMISSION IN THE NEUTRAL OR PARK POSITIONS, THE TRANSMISSION WILL SWITCH AUTOMATICALLY INTO THE EMERGENCY PROGRAM, WHICH IS DISPLAYED IN THE INSTRUMENT CLUSTER VIA A WARNING LAMP AND A MESSAGE, "TRANS. FAIL-SAFE PROG." IN THIS CASE, THE VEHICLE CAN BE DRIVEN IN LOWER GEARS ONLY WITH LIMITED ENGINE OUTPUT.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE TRANSMISSION GEAR POSITION INDICATOR SWITCH. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAN AUGUST 14, 2001. OWNERS WHO TAKE THEIR VEHICLES TO AN AUTHORIZED DEALER ON AN AGREED UPON SERVICE DATE AND DO NOT RECEIVE THE FREE REMEDY WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME SHOULD CONTACT BMW AT 1-800-831-1117.

hilarushi
12-01-2009, 03:04 PM
UPDATE.

It turned out that the tranny had a few codes stored and thats why it was always on FailSafe mode. I tried everything I could to reset it myself, including removing battery, and OBD rest but nothing worked, and OBC Test 21 rest. I took the car to a local shop that works on transmission and had them read and ERASE the codes. Tranny works perfect now. I have been driving it around with no issues. The codes seems that they were voltage related. Oh and I only paid $25 just the rest the codes.

From my research the most common causes of Trans FailSafe are:

1.Alternator/Battery even when car starts fine it doesn't mean they are good enough for the tranny control module.
2.DSC/ASC module, but usually the ABS/Brake/DSC lights come on when this is the cause. Sometimes the speedometer wont work.
3.Of course low fluid level/pressure at the pump. This is more rare.
4.And sometimes it can come on for unknown reasons or maybe serious reasons like tranny really slipping.



Hope this helps someone in the future.

I want to thank you all for your responses. :)

Fudman
12-01-2009, 04:37 PM
Glad to see you get it fixed. Rule 1 when the TRANS FAILSAFE PROG lights up: Reset the codes to determine if the problem recurs. Often times it doesn't.

occhis
12-01-2009, 06:38 PM
Did your outside temp go back to normal?

bmw_n00b13
12-01-2009, 08:05 PM
Did your outside temp go back to normal?That's probably due to a broken exterior temperature sensor.

hilarushi
12-01-2009, 08:41 PM
No the outside temp doesn't work. I got to fix that. But as stated above they don't seem to be related. Also my DSC light is still on and in this case it doesn't seem to be related to Trans FailSafe prog.

scrat
12-03-2009, 11:10 PM
OH GADDDD. Same thing happened to me today.
2003 525i 94400 miles.

Started up the car and backed up. Put it in drive then pulled out to the curb. Waited for traffic. Then when i started to pull away it was like the car did not move. i looked down to see the TRANS FAILSAFE PROG. Great wtf. So i pulled over in the parking lot look through the manual. I am 40 miles away from home.
Manual said to set parking brake. turn off car wait a few minutes then restart if it goes away ok. if not take it to get serviced. Well i tried it and it does not go away. so i make a few phone calls. Then determine that i should be able to drive it just start off slow as it will be limited to 3 and 4th gear only. i try it out and i make it on the freeway and safely drive at 50 mph. When i get home i take it to my friends shop. He opens the drivers door. opens the plug. Plugs in this computer. Then runs a complete diagnostic on the cars comuter. A whole bunch of codes come up. So he then resets the whole computer including the transmission. then re runs the code diagnostic. Then he has me drive the car for a few minutes. i did and went back. He said dont worry about it. Done NO CHARGE. WOW i am so lucky. SO SO SO SO LUCKY

ksood
01-29-2010, 12:58 PM
I have this exact problem with my 2004 530i e60...transmission in failsafe mode. I will try to get the codes cleared. I just joined up. It is great to know I am not the only one with this problem. Thanks guys.

jieg
01-29-2010, 01:06 PM
Interesting case, good thing you sorted out your problem



I have been there and number 2 option was my case. I think this thread will serve as future reference for those who will suffer or resuffer the problem



UPDATE.

It turned out that the tranny had a few codes stored and thats why it was always on FailSafe mode. I tried everything I could to reset it myself, including removing battery, and OBD rest but nothing worked, and OBC Test 21 rest. I took the car to a local shop that works on transmission and had them read and ERASE the codes. Tranny works perfect now. I have been driving it around with no issues. The codes seems that they were voltage related. Oh and I only paid $25 just the rest the codes.

From my research the most common causes of Trans FailSafe are:

1.Alternator/Battery even when car starts fine it doesn't mean they are good enough for the tranny control module.
2.DSC/ASC module, but usually the ABS/Brake/DSC lights come on when this is the cause. Sometimes the speedometer wont work.
3.Of course low fluid level/pressure at the pump. This is more rare.
4.And sometimes it can come on for unknown reasons or maybe serious reasons like tranny really slipping.



Hope this helps someone in the future.

I want to thank you all for your responses. :)

Hooray!
01-29-2010, 08:54 PM
My alternator died on my 2002 530i 60,000 miles while on the highway, red battery light pops on, then TRANS FAIL SAFE. I pulled over, shut it off, restarted, no TRANS FAIL SAFE, drove it to the dealer where he put in a new alternator, now 14 volts, battery load test is fine. He reset the codes and off I go, 50 miles later SES light is on, but car drives great, shifts great. Indy said I needed to go to a BMW dealer with the full on computer to reset all the codes, his reader did not pull up any faults and my Peake Research code reader does not either. Is there a decent home type reader that actually will pull all the codes the BMW dealer's will? I guess I dont understand why there seem to be several versions of "reset", one the indy did, SES light went off and apparently one the dealer can do... oh well as long as it drives great, Im ok. Going to do the ATF shortly regardless.

Est1974
01-31-2010, 05:14 PM
All of this seems to be related to the same chain of events:
1. Replace the ignition switch
2. Replace the Transmission Control Module

You will clear the faults and should be good to go. Doing the ignition switch will stop all the subsequent fault lights that will drive you to the edge of crazy

Hooray!
02-01-2010, 03:39 PM
Is the "transmission control module" capable of storing data / codes? This might be the "computer" I keep hearing has to be "re-programmed / flashed / cleared" by a BMW dealer's computer after a trans failsafe... I really want a code reader that do all these, then I'll decide when to pony up the $125 to go to a BMW dealer to download codes... does one exist?

Melrose
11-17-2011, 11:41 AM
See my post elsewhere on this forum. Mine was definitely voltage related, appeared after leaving engine in run position. The Harbor Freight $25. one did it for me, but it had failed to detect a defective Cam Position Sensor, and ADVANCE"s did.

Melrose
11-17-2011, 11:39 PM
The sensor that controls that is on the transmission. Pull it apart and clean the contacts with De-oxit. Reconnect it and see what happens. Went through it today, but my problem was a dead battery putting out less than 12.5v that was recharged and then using a $25. Harbor freight code reader to take out the code.

ksood
11-18-2011, 10:06 AM
My problem was exactly the same as yours Melrose. All I did was change the battery, and the cars been just fine since then. BMW wanted a lot for the battery, I picked one up from our local Canadian Tire shop here, and it worked just great. Thanks for your help.