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Old 11-23-2012, 09:43 AM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Location: Arizona
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Mein Auto: 545i
Originally Posted by PZimniewicz View Post

I have not been on the board in awhile, and wanted to say I forgot how knowledgeable people are here and giving of their time. I read through this thread, and I think it really goes in depth on describing the issue or the number of possibilities.

In my case, I have the exact same message about "Caution: Gear can be engaged without pressing brake."

I have taken this to a local shop and they have said that it is probably a voltage issue as you have pointed out. They said it was probably not worth the hassle to go through if it does not effect regular operation of car."

So, my follow questions to you or the board are: (Consider my car starts without an issue, and drives fine)
1) Is it really worth trying to fix this? Is it likely a harbinger of additional problems to come elsewhere, or is it just that particular voltage issue and such is life. I ask because I live in Buffalo, NY and it is about to become the north pole for a couple of months. I would hate to walk out to car and have it not start or be able to shift due to a compounding eventual problem. While I no nobody can give a guarantee that is the case, is it more likely that it is just an isolate voltage issue or something in the way of shift lock and won't get worse? If so, why would I even bother fixing?
2) Oddly enough, quite a bit ago where my cigarette lighter is broke and there has been a gap there. I often overflow change in the ashtray. There is for sure loose change down in the hole behind the lighter. Is it possible/probably that the issue is related to that chaneg being in there or floating around? I don't know if there is something electronic that could interfere with, or if it physically could get in way of a shift lock pin or something? Is it worth trying to deconstruct console to check? Could I attach a magnet to something to pull out change? If I did, would it screw some electronic up or something?

Thanks in advance for any replies to this. At this point, I am resigned to leave it as is until the next time it is in the shop for something more substantial than regulare maintenance.

By the way, the warning occurs every single time regardless of cold or hot start and never goes away.


Hi Paul,
My answer to your first question “Is it really worth trying to fix this?” is it depends on how much the light on the dash bothers you. If it doesn’t bother you too much then forget about it.

I would plug the gap where you cigarette lighter is broken and not allow any more loose change to go into the console as this could cause other problems in the future. Whether a coin in your console is causing your present problem I would say probably not. If you are not seeing any other dash warning lights coming on then I think your problem is isolated to the gear shift lock and I wouldn’t worry about it further failing and stranding you.

The gear shift locking system is actually two separate locks. The gear shift is physically locked by a cable and pin when the ignition is in the off and locked position (for those of us who have older models that use keys). When the key is inserted and rotated the cable withdraws the first pin and the cars computer works with the transmission body to send an electronic voltage to the solenoid in the gear shift mechanism in the console to insert the separate second locking pin. Pressing the brake pedal interrupts the voltage and withdraws the second locking pin when you are ready to drive. The voltage to push the second locking pin into position is send from a solenoid in the transmission mechatronic unit and that solenoid apparently can get sticky and not send the signal. The computer senses that the second locking pin solenoid has not been activated and turns the light on in the dash warning that the gear shift lever is not being locked. Is it possible that a loose coin is shorting the solenoid connection? I would think unlikely, but I haven’t seen a console apart so I can’t answer that definitively.

If you have not changed your transmission fluid in a while that is probably your best first step. It certainly is worth trying to see if fresh fluid frees up the sticky solenoid, and the fresh fluid will be very good for the life of your transmission. Figure around $250 for transmission fluid, drain plug gaskets, etc doing it yourself. If you are going to replace your pan (for a new filter) figure $325. It takes two separate drain and fills to refresh nearly all of the fluid so if you have an Indy do it it will be expensive.

If your trans fluid has been changed recently and the dash light bothers you I would go into the console to at least be able to test the voltage on the locking pin solenoid to see if the voltage is being sent. If not then your next step would be going after the solenoid in the transmission body, but that is a large and messy job and you may decide at that point to live with the dash light being on.
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