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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 06-02-2009, 02:19 AM
marrulengo marrulengo is offline
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Mein Auto: '97 528i bmw
'97 528I Transmission stuck in first gear

Greetings,

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction. I don't want to bore anybody but I really need help. My wife's car won't get out of first gear. I towed it from the front and left it in neutral, but apparently it did something to the transmission. Prior to that, when I shifted down manually, the transmission light came on. It went into safe mode, but after turning the car off, it was fine except that the engine light went on then. I drove it for a day or two and it all went away. I went to a dealer today and the parts guy showed me a transmission diagram with a couple of gear solenoids that he thought could be bad. Anybody with this problem before??

Thanks.

Marrulengo
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2009, 11:02 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2009, 11:26 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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QSilver7,

He said it was only 1st gear, not loss of 1st.

marrulengo,

How far did you tow it? If more than a hundred feet or so, you may have toasted some clutches. Get the trans codes read.
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  #4  
Old 06-02-2009, 04:10 PM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marrulengo View Post
Greetings,

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction. I don't want to bore anybody but I really need help. My wife's car won't get out of first gear. I towed it from the front and left it in neutral, but apparently it did something to the transmission. Prior to that, when I shifted down manually, the transmission light came on. It went into safe mode, but after turning the car off, it was fine except that the engine light went on then. I drove it for a day or two and it all went away. I went to a dealer today and the parts guy showed me a transmission diagram with a couple of gear solenoids that he thought could be bad. Anybody with this problem before??

Thanks.

Marrulengo
You did not say why the car was towed. We all know and pretty sure the manual indicates to flat bed only, no hook towing. If a manual trans would have likely been fine. But with an automatic, by towing with the rear wheels on the ground all the internals of the trans were spinning. But without the engine running the trans oil pump was also not running and the spinning parts in the trans were not lubricated. If towed a long distance with the rear wheels on the ground, there is a possibility the trans is internally damaged.

If the trans failure light is on, get the codes read and it will eliminate all the guessing.
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  #5  
Old 06-03-2009, 12:04 AM
marrulengo marrulengo is offline
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Thanks guys for your replies. Well, ignorant me, I did not know about the towing deal. I towed the car for about 60 miles due to a leaky radiator. Got it fixed, but now I have the first gear situation. I had a guy check the codes but there just weren't any. I drove the car up and down the street to see if I could get it to shift manually, at the same time I was paying attention to ANYTHING out of the norm, but there wasn't anything. I took both of the transm. pans off today and everything there looked fine. The ATF was dirty but then again with 102k miles I think is expected. I wanted to attach some pictures I took, but I just don't know how. I see the solenoids the BMW parts guy showed me, and I'm pretty tempted to replace them just to see what happens.
I'll keep you guys posted. In the mean time, PLEASE keep up with your replies...you guys are awesome, sooo much help to read EVERYTHING on this forum!

Marrulengo
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  #6  
Old 06-03-2009, 06:22 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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unfortunately the TIS does not offer much troubleshooting info for the early 97-98 528i with the A4 auto trans. The info Qsilver posted above applies to the A5 trans, which is a totally different animal.
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  #7  
Old 06-24-2009, 10:08 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Couple things:

1. Replacing the radiator is OK for now but when you have time and budget, do a Cooling Overhaul. Here is my DIY:
www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986

2. Do a quick google search so you know how Auto Trans works. Basically ATF is pumped by a pump into the Torque Converter, this only happens when the engine is running.
So when towing any car with AT:
- Flatbed is best.
- If you have no choice and tow only 2 wheels, then tow with DRIVING wheels up.
For a RWD car like BMW: Avoid towing with the Front wheels up more than 20 miles. This is because the Rear wheels spin and this in turn spins the AT but the ATF oil pump is not running (engine off), this can damage the AT.
Another technique is to disconnect the driveline but this is alot of work crawling underneath in the middle of nowhere.
So you can tow with the Rear Wheels up but this puts weight on the Front end and you risk scraping the front end bumper (E39 is low compared with other cars) when you hit a bump.

3. My cousin owns an indy shop in Gardena CA, ask for help, do not guess and fool around with the AT, it is expensive. You might want to flatbed it to his shop.
Info is here:
Southbay BMW Independent
18020 S Vermont Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 532-3145

http://www.yelp.com/biz/south-bay-independent-gardena-2
http://www.judysbook.com/cities/gard...ndependent.htm

Last edited by cn90; 06-25-2009 at 08:44 AM.
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  #8  
Old 06-24-2009, 10:32 PM
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M///Chook M///Chook is offline
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Dont tow E39s while letting the drive wheels spin. Thats a no-no with an auto. Use a flat bed.

Your service tech guy probably showed you the bank of solenoids on the valve body in the diagram. Sometimes they do fail, or the piston pluger gets worn out of round, and they dont retract/open properly.

I know for a fact, people with the other 5HP24 auto trans definitely shouldnt let the car idle or roll in neutral for extended periods of time- it wears the first clutchpack 'A' plates out, since neutral is part of that pack, if I remember right. The tech guy from ZF in Germany told me so in an email when my 5HP24 grenaded..
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  #9  
Old 08-20-2009, 08:27 PM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Exclamation similar but different tranny issues

Ok, I have a 528i with an "almost" new 4L30E auto tranny put in. It won't get out of first gear either. I have park, reverse, nuetral just fine. But when I put it in ANY of the drive gears, all I have is first. My buddy also has a 528i, same year '97, that we are kind of using as a "test" vehicle. I've checked all my modules, TCU ECU etc. in his and so far everything works. Here's the question with your towing comments. We towed BOTH cars with all 4 wheels on the ground (with towbar), in nuetral, one of them for about 5 1/2 hours, the other 4 1/2 hours. His car is still perfectly fine, shifts up and down no problem. Mine on the other hand, was purchased with this issue, BEFORE I towed it, so I dunno if it aggravated it or what. I honestly think it's an electrical or electronic issue. Oh yeah, and NO CODES OR LIGHTS WHATSOEVER on dash or anywhere. EVERYTHING else on the car works perfectly. Even passes freaky ignition switch test lol. PUPUPUPWEEEEZ HELP!!!!!
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  #10  
Old 08-20-2009, 10:56 PM
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i had a s=10 blazer, the tranny was crap. there was this little part in the tranny that would shatter, and the thing wouldn't come out of first. wonder if they used the same part on the bmw trannies. maybe the linkage is off, or the torque converter is shot.
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  #11  
Old 08-21-2009, 06:30 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul bounds View Post
Ok, I have a 528i with an "almost" new 4L30E auto tranny put in. It won't get out of first gear either. I have park, reverse, nuetral just fine. But when I put it in ANY of the drive gears, all I have is first. My buddy also has a 528i, same year '97, that we are kind of using as a "test" vehicle. I've checked all my modules, TCU ECU etc. in his and so far everything works. Here's the question with your towing comments. We towed BOTH cars with all 4 wheels on the ground (with towbar), in nuetral, one of them for about 5 1/2 hours, the other 4 1/2 hours. His car is still perfectly fine, shifts up and down no problem. Mine on the other hand, was purchased with this issue, BEFORE I towed it, so I dunno if it aggravated it or what. I honestly think it's an electrical or electronic issue. Oh yeah, and NO CODES OR LIGHTS WHATSOEVER on dash or anywhere. EVERYTHING else on the car works perfectly. Even passes freaky ignition switch test lol. PUPUPUPWEEEEZ HELP!!!!!
check the harnesses to the trans. Remove the connector to the EGS (trans computer) module and use a test meter to test resistance between pin 14 and pin 42. if you are not getting about 3000 ohms resistance you need to check the wiring to the output speed sensor and the sensor itself.

Also check the harness that goes into the passenger side of the trans, and if it is ok drop the pan and inspect the wiring to the shift solenoids.
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  #12  
Old 08-22-2009, 09:19 AM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Hey, I just found this reply. Ok this is what I got so far. Remember I said I have another 528i I'm using as a test car right?? Well, I have the harness from that one so I've been matching it up with my TCM connector and I found and tested pins 14 and 42 yesterday and they give back about 4000 ohms. Well, this morning I've been going thru and testing the others, llike the big round connector in the back that controls the solenoids, they all give UNDER 3000, more like 2000. So I dunno man, I'm at a complete loss here. Are there any other sensors or anything that would control the trans?? I'm waiting on this scanner/recoder to come in....I just don't know. P
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  #13  
Old 08-22-2009, 09:21 AM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lild View Post
i had a s=10 blazer, the tranny was crap. there was this little part in the tranny that would shatter, and the thing wouldn't come out of first. wonder if they used the same part on the bmw trannies. maybe the linkage is off, or the torque converter is shot.
Hmmm I dunno, they are GM trannys, mine is a 4L30E. Would the torque converter really cause this?? Good point. I was able to get mine out of first by forcing it into failsafe mode by pulling the TCM, in which case it went to third. So I DO know it's capable, and which leads me to believe it's electrical. But I just finished checking all the sensors/solenoids and the TCM connection, and nothing jumped out at me. I'm about to try giving current directly to the tranny solenoids and see if they click next. Stay tuned!!

Last edited by paul bounds; 08-22-2009 at 06:12 PM.
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  #14  
Old 08-22-2009, 12:13 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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there is a member here named monolith that was very helpful when I was diagnosing a trans issue on my 528i. He was the one who told me how to test the output speed sensor. You may want to send him a PM and see if he can offer any insight.
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  #15  
Old 08-22-2009, 06:46 PM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Thanks man, I just sent him one. XFingers crossed!X
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  #16  
Old 08-26-2009, 10:25 PM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Exclamation Still trippin!!

Ok, we have been knee deep in this thing for almost 2 weeks now (yes I will be embarrassed when it turns out to be something simple, but my relief shall overshadow ). We have traced every wire, connector, and sensor back to the TCM, and all seem to be within resistance ranges (3000 ohms), continuity, etc. output speed sensor, checked both front wheel speed sensors, solenoids, all ok. The ABS and airbag lights are on. (I gotta say before I forget right here that I don't know if it's related or not, but my reverse lights are out, I DO have reverse GEAR just fine, bulbs and fuses are good, not sure which fuse powers them but ALL fuses are good. Checked continuity at bulb socket and no juice. ) Well, here's the thing. It's starting to seem like one of those things where you go ALLLLL tha way around tha friggin world just to end up back where u started again. Lol. Not funny. See, when I bought the car, the guy disclosed all the probs he knew of. The main thing was this switch on the drivers side trans. The main reason I'm writing this is in hopes someone can clarify whether this is called a "nuetral safety switch", a "gear selector switch", "shift module" or whatever tha heck, cause I've seen it called all three or a combo of the three, and frankly I'm rather confused. Regardless of what it's called, what the heck is it's function?? Reason I ask is, the one that came with the car was in bad shape, and I bought the car thinking I could get lucky and switch that out and be ok . The boot/sleeve protecting the wires was gone, and someone had gooped up the wires individually with some kind of silicone stuff. Seemed like it COULD work maybe?? Anyway, no matter, my buddy had an extra from a 528i he parted out (member the "test" car from previous post? Not that one. a THIRD one . The test car we're using now still runs and drives, will reference again a bit), but it was ALSO in bad shape. Sleeve gone, wire insulation dryrotted and flaking, but he SAID it shifted fine before he parted it out . Well, I put my own rig job on it by wrapping the wires individually with elect tape (I kno, I kno :gay: , it was just temporary to test), and gooped where it went into the sealed switch housing case cause the insulation had flaked off all the way to that, I'm still not confident it's any good, obviously still hasn't fixed prob. Well, the test car has ANOTHER one (yes, a THIRD gear selector/nuetral safety/thingamubobajigger switch) that actually "looks" good. Well we tried to get it off tonight but the two torx head screws are rusted on and we twisted our only torx bit lol, so I gotta get some new bits tomorrow and try again (hopefully one of you wickedly intelligent problem solvers will have replied by then?? ). We've only been able to test the original one we took off the car, we had continuity between 4 of the 5 leads in the connector on the switch, but we didn't really know what pin was what, etc. We have OBD II and my buddy just got the BMW scanner in yesterday, but we couldn't really figure it out, I mean it scanned and gave back a BUNCH of errors all over the place but the EGS just said "unknown" in the error column, also on the page where it shows the vin number for the TCM it had a few question marks mixed in with the numbers. Anyway, point is, we started out thinking it was this switch then kinda forgot about it thinking it wasn't related and now that we've tested just about everything else we are at a loss and have come back around to considering it again. Mark I pm'd Monolith and have yet to hear back from him. If ANYBODY can palease shed some light on this, there are two shadetree mechs that would be greatly indebted to you and then I can be again!! (sorry, I like the little smilies, choot me ) Thanks guys. P

Last edited by paul bounds; 08-26-2009 at 10:36 PM.
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  #17  
Old 08-27-2009, 11:29 AM
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lild lild is offline
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well if the safety nuetural switch was bad the car wouldn't start, or hit and miss on the starts. your car is stuck in first, so the next question is, is the car's shifter lined up with the shift patteren on the dash. in other ward, when you put the car in d, on the shifter console, does the dash also say d?
secondly, the shift points could be out of whack with the ecu. in other words the ecu doesn't know when to shift. but there is a selinod or switch control on the tranny some where, that controls the shifting too. \
you should go to realoem.com, enter the info. to find the parts you may need, and to properly research about.
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  #18  
Old 08-28-2009, 09:06 AM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lild View Post
well if the safety nuetural switch was bad the car wouldn't start, or hit and miss on the starts. your car is stuck in first, so the next question is, is the car's shifter lined up with the shift patteren on the dash. in other ward, when you put the car in d, on the shifter console, does the dash also say d?
secondly, the shift points could be out of whack with the ecu. in other words the ecu doesn't know when to shift. but there is a selinod or switch control on the tranny some where, that controls the shifting too. \
you should go to realoem.com, enter the info. to find the parts you may need, and to properly research about.
Thank you for your input Lild. Yes, when I put in D, the dash says D, and when I manually shift down to 3, 2, and 1, it displays the "S" and the corresponding gear as well. We tested ALL 3 of these gear selector switches last night, we busted one of them open and using the diagram we were able to identify the L1, L2, L3, and L4 tracks. After pinning them out, it seems like it loses contact when we spin the contact dial (thats what I would call it) past reverse. The span between neutral and first is completely dead. We are thinking that the actual joint that rotates with the gear shaft has crapped out. My buddy thinks it's from sitting too long, not being used/actuated, and has developed a corrosion spot or something. I rolled it back and forth real fast a bunch of times and testes again, same tang mane . So, tonight we're going to rig up our own hillbilly switch and actually switch it holding in our hand as we drive down the road lol and see what happens and let ya'll know. Thanks for all the help guys!! P
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:48 PM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Ok, the gear selector switch is fine. I think all we determined is that it just controls the gear position lights on the dash. So, we are now looking at maybe the AGS. But we don't exactly know where, or what it is. All we know is it's inline between tranny and ECU and/or TCU. Any more info would be greatly appreciated!! P
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  #20  
Old 08-30-2009, 08:49 AM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Exclamation

We are gonna take a chance and swap out tranny today
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  #21  
Old 09-15-2009, 06:02 AM
paul bounds paul bounds is offline
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Tranny mission!!

We swapped out the tranny and torque converter 2 weekends ago and everything is now fine. Honestly I can't believe it, mainly cuz we swapped to another tranny that was towed in the same manner. Well, we have another 528i we just finished replacing head gasket on, and the tranny has the same issue as my 528i. Won't shift up from outta first when driving. We are probably just gonna get a rebuild kit and rebuild the one we just pulled. Otherwise I'm at a loss. One guy I talked to suggested we manually switch the solenoids while driving after I told him we applied voltage to them while sitting and heard them click. He said that doesn't necessarily mean they're working, if there's no fluid going thru them, you may still get the click but may still not be doing it's job.
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2009, 06:29 AM
mrodoc mrodoc is offline
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I have nothing helpful to offer. Just like to say, wow, what perseverence! Best of luck.
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  #23  
Old 09-15-2009, 06:35 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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If you look at this thread for a 2000 528i model Auto, there are a whole bunch of solenoids in the Auto Trans:
http://www.socaleuro.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27409

I am not sure they sell these solenoids separately.
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  #24  
Old 09-15-2009, 06:41 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithS View Post
You did not say why the car was towed. We all know and pretty sure the manual indicates to flat bed only, no hook towing.
In fact it says the opposite. You can tow it at low speeds (< 40 mph iirc, not going out to the car for the exact wording) for a short distance which (again iirc) is > 10 miles. You can tow it with the wheel jack type of tow trucks provided the rear wheels are in the air. The only thing it bans is "sling type" tow trucks, which are used for towing things like busses or UPS trucks around here…never seen them used for anything else.
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  #25  
Old 12-17-2011, 11:27 AM
WadeLovell WadeLovell is offline
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Don't stop now! Did you just swap the tranny and call it a day without ever finding the root problem?
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