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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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  #26  
Old 10-28-2012, 12:06 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Yes checking the ATF level is on the list. It's just more involved and requires more planning. Alternator and battery checks are relatively easy. (Easy to sneak in without the wife tapping her foot...)

I do agree that if the tranny is dry and there are no other shifting issues, I find it hard to believe its related to fluid. (Which is the case here)

Relative to the water intrusion theory, I checked for wetness in the passenger footwells. I pulled up some carpet in the rear but did not find any damp areas. (Did a vapor barrier fix to this door back in May). The front passenger door did not feel wet so I did not pull that carpet up.

I did pull apart the tub that houses the trans ecu. I did not find any standing water but I did see signs of water intrusion. (The outermost screw closest to the windshield). I did some temporary fix until I can get some permatex. Non of those wires showed any signs of water damage. All seemed tight.

I did find a lot of junk in the air filter drain tubes.

I will plan for a deeper dive into the footwells after I wash the car again.
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  #27  
Old 10-29-2012, 05:25 PM
KC 540iA KC 540iA is offline
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Checked battery this morning, 12.5V. Checked alternator with terminals disconnected from battery and got 13.5V. Thought I'd be brave today and see if I'd make to to school and back (about 35 miles round trip). Bad idea..

Just a mile or so past my house, the battery light comes on. Made it to school no problem though. On the way home, drove about 4 miles, battery light is still on and ABS and some other light come on. Interior lights start to dim, radio is dying, so I pull off into a parking lot. Got a new battery just to get home. Tested the old battery once I got home and got 11.76V. Car would no longer start with this battery (just needs recharge). New battery is already down to 11.9V after driving 15 miles home on it. I wanted to test the alternator once more. Started the car then pulled the negative terminal and the car died INSTANTLY. Started back up, pulled the positive terminal and the car died INSTANTLY again. So either I have some loose connections somewhere or the alternator is toasted.
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  #28  
Old 10-29-2012, 08:35 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Thanks for the update. Let me know if what you decide on.
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  #29  
Old 11-26-2012, 09:35 AM
YinD YinD is offline
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Update:
I found some more water dripping from the rear passenger side door pad. even though I have repaired this once.

I bought some of the butyl tape and took it apart again. With the door pad off, I dumped a bunch of water on the window to see what happens. I found some small leaks around the rear of the vapor barrier but more so coming from the holes for the door pad clips.

To be on the safe side, I placed some of the butyl tape on those holes before I re-assembled the door pad.

Upon retesting, I did not see any drips. I will keep checking.

I also did a hard reset of the car (disconnected the battery) to clear any codes.

So far the problem has not re-occured. The next test will be to wash the car.
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  #30  
Old 11-27-2012, 07:12 AM
YinD YinD is offline
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I spoke too soon....

This morning it happened again. Car has been dry since I did the vapor barrier fix.

Conditions: 7:10 am CST, 40 F outside, overcast, dry road. Driving around a left bend, banked, at 65 mph (yes its one of the more exciting parts of my commute to work) with the DSC turned off. I goosed the accelerator a bit which coincided with the car going over a slight rise when I felt the inside rear wheel slip slightly. Then the engine rpm's went to 5000 rpm and the trans fail safe message appeared on the dash.

I coasted to a nearby parking lot, parked the car, used the stowable jack and jacked up the driver side rear tire. Put the car in R and then D and watched the wheel turn.

Put everything back and drove on to work.

I am pretty sure it is not the transmission per se. Maybe the control unit or a sensor. I am thinking its rear diff related. But that is still guess work.

Any thoughts?
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  #31  
Old 11-27-2012, 08:36 AM
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Just now, I left the office and as I was leaving the parking lot, not accelerating hard, I heard/felt, a thump from the rear end of the car and then it wouldn't move. I did not get a trans fail safe message this time. Raised up the wheel again...

So I suppose that this is really a rear diff issue.
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  #32  
Old 11-27-2012, 08:49 AM
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doru doru is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YinD View Post
Just now, I left the office and as I was leaving the parking lot, not accelerating hard, I heard/felt, a thump from the rear end of the car and then it wouldn't move. I did not get a trans fail safe message this time. Raised up the wheel again...

So I suppose that this is really a rear diff issue.
I'd go to a good BMW specialized indy. How far away are you from Houston? Maybe call these guys try to troubleshoot over the phone (if possible), or maybe even go there, if distance is not an issue.
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  #33  
Old 11-27-2012, 10:40 AM
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I took some time to check the fluid level in the rear diff. Fluid flowed out of the fill opening before I fully removed the plug. Fluid appeared pretty clean.
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  #34  
Old 11-27-2012, 11:35 AM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Fluid level in diff can't cause anything like this. The fluid level in tranny / torque converter can. I'd replace the fluid in tranny several times to make sure the fluid is as new as possible and refill it to the correct level (to check level you must level the car, warm up the tranny up to ~35C and check the level through the fill hole while motor is running). Your symptoms are very similar to low fluid level issue. Even jacking trick can be explained - you force the fluid to go to the pump and to to the torque converter.

Last edited by Nervous; 11-27-2012 at 11:37 AM.
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  #35  
Old 11-27-2012, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
Fluid level in diff can't cause anything like this. The fluid level in tranny / torque converter can. I'd replace the fluid in tranny several times to make sure the fluid is as new as possible and refill it to the correct level (to check level you must level the car, warm up the tranny up to ~35C and check the level through the fill hole while motor is running). Your symptoms are very similar to low fluid level issue. Even jacking trick can be explained - you force the fluid to go to the pump and to to the torque converter.
thank you. I will work on this asap.
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  #36  
Old 11-28-2012, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by doru View Post
I'd go to a good BMW specialized indy. How far away are you from Houston? Maybe call these guys try to troubleshoot over the phone (if possible), or maybe even go there, if distance is not an issue.
Houston seems to have a lot of good support. It is about 300 miles from me, 5 hour drive. I will call them though. The local indie doesn't know and hasn't come across these symptoms.
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  #37  
Old 11-30-2012, 08:17 AM
YinD YinD is offline
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I sent an email to the guys in Houston. They did not have any easy things to check for.

Right now, car is with a local indie and he pulled all codes from the car. He said there is a generic speed sensor fault and a bad sensor in the coolant thermostat. He also said that there were faults recorded on every module in the car so he has some research to do. I will get a full list later. He is going to do a general check of the car (like check transmission fluid) also.

I realize I do not have the proper tools or the confidence to mess with the transmission.

I will update when I get more definitive answers and the list of codes.
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  #38  
Old 11-30-2012, 08:52 AM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Originally Posted by YinD View Post
He also said that there were faults recorded on every module in the car so he has some research to do.
This is BS. I mean, if you take a normal working average BMW (e39, e38, e46) and read codes by PASoft or INPA you'll see a lot of 'faults' in every module, like the guy said. But it doesn't mean that something is really wrong with the modules. Some codes are just bogus and not supposed to be seen by anybody.
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  #39  
Old 11-30-2012, 09:33 AM
YinD YinD is offline
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Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
This is BS. I mean, if you take a normal working average BMW (e39, e38, e46) and read codes by PASoft or INPA you'll see a lot of 'faults' in every module, like the guy said. But it doesn't mean that something is really wrong with the modules. Some codes are just bogus and not supposed to be seen by anybody.
Thanks, that is good to know.
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  #40  
Old 11-30-2012, 10:30 AM
YinD YinD is offline
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Well, the indie just called and told me that they can't figure it out.
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  #41  
Old 11-30-2012, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YinD View Post
I sent an email to the guys in Houston. They did not have any easy things to check for.

Right now, car is with a local indie and he pulled all codes from the car. He said there is a generic speed sensor fault and a bad sensor in the coolant thermostat. He also said that there were faults recorded on every module in the car so he has some research to do. I will get a full list later. He is going to do a general check of the car (like check transmission fluid) also.

I realize I do not have the proper tools or the confidence to mess with the transmission.

I will update when I get more definitive answers and the list of codes.
Try this:

Pull out the speed sensors and clean them. All. When loaded with crud, they start giving wrong info.
I am not sure about the v8 T-stat, but I know the M54 has the electronically controlled T-stat that throws a code if it's failing. It does not throw a CEL per se, but it's a stored code that shows if you hook up the right scanner (GT1, INPA,etc).
The wheel sensors out of whack can mess with the tranny & ABS. The tranny has also a speed sensor, and maybe waht it reads does not jive with the wheel speed sensors.
After you do that, reset the codes and unplug the battery for 20 minutes, then see how it goes. If the same speed sensor related codes re-appear, you might have at least one bad speed sensor.

the other codes, might have been stored by different malfunctioning events. They remain stored and can be read by GT1, INPA forever - even after the stuff is fixed, unless someone specifically erases them with the same scanners.
Hope this helps.
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  #42  
Old 11-30-2012, 11:59 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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!!!bbb

"Yes checking the ATF level is on the list. It's just more involved and requires more planning". Your quote.

You have what certainly sounds like a trans problem, but you are checking rear end fluid which is a waste of time, but you won't do the obvious because it takes to much "planning" and it's involved. Do you have the planning time to get to the bank and withdraw $2500 to make-up for your inability to plan? God, I hate Aamco, but any port in a storm Dude!

Why do you continue to try and have a bad experience? You know something is going on with your car, yet you continue to drive it and tell us all about when it acts right and when it messes-up, and then when it all of a sudden doesn't. Sooner or later it will quit for good and leave you hiogh and dry and you will have no o0ne to thank, but yourself. If you can't afford taking care of a BMW or you don't know how yourself, you better get something cheaper and let someone else fix it. You have tempted fate so many times you must have a very special relationship with the God of your choice. Damn! You act like checking the trans. fluid yourself is a big deal! Don't drive it anymore until you jack the car up high and evenly (or take it to someone with a lift and remove the plug right above your trans oil pan and fluid better run out at you. I bet it doesn't. You could have a battery issue, but doubt that is causing your trans to fail. Check the damn fluid will you and quit driving it until you do! At least you won't destroy your tranny if fluid is FULL all the way. I cannot for the life of me understand why you continue to tempt fate??? Are you hell-bent to ruin it? Stop driving it until you do the basics. Sure it could be alternator. Sure it could be battery. Sure it could be ignition switch. Could be tranny line pulled apart too! You seem very hesitant to slow down and take care of your business before your business is FUBAR.

Your voltages definitely look whacked, but you know what? Nothing you can do will likely make it not need R&R if it's electrical. What you are doing potentially to your trans. is a totally different matter. It may still be good, but just *if* it is low on fluid, you are going to ruin it-bye bye tranny and probably $2500 MINIMUM. Rent a car! This should have been resolved in 2 days max. with you NOT driving it as soon as it talked to you telling you it was hurting. You spend too much time worrying about whether you get a transfail light or not. Who cares? Get it looked at by a competent indy. If you don't know one in your area, ask if anyone knows one near __________. If I personally read anymore about you continuing to drive it, I would stop trying to help you. Sorry.

Last edited by 540iman; 11-30-2012 at 12:07 PM.
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  #43  
Old 11-30-2012, 12:51 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Picked up the car. The fault code read (he did not have GT1 or INPA) is EGS 32 Speed signal. He did not find any signs of harness issues.

ATF fluid is clear and at the correct level.

The recommendation is to go to the dealer.
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  #44  
Old 11-30-2012, 02:00 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Thanks Doru, I will clean the sensors.

540iman, Thanks for the tongue lashing. I deserve it. In my defense, the 540 has been in the garage for most of last month and I have been driving my truck as my DD.
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  #45  
Old 11-30-2012, 05:58 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YinD View Post
Picked up the car. The fault code read (he did not have GT1 or INPA) is EGS 32 Speed signal. He did not find any signs of harness issues.

ATF fluid is clear and at the correct level.

The recommendation is to go to the dealer.
If your transmission fluid is even remotely "clear", you have a real problem! What it tells me is that you don't know what your transmission fluid looks like and maybe what level it is at. As I just found out changing my "lifetime" tansmission fluid in my 540ia, the BMW fluid is BROWN when new. Mine is now red because I changed to Mobil 1 full synthetic ATF. There is no way your fluid is clear. If you are sure it is full, then that is about all you can do with it. Changing fluid will not fix any transmission problems you have, it will just delay them and even that is debateable. I believe it will help keep a working tranny...err working.
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  #46  
Old 12-04-2012, 12:21 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Fluid is clean. Typo. Brown and translucent in color. Does not smell burnt.
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  #47  
Old 12-17-2012, 02:15 PM
YinD YinD is offline
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Update: I took the car to a more experienced Indie and it has been there for 2 weeks now. (due to abnormally warm weather, the issue hasn't been reproduceable.) There are no error codes from the transmission. When it stops, the trans ecu is in drive and gear shifter is in drive. They suggested a reman transmission.

Last week, I placed a call to ZF Transmission and managed to find someone who led me to look into the E38 forum for dislocated axle shafts. He told me that the error code represents a discrepancy between the wheel speed sensor and the transmission output shaft sensor. Not indicating a problem with the transmission. He remembered that the 7 series had these same symptoms and probably share the same rear diff.

My research came up with these threads:
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1133480
http://bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/1432/
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/737193

This information fit the symptoms very closely, so I had the indie verify this theory. To my surprise, they had not witnessed what the dirveline was doing during an episode. This morning, they reported back that the car stopped and the driveline was still spinning. When they raised the car, they noticed the wheel end moved inward about 1/2".

The indie is replacing the left side seal and lockring. Inspecting the right side for play.
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  #48  
Old 12-17-2012, 04:48 PM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Wow, pretty unusual, I'd say. Yeah, open differential in action. That explains everything, including jacking up. Thanks for the update!
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  #49  
Old 12-17-2012, 05:31 PM
VA525FREAK VA525FREAK is offline
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That's awesome man, glad you were able to get this thing figured out (for now) If only my tranny was that easy
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