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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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Old 05-05-2007, 12:22 PM
samycalderon samycalderon is offline
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Location: ca
Join Date: May 2007
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Mein Auto: '03 525i
Help w/ "Trans FailSafe Prog" message on dashboard

I have a problem with my '03 BMW 525i sedan (E39/M54)... I have a message coming on on my dashboard saying, "Trans Failsafe Prog". I would like to know what this refers to. Also, the shift knob (automatic transmission) only goes from "P" (park) to "R" (reverse), and it does not go into "N" (neutral) or "D" (drive). However, when I turn the engine on, the indicators on the dashboard for the transmission read "N" when the shift knob is on the "P" position, and "D" on the dashboard when the shiftknob is in "R". Also, the transmission actually goes from "N" to "D" when the car is on because I feel the transmission kicking into gear and pushing the car forward when I move the shif knob from "P" to "R".
Anyway, if anyone knows how this could be fixed, I would greatly appreciate any input. Thanks in advance!
Sam C.
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Old 05-05-2007, 12:58 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Location: Sudbury, MA
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,823
Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
Trans Failsafe Prog

TRANS FAILSAFE PROG is a computer generated safety mode. It has detected a "problem" with your transmission. It then causes your transimission to use 3d or 4th gear only. This allows you to get to a dealer and causes painfully slow (& dangerous) acceleration.

I had this safety message come on this winter during a rainy day ('02 530i w/50K). I took it to the dealer and they spent two days trying to diagnose the problem. They even called BMWNA and they all could not figure it out. They indicated that I could need a new transmission or it could be a computer glitch. Given my experience with computers, I asked them to reset the computer and give me my car back. Everything has been fine since (~3K miles in 3 mos). Luckily, they only charged me one hours labor ($120).

I suspect that the rain may have had something to do with the problem but am not really sure. I have not changed my tranny fluid yet but will do so soon. Anyway, you need to take the car to a dealer as they can only reset the computer. My Peake was unable to do it.

Good luck!
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