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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 07-19-2007, 03:14 PM
jm540i jm540i is offline
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Location: Murrieta
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: '98 540i
Trans Failsafe Nightmare. Please Help.

I am realatively new to the BMW community and I love my 98 540i. Bought the car used from a friend and it has been running great the last 2 months. However, the car has been going in and out of Transmission failsafe mode for the past 2weeks. I took it to a BMW transmission guy and he said the transmission needed to be replaced ($4500). This was more than I expected so I got the car back and it came out of Trans Failsafe mode and was running great after no repairs. Took to anther shop and was told could be due to cooling system needing to be repaired. Was going to have it done anyway so replaced all the belts, filters, thermostat and waterpump and it was working great for a few days. Then it went back into Trans Fail Safe mode so I had a friend read the code with his Peake tool. got code 0b8B Electric Thermostate Control Final stage.

Will this cause the car to go into transmission failsafe mode again or do I need to look somewhere else?

Where is it and how do I change it?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:27 PM
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e39dream e39dream is offline
Location: Northwest Indiana
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,283
Mein Auto: 1998 528i sport, DOB 5/28
sounds like the electric thermostat is an unrelated problem to me but I'm just a shadetree mechanic. If it comes down to it look into having the trans rebuilt rather than replaced, I imagine it would be cheaper.
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:29 PM
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dumale dumale is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 130
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Mein Auto: 03 - E39 M-Sport Wagon
This just happened to me back in June and thank god I purchased the extended warranty!

To make a long story short, the issue lies within the transmission. BMW and most repair shops feel that it would be easier to swap the transmission rather than tear it apart to get to a sensor (and then TRY and to rebuild it).

If you have access to the tools and know how to replace a transmission, I would suggest doing the work yourself - it's not that difficult!

* I'm starting to notice that this issue is popping up more frequently on the BMW forums, I wonder if this is a common failure with our E39's

03' 540iT M-Sport Wag
"...if sense were common, wouldn't everyone have it ?!?!"
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Old 07-19-2007, 07:37 PM
matteni matteni is offline
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Location: St. Louis
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 191
Mein Auto: 540iA Sport
have you recently had the fluid changed? It is very particular to the fluid level and mine was a quart down and give trans failure messages and shifted terrible until I added a quart. No problem and many months/miles since.
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Old 07-19-2007, 09:35 PM
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SHWELL SHWELL is offline
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Location: Deltona, Fl
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 921
Mein Auto: 97 528IA &M
Def check the ATF levels. Also there is a switch for the trans that can go bad as mine did a month ago. It was raining hard and the car suddenly went into safe mode. I cannot remember the name but I will post it up tomorrow.. ong story short, some wires in said switch were dry rotted and shorted together, and would make it go into safe, but they would occasionally be ok and it would run fine for a few min then right back into safe.... If this is your problem you will be able to see it if you go under the car and look along the trans. The whole assemble is about 10 inches long.... Hope we have helped.
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Old 07-19-2007, 09:41 PM
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AusBmw AusBmw is offline
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Location: Sydney Australia,mate!
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,118
Mein Auto: Oxford Green BMW E39 523i
while were on this subject,Is there away to know if your fluid level is down?

What happens if it is?
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