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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 01-20-2010, 03:59 PM
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Hooray! Hooray! is offline
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Location: Maine
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 896
Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Premium
Transmission Safe Mode... huh?

Ok, long story short, the stars apparently were aligning on this one. Just purchased a 2002 530i 60,300 miles on it, BMW dealer did complete inspection, pulled coded, all clean... one of their items was worn engine belts plus a few other "normal wear" items. The seller agreed to cover some of the costs, test drove the car, sweeet, tight, done deal. Indy replaces belts, on highway doing 80 on cruise, turn up the tunes... life is good : ) 7 miles later, red battery light pops up on dash, hear thunk in transmission, "transmission safe mode" pops up on dash, cruise shuts off, car still drives great. I pull over, turn around, head back to indy, seller meets me there and I say "what the f#$k!". Turns out the alternator **** the bed (brown dust on the back, picked up in one second by the actual wrench turner at the indy), so indy replaces the alternator (seller pick up the tab), I instruct him to take it out on a 20 mile test drive which he does and the CES light pops on at 18 miles. He checks back at the shop and pulls up a "Torque Converter Solonoid Code: xxxx", he did not record the xxxx : ( Car is still 500 miles away from me (already took one trip down to test drive, want to make sure next one, I'm driving it home) So indy calls a tranny buddy who says that a BMW dealer has to "reflash" it because of the alternator / safe mode shut down and his $3000 computer wont do what the dealer's $10,000 one will. I looked up online and it appears the dealers computer can actually activate the solonoid to on/off and if you hear it, simply re-flash it and off you go (you hope). If not, replace the solonoid while you change the tranny fluid/filter and off you go, if that is not it, bend over and pay up for a new torque converter : ( : ( Anyways, anybody seen this, I purchased a used car warranty which says it will cover this but really did not expect to make a claim week ONE... I'm hoping it is just the solonoid / reflash as a result of the alternator. The seller, swears on his mother's grave that the car did not throw codes on him and the BMW dealer confirms his story, maybe just **** luck... all comments welcome. I love BMW's but boy they are like a hot girlfriend, ALOT of work to be around! : ) but worth every pain when the time is right! ; )
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2010, 06:18 PM
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davenotize davenotize is offline
03 530 S/P for sale!!
Location: Miami FL
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 178
Mein Auto: 03 bmw 530s/p 02 bmw 525
well its possible that the previous owner didnt have any issues with the car, in my case its about the same thing ive had the car since 32k now im at 70k and my issues started right around 60k under normal use, you mention something about the torque converter, anything could fail at any millage but experiencing and reading many posts here its more likely to be the TC that needs replace/rebuild, in regards to the issues to come, i rather do preventive maintenace which its always cheaper then when it actually breaks. good luck and post the codes.!
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  #3  
Old 01-22-2010, 03:59 AM
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No more codes... driving it tomorrow 600 miles, will post results.
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2010, 07:47 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
Freude am Fahren
Location: Cambridge, ON
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 6,372
Mein Auto: 99 528iA
Alternators can cause odd codes, you might be good for a while.
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'99 528i ('98/12 build). 174,000km BY29428/Royalrot
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2010, 08:10 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
The Usual Suspect
Location: Richmond, VA
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Mein Auto: 98 E39 540i - 09 E90 328i
Just my personal exp. My 540 went into "trans fail safe" because my failed alt caused my battery to drain down. I got the battery charged and the "TFS" immediately went away and I was able to drive the car in "normal" mode for about 10 miles to my inde without another "TFS". Long story short, the bad alternator didn't cause any codes to throw, and my "TFS" was caused by the battery not being charged by the alt, as long as the car receives enough voltage the trans will stay in normal mode (unless something else is wrong). TFS is built in so the trany doesn't damage itself while trying to shift with low voltage.

GL with the trip.......
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  #6  
Old 01-22-2010, 03:38 PM
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Location: Maine
 
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Thanks, makes sense and tracks with my recent experience. No voltage means all sorts of things! Tomorrow is the big day... we'll see if she is good for 600 miles! Everything else checks out so lets hope it is a nice smooth trip.
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  #7  
Old 01-22-2010, 08:22 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
Freude am Fahren
Location: Cambridge, ON
 
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On a related note, investigate replacing the driveline (tranny/diff) fluids.
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'99 528i ('98/12 build). 174,000km BY29428/Royalrot
Breaking My Wallet since 2009
Mods: Stoptech SS brake hose, 280piece toolkit resting on trunk floor, Beisan VANOS seals
'99 540i (grandfather's)

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  #8  
Old 01-24-2010, 12:35 AM
nanda007 nanda007 is offline
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Location: Rochester, NY
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 21
Mein Auto: e39 M5
On my car (e38 740i at that time) was the 'Ignition Switch' that caused the transmission to go into the 'save mode.' Car had 95K miles. Also, at the same time the heated steering wheel did not stay 'ON' for more then 2 minutes. Problems gone after the Ignition Switch was replaced.
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  #9  
Old 01-24-2010, 07:20 AM
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Location: Maine
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Premium
Had a successful 450 mile drive home... the Serive Engine Soon light did come back on after about 50 miles but tranny shifts perfectly, car runs like a dream. I'm condsidering buying a code reader (anybody have suggestions on one?).

With new front thrust arms, things are tight, smooth, quiet. I had to use the cruise control to keep speed in check, feel at 75 and 90 is the same!

Reading the manual it says the SES light is emmission related but I think it comes on when any code is thrown, is this correct?

My plan is to replace the ATF and rear diff fluid. Does anyone know if the torque converter solenoid is replaceable when you do the ATF, I read one post that suggested it was a $100 part and another that said you can only get to it with a tranny drop.
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  #10  
Old 01-24-2010, 07:32 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Location: Cambridge, ON
 
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The SES doesn't turn on for a lot of codes that BMWs can throw, just important ones (I think it only goes for OBDII codes). Peake Research makes a good code reader, according to what I've read here.
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'99 528i ('98/12 build). 174,000km BY29428/Royalrot
Breaking My Wallet since 2009
Mods: Stoptech SS brake hose, 280piece toolkit resting on trunk floor, Beisan VANOS seals
'99 540i (grandfather's)

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  #11  
Old 01-24-2010, 07:40 AM
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Location: Maine
 
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Thanks, do you know if there is a link to all the codes an E39 can generate. I'll google the Peake Research reader. Figure if I'm going to keep the car for a while and tackle some DIY projects, might as well be able to read the codes.
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  #12  
Old 01-24-2010, 07:42 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Location: Cambridge, ON
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Mein Auto: 99 528iA
The Bentley lists them. It's like 5 pages of pretty fine print.
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'99 528i ('98/12 build). 174,000km BY29428/Royalrot
Breaking My Wallet since 2009
Mods: Stoptech SS brake hose, 280piece toolkit resting on trunk floor, Beisan VANOS seals
'99 540i (grandfather's)

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  #13  
Old 01-24-2010, 07:57 AM
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Premium
Just ordered:

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  #14  
Old 01-24-2010, 09:08 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
The Usual Suspect
Location: Richmond, VA
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,713
Mein Auto: 98 E39 540i - 09 E90 328i
Autozone reads codes for free by the way....
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  #15  
Old 01-24-2010, 12:45 PM
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Hooray! Hooray! is offline
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Location: Maine
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Premium
Good to know. Seems like I'll need to be able to reset the service LEDs regardless so what the heck. Anybody near Portsmouth, NH, I'll read all your codes and do resets for help with a CVV and VANOS seals (I'll supply the beer)!
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  #16  
Old 01-24-2010, 04:18 PM
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mnepitjr mnepitjr is offline
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Location: North Alabama
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 525 2000 M5
I had the same problem with mine. Ended up being a fault between the position of the throttle body and the gas pedal. A piece of plasitc from the mass air flow had broken off and jammed under the butterfly.
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  #17  
Old 01-24-2010, 05:00 PM
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Location: Maine
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Premium
Interesting, I am planning to check out the condition of the butterfly, I believe that is another E39 weak link that people have written about breaking. Car appears to drive great... waiting for my Peake reader so I can see which code it is throwing. How do you maintain your shadowline trim, mine is a little "chalky", wondering what product I should use on it, metal polish of some sort as wax makes it turn white like rubber.
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