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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 01-04-2011, 08:51 PM
geoffoliver geoffoliver is offline
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Location: Silver Plume, Colorado
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
Unhappy 2001 530i Trans Fluid

On the day before Christmas, my Bimmer gave to me... TRANS FAILSAFE PROG Limp mode and everything, it was a sad Christmas in my home. I followed the instructions in the manual, still limpy... I was able to use the steptronic to shift (for a while) then it went back into limp mode again.

I took her to the dealership today and they of course told me I need to drop $5,000 on a new transmission. I'm considering changing the transmission fluid with the hope that it will fix the problem. The service techs at the dealership (and the manual) say that the the transmission has "lifetime fluid" (which I think is crap since I'm guessing a "typical" BMW owner (stock broker, banker, rich prick) probably never even sees 100,000 miles on a car) but I think that spending $200 on fluid, a new filter, and a new gasket sounds better than the $5,000 that the dealer wants for a whole new transmission from Germany.

Can anyone advise me whether this is a good idea or not? I have the Bentley manual and definitely think it's something I can accomplish but I would hate to make things worse than they already are -- if that's even possible. Any advice?
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  #2  
Old 01-04-2011, 08:56 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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ya
why not ?
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  #3  
Old 01-05-2011, 02:03 AM
rockey709 rockey709 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 530I
DONT spend $5k on a transmission!!! My second car is a 2001 328i and due to a girlfriend and several extenuating circumstances i needed to replace the tranny on it too. After the dealership quoted me close to $5k, i decided to shop a bit. Remember that even tho its a BMW, its still just nuts and bolts (albeit expensive ones). I had a factory Transmission INSTALLED, out the door $1700!! Zero issues and over 50k miles since. I hope this helps.

Second option would be to buy one of those silly warranty plans from (Mogi, US Fidelis etc) and see if you can get it covered that way... bending the truth of course...

DC
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  #4  
Old 01-05-2011, 03:19 AM
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GSA1 GSA1 is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 & '02 E39 530i Sports
check this for compatibility and price to get an idea of what total cost would be. gl

http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/pts/2143982213.html
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  #5  
Old 01-05-2011, 04:35 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
HOLD ON! Forget the ATF for now. That will not fix anything (although it should be done when you have a chance). The stealer's "You need a new tranny" response is because 1) they are too lazy to determine what is the real cause of your problem and 2) they can make a LOT of money off you by replacing your tranny.

Before you even consider a new tranny, consider identifying what generated your TFP error code first. You should know that in most cases, the TFP code is generated by other causes, NOT a failing tranny. The two most popular causes are a failing alternator or battery and the second is a sensor that typically got wet. Questions to ask:
1. Is your battery original? What is it's current strength?
2. Are you experiencing any electrical issues?
3. Did this TFP occur on a wet drive?
Another option is to have the stealer reset the OBC to eliminate the code (only someone with the GT1 software can do this). If the code returns, then you indeed may have a tranny problem. When this happened to me at 50K miles, I had them reset it and drove away. The problem never returned and I never returned to the stealer.

Please post back on the outcome and resolution of your problem as this adds to the global e39 body of knowledge.
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  #6  
Old 01-05-2011, 01:18 PM
geoffoliver geoffoliver is offline
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Location: Silver Plume, Colorado
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
I have a suspicion that the problem may in fact be an electrical one. The battery is not the original, but is about 3 years old.

The only reason I think it's electrical is this: The hoses on my power steering fluid reservoir are leaking... Not a huge amount, but they are leaking enough for me to be able to spot pink, dried AFT fluid under the hood on the radiator hose and especially on the alternator and enough so I have to top off the fluid about every month and a half. The reservoir, as you all know, sits right above the alternator. I'm wondering if after a year or so of being leaked on, if it could have finally started to give out. I ran "test no 9" on the OBC and it reported 13.5 volts... It actually would fluctuate between 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7. Not sure what that means, but it sounds like the battery/alternator are okay?

One thing to note, at the dealership, they did say that the ATF was black and smelled burnt. As I didn't actually stand there and see/smell it myself, I can't know whether or not that's the truth.

I'm going to look around for a trans and see if I can't get a better deal than at the "stealership" :-) Unfortunately, that's looking more and more like my only option.
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  #7  
Old 01-05-2011, 02:19 PM
bmwpatek bmwpatek is offline
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Cool whats the miliage on your 530i

i just bought a 2001 530i do they have transmission problems,should i change the oil i got 70,000 miles on it
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  #8  
Old 01-05-2011, 02:26 PM
geoffoliver geoffoliver is offline
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Location: Silver Plume, Colorado
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
Mine didn't have any trans problems until xmas eve... It just died out of nowhere. It would seem to me that if you're going to keep a car for over 100,000 miles, you should definitely change the trans fluid as the definition of "lifetime" isn't very clearly defined and nowhere does it clearly spell out what a "lifetime" is. I sincerely doubt that the transmission fluid in this car is going to last my lifetime even if I can somehow get the car to.
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  #9  
Old 01-05-2011, 07:12 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwpatek View Post
i just bought a 2001 530i do they have transmission problems,should i change the oil i got 70,000 miles on it
Yes, you should change your ATF as preventive maintenance. When is subject to debate. Some never change their ATF and never have a problem. However, it makes good sense to replace this before 80K or so.
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2011, 07:14 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Location: Sudbury, MA
 
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffoliver View Post
I have a suspicion that the problem may in fact be an electrical one. The battery is not the original, but is about 3 years old.

The only reason I think it's electrical is this: The hoses on my power steering fluid reservoir are leaking... Not a huge amount, but they are leaking enough for me to be able to spot pink, dried AFT fluid under the hood on the radiator hose and especially on the alternator and enough so I have to top off the fluid about every month and a half. The reservoir, as you all know, sits right above the alternator. I'm wondering if after a year or so of being leaked on, if it could have finally started to give out. I ran "test no 9" on the OBC and it reported 13.5 volts... It actually would fluctuate between 13.5, 13.6, and 13.7. Not sure what that means, but it sounds like the battery/alternator are okay?

One thing to note, at the dealership, they did say that the ATF was black and smelled burnt. As I didn't actually stand there and see/smell it myself, I can't know whether or not that's the truth.

I'm going to look around for a trans and see if I can't get a better deal than at the "stealership" :-) Unfortunately, that's looking more and more like my only option.
Have they reset the OBC yet? Since you had it in for a paid inspection, that is the minimum they should do for you. Then see if the code returns. You have nothing to lose.
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  #11  
Old 01-05-2011, 07:18 PM
geoffoliver geoffoliver is offline
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Location: Silver Plume, Colorado
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
I'm not sure I'd they cleared the code. I stupidly assumed they did but I'm not positive.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2011, 05:21 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
It should be pretty obvious if they cleared the code or not. Have you picked up the car yet? If you are still in default mode (3d gear) and the TPF message is present, they have not cleared it. If it drives normally with no message, they have. If the car is still in default mode, I would bring the car back to the dealer and have them clear the code (presuming you paid for the previous diagnosis). Clearing the code should be considered part of the diagnosis.

Use this BB posting to check out battery and alternator issues:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...51#post5747151
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