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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 09-28-2011, 08:39 PM
Koolnik Koolnik is offline
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Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530I
Trans.Fail Safe on 2002 530i

I have 65K miles on my 2002 Beemer (one owner, bought new and never winter driven). A month ago I took it in for an OIL, Filter and Safety. The dealer called me and said, safety wouldn't pass coz my Front Thrust Rod Bushing needs to be replaced. $1000 later I drove out of the dealership thinking, ok I kinda got ripped off but that should be it as I have really maintained this car from day one.

Last week while driving, I get an error "Trans.Fail Safe". I took it back to the dealership at Sterling, VA. A couple of hours later they called me and said that they had bad news for me, I need a new Transmission. @#@$#@$!!!! Along with the bad news they charged me $132 for labor .

I drove it for a few more days as I didn't see the error, but a few days ago the error came back along with "check engine" light.

My question is, why would a transmission go at 65K, when my colleague's 2001 Dodge Neon which has 220K miles is running fine.

I also noticed the LED lights on the radio were dim along with Trans.Fail Safe error. The battery is new from the dealership (2 years old). Are these related?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Last edited by Koolnik; 09-28-2011 at 09:45 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2011, 09:48 PM
Slammed96ss Slammed96ss is offline
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Location: Kansas
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Mein Auto: 2002 540i6
Does the transmission feel like it needs replaced?

Sent from my DROID3 using Bimmer
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  #3  
Old 09-28-2011, 09:51 PM
Koolnik Koolnik is offline
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Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530I
the car drives normal, except for the "check Engine" light and the error on the dashboard "Trans.Safe Fail". However, i haven't driven it far as I dont want the car to stall midway.
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  #4  
Old 09-28-2011, 09:55 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,523
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolnik View Post
I also noticed the LED lights on the radio were dim
Methinks you may simply have a bad battery or alternator ... so ... it behooves you to do a thread search in the bestlinks for 'battery' or 'alternator'.

I just did that for you to find, among others:
- DIY how to test a BMW E39 battery & alternator

If it really is related to the transmission, then a quick search for 'trans failsafe' in the bestlinks nets me, among others:
- How people resolved transmission "Trans Failsafe Program", aka "Limp Mode" (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)

My procedural suggestion?
  1. Have your codes read and post the results here.
  2. Read the references above before asking any further questions.
  3. If others ask you questions, respond to them as you have done above.
Those three simple steps should get you much further along the path of diagnosis.

QUESTION FOR THE TEAM:
Q: If the OP goes to Autozone for the free scan, will they be able to read both the engine and transmission codes? (Or do they just read the engine codes?)

Last edited by bluebee; 09-28-2011 at 10:00 PM.
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  #5  
Old 09-28-2011, 09:56 PM
Slammed96ss Slammed96ss is offline
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Location: Kansas
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Mein Auto: 2002 540i6
I don't blame you. Maybe just take a few laps in the neighborhood? In the past its been easy for me to tell when a transmission is going out. I know for $139 its expensive to get a second opinion but in this czse I would have it checked out again and don't mention the first diagnosis
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  #6  
Old 09-29-2011, 08:34 AM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Location: Champ
 
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Mein Auto: 2003 530 Sport Twins
alternator
go to autozone and ask them to check it before you pay $$$ to stealer
usually when its bad car fails into "SAFE MODE"

Last edited by champaign777; 09-29-2011 at 08:35 AM.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2011, 03:34 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
First off, don't panic.

BB: A GT-1 or equivalent is needed to read/reset tranny codes. OBDII applies only to the engine and emissions related stuff.

The TPF lamp may or may not be related to your tranny. The TPF will send your tranny into limp mode, limiting you to 3d gear only. A PITA. Limit your driving until it is fixed. I had the same problem and my dealer said I needed a new tranny at 50K. Why? Because it is easier and more profitable to replace a tranny than to diagnose this problem. I had them reset the lamp (which yours did and was why you got charged 1 hr labor) and my problem never recurred. Yours did, hence, something is up. As BB says, it is often triggered by a failing alternator. The dimming LEDs suggest an electrcial fault, not a tranny fault. Run the various alternator tests to see if your alternator is working properly. The TPF can also be triggered by a number of faulty sensors. In most cases, your tranny is fine, especially if you are not experiencing any tranny issues.

Given the age of your car and mileage, I strongly suggest you start to learn more about it and even consider DIY maintenance, otherwise the dealer will send his kids to college on your shop payments.

Last edited by Fudman; 09-29-2011 at 03:36 PM.
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2011, 08:09 PM
Koolnik Koolnik is offline
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Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530I
Yes, when I first saw the error I panicked and at the same time I was pissed with the dealer who charged me $1000 a month earlier. I am going to test the alternator and battery tonight. I too suspect it could relate to the alternator....fingers crossed.

Thank you all for your input. I feel better now that I may not have to spend $$$$ on a tranny where the car might not have much value down the road, except to me who has looked after it with TLC.
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2011, 07:39 PM
Koolnik Koolnik is offline
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Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530I
I tested the battery and alternator, which passed good. In the meantime The dealership called and said that BMW of NA is willing to give me 25% off from a factory refurbish tranny with factory labor cost for a grand total of $3600. Two year warranty. I am thinking of going for this unless I can get a fair value trade in for a 2011. However, since I have maintained the car and just replaced my tires the repair is very tempting unless someone from this forum gives me better sound advice. Thanks.

Last edited by Koolnik; 10-09-2011 at 08:36 PM.
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  #10  
Old 10-10-2011, 04:50 AM
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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 Koolnik View Post
the car drives normal, except for the "check Engine" light and the error on the dashboard "Trans.Safe Fail".
If your tranny is not in default mode (3d gear only), you may not have a tranny problem. Default mode is very noticeable as the acceleration of the car is severely compromised. If you are not in default mode, I suspect there is something else causing your TPF lamp. I would recommend further investigation (unless dropping $3600 is no big deal) on problem. I would guess a sensor issue.
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  #11  
Old 10-10-2011, 11:54 AM
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Albo Albo is offline
Der Ursprüngliche....Albo
Location: Southern California
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolnik View Post
I tested the battery and alternator, which passed good.
Did you unlock your OBC and check to see what your alternator was outputting in volts?

My E38 had a similar issue and it turned out to be the alternator. DO NOT spend money on a transmission until you are entirely sure about the alternator and battery.

Your alternator should be outputting between 12.1(at start-up) and 14.2 (with increased engine speed).

Here is a great tutorial for unlocking the E39 OBC:

http://www.ideaphile.com/bmw/540-obc.html
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2011, 03:47 PM
AC.Auditore AC.Auditore is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 BMW 530i
I have about 158k miles on my 01' BMW 530i, and just got a notification light stating (Trans. Fail Safety Program) while driving. I did notice that when i accelerate and pressed on the brake it tend to jerk. I turned my car off waited for about an hr. or so and the light was off but still jerked abit when accelerating. Any info. i can get on this would be appreciated.
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