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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 12-30-2013, 12:01 AM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
Trans Failsafe Prog - A chronicle of diagnosis & repair

Hello – I thought I would chronicle my "Trans Failsafe Prog" adventure so others can see what is involved in the process. Feel free to comment or add helpful tips along the way. I am not a professional but do have much experience with many gasoline cars/trucks. If you don't like stories then scroll down to the pictures or video links.

The car:

1997 BMW 540i Automatic (4.4L V8 – M62) 135,xxx miles

The Story:

I purchased this car from someone who could not afford the diagnosis or repair. They loved the car but they were in no position to fork out $3000-$6000 for a transmission as they were told it could be. They said they were just diving one day and after a traffic light stop, when they accelerated the error came on the dash, "Trans Failsafe Prog". They said it was very sluggish and drove straight to a German car specialist here in Anchorage Alaska. They did mention that the reverse gear worked just fine with no loss of power. They could not tackle the error and suggested taking it to the dealer or a transmission repair shop. So they proceeded to pay to have it towed to three shops; $300 + the first diagnostic. At the German car specialist they drained and changed the fluid while the owner watched. The fluid was dirty but not black and goopy nor any chunks. The first trans. shop said, "your trans has black goo coming out with bits of metal, not good, need a new one, $5000-$6000", charged for a drain refill and diag. The second shop said, "your trans is toast and will need to be rebuilt, $3000", charged for a drain refill and diag. The third shop said, "yah, its toast, needs a rebuild, $3800", charged for diag and they did not put fluid back in it. So, it was towed back to the German car specialist in thought that a used one could be sourced from a Washington state wrecker, they were willing to R/R it there.

They decided just to sell it on CL. They were asking $2800, I paid $1500 cash. Before anyone says I ripped them off, consider how much the car is worth in perfect condition and how much the average joe would pay for a repair in this case. Not to mention they said two others had offered $1500 already and they thought I could make it live again and not send it to scrap.





The Diagnosis:

I had it towed to my house and had the slideback shove it into my back yard through a narrow gate,$95 towing + tip. They did a great job. Then it started to snow quarter size flakes. Oh well, someday I will start looking into this. So, the next few weeks I spent trying to research the "Trans Prog. Failsafe" code and ended up here. I read all of Bluebee's posts on the subject including all of the thread links. Thank you Bluebee for doing all that extensive and exhaustive linking as well as others that helped or offered different perspectives on the issue.

http://s49.photobucket.com/user/ak_i...6c1ec.mp4.html

http://s49.photobucket.com/user/ak_i...98992.mp4.html

I started looking into diagnostic hardware/software and decided on the INPA package. I ordered a cable set and software from xcar360.com …..... I do not recommend them, see thread here http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...462&highlight= . The software they sent was missing files so I downloaded it somewhere, though not through Bluebee's explanation on diagnostics because the links were dead. I ended up with Ediabas 6.4.3 & INPA 4.4.7 Versions. I finally got it installed correctly on an old Win2000 Compaq laptop. Here is a few links to video of my INPA run:

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f2...865e2.mp4.html

http://s49.photobucket.com/user/ak_i...5d0d6.mp4.html

http://s49.photobucket.com/user/ak_i...8fcca.mp4.html

I am starting to get a picture of what to start with. I do know that the factory key buttons do not work, "Key In Ignition Lock" appears on the dash without the key in, the headlights stay on no matter the position on the switch, and the steering wheel adjustment does not work at all. It does have an aftermarket auto-start that does work and a hidden radar detector that makes noise when I turn a little knob on the dash. The car is currently up on stands/boards and large truck wheels stuffed under the mid-section just in case.

Here is how I am going to prioritize the diagnosis:
### = Done

1. Get battery tested ### (It tested borderline @ Batteries Plus so I replaced it with a like battery)
2. Disconnect, clean the two trans. harness connectors with QD Electronic cleaner, reconnect ###
3. Fill transmission in "N" heated between 30*C-60*C with correct fluid with a hand pump, switch through gears and recheck fluid level ### (It took 5.5qt before streaming out the fill hole while the car is level, strange but no reverse and all other gear positions work)
4. Run INPA & note codes from engine & trans., then clear codes, note codes still active ### (ASC & ABS lights are now on because the front wheels are not matching speed, when the new round diag. cable comes in I will reset these too)
5. Run Battery & Alternator test, correct any fault there (battery tested 12.88V w/multimeter after sitting disconnected for two days in 10*F)
6. Retest with INPA, clear and note still active codes
7. Choose most probable malfunction and test/correct/replace part
8. Retest with INPA, clear and note still active codes
9. Continue

More to come…....

Last edited by ak_inshok; 07-21-2014 at 12:14 AM. Reason: fixed wording
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2013, 06:32 PM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
Update...

Today after work just jumped in the car and warmed it up. played around with all the switches, buttons and the visors. I never had visor issues but thought it might be an intermittent problem. Then after playing around I tried my steering wheel adjust knob just for kicks.... It works now! ???

My heater motor IS intermittent after all. So, it looks like I will be doing the FSU.

Still confused why the reverse doesn't work even with the ASC off and the wheels off the ground. They kind of drag in forward direction as if by fluid friction. My thought is either the EGS (TCU), one of the two shift switches, or a stuck/bad check ball in the valve body.
Any ideas?

It looks like there is electrical tape around the key module just showing around the housing. Thought it was melted plastic and thought... Oh great! I will have to open up the housing and check it out. While I am in there I will check the IGN Switch too.

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  #3  
Old 12-31-2013, 06:46 PM
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dtadrian dtadrian is offline
BMW's are like women. $$$
Location: miami
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 403
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528i T Wagon
Trans Failsafe Prog - A chronicle of diagnosis & repair

Replace ignition switch and try to clear codes. Make sure battery is good. See if that clears your trans fail safe.


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  #4  
Old 01-30-2014, 04:11 PM
susydesigns susydesigns is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 3
Mein Auto:
Trans safe progr


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  #5  
Old 01-30-2014, 04:14 PM
susydesigns susydesigns is offline
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Mein Auto:
My trans fail safe prog code is on (01 x5 4.4i) made a clunk sound and now is very sluggish?


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  #6  
Old 01-30-2014, 10:12 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,375
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
I'm going to cross reference to this thread, so others benefit:
- One user's TFP TRANS FAILSAFE PROG automatic transmission TPF experience stuck in limp mode (1)
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #7  
Old 07-20-2014, 11:42 PM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
About the x5 Trans... Google "RRPhil" he is across the pond but very knowledgeable.

UPDATE!!!!

I decided to go for it and rebuild my ZF5HP24 Transmission. I ordered a Transtar Banner Kit (without Plates) and an "F" Piston in anticipation of the known "A" Drum and "F" Piston Failure.
I got the box out and opened and discovered DISASTER instead. The "A" Drum and needle bearings look good but I have not disassembled the individual drum yet. However, the third drum
in (the "C" Drum; which sits inside the "D" side of the "D/E" Double Brake Drum) has EXPLODED! Totally annihilated! It consequently took out the "D/E" also. Time to look at ebay or locally
for doner parts. Most of the rest is OK including the case and Planetary section.




















Last edited by ak_inshok; 07-20-2014 at 11:45 PM.
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2014, 11:43 PM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA










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  #9  
Old 07-21-2014, 10:44 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,375
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Wow. Thank you very much for taking the appreciable time and effort to document this repair and DIY.
The trans failsafe is a common circumstance, so thousand of people will benefit from your kind effort!

To leverage this as much as I can, I'd like to cross reference this in the bestlinks so that others will benefit!

Typing /trans failsafe f3 in the bestlinks, I'll cross it to one of these:
- One user's TFP TRANS FAILSAFE PROG automatic transmission TPF experience stuck in limp mode (1) & how others tested & resolved transmission "Trans Failsafe Program", aka "Limp Mode" (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18)

EDIT: Saving your pictures to bimmerfest (in the same order as shown in your posts) so that they're always available to others, in the future, as offsite links are known to be ephemeral.
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__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 07-21-2014 at 10:52 AM.
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  #10  
Old 07-21-2014, 04:19 PM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
Thanks Bluebee... I will figure out how to save them direct to the site from now on.
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  #11  
Old 07-22-2014, 01:24 AM
ak_inshok ak_inshok is offline
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Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
Just ordered the hard parts on ebay tonight. I will post the pictures when they come in.
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  #12  
Old 07-22-2014, 06:44 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,375
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by ak_inshok View Post
Thanks Bluebee... I will figure out how to save them direct to the site from now on.
If this thread doesn't show you, step by step, with screenshots how to do that, let me know and I'll fix it so that it does:
- How to post, shrink, modify, edit, annotate, merge, & upload pictures for posting here (1)

Nobody knows this, but I very often save other people's pictures to bimmerfest, not always in the same thread, but usually, just so that the picture won't disappear over time.
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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