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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 02-11-2019, 02:37 PM
AaronRusso89 AaronRusso89 is offline
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03 530i going into limp

I have A 2003 530i sport 5sp 140xxx miles and it has been going into limp mode on me, I can't see the exact description on the dash screen because the pixels are gone in the important spots but the message says something about engine safe mode or something and then the car has only about 20% power on acceleration Its giving me codes F DSC Return Pump fault. And 76 DSC: DME/DDE does not fulfil torque request. I just had the abs controller rebuilt because My local shop bled my brake system for me after a power booster/master cylinder replacement I could not get it bled properly on my own and told me I needed to replace the abs controller. I'm not sure exactly if it did anything or not I hope it did, hard to tell. I also just replaced the wheel speed sensors because I was getting codes for those but they cleared and have stayed off after the repair. I've searched the codes but to no avail, any direction would be awesome thanks!
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:54 PM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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1. Check your battery and alternator. A failing alternator, or a bad battery not fully charged, are the most common culprits of the "limp mode".
2. Check the fuel pump, fuel lines, and fuel filter.
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Last edited by Chedley; 02-11-2019 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 02-11-2019, 03:06 PM
AaronRusso89 AaronRusso89 is offline
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Just replaced battery a month ago, not sure about alternator i would think car would be dead if it wasnt working properly esp with cold temps weve been having. I'll look into possible fuel delivery problems. thanks
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:57 PM
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crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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If you had to replace the battery it is very likely because the alternator isn't doing its job.

Post battery voltages after car has sat for a few hours and while running. Don't do anything else until you check voltages.
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:10 AM
540i"A"Canuck 540i"A"Canuck is offline
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Hi AaronRusso89:
I currently own a 2000 540i"A" E39 Sport Pkg and I've now owned this "Gem...umm ya"!!; for 5 yrs now and since Day 1, my Car has been displaying (Engine Failsafe Mode). But, I have been able to operate, drive my Car to its maximum speed (Approx 270 km/h; Done on closed course..lol). So, even though I have Not been able to figure-out why my Car/ECU wants to maintain this mode, I have been able to Drive my Car on a Daily basis. Now, since owning the Car, I have done a lot of DIY work, both mechanical and electrical; replacing parts and troubleshooting ever aspect of my Car (To date), to try and fix all the problems; including my (Engine Failsafe Mode). So here are some parts that I changed and did a thorough cleaning of other parts to see if it would make a difference to my "Mode Trouble" and overall Driving experience:
1) New Replaced Battery, 2) New Throttle Body/Gasket, 3) New Cam Shaft Sensors, 4) New Denso Irridum Sparkplugs, 5) Replaced numerous Fuses, 6) New Fuel Filter, 7) Used Fuel Senders/Pumps
8) New K&N Air Filter, 9) New Front Rotors/Pads, 10) New ABS & Brake Pad Sensors 3 out of 4 Wheels, 11) New Timing Chain Tensioner, 12) New Aftermarket Halo Headlights, 13) New aftermarket Rear Smoke tinted Tail-lights, 14) New 4 All-season Continental DWS 225/45R-17", 15) New Water Pump and Temp Sensor, 16) 3 Oil & Filter Changes since owned (Tried Castrol Syntec 5w30 and Shell Rotella T6 5w40), 17) New O2 Sensors Pre-Cat and After Cat, 18) Replaced/Used '02 M5 Rear Strut/Shocks>>>Cleaning Phase: 1) Sent my Cluster to a Special Shop for repair, 2) Sprayed Carb/Throttlebody cleaner in Throttlebody/Butterfly valve & Intake Plenum while Car is Idling, 3) Used Fuel system cleaners, added to Fuel Tank, 4) Opened my main ECU & Relay Compartment in the Car Engine Bay and Sprayed the ECU main electrical connectors, Relay Connectors with Electric Cleaner Spray>>>Now this is the info I obtained regarding the possible reason for the (Engine Failsafe Mode) with respect to my E39 540i"A": I discovered that one possible cause was that "Our Cars" have "Throttle-by-wire" mechanism to send the signal from the Accelerator Pedal to the ECU, then to the Throttlebody Valve to open. So, there is No actual Cable connecting your Accelerator Pedal to the Throttlebody Valve. So, inside these parts have what's called (Potentiometers), that send the signals between these various parts/mechanisms. These (Potentiometers) can wear out and send "faulty signals to the ECU!! So, this is my advice to you, to research these parts (Accelerator Pedal, Throttlebody, ECU/DME, MAF, Relays and obviously what/how a Potentiometers work). If you check all those parts, clean them and check all/any electrical connectors that are related to those areas of the Engine/Mechanisms that could be "Faulty"!! I hope this helps your search for answers with respect to (Engine Failsafe/Limp Mode)..;-)
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Old 02-12-2019, 02:43 PM
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mattmar1 mattmar1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronRusso89 View Post
Just replaced battery a month ago, not sure about alternator i would think car would be dead if it wasnt working properly esp with cold temps weve been having. I'll look into possible fuel delivery problems. thanks
verify your theories to avoid throwing parts at the car and money out of your wallet. resting battery voltage should be 12.6 vdc. charging voltage, with the engine running, hi beams on and ac fan on full rpm 2500 should be 13.8-14.2 vdc. new batteries do go bad, theres a reason we insist on warranties on new parts.
one thing about the fly by wire pedal and throttle position sensing, both are done with redundant signals, both should be within a certain spec or a fail safe fault is issued.
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Last edited by mattmar1; 02-12-2019 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:11 PM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540i"A"Canuck View Post
Hi AaronRusso89:
I currently own a 2000 540i"A" E39 Sport Pkg and I've now owned this "Gem...umm ya"!!; for 5 yrs now and since Day 1, my Car has been displaying (Engine Failsafe Mode). .
.
Impressive list of parts and repairs for that 540i car. I have done most of these on my car over the last 20 years..

However, on that list, notice that he did NOT check or replace the ALTERNATOR .
Check the live voltage of the alternator with the engine running, then post the reading ?

That is probably the cause of the "limp mode".
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:22 PM
540i"A"Canuck 540i"A"Canuck is offline
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Re: Engine Failsafe Mode or Limp Mode

Hi Chedley:
Um, I forgot to mention that I am possibly the 5th Owner of this Car and when I bought the Car, it had 253,000 km's, lots of problems!! The previous Owner(s) didn't fix the smaller items, so I had to do a lot of DIY since Day 1. My thread to AaronRusso89, regarding the Throttlebody & Accelerator issues with the "Potentiometers", well I'm still in the process of inspecting the Accelerator Potentiometer as I already replaced the Throttlebody. I also need to do a more thorough Electrical Inspection: Alternator, Relay's..etc!! In my research regarding the (Engine Failsafe Mode), of course there were "Threads" on here and other sites suggesting to inspect Battery, Alternator, Wiring Grounds..etc!! And the other main Parts were the Throttlebody, Accelerator Pedal...all related parts. So, as I've said before; it's a Love/Hate Relationship with my E39
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:21 AM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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FWIW, 2 blocks from home and behind some traffic <15 mph...stoping dead in a round about, I saw the engine fail safe. trying to idle my way (car ahead of me lost)... ...I scanned and saw Peak code OF/ 73 and 83. Those are fly-by-wire Throttle and Mass air sensor codes. Erased the codes and will see later what's what. May try the throttle reset maneuver (see all the things you didn't know the E39 can do thread). This post gave me some items to check..I know my intake M. is always wet, seen some oily somke....and may have punched in something 'bad' into the heads up Check menu i'm guess could have re-set a value somewhere. Looking into it when I can later.
Really kinda weird.
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Old 05-26-2019, 06:30 AM
540i"A"Canuck 540i"A"Canuck is offline
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Re; "Limp Mode" & Wet Man??

Hi 4thBMW:
You mentioned that you noticed an oily residue inside the Intake Manifold, more towards the Throttle Body. Well, I experienced the same issue and when I was cleaning and inspecting my original Throttle Body, I also noticed that my Intake Manifold also had an oily residue on the inside, but also on the Pipe coming up the passenger side of the Throttle Body and enters into the front corner of the Intake Manifold (That pipe is part of your PCV system), that continues its path on the inside of the Intake Manifold towards the "Firewall" and then exits out the Driver side, continuing to the Rear of the Engine, where the PCV system is located. If the PCV is clogged (Rear Diaphragm) system, then it will cause fine amount of oil out the plumbing, inside the Intake Manifold (Especially at higher RPM's)!! Now, unfortunately I haven't got around to replacing those parts for the "PCV", but what I did was, start the engine, remove the Air Intake Plenum off the Throttle Body, carefully open the "Butterfly Valve" of the Throttle Body and use Carburetor/Intake Spray Cleaner into the Intake Manifold, trying to aim the spray in as many different angles, in order to clean the oily residue inside the Intake Manifold. Now, obviously this is just a temporary fix; especially if you have a faulty "PCV" system!! My other tip (If you haven't done yet), is to remove the Spark Plug Covers to check if oil has bypassed the (Rubber O-ring's) that are part of the Valve Cover Gasket(s) and made its way into the Spark Plug Galley/Reseassed Spark Plug Holes? Obviously, if there is oil you need/should replace the Valve Cover Gasket Assembly and Buy/insert New "Iridium" Spark Plugs (Denso's)...well good luck with your 540i Wagon..;-)
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Old 05-26-2019, 07:51 AM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Thanks for the reply 540i "A" Canuck

Yes, what you mentioned was in the back of my mind as that diaphragm failure can occur more than we like from what I understand. I replaced my v. cover gaskets and o-rings, a plastic vacuum tube that runs under all of that on the driver's side and all of the spark plug, a few faulty holders on top of some plugs back in 2014. Seem to recall how good the plugs looked then at 100K miles. That was right before a 8,000 mi round trip out to California for a while. Did a few repairs on the road in CA. While I was out in CA I replaced Ft. windshield, a rear air-bag, vanos solenoid gaskets, chased some vacuum leaks...and the knuckle buster the new PVC unit at the rear of manifold. Also, put on some new Michelin Pilot Sports and an alignment. PIA getting that PVC diaphragm R&R'd even with a Chapman midget ratchet...leaning over the car curbside on the street. Did a smoke test and replaced more issues...the valve coming out of the rear of the PCV and splits off into brake booster and forward. No problems with all of that since till now. Been a few years.
Just got home after getting on the interstate, 3000+ RPM in top gear...when that Engine fail safe mode came on again. I had cleared the two peak codes mentioned above and they didn't reappear last week in normal slow, city traffic. Codes: 75;77 appeared on the peak scan. That's throttle position sensor and ditto, sensor 2. So, I seem to be looking at some throttle , fly by wire throttle and sensor issue. I have yet to try that fly-by-wire throttle position reset proceedure which I will do now and keeping the PVV in the back of my mind. You can take a rag and get all of the excess oil film and or 'pools' of oil out of the manifold by hand. That's what I did last I was in there...R&Ring the gas vapor valve .
BTW, before I pulled those last codes and after the car sat for some long time...on startup, engine faie safe on the control chk. disappeared and I just went into monitoring the core temp which acted normal 104-110C depending on what I was doing.

Last edited by 4thBMW; 05-26-2019 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:48 PM
540i"A"Canuck 540i"A"Canuck is offline
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Hi 4thBMW...again;
It seems that you are experiencing a lot of the same issues I had..still have; like the Throttle-by-wire system. From my research regarding the Throttle Body's Potentiometer, in most cases cannot be cleaned and then reused! You certainly should check the Voltage of the Potentiometer...here is a video that watched on Youtube:
1) https://www.google.ca/search?safe=ac...XBQdy1DfiS3YM:

2)

The other part/assembly is your (Accelerator Pedal) and the Potentiometer built in to the Pedal assembly, should also be inspected; here is a video to help you with that process:
1)
2)

To summarize 4thBMW; I just wanted to share some of the Vids I watched to try and resolve my "Engine Failsafe Mode" and why those various assemblies I mentioned (above), need to work correctly and communicate with each other...don't forget your "ECU" plays a role in all of this...;-) Best of luck!!
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Old 06-01-2019, 03:33 AM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Thanks for the videos !

After last post, I did the throttle position reset, made sure those last codes were cleared and have not had a problem. The video of the cable throttle reminded me of my old 735i (1988) and the cable plastic bits braking and those fixes.....But, yes, knowing if one can test the fly by wire 4.4 electronic TB helps allot.
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:08 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Replace Throttlebody
it will fix u issue
GL
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Old 06-09-2019, 01:21 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Thx champain777

I saw on the other forums you have both the ft. and rear two trans to frame (wagon?) bushing puller/ pushers....If so, I should of would of could of done that earlier this year..but it's too dam hot now. making a mental note.
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Old 06-09-2019, 02:19 PM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
Replace Throttlebody
...
No.
The throttle body on the drive by wire 540 rarely if ever goes bad. Remove it, clean it thoroughly with CRC cleaner -on both sides of the plates-, then let it dry. Clean out also its electric connectors, and put it back. Replace its gasket. Then reset the adaptations.
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Last edited by Chedley; 06-09-2019 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:42 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Thanks, I don't have INPA...but

Those PEAK codes 75; 77 are still gone but noticed a stumble coming to a slow stop, turn....code was miss on #1 cyld. HECK, I over engine oil filled 1/8" on the dipstick. That always clouds one's mind re: any hicups n misfires. I cleared that misfire code, pulled off the TB and MAF, cleaned both w/ MAF sensor spray and wiped out the intake manifold of some oil. Now, IF I am doing the "not with the INPA" throttle adaptation / reset correctly by the E46 video above (same software as my 07/ 2003 E39 electronics, The car should, as it has done in the past, be alright even if it need some miles to do settle in. Will see. Champain777, whenever I get to a late year E39 at the junk yard....someone has always already pulled the throttle body.
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