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Transmission Failsafe Mode w/ Transmission Code 15

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I recently had my mechanic replace the transmission in my 2001 540iT Sport Wagon based on the diagnosis from Concord BMW. When it was installed, the car dropped into the Transmission Failsafe Program mode and displayed transmission code 15: Pressure actuator failure. This is also generic OBD II code 1748: Manufacturer Transmission Control Unit Malfunction and/or Transmission Control Unit Self Test Failure.
Has anyone experienced this problem? If so, what was the diagnosis?

My mechanic doesn't have the big BMW test set to fully diagnose this issue so I've made an appointment to take the car to Concord BMW for diagnosis.

I also had the transmission control module replaced and reprogrammed. Does anyone know if the transmission failsafe program cuts out a lot of the transmission control module functions?

First off, the shift selector indicator on the dashboard is disabled. According to the service manual, the LEDs are enabled through the TCM. Also, the shift lock solenoid is not operating. I can put the car in any gear without having to depress the brake. The pathway for this circuit also travels through the TCM. Unfortunately I do not remember if those two items worked before I had the transmission replaced.
The sport mode is unavailable and no indicator lights change when I tap the shifter to the left.
Additionally, the parking control assist does not activate when the vehicle is placed in R (possibly indicating an electrical problem vice a hydraulic/mechanical problem with the transmission).

I am trying to avoid another R/R of the transmission and was wondering if it could be the computer interface inside the transmission? If so, can that be replaced? I have verified continuity between the TCM and transmission connector and a visual inspection of the connector pins does not indicate any damage/missing pins.

Even though the car is sluggish from the start (because it is stuck in 4th gear), it drives great.

The last time I had the transmission diagnosed by the dealership, 20 minutes later they said, "We couldn't see anything wrong specifically, BUT you need to replace the transmission." $6000.00 later, I now have a working transmission but I am still having issues. Any input to help isolate the issue BEFORE I take it back to the dealership for their input would be greatly appreciated.

2001 BMW 540iT Sprot Wagon w/ Steptronic 5 speed
ZF transmission part# 5HP24A
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Sorry for the delayed reply...

Searching on this forum and others - a relatively common problem - there is a power issue going to a number of items - vanity mirrors, radio controls on the steering wheel, cruise, stuff like that.

Figured for $45 worth a try - and it fixed it.
what made u think to replace the ignition switch?
i got it, it was the TCM that made the tranny work.
So others benefit, I just added this threads to the bestlinks:

- How people resolved transmission "Trans Failsafe Program", aka "Limp Mode" (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14)
For the record, another one opened today on transmission failsafe:
- > E39 (1997 - 2003) > Transmission fail safe mode stuck in 3rd gear just got the codes read,help!
I have a 98 540ia and the transmission is in a limp mode,and the codes i have reade are the following:
149 CAN wheel speeds
049 symptom,,gear monitoring
053 Gear monitoring 3
059 stall speed

Any ideas?:mad:

Sent from my MB502 using Bimmer App
See also:
- How people tested & resolved transmission "Trans Failsafe Program", aka "Limp Mode" (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
For the record, here's another one today:
My 530i '03 just got this message yesterday, couldn't accelerate or even park it.. P, R, D nothing worked.. just coasted back or forward so had to use Ebrake. Never had a trans issue, shifts smooth as always, no warning lights.. anyone have this problem before? I see it could be fluid low, battery issue, something electrical...
I had the same exact problem on my 540 it was stuck in 4th with no trans led lights and I ended up having to replace the transmission your oil is burnt open up the pan

Sent from my MB502 using Bimmer App
For the record, another one today:
Before writing this post I search the code and every post the car has the same problem as mine, take forever to accelerate. A buddy of mine says it is stuck in "limb mode" and I need a new battery. I took the car to Advance Auto Parts and tested the battery, alternator, starter and the battery was good and alternator and starter are excellent. My friend says "Of course the battery is good bc your alternator charges it but it does not have enough juice to power your car"

Lol sorry for all that but what do you think?
For the anecdotal record, here's another trans failsafe thread posted today:

My tranny is in lamp mode i think stays in 3-4, it shifts/kicks hard when you put it in to Drive and Reverse, I'm thinking its low on fluid i hope to god. All the stores are closed because easter so i cant do a full change today and its my daily driver so i really need it. Can I just top off the oil with ATF?
And, another today:
Hello guys, my 528i is in limp mode(3rd gear). Yellow gear w/exclaimation on dash, check engine light and dsc. No cruise control, no reverse lights. Just put a brand new battery in also. Obd codes thrown are.. p0600( can timeout egs1, and p 03040(camshaft position sensor intake). Peake research tool says. table 15. code 19,41,37,d9. Am in the process of checking connections. 161,000 miles on car. original everything. Other than maintence, new belts, just did the vanos seals,(fixed the idle issue). The car went into limp mode on the way home 4 months ago before any work was done to the car. Now im getting ABS, Triangle, transmission, check engine light. Did the dash test , (checks ok) Also, I have no transmission indicators on the instrument cluster. (PRND) THEY ARE GONE. I can shift the transmission into and out of gear without stepping on the brake.
And some updates:
Update: Checked fuses under passenger side cabin filter in engine bay and found BLOWN FUSE (30 AMP).

Replaced and PRND is back on dash= OUT OF LIMP MODE>>!!!
Full transmission control again....

I still have DSC, ABS, Brake light lit up. but check engine light is out.

Probably the abs controller at this point....
I had a very similar problem on an e36 and it turned out to be the solenoid that locks the tranny until you step on the brake. It had come unhooked on just one side of the connector. Take the console cover off by the shifter and check the connection. With the cover off you can watch the solenoid work each time you press the brake. It sounds like yours isn't working. A little cylinder should come out and locks the shifter until you press the brake and then it withdraws. It this is not connected properly it WILL put the tranny in limp mode.
Yet another, today:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Trans fail Safe?Small metal shavings in transmission pan!!!!

Whats up guys So i just bought this 97 BMW 540i from my buddy the car will start up fine but when i shift it into Drive(D) it will move a tiny bit and the transmission goes into fail safe mode :confused: However the car will not move when i step on the gas i will just stay in trans fail safe mode:dunno: I put the car in reverse(R) and it moves back a tiny bit then trans fail safe mode...Today i jacked the car up and drained the transmission fluid it was Dark Black...Then i opened the transmission pan and there were really small metal shavings at the bottom of it then i took a look at the filter and that was really clogged up Would that be causing the fail safe mode???? What you guys think?
Transmission or Something Else?

In the morning I started my car and put it in reverse, but the gear did not engage. I put it in drive and a warning said transmission fail safe mode. Prior to this, I had replaced a head gasket. I took it to the mechanic and looked at the transmission oil and placed it on the computer. He then said we need to replace the transmission. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the transmission. I checked the forums and people had all different answers. Some people said it could be voltage, ignition switch, battery, fuses, etc. I checked all that and it's fine.
Someone suggested to unplug the battery. I did that. Everything then became normal for about a mile. Then I put the car in park and when I put it back into drive it went back into transmission fail safe mode. Only this time, reverse works and when you switch gears from park to drive or park to reverse, it changes hard. I unplugged the battery again and everything seems to be working fine again. I think there is an underlying problem. I am looking for suggestions. It would be appreciated. Thanks so much in advance.
For the record, recently it was my turn for the trans fail safe error:
- One user's TFP TRANS FAILSAFE PROG automatic transmission TPF experience stuck in limp mode (1)

Transmission Fail Safe

I had the front speed censor replaced and the car hasn't gone into fail safe mode for more than a month now. Good luck, this problem sucks to have, what an easy fix after I found the right mechanic.
Hey I had front speed censors replaced and it fixed this problem. I dealt with it for months and finally found a guy that told me what was wrong with it. Thee fix should run 475-600. Hope this helps.
Pain in the ass, I had mine fixed. Bad speed censor so it would throw the car into that mode. Fixed the front speed censor and now it doesn't happen. Bad speed censor makes trans safe mode go on from time to time. Good luck I hope this helps, wish someone would have given me this advise . 475- 600 repair aprox
For the crosslinked record, there is an excellent (and very detailed, with pictures) trans failsafe transmission repair over here today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Trans Failsafe Prog - A chronicle of diagnosis & repair

Hello ***8211; 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 ***8211; M62) 135,xxx miles

The Story: ... (edited out as it's in that thread )
i had the same problem on my x5 3i, trans fail safe and when i was getting close to a stop i will feel how it skip gears, all i did to fix it was turn it on press the brake real hard and play with the gears d and r while holding the brake until i heard something felt into place, dont know how else to xplain, after that everything was perfect
21 - 37 of 37 Posts
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