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BMW X5 E53 3.0i Automatic Transmission (SOLVED!)

Home Forums Stay Dirty Lounge Service and Repair Questions Answered Here BMW X5 E53 3.0i Automatic Transmission (SOLVED!)

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Craig Burbage Craig Burbage 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #628245
    Knut
    Knut
    Participant

    Once again I’m back with yet another BMtroubleyou! :woohoo:

    This time I got my self a BMW X5 3.0i 2000 model. Great car really, except for the tranny, which has done 130k miles. I bought the car cheap, as a repair object with the tranny being my main concern.

    I’ve flushed the transmission twice with 6 gallons of transmission fluid and threw in some fancy lubricants while I was at it. Ever since, the tranny’s gotten better and better. But as long as the transmission fluid is cold the tranny goes into failsafe mode when it tries to gear up from 1st to 2nd gear. But here’s the thing; If i put my shifter into “semi-automatic mode” (Steptronic) and gear up and down manually, the tranny operates just fine. No failsafe mode light on the dash.

    So what I’m doing now as long as the engine is cold, is gearing up and down manually the first five minutes on the road, and then put it into Drive. Works like a charm, but it would be nice to restore the tranny to its full potential!

    I have little experience with automatic transmission. Here in Norway most cars are driven with a stick! Please excuse my english, as it’s not my native language. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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    Replies
  • #628359
    college man
    college man
    Moderator

    The computer has recognized a fault and is trying to save the
    transmission from damaged. The best thing to do is have any codes
    pulled to further the diagnoses.

    http://www.justanswer.com/bmw/4qa2o-bmw-x5-fail-safe-mode.html

    http://www.justanswer.com/bmw/4wmub-bmw-x5-3-0i-engine-failsafe-program-light.html

    #628603
    EricTheCarGuy 1
    EricTheCarGuy
    Keymaster

    +1 Start with any codes that might be stored. It being a BMW this might require a special scan tool to access those codes. If it’s an electronic problem then it will likely set a code. If it’s a mechanical problem then it might not set a code. If it is a mechanical problem then perhaps replacement of the transmission might be the best option instead of trying to rebuild it yourself. More info on transmission issues here.

    http://www.ericthecarguy.com/faq/solving-transmission-problems

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    #630266
    Knut
    Knut
    Participant

    Thanks for getting back to me!

    I’ve tried to pull the codes myself, but my cheap scanner won’t recognize the Gearbox Control Unit (I believe BMW calls it EGS). Then I took it to my local tranny shop and asked them to pull the codes, they couldn’t either. And I know they have original BMW scanners and software. So now I’m thinking maybe it’s the EGS. But still, the transmission operates just fine while shifting manually first few minutes and then put it into automatic mode. And as EricTheCarGuy states in his “Troubleshooting FAQ” the manual mode uses the same electronics to shift the transmission as it does in automatic mode. Maybe It’s just an electrical problem then.

    Either way, I might take it to a certified BMW dealer, even though their prices will make your jaw drop. And that’s just for diagnosing the car!

    I’ll keep you posted!

    #636468
    Knut
    Knut
    Participant

    Case closed, for now at least!

    I took the car to the dealer, they told me i needed a new electronic control module for the transmission. Took the car home and cleaned the allegedly broken control module. Inspected all the wires and lubed up the connectors and put it back together again Keep in mind that you have to be very careful while dealing with these sort of things! Anyway, I successfully accessed the module and erased the trouble codes that was stored, and no more failsafe mode! The module is located under the hood close to the firewall in a black box with the wiring loom.

    To do this job I had to upgrade my software and educate my self! So I downloaded BMW DIS, INPA, EDIABAS, and NCSexpert. This is a package of BMW diagnostic and programming software which enables you to read and code the various electronic control modules. You also need a K-Line OBD cable. I am certanly no expert when it comes to electronics, and this was my first time using such a complex software diagnostic tool. But, all the information needed is available on the internet, right in front of you! Google is your friend! You need a decent understanding when it comes to computers though!

    Next step is to “update” the transmission with a version that prevents hard upshift from 2-3 gear, which is a common problem in the gearbox in question. The specific model of the gearbox is A5S390R or 5L40-E. The first number is BMWs own ID and the second is manufacture ID. It’s made by General Motors Powertrain and Hydramatic which is a manufacturing division of General Motors Powertrain. It was produced between 1998 and 2007. Many American car models as well as Land Rover use the same gearbox. One last thing you should know if you’re looking to by a used car with this gearbox is that GM used too soft alloy in the valve body casting causing various problems with the torque converter clutch to slip and loss of reverse.

    And for those of you that are really into automatic transmissions, here’s a teardown of a broken A5S390R gearbox: http://www.rangerovers.net/forum/6-range-rover-mark-iii-l322/34259-gm-5l40-e-transmission-teardown.html

    Sorry for the long post, guys!

    #636607
    college man
    college man
    Moderator

    Glad you got that sorted out. 🙂

    #636609
    Knut
    Knut
    Participant

    Thanks college man! I had to do some serious research on this one, hence my long previous post!

    #636701
    Lorrin Barth
    Lorrin Barth
    Participant

    What you show us here is that in modern vehicles a problem is just as likely to be in software as it is in hardware. So, if all you can do is wrench you will sometimes be stymied. Computerized cars require computer skills.

    #636789
    Knut
    Knut
    Participant

    I wonder what the cars will be like in 25 years from now. I remeber replacing a battery on my friends 2011 BMW. It turned out that vehicle wouldn’t recognize the new battery unless you connected to the ECU and “approved” the battery. Can you imagine going to the dealer just because you got a dead battery?

    This is why I’ve made an effort to get a better understanding of automotive software and programming.

    #955104
    Craig Burbage
    Craig Burbage
    Participant

    I had the Transmission Fault light while on the downhill run on a mountain pass. I went through some high water while in fourth gear. the indicator came on. I tried all of the reset methods (gas pedal etc.). My car shifted roughly in automatic mode. After a day and a half I read a thread that said to check the #5 fuse. I did, it was fine, and a had it out for about a minute, put it back in, started the car and the light went out.

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