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-   -   The dreaded Trans Failsafe Mode (again) (https://xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-forums/x5-e53-forum/109561-dreaded-trans-failsafe-mode-again.html)

Siggy 01-03-2019 09:30 AM

The dreaded Trans Failsafe Mode (again)
Very sorry to post on this topic as my first post since I see it's been posted so many times but I've been through a lot of posts trying to trace this problem and I need some additional input.

2006 X5 3.0l. I'm a new owner (had it for about 6 months). The car had a lot of problems when I bought it and I've been working through them (same story as many other people, I suppose). The check engine light was on for a while and the scan said it was running lean. I felt like it needed to the Idle Control Valve cleaned or replaced and I drove it until I could find the time to work on it. The car ran smooth, no issues.

I drove it for about 150 miles the other day, no issues. Came home, went back out and when driving it the Engine Failsafe Mode light came on, followed by the DSC 4 x4 disabled and a light on the dash that said "BRAKE" came up. I immediately pulled over, turned the car off and restarted it. Everything was fine. Drove it about 5 miles and it did that again. Pulled over, restarted it, lights went off. Drove it again (trying to get home).

I will add that during this, my CD Changer now comes up with CD ERROR when I had been using it fine just prior to all of this happening.

Driving it home, it goes into Trans Failsafe Mode with no other lights on.

Runs fine, no issues with it locked in 3rd or anything, it shifts smoothly running up through the gears and doesn't appear to be any top speed locked out. No loss of power.

I check the codes and see that the Idle Air Valve is listed as stuck open at some point, so I clean that, along with the fuel bank messages I knew about. I pulled the IAV off and clean it to see if that might clear that up. I also clear the Mass Air Flow sensor with the proper MAF cleaning solution.

Put it all back together, trans failsafe mode is still there, after driving it 6-7 times (short runs), no check engine lights on. CD Player still doesn't work.

I replaced the battery about 3 months ago and when that happened, I had a gut feeling that it was the alternator, but the battery was under warranty (Bosch) and they replaced it for free even though I didn't put that battery in. Since then, I get a little whining when it's cold and I still believe it's the alternator but I can't prove it.

Right now, my gut is telling me it's the alternator, but my gut is also telling me that maybe it's the sensors detecting different wheel speeds, causing the error.

Looking for a little advice. I also put 2 new tires on the back about 1 month ago.

I'm a patient person so I'm fine with trying to diagnose it over time. I just don't want to go into full blown parts replacement mode, without feeling somewhat confident that I'm heading in the right direction. Sorry for the long first post but I didn't want to leave details out (although I might have!).

Oh, the trans fluid, when looking into the reservoir next to the oil filter is almost crystal clear. Not sure if that means anything or not but didn't want to leave that out.

EODguy 01-03-2019 10:01 AM

What's your voltage at?

I thought mine was wonky but.... wow

Mine came down to the resistor on the TC motor causing a cascade of lights, but on yours:dunno:

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AquilaBMW 01-03-2019 10:31 AM

Bad or failing alternators are known to cause this situation in the V8 cars. Have you checked the performance of your alternator while the car is running?

Someone else chime in here, I wonder if you are able to unlock the cluster on the 3.0 to check voltage with the car running. You could also just use a voltage tester on the points in the engine bay to see the voltage return from the alternator.

Siggy 01-03-2019 10:31 AM

13.8 with the only thing on being the Climate Control with A/C on. With that off, 14V. That's from the diagnostic on the dash.

I did find the brake pad sensor wire on the rear wheel cut (they actually cut the plug off the harness and wired the wires together. I have a new plug from the wiring harness but haven't installed it or touched anything yet.

I've put about 5,000 miles on it since owning it.

Best I can tell, it could be any of the following :

Mass Air Flow Sensor
Wheel Speed Sensors
Spark Plugs
Actual Transmission problem
Corrosion on a connector
ABS Module

That covers most of the car :) Just trying to methodically eliminate each one but obviously, that's a lot of ground to cover when most of those things won't show up on any basic ODB scanner.

EODguy 01-03-2019 10:44 AM

Do you have a scanner? If so what kind? If you don't buy one at less than $200 that pays for itself the first time you clear a code instead of the stealer...

So far that I've seen I was the only one with a bad classification resistor and it did cause all but the CD changer issues and I used the Foxwell NT-510 and was able to check the resistor and once I installed a new one and cleared the adaptations all was right in the world.

Not saying it's the case for you but a $33.10 part from BMW is pretty cheap and easy, but they are range specific by VIN.

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andrewwynn 01-03-2019 10:45 AM

Wheel sensor will give you an instant trifecta error not trans failsafe.

A voltage dip can cause many systems to error so when you get any random failsafe they go-to test is alternator.

Get Realtime voltage on the dash with the hidden menu and drive around, the voltage should be about 13.6 +/- 0.3. If you see below 13 for even a millisecond the alternator system is faulty (can be the alternator, a cable (POS or ground) or the voltage regulator. ( Or an 1di0t error (operator error; I forgot to tighten my B+ nut on my alternator when I reinstalled it).

That's the first test and most likely cause. If you have ever gotten random and/DSC/yellow brake as well then it's almost a guarantee that it's the alternator.

andrewwynn 01-03-2019 10:49 AM

The dreaded Trans Failsafe Mode (again)
The "trans fluid" is for power steering their is no user service for the transmission on the E53.

Get a scanner like nt510 if you don't already have one. Also I recommend having a wifi dongle and an app for your phone to monitor things Realtime with graph. Best way to determine if the voltage is fluctuating.

The TC resistor is an interesting case as the odd coincidence of the CD player as EOD mentioned.

jsoto 01-03-2019 11:00 AM

FWIW. 13.8 is the highest I've seen on the cluster. There is a .3-.4 difference when reading off the cluster.

AW, regarding logging date, mind posting some more re the BT adapter.
I'm curious.
How long does the timestamp/log data. Aka, can one do a 45 minute drive and you will have 45 minutes of logged data on V

I've got a whole enchilada of fluke stuff - meters/clamps I can mount and monitor remotely on a display, or iphone app/pc. However, the system is soooo stupid in that it only does like 10 minutes of log data. Useless....

Siggy 01-03-2019 11:09 AM

Yes, I do have a scanner that runs off an app, but it doesn't show much, or anything, when it comes to things like wheel speeds, etc. It's an OBDLink Mx Wifi.

I'll connect it and give it a test drive with the voltage being displayed.

It's interesting because the Engine Failsafe, the DSC 4 x 4, and the brake light did come on earlier in the day. That would confirm what my gut is telling me, that it's the alternator.

For some reason, there's a ton of crud on the alternator. Like something leaked on it over the years. It's covered with black gunk like something leaked on it and then the problem was solved and they never cleaned anything under the leak up.

Also good to know that a wheel sensor would show as an error, not the Trans failsafe. That's helpful in eliminating possibilities.

Thanks for the help so far guys, I'm sure we'll get it sorted out.

andrewwynn 01-03-2019 11:47 AM

I use a generic wifi obd adapter and dash command app for iOS but Android id use torque if still available

Not a lot of control over how long it will log but you only need to have a few minutes to show a voltage dip.

With fluke you can hook up and monitor min/Max as long as you want you won't get as much info as a graph but you only need to know if the min gets below 13.

In my case my oil filter o-ring seal leaked and got oil in my alternator. It coated the slip rings and simply made the alternator less efficient and when dropping from under power to coasting to a light it would dip to below 13v. Tripped the DSC light.

I've also had a loose abs sensor: that will trip abs almost immediately but will also reset each drive.

I have valeo alternator and there's a $20 kit to replace brushes and slip rings.

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