I have a 1991 BMW 520i automatic that I've 'inherited' after it was off the road for a year and a half. It was running fine for a while, but then began to develop the 'trans prog' problem (similar to what I have found described at http://www.bmwe34.net/e34main/Trouble/TransProgram.asp)
, causing it to display the maintenance symbol on the dashboard and switching into third gear, but then also periodically switching back to the normal function of switching gears appropriately.
My cashflow situation didn't permit me to take it in for repairs for a few months, and now the problem has become worse (not surprising). Driving in third gear wasn't optimal, but manageable. On occasion the car would move with difficulty or hardly at all, and at the same time there was a throbbing sound/sensation from the transmission. I would turn the car off, wait a while, and try it again, and that did the trick - it would run normally (in 3rd gear).
Still faced with a dire financial portfolio, I tried the prayer method, which worked for another few months, but on a recent outing, the gear simply dropped out entirely, ie. I could rev the engine, but there was no connection, the car would no longer locomote. Again, I was able to turn off the engine, turn it on, try this a few more times, and it would eventually go into gear with a thud, and I was able to bring the car home.
After this, the car drove entirely in third gear (no more dropping out of gear completely) for several emergency trips. Recently however, it dropped out of gear and will no longer recover. At the same time, the maintenance symbol still appears on the dashboard, but is now flickering and dimming - and most of the time is barely visible.
Since it is an automatic, does this mean that due to some electrical problem the automatic system is simply incapable of putting the car even into third gear? On one hand I'm hopeful that fixing an electrical situation will make the problem go away, and on the other hand I'm afraid that due to not doing something about the trans prog problem earlier, the transmission may have suffered more serious damage.
I now have to decide whether this car is potentially fixable - ie. is this purely an electrical problem - or whether to surrender the car for parts.
Any suggestions, ideas, speculations about this situation would be most welcome, and I'll gladly provide any additional information required.
Looking forward to any and all replies, and thanking you all in advance for taking the time to read this,