5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60)Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)
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,
Not trying to scare you, but even if it was a electrical problem, chances are you fried your torque convertor driving it in 3rd gear so much, which is probably why it's now hesitant to go into 3rd as well.
Other than that, I am really no expert when it comes to automatic transmissions; we'll just wait until someone else shows up in this thread.
Thank you, Torque - at least it gives me something else to mention to the local BMW dealer once I dig up the cash to take it there.
In the meantime, I've tried to get the fault codes from memory - by turning on the car, but not turning over the ignition, then waiting for five seconds, then pumping the accelerator five times and waiting. But when I went to try this method, my display didn't show the maintenance symbol, instead showing the letters (E P, I think). Once I turned on the ignition, the maintenance symbol (cogged wheel) came on, and then I turned it off and quickly on again, which then yielded the maintenance symbol, so I then tried the procedure to get the fault codes from memory - with no result.
So next I tried a suggestion I found on another site: disconnect the battery for a while, then touch the contacts to each other, then reconnect. When I did this, I found that I couldn't get the error codes to show up at all - instead I only get "E P", and then "E D" (in drive) and "E R" (in reverse) - but still it's not in gear. So the car thinks it's in gear, the engine revs, but there's no connection; no movement.
Just out of curiosity - off the top of your head, roughly what kind of costs and complications would you guess are involved with replacing or repairing a torque converter?
Nice pics, btw - my car, on a good day, looks very much like yours.
And I'm glad to be here, by the way. I do like my bimmer, and even if this one is a casualty, I'll be looking for one like it the next time around.
If I remember correctly, only the North American models had the accelerator/code recall function ... my father had a '91 525i automatic (same engine as yours with extra .5 liters) and even though it was a American model, we could never get the codes to read ... so who knows, maybe you really have to time it right if it does exist on all models.
As far as the transmission goes; when my dad's 525 used to do pretty much what your car is (with the exception of not wanting to go in gear at all), we dropped the pan on the transmission only to find that one of the valves lost a pin holding it and was moving all over the place and messing the gear changes somehow. Shortly after that, it developed some kind of grind from the transmission and we sold it, so I have no idea what happened after that.
As far as your case goes, I don't think it's worth taking the car to a dealer; new torque convertors are about a 1000 US dollars and rebuilt transmissions are upwards of 2000. Your best bet is to look at a salvage yard and try to find a complete used transmission with the torque convertor and everything.
Sorry that I'm of no help -- not really familiar with automatic transmissions. (especially not the one such as yours; mine is the ZF one without any electronic gizmos, so it's fairly simple).
I wish you the best of luck, and please keep us posted on the repair/troubleshooting progress.
Update: Just came back from a trip out to the car.
1. Tried fully charged battery, which did nothing but get rid of the low battery light. So that isn't it. I still suspect it had something to do with my having the trans prog problem previously though.
2. I cleaned the gear selector switch, which seemed kind of futile even while I was doing it since it appeared to be in pretty good shape. And cleaning it did nothing.
3. I'll look for the dipstick or fill level tomorrow morning - in daylight.
So the current status is still this: Car will start up, dashboard displays "E P", and will change accordingly ("E D", "E R") when I shift the gear selector, but will not actually go into gear, and the car will not move.
Last edited by electronblue; 02-27-2006 at 02:58 PM.
I am recently started to have the same problem with the unfortunate circumstance that I am in Mexico and BMW mechanics are scarce, and the few ones don't know much. In addition I have not even seen one like mine - 93 525i.
Now the good thing is that when I had the Trans Program it gave the error that needs a regulador de presion, Pressure Regulador on which in the US costs 262 +/-. It goes by the ATF pan close to the valve body or however is called.
Here the part goes for double and they need to request it in Germany. I already called my parts vendor and they will ship it here. Now who the hell do I trust to install it!!!!!
The AutoGuide.com network consists of the largest network of enthusiast-owned enthusiast-operated automotive communities.
AutoGuide.com provides the latest car reviews, auto show coverage, new car prices, and automotive news. The AutoGuide network operates more than 100 automotive forums where our users consult peers for shopping information and advice, and share opinions as a community.