Transmission Program Error

Asked by Feb 22, 2010 at 12:08 AM about the 1994 BMW 5 Series 525i

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

There was a "Transmission Program Error" on the dash indicator. The error went away, and returned. Accompanying the error, the car would not travel forward. The error went away, the car drove.   I consulted BMW about this; they said it was okay to drive if the car was capable of operating, particularly to get the car to a service center.

I conveyed if there was a transmission problem and it had to be replaced, I want to consider a used transmission.  If this was not available, a rebuild transmission is desirable.  They had no transmission personnel (they said).

Below is the order of troubleshooting and replacement:

Replacement Order A: (Actual)
1. EPROM
2. AT-Getriebe (transmission)
3. AT-Co unit

Note: A cable was also tested in the above procedure, but I was charged for the items cited above.  The car did not resume normal transmission operation until the transmission control unit was replaced (item 3 above).

I preferred the order below, due to the indicated error and the cost of each part to the customer.
Replacement Order B: (Desired)
1. EPROM
2. AT-Co unit
3. AT-Getriebe (transmission)

I've been taught to replace from the lowest/smallest replaceable unit to the highest/larger.

Questions:
Does my rationale make sense or am I missing something?
What is the life expectancy of a transmission under normal condition, and low mileage for the car age?

Below is some other information if you have further questions:
I am not a car expert; I just know how my car responds under operating conditions (like my right arm). The car was garage kept and stored since 1997, with limited driving and regular services.  Prior to submitting the car to the service center for the first service in Korea; the car performed well.  It had approximately 66,000 at the time. Now the mileage is 86,000, 10 years later with regular services. They car has was never the same after the first service. Just like I know my right arm.

6 Answers

35

Same thing happened to my 92, whenever there is any slipping in the transmission this code appears, for instance a hot torque converter slipping while at wide open throttle, in my case I was driving through manhattan on the FDR and went WOT to get through some traffic, the tranny slipped (revs go up but the car doesn't accelerate accordingly with the RPM's) usually these computer controlled european cars have failsafes where it'll only use the low gears, or limp mode, or whatever the ECU sees fit to keep the car driving safely without causing detremental damage to a major component. After the car cooled off and sat for a night it was perfectly fine. Reset the battery and no more code, the torque converter cooled down, and now runs fine like it never happened, and for referance it happened a few months ago, on the original transmission, with 219,000 miles. I have a feeling that BMW is trying to bang you over the head for no reason (as usual) because 80% of BMW owners are yuppie buisness people that will throw money at any problem and assume that it's broken and needs fixing... My best friend's 04 BMW M3 had an $1,800 service write up for a computer being reset (a computer that controlled his sunroof)... Tell BMW to suck it and bring it to a private shop with European experience... Hope this helps

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Thank you for your input...

20

I had the trans fail safe warning light come on. The car was relegated to 2nd or 3rd gear (don't remember specifically). It was a computer that went bad. I took it to my BMW dealer, which is decent and they fixed it quickly and at a reasonable cost. Before taking it to my dealer, I took it to an aftermarket European Specialized Service shop. I know the owner and he has a lot of experience (BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, MB, etc. . . ). He was unable to diagnose the problem after several days and lots of test drives. He didn't charge me anything, which was nice of him. But in the end, I lost confidence in him and found that he really wasn't much if any cheaper than my dealer. My dealer has always turned out to be faster at diagnosing problems and really no more expensive. FYI, my dealer is Harold Zeigler in Kalamazoo Michigan. They also sell other brands, but I know from experience the maintenance shops for the other brands are NOT very good, actually, pretty bad (except their Honda service shop is okay).

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
50

If anyone is truly curious about a Transmission Program Error, check your Owners Manual and it will tell you to go to the TPE page but I'll just save you guys the trouble. It's your Transmission Control Module Failing or has Failed. I dealt with this recently

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

Mine is doing the same thing a few days it shifts fine then it shows Trans program, so I just need a new tcm right, the fluid is fine no leaks.

Mine is not an answer, per se, but to echo what others have already said about transmission slippage. I have a 94 530i model whose transmission recently was serviced, including oil and filter change. The original mileage now is 159,000 from 138,000 when I bought the car 10 years ago. So, the car is conservatively driven. The "Transmission Program" error light is showing. Judging from some of the responses here, I would like to think this is not an "arm and leg" problem of which some unscrupulous mechanic would "suck my blood dry." I also would like to think this will not involve dropping the entire transmission unit. Most mechanics are quick to doing that, knowing it guarantees them a cool $700, even if no actual service is performed.

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