Should my 525i transmission have failed?


Asked by Jan 30, 2013 at 09:31 AM about the 2004 BMW 5 Series 525i

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2004 525i and with about 103,000 miles on it received a transmission fault message and the car would only operate in one gear. Needless to say I spent $3,500 to rebuild the transmission - the dealer wanted $6700 for a new one. This is supposed to be a BMW. Should the tranny have failed after approximately 100,000 miles?

16 Answers

rae, a BMW is one of the finest engineered cars on the road. The thing with the dealer does not surprise me, quite predictable actually, they, not just bimmers but all makes dealers are at least double. But at 100,000 miles is just about the point where the trouble may begin. I think you probably didn't get as much mileage as most bimmers but it is not entirely unheard of for it to fail then, especially if you did not buy it new and could have been abused. Or did you buy it new?

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Thanks for the response. I bought it as a certified used auto in 2005 from a BMW dealer in Henderson, Nevada. I thought certified used was almost the equivalent of buying new. That's not the only issue though. Just go a left front parking lamp failure message and the repair shop said you can't replace the bulb for the parking lamp, you have to replace the whole headlight assembly. (and we all know what that would cost)

Hold on, that does not sound right, he is trying to get away with something, let me look that up

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ok, but the parking lamp is that led ring around the main headlight I think.

does it look like

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2nd photo hard to tell, but looks very much like the first photo - white auto -

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Ok and back to "certified" means that the vehicle has been inspected, usually about a 150 point inspection, by a factory trained licensed mechanic, or better yet technician, and is "certified" to be in need of no repair. At the time the inspection was done. Certainly not "like new" it can be certified with many many thousands of miles on it

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Ok, guess I'll call the dealer here to get the part because the local repair shop is the one who said I needed a whole new headlight assembl . I know the whole headlight assembly price I was quoted (installed) was $1,100.

I looked at no less than 5 yeah FIVE places and every body agrees, you can buy the led ring and do NOT have to replace the entire assembly at $900 and up, and THAT is just the PART not labor ..and some of them have regular bulbs

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Yeah, because it costs them that $900 but they can do it in 20 minutes...find another shop. the one you have been to sounds a bit, uh, less than reputable?


Ok, guess I should have called the dealer in the first place. You are correct, they just replace the "bulb" or ring around the headlamp and it takes about 30 minutes. Thanks for your help - I would have just driven around with that bulb out, thinking I had to buy a new headlight assembly. as far as the transmission is concerned spending $3,500 to repair with a 2 yr warranty beats having to buy another car

Got that right, and with some TLC that engine will drive you to the moon, no need for a new car at all

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thanks again!


I also bought a 525i BMW (2005) with 16,000 miles on it,approximately 1 year old & the car was certified.. I drove it another 150,000 miles and started having "transmission fault" errors & downshifting problems - car dropping from third gear to 1'st and when braking hard the trans would wind down fast and lunge forward with a thump sound. Needless to say it has 162,00 miles on it and the dealer in Chicago wanted $7,000 for a new one and a transmission shop quoted me $3,500 for a completely rebuilt transmission with a 1 year 12,000 mile warranty. Since the car is paid off and no other problems I felt it was worth the repair money. The model hasn't change since 2005 and people think it's a relatively new car - has great style & beautiful ride. I am happy with my decision. Sandra - Chicago

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The problem with BMW's is their policy "life time transmission fluid" after 50000 km/35000miles transmission fluid stars degrading, no matter the brand, BMW, GM, Toyota or whatever, that's why most Bmw's have transmission fault after 100000 miles, if abused, before 100000miles, transmission fluid service MUST BE DONE by an expert,other wise your transmission will break down just leaving the shop, the procedure requires special equipment, transmission should not be flushed, while draining dirty fluid, clean fluid is injected, must be at the right temperature with engine running, Make it done every 50000km and your bmw will run up to 400.000 km, Follow the dealer recommendation and your transmission will fail just right after warranty is over

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