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Hello and welcome to JustAnswer BMW,My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to assist you today.
Transmission failsafe occurs when the transmission senses a fault or is missing a needed input that is required for proper operation. Transmission failsafe can occur for many, many reasons. It can be caused by a physical / mechanical problem, can be computer related, or can be a communication problem. Anything from a simple low fluid level or failed sensor to complete transmission failure can cause failsafe. Even a missing input from the ABS system or a failing alternator can cause failsafe, etc, etc, etc.
When the car is in failsafe, it locks into 3rd gear - this is why it starts out slow, because you are starting in 3rd instead of 1st gear.
The only way to determine why the transmission is in failsafe is to have the fault memory read out using a BMW compatible scan tool. Once the fault memory is read, the problem can be identified, and the issue fixed.
Without knowing what faults are stored, all a person can do is guess at the problem - which can get very expensive, very quickly.
You can always try to unhook the battery for an hour to see if the warning will go away, but even if it does, it will only be a matter of time until it comes back - it will keep coming back until the underlying fault is resolved.
You can also reset the transmission by turning the key to position 2 (all the way without starting the car) and pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor for 2min. This may or may not work, and again, the fault will likely return though until the underlying issue is addressed.
At this point, you can try the above as temporary fixes, but ultimately you will need to take the vehicle to a shop that has the proper equipment to read the faults so that the issue can be determined. There is no other way to resolve failsafe.
I hope that is helpful, please let me know if you have further questions, or if I can clarify anything for you.
It has been my pleasure to help today and I wish you the best of luck with your purchase.
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