Hello and welcome to JustAnswer BMW,My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to assist you today.
is the car shifting properly?
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Your transmission is in failsafe mode. It has sensed a fault and is locked in 3rd gear to allow you to still be able to drive to get home or to the workshop.
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. 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.
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 or pressing the start/stop button twice with foot OFF the brake) and pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor for 2min. 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 fault memory so that the issue can be determined.
There is no other way to resolve failsafe - the fault memory must first be read out so that the issue can be identified. Once the issue is identified, the problem can be corrected, the warning switched off, and normal transmission operation restored.
I am sorry that I can't say "xyz caused this" but the reality is there are many possible causes and you cannot determine why without having the fault memory read out. I do trust that my honestly and quick response is appreciated.
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 the vehicle.
If satisfied with my assistance, please press the green "ACCEPT" button so that I may be credited for helping today. I am not credited or compensated whatsoever until you press the green ACCEPT button.
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thank you in advance.