John is an avid guitar writer, player, and lover. Former automatic transmission repairman, welder, and hobbyist game developer.
If you drive a BMW with an automatic transmission, you may have experienced the dreaded “Trans. Failsafe ”on your control panel. It’s a warning that has become synonymous with vague problems and expensive repair bills. But what is this?
In this article, we will explain the warning “Trans. Failsafe Prog ”and we will discuss possible reasons why you might be experiencing.
What does “Trans. Failsafe Prog ”?
Understand exactly what is happening when “Trans. Failsafe ”lights up on your dashboard.
Very simply, this warning stands for “Transmission Fail Safe Program”, a feature that only applies to automatic transmissions. Safe mode can come with several different labels, such as;
- Failsafe mode
- Failure mode
- Limp mode
- Default mode
They all mean the same thing, and the thing is, the computer in your vehicle has noticed that something is not quite right and has decided that your transmission is at risk as a result of what went wrong.
The most typical manifestation of a transmission in failsafe mode (other than the warning on the dash) is that the transmission is locked in a forward gear, unable to shift gears automatically or manually. The actual gear you’ll stay in varies from transmission to transmission, but tends to be second or third.
Depending on the reason your transmission has gone into failsafe mode, you may be able to turn the engine off and back on and drive normally for a while, perform a vehicle-specific reset, or you may need a technician with equipment specialized diagnostics to plug into your car’s computer and disable the failsafe mode that way. Regardless, there’s a strong chance that whatever caused your transmission to go limp is still there, and you’ll have to fix it to keep your vehicle from fail-safe operation again.
Safe mode can also be displayed in various ways on different vehicles. Some vehicles have the “PRND” light on the dash (which stands for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive) flashing during failsafe mode, while others simply light a transmission symbol or gear. Some older vehicles do not give any obvious signals, leading the driver to guess that the vehicle is no longer shifting gears.
Why is there a failsafe mode?
What is trans. Safe mode FOR? Let’s find out.
If you’ve ever used a space-saving spare tire or a temporary radiator leak repair, you’ll understand the principle behind Safe Mode. The idea is to allow you to bring your vehicle home or to the repair shop so it can be repaired while minimizing the damage caused by the breakdown.
It is intended to be a purely temporary measure to save you the inconvenience of being stranded when a transmission failure develops, but it would be difficult for you to drive for a significant period of time or distance in failsafe mode.
What should I do if my vehicle goes into “Trans. Failsafe ”?
So your car is on trans. failsafe mode. Now what?
As mentioned above, the point of the failsafe mode is to allow you to drive your vehicle to a place where it can be repaired or stored until the repair can be done. That is what should happen in principle. In reality, however, you must evaluate your situation carefully.
When a transmission is locked in only one gear, driving in certain ways can exacerbate the problem, which could leave you with a car that won’t drive at all. If your vehicle has stuck in a lower gear, such as first or second, then your speed will be limited, as trying to drive too fast will cause the engine to race too far. It goes without saying that it is not advisable to drive a normal car with the rev counter in red for a significant period of time. However, if your vehicle has been locked in a higher gear, you will be able to achieve manageable speeds, but stop and go …