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Automatic Transmission Range Switch Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Automatic Transmission Range Switch Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

***

Tools:

10mm socket, Vise Grips, BMW scan tool

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Transmission range switch

Hot Tip:

Try adjusting it before replacing

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty range switch, restoring transmission operation

Complementary Modification:

Replace shift knob

The transmission range switch sends the shift lever and mechanical shift cable position to the transmission control module. With the input from the range switch, the transmission control module makes shift decisions. The switch sends information such as, Reverse position, L1, L2, L3 and L4. Each switch is analog and sends an open or closed signal. When this switch fails, the transmission control module cannot make the correct shift decision. Transmission shifting errors may occur or fault codes may be stored. The number one complaint I have is poor shifting or the vehicle is in Safe Mode.

In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the transmission range switch on 5-speed ZF 5HP24 equipped X5 models.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

The transmission range switch is located on the right side of the transmission (red arrow).
Figure 1

The transmission range switch is located on the right side of the transmission (red arrow).

Working at the right side of the transmission, remove the transmission range switch heat shield.
Figure 2

Working at the right side of the transmission, remove the transmission range switch heat shield. Remove the 10mm fasteners (red arrows).

Then, remove the transmission range switch heat shield.
Figure 3

Then, remove the transmission range switch heat shield.

Working at the front of the transmission pan, disconnect the range switch electrical connector by rotating the connector (red arrow) counterclockwise and pulling it straight out.
Figure 4

Working at the front of the transmission pan, disconnect the range switch electrical connector by rotating the connector (red arrow) counterclockwise and pulling it straight out.

Next, pull the range switch wiring harness out of its mounts (green arrows).
Figure 5

Next, pull the range switch wiring harness out of its mounts (green arrows).

Working at the front of the transmission pan, use a small flathead screwdriver to release the locking tabs (red arrow).
Figure 6

Working at the front of the transmission pan, use a small flathead screwdriver to release the locking tabs (red arrow). Then slide the connector out of the mount (green arrow). There are two locking tabs, one on each side of the connector.

Mark the position of the range switch (green arrow).
Figure 7

Mark the position of the range switch (green arrow). This will help when reinstalling. Then remove the two 10mm fasteners (red arrows).

Using a small flathead screwdriver, lever the switch off the transmission.
Figure 8

Using a small flathead screwdriver, lever the switch off the transmission. It may stick on the metal pin (red arrow). If it does, gently lever it side to side until it is free.

Remove the switch from the transmission.
Figure 9

Remove the switch from the transmission. The shift indicator rod (red arrow) has a flat spot used to align it to the switch. Note the position when reinstalling. The metal pin (green arrow) can be seen here, usually corroded in my area. It can be tricky to get the switch to release from the pin. When installing a new switch, you should be able to leave the pin in place. Just bolt up the new switch and check its operation. If adjustment is needed, see the following steps.

Use a pair of vise grips and pull the pin out of the transmission.
Figure 10

Use a pair of vise grips and pull the pin out of the transmission.

Once the pin is removed, install the new switch with the fasteners loose (green arrows).
Figure 11

Once the pin is removed, install the new switch with the fasteners loose (green arrows). Then rotate the switch (red arrow) in the direction needed to reach the correct positon. See the following steps for locating the correct position.

Tighten the switch fasteners.
Figure 12

Tighten the switch fasteners. With the transmission in neutral, check if the instrument cluster (green arrow) reads the same gear. If so, try all the gears and check that the instrument cluster reflects your selected gears.

You can also use a BMW scan tool to check adjustment of the switch.
Figure 13

You can also use a BMW scan tool to check adjustment of the switch. With the transmission in neutral, check if the scan tool (green arrow) reads the same gear. If so, try all the gears and check that the scan tool reflects your selected gears.

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Comments and Suggestions:
silvermagnum Comments: Hi Nick, i have a 2002 x5, the selected gear lights on the instrument cluster do not come on and the engine wont crank, all other lights work. Any suggestions?
November 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a shift range issue. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Reyson Comments: Hi Nick, thank you very much for your reply. I haven't adjusted anything, and yes it is showing the right gear on the instrument cluster. Earlier I tried to look at the shift handle there is like a small button that pops out after you release the brake pedal whenever it is on transfail safe. Do I have to change the sensor or try to adjust it first? One more thing why is it whenever it's traffic when changing to second gear it jolts? Is this really the one that's causing the problem?
October 13, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the correct gear is displayed, the range switch is likely OK. The issue may be inside the transmission, an internal mechanical fault. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Reyson Comments: I have a 2004 BMW X5 e53 3.0. Always showing transfail safe. I took it to the electrician and told me at first he has to replace the transmission valve body but now he is telling me just to replace the whole transmission. I can hear noise somewhere in my transmission stick when ever this occur, even when after releasing the brake pedal you can hear a tick sound. I also used a obd2 scanner it it showed P0705 which states that transmission range sensor- circuit malfunction. Is this the one causing this? Please help before I spend money on which is not intended for me to buy. Please plaese
October 10, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it could be. Have you tried adjusting the sensor on the side of the transmission? Does the instrument cluster display the correct trans gear? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Colin Comments: Hi Nick,

I have an 03 x5 4.6 on 72k miles.

Occasionally when starting the car i notice the P,D,N,R symbols are not lit up and i have trans failsafe displaying, before starting the engine i give the gear stick a wiggle up and down and side to side and after a few seconds the orange box lights up around P and im good to go.
Do you think this could be a faulty switch?
Also ill be driving around fine, cruising at 70 on the motorway but if i put my foot down too much it will jolt into transfailsafe. These are the only times this is happening. I can drive round all day with no issues before 70mph. Even putting my foot down up to 60-65 theres no issues.
Appreciate you help.

Colin
July 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most likely in the shift selector. Check if it has stains from fluid being spilled on it. if ok, check range switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ed Comments: Nick, I have a 2001 BMW X5 3.0 with 195K miles. Indy changed filter , pan gasket and tranny fluid 15 months ago at 185K miles. But just this month, from a cold start in the morning in New England, all gears work fine. But after driving for 30 minutes with many stops i.e. Park, Reverse, Drive the car will not shift into drive. P and R still work. I shut off the engine. I sit patiently for 15-20 minutes stranded, start the car again and P,R D works fine for 30 minutes and then recurs. Have removed & replaced engines and trannies before, so I am not timid to make repairs if the problem can be fixed with Pelican Parts. Please advise.
June 24, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First check that the fluid level is OK or if it is full and burnt smelling. If burnt, you may have a pressure loss internally, clutch, seal, etc. Might be time for a new trans. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ally Comments: Hi
I am about to do this on a 2003 E39 5 series not an X5 I know. Is the pricedure the same? Should the car be in P or N for this?
Or if you know of any guides for doing this on an E39 that would be greatly aporeciated. Many thanks.
April 25, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is not exactly the same, as they are two different models. We don't currently have that tech article. If we get a chance to perform the procedure, we will be sure to document it.


I would suggest you grab a repair manual, you should own one. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
chila Comments: Hello, I have a 2005 x5 4.8i as I was getting out of my drive way. car suddenly turn off. if display trans safe mode. tried 2 times to restart it. it would crank but no start at the 3rd time it will not crank anymore but all the lights on the dash would light up. key will still lock & unlock. I replaced the ivm but same problem. do u think it maybe the trans position sensor? the only fault I was able to read with my phone was p320d & I read that it was etc timeout.. any suggestion on what I should ck next?
April 21, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be an issue withe range switch or possible transmission gear malfunction. Use a scan tool to monitor gear positions to see if that is preventing starting. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rich20541 Comments: Thanks for this page. I just installed the switch for my 2003 BMW X5 and your advice worked like a charm. Took me about an hour.

Thanks again
January 18, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Vasile Comments: Hello. I have a 2005 BMW X5 4.8is, a few days ago gearbox began to jerk,only in first gear and wend i push the brakes, I just changed the oil and filter
December 30, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First check the transmission fluid level to be sure it is correct. Then check the transmission ECM for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
darrian Comments: Hello I am currently hunting down a no start/crank situation on my 2000 528i sport. What I have is the dash indicating vehicle is in 5 while the floor shiftier indicates park or drive or neutral or reverse and always dash reads 5th. Is this indicative of a neutral safety as I suspect ?
November 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely a fault with the range switch for the transmission. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Florin Comments: First of all,i want to say thank you Nick!
I have no sensor outside the tranny.
If the switch is internal,how does it looks like and how can i replace it?
I could not find any infos,pictures about the internal neutral safety switch!
June 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is probably near the valve body, you would have to drop the trans pan and remove the valve body. It is a big job. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Florin Comments: Hello.
I have a 2004 bmw x5 3.0
Trans range sensor needs to be replacesed.
I can not find it.Plese HELP!
June 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Should be located in the place shown in this tech article. If not, check the opposite side of the transmission. Locate the lever, if you find it and there is no range switch, it may be internal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Thu 11/23/2017 02:48:04 AM