It happened so suddenly and without any prior warning.
I was driving the less than two miles from home to Domino’s when I noticed the limp mode icon light up on my dash. I’d seen the exclamation point within a gear once before, while I was living in Columbia, MO. It had popped up while I was near the twisties by Joe Machens BMW, and I’d ignored it.
This time, I was decelerating towards stopped traffic. When limp mode is active, the transmission remains locked to a set gear (either 3rd or 4th). I switched off the car and fired it back up again to find that the SES light had come up as well. One more try before the light turned green.
I pulled away slowly from a stop, observing how lifeless my normally sporty E46 felt at that moment. I parked my car by the side of the building, and went inside.
Ten minutes later, I started her up again, and found that the transmission was back out of limp mode. I drove back home later, SES light still on, curious to find out what had happened.