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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-09-2006, 01:02 PM
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coelacanth coelacanth is offline
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Location: Santa Monica, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 Arctic Silver 540i 6
Catalytic converter replacement - Cause

For the last month, every once in a while, my car will "hiccup" while I'm driving. There is clunk and a little jerk. During these hiccups, the check engine light will go on. Sometimes it turns off imediately, other times it will stay on for a few days and then go off.

So I took my car to the dealership today and this is what they told me: I need to replace 1 of my 2 cats @ a price of $1,515.

I was reading through other posts on the subject and found this:

"I need to caution you that cats will fail on 540i due to occasional misfire under heavy load. This generally occurs on M62 when the rearmost spark plugs and primary leads slowly become submerged in oil when the valve cover seals and gaskets seep or they leak & fail from a plugged engine ventilation system.

Replacing the cats without addressing root cause (oil leak) will result in another failure."


I have also been hearing a slight whirring sound coming from the engine, and I was told that it could be the PCV valve - positive crankcase ventilation.

Should I have the techs at Bob Smith investigate that? Could I have a ventilation problem as described above that made the cat go bad?

Any advice or information is welcome. Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 03-09-2006, 01:15 PM
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Salvator Salvator is offline
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Based on the information you found, it wouldn't hurt to have those items reviewed... sounds like that may have caused your cat failure...

Also, have you researched the price of a "generic" cat? I'm not sure if BMWs are proprietary in some way, but if you can find a generic one that will work, my guess is you'll save at least half on parts....

Apparently Bosal makes a generic cat for your car... about $350...

http://www.******************.com/ap...997&modelid=54
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2006, 01:59 PM
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Terry Kennedy Terry Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coelacanth
So I took my car to the dealership today and this is what they told me: I need to replace 1 of my 2 cats @ a price of $1,515.
Aren't cats covered under the 8 year/80,000 mile EPA requirement? Click here. Excerpt:

There are three specified major emission control components, covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles of vehicle use on 1995 and newer vehicles:

Catalytic converters.
The electronic emissions control unit or computer (ECU).
The onboard emissions diagnostic device or computer (OBD).
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  #4  
Old 03-09-2006, 02:06 PM
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1Dreamer 1Dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy
Aren't cats covered under the 8 year/80,000 mile EPA requirement?
Yup, but he has a 97, so that won't help him. It expired in 2005.
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  #5  
Old 03-10-2006, 10:32 AM
Lscman Lscman is offline
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Good search job. I see you found my post about the "primary root cause" for cat failure. Engine misfire for any other reason or fuel delivery system malfunction can cause cats to burn up. What more can I say...

If you search some more, you'll find my threads that caution 540i owners about crankcase ventilation problems. Tech Tips shows repair methods, but a thorough fix involves removal of the intake manifold to ream out vent piping. The rear cover diaphram valve clogging or failing is generally only symptomatic. Positive pressure cause the oil seals to fart and make a buzzing/whirring sound. This can really screw up your motor seals and gaskets.
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2006, 01:12 PM
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coelacanth coelacanth is offline
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Location: Santa Monica, CA
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lscman
Good search job. I see you found my post about the "primary root cause" for cat failure. Engine misfire for any other reason or fuel delivery system malfunction can cause cats to burn up. What more can I say...

If you search some more, you'll find my threads that caution 540i owners about crankcase ventilation problems. Tech Tips shows repair methods, but a thorough fix involves removal of the intake manifold to ream out vent piping. The rear cover diaphram valve clogging or failing is generally only symptomatic. Positive pressure cause the oil seals to fart and make a buzzing/whirring sound. This can really screw up your motor seals and gaskets.
Thanks for the replies.
I had a Master Tech at Bob Smith BMW check everything, and he said there were no oil leaks and that the PCV valve was OK etc.
The dealership's price of $1,515 more than I want to pay, so I think I will buy another OEM cat and have it installed at an indie shop. My service advisor at Bob Smith warned me against using non OEM cats, and I like having the OE BMW stuff on my car anyway (except for the brake pads).

Is there any negative effects on the car from driving around with a bad cat? I haven't noticed any decrease in mpg etc. Thanks.
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  #7  
Old 03-12-2006, 09:40 AM
Lscman Lscman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coelacanth
Thanks for the replies.
I had a Master Tech at Bob Smith BMW check everything, and he said there were no oil leaks and that the PCV valve was OK etc.
The dealership's price of $1,515 more than I want to pay, so I think I will buy another OEM cat and have it installed at an indie shop. My service advisor at Bob Smith warned me against using non OEM cats, and I like having the OE BMW stuff on my car anyway (except for the brake pads).

Is there any negative effects on the car from driving around with a bad cat? I haven't noticed any decrease in mpg etc. Thanks.
Hope that check wasn't done based upon my expressed concern. Ventilation problems can be diagnosed by removing the dipstick and checking for pressure with your finger. The whole ventilation system can be rebuilt by a reputable dealer for $500. What the heck did you get for $1500??

Your service advisor at Bob Smith is a smart guy. If you choose non-OEM cats, he will not be able to profit. He is milking you dry with his recomendations.

I would advise you to purchase a set of used cats from some M5 gearhead that put race cats on. The going rate on ebay and elsewhere is $400, but you need to confirm the reason they removed them. Plan B is aftermarket and plan C is overpriced OEM. Search for posts about good aftermarket units...do not just buy anything or service engine lights and failed tests can result.

You can not run a car on bad cats for long. Once they quit working, they begin to clog. At some point, the backpressure will destroy your cylinder heads and a $8K motor replacement will be needed.
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2006, 06:59 PM
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54ODell 54ODell is offline
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