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5 Series DIY
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  #1  
Old 04-20-2006, 09:45 PM
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Elvis530i Elvis530i is offline
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Replacing the final stage unit/blower motor resistor (E39)

Does your A/C-heater blower seem like it's possessed? Does it quit working for no apparent reason, then come on again just as mysteriously? Does it run only at one speed no matter what the controls say? Does it keep running even when the car is off and the key is out of the ignition? Your problem is most likely a faulty final stage unit.

Based on what I've seen here and elsewhere, this is a chronic problem with the E39, but fortunately it's a relatively cheap and easy fix. There's a good DIY here, but since questions about it get posted here with regular frequency, I figured it would be a good idea to post one here too. Some of the photos in this post are very large because it's very helpful to see the details if you have no idea what's going on here.

BMW calls this thing the "final stage unit;" the parts guys call it a "blower motor resistor." I'm not sure what the reason for the different terminology is, but it's the same part. The PNs have changed a couple of times over the years, but as of the date of this posting, what you want is PN 64 11 6 923 204 and there's a diagram of the system here. As far as I can tell, the same part is used in all E39 models (but you may want to confirm this). Bavarian Autosport has them for about $70, but they're unfortunately available a lot of places, including the parts counter of your local dealership (I say "unfortunately" because it's a reflection of how often this thing fails).

For some reason, dealer service departments are notorious for not being able to recognize this issue, and may charge you for hundreds or thousands of dollars of unnecessary repairs without solving the problem. If you don't feel confident doing this yourself (i.e., you're the sort of person who is more likely to take an eye out with a screwdriver than a screw), at least bring them this information. Done properly, this is a 15-minute, ~$100 repair.

This is what you're replacing:


(Side view, with highlighter for scale)


(one end view)


(other end view)

The silver part of it is a heat sink. I'm not an electrical engineer, but I believe this thing allows the blower controls to change the speed of the blower by altering the current that passes through it. Inside is a bundle of resistors, and by sending the current through a different combination of leads, it creates the proper current to operate the blower at a desired speed. But resistors generate heat (thus the need for a heat sink), and over time, I suspect the constant heat up-cool down cycle degrades the resistors until they no longer produce the right current, and the controller can no longer send the right signals to the blower. Thus, the blower starts acting strangely despite what the controls are doing.

Now, I've read a lot of horror stories about how difficult this replacement can be, but I didn't find it that way at all. This is an extremely simple operation that took me less than 10 minutes. The hardest part was getting myself into a position where I could get at the faulty FSU.

All you need here is a Phillips screwdriver, a flashlight (the one in your glovebox will work fine) and understanding that you're working with electrical components, not mechanical ones. That means being mindful of how much force you're using. Nothing in this operation requires any great effort, so if you find yourself needing force things, you're doing something wrong.

The FSU is behind the dash in the passenger side footwell. You'll find it easier to work if you pull out the cover under the glovebox. It's not secured by anything, so just yank it out. The FSU is behind a fabric covered plastic panel on the left side:



You want to unscrew the screw (red circle), then slide the panel backward (see arrow), not out. It's also held in place by two metal clips that attach to the frame behind it:



Once you've got the panel out, lay on your back and look up at the space you've just exposed. The FSU is inside there.



Inside the space, you'll see a plug with 5 colored wires coming out of it. The FSU is the thing the plug is connected to, so you've got to get the plug out. The plug is held in place by two clips on the side, and you need to squeeze the clips to free it.



You may find the plug a bit difficult to get out; if so, just wiggle it back and forth until it comes free. Don't yank it out--you may break one of the wires loose, in which case you've just bought yourself an expensive and embarrassing trip to the dealer.

The FSU is itself held in place by another clip at the bottom. You need to push this clip down at the same time you're pulling the FSU out.


(note--plug is still in place in this photo, but take it out first. I didn't take a picture of the FSU with the plug out )

Again, if you're doing it right, you should not need to force anything. Once free of the clip, the FSU should slide out easily.

You may find all of this easier if you lay on your back in the footwell to get your bearings, then sit up straight, reach under the dash, and do it "by feel."

Now, surprise, surprise, the part you've just removed won't resemble the new one exactly, since as I mentioned, the PNs have changed a couple of times:



Hmm, could this be because the original version was defective?

Now just slide the new one in the spot the old one came out of. It should slide into place with a "snap" as the clip engages it.



New FSU in place. Note orientation--it will only go in one way. If you're having trouble getting it in, you've probably got it rotated 90 or 180 degrees out of alignment.

Replace the plug, then slide the panel back in the way it came out. Be sure to get both clips into their respective slots, or it will hang loose. Replace the screw.

If you've done everything right, your blower should operate normally now. If it's not, go back in and check the connections. If everything looks right but it still doesn't work, you may have other problems.
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2006, 07:01 AM
eschnabs eschnabs is offline
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Great post. I had to do the same thing a couple of months ago and found it very easy. The only problem I had was getting into position to get a handle on it. I too was surprised at the size difference between the old one and new one. Hopefully these pictures will help someone in the future as it is exactly what they need to do.
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2006, 07:24 AM
GSTIGLER GSTIGLER is offline
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Elvis,
Thanks for your help on this!! I paild list for the part at the dealer because I did not want to wait a week. The change took about 20 minutes.
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  #4  
Old 05-26-2006, 10:34 AM
gaklager gaklager is offline
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Just replaced the Final Stage Resistor in my 2001 330 yesterday. It's quite a bit more difficult to get to this part in this version car. In my case, after removing the glove box, I had to remove the right footwell air vent. Behind the vent is a stepper motor that also needs to be removed, not too bad here just a linkage and couple screws. There are two screws on the resistor also and they're the same torx fastener as the stepper motor. Not that bad a job, 90 minutes or so. Blower motor no longer possessed!
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  #5  
Old 03-27-2007, 09:12 AM
ah64tom ah64tom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaklager View Post
Just replaced the Final Stage Resistor in my 2001 330 yesterday. It's quite a bit more difficult to get to this part in this version car. In my case, after removing the glove box, I had to remove the right footwell air vent. Behind the vent is a stepper motor that also needs to be removed, not too bad here just a linkage and couple screws. There are two screws on the resistor also and they're the same torx fastener as the stepper motor. Not that bad a job, 90 minutes or so. Blower motor no longer possessed!
I have 2001 325I and it was the exact same. Thanks guys for saving me big $$.
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2007, 07:42 AM
fezzie fezzie is offline
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Hi there, my airco stopped working a few days ago. I can hit the airco button and it lights up. But the airflow from the vents doesn't change. So I started to search the net and came upon this post about the FSU and thought maybe i've the same problem because sometimes when i get into my car i can hear a little vent blowing behind the climate control unit (while the key isn't in the ignition). Not very hard though and always at the same speed. But it's not always there so maybe it's the same thing? Or should i bring it to a dealer to get the diagnose first?

Thanx Braz
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  #7  
Old 05-28-2006, 10:37 AM
James2008 James2008 is offline
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This fixed my blower fan problem as well. Thanks for the great post.
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  #8  
Old 05-29-2006, 09:05 AM
Lastcall Lastcall is offline
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Awsome write up. I just completed this today....
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  #9  
Old 10-28-2009, 01:00 PM
wbones wbones is offline
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Smile X5 Final Stage resistor

Quote:
Originally Posted by James2008 View Post
This fixed my blower fan problem as well. Thanks for the great post.
Thank you and ALL the other responses for posting your information, diagrams AND PHOTO'S of the Final Stage Resistor issue on the X5. YOU and All the others have just saved me from that DREADED trip to the dealer or trying to find a trust worthy mechanic who knows his buisness.
For any other person needing this part, check out Bimmerspecialist.com for $59.99 delivered and also at RMeuropean.com for $54 + S&H to your location.
Best to all.
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  #10  
Old 06-01-2006, 01:04 PM
domiguy domiguy is offline
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Thanks for the great writeup
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  #11  
Old 06-01-2006, 02:49 PM
domiguy domiguy is offline
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I just wanted to say that Autohaus Arizona. www.autohausaz.com has the part cheaper ($63) and free shipping (over $50)
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  #12  
Old 06-03-2006, 05:39 AM
jmoore49 jmoore49 is offline
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Thanks for the great post

Holiday weekend...Friday evening 24Deg.C leaving work and my Fan stops working!
Hottest weekend of an Irish Summer and the prospect of no air-con in the car for three days!
I read this post and go to my dealer at 9 next morning and by 9:45 I have my fan back...you saved my bacon...thanks..
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  #13  
Old 01-18-2011, 08:02 PM
ndluban ndluban is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by domiguy View Post
I just wanted to say that Autohaus Arizona. www.autohausaz.com has the part cheaper ($63) and free shipping (over $50)
Thanks for suggesting autohaus just picked up the part for $52.00 no shipping.
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  #14  
Old 07-08-2006, 08:49 AM
dsowde1 dsowde1 is offline
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Final Stage Unit

Just A Thank You For The Information Relating The Blower Motor Resistor. I Had A Faulty Unit, And Found Your Replacement Info Fantastic,
Many Thanks
Dave
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2006, 02:59 PM
dznuts007 dznuts007 is offline
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I love you guys. This DIY fix totally saved me so much money. I knew my problem wasn't a busted compressor or controller like the mechanic told me. My friend had the same problem and told me his mechanic just replaced a resistor.

Was kind of a pain getting to the FSR but was well worth the time and trouble. I HAVE COLD AIR NOW!!!
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  #16  
Old 02-13-2011, 08:36 PM
weownabema weownabema is offline
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Hi you have an E46 2001 can you tell me what part no. (Blower motor resoster )you ordered we are a bit confused about the correct part no to order I was given 64116920365 for our 318i vin no NJ07028 model but it seems the part has changed. The prices for parts here are through the roof for Bmw's, we will try to order from the USA I hope.


Thanks Lois and Greg Australia
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  #17  
Old 02-15-2011, 09:26 AM
stevendc stevendc is offline
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Go here for the part number, and then shop around for the best price:

www.bavauto.com
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  #18  
Old 03-03-2011, 10:53 AM
LPinOakland LPinOakland is offline
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Outstanding post! THANK YOU!

Wow. This is truly the best of what the internet is about.

Thank you very much to Elvis for the great pictures and description.

Thank you to Bimmerfest and all participants for maintaining such an excellent forum.

You save me hundreds of dollars -- and made me realize that I should never go to the dealer again.

This fix cost me less than $100 and 20 minutes.

THANK YOU!!
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  #19  
Old 07-11-2006, 04:51 PM
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Elvis530i Elvis530i is offline
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Man, when I posted this thing, I had no idea it would get this kind of response!

Kind of tells you a few things about how bad this part is. And, still amazed so many mechanics can't recognize it if it's so common.

But--glad to help.
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  #20  
Old 07-27-2008, 05:03 PM
jimseifert jimseifert is offline
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Man...........thanks so much............fixed my issues.............great job !!!
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  #21  
Old 10-09-2008, 10:25 AM
vetsbmw vetsbmw is offline
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I truly believe this is my problem and I want to do it myself - do you think me - a chic - can do on her own?
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  #22  
Old 01-26-2009, 01:40 PM
snkpkp snkpkp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elvis530i View Post
Man, when I posted this thing, I had no idea it would get this kind of response!

Kind of tells you a few things about how bad this part is. And, still amazed so many mechanics can't recognize it if it's so common.

But--glad to help.
my problem remains with new FSR/FSU pls read on..


My car when running A/C and the fan is lowered less than half it would shut down.

so I researched and found its the FSR/FSU and ordered a new one which is the different design , so it was working fine, but every now and then when the fan control is at its lowest the fan shuts down. I would have to wait 10 mins to cool down the resistor and it works fine after you let it cool. It ONLY happens if the fan blower is set at most minimum at one bar.

Anyone has any suggestion? my new FSR/FSU is a month old ...is this a problem of the automatic controls it self?
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  #23  
Old 01-26-2009, 05:42 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I wonder if the FSU is draining my battery intermittently

I finally took the plunge & ordered the BMW E39 Final Stage Resistor from AutoHaus for $72 dollars.

Why did I take so long?

Since most of you said it was "troublesome" to replace the FSU, I didn't want to replace the FSU if I didn't have to.

Plus, the "irregularities" of the interior blower were not major ... just a few wierdities over time, nothing onerous.

But, what's onerous, is lately the battery has been drop-dead dead, about once a month or so, after 8 hours or so of sitting.

I think something's draining the battery 'cuz once I get it jumped, it's fine for weeks. Then, suddenly, embarrassingly, the battery is plumb dead again after sitting for about 8 or 10 hours.

I don't know what's occasionally draining the battery ... but it might be the Final Stage Resistor (FSU) or my recent BMW radio mount DICE Silverline iPod integration.

Tom over at EAS is kindly replacing my DICE Silverline (he's great!) because the DICE is not charging my 2nd-generation iPod touch, so, for now, I'm not plugging my iPod touch in overnight anymore.

Do you think the FSU (or the DICE Silverline) are what's draining the battery?
(PS: I don't see how to measure the density of the battery fluid and that black window doesn't ever show color ... what cruel trick is that?)

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Last edited by bluebee; 01-27-2009 at 11:46 AM.
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  #24  
Old 01-27-2009, 01:37 PM
Murf928 Murf928 is offline
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I am having the exact same symptoms....

The shop tells me that the battery is fine and the alternator is charging just fine. I have an intermittent parasitic drain on the battery that will drain it down overnight to the point where it will not start the car. I have had it go totally stone dead if left for a few days.

I changed out the FSU (thank you guys for the great instructions..super easy to do) and thought I was in the clear because I went a few weeks without any problems. I had been parking the car in a heated garage and for weeks it would start right up with no problems at all. I left the car outside for the day (20 degrees) and when I went to start it to move it back in the garage... dead again.

Last week I parked it in a cold garage trying to duplicate the problem and it has fired up all week, every time like it had a brand new battery. I know I am on borrowed time and it is going to strand me again but I have no clue as to what is still causing this.

When the car doesn't start, everything is quiet in the car but when the key is turned I can hear the blower motor run.... not wide open but I can clearly hear it running. I just checked and it does this now as well.... and the car started right up.

Any other ideas out there?

Thanks a bunch in advance for your help.

Tim


Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I finally took the plunge & ordered the BMW E39 Final Stage Resistor from AutoHaus for $72 dollars.

Why did I take so long?

Since most of you said it was "troublesome" to replace the FSU, I didn't want to replace the FSU if I didn't have to.

Plus, the "irregularities" of the interior blower were not major ... just a few wierdities over time, nothing onerous.

But, what's onerous, is lately the battery has been drop-dead dead, about once a month or so, after 8 hours or so of sitting.

I think something's draining the battery 'cuz once I get it jumped, it's fine for weeks. Then, suddenly, embarrassingly, the battery is plumb dead again after sitting for about 8 or 10 hours.

I don't know what's draining the battery ... but it might be the Final Stage Resistor (FSU) or my recent BMW radio mount DICE Silverline iPod integration.

Tom over at EAS is kindly replacing my DICE Silverline (he's great!) because it's not charging my 2nd-generation iPod touch, so, for now, I'm not plugging my iPod touch in overnight anymore.

Do you think the FSU (or the DICE Silverline) are what's draining the battery?
(PS: I don't see how to measure the density of the battery fluid and that black window doesn't ever show color ... what cruel trick is that?)

Last edited by Murf928; 01-27-2009 at 01:39 PM.
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  #25  
Old 01-28-2009, 11:52 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murf928 View Post
Any other ideas out there?
Doru posted some good battery-drain troubleshooting links in my intermittent dead-battery thread ...
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