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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 12-17-2007, 06:21 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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540 caught fire

I have a 540 year 2000 which caught fire the other night coming home. BMW says it was a faulty electronic thermostat that started it. So far I am up to $4000.00 in damages under the hood. Who knows what damage is under the dash since the inside of the car filled with smoke!

BMW claims they dont have any recalls or faulty parts (Then why did my car catch on fire!).

And to make matters worse the insurance company will not pay for any damage because "A FLAME WAS NOT VISIBLE". What a bunch of crap this is.

Anyone with any knowledge please give me a shout at beemer540ia AT yahoo...

Thank you,
Ken
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  #2  
Old 12-17-2007, 12:50 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Sorry for your demise...that just has to bite. Good luck to you as I have no further advice.
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2007, 08:48 PM
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chivas chivas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
I have a 540 year 2000 which caught fire the other night coming home. BMW says it was a faulty electronic thermostat that started it. So far I am up to $4000.00 in damages under the hood. Who knows what damage is under the dash since the inside of the car filled with smoke!

BMW claims they dont have any recalls or faulty parts (Then why did my car catch on fire!).

And to make matters worse the insurance company will not pay for any damage because "A FLAME WAS NOT VISIBLE". What a bunch of crap this is.

Anyone with any knowledge please give me a shout at beemer540ia AT yahoo...

Thank you,
Ken
when was the flame not visible??? during or after the fire???

dude, your insurance is bending you over. mule kick and see how they like it.
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  #4  
Old 12-17-2007, 09:20 PM
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1fast325i 1fast325i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
I have a 540 year 2000 which caught fire the other night coming home. BMW says it was a faulty electronic thermostat that started it. So far I am up to $4000.00 in damages under the hood. Who knows what damage is under the dash since the inside of the car filled with smoke!

BMW claims they dont have any recalls or faulty parts (Then why did my car catch on fire!).

And to make matters worse the insurance company will not pay for any damage because "A FLAME WAS NOT VISIBLE". What a bunch of crap this is.

Anyone with any knowledge please give me a shout at beemer540ia AT yahoo...

Thank you,
Ken
Ken,
Sorry to hear about your 540i. Mine did the same thing on 28 Nov 07. Lost power at first then flames/smokes came through the vents. The whole engine incenerated. Luckily a CDF truck came by to put the fire out. The FD didn't arrive till 10-15 mins later. My whole car would of blown to bits had the fire not been put out. Who's your insurance? My insurance claimed a total lost. Their evaluation claim is $12k minus $500 deductible. I'm very happy with insurance. I'm suprise your insurance is giving you crap. I would make a complaint with BBB. If you have a police or fire department report, you can produce the evidence. Did the insur company send an evaluator over to your car? If they didn't, how the hell can they say it was not a flame that caused it. Tell me more the details that led to the fire. Alan.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2007, 10:39 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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I must agree with the above poster, your insurance company is screwing with you. Your comprehensive should cover this. Be polite, and firm in having them make a closer inspection. If they do not budge, let them know you will contact your state insurance commisioner's office, and make a complaint. Then in fact do exactly that. All this may take a few days to a week or two, to get the insurance company to start moving. If they are still dragging, then tell them you feel you are not being treated fairly or honestly, and if they willl not negotiate, then you will be compelled to contact an attorney. Then do that, if you must. (best would be to get a buddy who is an attorney to make a call to your insurance company for you, and not to your agent, but to the claims adjuster).

Good luck.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2007, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
when was the flame not visible??? during or after the fire???

dude, your insurance is bending you over. mule kick and see how they like it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
I must agree with the above poster, your insurance company is screwing with you. Your comprehensive should cover this. Be polite, and firm in having them make a closer inspection. If they do not budge, let them know you will contact your state insurance commisioner's office, and make a complaint. Then in fact do exactly that. All this may take a few days to a week or two, to get the insurance company to start moving. If they are still dragging, then tell them you feel you are not being treated fairly or honestly, and if they willl not negotiate, then you will be compelled to contact an attorney. Then do that, if you must. (best would be to get a buddy who is an attorney to make a call to your insurance company for you, and not to your agent, but to the claims adjuster).

Good luck.
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  #7  
Old 12-17-2007, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
I have a 540 year 2000 which caught fire the other night coming home. BMW says it was a faulty electronic thermostat that started it. So far I am up to $4000.00 in damages under the hood. Who knows what damage is under the dash since the inside of the car filled with smoke!

BMW claims they dont have any recalls or faulty parts (Then why did my car catch on fire!).
And to make matters worse the insurance company will not pay for any damage because "A FLAME WAS NOT VISIBLE". What a bunch of crap this is.

Anyone with any knowledge please give me a shout at beemer540ia AT yahoo...

Thank you,
Ken
That is correct that there has not been any issue with the 2000 MY BMW 5 series.

In 2001 BMW's parts supplier Bosch had some issues with its product and a certain 2001 model 5er was recalled. But this recall has absolutely nothing to do w/ 2000/1998 models.
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  #8  
Old 12-18-2007, 05:10 AM
jburnham jburnham is offline
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Is that the thermostat attached to the water pump? Would a MAP controll thermostat fault code indicate a possible problem? I've been delaying getting mine fixed. Maybe I should bring along a couple of frozen burgers in the trunk in case I have an unexpected BBQ.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beewang View Post
That is correct that there has not been any issue with the 2000 MY BMW 5 series.

In 2001 BMW's parts supplier Bosch had some issues with its product and a certain 2001 model 5er was recalled. But this recall has absolutely nothing to do w/ 2000/1998 models.
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  #9  
Old 12-18-2007, 05:52 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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The insurance company is Commerce. I just learned that the adjustor told BMW "NO FLAME NO CLAIM" is the quote of the day. Well I called my agent this morning and said I want a decision this morning or I am calling the state insurance commisioners office and filing a complaint. That's where I stand now. This Sucks!!
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  #10  
Old 12-18-2007, 06:47 AM
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amancuso amancuso is offline
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That does suck... Keep us informed!
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  #11  
Old 12-18-2007, 06:52 AM
wolfen wolfen is offline
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When my company had to deal with adjustors for a claim we were had core. We pumped the insurance company for every damage they were obligated to cover under the law.

They have ONLY 3 choices on how to proceed.

1. Return everything to an "as it was" condition. Usually if the cost of this exceeds 50% of the value they will just cut you a check.

2. Just cut you a check for the value of the car and total it.

3. Find sleazy ways to wiggle out of paying and wear down the customer to accept their lesser offers etc etc etc etc etc........All BS.

Your insurance company is refusing a legitimate claim on a possible techinicality. They will be in their right legally if you missed some technicality.


Now as to their claims for "flames that were not visible". This is a good thing actually. The adjuster just boxed himself in with that statement. Does your policy state that fire damage is covered only if flames are visible? I doubt that. That's like a house burning down with a smoldering fire and no flames. The the claim being thrown out that it was not the type of fire covered LOL! Possible but still BS.

READ YOUR POLICY !!!!!!
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  #12  
Old 12-18-2007, 11:26 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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More news. Commerce has now defined the problem as "A mechanical failure causing a short in the wiring started the damage". Commerce is not responsible for mechanical failure or craftsmanships.

Boy am I screwed!!! BMW claims they have seen this happen on several other vehicles and they make no guarantee that when fixed that it would not happen again.

I dont feel that well getting it fixed knowing it could catch fire again. Where is the QUALITY BMW??? Man, I am hard pressed to recommend a BMW at this point unless someone steps up to the plate and tells me they have a defect and will take care of it. Other than that I am considering trading it in for another vehicle, and not a BMW.
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  #13  
Old 12-18-2007, 12:39 PM
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beewang beewang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
More news. Commerce has now defined the problem as "A mechanical failure causing a short in the wiring started the damage". Commerce is not responsible for mechanical failure or craftsmanships..
1) So they have no problem paying if you pour gas over it and light it up.... is that what they are saying??

2) You are such an easy push over.... Geezes!! If they are not responsible for mechanical failure or craftsmanships So WTF are they exactly responsible for??


.
Quote:

I dont feel that well getting it fixed knowing it could catch fire again. Where is the QUALITY BMW??? Man, I am hard pressed to recommend a BMW at this point unless someone steps up to the plate and tells me they have a defect and will take care of it. Other than that I am considering trading it in for another vehicle, and not a BMW.
Quality in BMW?? You must be mistaking BMW for Japanese cars. There is no such thing as "Quality" in any European Brands. BMW are know for performance... not quality and reliability...
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2007, 11:58 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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Interesting Twist

Today I got a copy of my insurance policy. Let me tell you guys, from what I read in this policy DO NOT get Commerce Insurance. It appears they don't pay for anything!

I got a surprise call last light from the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. It appears they read my blurb here and contacted me because they have other reports of this nature. I gave him all the information.

I later called BMW's Customer Service, I think in NJ. They already knew of my situation and told me that someone from their office will be contact with me. I wonder?????

Right now Insurance paying for anything is out.

BMW dealership paying for anything is out.

Got my attorney involved yesterday.

Awaiting to hear from BMW corporate today.

Keep you all posted.
Ken
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2007, 01:02 PM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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Quote:
I got a surprise call last light from the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. It appears they read my blurb here and contacted me because they have other reports of this nature. I gave him all the information.
Just make sure that was actually the DOT and not some scammer looking for a score.
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  #16  
Old 12-19-2007, 01:19 PM
riro424 riro424 is offline
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Ditto on the DOT call being a scam. It takes the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin (NHTSA) forever to open an investigation for automotive related complaints, and how did they get ahold of your number? Plus, a government employee calling you after normal work hours (last night)? Sounds suspect...

You can do a search on the DOT database for defects/recalls:
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/

Keep a written log on who/when/what you have had communications with.

Good luck on this matter.

Last edited by riro424; 12-19-2007 at 01:32 PM.
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  #17  
Old 12-18-2007, 11:56 AM
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Philboski Philboski is offline
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So that means if a ball joint failed, and you lost control of the car and it crashed, they are free and clear? I don't think so. Double check on this. I know someone whose VW caught fire. They had comprehensive insurance, and it was covered. Find out if they covered any of the Ford pickups that caught fire in the last few years. If so, you have a precedent on your side.

Contact the state insurance comissioners office, and now might be a good time to lawyer up. It looks like your insurance company is trying to *bleep* you like they're never going to see you again.
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2007, 11:24 AM
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jvcajita jvcajita is offline
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seeing people get abused like this by insurance companies pisses me off...been there and still going through it as well...

as for not having flames being visible...you tell them this politely with velvet gloved iron fist, "maam or sir, where in my policy does it state that a fire must be visible to be considered not covered by my comprehensive insurance?" if it is there...(which i doubt it will be)...tell them, "the agent who sold me the policy did not tell me if my car goes into flames is compensated by my full coverage. that's misrepresentation..." and he/she doesn't budge...ask for the manager...and if the manager, doesn't budge, ask for his manager. now adjusters, as much as they can, try to handle it with just the help of the step up...if it goes higher up the ladder, there performance criteria/commission dimmishes..and if that 2nd tier manager still doesn't help you out...go file a complaint with the dept of insurance for unfair practice...now if you have a reputable ins company...this will kill their ratings...and ratings my friend is what forecasts how much value does an insurance company's premium should be =)...and if that doesn't work...man get a lawyer =)...

dude, i feel for you...i'm going through it right now as well..i went with a lawyer right away though...since my accident involved medical surgery, loss of income, yada yada...so yeah, you just skip all those things i told you if you feel more comfortable with having a lawyer help you out.
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  #19  
Old 12-20-2007, 06:36 PM
Ray T. Ray T. is offline
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My experience with mechanical issues and insurance...

Sorry that happened to you...it really hurts.

I had an engine mount give away causing the engine to rock and the fan hit the guard sending pieces into the hood. The insurance company covered the hood because it was caused by flying dibre but not the fan assembly because it was a mechanical failure.

If the fire was caused by mechical failure, the insurance company may be correct in their assessment.

Your better bet may be with BMW and by raising the issue with other boards to find similar occurances like yours.

Best of luck to you.

Ray.
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  #20  
Old 12-21-2007, 09:35 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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No Luck with Insurance

I have contacted the insurance company (Commerce Insurance) and they are sticking to a faulty part. It seems the only insurance I have is to set the dam car on fire.

I am not getting any relief from BMW. Although this is a known problem, yes guys your 540 can catch on fire due to this faulty part!

BMW has known about this problem. The DOT knows of this problem. I've had my car serviced many times and not once have they told me about this. They put myself and my family at risk everytime we got in that car and never told me. I'm a little taken back that BMW has demonstrated no care for a potential fire here. What would have happened if the fire was so bad that I could not get out? DEATH!!

The car is sitting in the back lot at BMW, I refuse to take it back. BMW should step up to the plate and fix the car, knowing this is an inherent problem.

I've spoken with the Department of Transportation in DC which they have taken an interest in this case. I have spoken to the State's Insurance commission and now filing a report and lastly I have a lawyer just about to start litigation after the holidays against BMW for recklessness and other charges.

I guess BMW does not want to address this and hope I just go away. That is not going to happen!
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  #21  
Old 12-21-2007, 09:59 AM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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The actual part, they shouldn't cover. The fact that it roasted your car......they should cover.

In addition, who's to say a pothole you ran over the day before didn't cause the part to fail. A legal battle over this will be costly.....and I can't see how the insurance co could win.

Scam. Start sending letters to news agencies and see if they want to run a story. Bad press like this is something the insurance co will run from.
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  #22  
Old 12-21-2007, 02:53 PM
540FFST 540FFST is offline
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Beemer540ia,
Real sorry to here about your loss. From personal experience I know that insurance companies and BMW can be impossible to deal with.

How did they determine that no flame was visible. You are the only one that was in the car and I am sure you saw flames.
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  #23  
Old 12-21-2007, 03:34 PM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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What part is it that roasted your car? I'd like to know before my car turns into a torch.
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  #24  
Old 12-23-2007, 03:14 PM
Bigred455 Bigred455 is offline
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IF it was infact the thermostat that failed, this what happened:

The thermostat has a sensor located on it for the 'map' control. The sensor will leak coolant past the housing and into the engine harness connector. Usually when this happens you will see dried coolant around the connection. Most times when it contaminates the harness it blows the fuse in the relay pack located in the E-box. If you replace this fuse without fixing the thermostat THEN they usually catch fire, most of the time they don't burn the first go around.

Sorry for your luck, but that is what happened and unfortunately it didn't pop the fuse.
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  #25  
Old 12-27-2007, 04:29 PM
Bigred455 Bigred455 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigred455 View Post
IF it was infact the thermostat that failed, this what happened:

The thermostat has a sensor located on it for the 'map' control. The sensor will leak coolant past the housing and into the engine harness connector. Usually when this happens you will see dried coolant around the connection. Most times when it contaminates the harness it blows the fuse in the relay pack located in the E-box. If you replace this fuse without fixing the thermostat THEN they usually catch fire, most of the time they don't burn the first go around.

Sorry for your luck, but that is what happened and unfortunately it didn't pop the fuse.
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