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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 09-19-2011, 04:09 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Pictorial discussion of charging, testing, removing, & replacing the BMW E39 battery

This is intended to be a pictorial thread, showing the steps to remove, test, charge, and replace the BMW E39 battery.

[WARNING] This may be too detailed for some for such a simple task! [ / WARNING ]

Note: For how to actually perform an exhaustive battery test, see detailed procedures here:
- DIY how to test a BMW E39 battery & alternator

For one reason WHY you'd want to test your battery, see details here:
- Warning: I charged my battery today & apparently killed my instrument cluster & MID



Even the MID lost it's clock:


So, today, after Autozone tested the battery, in situ, and found the following:
1. The charging system was good
2. The starting system was good
3. The battery was bad

I decided to remove the battery and charge it OUTSIDE the vehicle (far far far away from the vehicle!) ... and then to test out the procedures listed in the how-to-test-a-battery thread, one by one, in exhaustive detail (for the team).

The first step is to loosen the 10mm nut on the negative battery cable & pull the cable loose; then do the same for the positive cable:


Next step is to remove the 13mm bolt that holds the cross brace to the fender well, and the 13mm bolt that holds it to the floor of the trunk.

Notice I used the brace to short the 'cables' and 'almost' shorted the terminals! That would be a very bad thing!


Then remove the 10mm hold-down clamp bolt from the tail end of the battery.


HINDSIGHT WARNING: At this point, I had completely forgotten about the vent!

So, what I did was try to lift up on the battery handles:


Yeah, right! That thing is HEAVY!

I could not, for the life of me, lift the battery directly upward! So I tilted it to the rear and tried to nudge it up, ever so slowly one end at a time.


Eventually, I had tipped the entire thing on its end!

I don't think this is the proper way to remove it, but, it was the only way I could!

Note: I didn't realize it at the time, but the vent, still attached, must have had something to do with the problems I was having!


Eventually, I muscled the thing out of the vehicle!
Note: Reading "1 Stuck Piece" on the BMW label gave me a laugh!


With the battery out of the vehicle, for the first time, I could 'see' the green hydrometer in cell #2, and I could see there was no date stamp on the negative terminal (after brushing off the oxidation with a wire brush).


Looking below, I happened to notice the washer that was under the hold-down clamp bolt ...


So as not to forget it, I placed the washer back on the hold-down clamp bolt:


And, I replaced the hold-down clamp in its original position (as I lose bolts if I don't put 'em back right away).



I looked for the six cell caps, but didn't see any on the top:


The side view told me the manufacturer was "DBMC, Winston - Salem, North Carolina", which turns out to be Douglas' consumer line, which was (apparently) purchased by East Penn Batteries (details here).


Looking all over, I couldn't find a date stamp. Maybe this engraving is the date, hidden in battery code?
  • DB0412160806

Getting to the hidden caps was as simple as peeling up the sticker ...


Even with a green hydrometer, the battery tested at around 10.5 volts, so I put the battery charger on. Guess what. It pegged (again) at something higher than 6 amps.


Yet, the DC voltage was only 11.40 volts, with the charger running (I expected higher).


Suddenly I had the bright idea of checking amperage (maybe the gauge was wrong on the 25-year old charger) ... so I pulled out my Radio Shack ammeter ...


But, I soon realized that ammeter probe was only for AC current, so, after about a half hour, the amperage on the charger meter lowered somewhat and I felt I could risk the Fluke 75 on the 10amp setting.

By now, the charger was reading about 6 amps, which jived with the Fluke DC amperage reading.



At some point, the VOLTAGE on the fluke wouldn't read; it just showed as overloaded. I wasn't sure what that meant (and I didn't snap a picture because I didn't believe the reading)... but ... maybe ... just maybe ... the charger has an intermittent high-voltage spike???

Anyway ... this picture shows why a sharp awl was a 'bad idea'. Do not use a sharp awl to twist the caps out!

For one, the caps don't twist out. For another, you'll puncture the super-thin plastic of the head of the cap, and, well, I'm sure that would allow electrolyte to evaporate out in the wrong way.


Giving up on spinning the caps out (they don't spin out), and on the sharp awl (I punctured the cap head), I used an 1/8th inch screwdriver. I really needed something thinner, but that was all I had.


No matter how careful I tried to be, the cap chipped at the edges.

With all six caps off, I checked the fluid levels and noticed some were below the plastic L-shaped level indicators:

So I got the bright idea of using a 1ml eyedropper to fill but after fifteen of those, I gave up and moved on to a 10ml graduated cylinder to measure how much water was being poured in.

The amount of fluid added was:
  • Cell #1 = 15ml
  • Cell #2 = 15ml
  • Cell #3 = 15ml
  • Cell #4 = 60ml
  • Cell #5 = 20ml
  • Cell #6 = 30ml
I wonder if tipping the battery on one end had anything to do with the top end needing more water than the bottom?
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-19-2011 at 11:02 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-19-2011, 04:09 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I decided to run out to the store to buy a hydrometer, but, by the time I got the bright idea, it was dark and the stores had all closed.

So, on my trusty computer, I googled to search for decent battery replacements.

What I did wrong was I didn't realize a seach for a "2002 BMW 525i battery" would NOT get the cheapest batteries!
Almost all the batteries were in the 150 dollar range!

What I 'should' have googled for was any decent battery of the following specifications:
  • Group 49 (aka DIN H8)
  • or Group 95 (aka DIN H9)
Not knowing that, at the time, here's what I put into Pleiades' thread 'before' I realized my whole car-specific approach was wrong:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Good Replacement Batteries for the e39?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Following your advice, and doing additional research (so others benefit from the results), I find these batteries are listed as fitting my 2002 BMWS 525i sedan:

Pep Boys:
  • PB/Johnson Controls PJB
    • $105+ 9% tax, Bosch 49-850B, 850CCA, 140 RESERVE MIN
    • $155 + 9% tax, Bosch 94R730B, 730CCA, 140 RESERVE MIN
    • $200 + 9% tax, PS Platinum 95R850PP, 950CCA, 110 RESERVE MIN
Napa Auto Parts
  • $256 + 9% tax, Napa Legend International, BAT 7595R, 850 CCA, 190 min reserve
  • $144 + 9% tax, Napa Legend International, BAT 7549, 900 CCA, 185 min reserve
  • $235 + 9% tax, Napa Legend International, BAT 9849, 850 CCA, 170 min reserve
  • $169+ 9% tax, Napa BAT 8449, 900 CCA, 185 min reserve
O'Reilly (Kragen)
  • $157 + 9% tax, Super Start 94REXTJ, 765 CCA, 140 AH reserve capacity
  • $165 + 9% tax, Super Start 95R72J, 110 AH reserve capacity
Autozone
  • $155 + 9% tax, Duralast Gold 94R-DLG, 730 CCA, 140 min reserve capacity
  • $167 + 9% tax, Duralast Gold 95R-DLG, 850 CCA, 110 min reserve capacity
  • $125 + 9% tax, Duralast Gold H8-DLG, 760 CCA, 100 min reserve capacity
Firestone:
  • (prices not available on the Firestone web site), Interstate Mega-Tron II (specs not available on the Firestone web site)
  • (prices not available on the Firestone web site), Interstate Mega-Tron Plus (specs not available on the Firestone web site
BatteriesPlus
  • (no price on the web site) Rayovac Maximum SLI94RH7M, 790 CCA, no reserve listed [Replaces: 694RMF, MTPH7, SLI94R-LI, SLI94RH7-MERGE06252011]
  • (no price on the web site) Rayovac Maximum SLI49H8M, 900 CCA, no reserve listed [Replaces: 649MF, MTP93, MTPH9, SLI49-LI, SLI49H8-MERGE06252011, TY25224]
Sites that failed to bring up any batteries for a 2002 BMW 525i:
  • Walmart (the Walmart California sites brought up ZERO batteries!)
  • Sears (they didn't have the right size)
  • Target (nothing came up)
  • Costco (they don't have the right size but that's not listed on their web site; it's listed here)
Who'd have thought a car-specific search would be the wrong way to do it, but, I only realized that after the only two decently priced batteries that came of the search were:
  • $105 + 9% tax, Bosch 49-850B, 850 CCA, 140 reserve minutes (Pep Boys)
  • $105 + 9% tax, Duralast 49-DL, 850 CCA, 150 minutes reserve capacity (Autozone)
And, even then, the Duralast never showed up in that search (because, technically, it's the 'wrong' battery for the E39).

Last edited by bluebee; 09-19-2011 at 04:49 AM.
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2011, 04:28 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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So, was the battery the cause of your cluster problem?
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:45 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
So, was the battery the cause of your cluster problem?
I don't know yet.

The first thing I did was check the battery because charging the battery was the precipitating event to the cluster blowing out.

Since I like to learn about what I'm doing, I'm still on the topic of the battery.

I did digress a bit to start to check the fuses. The only fuses I've checked so far are those next to the battery in the trunk.

I put the (confusing) trunkbox fusebox information in this existing thread:
- Need help with location of the fuse boxs and overview of fuse positions for 528i?

For fun, I painstakingly annotated this picture of my fusebox, showing exactly which fuses I had in place, so that others may benefit:


I can't easily check the glovebox fuses at night, and my garage is so stuffed I can't open the passenger door; so I will wait until a good battery is in to see what the glovebox and ebox and under-seat fuses have in store for me!

BTW, one question I asked in that thread was:
Q: What is the "onboard monitor" (and could it possibly affect the instrument cluster display?)

Last edited by bluebee; 09-19-2011 at 09:54 PM.
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  #5  
Old 09-19-2011, 04:52 AM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
So, was the battery the cause of your cluster problem?
Looks like the battery issue has been beaten to death. I would never tip a battery on it's side to remove it. Mine pulled straight up with no issues.
Bluebee's post was too long for me to sit thru, was the charger voltage ever read?
Turning the key on seems like it might have been what killed things. I always charge the battery while it is connected, never had a problem.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:25 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
too long for me to sit thru
Hi Jimlev,
This thread is a pictorial thread, just about the battery, as I like to take things one at a time and have some fun (and learning and teaching) with it.

The 'real' problem-solving thread is this one, as you alluded to:
- Warning: I charged my battery today & apparently killed my instrument cluster & MID

But, for here, this is the response:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
was the charger voltage ever read?
Many years ago, I had placed it on an oscilloscope and engraved on the back what I found (which was a 17-volt wave, peak to trough, above ground), at 12 volts RMS at 120 Hz being the output. Clearly there is a simple wheatstone-bridge like diode arrangement that flips every other oscillation of the 60 Hz input. There was a 25 Hz +/- 1.175 volt AC component superimposed on the DC (i.e., 41.5 msec in period); so it's not a "clean" waveform, by any means ... but it is sufficient to charge batteries for vehicles in the 'olden days'.

I no longer have access to an oscilloscope, but the RMS readings from my decades-old Fluke 75 bear out that the charger is apparently still working to spec.

Without the battery in the loop, the 25-year-old half-wave charger reads 12.52 volts RMS, open circuit.
I bounced the unit around and it still read the same (I shook it and tugged at all the wires).




The battery, after charging since about 6pm (almost 12 hours), still reads only 11.39 volts (so it's obviously not taking a charge).


When I hook the charger to the battery, the battery climbs from 13 volts to about 13.3 volts (give or take as it bounces a bit & climbs slowly).


And, the current on the meter seems to be accurate based on the Fluke DMM doublecheck:


Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
Turning the key on seems like it might have been what killed things.
I don't remember if I left the key on when I was charging it. I don't think I did.

I had left the key on after I checked the mileage on the odometer; and that's what (I thought) killed the battery.

But now, I simply think leaving the ignition on just clued me into the fact that I had a suddenly-bad battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
I always charge the battery while it is connected, never had a problem.
In the past, so did I. Now that I may be facing a very expensive (and tedious) repair, I'm not so sure I would recommend that moving forward.

What I need now to do, when it gets light, is to check the rest of the fuses - but that's for a whole 'nuther thread!

Last edited by bluebee; 09-19-2011 at 10:20 PM.
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  #7  
Old 09-19-2011, 09:17 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
[*]The battery, after charging since about 6pm (almost 12 hours), still reads only 11.22 volts.
BB: This looks like your battery is dead as it cannot achieve the proper ouput after an extensive charge.
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:03 AM
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AnotherGeezer AnotherGeezer is offline
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When my battery died, I just had AAA come out and replace it with one of their batteries. I think it cost me about $125 total and that included labor and the alternator test.

It was worth even more than that because it was 15 degrees out that morning!
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:33 AM
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hmmm the Duralast battery replacement took me ~20 min including pick up & core drop off.
Cost was 15% off $150. Another Geezer did very well.
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2011, 10:04 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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So has the coroner determined how long the battery lived before dying of sudden electrocution? I'm guessing 9+ years based on car's birth?
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:40 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
So has the coroner determined how long the battery lived before dying of sudden electrocution?
That was the third battery for this vehicle. Two BMW batteries, and now, the Duralast.

The dead BMW battery was put in about six years ago, by the dealer, as far as I can remember.

This time I wrote on the battery the date, and I even included a copy of the receipt, taped to the side, for future reference.

For the record, these next pictures show why, I think, Autozone shows the Duralast 49-DL as NOT fitting the BMW E39:






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Last edited by bluebee; 09-20-2011 at 12:40 AM.
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  #12  
Old 06-14-2013, 06:51 PM
Kamikaze1 Kamikaze1 is offline
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Does the vent tube have to be connected to a new battery?
I'd better post my inquiry here rather than E46 forum because this thread is quite comprehensive.
When I removed my old battery the other day, I found the battery compartment flooded up to 2.5cm high and the vent tube was not connected to the battery at all.
That is why I didn't bother to reconnect the vent tube to the new battery. And of course I plugged the vent hole of the new battery to prevent flooding again.
Am I doing wrong?
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:07 PM
AmesDP AmesDP is offline
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The vent tube is there to vent excess hydrogen gas which can be produced by the battery under some circumstances, because hydrogen can be explosive if confined in a small poorly-vented space. You shouldn't get water coming in to the battery compartment via the vent tube when it is properly connected. You should hook it up.
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Old 06-15-2013, 01:07 AM
Kamikaze1 Kamikaze1 is offline
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Knowledge is power

I thought the excess water from the battery has flown through the vent tube out to air.
And I thought my battery compartment has been flooded because the vent tube was not connected to the battery.
Anyway, the vent tube is there for excess H2 gas, not for water.
I still wonder where the water came from? Through the side panel?
I'd better find an adaptor for the vent tube.
Thanks for your clarification

Last edited by Kamikaze1; 06-15-2013 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:51 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze1 View Post
I still wonder where the water came from? Through the side panel?
I'd better find an adaptor for the vent tube.
Thanks for your clarification
Check he foam gasket that seals the rear tailight against the the body frame. The gasket make not be making a perfect seal allowing water to seep in.

Additionally, look for dried water marks which sometimes trails back towards the source of the leak.
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:13 AM
Kamikaze1 Kamikaze1 is offline
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VG point. Thanks. Will let you know later
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  #17  
Old 08-28-2013, 03:54 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Drat. Maybe my battery has gone south, after less than 2 years!
-> E39 (1997 - 2003) > It's my turn for the E39 TRANS. FAILSAFE PROG transmission failure stuck in high gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Meanwhile, I called Autozone.
They don't have the 49-DL anymore.
But, they say mine is warranteed for $127.52 until mid September.
They'll sell me one of these, as a replacement, if my battery tests bad:
  1. H8 ==> $130-127=$3 + 8.75% tax on $130 = $14.37
  2. 94R ==> $165-127=$38 + 8.75% tax on $165 = $52.44
  3. H7 ==> $180-127=$53 + 8.75% tax on $180 = $68.75
Interestingly, I called another Autozone, which gave me different figures (but relatively similar):
  1. H8 ==> $130-105=$25 (plus 8.75% tax on $130 which is another $11.38)
This second store said they'd need to charge the battery for an hour, so, I'd better get going to give them the time to do that.
Googling, I think we can fit any battery of size H7, 49 (aka DIN H8), 94, 95 (aka DIN H9) ... as long as it's at least 850CCA, 720Amps, and 90AH (sometimes called "reserve").
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-28-2013 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:34 PM
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Here's some advice on buying and replacing a battery, from a thread today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by airplanelover View Post
First time I have to change the battery on my 2001 BMW 530i so dont know much about it and im a girl so I cannot change it myself.

Pep Boys will charge me $130 total for everything using a BOSCH battery. Is that good? What brand of battery does BMW itself use?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
Is being a girl a reason or an excuse? It's OK to decide not to do work on cars, but gender is not a good reason - or so I tell my daughter. The only issue with DIY is whether you have the physical strength for the job at hand.

Search the best links sticky thread if you wish to learn more. Also this link
http://jgdarden.com/batteryfaq/carfaq.htm

Unlike some parts, there is nothing to be gained by chosing a BMW brand battery. You want a group H8 or H9, i.e. battery size. Quality can be gauged by the warranty; the longer the warranty the better the battery, i.e. the longer the expected life. Shop, compare and decide.

Whatever you do, be sure that the vent tube is connected to the battery. All batteries except AGM (also labeled as VRLA) will vent hydrogen at times; and hydrogen is highly flammable. There is no risk for a car with a battery in the engine bay. But E39s have the battery in the trunk & you definitely do not want hydrogen there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Typing /battery f3 in the bestlinks nets this, which is a step by step of how to buy, remove, and replace the battery, from someone, much like the OP, who didn't know anything about batteries before starting (and now knows enough to at least replace one, thanks to your help):

- How to choose a good aftermarket battery (1) and a simple battery replacement DIY (1)

PS: This is NOT the correct way to remove a battery, btw, but they ARE heavy!
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #19  
Old 04-14-2014, 04:23 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,279
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
In this thread today, there was a discussion about buying batteries based on the battery manufacturer marketing strategy:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Need a battery verdict

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flightmedic View Post
"72 month, 60 Month, or 36 month" batteries were a marketing strategy
I've said, time and time again, that, IMHO, anyone who buys a battery by that strategy, is using the wrong criteria.

Basically, they're buying something they don't understand (fitment, reserve capacity, cold cranking amps, etc.) using a (misleading) metric that they do understand (months).

Me?

I buy the battery most people recommend here, at the cheapest price I can, and if there is an outright tie, then (and only then), do I bother to even think about "claims" as to "months".
- How to choose a good aftermarket battery (1) and a simple battery replacement DIY (1)

See also:
- Which product warranties are useful and whether or not a lifetime warranty make sense (1)
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-19-2014, 04:48 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,279
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
In this thread today, someone was worried about the recommended battery vents:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 battery type
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixz1 View Post
Of all the alternate types available, which have the vent? I have always been concerned about venting the battery into the trunk. Am I being over-cautious?
So, I posted some vent-specific pictures from a thread referenced in the bestlinks, but I repost them here so that all benefit. They're from jamescd4 over here ...
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__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 06-19-2014 at 04:52 PM.
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