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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 11-15-2008, 12:44 PM
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BlackBMWs BlackBMWs is offline
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Location: Sacramento, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
540 top ten repair list

Anyone have a top ten repair list for their 540 Sedan or Wagons? Not so much for mods, but for repairs.

I'm going through a 1999 540iT and so far, the things I need to address are fair for it's age and 80k mileage. Wondering what you all have experienced.


Here's mine so far, I don't have ten items
1. ZF Steptronic Transmission wear
2. Steering tilt drive shaft stripped
3. Liftgate struts are starting to go
4. Front and rear can holders
5. Remote Key fob rubber worn out.
6. Broken oil filter bushing
7. Power steering reservoir starting to leak

#1 is the major potential item, the others are easy fixes...
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  #2  
Old 11-15-2008, 01:04 PM
Tufast Tufast is offline
01' BMW 540iMspt
Location: IN
 
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Posts: 152
Mein Auto: trucl
#1) Alternator
#2) Radiator & expansion chamber
#3) Battery
#4) Water pump
#5) Thermostat
#6) A/C blower motor
#7) Rear window regulators
#8) Valve cover gaskets
#9) Oil pan gasket
#10) Thrush rod bushings

O2 sensors, spark plugs, brakes, tires, belts, shocks, hoses, clamps, lamps, fluids, & filters I consider maintainance, so did not include.

Last edited by Tufast; 11-15-2008 at 01:10 PM.
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  #3  
Old 11-15-2008, 01:19 PM
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BlackBMWs BlackBMWs is offline
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Location: Sacramento, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
o yeah... Mine came with a smaller battery that needs to be replaced soon. Tested O.K. for now, but smaller than spec. I don't want a marginal battery based on intermittent power issues I see on this forum.

Also can see some very minor seeping on the valve cover gaskets that will be a future maintenance item. So far, other than the power steering reservoir, no other leaks.

No cooling component items yet...
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  #4  
Old 11-15-2008, 03:10 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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Mein Auto: 530I/Stick Blown
Here's my impression.
Radiator
expandsion tank
Engine fan explosion
Busted upper radiator hose
Valley pan gasket
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  #5  
Old 11-15-2008, 05:00 PM
Ryan M Ryan M is offline
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Mein Auto: .
1. Realign exhaust
2. Fix plastic center console thingy
3. CUPHOLDERS
4. Headlight adjusters
5. Sunroof (probably won't fix it though, I never use it)
6. Alignment
7. AC belt
8. Tranny fluid
9. Oil change
10. Get tinting redone

So all in all, nothing major, I just have a lot of little things to take care of.
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  #6  
Old 11-15-2008, 07:14 PM
captruff captruff is offline
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Location: orange county
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 55
Mein Auto: e39 540
unexpected stuff

1. Window regulator(s) i have replaced 3 of 4 so far
2. Oil filter housing bushings
3. a/c compressor
4. cup holders front and rear
5. sunroof tilt function
6. battery
7. valve cover gaskets
8. seat belt buckles for SRS light
9. trunk struts
10. power steering fluid resevoir leaking

stuff i wanted to do and did

1. new wheels: 19" BBS LM's and Hamann PG2
2. Hella Celis rear, Xenon AE front lights, + fogs
3. re tint windows
4. replace interior trim
5. respray front and rear bumpers
6. replace front and rear window trim + shadowline
7. add rear trunk lip spoiler
8. Dinan rear muffler withresonator delete
9. Dinan CAI with program
10. M5 subwoofer


Jeff
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1997 BMW 540/6
1999 VW Beetle 2.0 AEG 333,333+ miles
1993 Mercedes Benz 500E
1986 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3-16 - track car
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  #7  
Old 11-15-2008, 07:35 PM
540i2003 540i2003 is offline
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Mein Auto: 540 Dinan
very good site for known e39 repairs

I think you will find this very helpful. I have found this to be very accurate.

http://www.540i6.com/probsfixes.html
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  #8  
Old 11-15-2008, 08:18 PM
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BlackBMWs BlackBMWs is offline
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Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
Top "47" list... Gulp... Actually good info to know. I've seen many of these in the forum and a few new ones...

Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 11-15-2008, 09:48 PM
H-Zilla H-Zilla is offline
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Location: Seattle
 
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Posts: 82
Mein Auto: 1999 540i Sport
1) Fan Clutch
2) Sway-bar links
3) Valve Cover Gaskets
4) Alignment
5) Rear diff service
6) Fix output shaft leak
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2008, 07:50 AM
KTrostel KTrostel is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 540i and 2002 M5
Don't forget -

#11 - muffler bearings
#12 - head light fluid
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  #11  
Old 11-16-2008, 10:11 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
E39 top ten repairs for my Blue B

My repair list for the 525i E39 is currently ...
- air conditioning stink research & diy
- brake bump shudder judder shake to pieces research
- windshield cover molding diy
- driver seat cover replacement diy
- cupholder replacement diy
- instrument cluster (pixels out) replaced by dealer
- intermittent fan blower (FSU) research
- jack lifting pads research & diy
- broken gas cap tether research

My maintenance list is currently ...
- four wheel brake job diy
- brake fluid diy
- H7 light bulb research
- oil & brake fluid change power extractor and bleeder research

My nice-to-have list is currently ...
- dice ipod research & DIY
- best parts supplier by price and availability research
- obnoxious door lock research


Last edited by bluebee; 11-16-2008 at 10:29 AM.
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  #12  
Old 11-16-2008, 10:25 AM
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amancuso amancuso is offline
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Mein Auto: 128i, 330i, Z3 2.3, R56
OK Here is my list.

Because of failure:
1. Oil Separator Valve/CCV

Because I just felt it was time to change, not due to failure:
1. Radiator
2. Water Pump
3. All hoses (including water cooled alternator hoses)
4. Fan Clutch
5. Fan Blade

Next up on my list are thrust arms as they have failed resulting in 45-55MPH shimmy.
Valve cover gaskets
Spark Plugs

(fluid changes are not listed here because they are standard maintenance)
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Last edited by amancuso; 11-16-2008 at 10:28 AM.
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  #13  
Old 11-20-2008, 01:13 PM
Bobzmcishl Bobzmcishl is offline
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Location: Lafayette, Ca
 
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Posts: 27
Mein Auto: 1995 540i
1995 BMW 540i. Trust arms replaced at 76,000 miles, Power Steering leaks - 2 times, Valve cover gasket leaks - three times. The latter two problems seem to be carryover problems to the newer 540's as well. Also my remote door locks have never worked properly - dealer said it was a design flaw and they could not fix it when under warranty. These are great cars but an extended warranty is mandatory. My Acura TL has been far more reliable, but isn't as nice a car.
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  #14  
Old 11-20-2008, 04:26 PM
AltonJJones AltonJJones is offline
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Location: Phoenix
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
1. Radiator, hoses and all belts
2. Brakes
3. Right arm (can't recall type) It was about 6 inches long and fixed the vibration/shimmy felt in the steering wheel. It might have been the same type Amancuso referenced in his post
on 11/16/08.
4. Passenger front window motor (soon)

All cup holders work perfect.

Last edited by AltonJJones; 11-20-2008 at 04:26 PM. Reason: Misspelling
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  #15  
Old 11-20-2008, 11:26 PM
Spokane540ia Spokane540ia is offline
I need to replace what?
Location: Spokane, Wa
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 430
Mein Auto: 2002 540i
540i most common problems

Hi new 540 owner,

I bought a 540I last July. Appeared to be pristine, but took it to an indy, and this is what they found:

1. leaks from water pump- (slight) replace water pump, thermostat assembly. Replaced coolant 50/50 and used Redline Water Wetter.
2. Valley pan gasket leak- needed to replace Valley pan and gasket-I was told the two parts were the same, couldn't just replace the gasket, as they are integrated. Replaced valley pan cover , as well.
3. Oil leak out of manifold (slight) replaced manifold cover and gaskets.
4.Removed & Replaced intake manifold and coolant pipes (as long as the manifold was off, time to do it.)
5.Cleaned throttle body and new gasket.(see above)
6.Replaced center tie rod for steering. (loose)
7.Replaced rear sway bar links(sloppy)
8.Replaced rear brake rotors and pads(down to 10 %)
9.Had inspection ll done- sparkplugs, NGK, new Mobil 1, new cabin filters, flush brake fluid, flush cooling system, change differential oil, lube doors,reset service intervals.
10. wheel alignment due to new brakes.
11.Replaced the belts- main was cracked and showing age- had the a/c belt done as well.
12.Replaced the battery, I guess the7year old one couldn't handle one of the most complex electrical and computerized vehicles in existence! and his is for a 2002 5- I can't imagine a 2009...

Sure, I could have done some of this myself (and will next time) but I just wanted my 2002 car back up to speed.

My tech told me and asked me repeatedly if I wanted all of this work done. He told much of this service was elective...Yes, this would be needed at some point, , but not needed to drive the car right now. I just wanted the car to be right.

Cost for the fixes? about 3 large. Yes.3 grand.Still under what KBB and Edmunds said what the car was worth when I bought it.

l'll tell you what- this car brings a smile to my face.

Marv
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  #16  
Old 11-20-2008, 11:43 PM
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BlackBMWs BlackBMWs is offline
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Location: Sacramento, CA
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 727
Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
Thanks Marv! How many miles did you have on it at the time?

I've had this car for two weeks now. at 79k miles, I had the Service II also done, tranny fluid changed and fixed a steering tilt problem. This weekend, I'll replace the battery as the one in now is smaller and marginal. $2k for service and DIY parts plus the purchase price I'm still $3k under KBB. Most all of the small items have been fixed.

Driven 600 swift and fun miles these last two weeks. The car is definately worth every penny...
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  #17  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:32 AM
Spokane540ia Spokane540ia is offline
I need to replace what?
Location: Spokane, Wa
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 430
Mein Auto: 2002 540i
Followup

I had 45,00 miles on it. Oh, I did neglect to mention the radiator, expansion tank will go out also. It's only a matter of when. At least all of this other stuff is already paid for.

Strong new battery is a great idea... my tech put an Interstate MTP-93 which he said was almost overkill (1,000 Cold Cranking Amps) I live in the Pacific Northwest which does get really cold in the winter,, but these cars have a HUGE amount of high tech gadgets- automotive microprocessors- Did you know, for example, that your car's computer doesn't shut down for 16 minutes after you turn it off, close, lock and turn on security? Not to mention if you use the 1/2 hour timed cooling fan in the summer, or the 15 minute heater in the winter.

These cars are expensive to maintain. I knew that going in. But NOTHING drives like a Bimmer.
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  #18  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:46 AM
Spokane540ia Spokane540ia is offline
I need to replace what?
Location: Spokane, Wa
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 430
Mein Auto: 2002 540i
Followup on the followup

Make that 45,000 miles. And the can holders are pure crap- Google "ultimate cupholder" for a fine alternative.

Stay well in Sacto-
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  #19  
Old 11-21-2008, 12:01 PM
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BlackBMWs BlackBMWs is offline
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Location: Sacramento, CA
 
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Posts: 727
Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
Interesting. My tech recommended the same battery. That's going in today once I find a close supplier. When you changed yours, aside from like clock functions, was anything reset that messed anything up?

The cup/can holders are worthless except for holding soda (or similar) cans, They hold those great although still fragile. I do have the one ultimate cup holder in mid console coin tray.

My valve cover show a slight leak. I understand there's an inner and outer gasket for the M62. If the inner one leaks, it can impact the coils? Gotta understand that better...

Thanks for the feedback...

Last edited by BlackBMWs; 11-21-2008 at 10:05 PM.
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  #20  
Old 11-21-2008, 04:16 PM
Spokane540ia Spokane540ia is offline
I need to replace what?
Location: Spokane, Wa
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 430
Mein Auto: 2002 540i
Ultimate cupholder

The cup holder I'm talking about doesn't go on the center console- check this out- http://www.ultimatecupholders.com/ works great, and you can two in the front- one for your passenger. Cheers!
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  #21  
Old 09-20-2010, 07:51 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
I've updated the repair list to the following (almost all of which I've experienced). Let me know if anything is missing ...

See also:
- Typical SYMPTOMS that point to a classic E39 problem?

Common problems you can expect with your E39 might be:
- plastic expansion tank, radiator, & thermostat housings that blow up due to faulty plastic mostly at the upper hose neck but also in the expansion tank and thermostat housing (1)
- steel resistance-welded ABS control module power wires that break off their gold contact because of being too close to the engine (1) (2) (3) ... Abs control module autopsy (1) (2) ... why the diagnostic tools fail (1)
- I6 vanos seals made out of the wrong materials so that they harden and leak causing degrading performance (1)
- V8 valley pan ???
- headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12)
- fan-control (FSU/FSR) modules that are practically sure to go schizo due to poor heat-sink design (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) ... Autopsy (1) (2) (3) (4)
- rear vapor barrier seals that allow rain water to fill the rear footwell (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
- windshield & back window molding that crumbles in three years due to poor choice of materials (1) (2)
- jack pads that fall off the underside of the frame due to poor latch design causing jack failures & wind noise (1) (2) (3)
- cabin-filter housing design that allows small drain hoses to clog with leaves causing gym-sock smells (1) (2) (3)
- roundels that wash away in the car wash over time (1)
- a trunk loom wiring harness designed to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2)
- violent shudder upon front-wheel braking on bumps because the front suspension dies prematurely unbeknownst to the driver (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
- rear-window regulators that stop the windows from closing (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12)
- low mounted ambient temperature sensors practically designed to be ripped off on a parking curb (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
- annoying automatic door-lock mechanism that cost $100 to undo (1) (2)
- pixels practically guaranteed to go out on your instrument cluster and radio midi (1) (2) (3) (4)
- useless cupholders and painful front armrest consoles (1)
- constantly wet power steering reservoirs due to poor O-ring design (1) (2)
- power steering hose clamps practically guaranteed to leak (1) (2)
- wood trim whose varnish cracks and whose cd cover doors rattle (1) (2) (3)
- plastic trim around the air vents which invariably crack at the corners (1)
- seat covers that don't protect the control box for the tilting steering and moving seat (1)
- seat cables that fall out causing seat twist (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)(9) (10)
- windshield reservoirs prone to leaking due to an ill-fitting pump o-ring gasket (1)
- crankcase ventilation valve (CCV) clogs, raising pressures, blowing the head gasket and/or valve cover gasket (VCG) and oil filter housing (OFH) gasket & causing vacuum leaks (1) (1) (2)
- the secondary air pump (SAP) valve (aka diverter valve) clogs, taking out the SAS (1) (2) (3) (4)
- ignition switch that fails causing electrical problems (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
- the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and idle control valve (ICV) require periodic cleaning (1) (2)
- poorly designed V8 valley pan gaskets that leak coolant (1) (2)
- fluid-filled thrust arm bushings that crack and tear causing vibrations at speed (1) (2) (3) (4)
- before your alternator goes bad on you, buy the rebuild parts AHEAD of time so you get QUALITY components (1)
- anything else?
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  #22  
Old 09-20-2010, 10:09 AM
540fan 540fan is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 540iT & 2004 745Li
On the wagon, replace the rear subframe bushings!



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  #23  
Old 12-23-2010, 10:36 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Just for the record, I opened a similar thread today which can be merged with this one (which I just found searching for a better list of problems).

In that thread, I posited this top 30 list of repair items on the E39:
- What are the most common items that go wrong with the E39 and in what order of import?
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  #24  
Old 12-23-2010, 11:20 PM
Zane39 Zane39 is offline
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Mein Auto: 530i
I only have 6 things i need to do, since I've already completed most of the other common issues

1: DSC+ ABS light
2: Rear Wheel Bearing
3: Vanos Seals
4: Vapor Barrier
5: Adjust Handbrake
6: Cluster Pixels!!
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