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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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Old 09-21-2009, 07:46 PM
ga540pilot ga540pilot is offline
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 2002 540i Sport
2002 E39 540iA Door Control Module and BMW South ATL Experience

Kind of long, but bear with me.

Situation: Flew in from a trip and went to the gym. I was leaving the gym and decided to crack all of the windows to let the funk and the heat the Georgia sun put in my car. I drove about a quarter mile the stop light and tried to roll all of the windows back up. All windows went back up except for the front passenger window. So not only is the window not working, but the mirror and the lock. Frustrated and with rain coming the next few days I had to put plastic and tape on the window. I know, don't kill me it looked like crap, but at least the windows are tinted so it did not look to bad on a silver car.
When the weekend arrived I decided to pull the door panel apart after looking at multiple forums on multiple sites to no avail. I took the connector in the door jam off with the one screw that was holding it and disconnected the connector revealing 2 large blades and multiple smaller pins. I tested the voltage on the two large pins. These are the power and ground for the door. I only tested 8 volts on of the pins and did a continuity check on the other with my DMM (Digital Multi-Meter) to make sure it was the ground. It was. I pulled the same connector from all other doors and measured 11-12 volts. Did not know much about what was going on inside the door at that point because I just purchased the car in July and it is my first BMW. Anyway decided to take it to BMW of South Atlanta. That is part 2 of the issue.
OK. I take to car to BMW of South Atlanta against my co-workers advice. He owns a 2003 325ix that he has owned since new. So I drop the car off and let them know I have no power to the windows, locks, or mirror. They said I will call you either latter today or tomorrow and it is $135 bucks for the diagnostic. I said OK and leave. They call me back in about 2 hrs and said that the "Door Control module" is bad and they can have it there the next day for the low price of $700 dollars, but they are not sure that that is what the problem is.(gr) So I asked my service associate, to start, to start, you are telling me that you are not sure that is the problem for $700. He said yes, that is what the tech told him. This is a Friday and I pick the car up and I am fuming all weekend. The more I think about it the I'm pissed at their lack of degree of certainty. I look around on the internet and find a genuine BMW part brand new for $189 from a German parts supplier. Oh yeah, they let me know I had a valve cover gasket leak and it could be fixed for $1200 dollars. I think I will fix that one for $80 for the kit, 6 pack of Samual Jackson Octoberfest and 2 hrs of my time.
So, Sunday I decide to try and get me window rolled up because we had major rain headed our way and plastic on the window was just not going to do. So I disconnect the door jam connection on both front doors and again test the voltage on the large blades. Drivers side OK 12V passenger side again 8V coming from the main car body side again. I take the Door Control Module off the car and open it by releasing 8 clips on the body of the module. I test the voltage inside the module at 8V also. I probe for the ground and power to the windows and find the wires. I disconnect those and run a jumper from the driver side door jam power connector directly to the power window wires and ground one side. Window goes down and I reverse the polarity of the wire and get the window up. Whew, one problem solved. I contemplate providing 12V from the passenger side door to the positive of the power connector on the passenger side and connect all of the wires back up to see if the module is bad, but ran out of time. I put the door back together and go get the little ones ready for bed.
Monday morning I go back to BMW of South Atlanta and ask to speak to my service rep. I tell him that there is only 8V coming from the car to the door and the door module will not work on 8V. He goes to the back and asks the tech and he said that he saw light on so there was power going to the door. I am thinking to myself you saw light on the door switch and a light bulb so you figured there was power to the door. I try to explain that there are multiple pins in the door and windows and door need 12v and so does this module. The rep tells me that that is what his tech said and he is standing by it. I am in the military and in uniform so I am trying very hard not to go Ape Sh*t on the MF right about now. I ask to speak to the Service Manager, but he is in a meeting he does not know when he is going to get out.
Later that day he calls me back and I go through the same details with him. He says they hooked it up to GT1 box and it said there was no voltage coming from them module. I told him I find that hard to believe because I opened the damn thing up and measure 8V. I also tell him before we go into this I am no dummy to cars or electronics, I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, work as a RF (Radio Frequency) engineer as a civilian and a Telecommunication Officer in the Army, and have put cars together from the frame up, so don't try and pull the techno babble stuff on me. I asked if they check the voltage from the car in any other spot and he said they have not used a Digital Volt Meter in years. I am thinking to myself WTF, has all common sense trouble shooting gone out the window. You get a car in with no power to windows, lock and mirrors and you don't follow step one of trouble shooting, CHECK FOR POWER TO AFFECTED DEVICE,THEN BACK TRACK TO POWER SOURCE. I tell him they did not follow step one. At this point he want to act an as*, he tells me then if you did all of this why don't you know what is wrong with your car and did you fix everything that is wrong. I tell him, look I am just try to get my car fixed and that is why I brought it to you, it just seems like someone took the easy way out on the diagnostic. I ask, did you put a good module in to see if it works to make sure, NO. Did you even look at the airbag light that was on the dash, NO. At this point my co-workers are looking at me like I have lost my mind because I am pissed and now raising my voice. I said, look I just paid you guy $135 dollars for you to tell me you "think" you can fix my problem by me purchasing a $700 module that it may or may not fix the problem. He says that is not what we said, I point out the my service slip says, "Replace Door Control Module $700, to start". So, he gets livid and says we are not going to refund your money and that is what needs to be replaced. I tell him OK, I will dispute the charges with my credit card company, call BMW corporate, and file a complaint with the military channels. He says find and start to spell out his name so that I get it right, I stop him half way through and just tell him don't worry about it and he hangs up the phone.

OK. Now to the real questions:

1. Has anyone had the same problem?
2. Does a bad control module throw the cars power into some kind of safe mode where it drops the voltage to 8V when the module is bad to that module?
3. Is there a way to test just the module?
4. Am I wrong for being mad about a inaccurate diagnosis for $135?

I will let everyone know what I find.
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:23 PM
bmw_n00b13's Avatar
bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
Freude am Fahren
Location: Cambridge, ON
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 6,374
Mein Auto: 99 528iA
$135 should've paid for the diagnostic to be more thorough, but there's limits to what they'll do. $135 is about 1.25 hrs time, though….should be enough to do more than a quick GT-1 diagnostic.

If the airbag light is on….how is the battery/alternator?
'99 528i ('98/12 build). 282,000km BY29428/Royalrot
Breaking My Wallet since 2009
Mods: Stoptech SS brake hose, 280piece toolkit resting on trunk floor, Beisan VANOS seals, increasing amounts of duct tape and glue
'99 540i (grandfather's)

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Old 09-22-2009, 05:25 AM
ga540pilot ga540pilot is offline
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 2002 540i Sport
I think the airbag light is on because I had the door disconnected and turned the key to the the ON position to test the power in the door. The computer probably saw there was no check voltage or signal from that door's airbag and put the light on.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:52 AM
jimjim jimjim is offline
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Location: san francisco
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 17
Mein Auto: nothing now
....i have a friend/neighbor with exactly your problem. he has a 3 year old M3 running fine, he gets a recall notice on an electric part. your car will be ready to pick up later today. later today they call him, say they found something wrong. week later they are still working on car. friend is fuming. gets car back. everything is screwed. windows go up/down when they feel like it. windshield wipers come and go, door locks and unlocks on their own. he's now going crazy. back again to dealer. gets car, ready to go to tahoe for weekend with his girl, all packed, i see him in garage holding his head, thing won't start. try to fast forward. he has lost use of car he formerly loved for a month and its embarassing for him for all to see his car towed twice out of garage. they finally seemed to have gotten car to work as it was before they got their inept hands on it. they say that they first replaced the DME (computer thing) that's what they first did, but did not replace a secondary part that goes with it. my friend has lost all confidence in letting BMW touch his car. While car work was covered, his loss of one month use and trip to tahoe was not. he had exact same problem you did. Inept BMW service. you seem to know plenty about electrics, i would hook up with a good, honest, independent.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:17 PM
sidneyj sidneyj is offline
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Location: Atlanta
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,713
Mein Auto: '03 BMW 530i
Originally Posted by ga540pilot View Post
I think the airbag light is on because I had the door disconnected and turned the key to the the ON position to test the power in the door. The computer probably saw there was no check voltage or signal from that door's airbag and put the light on.
Did you disconnect the airbag connector? If not, removing the door panel(s) and disconnecting the switches and turning the key on will NOT set off the air bag light. As crazy as this sounds did you check the battery as noob13 mentions?
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:02 PM
ga540pilot ga540pilot is offline
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Location: Atlanta, GA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 2002 540i Sport
Battery and alternator are fine. Holds the charge and cranks fine.
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Old 12-27-2015, 05:46 PM
afs afs is offline
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Location: vancouver, bc
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 2003 530i

I would very much like to know if this problem was ever solved. I have the same problem, the passenger door window, lock and mirror will not work from the drivers door or the central locking button. The passenger door window will operate the passenger window, even if the key is not in the ignition. Please help, i have change the passenger door module but it did not help.
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