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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 05-15-2009, 09:19 AM
SRider SRider is offline
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Location: Kansas City
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: 2001 540iA
Normal clutch engagement position

I've never owned a manual BMW before and I'm looking at a 2003 M5 with 51,000 miles. When I drove the car the clutch pedal had to be at the floor before the clutch disengaged and it would engage without much pedal travel from the floor. I've driven several American manual transmissions and I remember the top to half way point in the pedal travel being where the clutch would release and grab. However these were all cable operated clutches and I have never had a slave cylinder one. The owner told me the clutch was replaced not long ago, but does not have any documentation to back it up. I will get a PPI to verify the car's condition, but I was just wondering if the engagement position of the clutch is a symptom of something being worn out. The test drive was not a long one, so I did not drive the car hard since I never got it warmed up properly. However, I did get on the highway and the clutch did not slip when I was in sixth gear and floored it accelerating from 60 to 80.
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:35 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 8,857
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Should begin to engage about half way up. There may be air in the clutch circuit, or, if the clutch was replaced, there may be a problem with the job.

The clutch travel is quite long, and the pedal must be near the floor before full disengagement.

The clutch arm pivot inside the bell housing is plastic, and should be replaced along with the clutch. It might be broken.

Anyone who did not save such important repair documentation is probably lying. However, the M5 can eat a clutch by this mileage, especially if driven in a "spirited" manner.

Make sure your indie does a thorough mechanical inspection on this car before you make an offer.
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Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:54 PM
SRider SRider is offline
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Location: Kansas City
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: 2001 540iA
Thanks for the information. I have only looked at the car once and drove it for 15-20 minutes. I'm working on setting up a PPI with my mechanic who worked on my 540. He used to work for the local dealer several years ago and seems to know BMWs.

I understand the clutch could be bad in 50,000 miles, but the owner mentioned it was changed about 5,000 miles ago. I'm going to press him to provide documentation. Otherwise I will assume the clutch has not been changed.

I did talk with a friend who works for the dealer and he gave me the maintenace history he could find, which did not mention a clutch. I'm not rushing into this since it could be an expensive mistake if the PO did not perform regular maintenance.
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  #4  
Old 05-15-2009, 08:22 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
 
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
It is imperitive that this engine run BMW 10W60 oil. This is a detuned racing engine, and is not to be trifled with.
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Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
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  #5  
Old 05-16-2009, 07:46 AM
SRider SRider is offline
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Location: Kansas City
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: 2001 540iA
I would partially agree with the 10w60 oil. I know BMW changed the recommendation to 5W30 at some time (maybe for 2001 or 2002 model year). The concensus is BMW did this since most people did not track their M5s and the 5w30 helped with oil consumption.

Most people I have talked with agree that the 5w30 would be fine for daily driving or winter driving if the temperatures are consistantly below 30 or 40 degrees (I can not remember the exact number). If you want to track your M5 or live in a hotter climate, then you need to use 10w60.

My plan is to do some open tracking with the M5 and I will be using the 10w60 during the summer. When winter comes along, I'll switch to 5w30 since we can get some cold weather and I would not feel comfortable with 10w60 and 10 degree temperature.
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  #6  
Old 01-17-2010, 09:06 PM
rpdarst@nettall rpdarst@nettall is offline
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Location: Florida
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4
Mein Auto: 1997 328i
I experienced the same thing. In April 2007 I had a clutch job on my 1997 328i (clutch assembly, pilot bearing, and slave cylinder). After the repair the pedal engagement was close to the floor and the pedal pressure was quite light. It is still that way. I am wondering if there is any adjustment that can be made for the pedal position. I guess I will have to take a look underneath the dash.
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