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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 05-17-2008, 10:08 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Air conditioner noise

My air conditioner is making a faint but noticeable sound when running. I never noticed it before. It is a soft medium high pitched wailing sound, like the background sounds off an old Star Trek episode and cycles on and off with the A/C. It isn't that loud and is most noticeable at idle at a light but can also be heard sometimes when the car is moving. The A/C is still functioning fine (air is cold). I am just wondering if this sound is a symptom of impending trouble, like an imminent compressor failure or something like that. Has anyone else had this strange sound? If yes, has it led to any problems? I'd like to nip it in the bud, if possible. Thanx.
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2008, 03:07 PM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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Check the basics first, belts/ make sure its not your alternator, stuff like that
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2008, 12:39 PM
Txdomer Txdomer is offline
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Fudman,

I am having the same issue on my '02 530i. The dealer replaced something, maybe the belt tensioner, to no avail. They are looking at it again. I too fear the noise is an indication of imminent compressor failure. I read a post on another site for what sounds like the same problem, and the poster said the dealer added refrigerant, which fixed the problem, but that it returned again. Perhaps it was just coincidence. I wonder if it could be the compressor clutch. The variation in pitch is puzzling, and the fact that it does not always occur is puzzling.

If you find anything out, let us know.

Does anyone know if there is a sight glass on the E39 to check for low refrigerant?

Here is the link to the other site: http://autorepair.about.com/library/faqs/bl016h.htm

My AC seems like it is cooling pretty well, so I am not sure that it's low refrigerant, but it perhaps it does not need to be very low for the problem to occur.

BTW, I know it is not my alternator, as I had that replaced (because it failed) and the problem was still there. The belt was also replaced.

Last edited by Txdomer; 06-05-2008 at 12:48 PM.
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  #4  
Old 06-05-2008, 03:07 PM
Steve530 Steve530 is offline
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No site glass. I think I read that they are not reliable on R134a systems.

Anyway, the right way to check the system is with a set of gages. I'm not sure what the pressures should be. Does anyone know what the high and low pressures should be?
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2008, 08:46 AM
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rivercity rivercity is offline
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Here is a good link to try.....

http://www.aa1car.com/library/ac98.htm
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  #6  
Old 06-10-2008, 09:33 AM
Txdomer Txdomer is offline
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Thanks

Thanks for the info guys. I may try checking the refrigerant pressure with a loaner gauge set from AutoZone. The dealer said they would have to evacuate the system and weigh the refrigerant.
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  #7  
Old 06-10-2008, 05:36 PM
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burt540 burt540 is offline
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I hear a noise, but only when the fan is on the very first bar (the smallest one), but it goes away once I increase it (one or two up). Hmmm. I wonder what would cause that to happen? I don't hear it all the time, but occasionally.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2008, 06:01 PM
hockeypuck777 hockeypuck777 is offline
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AC noise

i just started hearing it this Summer, my third with the car. sounds like a whirrrring noise, as if a bearing were not rotating freely. i have a good shop and will take it in for a look when i go for regular service as long as it cools there seems to be no need to rush over there. probably the beginning of the end of the compressor!
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2008, 10:25 PM
Alexbenz Alexbenz is offline
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anyone resolve this problem?
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  #10  
Old 10-05-2009, 02:22 PM
xEmber xEmber is offline
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What about with the compressor off?

I hear a similar noise to what you are describing with my car but it almost sounds as if it is coming from inside the cabin. It goes away if I turn the A/C fan off. I am almost positive this is not a noise from the belts. Would you say your noise could possibly coming from inside the dash or is it definitely something under the hood? I was thinking perhaps it was a squeaky bearing in an electrical motor that I could perhaps oil..?
Look forward to seeing your response.
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  #11  
Old 05-26-2010, 12:59 AM
sw8753 sw8753 is offline
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I hear a "chirp" when the fan is on auto mode, but it goes away at higher and lower speeds. The dealer has the vehicle and has not been able to recreate the noise yet.......
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  #12  
Old 05-26-2010, 05:27 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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The chirp noise you hear of is indicative of a sticky shaft bearing.
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:37 PM
apiereder apiereder is offline
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Mechanical tensioner?

I've got the same problem--a loud compressor. The noise goes away when I turn the air conditioning off, which disengages the compressor clutch and allows the compressor to free wheel.

My guess is that the compressor is shot, which doesn't surprise me because I've got a lot of miles on my 530i.

In any event, if you've got more than a 100K on your vehicle and it has a mechanical belt tensioner, and the noise doesn't come and go with turning the air conditioner on and off, you should probably replace the tensioner with BMW's recommended hydraulic unit (you can't even buy the mechanical tensioner from BMW anymore...). For the air conditioner, its a very simply install that can be done from under the car (after you remove the shield). Its about 120.00 at Pelican parts for the hydraulic tensioner, the bracket, and a kit with all the other stuff you need.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2010, 09:33 PM
AUCHTUNG-E39 AUCHTUNG-E39 is offline
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Check if the noise is coming from the compressor clutch bearing, they are known to fail and makes a chattering noise. That's what happened to my ac compressor a few years ago . What kind of noise is yours making?
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  #15  
Old 06-24-2010, 07:42 AM
RaceCarDriver RaceCarDriver is offline
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Mine is also making a whirring noise when I turn the compressor on and off. Anyone have any luck?
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  #16  
Old 10-22-2010, 06:28 PM
munizmario munizmario is offline
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The chirping noise from the A/C you all are hearing seems to be the blower motor making noise. I have a 2003 530i (E39) and a 2005 X5 4.8is (E53) and they both had the same noise. I replaced the blower motors on both and bye bye noise. Not a definite but it could be a start...
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  #17  
Old 05-06-2011, 05:23 AM
Jay_cee06 Jay_cee06 is offline
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After spending serious serious money to replace radiator, positive crankcase ventilation system, radio, front suspension bushes, air bag computer, LCD dash display, water pump etc. I now discover that my Air con compressor is failing (has a noise similar to those posted on this web and will cost close to 2 grand to fix) All this started happening at around 130,000km on my 2001 E39. The car looks great is wonderful to drive but is second rate when it comes to reliability and durability.
Very disappointed with BMW! I also have a 99' Toyota RAV that has done at least 100K more and is 2 years older. For reliability it puts the Beemer to shame!

Jay_cee06
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  #18  
Old 05-06-2011, 07:26 AM
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ztom ztom is online now
I gotta have more cowbell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
My air conditioner is making a faint but noticeable sound when running. I never noticed it before. It is a soft medium high pitched wailing sound, like the background sounds off an old Star Trek episode and cycles on and off with the A/C. It isn't that loud and is most noticeable at idle at a light but can also be heard sometimes when the car is moving. The A/C is still functioning fine (air is cold). I am just wondering if this sound is a symptom of impending trouble, like an imminent compressor failure or something like that. Has anyone else had this strange sound? If yes, has it led to any problems? I'd like to nip it in the bud, if possible. Thanx.
I think your description is excellent, mine does same. So far none of the posts seemed to have ID'd the root cause & fix.
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  #19  
Old 05-06-2011, 07:34 AM
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ztom ztom is online now
I gotta have more cowbell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rivercity View Post
Here is a good link to try.....

http://www.aa1car.com/library/ac98.htm
That seems a good link, also led to this http://www.aa1car.com/library/2003/ic50350.htm
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  #20  
Old 07-22-2011, 08:17 AM
mcvoigts mcvoigts is offline
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I'm having the same problem with a minor whirring noise when the AC is turned on. It blows steady and cold like it always has. The noise is new.
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  #21  
Old 07-22-2011, 08:23 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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I never resolved this issue. My car was totaled before the compressor failed! My current e39 does not have this noise.
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  #22  
Old 07-22-2011, 10:12 AM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apiereder View Post
I've got the same problem--a loud compressor. The noise goes away when I turn the air conditioning off, which disengages the compressor clutch and allows the compressor to free wheel.

My guess is that the compressor is shot, which doesn't surprise me because I've got a lot of miles on my 530i.

In any event, if you've got more than a 100K on your vehicle and it has a mechanical belt tensioner, and the noise doesn't come and go with turning the air conditioner on and off, you should probably replace the tensioner with BMW's recommended hydraulic unit (you can't even buy the mechanical tensioner from BMW anymore...). For the air conditioner, its a very simply install that can be done from under the car (after you remove the shield). Its about 120.00 at Pelican parts for the hydraulic tensioner, the bracket, and a kit with all the other stuff you need.
recently replaced 2 sets with the same mechanical as a preventive maintenance
dealer do have it in stock
who said hydraulics are better ?
bul****

Last edited by champaign777; 07-22-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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  #23  
Old 09-25-2011, 01:37 PM
ryri ryri is offline
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I have a whinning noise when the AC is turned on but the pitch of the noise changes with the speed. It's almost like it is coming from the transmission but it goes away when the AC is turned off. Would a bad compressor do that?
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  #24  
Old 02-23-2012, 11:08 AM
Bama 46 Bama 46 is offline
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Smile A/C Noise

I just had a similar noise with my A/C. I first thought is might be the fan bearing, however, when I pushed the snow flake button to turn off the A/C, the noise went away. I then thought the bearing was going out in the compressor. The A/C stopped cooling and I checked the Freon and it was low. I added 1 1/2 cans of R134A and the A/C is now working great and the compressor noise is gone as well. I recommend doing all the preliminary checks, i.e., belts, Freon, etc. before moving to the more expensive repairs. You can purchase R134A by the can with a gauge at most any auto parts store, at least here in Alabama you can. About all the info you really need in printed on the can...Read all instructions before proceeding.
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  #25  
Old 03-15-2012, 10:38 AM
airforceguy63 airforceguy63 is offline
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535i A/C noise

Sounds like this is a common problem, my A/C makes that whining noise which increases and decreases with RPMs, goes away completely when the compressor is turned off. The Nissan dealer I bought it from was about to replace the compressor but decided to get a professional opinion, took it to 2 different BMW repair shops and both said this is a common issue with this year and mileage (2007 w/56K) and not much they can do about it... if the compressor goes, it better do it in the next 2 years before my warranty runs out!
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