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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 06-04-2010, 10:05 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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DIY Glovebox & Bentley supplement: 1-page summary of the dozen recommended E39 fluids

Single page BMW E39 fluid tribal knowledge summary (with a reference thread for each to see if they stand the test of time)
(Print a copy for your glove box or Bentleys):

- Power steering: Dexron III ATF (realistically, Dexron VI ATF because Dexron III certification is no longer available from GM) Bentley page 020-20. [Volume: It has been said to be just under 2 quarts; I used about a quart to flush twice just my power steering reservoir using a turkey baster to remove fluids out the top.] Note: I6=rack and pinion attached to an aluminum subframe, V8=recirculating ball and nut attached to a steel subframe. Replacement Interval: Bentley says it's "permanently filled"; but most of us would suction out and refill the reservoir with about a quart of fluid every few years because it's a hygroscopic fluid and the permanent filter on the bottom of the reservoir doesn't prevent the fluid from becoming dirty. Some even replace the reservoir in order to have a new filter. Most also replace or cut off the tip of the bottom hoses whose clamp often allows leaks.

- Windshield & headlight washer system: surprisingly, I can't find a specification in the Bentley; it should be in book II section 611, Wipers & Washers; but it's not; the Owners Manual, page 150 (Washer Fluid), it says to use "water" and "screenwash when required" (whatever "screenwash" is). [Volume: 3.7 quarts (0.9 gallons, 3.5 liters) or 6.3 quarts (1.6 gallons, 6.0 liters) with headlamp washer system]. Replacement Interval: When needed.
- Intensive cleaning system: The Owners Manual (page 150, Washer Fluid), says to use "BMW intensive cleaning agent", BMW P/N: 83.12.0.410.745 (500ml bottle). [Volume: 1.1 quarts (1.0 liters)]. Replacement Interval: When needed.

- Brakes (9/1998 and later): "low viscosity" "high performance" DOT 4 (nobody seems to know what "low viscosity" means in practical terms; but the Bentleys clearly specify both "low viscosity DOT 4" on page 340-9 and "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24). ATE Super Blue DOT 4 or any good DOT 4 brake fluid can be used. [Volume: Most people use about 750 ml or about 3/4 quart to flush the four wheels manually so buy about a liter or quart to power flush your entire brake system.] Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture. Best to use the pressure method, e.g., Motive pressure bleeder; but the two-man push-and-open method still works.
- Brakes (up to 8/1998): "high performance" DOT 4 (nobody seems to know what "high performance" means in practical terms; but the Bentleys clearly specify "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24 and again on page 340-9). Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture.
- Hydraulic clutch (manual transmission only): Uses the same reservoir as the brake fluid, Bentley 020-26.

- Engine oil (E39 1999 & later): 15W40 LL-01 mineral oil BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.868 (amazingly, only ONE SAE weight is specified! Don't be confused because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 15W40 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only 5W30 & 15W40 but the 020-11 appears to be the specific listing). [Volume: I6=6.9 quarts, V8=7.9 quarts]. Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary by lighting the yellow light and indicating "OIL SERVICE". Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible. On average, most seem to change oil & filter roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles. Best to use either the oil-pan gravity-drain method or the MityVac vacuum-extraction method (don't use the Motive vacuum extractor). Most replace the oil filter on every oil change.
- Engine oil (gas, E39 1997 & 1998): Synthetic 5W-30 LL-01 (aka long-life 2001) BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.866 (amazingly, only ONE SAE weight is specified! This is confusing because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 5W30 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only 5W30 & 15W40 but the 020-11 appears to be the specific listing). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary. Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible. On average, most seem to change oil & filter roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles.
- Engine oil (diesel): I can't find anything in the Bentleys; but the euro owners manual lists on page 152 "ACEA: A3/B3 or ACEA: A3/B4" specifications which all long-life-01 oils meet (according to that owners manual). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary.

- Engine coolant/antifreeze: phosphate free (for Europe's high-mineral-content water), amine & nitrite/nitrate free (for USA long-life requirements), & low-silicate or silicate free (for Japan requirements) 50:50 mixture of ethylene glycol & water (the Bentleys say distilled water (Bentley 020-11), aka de-mineralized or de-ionized water, some call it purified water, and the BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:56 specifies water with a pH from 6.5 to 8.0, maximum total hardness of 3.6 mmol Ca++/liter, maximum chloride content 100 mg/liter, and maximum sulphate content 100mg/liter; interestingly the BMW TIS says "potable tap water usually fulfills these requirements". Despite this, most people say never use tap water due to the ion content. BMW lists a score of coolants in their BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:55 which meet the BMW N 600 69.0 standard, some of which are BMW PN:81.22.9.407.454 1.5-liter; BMW PN:88.88.6.900.316 1 gallon; Castrol Anti-Freeze NF; BASF Glysantin Protect Plus G48, & Havoline AFC (BD04). Others recommend Service Pro Universal Formula; Valvoline Zerex G-05, & Prestone Extended Life 5/150. [Total Volume: 1997 I6=10.5 quarts (2.6 gallons), 1997 V8=12.0 quarts (3.0 gallons), 1998-2002 I6=11.1 quarts (2.8 gallons), 1998-2002 V8=12.7 quarts (3.2 gallons), 1997-2002 V8 with latent heater=13.5 quarts (3.4 gallons)]. Prestone says the only reason for phosphate free is the extremely high mineral content of water in Europe - and that in the USA, it's not needed. Replacement Interval: Every three years (Bentley page 020-9) or every four years (aforementioned BMW AG TIS) starting from date of manufacture (except for M-Power vehicles which have 3-year intervals). Note: Mixing BMW-recommended coolant brands is permissible; but mixing types is not permissible unless it's an emergency.

- Air conditioner: Refrigerant 134a (aka R-134a) with poly alkylene glycol oil, sometimes referred to as poly alkaline glycol oil (aka PAG refrigerant oil). Bentley book II, 640-2 & 640-3 & 640-23. The PAG oil is known by other names such as ND8, PAG46, and BMW PN: 82.11.1.468.042 and travels with the refrigerant as a mist. Best to empty and then refill refrigerant by total weight; second best is the evaporator temperature method (i.e., in the shade, ambient temperature less than about 75F and relative humidity below about 60% - then add R-134a until the evaporator exit air temperature with A/C set on max at 60F is 4C/39F or colder - the best you can do without MoDIS is probably the center-dash vent at something like 10C/50F); third best is the pressure method (i.e., add refrigerant until the low-pressure side is 25 psi to 45 psi ... aim for around 32 psi (assuming shade, ambient, & humidity listed prior); worst is by can weight (e.g., adding a 12oz by weight can or a 16oz can by weight but the AC is a critical-charge system that won't tolerate refrigerant quantities much outside + or - .05 kg). [Volume: E39's built up to 12/97 contain 1,225 grams +/- 25 grams (2.70 lbs +/- 0.05 lbs) of R-134a; E39s built after 12/97 contain 750 grams +/- 10 grams (1.65 lb +/- 0.03lb) of R-134a. The amount of PAG oil misted in the system is said to be about 1 ounce by volume.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime charge.

- Manual transmission (yellow sticker): BMW PN: 83.22.9.408.942 or MTF-LT-1 (manual transmission fluid, lifetime, I'm not sure what the "1" means) Bentley page 020-10 & 020-30. [Volume: See chart below.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 230-6). A user-recommended fluid is "Royal Purple Synchromax 1512 manual transmission fluid" & Redline MT-90; the user-recommended replacement interval is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles.
- Manual transmission (orange sticker): The Bentleys, on page 200-4, simply say "ATF" (aka ATF-Oil). Nothing more. Note: This orange sticker is not mentioned in the Bentleys page 020-10 & 020-30 but is noted on page 200-4. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 230-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles.
- Automatic transmission (green sticker): BMW PN: 83.22.0.024.359 or Texaco ETL 8072B or Shell LA2634 (this is extremely confusing, not only because these are cryptic "types" but also because the Bentleys list different fluids and volumes on page 020-10, 240-6, & 240-8). [Volume w/o torque converter/with torque converter, see chart below]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 240-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval for the fluid and filter is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles. Apparently Pentosin is the OEM oil but FEBI also works (ATF Auto Transmission Fluid equivalent to ESSO LT 71141). Note: Mixing ATF types will cause transmission failure (Bentley 240-6). My 2002 525i with the ZF 5HP19 (aka A5S 325Z) transmission (6.2 liters/8.9 liters or 6.6 quarts/9.4 quarts) has this green sticker.
- Automatic transmission (black sticker): Dexron III ATF (realistically Dexron VI ATF) BMW PN: 83.22.9.407.807 or Exxon LT-71141 which seems to also be called Esso LT-71141) (all this is extremely confusing, not only because these are cryptic "types", but also because the Bentleys list different fluids on page 020-10 than on page 240-6). [Volume w/o torque converter/with torque converter, see chart below]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 240-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval for the fluid and filter is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles. Note: Mixing ATF types will cause transmission failure (Bentley 240-6). Some users suggest Mobil1 Synthetic ATF.

See this thread for complete details on fluids, torques, volumes, locations, etc and to find which transmission is in your model E39:
Manual transmissions:
BMW 525i 2001-2002 M52TU, M54: Getrag S5D 250G, 1.2 quarts (1.1 liters)
BMW 540i 1997-2002 M62: ZF/Getrag S6S 420G, 2.0 quarts (1.9 liters)
BMW 528i 1997-2002 M52: ZF S5D 320Z, 1.4 quarts (1.3 liters)
BMW 530i 2001-2002 M54: ZF S5D 320Z, 1.4 quarts (1.3 liters)

Automatic transmissions:
GM THM-R1 (A4S 270R), 9.3 quarts/8.2 quarts (8.8 liters/7.8 liters)
BMW 528i to 9/1999 M52: GM THM-R1 (A4S 310R), 9.3 quarts/8.2 quarts (8.8 liters/7.8 liters)
BMW 528i from 9/1999: GM 5L40-E/GM5 (A5S 360R), 9.5 quarts/8.5 quarts (9.0 liters/8.0 liters)
BMW 525i to 3/2001 M54: GM 5L40-E/GM5 (A5S 390R), 9.5 quarts/8.5 quarts (9.0 liters/8.0 liters)
BMW X5 GM 5L40-E/GM5 (A5S 390R), 10.1 quarts/9.1 quarts (9.6 liters/8.6 liters)
BMW 530i to 3/2001 M54: GM 5L40-E/GM5 (A5S 390R), ? quarts/? quarts (? liters/?liters)
ZF 4HP22, 7.9 quarts/3.2 quarts (7.5 liters/3.0 liters)
ZF 4HP24, 8.6 quarts/3.3 quarts (8.1 liters/3.1 liters)
ZF 5HP18 (A5S 310Z), 8.2 quarts/3.4 quarts (7.8 liters/3.2 liters)
BMW 525i from 3/2001 (2.5L M54): ZF 5HP19 (A5S 325Z), 9.4 quarts/6.6 quarts (8.9 liters/6.2 liters)
BMW 530i from 3/2001 (3.0L M54): ZF 5HP19 (A5S 325Z), 9.2 quarts/6.5 quarts (8.7 liters/6.1 liters)
ZF 5HP24 (A5S 440Z) for 4.4 L, 9.5 quarts/5.7 quarts (9.0 liters/5.35 liters)
BMW 540i from 1/1997 M62 TU: ZF 5HP24 (A5S 440Z) for 4.6 L, 10.5 quarts/5.7 quarts (9.9 liters/5.35 liters)
BMW 540i to 1/1997 M62: ZF 5HP30 (A5S 560Z) 13.8 quarts/5.8 quarts (13.1 liters/5.5 liters)

- Differential (conventional, i.e., non-limited-slip E39s): The Bentleys specify "BMW SAF-XO synthetic final drive gear oil" which doesn't exist (it's Castrol). The Bentleys don't specify the weight (it's SAE 75W-90); and the Bentleys don't specify the quality (it's API GL-5 hypoid gear oil). Given that, suitable replacements are Amsoil Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid (MTF) API 75W90,Mobil1, Royal Purple Max-Gear, & Redline SAE 75W90 API GL-5 synthetic gear oils. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell which of the three (3) different differentials you have w/o looking at the numbers molded into the metal. Bentley page 020-11 & 020-26 & 331-6. [Volume: Type G=1.7 quarts, Type 188 Compact=1.1 quarts, Type 220/215 Compact=1.5 quarts.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (but most recommend replacing differential fluid at the same time you replace transmission fluid, which is about 5 years or roughly 60K miles).
- Differential (limited-slip E39s, such as the M5): BMW SAF-XJ API GL-5 SAE 75W-140 synthetic hypoid final-drive gear oil (aka Castrol SAF-XJ). This requirement is not listed in the Bentley manual; it is gleaned from the Castrol literature and from what is stated about the M5 in this thread below (please correct if necessary). Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (but most recommend replacing differential fluid at the same time you replace transmission fluid, which is about 5 years or roughly 60K miles).

- Battery: A charged battery is 33.5% (volume/volume%) sulfuric acid (4.2 Molar H2SO4, ) & distilled water (Bentley 020-23) with positive plates containing lead dioxide (PbO2) and negative plates of lead (Pb), both mixed with calcium (Ca) to minimize gassing (i.e., loss of water) and other elements (such as tin, antimony, & selenium to harden the plates and simplify manufacturing) in a polypropylene case. In the discharged state, both plates turn to lead sulfate (PbSO4) as the electrolyte loses its dissolved sulfuric acid and becomes primarily water (which can freeze in cold temperatures and the lead sulfate may form insoluble crystals which, over time, reduce the capacity of the battery if it is not recharged immediately after discharge). [Total Volume: unknown but users have reported adding about 20 ml per cell after two years of use]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (top off only if needed, after removing steel strap, two stickers and then unscrewing the six cell caps, and filling to the fill line which is 1/4 inch or 5mm above the top of the plates at the very bottom of the internal black plastic depth indicator). The OEM battery has built-in hydrometer where green indicates a charged battery and black indicates a discharged battery, and yellow indicates a defective battery. Better to test at 27C/80F by loading battery with 15 amperes for 1 minute (or just turn headlights on w/o engine running) and then perform a 1.265 specific-gravity hydrometer test of each of the six cells (add or subtract 0.004 to the hydrometer reading for every 10F/6C above or below 27C/80F respectively); and a 12.6 volt open-circuit voltage test across the battery terminals (Bentley 121-5, 121-6). OEM specs are BMW 61.21.8.381.762, USA 729905-10, EN 12V 90Ah 720A, SAE 160 RC 720 CCA. Aftermarket batteries are Duralast 49-DL, Duralast 94-R, NAPA #7549, Deka 649MF, Interstate MTP-93; must have side vent and a stamped date code within the last couple of months.

- Engine fuel (gas): The sticker on the inside of the fuel filler specifies the octane rating to use; most E39s in the USA specify unleaded 91 AKI (the AKI is the average of the RON & the MON). Lower octane ratings can be used as the two piezoelectric knock sensors will retard timing if they sense detonation vibrations which may adversely affect performance but which won't damage the car under normal circumstances. [Volume: 70 liters (18.5 gallons) with a reserve capacity of 8 liters (2 gallons) in the 525i & 530i and a reserve of 10 liters (2.5 gallons) for the 540i]. We're not sure the algorithm for the small round yellow fuel-warning light, but most people say it goes on approximately at 40 miles remaining fuel; chime sounds at approximately half that (need more data). Replacement Interval: Monthly, as fuel reputedly goes "stale" after 30 days; also it's reputed you should fill by the 1/4 to 1/8 mark in order to better cool the fuel pump. Fuel can't be siphoned out due to siphon restrictions 4 inches in but can be bled using other methods.
- Engine fuel (diesel): On page 23 of the Owners Manual, it lists "Diesel oil DIN EN 590", whatever that is. It specifically says not to use rapeseed oil methyl ester (aka RME), or bio diesel oil. Replacement Interval: As needed. ???

- Tire pressure & mixture: Standard air (i.e., 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen) or 95% to 98% nitrogen (it's not pure nitrogen because they generate the nitrogen from air instead of using pure liquid nitrogen bottles). [Volume: About 10 to 18 liters at 30psi at 25C, mass is about 26 grams of air].Pressure is more important than volume. The stated reason for the higher rear inflation is to handle weight transfer upon acceleration but nobody is really sure. You want to stay within 3% (+/-) between the axles as greater differences can create problems with ABS & the car's traction control systems. Some say you also need to take into account the load rating if you deviate from the standard 94 load range for the OEM E39. If you buy tires rated, say, 97, they say you need to adjust the pressure down or the tires will be overinflated. There are many reputed reasons for nitrogen over air, the main one being tires lose air at about 2.7 pounds of pressure per month while nitrogen-inflated tires lose it at only 0.7 pounds per month.

Here is a general BMW E39 inflation table from QSilver.
18" - 38/41 front/rear (up to 4 passengers) (this is the only one that is different)
18" - 41/48 front/rear (5 passengers)
16"/17" - 35/39 front/rear (up to 4 passengers)
16"/17" - 41/48 front/rear (5 passengers)
16"/17" - 30/35 front/rear (up to 4 passengers) snow tires & Q/T/H speed rated tires
16"/17" - 36/44 front/rear (5 passengers) snow tires & Q/T/H speed rated tires

Last edited by bluebee; 07-29-2010 at 01:34 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2010, 04:10 PM
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Shires Shires is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 E39 520I 2.2 M/T
Differential gear oil: BMW SAF-XO - this is Castrol SAF-XO (75w90), for non-limited-slip differentials only. So for the E39 I think that means all models except the M5?
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Old 06-05-2010, 04:16 PM
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Shires Shires is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 E39 520I 2.2 M/T
SAF-XO data sheet:

http://www.ge39.com/files/SAF_XO_SAF_XJ_B1174_96.pdf

BMW engine oil recommendations:

http://www.opieoils.co.uk/pdfs/BMW-O...s-and-Recs.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
generally specify the RON on the pump, which is the average of the research and motor methods
Are you sure? RON stands for Research Octane Number.

Last edited by Shires; 06-05-2010 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shires View Post
Are you sure? RON stands for Research Octane Number.
Thanks. I corrected the statement on the fuel in the first post.

As you intimated, AKI is the anti-knock index (sometimes called the PON, pump octane number). The research octane number (RON) and motor octane number (MON) are averaged to get the AKI in the USA.


Last edited by bluebee; 06-05-2010 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 06-06-2010, 12:00 AM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
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Great post. thanks
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shires View Post
SAF-XO data sheet
That PDF was very informative. It explained a lot. But, as always, it still leaves open questions (mostly what's not said, or what conflicts with what we already know).

Based on the PDF, Castrol SAF-XO is a
- synthetic, multigrade, rear-axle lubrication fluid
- for conventional (non-limited-slip) hypoid-gear differentials
- available in SAE 75W-90, 80W-90 or 90 weights
- and which meets API GL-5 hypoid-gear oil requirements

My questions about BMW E39 differential oils are:
Q: Do the SAF-XO letters actually indicate something useful?
Q: Is Castrol the only manufacturer of "SAF-XO"?
Q: Notice the three weights (SAE 75W-90 or 80W-90 or 90) yet the Bentley doesn't say which weight to use!
Q: Does BMW really recommend replacement every 2 years? (Bentley page 020-26 says it's a life-time oil; Castrol says replace it every 2 years)
Q: Can we simply replace this with any good API GL-5 SAE 75W-90 synthetic hypoid gear oil?
Q: If most E39s have conventional (i.e., non-limited-slip differentials), yet if the M5 has a limited-slip axle, why doesn't the E39 Bentley mention a different oil for the M5 (SAF-XJ vs SAF-XO)?

Note: I opened a separate thread to get to the bottom of the differential hypoid gear oil to use in our E39s.

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Last edited by bluebee; 06-06-2010 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 06-12-2010, 10:30 AM
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I've been updating the tribal knowledge ...

I've opened a thread or re-used a thread for each of the fluids in the list of a dozen or so for the E39.

This way, I can collect the combined tribal knowledge into the first post, which I've been updating almost daily (and will continue to do so, with your input, until the post closes itself to edits).

Tribal knowledge threads used to improve this data are:
- Power steering:
- Windshield & headlight washer system:
- Intensive cleaning system:
- Brakes:
- Engine oil:
- Engine coolant/antifreeze:
- Air conditioner:
- Transmission:
- Differential:
- Battery:
- Engine fuel:
- Tire pressure & mixture:


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Last edited by bluebee; 08-05-2010 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:28 AM
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These charts from this thread are invaluable!







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Old 09-02-2010, 08:43 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Here's an update, based on this information from cn90's DIY:

The update is in red below (for comments so that we have a good list):

- Manual transmission (yellow sticker): BMW PN: 83.22.9.408.942 or MTF-LT-1 (manual transmission fluid, lifetime, I'm not sure what the "1" means) Bentley page 020-10 & 020-30. [Volume: See chart below.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 230-6). A user-recommended fluid is "Royal Purple Synchromax 1512 manual transmission fluid" & Redline MT-90; also recommended is Redline D4 ATF or Redline MTL or Mobil1 Synthetic; the user-recommended replacement interval is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles.

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Old 09-02-2010, 05:20 PM
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Bluebee, you are a machine! : )
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:17 PM
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
In this thread, 540i M-sport helped us improve the coolant fluid summary in this update thread as the following (please correct any errors!):

- Engine coolant: phosphate free (for Europe's high-mineral-content water), amine & nitrite/nitrate free (for USA long-life requirements), & low-silicate or silicate free (for Japan requirements) 50:50 mixture of ethylene glycol & water (the Bentleys say distilled water (Bentley 020-11), aka de-mineralized or de-ionized water, some call it purified water, and the BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:56 specifies water with a pH from 6.5 to 8.0, maximum total hardness of 3.6 mmol Ca++/liter, maximum chloride content 100 mg/liter, and maximum sulphate content 100mg/liter; interestingly the BMW TIS says "potable tap water usually fulfills these requirements". Despite this, most Bimmerfest posters say never use tap water due to the ion content. BMW lists a score of coolants in their BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:55 which meet the BMW N 600 69.0 standard, some of which are BMW PN:81.22.9.407.454 1.5-liter; BMW PN:88.88.6.900.316 1 gallon; Castrol Anti-Freeze NF; BASF Glysantin Protect Plus G48, & Havoline AFC (BD04); but most of which are not easily found in the USA. Many Bimmerfesters recommend BMW coolant; however other Bimmerfesters recommend Prestone Extended Life 5/150, Valvoline Zerex G-05, and Service Pro Universal Formula. [Total Volume: 1997 I6=10.5 quarts (2.6 gallons), 1997 V8=12.0 quarts (3.0 gallons), 1998-2002 I6=11.1 quarts (2.8 gallons), 1998-2002 V8=12.7 quarts (3.2 gallons), 1997-2002 V8 with latent heater=13.5 quarts (3.4 gallons)]. Prestone says the only reason for phosphate free is the extremely high mineral content of water in Europe - and that in the USA, it's not needed. Replacement Interval: Every three years (Bentley page 020-9) or every four years (aforementioned BMW AG TIS) starting from date of manufacture (except for M-Power vehicles which have 3-year intervals). Note: Mixing BMW-recommended coolant brands is permissible; but mixing types is not permissible unless it's an emergency.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:29 PM
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BTW, here's an interesting excerpt from this web page:
Prior to the advent of BMW Free Scheduled Maintenance, approximate BMW maintenance recommendations were: automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and filter changes every 15,000 miles, manual gearbox and differential oil changes every 30,000 miles, annual brake fluid changes, and coolant changes every two years. Spark plugs, air filter, and fuel filters were typically replaced every 30,000 miles on most BMWs (this is a tune-up) except M cars up to 1995, which got new spark plugs and a valve adjustment every 15,000. Later advances in computer engine management and spark plug technology legitimately allow 60,000-mile spark plug life if not more.
...
But once BMW began paying for scheduled maintenance, lo and behold the "schedule" was revised. Now the cars hardly need any maintenance at all. The 1,200-mile break-in service was done away with except for M cars. Engine oil suddenly lasts 15,000 miles (dealers are supposed to use BMW synthetic oil). Manual gearbox and differential oil? No worries there now BMW says they NEVER need to be changed; it's "lifetime fill." Brake fluid and coolant service intervals were doubled with no change in the original BMW brake fluid and anti-freeze dealers are supposed to use.
...
I recommend changing engine coolant at two-year intervals, using only factory BMW anti-freeze mixed 50-50 with distilled water (reason BMW anti-freeze is phosphate free, phosphates cause aluminum oxidation, which blocks cylinder head coolant passages and causes head gasket failure, others may claim to be "aluminum safe" or "phosphate free" make your choice, but I've used BMW anti-freeze exclusively in many cars and have never had an aluminum oxidation or head gasket problem). The factory coolant change interval used to be every two years. It is now every four years.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:13 AM
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Based on bmw_n00b13's clarification of "low viscosity" brake fluid in this thread, I just now modified the original recommendations for brake fluid in post #1 with those below.

PLEASE CORRECT AS NEEDED SO THIS CAN BE REFERRED TO OTHERS!
(I can't always be right! )

- Brakes (9/1998 and later): "low viscosity" "high performance" DOT 4 (while the Bentleys clearly specify both "low viscosity DOT 4" on page 340-9 and "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24, some recommend DOT4 ISO6 (aka Class 6, ISO 4925) low viscosity brake fluid over just regular DOT4, especially in colder climes). While the Bentleys do not specify what viscosity they consider to be "low"). Further inspection reveals a viscosity of 700mm^2 at -104F can be considered "low viscosity". However any good DOT 4 brake fluid can be used; but most recommend ATE Super Blue DOT 4 or "Original ATE SL.6" brake fluid. Many recommend alternating amber and blue colors to ascertain when the flush is complete. [Volume: Most people use about 750 ml or about 3/4 quart to flush the four wheels manually and slightly more than a liter to pressure bleed, depending on technique; so buy at least a liter (or quart) to power flush your entire brake system.] Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture. Best to use the pressure method, e.g., Motive pressure bleeder; but the two-man push-and-open method still works.
- Brakes (up to 8/1998): "high performance" DOT 4 (nobody seems to know what "high performance" means in practical terms; but the Bentleys clearly specify "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24 and again on page 340-9). Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture.
- Hydraulic clutch (manual transmission only): Uses the same fluid & reservoir as the brake fluid, Bentley 020-26.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:19 PM
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Weirdly, the power steering reservoir cap fill marks are not shown in the owners manual (according to this thread) ... so here is the missing explanation.

Here is the description:
  1. "The fluid level should be in between the marks on the dipstick"
  2. "On a stationary engine top up the fluid reservoir to the MAX mark on dipstick"
To replace:
- Turkey baster (or syringe) to suck PS fluid out in a container.
- Do this until it the reservoir is dry and you can see the white at the bottom
- Fill with your favorite PS fluid (Dexron-III - but realistically, Dexron VI since III is no longer certified by GM)
- Start engine, turn the steering all the way R and L a few times to expel any air.
- Shut the engine.
- Repeat this cycles a few times so most of the fluid is fresh.

The Complex way is via the steering rack line disconnect but that is more labor, so keep it simple as above.

See also the VERY best of E39 Links:
- Did I use the wrong PSF (Dexron II not Dexron III)???
- BMW E36/E46 Power Steering Fluid Flush DIY


Last edited by bluebee; 01-11-2011 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:42 PM
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Regarding just motor oils, I came to this thread just now as I researched an answer posted here:
- Oil change around Manhasset NY?

To cross reference, there are apparently four somewhat overlapping oil dogma "religious camps" here when it comes to the selection of E39 motor oil:
- What oil should I use in my BMW E39?

There is a specific discussion of the religious dogmas in this thread:
- The three "oil" camps (no, this is not another "what oil should I use" thread)

What oil you decide to use will largely depend on what religious dogma you personally subscribe to. You will find all four camps here on Bimmerfest and elsewhere.

1. Use only what BMW recommends
2. Use what BMW intended (i.e., learn their rationale & select accordingly)
3. Use what everyone else uses in all the other cars on earth
4. Undecided

If you are the first type (Keep-it-simple-BMW) - the list of BMW-approved oils is here:
- BMW listing of approved synthetic oils available in the USA (pdf)
- BMW description and list of approved synthetic oils (html)
- What oil meets BMW Specs?
- Discussion of BMW-approved motor oils (aioros)

If you're in the second type (use what BMW specified, not what they list), then you'll want to choose your own oil based on the information below in addition to the information in the BMW-approved lists in the first dogma:
- Rationale behind BMW E39 motor oil SAE viscosity recommendations
- Rationale for the viscosity decision at 40C
- More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Motor Oil, by Ed Hackett
- Motor Oil Articles, by Dr. Ali E. Haas
- What is the difference between dino oil & synthetic oil
- Bob is the oil guy, Motor oil 101
- Understanding SAE viscosity ratings (pdf)

And, if you were the third (KISS) type - almost any synthetic oil would work just fine (as would dino juice changed twice as often):
- How to logically choose the right motor oil for your E39

If you're in the fourth (undecided) camp, then you really need to state what camp you prefer to be in as that is the set of recommendations you'll most likely be most comfortable with.

These camps overlap, but all the discussion you see here is generally in the areas that DON'T OVERLAP!

Speaking of changing the motor oil, we all agree the maintenance schedule is even more important than the oil decision:
- Old school maintenance schedule for BMW E39

Here is a summary from the BMW fluid glovebox printout:
- Engine oil (E39 1999 & later): 15W40 LL-01 mineral oil BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.868 (amazingly, only ONE SAE weight is specified! Don't be confused because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 15W40 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only 5W30 & 15W40 but the 020-11 appears to be the specific listing). [Volume: I6=6.9 quarts, V8=7.9 quarts]. Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary by lighting the yellow light and indicating "OIL SERVICE". Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible. On average, most seem to change oil & filter roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles. Best to use either the oil-pan gravity-drain method or the MityVac vacuum-extraction method (don't use the Motive vacuum extractor). Most replace the oil filter on every oil change.
- Engine oil (gas, E39 1997 & 1998): Synthetic 5W-30 LL-01 (aka long-life 2001) BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.866 (amazingly, only ONE SAE weight is specified! This is confusing because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 5W30 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only 5W30 & 15W40 but the 020-11 appears to be the specific listing). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary. Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible. On average, most seem to change oil & filter roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles.
- Engine oil (diesel): I can't find anything in the Bentleys; but the euro owners manual lists on page 152 "ACEA: A3/B3 or ACEA: A3/B4" specifications which all long-life-01 oils meet (according to that owners manual). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary.

Last edited by bluebee; 01-23-2011 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 01-26-2011, 07:30 PM
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Updates to the one-page glovebox E39 fluids summary

It's time for an update to put all the knowledge in this thread into one post:
- Old school maintenance schedule for BMW E39

Here is a summary from the BMW fluid glovebox printout:
- Brakes (9/1998 and later): "low viscosity" "high performance" DOT 4 (the Bentleys confusingly specify both "low viscosity DOT 4" on page 340-9 and "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24, while never explaining what "low viscosity" or "high performance" indicates). Some recommend DOT4 ISO6 (aka Class 6, ISO 4925) low-viscosity brake fluid over just regular DOT4, especially in colder climes). While the Bentleys do not specify what viscosity they consider to be "low", further inspection reveals the "BMW QV 34 001" specification seems to support a maximum viscosity @-40C of 700 mm/s and a minimum viscosity @100C of 1.5 mm/s (both per ISO 3104); most of us agree these specifications can be considered "low viscosity". However many say any DOT 4 brake fluid can be used; and most recommend ATE Super Blue DOT 4 (which does not meet this viscosity specification) or "Original ATE SL.6" brake fluid (which does). Many recommend alternating amber and blue colors to ascertain when the flush is complete; although be advised that the DOT4 specification requires a "clear" fluid, sans die. [Volume: Most people use about 750 ml or about 3/4 quart to flush the four wheels manually and slightly more than a liter to pressure bleed, depending on technique; so buy at least a liter (or quart) to power flush your entire brake system.] Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture. Best to use the pressure method, e.g., Motive pressure bleeder; but the two-man push-and-open method still works.
- Brakes (up to 8/1998): "high performance" DOT 4 (nobody seems to know what "high performance" means in practical terms; but the Bentleys clearly specify "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24 and again on page 340-9). Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture.
- Hydraulic clutch (manual transmission only): Uses the same fluid & reservoir as the brake fluid, Bentley 020-26.

- Engine coolant: phosphate free (for Europe's high-mineral-content water), amine & nitrite/nitrate free (for USA long-life requirements), & low-silicate or silicate free (for Japan requirements) 50:50 mixture of ethylene glycol & water (the Bentleys say distilled water (Bentley 020-11), aka de-mineralized or de-ionized water, some call it purified water, and the BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:56 specifies water with a pH from 6.5 to 8.0, maximum total hardness of 3.6 mmol Ca++/liter, maximum chloride content 100 mg/liter, and maximum sulphate content 100mg/liter; interestingly the BMW TIS says "potable tap water usually fulfills these requirements". Despite this, most Bimmerfest posters say never use tap water due to the ion content. BMW lists a score of coolants in their BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:55 which meet the BMW N 600 69.0 standard, some of which are BMW PN:81.22.9.407.454 1.5-liter; BMW PN:88.88.6.900.316 1 gallon; Castrol Anti-Freeze NF; BASF Glysantin Protect Plus G48, & Havoline AFC (BD04); but most of which are not easily found in the USA. Many Bimmerfesters recommend BMW coolant; however other Bimmerfesters recommend Prestone Extended Life 5/150, Valvoline Zerex G-05, and Service Pro Universal Formula. [Total Volume: 1997 I6=10.5 quarts (2.6 gallons), 1997 V8=12.0 quarts (3.0 gallons), 1998-2002 I6=11.1 quarts (2.8 gallons), 1998-2002 V8=12.7 quarts (3.2 gallons), 1997-2002 V8 with latent heater=13.5 quarts (3.4 gallons)]. Prestone says the only reason for phosphate free is the extremely high mineral content of water in Europe - and that in the USA, it's not needed. Replacement Interval: Every three years (Bentley page 020-9) or every four years (aforementioned BMW AG TIS) starting from date of manufacture (except for M-Power vehicles which have 3-year intervals). Note: Mixing BMW-recommended coolant brands is permissible; but mixing types is not permissible unless it's an emergency.

Note: just as with oil, there are three schools of thought for the selection of coolants (see discussion here).

- Manual transmission (yellow sticker): BMW PN: 83.22.9.408.942 or MTF-LT-1 (manual transmission fluid, lifetime, I'm not sure what the "1" means) Bentley page 020-10 & 020-30. [Volume: See chart below.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 230-6). A user-recommended fluid is "Royal Purple Synchromax 1512 manual transmission fluid" & Redline MT-90; also recommended is Redline D4 ATF or Redline MTL or Mobil1 Synthetic; the user-recommended replacement interval is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles.
- Manual transmission (orange sticker): The Bentleys, on page 200-4, simply say "ATF" (aka ATF-Oil). Nothing more. Note: This orange sticker is not mentioned in the Bentleys page 020-10 & 020-30 but is noted on page 200-4. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 230-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles.
- Automatic transmission (green sticker): BMW PN: 83.22.0.024.359 or Texaco ETL 8072B or Shell LA2634 (this is extremely confusing, not only because these are cryptic "types" but also because the Bentleys list different fluids and volumes on page 020-10, 240-6, & 240-8). [Volume w/o torque converter/with torque converter, see chart below]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 240-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval for the fluid and filter is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles. Apparently Pentosin is the OEM oil but FEBI also works (ATF Auto Transmission Fluid equivalent to ESSO LT 71141). Note: Mixing ATF types will cause transmission failure (Bentley 240-6). My 2002 525i with the ZF 5HP19 (aka A5S 325Z) transmission (6.2 liters/8.9 liters or 6.6 quarts/9.4 quarts) has this green sticker.
- Automatic transmission (black sticker): Dexron III ATF (realistically Dexron VI ATF) BMW PN: 83.22.9.407.807 or Exxon LT-71141 which seems to also be called Esso LT-71141) (all this is extremely confusing, not only because these are cryptic "types", but also because the Bentleys list different fluids on page 020-10 than on page 240-6). [Volume w/o torque converter/with torque converter, see chart below]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime oil (Bentley 240-6); but the user-recommended replacement interval for the fluid and filter is roughly 5 years or about 60K miles. Note: Mixing ATF types will cause transmission failure (Bentley 240-6). Some users suggest Mobil1 Synthetic ATF.

See this thread for complete details on fluids, torques, volumes, locations, etc and to find which transmission is in your model E39:

- Power steering: Dexron III ATF (realistically, Dexron VI ATF because Dexron III certification is no longer available from GM) Bentley page 020-20. [Volume: It has been said to be just under 2 quarts; I used about a quart to flush twice just my power steering reservoir using a turkey baster to remove fluids out the top.] Note: I6=rack and pinion attached to an aluminum subframe, V8=recirculating ball and nut attached to a steel subframe. Replacement Interval: Bentley says it's "permanently filled"; but most of us would suction out and refill the reservoir with about a quart of fluid every few years because it's a hygroscopic fluid and the permanent filter on the bottom of the reservoir doesn't prevent the fluid from becoming dirty. Some even replace the reservoir in order to have a new filter. Most also replace or cut off the tip of the bottom hoses whose clamp often allows leaks.

- Windshield & headlight washer system: surprisingly, I can't find a specification in the Bentley; it should be in book II section 611, Wipers & Washers; but it's not; the Owners Manual, page 150 (Washer Fluid), it says to use "water" and "screenwash when required" (whatever "screenwash" is). [Volume: 3.7 quarts (0.9 gallons, 3.5 liters) or 6.3 quarts (1.6 gallons, 6.0 liters) with headlamp washer system]. Replacement Interval: When needed.
- Intensive cleaning system: The Owners Manual (page 150, Washer Fluid), says to use "BMW intensive cleaning agent", BMW P/N: 83.12.0.410.745 (500ml bottle). [Volume: 1.1 quarts (1.0 liters)]. Replacement Interval: When needed.

- Engine oil (E39 1999 & later): 15W40 LL-01 mineral oil BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.868 (amazingly, only one SAE weight is specified! Don't be confused because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 15W40 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only SAE 5W30 & SAE 15W40 but page 020-11 appears to be the specific listing to follow). Various dogmatic camps differ on 'opinions' (1) but there is only one BMW-approved list (1). [Volume: I6=6.9 quarts, V8=7.9 quarts]. Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary by lighting the yellow light and indicating "OIL SERVICE". On average, most seem to change oil & filter (Mann, Hengst, or Mahle only!) & 36mm 6-point socket oil-filter cap o-ring (91x4mm) & copper crush washer roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles; most replace the smaller lower oil-filter-post o-rings every five years or so (7x2.5mm). Keep a spare 17 mm drain bolt handy on the I6 as it's hollow and can break from over tightening (M12x1.5x18mm). Torque filter cap to 18 ft-lb, drain bolt to 21 ft-lb. Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible; but bear in mind "synthetic" is an advertising term and quite a few oils labeled as such are not PAOs or diesters (1). Best to use either the oil-pan gravity-drain method or the MityVac vacuum-extraction method (don't use the Motive vacuum extractor). Most replace the oil filter & oil-filter-cap o-ring on every oil change and the lower small o-rings on every other change. Keep a spare oil drain plug handy, especially in the I6 as the bolt is hollow and prone to breaking when over torqued.
- Engine oil (gas, E39 1997 & 1998): Synthetic 5W-30 LL-01 (aka long-life 2001) BMW PN: 07.51.0.017.866 (amazingly, only one SAE weight is specified! This is confusing because Bentley page 020-11 lists only SAE 5W30 while page 020-9 confusingly lists only SAE 5W30 & SAE 15W40 but the 020-11 appears to be the specific listing). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary. Note: Mixing oil types (mineral vs synthetic) is permissible. On average, most seem to change oil & filter roughly thrice a year at about 4,500 miles.
- Engine oil (diesel): I can't find anything in the Bentleys; but the euro owners manual lists on page 152 "ACEA: A3/B3 or ACEA: A3/B4" specifications which all long-life-01 oils meet (according to that owners manual). Most people here say to use LL-04 approved oils (1). Replacement Interval: The instrument cluster Service Interval Indicator (SII) will determine when necessary.

- Air conditioner: Refrigerant 134a (aka R-134a) with poly alkylene glycol oil, sometimes referred to as poly alkaline glycol oil (aka PAG refrigerant oil). Bentley book II, 640-2 & 640-3 & 640-23. The PAG oil is known by other names such as ND8, PAG46, and BMW PN: 82.11.1.468.042 and travels with the refrigerant as a mist. Best to empty and then refill refrigerant by total weight; second best is the evaporator temperature method (i.e., in the shade, ambient temperature less than about 75F and relative humidity below about 60% - then add R-134a until the evaporator exit air temperature with A/C set on max at 60F is 4C/39F or colder - the best you can do without MoDIS is probably the center-dash vent at something like 10C/50F); third best is the pressure method (i.e., add refrigerant until the low-pressure side is 25 psi to 45 psi ... aim for around 32 psi (assuming shade, ambient, & humidity listed prior); worst is by can weight (e.g., adding a 12oz by weight can or a 16oz can by weight but the AC is a critical-charge system that won't tolerate refrigerant quantities much outside + or - .05 kg). [Volume: E39's built up to 12/97 contain 1,225 grams +/- 25 grams (2.70 lbs +/- 0.05 lbs) of R-134a; E39s built after 12/97 contain 750 grams +/- 10 grams (1.65 lb +/- 0.03lb) of R-134a. The amount of PAG oil misted in the system is said to be about 1 ounce by volume.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime charge.

- Differential (conventional, i.e., non-limited-slip E39s): The Bentleys specify "BMW SAF-XO synthetic final drive gear oil" which doesn't exist (it's Castrol). The Bentleys don't specify the weight (it's SAE 75W-90); and the Bentleys don't specify the quality (it's API GL-5 hypoid gear oil). Given that, suitable replacements are Amsoil Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid (MTF) API 75W90,Mobil1, Royal Purple Max-Gear, & Redline SAE 75W90 API GL-5 synthetic gear oils. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell which of the three (3) different differentials you have w/o looking at the numbers molded into the metal. Bentley page 020-11 & 020-26 & 331-6. [Volume: Type G=1.7 quarts, Type 188 Compact=1.1 quarts, Type 220/215 Compact=1.5 quarts.] Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (but most recommend replacing differential fluid at the same time you replace transmission fluid, which is about 5 years or roughly 60K miles).
- Differential (limited-slip E39s, such as the M5): BMW SAF-XJ API GL-5 SAE 75W-140 synthetic hypoid final-drive gear oil (aka Castrol SAF-XJ). This requirement is not listed in the Bentley manual; it is gleaned from the Castrol literature and from what is stated about the M5 in this thread below (please correct if necessary). Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (but most recommend replacing differential fluid at the same time you replace transmission fluid, which is about 5 years or roughly 60K miles).

- Battery: A charged battery is 33.5% (volume/volume%) sulfuric acid (4.2 Molar H2SO4, ) & distilled water (Bentley 020-23) with positive plates containing lead dioxide (PbO2) and negative plates of lead (Pb), both mixed with calcium (Ca) to minimize gassing (i.e., loss of water) and other elements (such as tin, antimony, & selenium to harden the plates and simplify manufacturing) in a polypropylene case. In the discharged state, both plates turn to lead sulfate (PbSO4) as the electrolyte loses its dissolved sulfuric acid and becomes primarily water (which can freeze in cold temperatures and the lead sulfate may form insoluble crystals which, over time, reduce the capacity of the battery if it is not recharged immediately after discharge). [Total Volume: unknown but users have reported adding about 20 ml per cell after two years of use]. Replacement Interval: Lifetime fluid (top off only if needed, after removing steel strap, two stickers and then unscrewing the six cell caps, and filling to the fill line which is 1/4 inch or 5mm above the top of the plates at the very bottom of the internal black plastic depth indicator). The OEM battery has built-in hydrometer where green indicates a charged battery and black indicates a discharged battery, and yellow indicates a defective battery. Better to test at 27C/80F by loading battery with 15 amperes for 1 minute (or just turn headlights on w/o engine running) and then perform a 1.265 specific-gravity hydrometer test of each of the six cells (add or subtract 0.004 to the hydrometer reading for every 10F/6C above or below 27C/80F respectively); and a 12.6 volt open-circuit voltage test across the battery terminals (Bentley 121-5, 121-6). OEM specs are BMW 61.21.8.381.762, USA 729905-10, EN 12V 90Ah 720A, SAE 160 RC 720 CCA. Aftermarket batteries are Duralast 49-DL, Duralast 94-R, NAPA #7549, Deka 649MF, Interstate MTP-93; must have side vent and a stamped date code within the last couple of months.

- Engine fuel (gas): The sticker on the inside of the fuel filler specifies the octane rating to use; most E39s in the USA specify unleaded 91 AKI (the AKI is the average of the RON & the MON). Lower octane ratings can be used as the two piezoelectric knock sensors will retard timing if they sense detonation vibrations which may adversely affect performance but which won't damage the car under normal circumstances. [Volume: 70 liters (18.5 gallons) with a reserve capacity of 8 liters (2 gallons) in the 525i & 530i and a reserve of 10 liters (2.5 gallons) for the 540i]. We're not sure the algorithm for the small round yellow fuel-warning light, but most people say it goes on approximately at 40 miles remaining fuel; chime sounds at approximately half that (need more data). Replacement Interval: Monthly, as fuel reputedly goes "stale" after 30 days; also it's reputed you should fill by the 1/4 to 1/8 mark in order to better cool the fuel pump. Fuel can't be siphoned out due to siphon restrictions 4 inches in but can be bled using other methods.
- Engine fuel (diesel): On page 23 of the Owners Manual, it lists "Diesel oil DIN EN 590", whatever that is. It specifically says not to use rapeseed oil methyl ester (aka RME), or bio diesel oil. Replacement Interval: As needed?

NOTE:
Our decision-making algorithms fit into a small number of categories, vastly influenced by marketing (i.e., influenced by "the big lie").
I've taken college inorganic and organic chemistry (like most of us have) and have made my own decisions about what fluids to use (like all of us have). While I'm in the "gas is gas", "oil is oil", "antifreeze is antifreeze" dogmatic camp, I did realize when writing this that others don't think similarly ... so please continue to improve this listing so that it forms a generally accepted view of the tribal 'we'.

Last edited by bluebee; 03-07-2011 at 09:28 AM.
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  #17  
Old 01-27-2011, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
It's time for an update to put all the knowledge in this thread into one post:
Here is a summary from the BMW fluid glovebox printout:
- Brakes (9/1998 and later): "low viscosity" "high performance" DOT 4 (while the Bentleys clearly specify both "low viscosity DOT 4" on page 340-9 and "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24, some recommend DOT4 ISO6 (aka Class 6, ISO 4925) low viscosity brake fluid over just regular DOT4, especially in colder climes). While the Bentleys do not specify what viscosity they consider to be "low"). Further inspection reveals a viscosity of 700mm^2 at -104F can be considered "low viscosity". However any good DOT 4 brake fluid can be used; but most recommend ATE Super Blue DOT 4 or "Original ATE SL.6" brake fluid. Many recommend alternating amber and blue colors to ascertain when the flush is complete. [Volume: Most people use about 750 ml or about 3/4 quart to flush the four wheels manually and slightly more than a liter to pressure bleed, depending on technique; so buy at least a liter (or quart) to power flush your entire brake system.] Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture. Best to use the pressure method, e.g., Motive pressure bleeder; but the two-man push-and-open method still works.
- Brakes (up to 8/1998): "high performance" DOT 4 (nobody seems to know what "high performance" means in practical terms; but the Bentleys clearly specify "high performance DOT4" on page 020-11 and just plain old "DOT 4" on page 020-24 and again on page 340-9). Replacement Interval: Every two (2) years (Bentley page 020-9) starting from date of manufacture.
- Hydraulic clutch (manual transmission only): Uses the same fluid & reservoir as the brake fluid, Bentley 020-26.
More fuel for the low viscosity brake fluid fire. I got curious and did some googling after various spec definitions and brake fluid claims. Most of what I found can be summarized in the brief description below.

According to Pentosin BMW specs changed around 2002 or 2003.

This link.
http://www.pentosin.net/f_breakfluid.asp
states Pentosin Super DOT4 suitable for BMW 2003 and earlier has kinematic viscosity < 1500 mm^2/s at -40C
whle Pentosin DOT4 LV for BMW 2004 & later has < 700 mm^2/s @ -40C and claims conformance to BMW spec QV 34 001

While this link states DOT4 LV is recommended for BMW 2002 forward
http://www.crpindustries.com/pressre...rake_Fluid.pdf

I didn't find a statement of BMW QV 34 001; only references to it in manufacture's claims.

I'm not pitching Pentosin. ATE SL.6 and Castrol DOT4 LV specifies the same < 700 mm^2/s while while their "regular" DOT4 specs mention ~1200. Other brands with the 700 value turned up also.

FYI - mm^2/s is equivalent to cSt or centiStokes. A Stoke is a defined unit of kinematic viscosity but has not been adopted as an official SI unit. One might expect any of these units to appear on packaging or spec sheets.
Also -40C and -40F are the same temperature. No need to look up a conversion.

EDIT: I should have mentioned. BMW & Pentosin, ATE, Castrol, etc. say OK to add LV fluid to "regular" fluid car. But recommend against adding "regular" to a vehicle specified for LV.

Regards
RDL

Last edited by rdl; 01-27-2011 at 08:04 AM. Reason: Note on mixing fluids
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  #18  
Old 01-27-2011, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
I didn't find a statement of BMW QV 34 001; only references to it in manufacture's claims
This is very interesting information. Thanks for providing the BMW specification. The question was asked before what "low viscosity" means, and it never got a seriously good answer.

As I culled every page of my Bentleys, there is no mention of what viscosity spec to meet to be "low viscosity". This is a common failing of the Bentleys, IMHO.

Googling, to my dismay, I too didn't find this spec mentioned on any official BMW site in a couple of searches run just now. But, like you, I found other brake fluids that mentioned they meet BMW viscosity specs.

In addition to the Pentosin DOT4 LV, picking some of the LV fluids arbitrarily, Hydraulan 404 by BASF, & Castrol "DOT 4 LV", I see they say they meet BMW specs by the ISO 3104 method with a viscosity rating of:
  • Maximum viscosity, - 40 C , 700 mm/s (per ISO 3104)
  • Minimum viscosity, 100 C, 1.5 mm/s (per ISO 3104)
INA UKA 4+ seems to have similar maximum cold viscosity numbers by the same ISO 3104 method but much higher minimum hot viscosities:
  • Maximum viscosity, - 40 C , 697 mm/s
  • Minimum viscosity, 100 C, 2.1 mm/s
Apparently ATE Super Blue Racing is not low viscosity but ATE SL.6 is. Which means that ATE Super Blue does not meet BMW specifications for our E39s; however, it may be that the low-viscosity need only applies to cold-weather driving (based on this Pentosin quote "low viscosity brake fluids are formulated to withstand cold temperatures without thickening").

But it says nothing about high temperatures (which I would think is where brake fluids most often break down).

So I'm very confused by what the Bentley intimates, versus what most of us are using (I have super blue in mine right now).

To get our answer, I'll open a separate thread to discuss viscosity:
- What is the BMW brake fluid "low viscosity" requirement (facts, not opinion)
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Old 01-27-2011, 01:19 PM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
--- stuff deleted
Apparently ATE Super Blue Racing is not low viscosity but ATE SL.6 is. Which means that ATE Super Blue does not meet BMW specifications for our E39s; however, it may be that the low-viscosity need only applies to cold-weather driving (based on this Pentosin quote "low viscosity brake fluids are formulated to withstand cold temperatures without thickening").

... stuff deleted

Whether ATE Super Blue is OK for E39s depends on which you prefer: Bentley or Pentosan and other brands' claims. It seems to me that Super Blue would be OK for E39s. But so is the low viscosity.

The Pentosin references claim "regular" DOT4 is approved 2003 and prior, which covers all E39s. I suspect Bentley is using current BMW specs calling for low viscosity across all models according to TIS. Since LV is apparently backward compatible with "regular" it's simpler and safer for an OEM to simply specify low viscosity for all refills/flushes. I know I'm assuming rather than "facting" but so far as I can tell these LV fluids weren't availabe until the early 2000's, so they couldn't have been required for models designed and evolving in the mid to late 1990s.

FWIW, the low viscosity requirement on newer designs appears to be a combination of smaller valve orifices in the control block, faster solenoids, faster chips & better algorithms enabling more rapid ABS or DCS cycling, e.g. 5 Hz typical in the 1980s vs 30Hz or more I've heard of in current systems. Faster cycling through smaller holes means viscosity must be lower to enable sufficient flow to the brake pistons (which are roughly unchanged in size) in the shorter time available each cycle.

I have read that orifice size is an issue driving toward LV fluids. The cycling rate factor is an assumption on my part, but I think reasonable. A logical driver for smaller orifices is the need for smaller solenoids to reduce mass and enable faster opening & closing times.

Regards
RDL
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:17 PM
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For the record, QSilver7 references the BMW TIS for acceptable power steering fluids here.

BMW Pwr Steering ATF Fluid Type-List.pdf
http://www.bimmerboard.org/members/q...0Type-List.pdf
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Old 03-22-2011, 08:17 PM
kashill kashill is offline
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Tmi !!!
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Old 03-22-2011, 08:22 PM
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awsome post
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:13 PM
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Updated tribal information for the coolant section of this datasheet

The good news is that we have a new proponent of the 100% propanol coolant; the bad news is that I can no longer edit the prior post with the summary of all dozen fluids.

Rather than re-summarize them all, I'll just add the improvements to the coolant section, with references to the propanol pioneers added today:

Quote:
E39 Engine coolant: phosphate free (for Europe's high-mineral-content water), amine & nitrite/nitrate free (for USA long-life requirements), & low-silicate or silicate free (for Japan requirements) 50:50 mixture of ethylene glycol & water (the Bentleys say distilled water (Bentley 020-11), aka de-mineralized or de-ionized water, some call it purified water, and the BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:56 specifies water with a pH from 6.5 to 8.0, maximum total hardness of 3.6 mmol Ca++/liter, maximum chloride content 100 mg/liter, and maximum sulphate content 100mg/liter; interestingly the BMW TIS says "potable tap water usually fulfills these requirements". EPA reports show San Jose & NYC tap water easily fulfill these requirements. The BMW TIS expressly states additives are not helpful and are not recommended. BMW lists a score of recommended coolants in their BMW AG TIS 12.11.2007 18:55 which meet the BMW N 600 69.0 standard, some of which are BMW PN:81.22.9.407.454 1.5-liter; BMW PN:88.88.6.900.316 1 gallon; Castrol Anti-Freeze NF; BASF Glysantin Protect Plus G48, & Havoline AFC (BD04); but most of which are not easily found in the USA. Many Bimmerfesters recommend BMW coolant; however other Bimmerfesters recommend Prestone Extended Life 5/150, Valvoline Zerex G-05, and Service Pro Universal Formula. Others (e.g., chiefwej, aioros), have tested Evans NPG+ but be aware propanol entails a different maintenance philosophy than the aqueous fluids listed above and is not compatible with them. [Total Volume: 1997 I6=10.5 quarts (2.6 gallons), 1997 V8=12.0 quarts (3.0 gallons), 1998-2002 I6=11.1 quarts (2.8 gallons), 1998-2002 V8=12.7 quarts (3.2 gallons), 1997-2002 V8 with latent heater=13.5 quarts (3.4 gallons)]. Prestone says the only reason for phosphate free is the extremely high mineral content of water in Europe - and that in the USA, it's not needed. Replacement Interval: Every three years (Bentley page 020-9) or every four years (aforementioned BMW AG TIS) starting from date of manufacture (except for M-Power vehicles which have 3-year intervals). Note: Mixing BMW-recommended coolant brands is permissible; but mixing types is not permissible unless it's an emergency.
In addition, I'll be making a separate summary of the pros and cons of the Evans NPG+ solution; here are some related threads:
- Changed OEM coolant for Evans NPG+, by aioros ('99 528i)
- I did it! A zero pressure cooling system, by chiefwej (2003 540i/6 //m-tech)
- Evans NPG+ Waterless Coolant --anyone use in a v8?
- Evans Coolant. Anybody use it?

And, here's what we have for the pressure cap:
- Solution to Exploding radiators (30psi/2.0bar pressure cap -> 20psi/1.4bar)

And, for the 'typical' coolant, these are useful:
- The truth about Coolants
- What Coolant you using?
- Best coolent to use for my e39??
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:14 PM
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The philosophy here is to have a canonical thread on each of the BMW E39 "fluids" and then to summarize the results here, for our glovebox reference.

For the record, here are what I think might be the canonical references for each of the dozen fluids. (Some are arbitrary and therefore are selected to be canonical, because no other canonical thread was clearly better.)

- BMW E39 fluid summary printout for your glovebox (1)
- Fundamental BMW fluids decision-making religious camps (1) and algorithms specific to motor oil selection (1), coolant doctrine (1), & gasoline dogma (1)
- Manual transmission fluid (1) (2) & manual transmission fluid-change DIYs (1) (2) (3)
- Automatic transmission fluid (1) (2) (3) (4) & automatic transmission fluid & filter DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & torque values (1) & how to find the hidden E39 transmission fluid level dipstick (1) & why ATF gushes out of the fill hole (1) & ZF 5HP19 facts (1)
- Power steering fluid (1) (2) & power steering fluid flush DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) & volumes (1)
- Coolant, for engine, automatic transmission, power steering, and AC evaporator cooling (1) & bleeding (1) (2) (3) or refilling DIYs (1)
- Brake & clutch hydraulic fluid (1) & brake-job fluids (1) how brake bleeding DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Engine lubrication, i.e., motor oil (1) (2) (3) & gravity oil change DIY (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & vacuum extraction DIY (1) (2) (3) & drill pump DIY (1)
- Air conditioner refrigerant & PAG oil (1) & how to refill your A/C system (1) (2) (3) (4)
- Rear differential hypoid gear oil (1) & differential fluid change DIYs (1) (2) (3)
- What battery (1) & what battery maintenance (1) & battery electrolyte (1) & battery replacement DIY (1) (2) (3) & how NOT to change the battery (1) (2) (3)
- Engine fuel, i.e., gasoline & octane (1) & "The Gasoline FAQ" & top-tier gas stations (1) & Techron additives (1) & how to clean your gas gauge sending unit (1)
- Windshield washer fluid (1)
- Intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
- Tire pressure, although not technically a fluid (1)
Others:
- Recommended E39 brake job "fluids" (1)
- Best product for cleaning wheels (1)
- Window glass cleaner fluids & cloths for the inside window & windshield glass (1)
- Interior cockpit & dashboard cleaners (1)
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:17 PM
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Today, cn90 & Mudbone figured out how to replace the I6 oil pan gasket without removing anything else other than the oil pan itself:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Replaced oil pan gasket

I'm still a bit confused about the sealant to use, so, in digging up solutions, I found this BMW technical summary of "BMW Oils, Lubricants, Sealants, and Thread Lockers" that may be useful for this summary one-page-printout for your glovebox thread.

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Last edited by bluebee; 04-07-2011 at 09:53 PM.
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