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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 12-18-2010, 03:13 PM
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driver seat and wheel adjustment not working

Both of these failed at the same time. Is this a fuse issue (he asked hopefully) or more complicated?
Clearly a failed seat motor would not affect the steering wheel, right? Passenger seat works fine.
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  #2  
Old 12-18-2010, 03:22 PM
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Check your electrical connection to the large rectangular seat switch on the driver's seat. That switch affects steering wheel, driver's seat, side view mirrors, and the [123] seat memory buttons.


(if the plastic seat cover around the base of your seat is loose on either end (like in Bluebee's pic below)


(...it can cause the electrical harness to break or work itself loose (like in Bluebee's second pic below)


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Last edited by QSilver7; 12-18-2010 at 09:01 PM.
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2010, 03:43 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Either seat switch as QSilver7 mentioned or...

Fuse #13.
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  #4  
Old 12-18-2010, 04:13 PM
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Hey, I recognize that seat panel!
- E39 seat cover panel DIY:

To the OP, in the bestlinks thread, are these related links:
SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER BREAK OFF: seat covers that don't protect switches for both the steering wheel tilt & driver's seat control (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
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  #5  
Old 12-18-2010, 04:31 PM
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As a matter of fact that trim piece is loose so that may be it. Will chk tomorrow. Thanks all!!
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  #6  
Old 12-18-2010, 06:01 PM
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Well I checked fuses 13 and 21 and both are good. Rats. I guess tomorrow I get to take the plastic seat cover apart. What's odd is that it's not hanging off that much, only the piece secured by the front Torx is broken, so it's loose there, but not hanging off like the picture. Also the side mirror adjustment works for both mirrors. Maybe the connector just wiggled its way loose or something.
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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  #7  
Old 12-18-2010, 09:16 PM
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When the cover is loose (it could be either end)...as you enter and exit the vehicle...it can put strain on the electrical harness since it sticks off the back side of the switch. And if the plastic "neck" on the switch breaks off (see Bluebee's pics above which broke just like the one below) at an angle...the electrcial harness can wiggle itself out...many times at an angle. So you can get odd gremlins where only the seat & steering wheel cease to move.

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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
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91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg
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  #8  
Old 12-19-2010, 09:14 AM
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Took the plastic cover off (WITHOUT breaking the plastic rivets . . . YES!) and indeed you all were right, the switch had just worked its way loose. The cause of all this was that the metal tab in the seat cover under the front of the seat was broken, so the allen screw was not holding i in place. I solved this by gluing a plastic grommet in there and then putting the screw through that. Screwed in, it puts enough pressure on the broken section to told it in place.

Amazing the havoc such a minor thing can cause. One thing I don't really get is the white locking tab on the plug. It does not really seem to lock the switch in place. I shoved in back in there but it may work it's way loose again.

PITA.
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  #9  
Old 12-19-2010, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh P. View Post
...Amazing the havoc such a minor thing can cause. One thing I don't really get is the white locking tab on the plug. It does not really seem to lock the switch in place. I shoved in back in there but it may work it's way loose again.

PITA.
Cool...glad it wasn't something worse.

About that white locking lever. If the plastic "neck" on the switch isn't broken off AND the hinges on the lever isn't broken...it should lock in place once it is pushed behind the black tab that must be pressed inward to allow the white lever to move. As long as the white lever can be secured, it prevents the electrical harness from moving. But if the lever's hinges are broken...or if the lever is totally missing & the switch's neck is broken off (see Bluebee's pic below for both of those conditions)...then the harness can slip out again if the cover isn't secured to the seat.

Intact (white) lever & tab...plus intact "neck" on switch:


Broken (white) lever + broken "neck" on switch (image by Bluebee):

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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 12-19-2010 at 09:42 AM.
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  #10  
Old 12-19-2010, 04:30 PM
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Thanks Q, your posts have been very helpful.

There was some white switch left but it might have been missing a small section. Should have taken a photo but didn't. Hopefully the seat cover will stay in place so I don't have to get in there again. I just wish they used screws (even plastic ones) instead of those damn rivets for holding things in place. Porb allows them to save half a cent here and there but they are really annoying when anything needs to come apart.
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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  #11  
Old 12-19-2010, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh P. View Post
I solved this by gluing a plastic grommet in there and then putting the screw through that.
Please post a picture so we all learn and the next person benefits!
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Old 12-19-2010, 06:07 PM
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Ooops. Never mind. I saw where you said "should have taken a picture".

Too late now.

Next time, whenever you do a DIY job, bring a camera as part of the essential toolkit!
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  #13  
Old 01-07-2011, 04:04 AM
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Looks like this problem has come back...the plastic locking lever is broken. Is there a way to keep the harness from coming out---short of replacing the whole receptacle? Wedge the harness in there or something?
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2001 530 Steel Blue Metallic, purchased Dec 03
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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  #14  
Old 01-07-2011, 05:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh P. View Post
Is there a way to keep the harness from coming out-
There are a few solutions in the threads we mentioned.
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2011, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
There are a few solutions in the threads we mentioned.
Those threads show various options like ordering replacement switches and using epoxy to glue the female side of the connector back together. However, I did not see anything on a DIY to replace the locking lever (the white piece that is broken in my case) that is basically the cause of the male end coming loose (or if not the cause, then at least the piece that holds it in). Even if one fixes or replaces the black female side, the white locking section looks to be integral to the male end. So, short or buying a new connector, is there a permanent fix?

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2001 530 Steel Blue Metallic, purchased Dec 03
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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  #16  
Old 01-07-2011, 08:28 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Damn, same thing just happened to me. Out driving and enjoying this car yesterday, dropped by a Petsmart and when I came out, the steering and seats would not budge. Had to drive home with the st. wheel up high, felt like an old pickup truck, wanted to reach over for a CB and start yakking.

Inspection this morning. I quickly found that the cover was broken at the torx-screw mount underneath the rear edge of the driver seat corner. The module switch was loose and that white lockpiece looks half-unlocked. Cursory fiddling with the connector gave power back to all the switches....

Have to take the cover off and figure something out. Since the broken corner is out of sight, so to speak, I might just "weld" (ABS glue) a piece of black ABS sheet over/under it, drill a new hole, and keep using it until it breaks again. I'm not sure how my fat azz managed to break that corner; more than likely I did it when I was leaning in on the cover, trying to get up into the driver floorwell and pull the pedal panel when working on my clutch switch recently.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:48 AM
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I know, it is a REALLY poor design. When I have some time this wknd (in my very cold garage) I am going to remove the entire plastic cover piece and figure out a way to keep the damn connector in there. Even a tight rubber band or a zip tie to keep it from coming loose might work.
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2001 530 Steel Blue Metallic, purchased Dec 03
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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Old 01-07-2011, 10:19 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Having a look again. The two large switch knobs pulled straight out quite readily but my comfort seats also have that little jog-wheel dial in them for lumbar support (I think). It has never worked very well and now seems not to have any juice at all. I want to get the cover off but the two rear rivets are somewhat hard to get to (and out) and I suspect will be even harder to get back in, unless I remove the entire seat. Any gotchas waiting if I elect to pull the seat out? Bentley has a warning about pyrotechnic seat-belt tensioners but I don't see how they're involved.
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:09 PM
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Don't take the seat out, that's overkill. The rivets are a pain but you can get them out. There's one at the front edge like by your left thigh and one about halfway back--and maybe one in the very back I forget. I used a wide flat-blade screw driver to CAREFULLY pry the edge down, working in different places, then they just pull out. there are two hex screws, one in front and one accessible from the top.You have to recline the seat back to get at it...which, of course, you cannot really do because there's no power to the buttons! That's what's known as a Catch-22 in Munich.

Check out the links above they have some good pix.
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2001 530 Steel Blue Metallic, purchased Dec 03
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

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Old 01-07-2011, 12:51 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh P. View Post
Don't take the seat out, that's overkill. The rivets are a pain but you can get them out. There's one at the front edge like by your left thigh and one about halfway back--and maybe one in the very back I forget. I used a wide flat-blade screw driver to CAREFULLY pry the edge down, working in different places, then they just pull out. there are two hex screws, one in front and one accessible from the top.You have to recline the seat back to get at it...which, of course, you cannot really do because there's no power to the buttons! That's what's known as a Catch-22 in Munich.

Check out the links above they have some good pix.
Yep, changed my mind. I'll deal with it when I've bought a replacement cover. The rear torx-screw tab was completely broken off. I reattached the connector to the switch module and succeeded in locking it. So, my Plan B now is to get the seat/steering wheel where I want them, and pull fuse 13. I assume I have to pull the fuse while the ignition is on.
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:56 PM
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I had the same issue, in fact the pictures of the broken control unit looks like my car's. I needed to replace the entire plastic side peace (the front bracket was broken). BMW sells them in sets for around $100 bucks, when I replaced this I did NOT replace the broken controller, instead I used one drop of super glue, just enough to hold but not enough to be permanent, it has lasted for over 6 months so far. Be careful with the rivets, they are evil. Last thing, the screws that hold that panel to the seat are not correct from BMW, 2 different dealers provided the same wrong screws, be careful you don't lose them.

Last edited by berlinerdave; 01-07-2011 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:17 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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I noticed that the wired cable to the switch module was ziptied. Did BMW do that? Guess they did but made me wonder whether this might be an old repair.....
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:12 PM
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Sounds related, but not worth it's own thread

I'm getting something similar -- Josh can I ride on this thread?

I've got my steering wheel set so it lowers when car is started, then rises when key is removed to give more room to exit. But sometimes, the steering wheel stops mid-way when i remove key. Other times, it continues all the way up.

No issues with seat. Any thoughts, Q or Blue?
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