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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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  #51  
Old 11-15-2010, 04:42 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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That previous 318i post is unbelievable. What on earth happened to the education system in the years since I graduated from high school?

Anyway, a great thread today confirmed, in addition to what ElwoodBlues posted, there's yet another type of mechanical tensioner that looks different than the ones pictured prior.

Since the identification of the type of tensioners is visual, I'll repost the picture here from a 2003 BMW 525i.

Notice the lack of the raised molded nut. Instead there's a sunken Torx #60 indentation. Who knew!

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Last edited by bluebee; 11-15-2010 at 04:45 PM.
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  #52  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:55 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
That previous 318i post is unbelievable. What on earth happened to the education system in the years since I graduated from high school?

Anyway, a great thread today confirmed, in addition to what ElwoodBlues posted, there's yet another type of mechanical tensioner that looks different than the ones pictured prior.

Since the identification of the type of tensioners is visual, I'll repost the picture here from a 2003 BMW 525i.

Notice the lack of the raised molded nut. Instead there's a sunken Torx #60 indentation. Who knew!

For record purposes, the picture shows the lower (AC) belt tensioner (new and original). Part #11287512758. According to realoem.com it is for vehicles manufactured "from 9/2002" that have a mechanical tensioner. This is NOT the upper accessory belt tensioner.
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  #53  
Old 12-17-2010, 01:39 AM
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Again for cross referencing purposes, here is a photo of a BMW E39 M54 hydraulic tensioner where the author advises against removing the pulley with the T50 Torx.

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  #54  
Old 12-28-2010, 09:59 AM
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Personally, I don't advise replacing a mechanical tensioner with the so-called hydraulic tensioner (which is merely a spring in a tube of oil) ... because of the myriad complications and increased cost and non-proven value.

Here's a recent post today of someone who mentions some of the drawbacks:
"Oh BTY BMW dosen't sell the pulley wheels for the spring loaded tensioners but they will gladly sell you an upgrade for hydralic tensioners at four times the price of a replacement wheel fro the spring type, oh and the special wheel for the hydralic type is extra" (sic)

I wonder if anyone recommends a hydraulic replacement kit over a simple replacement of the mechanical tensioners with like tensioners?
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  #55  
Old 01-17-2011, 02:31 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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As a cross reference, I came here to quote a diagram of the mechanical belt-drive system and was surprised I hadn't posted it here before.

So, for reference in the future, here it is (for my 2002 525i) from the threads:
- One users' example of total electrical failure (AAA towed away) alternator repair (1) (2)
- Video of cold idle engine squeal (1)
- Recommended parts list for a complete belt drive system overhaul (1)
etc.

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  #56  
Old 01-19-2011, 12:33 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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There was a strange post this week where the owner had half of a hydraulic tensioner hanging there ... without the other parts ... so we suspected the previous owner could have started a conversion of mechanical to hydraulic but left it undone ... and didn't add the compressor belt back (if you can believe that).

Anyway, in looking up help for that person, I had to go again to the mechanical to hydraulic conversion kit parts thread and just in case that thread disappears, here are the photos from that thread:

- Changing from Mechanical tensioner to Hydraulic tensioner for your serpentine belt drive

Here is the Hydraulic tensioner from realoem that you will need to buy:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...90&hg=11&fg=18

Here is the mechanical tensioner from realoem note: This is just a comparison so dont buy this one)
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...05&hg=11&fg=18

And, here is a conversion kit from mechanical to hydraulic (although not for the E39) from that thread:
- autohauz mechanical to hydraulic tensioner conversion kit

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  #57  
Old 01-19-2011, 12:46 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Here are pictures of these respective links from that reference thread:
Quote:
*******>********>*******>********>*******>********>*******>********>
Here is the Hydraulic tensioner from realoem that you will need to buy:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...90&hg=11&fg=18

Here is the mechanical tensioner from realoem note: This is just a comparison so dont buy this one)
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...05&hg=11&fg=18


*******>********>*******>********>*******>********>*******>********>
No.DescriptionSupplementQty From Up To Part NumberPriceNotes
iOnly applies to
hydraulic belt tensioner


01RIBBED V-BELT6PK X 15381

11281706545$39.18
02Base plate
1

11281726774$67.76
03Bush
1

11281748718$8.39
04Pitman arm
1

11281726773$61.13
05NEEDLE SLEEVE
2

12311713153$18.45
06ADJUSTING PULLEY
1

11281748131$45.97
07Fillister-head screwM10X251
07/200707119920150
ENDED
07Fillister-head screwM10X251

07129905534$1.50
08Hydraulic belt tensioner
1

11281717188$112.15
09Hex boltM8X401

07119901161
ENDED
09Hex boltM8X40-ZNNIV SI1

07119905549$1.05
10Hex boltM8X501

07119912652
ENDED
10Hex boltM8X501

07119904533$2.84
11Hex boltM8X1051

07119901785
ENDED
11Hex boltM8X1051

07119904532$1.78
12Flat washer
3

11281440369
ENDED
13Hex boltM8X35-8.8-ZNS1

07119913111
ENDED
14WAVE WASHERB81

07119932121
ENDED
15Deflection pulley
1
07/200711281748130
ENDED
15Deflection pulley
1

11287841228$46.81
16Hex boltM10X1501

07119904677$3.82
17PROTECTION CAP
1

11281730349$2.37
18PROTECTION CAP ADJUSTING PULLEY
1

11281727159$2.37
19PROTECTION CAP
1

12311713143$0.42
20Mudguard
1

11281730532$2.37
21Complete hydraulic belt tensioner
1

11281722789
ENDED
21Complete hydraulic belt tensioner
1

11287838797$69.64





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  #58  
Old 01-20-2011, 08:30 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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For those of you who have curious mind, you may want to read the following article discussing the pros and cons of mechanical vs hydraulic tensioners.

Those of you with engineering background will like this article. Also, for those who want to read about Hydraulic Tensioner: it is basically like a car suspension with a Spring + Strut (to absorb sudden shock).

In the Hydraulic Tensioner, the Spring maintains the proper tension. The hydraulic oil works like a Strut to absorb sudden changes in TB tension.

Here is a very good link to read on how Hydraulic Tensioner works.
I also uploaded this pdf file to this forum in case they delete the pdf from their website in the future!
See attachment below for pdf.

http://www.gates.com/europe/file_sav...Tensioners.pdf

I am attaching a picture for a quick read:

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  #59  
Old 02-06-2011, 10:23 PM
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For the cross linking record, dcotti wrote up his hindsight recommendations over here for what he'd do differently the next time he replaces his 2003 tensioners and belts.
- Belts / Tensioner s/ Idler Pulley Replacement

Notice that he had two mechanical tensioners, one of which was the TORX and the other the HEX pry point.

It seems that only the 2003 is so afflicted with the torx pry point.

Also dcotti described what he'd remove next time he contemplates the same job.

Last edited by bluebee; 02-26-2011 at 11:12 AM.
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  #60  
Old 02-23-2011, 10:24 PM
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For the record, G. P. Burdell, over here, kindly provided a pointer to the following BMW alternator-belt tensioner retrofit service bulletin:

Quote:
Originally Posted by G. P. Burdell View Post
There's a BMW service bulletin (SI B 11 04 03) that recommends replacement of noisy mechanical tensioners with hydraulic tensioners. The bulletin applies to most BMW models equipped with the M54 engine.
Thanks to Nando & Starless, attached below is a copy of that Technical Service Information Bulletin (I created the SIB JPEGs for ease of viewing).

Note the following BMW SI B 11 04 03 details:
  • It applies only to the upper tensioner on the M54 engine (alternator belt)
  • It applies only when a customer complains of noise
  • It requires a "kit" to allow switching from 2 bolts (mechanical) to 3 bolts (hydraulic)
    • Upper bolt: BMW PN 07 11 9 901 785
    • Lower bolt: BMW PN 07 11 9 912 652
    • Left side bolt: BMW PN 07 11 9 913 111


The question I would have is, since most cases of noise are in the bearings, not in the spring, what is in a so-called hydraulic tensioner that would cause it to be less noisy than a mechanical tensioner?

Note what cn90 said: Both are mechanical; one is a spring in oil, the other doesn't have oil ... but noise is usually from the bearings, which, presumably, both have.

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File Type: pdf BMW_July_2005_E39_SIB_110403_mechanical_to_hydraulic_tensioners.pdf (113.7 KB, 582 views)

Last edited by bluebee; 02-25-2011 at 06:11 PM.
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  #61  
Old 02-25-2011, 05:22 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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The Gates technical bulletin posted by cn90 states that hydraulic tensioners are "mainly used on applications with high loads and/or angular vibrations, where a mechanical automatic tensioner can not provide sufficient damping or tensioner movement." It may be that the mechanical tensioner, while less expensive for BMW to install at the factory, wears its pulley bearings out faster and becomes noisy because it's less capable of handling the loads of the belt drive system compared to the hydraulic tensioner.

Last edited by G. P. Burdell; 02-25-2011 at 05:25 PM.
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  #62  
Old 02-26-2011, 11:58 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G. P. Burdell View Post
It may be that the mechanical tensioner ...wears its pulley bearings out faster ... because it's less capable of handling the loads ...
This is enlightening and interesting.

I copied your response over to this specific thread I opened on the topic:
- WHY would a hydraulic belt tensioner be any quieter than a mechanical belt tensioner?

Where the three related questions are asked:
  1. Is the bearing loading any different between hydraulic & mechanical tensioners?
  2. Are the bearings themselves any different between hydraulic & mechanical tensioners?
  3. Is the problem only related to the alternator tensioner or does it also apply to the AC belt tensioner?
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  #63  
Old 02-26-2011, 12:04 PM
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While BMW won't sell you "just" the pulley for the mechanical tensioners, apparently the pulley "can" be bought separately.

At least it says so in this E46 reference:
- a/c belt tensioner pulley

And, in this E39 reference:
- Squeak




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Last edited by bluebee; 02-26-2011 at 12:19 PM.
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  #64  
Old 02-28-2011, 06:22 PM
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For the record, another user today reported you can replace "just" the pulley on the mechanical tensioners:
- Belts / Tensioner s/ Idler Pulley Replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by fiat84 View Post
Appears you can replace only the pulley separately on both the mechanical AC assembly and mechanical tensioner assembly, both use the same pulley. Before finding this out had replaced my entire tensioner assembly with an Ina brand and plan on doing the AC assembly later in the spring. Came across a E46 DIY where they only replaced the mechanical pulley's as the assembly was still in great shape. http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=735884

Gates part #38018 brand at Napa in Canada $21.09 each heard good things about Gates belts, etc so will buy this one local.
GoodYear #49024 pulley $15.35 at partsource.ca http://74.208.162.181/part-source.ca...ulleys&mode=PA
Dayco #89133 Bumper To Bumper Canada $30.71 - at Autozone as Duralast #231133, both manufactured by Ina

Note the mechanical pulley is different from the hydrolic pulley.
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  #65  
Old 02-28-2011, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayee_2003 View Post
Hmm. I've had a few cars with this series of engine. They all had the mechanical tensioner. Guess I buy outside the curve.
this
I have 2001 and 2003 and both have mechanical tensioner
I believe all M54 has mechanical tensioners
both have been replaced to the same mechanical on 80k miles
0 issue, will last another 80k

Last edited by champaign777; 02-28-2011 at 07:21 PM.
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  #66  
Old 03-07-2011, 04:34 PM
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Together, we're a team (alone we're nothing) ...

For the record, many people (including me at first) are confused whether to twist on the mechanical tensioner pulley centerbolt or to leverage on the raised knob (or sunken Torx in the 2003 E39) on the side of the tensioner.

To make matters worse, folks with the hydraulic pulleys often unintentionally mislead we mechanical tensioner people by talking about the pulley Torx centerbolt (which, unless you're replacing 'just' the pulley, which most of us do not do, then it buys you nothing to loosen the pulley centerbolt on the mechanical tensioner).

Anyway, the topic came up, again today, over here:
- Serpentine Belt Replacement

To which WagonTheDog posted a wonderfully succinct picture that I reproduce here for all to benefit:

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  #67  
Old 03-07-2011, 05:13 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Thanks for for the cross-reference, BB.
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  #68  
Old 04-05-2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Thanks for for the cross-reference, BB.
Thanks for noticing.

For every thread I ask a question on, I go to great pains to ensure there is a complete & comprehensive answer, which just gets better and better (over time), always aiming toward the goal (but never reaching) of having every single possible question answered. That takes a LOT of cross links because you want one place to find the answer, even if the answer is scattered all over the place.

The worst thing, to me, is when someone asks a common question, and the respondents are so jaded that the OP gets no response, or jokes, or half answers. Even worse, as it seems to have happened even in this thread, well-meaning people give WRONG answers.

In the end, everyone who asks this question finds out the right answer (if by no other reason than by trial and (expensive) error) ... so it's just wrong for them, once they find the answer, to not edify the rest of the team.

By way of example of how the process 'can' work when it's well honed, today someone asked the simple question:
- Belt tensioner hydraulic or mechanic ?

We pointed them here! And, that makes me feel good that the OP in that case has a ready-made answer, a one-stop-shopping combination of all our collective tribal experiences.

The OP's job, now, is to improve our collective knowledge ... any way he can (as we're always improving our tribal answers).
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  #69  
Old 05-06-2011, 02:39 PM
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Today, fiat84 reported anecdotal experience with changing 'just' the mechanical tensioner pulley in:
- Belts / Tensioner s/ Idler Pulley Replacement

Quote:
UPDATE: Changed the AC pulley only with a Gates #38018 and a few weeks later it made an intermittent rattling grinding sound. Got loud when the engine ran for awhile so it DOES NOT appear to match factory specs. Put the old factory pulley back on which is still in great condition and no more rattling. Maybe try the Dayco #89133 since it is made by Ina. Had recently changed the AC belt a month before.
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  #70  
Old 07-27-2011, 09:43 AM
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Today, someone struggled with the wrong bolt attempting to remove a hydraulic tensioner:
- Need help changing my belt - problem with hydraulic tensioner

Luckily, folks set him straight with nicely edited pictures, which I reproduce below for the edification of those who need to know.

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  #71  
Old 08-22-2011, 11:30 AM
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For the record, here is a nice picture of the adjustment arc of the V8 hydraulic tensioner today:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > AC tensioner installation

NOTE: The I6 hydraulic tensioners do not have this adjustment arc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerteck View Post
  • I6 E39 mechanical tensioners (no adjustment necessary nor possible)
  • I6 E39 hydraulic tensioners (no adjustment necessary nor possible)
  • V8 E39 mechanical tensioners (no adjustment necessary nor possible)
  • V8 E39 hydraulic tensioners (no adjustment necessary component removal facilitated via the bolted arc)


In addition, cn90 referenced a nice DIY:
- BMW 740il Serpentine Belt

Quote:
*******>********>*******>********>*******>********>
Q.How do I go about changing the Serpentine Belt and, if necessary, the A/C belt on my 2000 BMW 740iL?

A. First thing you have to do is take off the fan and fan coupling.

Layout of Serpentine Belt
Then loosen nuts (1) and (2), loosen and remove the Serpentine Belt.

Use hex head (1) to preload adjusting plate to end of long bore (2) and tighten nuts (3). Installation:
Fit Serpentine Belt and check it is correctly located on pulleys.

The A/C belt is as easy as it looks. Just loosen the tensioner and replace the belt.

See also:
- How to tell if you have mechanical or hydraulic belt tensioners (1) & how to switch from mechanical to hydraulic (1) and what is the difference between the two types (1) (2) & how to rebuild your hydraulic tensioners (1)

Last edited by bluebee; 08-22-2011 at 10:59 PM.
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  #72  
Old 09-14-2011, 10:45 PM
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, yet another person (this time on an E46 M54 engine) posted an idler roller that simply fell off the centerbolt, unbeknownst to the owner:
- E46 (1999 - 2006) > Alternator replacement with deflection pulley surprise.



Other related threads show why the idler roller is replaced along with the belts & tensioners:

E46 (1999 - 2006) > Another Possibility of a P00128


- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Mechanical Fan Exploded! Is another one
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-14-2011 at 11:15 PM.
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  #73  
Old 10-03-2011, 07:16 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, a side discussion of which tensioners are adjustable went on today over here ...
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Battery light on..

Quote:
Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
I'm not sure how the I6 is set up...but on the V8 (M62/M62TU) you tighten the tensioner by using 2 sockets, or 2 wrenches, or a combination of the both. You need a 17mm socket or wrench and a 13mm socket or wrench.

When the 13mm bolt is loosened (it's the one that goes thru the slotted part that allows for movement to loosen or tighten)...you place a 17mm socket or wrench on the 17mm bolt (on the right) and turn/push it counter clocwise. This puts tension on the belt/pulley...while turning/pushing the wrench on this 17mm bolt....you tighten the 13mm bolt preferably with a socket wrench.

This is how you put tension on the pulley for the V8. For those that have the I6...is it the same type of set-up?


(image by Arbysnight from BimmerBoard)



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

(#8 = the 13mm bolt & #9 = the 17mm bolt in the image above)

Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
Best I can tell, it's not adjustable on the i6 cars.
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  #74  
Old 10-30-2011, 10:37 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, yet another 540i owner was confused today about the 'ability' to adjust belt tension on the hydraulic tensioners with the arc:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Alternator Swap, Loose Belt, Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by russelltickle View Post
I put in a new alternator today and need help getting the serpentine belt tight. The Bentley says "turn hex clockwise" to pretension the belt, then tighten the idler arm bolts. I don't know what that means. The tensioner pulleys have a 45 torx bolt if that helps. I also have a tensioner pulley to the lower right of the alternator that doesn't show up in the Bentley or any DIY's I've seen.
How do I get the belt tight on an '02 540? It's on, but squeals at me. I also broke a fan blade, broke a pop pin on the fan shroud, and caused an oil leak by the oil filter housing. But the alternator works!
Here are the links I referred him to for details:
- How to tell if you have mechanical or hydraulic belt tensioners (1) & how to switch from mechanical to hydraulic (1) and what is the difference between the two types (1) (2) & how to rebuild your hydraulic tensioners (1) & the answer to the question of adjusting the 540i hydraulic tensioners' belt tension (1) (2)
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  #75  
Old 03-20-2012, 09:47 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the cross-linked record, the question of how to tell, hydraulic vs mechanical, came up again today:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Cooling system! be safe than sorry?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colombianoe39 View Post
Still not sure in regards to Belt tensioner Mechanical Type or hydraulic?
Luckily, I think 'this' thread has all that anyone would need to answer that question!
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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