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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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  #51  
Old 12-14-2011, 05:09 PM
dEN1 dEN1 is offline
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Hello Folks.
I am from England U.K. and I am amazed at the detail that has gone into this thread!!!...A big Thanks!!
I ham having the SAME PROBLEMS as you people here!
I have a 2002 e39 3.0i auto and the level indicator stick in mine has also disappeared.
I have a new expansion tank being delivered & I will probably have to get the bottom sensor as well

Could anybody please tell me WHY??? BMW didn't fit a CLEAR/OPAQUE tank??

Also...How do I detach the 2 bottom rubber tubes...will I need new circlips//

Thanks...My 1st post Dennis.!
Southampton, Hampshire, England U.K.
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  #52  
Old 12-14-2011, 05:26 PM
Blight67 Blight67 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i Sport Pkg
Detaching the 2 bottom rubber tubes is similar to the upper / lower radiator hoses. There is a metal clip that needs to be pulled back (not removed, but it's ok if it does fall off) to unlock the hose connector. Once unlocked, it's just a matter of gently working the hose off.
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  #53  
Old 12-14-2011, 05:41 PM
dEN1 dEN1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blight67 View Post
Detaching the 2 bottom rubber tubes is similar to the upper / lower radiator hoses. There is a metal clip that needs to be pulled back (not removed, but it's OK if it does fall off) to unlock the hose connector. Once unlocked, it's just a matter of gently working the hose off.
Thanks Very much for the reply!!
I have just looked at my car (1:36am night) and the cable for the sensor is missing ??
I don't know if there is something sinister from the previous owner about this (Loss of coolant??) or just not wanting to replace the sensor/tank.
Would any body happen to know where the sensor cable/wires go to??

Thanks Dennis.!
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  #54  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:06 AM
dEN1 dEN1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dEN1 View Post
Thanks Very much for the reply!!
I have just looked at my car (1:36am night) and the cable for the sensor is missing ??
I don't know if there is something sinister from the previous owner about this (Loss of coolant??) or just not wanting to replace the sensor/tank.
Would any body happen to know where the sensor cable/wires go to??

Thanks Dennis.!
Update........I phoned the BMW main dealer who used to service the car & it appears the car never had a expansion tank sensor fitted in the first place!!
Apparently..not all BMW had them...they were an optional extra!!
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  #55  
Old 03-15-2012, 06:44 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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To crosslink for the convenience of others, this somewhat related pictorial failed-expansion tank thread was opened recently:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 97 528i Expansion Tank questions w pics
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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.
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  #56  
Old 08-26-2012, 03:12 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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RDL posted an autopsy photo of his bleed screw, which failed up the middle!
-> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Leaking Bleed Screw
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
I've seen posts mentioning broken and leaking bleed screws, but had always assumed that the heads had broken &/or leaked around the O-ring under the screw's head. I'm posting my experience so that others may check before replacing an expansion tank.

I popped the hood this morning to check oil level and found the dreaded white anti-freeze spatter around the expansion tank. There was also liquid coolant on the top ledge/seam of the tank. The bleed screw was dry with no visible defect. I was sure I had a cracked tank.

To make a long story short, I found the fault was the bleed screw leaking through the centre; not past the O-ring seal and not the tank. But, liquid would bubble up from the bottom of the large X in the screw head when the engine was running and up to normal temp, i.e. pressure. The screw has a crack through the centre although for the life of me I can't find it, even with a jeweler's loupe and a dental pick under a bright light.

Anyway, I replaced the screw for a few dollars & no more leak after a 30 minute drive.

The red arrow indicates the leak. The blue arrow points to the seam with standing liquid. There was liquid around the entire perimeter of the tank. You can also see some of the white spatter deposits on the engine and tank.
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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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  #57  
Old 09-25-2012, 05:02 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I'm beginning to wonder about Behr ... considering this recent Fudman quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman
"Don't buy an expansion tank other than the dealer-supplied Behr!". Not a supplier Behr. A dealer Behr."
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Well, it's 'my' turn again!

I noticed a puddle on my driveway today ...


So I started looking for the telltale white spots:

And, watching for a while, I found the culprit!


Note: I last replaced my Behr expansion tank in 2010 as noted by the markings on the side.
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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

Last edited by bluebee; 09-27-2012 at 12:09 PM.
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  #58  
Old 03-12-2013, 10:49 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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This was posted today which might help others:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Runner303 View Post
Hello everyone,

In light of the recent discussions on cooling system leaks, pressure, 1.2 bar caps etc. I'm digging up an old thread again to share some findings with my replacement Behr rad and how I fixed my rad based on something I'd read on here.

Was working out some coolant leak issues last June. Replaced water pump and rad hoses up front. Found another leak at the driver's side end tank on the rad, at the bottom. A forum search quickly revealed this to be an issue with replacement Behr rads made in South Africa, as mine indeed was back in 2008.

Here is the leak:



I'd read on here someone's theory that these rads were fine but not crimped quite tight enough, like a process flaw where they needed to turn up the machine a little. So I grabbed my trusty Channel Locks...



... and gave the end tank a little extra squeeze, crimp by crimp around its perimeter - ever so gently now! I don't think the aluminum will take much 'working' before it fatigues and weakens.



Grabbed my camera part way through the job and snapped this pic showing "before" and "after". You see how the gap between the aluminum "tab" and the plastic tank is reduced.


In full disclosure, be advised that I switched to Evans NPG+ at the same time as doing this repair. Regardless, it's been 9 months & ~3,000 miles and a once-leaky rad is now clean and dry. I bet this would benefit an aqueous solutioned car as well.

JP
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__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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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  #59  
Old 03-27-2013, 12:19 PM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Here I've placed the float in the "too full" position.
Notice also that there is an incomplete bulkhead on the other half of the expansion tank (much as was seen in the Titanic's six front watertight bulkheads which were only watertight horizontally, not vertically).
At the moment, I surmise this thin plastic bulkhead (incomplete at the top) apparently separates the overflow operation of the expansion tank with the level-sensing operation.


In my tentative summary, I assume the following operational explanation (which I invite others to help flesh out in detail).

Surmised operation:
- The expansion tank has at least three different operations, namely visual level sensing, electrical level sensing, and overflow operation (if there are more, let me know).

- The electrical level sensing is apparently triggered when a float containing a slightly magnetic disc with a hole in the center, envelopes the tip of the electrical sensor.
This apparently triggers the "low coolant" warning.

- That same float also contains a loosely glued on bobber stick, which indicates visually the coolant level. A typical failure is for that stick to disengage from its float. This disables visual level sensing; but it does not seem to have any effect on electrical sensing unless the stick itself causes the float to hang up in operation.

- In practice, it is very difficult to remove an old expansion tank overflow hose clamp without breaking the nipple, even though that expansion tank nipple is metal reinforced against that happenstance.
If you're going to remove the expansion tank hose, you may as well assume you're going to replace the expansion tank.
I recently have checked my Reservoir, and while looking inside, I noticed that the plastic wall for the overflow section within the reservoir was cracked vertically.

I wonder if the crack prevents the Reservoir to function correctly...?
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Last edited by Jason5driver; 03-27-2013 at 01:18 PM.
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  #60  
Old 03-27-2013, 12:47 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
I wonder if the crack prevents the Reservoir to function correctly...?
To date, NOBODY has been able (to my knowledge) to explain HOW that second black section works, in the expansion tank (mine is a 2002 M54).

However, it does have a bunch of holes in it, so, I would think (guessing here) that a crack would not be meaningful from the standpoint of leaking fluid from one chamber to another.

However, just the fact that a crack exists in the bulkhead would be cause for concern, in that I would wonder HOW it got there.

Interestingly, you'll notice MINE (below) has a crack in the black bulkhead; but I have no idea if I caused that crack when I cut it open.
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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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  #61  
Old 03-27-2013, 01:13 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the crosslinked record, JimLev kindly posted an expansion tank autopsy here:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 540 Expansion Tank issue. Bluebee U were looking for this info

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
I posted this same info over on Roadfly, unless you have an account there you can't view the pics.

540 Expansion tank problem and dissection

A few weeks ago I helped a friend change his lower oil pan gasket on his 2000 540ia.
He mentioned that when driving on the highway and then needing to slow down because of traffic the heat would sometimes go cold and the temp gauge would start to rise. Throwing the car into neutral and giving it gas would bring the temp gauge back down and the heat would return.
After the oil pan gasket job was done I took the cap off the expansion tank. Looking inside the level didn't look right.
The left side of the tank was almost empty, it should be 1/2 full. This is the section that fills the waterpump/engine.
The section of the tank that the stick is in was full to the top part that the stick traverses thru. Didn't look right to me.
We dumped more coolant in even though the stick showed it was overfilled.
He ordered a new expansion tank. The previous tank was installed in '08 and was not an OEM BMW tank.
Last Sat. we installed the new tank and all is well.
We then cut the tank open to find out what the problem was. This tank seems way more complicated than it needs to be...must be the German way of doing things?
There are 4 sections inside the tank which should all be connected to each other thru openings in the lower wall partitions.
3 of them were connected, but the important section wasn't.
If you purchase a non-BMW tank pour a little water into the tank before you install it. It should run out the bottom hose connection that goes to the waterpump.
Anyone ever run into this problem before?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Thanks JimLev, for the expansion tank autopsy, and, for the picture of the passageway that was never cut out at the factory.
This information can be helpful for this thread:
- Does anyone have a BMW description of HOW the E39 M54 expansion tank actually works?

So that this information is found easily in the future, I will cross reference this thread to the existing expansion tank autopsy threads - so that we can get a better handle on how the thing works.
- Behr radiator and Behr expansion (aka surge) tank autopsy (1) (2) & request for another autopsy to understand the function of that second (black) chamber & pinned float (1)

It would be nice if someone can explain with an exploded picture HOW the expansion tanks works (at least the flow of fluid, with arrows going in and out).

I, for one, still don't understand at all how the "black" section works!
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__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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

Last edited by bluebee; 03-27-2013 at 01:24 PM.
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  #62  
Old 03-27-2013, 01:20 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the crosslinked record, JimLev kindly posted an expansion tank autopsy here:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 540 Expansion Tank issue. Bluebee U were looking for this info

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
I posted this same info over on Roadfly, unless you have an account there you can't view the pics.

540 Expansion tank problem and dissection

A few weeks ago I helped a friend change his lower oil pan gasket on his 2000 540ia.
He mentioned that when driving on the highway and then needing to slow down because of traffic the heat would sometimes go cold and the temp gauge would start to rise. Throwing the car into neutral and giving it gas would bring the temp gauge back down and the heat would return.
After the oil pan gasket job was done I took the cap off the expansion tank. Looking inside the level didn't look right.
The left side of the tank was almost empty, it should be 1/2 full. This is the section that fills the waterpump/engine.
The section of the tank that the stick is in was full to the top part that the stick traverses thru. Didn't look right to me.
We dumped more coolant in even though the stick showed it was overfilled.
He ordered a new expansion tank. The previous tank was installed in '08 and was not an OEM BMW tank.
Last Sat. we installed the new tank and all is well.
We then cut the tank open to find out what the problem was. This tank seems way more complicated than it needs to be...must be the German way of doing things?
There are 4 sections inside the tank which should all be connected to each other thru openings in the lower wall partitions.
3 of them were connected, but the important section wasn't.
If you purchase a non-BMW tank pour a little water into the tank before you install it. It should run out the bottom hose connection that goes to the waterpump.
Anyone ever run into this problem before?

----

----

----

----

----

----
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Thanks JimLev, for the expansion tank autopsy, and, for the picture of the passageway that was never cut out at the factory.
This information can be helpful for this thread:
- Does anyone have a BMW description of HOW the E39 M54 expansion tank actually works?

So that this information is found easily in the future, I will cross reference this thread to the existing expansion tank autopsy threads - so that we can get a better handle on how the thing works.
- Behr radiator and Behr expansion (aka surge) tank autopsy (1) (2) & request for another autopsy to understand the function of that second (black) chamber & pinned float (1)

It would be nice if someone can explain with an exploded picture HOW the expansion tanks works (at least the flow of fluid, with arrows going in and out).

I, for one, still don't understand at all how the "black" section works!
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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

Last edited by bluebee; 03-27-2013 at 01:23 PM.
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  #63  
Old 03-27-2013, 01:27 PM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
To date, NOBODY has been able (to my knowledge) to explain HOW that second black section works, in the expansion tank (mine is a 2002 M54).

However, it does have a bunch of holes in it, so, I would think (guessing here) that a crack would not be meaningful from the standpoint of leaking fluid from one chamber to another.

However, just the fact that a crack exists in the bulkhead would be cause for concern, in that I would wonder HOW it got there.

Interestingly, you'll notice MINE (below) has a crack in the black bulkhead; but I have no idea if I caused that crack when I cut it open.
Right.
Regardless, I still plan on replacing the Reservoir.

I think the vertical crack was caused when I accidentally dropped the reservoir when working/ replacing my power steering system...
See your modified picture, showing where the crack is on my Reservoir (running vertically, almost identical to the line shown on your reservoir):
Click image for larger version

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Last edited by Jason5driver; 03-27-2013 at 01:28 PM.
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  #64  
Old 03-27-2013, 03:47 PM
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dms540i dms540i is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 540iA
I sure hope a BMW engineer reads these posts!
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BMWCCA#401441
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  #65  
Old 12-19-2013, 04:01 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the record, folks in this thread are trying to ascertain, it seems, what was already figured out here on the tank markings ...

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Genuine BMW Behr radiator
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
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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  #66  
Old 01-13-2014, 06:11 AM
97e39blue528i 97e39blue528i is offline
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Bluebee, Incredible quality of work in this thread -several factors better than the e39 shop manual! thank you!
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