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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 02-23-2012, 06:30 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Question about alternator, 02 530

Came out yesterday morning and my 02 530i (auto) would not start. Lights flickered and heard loud clicking that seemed to be in concert with the flickering headlights. Likely the starter trying to engage. Didn't have time to troubleshoot before taking kids to school so I took the Tahoe. Clock and the on-board computer functions have reset but I still have radio stations. Also had to unlock the cluster again. Battery is approximately 6 months old.

Yesterday evening I was able to jump it to life. With my unlocked cluster I monitored the alternator output during a short drive through my neighborhood. Best I could get was 12.6 volts and at one point dropped below 12. I came back and parked it. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and found the battery voltage (not running) is 11.7. Tried to start and it did start. Alternator output registered 13.6 volts, but quickly dropped to 11.6 volts.

Yes, I am electrically stupid so I must ask. It would appear my alternator is gone? Is this the proper and most likely diagnosis? If so, where is the best place to source an in-kind replacement of the alternator?

Also, is my battery toast? Saw a chart that states open circuit voltage of 11.89 means the battery is essentially at 0% state of charge.

One other question: Two alternators are potential replacements based on Realoem and other sources. I can't get close enough to read the label on the back. Is there any other way I can tell if it is the 90 amp or 120 amp alternator.

Thanks for any information!!!!
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  #2  
Old 02-23-2012, 07:24 AM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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I agree your alternator is toast. You can just buy a new voltage regulator for about $45 and replace it in place without having to remove the alternator. I have done this even with the S/C on the top.

You can find out if yours is 90 or 120 Amp by looking at the tag on the alternator. My guess would be 120A.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:35 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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Perhaps an obvious point, but you also need to determine brand before ordering parts: Bosch or Valeo. The name will be on the label found on the back of the alternator.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:43 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Bad alternator is a pretty good bet. If the battery is only 6 months old, one discharge shouldn't kill it outright. Recharge it and re-test it.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:21 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Thanks for the feedback. I plan to remove the alternator tonight and take it tomorrow morning to get rebuilt. Got a reference of a trustworthy local rebuilder from a coworker. Convenient too.

Do I need to remove the fan shroud to get the belt(s) off?

I've torn into many vehicles but it has been awhile.

Thanks.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:58 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post
Do I need to remove the fan shroud to get the belt(s) off?
No, just release the tensioner pulley, and that should create enough slack.
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2012, 05:26 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Well, all I can say is "what a major pain in the arse". No way I was getting to the tensioner pulley without removing the fan. Can't remove the fan without removing the shroud. Nice snowball effect. But, the alternator is out and will be taken this morning for a rebuild.

The only casualties suffered (so far) were the small plastic rivet that holds the top of the shroud in place and the brackets that support the expansion tank. I thought the inner pin of the rivet would stay with the rivet but no. So the pin is sitting somewhere in the engine bay. The other one came out fine. It was difficult removing the expansion tank from the shroud and the brackets that support the expansion tank and lower hoses did break. I don't think it will be a problem. I will take a closer look in the daylight. Did all this last night without the benefit of daylight so lighting wasn't the best.

I was also looking at the hose coming from the power steering fluid reservoir. My guess is this thing fails because the bend is so sharp prior to attaching to the reservoir. I will look today for a 90 degree connector that may relieve the stress on this hose.

I didn't want to risk breaking the connector at the top of driver side of the radiator for the hose that goes to the expansion tank. I decided to cut this hose and will just re-connect it with a connector and clamps.

Thanks for all the help.
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Last edited by crazy4trains; 02-24-2012 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:04 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Sorry it was such a pain. I forgot the six-cylinder is longer and has a little less room than the V-8, and I thought you'd be able to get at it from underneath. You might want to pick up a couple spare plastic rivets from the dealer. They're cheap.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:44 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Well, I did find a trustworthy rebuilder. He checked the alternator and told me it was fine. I asked him to explain the drop in voltage after startup and he indicated some alternators are equipped with a mechanism that drops the voltage if the battery is not taking a charge. Does this sound reasonable?

I will check the battery next. That is probably where I should have started. I thought I had trouble-shot this thing correctly. Grrrrrrr

Will remove the battery, put it on a charger and take it to be tested.

More to come!!!
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  #10  
Old 02-24-2012, 09:46 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
You might want to pick up a couple spare plastic rivets from the dealer. They're cheap.
Dealer isn't convenient. Do you think those are available on-line or at my local parts store? I will find out soon.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:17 AM
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blz456 blz456 is offline
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I wish I could have chimed in a little earlier before you took out your fan shroud... You can take off your belt by simply Removing the fan and moving it away from the engine and let it rest in the space between the shroud and radiator. I've done this many times.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:35 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post
I thought I had trouble-shot this thing correctly.
I know it's cold comfort, but from the opinions above, you're not alone. The good news is that you don't have to rebuild your alternator, I guess. I suppose it's possible that there's some sort of protective circuit. In any event, you won't lose anything by recharging the battery and seeing if it holds a charge. From personal experience (although not with a BMW), most batteries can sustain a couple of discharges before they no longer hold a charge.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:36 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Dealer isn't convenient. Do you think those are available on-line or at my local parts store? I will find out soon.
They should be available online, but think of some other parts you might want at the same time to combine shipping costs.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:01 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
I know it's cold comfort, but from the opinions above, you're not alone. The good news is that you don't have to rebuild your alternator, I guess.
Yeah, you live you learn.

Battery read 11.7 volts when I measured the voltage with my multimeter a few minutes ago. I disconnected the leads and hooked it up to the charger (2 amp setting). Read close to 100% charge when I turned on the charger. I would think my battery is suspect. Any opinions from those more electrically astute?

How in the heck are you supposed to remove the battery with the door in the way? Almost impossible to get a grip on the battery. I just left it in the battery recess and disconnected the terminals to charge. Thought about removing the access door but decided against it.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:42 PM
EconoBox EconoBox is offline
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Can someone post the steps to remove the alternator?
He needs to remove the 2 pins for the fan shroud.
Then does he need to remove the fan?
Then he just turns that tensioner bolt to create slack to remove the belt?
(What is the trick about using an allen key to keep the tensioner in place?)
Then he unbolts the alternator and replaces it?
Then put the belts back, and release the tensioner?
Then replace fan and shroud?
This could theoretically take an experienced guy 5 mins to remove an alternator, right?
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:46 PM
EconoBox EconoBox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blz456 View Post
I wish I could have chimed in a little earlier before you took out your fan shroud... You can take off your belt by simply Removing the fan and moving it away from the engine and let it rest in the space between the shroud and radiator. I've done this many times.
I heard it's a nightmare to get the fan back on the threads with so little room to maneuver.
Is this right? My friend told me he has someone start the motor, while he just holds the fan and positions it to "catch" and then it just threads itself. (Sounds dangerous?)
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Old 02-25-2012, 04:53 AM
Mikes530 Mikes530 is offline
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Originally Posted by EconoBox View Post
My friend told me he has someone start the motor, while he just holds the fan and positions it to "catch" and then it just threads itself. (Sounds dangerous?)
Don't EVER attempt this, unless of course you enjoy making a trip to the emergency room. Does your friend still have all of his fingers?
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Old 02-25-2012, 07:26 AM
EconoBox EconoBox is offline
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Don't EVER attempt this, unless of course you enjoy making a trip to the emergency room. Does your friend still have all of his fingers?
He's a professional BMW mechanic..
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:01 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Originally Posted by EconoBox View Post
He's a professional BMW mechanic..
I think this falls into the category of "Don't try this at home."
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:47 AM
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glaz1281 glaz1281 is offline
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You try that method ,I guarantee it will take a lot longer to type a post on here.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:48 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1. To remove fan clutch, you need a 32-mm wrench (REVERSE thread):
http://bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986

2. Then rest the fan clutch inside the fan shroud. Step #21 in the above DIY shows that.

3. The Alternator DIY is here:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=414315

Alternator Rebuild DIY:
http://wwww.bimmerfest.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=454325

4. To re-install the Fan Clutch, you are correct, it is hard because of the tight space.
Whoever tells you (the BMW mechanic) to crank the engine while you thread the fan clutch nut in is very dumb and dangerous.

Here is the trick:
a. Apply some anti-seize
b. Use a shoe lace or poultry cord and wrap it as in this DIY.
c. Pull it and you are done.
Easy like 1-2-3.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=240143



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Old 02-25-2012, 08:50 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Originally Posted by glaz1281 View Post
You try that method ,I guarantee it will take a lot longer to type a post on here.
Haha, this is too funny, but you are right though.
Whoever recommended that method (crank engine and thread the fan clutch nut in at the same time) is dumb.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:25 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EconoBox View Post
Can someone post the steps to remove the alternator?
He needs to remove the 2 pins for the fan shroud.
Then does he need to remove the fan?
Then he just turns that tensioner bolt to create slack to remove the belt?
(What is the trick about using an allen key to keep the tensioner in place?)
Then he unbolts the alternator and replaces it?
Then put the belts back, and release the tensioner?
Then replace fan and shroud?
This could theoretically take an experienced guy 5 mins to remove an alternator, right?
There is a lot more that needs to be done just to remove the fan shroud. The best information I have found is on the Beisan website. Very good, detailed instructions.

Once you remove the pins you must go underneath and remove the front, underneath cover. Then you remove the coolant hoses that are attached to the shroud. There are two electrical connections that need to be removed. You then have to detach the expansion tank, and break the support brackets in the process. Yes, it is attached to my shroud. Then you remove/cut the hose running from the driver side of the radiator to the expansion tank. Oh yeah, you also have to remove the fan. That wasn't that tough. Only then can you remove the shroud.

I think it would take an experienced guy about 1 hour to remove the alternator assuming the same path in removal of parts was taken. I was doing this at night (in the garage) under a work light. I think I could do it in about 1-1.5 hours in the daylight. Also, I wanted to do this as I plan to replace my Vanos seals in the future and this is the first step in the process.
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Old 02-26-2012, 05:19 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Charged battery overnight. It read 12.8 volts when it took it off the charger. This morning, 24 hours later, it read 12.25 volts. Is this an acceptable voltage drop over 24 hours?
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:03 PM
Steve530 Steve530 is offline
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It should be 12.6V. How old is the battery?
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