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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 02-28-2012, 02:34 PM
MHaas42 MHaas42 is offline
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Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 34
Mein Auto: 2003 BMW 540i 6-speed
Blown engine?? Maybe not?? Help!

I bought a 2003 BMW 540i with the 6 speed manual in December. It has 110K and has been running well, until a few days ago when it stalled at a stoplight and seemed to start running a little rough, but nothing too bad. (It has never even come close to overheating since I've owned it and the oil level has always been full.) Then the "ENGINE FAILSAFE PROG." light came on. I was a block from work, so I shut it off and when I left to go home, the light stayed off and it seemed to drive fine. The next morning, I pulled into traffic and it was like I was running on 3 cylinders. It spit and coughed and would hardly move, so I had it towed to a local indy shop here in Birmingham. They were showing a misfire on cylinders 1 and 6, so they replaced all the spark plugs, but were still showing a misfire on those two cylinders and they replaced the coils on those two cylinders. That fixed #1, but #6 kept showing a misfire. They did a compression check and it showed 75 and he said it should be closer to 200, so he said the engine would need to be replaced. In a daze, I called Tom Carr with Carr Industries in Greensboro, NC. Tom is a fantastic guy and a wealth of knowledge. Consider yourself lucky if you live near his shop, but I don't. I'm 700 miles away, but he said he saw this twice last week, where cars from other shops were towed in with "blown engines". He said if you remove the spark plug in that cylinder and put a teaspoon of oil in, the compression will jump back up to 120 or more and it should be fine. He says this is a very common issue and few shops know about it. He actually called my local shop here and, since they had "been doing this 7 years", they discounted the idea and said the problem would come right back, but they reluctantly agreed to try it. Tom swears this will work. I'm going to go home and try to sleep tonight, not knowing if I am about to need a new engine. Any thoughts on this????? My stomach is in knots as you might imagine.
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