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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 10-07-2012, 08:22 PM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Unknown Dash Lights

This is my first post to any BMW site. I just joined the world of BMW owners 2 months ago and I feel like I am now a member of an elite community. My car is a 1998 528i that was purchased at an auction 2 owners ago. The last owner only had the car for about a month before selling it to me and never drove it. He is not a fan of BMWs. He thinks that BMW means "Break My Windows". At any rate, he was happy to unload it and I was all too happy to buy it.

So.. being new to BMWs, I don't know much about anything BMW centric. I have searched through the forums and have not been able to find the answer to my burning question... WHAT ARE THESE LIGHT AND WHY DON'T THEY APPEAR IN ANY DOCUMENTATION?"

My assumption is that they were added by an owner prior to this car's previous owner and are not factory. The previous owner hasn't a clue what they are for... he suspected that they were part of an alarm system. The light on the right (light "a") blinks on and off every 3 seconds. This interval does not change, even when the car is parked and the ignition is in the ACC position. The one on the left (light "b") blinks randomly... usually while just driving normally. It is typically off though, as in this picture. The light further to the right (light "c") is always steady and is always lit. Not knowing what normal aftermarket items are for BMWs, I figured that SOMEONE in our fine community of owners might know exactly what these are for.

Thanks for taking a minute to read my post.
Thanks even more if you respond to it.

BTW... I was able to remedy the -40F problem that everyone has when their Ambient Temperature Sensor heads south. Purchased a new one off Amazon and installed it this weekend, thanks to all of the helpful posts regarding this topic.
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  #2  
Old 10-07-2012, 10:01 PM
RichDeezy RichDeezy is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 BMW 530i E39
ive never seen those on my e39 (2001 530i) or any other 5 series ive looked at.... possibly a aftermarket alarm system thats what it looks like at least.
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  #3  
Old 10-07-2012, 11:33 PM
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E39Freak E39Freak is offline
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Like you and Rich say, I would have to agree that an aftermarket alarm seems like it would be the best guess....or maybe a miniaturized flux capacitor. (j/k about that last part).
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  #4  
Old 10-08-2012, 12:39 AM
JasonSC540ia JasonSC540ia is offline
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I agree with the alarm. However, why 3 lights? Dont most aftermarket alarms have just 1? Iv never seen 3 lights for an alarm, or even 2. Weird.
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  #5  
Old 10-08-2012, 01:03 AM
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Gustavoerod Gustavoerod is offline
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I own an 06 e60 530i, my car is equipped with the same lights but I only have 2 not 3 lights and the colors for the lights are blue. This is a built in radar detector, at least in my car that is what this is, the light on the right will flash when it detected a radar in front of the car, the one on the left will flash if it detected it behind the car, the system comes with its own remote controller and you can use it to adjust it from city mode to highway mode or you can choose the sound between voice, lights, beeps, loud or soft. I do not know of any other way to use it unless you have the remote. Hope this helps.
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  #6  
Old 10-08-2012, 01:06 AM
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Gustavoerod Gustavoerod is offline
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By the way, I heard from the dealer that this is a $3,000 option.
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  #7  
Old 10-08-2012, 03:59 AM
NZ BMW NZ BMW is offline
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Agree, looks like a radar detector.
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  #8  
Old 10-08-2012, 04:45 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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I have a '98 528 as well. Those lights are not factory. Hidden alarms or radar detectors are common, but the way the lights are installed spaced so far apart doesnt make sense.

BTW, I see you have Graphite trim. Your car may be a Sport Edition.
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  #9  
Old 10-08-2012, 05:11 AM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavoerod View Post
I own an 06 e60 530i, my car is equipped with the same lights but I only have 2 not 3 lights and the colors for the lights are blue. This is a built in radar detector, at least in my car that is what this is, the light on the right will flash when it detected a radar in front of the car, the one on the left will flash if it detected it behind the car, the system comes with its own remote controller and you can use it to adjust it from city mode to highway mode or you can choose the sound between voice, lights, beeps, loud or soft. I do not know of any other way to use it unless you have the remote. Hope this helps.
Gustavoerod - Your assessment is probably correct as it makes sense with the intermittant nature of the left light, which is why I wasn't leaning toward an alarm. I would love to know what it would take to get my hands on the remote for this option. Were you able to program the light on the right to NOT blink every 3 seconds and only blink when there is radar activity, or is this just the way the system alerts you that it is functioning?

Thanks so much for this response! I will have to borrow a friend's radar detector and see how it matches what the lights are telling me.
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  #10  
Old 10-08-2012, 05:22 AM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
I have a '98 528 as well. Those lights are not factory. Hidden alarms or radar detectors are common, but the way the lights are installed spaced so far apart doesnt make sense.

BTW, I see you have Graphite trim. Your car may be a Sport Edition.
Hmmm... is there anything in the VIN that would tell me if my car is the sports edition? It doesn't seem to have the bells and whistles of some other cars I have seen posted. No heated seats/steering wheel, no auto-dimming rearview mirror, no windshield moisture sensor, etc. It seems pretty basic. One of the previous owners butchered the stock stereo and installed a Pioneer that just barely works. It does have the stock BMW CD Changer still, but it requires an $80 interface to hook it up to the Pioneer. This is the stereo I really want to get as it allows me to integrate the steering wheel controls and adds bluetooth to the mix:http://www.crutchfield.com/p_113KIV9...1.html?tp=5684.
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  #11  
Old 10-08-2012, 05:27 AM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavoerod View Post
By the way, I heard from the dealer that this is a $3,000 option.
YIKES! $3000 is quite an option! The remote is probably half of that cost :-( so I will consider my car's value accordingly if that proves to be the case.

Thanks Again!
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  #12  
Old 10-08-2012, 06:08 AM
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Gustavoerod Gustavoerod is offline
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You can't do anything with the light pattern, unless you turn it off, now your idea to match it with a separate radar its great because you might learn what the light means. You should go to the dealer to find out more about the options the previews owner selected for your car, I'm sure they can find it through the VIN #. And the "build option sheet"
Unless you ask you'll never know;
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  #13  
Old 10-08-2012, 06:19 AM
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Gustavoerod Gustavoerod is offline
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This is what the remote looks like for my system. (I hope the pic loaded)
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  #14  
Old 10-08-2012, 10:03 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrologRocks View Post
Hmmm... is there anything in the VIN that would tell me if my car is the sports edition? ....
There's nothing in the VIN that would indicate how the car was optioned. BUT...if you go to the link below and enter the last 7 digits of your car's VIN...plus "correctly" answer the simple math equation...it will give you a list of of information about your car and what standard and optional features it had as it rolled off the line:

Click here for car info based on it's VIN: http://www.rubmw.ru/vincode/eng/
math equation tips that some people get tripped up on trying to access the info at the site above:
  • + = add
  • - = subtract
  • * = multiply
  • or / = divide
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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
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  #15  
Old 10-08-2012, 02:32 PM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Location: Charlotte, NC
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
There's nothing in the VIN that would indicate how the car was optioned. BUT...if you go to the link below and enter the last 7 digits of your car's VIN...plus "correctly" answer the simple math equation...it will give you a list of of information about your car and what standard and optional features it had as it rolled off the line:

Click here for car info based on it's VIN: http://www.rubmw.ru/vincode/eng/
math equation tips that some people get tripped up on trying to access the info at the site above:
  • + = add
  • - = subtract
  • * = multiply
  • or / = divide
Well that is pretty cool. I have to figure out what a few of those items are like "Dispatch protection pack" hm...Thanks for the link!
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  #16  
Old 10-08-2012, 02:49 PM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavoerod View Post
This is what the remote looks like for my system. (I hope the pic loaded)
OK... so I just got off the phone with Brian at K40 Electronics (http://www.k40.com/) and he confirmed that this is indeed a Radar Detector. My Light "c" indicates which mode I am using. Green = FWY. Amber = City. There is a knob under the dash which controls the volume of the alerts, though mine doesn't appear to do anything. I have the K40 2000 model with an "RL 200 I" detector and a G5 Laser Defuser. My model did not come with the remote option, this only became available when they started using blue lights on the dash instead of red.

Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction... I can finally be at ease about what these flashing lights do.
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  #17  
Old 10-09-2012, 07:57 AM
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Gustavoerod Gustavoerod is offline
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Glad I could help.
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  #18  
Old 06-14-2013, 10:23 PM
PrologRocks PrologRocks is offline
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Is this "Graphite Trim" a rare option?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
I have a '98 528 as well. Those lights are not factory. Hidden alarms or radar detectors are common, but the way the lights are installed spaced so far apart doesnt make sense.

BTW, I see you have Graphite trim. Your car may be a Sport Edition.
Hmmm... Graphite Trim. So my ride may not be just a run-of-the-mill sedan? I have looked around and I don't see any other Bimmers with this option. I have thought about unloading it and getting a 540 6 speed but now I kind-of appreciate that I have something a little more unique. How would I know if my baby is a stock upgrade or some kind of mutant?
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  #19  
Old 06-15-2013, 04:39 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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See post 14 or search Sport Edition.
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