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E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-05-2012, 10:20 AM
550 black panth 550 black panth is offline
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Replacing an alternator

Hello everyone,
I have an 07 550i and my alternator is going bad and I need to replace it. Does anyone know if I need to register the battery after I replace the alternator? I'm not going to change the battery though. I'm only going to change the alternator.
Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2012, 11:55 AM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 550 black panth View Post
Hello everyone,
I have an 07 550i and my alternator is going bad and I need to replace it. Does anyone know if I need to register the battery after I replace the alternator? I'm not going to change the battery though. I'm only going to change the alternator.
Thanks!
NOTE: I don't know if you are very experienced or a newb, so I have added some basic tips. If you are experienced please don't take offense to my basic tips, as if not useful to you hopefully they are useful to a newb reading this (we all start as newbs).

There is little difference in the basic design of the charging system between the 550i and 545i. The alternators are different part numbers. Bentley service manual makes no mention of requiring battery registration after alternator replacement for either the 545i or 550i.

I just successfully replaced the alternator in my 545i with a new OE Valeo unit, and did not register the battery (obviously disconnected and insulated the negative battery cable during the work). Based upon the existing battery information (and the fact that you are not replacing it), the computer is able to use an algorithm to estimate the best alternator charging output to the battery to keep it happy.

I did experience transmission and steering angle sensor errors after reconnection of the battery, which are normal until the car is started and the steering wheel is turned lock to lock and then turned off, key removed and then restarted.

Bentley manual indicates the two harnesses to the alternator should be disconnected before the alternator mounting bolts are removed (but this is impossible unless more than the air intake, fan shroud and electric fan are removed). Set up a cardboard box leveled just under the alternator to set the alternator on after the mounting bolts are removed and the alternator is pulled out a little so you can rest the heavy unit while disconnecting the harnesses and reconnecting them to the new unit. Use caution when reinstalling the mounting bolts as it is a little difficult to align the heavy alternator prior to starting the bolts. Make sure the threads are fully and smoothly engaged by turning the bolts with your fingers before using a wrench as stripping a thread in the engine is the last thing you want to do.

Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 09-05-2012, 12:50 PM
550 black panth 550 black panth is offline
550 Black Panther
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Thank you for the reply!!!
Yes This is the first time I'm replacing alternator on a BMW and even if I was experienced I wouldn't take offense and I think the tips are very very helpful.
Thanks again!
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  #4  
Old 09-11-2012, 08:32 AM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 550 black panth View Post
Hello everyone,
I have an 07 550i and my alternator is going bad and I need to replace it. Does anyone know if I need to register the battery after I replace the alternator? I'm not going to change the battery though. I'm only going to change the alternator.
Thanks!
I believe I have a similar issue, "Alternator is going bad" can you please describe your symptoms. My car will not charge when first started for several minutes (volt meter shows 11.6 or less) and then eventually it will start charging. now for the last several weeks I have been getting the charging malfunction alarm on the idrive and dash but it eventually goes away as the voltage eventually goes up past 13v. Yesterday for the first time, the car died while driving (with all the usual symptoms of lack of electricity - active steering/ check engine light, stuck in 2nd. gear etc...). The battery was recently replaced and also the smart charging relay was just replaced so I'm led to believe the only thing left to do is to replace the alternator.

are these symptoms similar to yours? did you replace the alternator? did that resolve your issues? and lastly, how difficult was it to replace? do you have any pointers?

Thanks,
Amar
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Last edited by amar67; 09-11-2012 at 08:34 AM.
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  #5  
Old 09-11-2012, 04:42 PM
550 black panth 550 black panth is offline
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No I have a totally different symptoms. I have a hesitation when I start the car and when I have the car on park and try to rev it, the interior lights start dimming. I checked the battery and it was reading 12.3 when the car is off and 14.6 when the car is on with the headlights on. So That tells me my alternator and my battery are good. I'm going to check the tensioner and the belt this weekend and try to figure out what's going on.
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2012, 12:27 PM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 550 black panth View Post
No I have a totally different symptoms. I have a hesitation when I start the car and when I have the car on park and try to rev it, the interior lights start dimming. I checked the battery and it was reading 12.3 when the car is off and 14.6 when the car is on with the headlights on. So That tells me my alternator and my battery are good. I'm going to check the tensioner and the belt this weekend and try to figure out what's going on.
if you have a cigarette lighter voltage meter, use that while you are experiencing the symptoms. I noticed my voltage would change but most issues occurred when battery got weak. Also, have you replaced the $21 relay in the fuse panel above the battery? a lot of people have had strange issues resolved by replacing that. I believe it's something to do with the "smart charging". I replaced it, but my issues seem to be Alternator as the voltage stays low until I drive for a bit and then it goes up to 14v and stays there. However, driving on battery until the voltage goes up seems to be draining the battery. also, I actually get the Battery sign on the dash and "Charging Malfunction" in the i-drive.

Good Luck!
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  #7  
Old 09-12-2012, 12:36 PM
550 black panth 550 black panth is offline
550 Black Panther
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Yea Dude , you seem like you have a bad alternator. Take it to any mechanic shop and they can test it for free.
I'm going to try to change that relay and I'll you know how it goes.
Thanks and Good luck
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  #8  
Old 09-12-2012, 01:41 PM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amar67 View Post
if you have a cigarette lighter voltage meter, use that while you are experiencing the symptoms. I noticed my voltage would change but most issues occurred when battery got weak. Also, have you replaced the $21 relay in the fuse panel above the battery? a lot of people have had strange issues resolved by replacing that. I believe it's something to do with the "smart charging". I replaced it, but my issues seem to be Alternator as the voltage stays low until I drive for a bit and then it goes up to 14v and stays there. However, driving on battery until the voltage goes up seems to be draining the battery. also, I actually get the Battery sign on the dash and "Charging Malfunction" in the i-drive.

Good Luck!
+1
Cigarette lighter voltmeter works well.

Modules, relays, loose connections can prevent voltage from getting to where it is supposed to be but they will almost never change the voltage.

When the alternator rotor is rotated within the stator/windings it produces an AC voltage, which is then rectified to a DC voltage and put through the voltage regulator to produce between 13V and 14.2V. Voltage ramp up in the first 30 seconds of alternator operation is normal, but after that voltage should be fairly steady.

The three most common failure modes are bearing failure, winding failure and voltage regulator failure.

My problem was not only was I seeing as low as 11V after 15-20 minutes of driving, but during the first 20 second after start up the voltage would spike to 17V and set off a Christmas Tree of warning lights on the dash. Definitely a voltage regulator failure.

If you don't have a lot of miles on your alternator you can by choice change just the voltage regulator (seems like $100-$120). I decided that at 85K if I was going to get that far into tearing things apart I would put in a new OE Valeo unit and be done with it.

You don't want to wait too long. A failing alternator (one that takes a while to build voltage up) is hard on a new battery as it drains the battery way down before charging it up again. And it can quickly be the death of an older battery. Car batteries like to maintain an even charge.
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  #9  
Old 09-12-2012, 07:45 PM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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We just finished installing the alternator. It seems to have resolved my issue. The voltage now climbs to 13.8 - 14.00 within 10 - 20 seconds after starting the car. We had a few lessons learned during the install so I will follow up with tips and tricks when replacing the alternator.

After extensive research and price comparisons, I found a replacement alternators (referb) from as little as 105.00 to around $400 all with lifetime replacement warranties. I decided I wanted a lifetime warranty so OE Valeo was no longer an option. I ended up getting the Autozone Duralast Alternator for $265 including tax. I was considering the one from carparts but next day shipping and core return shipping would push it to about $150 or so... so I figured for the extra $100 I'll stick with Autozone as I don't have to deal with hassles for warranty related issues.
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Last edited by amar67; 09-12-2012 at 08:02 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2012, 07:54 AM
v8power v8power is offline
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My alternator is going down also at 49k miles. But its not a voltage issue, rather a bad bearing. Nasty grinding embarrising sound. I purchased a rebuild kit that includes new voltage regulator and bearings for $60 shipped. Now just need time to pull it out and swap it.

I was about to go to my local Autozone but after researching on rebuilt ones, most just test and clean without changing the necessary parts.
Not just autozone but other company as well. Although they do come with warranty, its just the hassle of removing it out again or broke down somewhere.

Amar67: even though it is Duralast, it is still valeo. Duralast is just a brand of autozone and/or company that rebuilds them. They take your core and rebuild them. Your old one may end up, say, Oreilly auto. They just send it off to a rebuild company. From there they send it to whichever store.

Last edited by v8power; 09-13-2012 at 08:01 AM.
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  #11  
Old 09-13-2012, 07:59 AM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v8power View Post
My alternator is going down also at 49k miles. But its not a voltage issue, rather a bad bearing. Nasty grinding embarrising sound. I purchased a rebuild kit that includes new voltage regulator and bearings for $60 shipped. Now just need time to pull it out and swap it.

I was about to go to my local Autozone but after researching on rebuilt ones, most just test and clean without changing the necessary parts.
Not just autozone but other company as well. Although they do come with warranty, its just the hassle of removing it out again or broke down somewhere.
Agreed, if you have the ability to replace all the necessary parts and test it properly it's going to be better and cheaper. for my experience, it's been working out well for me to replace with a lifetime warranty unit. now that I have done it once, the replace time will be much less. If you have all your ducks in a row (tools parts ready) I think it's doable in around the 2 hour time frame.
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:16 AM
v8power v8power is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amar67 View Post
Agreed, if you have the ability to replace all the necessary parts and test it properly it's going to be better and cheaper. for my experience, it's been working out well for me to replace with a lifetime warranty unit. now that I have done it once, the replace time will be much less. If you have all your ducks in a row (tools parts ready) I think it's doable in around the 2 hour time frame.
Did you had to remove the fan assembly for clearance ?
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  #13  
Old 09-13-2012, 09:58 AM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Originally Posted by v8power View Post
Did you had to remove the fan assembly for clearance ?
yes... but it's not that difficult. My son is in the process of writing up the entire process. I wanted him to do it for experience. there are 2 plastic tabs on either side of the fan housing. the tab on the passenger side is fixed and will not move. However the tab on the drivers side is hinged and will rotate 90 degrees. you will need to lift the fan up about 1/2 inch and then flip the tab towards the engine which will allow you to clear the coolant hoses. you will have to work the tab through the tight coolant hoses but it's doable. once you do that, the entire fan assembly lifts up and out. remember to disconnect the 2 electrical connectors on the fan housing first. let me know if you have any more questions... we hope to post our step by step instructions by tonight depending on his homework load.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2012, 06:48 PM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Here is the DIY write up. Hope this helps!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...82#post7072882
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  #15  
Old 09-13-2012, 07:46 PM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Originally Posted by amar67 View Post
Here is the DIY write up. Hope this helps!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...82#post7072882
Nice write up!
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  #16  
Old 09-13-2012, 09:04 PM
550 black panth 550 black panth is offline
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That was really neat write up, very clear and simple to understand. Thanks!
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  #17  
Old 09-14-2012, 08:45 AM
amar67 amar67 is offline
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Originally Posted by bimmerfan52 View Post
Nice write up!
Thanks! after wasting a couple of hours with the pin and positiong the alternator, I figured it would help if there were more details. The Bently manual is very nice but I guess they are not designed to be very detailed and assume the person working has a good bit of experience.
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  #18  
Old 10-12-2012, 11:27 AM
Damon54 Damon54 is offline
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So a Duralast , Valeo is always a rebuild?
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  #19  
Old 10-12-2012, 12:48 PM
v8power v8power is offline
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Originally Posted by Damon54 View Post
So a Duralast , Valeo is always a rebuild?
Yes, same alternator with new valeo regulator. They take your old one to rebuild.

Just to add to amar67 write up, originally its for a 545, if you have a 550 , the oil cooler is attached to the fan assembly. Unhook at the side of fan with a hex wrenchad be prepared for a big oil mess oozing out of the cooler while you lift the fan out. Btw it is engine motor oil cooler. I had to search carefully on realoem to make sure it wasnt trans oil.
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