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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 11-16-2012, 08:29 AM
AsymMetric5 AsymMetric5 is offline
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Location: Austin
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 18
Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Changed that oil pan! Now this...

So I successfully swapped my old, cracked oil pan for a $70 junkyard find that was in great shape. The fix took me about a week if you include research time, hours of head-scratching, and more hours of cursing, teeth-gritting and inner sobbing.

I had most of the tools required for the job. Even though I spent a year in trade school(autobody) many years ago, I am NOT a mechanic. I'm just not intimidated by a challenging repair. This is one repair, however, that I should have let a pro handle.

My ex-wife bought the car over a year ago for an ok price. We know it had some issues that needed to be addressed. I took it to two different specialty shops for diagnostics and estimates of the more obvious problems. Soon, I replaced a bad wheel bearing, parking brake pads just to name a few. My first oil change revealed a sheared oil pan bolt that had been gasket-sealed back in place. That's right... someone was too much of a cheap ass(or coward) to buy another $4 bolt. Instead, they attempted to hide their blunder by screwing what was left of the bolt(about a thread and a half) back onto the pan with some type of gasket sealer. I didn't learn until after I got the old pan off that they even left the threaded end of the bolt INSIDE the pan! I replaced the bolt, but the OTHER damage was already done.


These metals pieces were just dying to get sucked into the engine.

junkyard replacement after cleaning.

What “other” damage you ask? Well, the stress to the oil pan itself! I was only able to perform one other oil change(with torque wrench) before a hairline stress crack appeared at the rear of the inner threading. Saddest thing about it was that, over the next few days, I couldn't really tell where the leak was coming from so, I periodically kept tightening...

The next issue:
After my initial research on the repair, I was sick – wishing I had a 540 instead. But, I simply didn't have the $$$ to hand to a shop. Now, that it's all done and the leak had been irradicated, I have another – more pressing issue that I know is a direct result of this recent repair. The car made some strange noises on the first and second start-ups and it idled kinda rough, then smoothed out. I was able to drive it about 10 miles before the Check Engine light came on and it REALLY started to sputter and hesitate. I got within 2 miles of home when I knew it was serious. It sputtered to a stop at an intersection. I restarted it and limped the last mile at about 5mph back to the garage.

The first thing I did was check the battery voltage. It was down to 3V. I did this because I had a similar problem with my integra when the alternator went out. I doubt the alternator is the prolem in this case, but I'm thinking the belt isn't tight enough. Yea, I had some trouble getting it back on. The tension pulley it still not seated perfectly. I mean, the little ball/tab is not set right. I also left the airbox out to expedite post-repair testing. I doubt a missing air box/filter would cause this bad a reaction either.

Remember.. I am not a mechanic. But, I can take on an older “project” car. A check engine light never scared me so much though. I'm looking at buying a diagnostic tool right now. I already missed 2 days of class. Gotta get my machine running right again even if I need to submit take it to a shop. I'd appreciate any input from you guys on what you think the problem might be. -and I know I'm leaving myself open, but..
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