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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 07-03-2013, 07:04 AM
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dbaze540 dbaze540 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
540i stranded at gas station, please help!

I stopped at the gas station on the way to work this morning, and when I got back in, the car wouldn't start. All the lights are working, but there's no ticking from the car trying to start. Even stranger, when I take the key out, the instrument cluster starts acting crazy. The check engine, traction light, and gear indicator flash sporadically, and the tachometer starts wiggling around in the zero to 1500 range. I can also hear a clicking sound coming from the passenger footwell. I'll try to upload a video, but right now I'm sitting in the parking lot with no idea what to do. Please help me!


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  #2  
Old 07-03-2013, 07:10 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Sounds like either the battery is very low or some electricals are wet. Does this car have any rain leaks? Fusebox underneath the pass. floorboard is at risk.

Will the service station help to jumpstart the car (using the terminals in the engine compartment)?
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  #3  
Old 07-03-2013, 07:33 AM
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dbaze540 dbaze540 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
540i stranded at gas station, please help!

Yes, the drivers headlight got busted and is held together by tape, and it's drizzling today. I've been avoiding rain up until now but I didn't have a choice today. Anything I can do for it in the parking lot? It's not really a service station, just a little convince store.


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Old 07-03-2013, 07:36 AM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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Dying alternator ---> dead battery and random light bulbs turning on in the dash.
The problem is: the V8 alternator is not cheap.

Search forum for: rebuilding yourself vs a "new" alternator from local auto parts stores.
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  #5  
Old 07-03-2013, 07:41 AM
z168 z168 is online now
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Did the 97 have the watercooled alternator?
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  #6  
Old 07-03-2013, 08:12 AM
redi2ride redi2ride is offline
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This video shows an alternator rebuild. Check it!
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2013, 08:18 AM
edjack edjack is online now
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z168: No.

dbaze540, time to call AAA. Ask the driver if he can test the battery. I agree that it sounds very much like a dead one.
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  #8  
Old 07-03-2013, 09:11 AM
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dbaze540 dbaze540 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540iA
540i stranded at gas station, please help!

I had it towed to a mechanic, wouldn't you know as soon as it came of the truck it started right up. I could handle the mechanical aspect of a repair, but I'm nowhere near experienced enough to diagnose an electrical problem. I'm hoping its not an alternator and maybe something like replacing the splash guards would prevent this from happening again. I already an m5 bumper waiting to go on, so maybe I should purchase the m5 splash guards and go ahead and put it on.


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  #9  
Old 07-03-2013, 09:20 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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Sounds like demonic possesion to me. You appear to have a level three poltergeist of the electrical gremlin variety.
My recommendation is to burn it.
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2013, 09:33 AM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
Sounds like demonic possesion to me. You appear to have a level three poltergeist of the electrical gremlin variety.
My recommendation is to burn it.
After the flames subside check the connections at the battery, if they are clean and tight check the connections at the starter.
Your broken headlight isn't the problem.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2013, 09:37 AM
pshovest pshovest is online now
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If you had a charging problem, battery light would have been on. Check for bad ignition switch with visor test.

Last edited by pshovest; 07-03-2013 at 09:39 AM.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2013, 10:09 AM
redi2ride redi2ride is offline
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Re: 540i stranded at gas station, please help!

We weren't much help on the fly, were we?

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  #13  
Old 07-03-2013, 10:14 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
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Maintenance>bumper
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2013, 02:51 PM
rockymtntee rockymtntee is offline
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maybe helpful maybe dumb, but i had a no-start issue with my 325 last year ( started ok, then wouldn't start, then started ok, over time and two locations) turned out it was a dying battery in my key. FWIW
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  #15  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:09 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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Check for bad ignition switch as mentioned above. Along with battery and alternator with OBC test 9. I would also check battery key like mentioned above and check to see if the small EWS chip inside the key is loose out of its spot. Happened to me a few years ago. The key battery was fine, but if the chip was not in a certain spot, when you turn the key, the car does not even tick, as if nothing is there, but all the lights turn on.
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  #16  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:36 PM
redi2ride redi2ride is offline
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Re: 540i stranded at gas station, please help!

Check the pos and neg connections.lol. always check the simplest first

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  #17  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:50 PM
salesman salesman is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 540i/6, Acura CL-S
Quote:
Originally Posted by redi2ride View Post
This video shows an alternator rebuild. Check it!
did that guy really add an HDR effect to a tv clip?
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  #18  
Old 07-03-2013, 06:52 PM
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DPP528 DPP528 is offline
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I agree with the ignition switch notion. Anytime I see a car with strange electrical gremlins it's often the culprit.
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Last edited by DPP528; 07-06-2013 at 02:35 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07-03-2013, 11:16 PM
imp.the.dimp imp.the.dimp is offline
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Sounds like a low battery. It could be a result of some sort of short circuit caused by the headlight. who knows. When I first ghetto rigged my aftermarket head unit it short circuited a few times and caused some crazy stuff to happen.
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  #20  
Old 07-04-2013, 06:49 AM
Fir3n5m0ke Fir3n5m0ke is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 540i/6
Ignition switch. Having weird electrical issues with my 540i right now. Sometimes it won't turn over at all when I know the car is fine. The dash lights come on for a split second as if the battery were dead but its not. My alternator is new so I know its not that. Getting feedback through my radio while driving making it useless for th3 past week. When it has problems starting it will cause the interior lights throughout the to flicker randomly. Some times when I t finally starts my headlights will turn on momentarily before turning off. Had it even throw a engine failsafe program at me one time after it started. Car drove fine.

Check ignition switch. It causes the car not to turn over and additionally causes very strange electrical issues. The issues seem to be different for each person. Google search ignition switch diy. The first link should have a rebuild diy with an additional diy guide inside on how to remove the switch.
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  #21  
Old 07-04-2013, 11:46 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is online now
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FWIW...the battery inside the key has no affect on starting the car...that's because the only electrical function incorporated into the key that would affect starting the car...is EWS. And EWS does NOT require the key's battery...it is self powered. A 125 KHz RF signal is sent from the EWS control module to the Ring Antenna, which then sends a signal to the induction coil which powers the transponder which sends back data to the EWS control module. If that data matches that of the EWS-CM & DME/ECU...then the car starts.

The key's battery is only used to transmit the 315 MHz (or 433 MHz in Europe) signal for the FZV/DWA (central locking/anti-theft alarm siren) systems.

Note workshop hint in gray box on lower right



Why EWS doesn't require the key's battery to start the car...






And before I get called on the carpet...any e39 built from 3/97-up has EWS 3.2...which means that the Transmitter Receiver has been eliminated...and its function is now incorporated into your EWS-CM:

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99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

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Last edited by QSilver7; 07-04-2013 at 11:55 AM.
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