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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 05-12-2006, 07:32 AM
truelies truelies is offline
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Which type of gas the 528i use?

The user manual says should be premium gas, but this is expensive. If I use regular gas, will it cause any damage to engine? Thank you!
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  #2  
Old 05-12-2006, 07:35 AM
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Probably not.

What's the compression ratio of the engine?
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  #3  
Old 05-12-2006, 07:39 AM
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This has been discussed many times. Try a search. In summary: Yes, you need to fill up with premium. The difference is only $5 a tank between regular and premium.
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  #4  
Old 05-12-2006, 08:06 AM
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IIRC, the compression ratio is 10.5:1 or near that. You must use premium fuel 99.9% of the time. If you HAVE to, you CAN use 87 (eek) or 89. Your car has knock sensors, so it will adjust the timing to be compatible with 87. The difference will even out since on 87, it will get much worse mileage. You are better off sticking with 91/93, your car will thank you in the long run too.
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  #5  
Old 05-12-2006, 08:24 AM
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I would use the minimum octane on the gas cap. If it's premium, put in premium. God, filling up my 92 525i was painful. Filling up my 98 540i is just as painful even with 89 due to the gas prices now.
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  #6  
Old 05-12-2006, 10:46 AM
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I've tinkered around with this before. I've found that while you save on the up front fuel cost you lose than you saved by degrading your fuel economy. Stick with the premium.
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  #7  
Old 05-12-2006, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSTIGLER
I've tinkered around with this before. I've found that while you save on the up front fuel cost you lose than you saved by degrading your fuel economy. Stick with the premium.


Yes it's a false economy to fill with regular. Plus since the engine is optimized for premium, not only will you get worse milage you'll get less power as well.
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  #8  
Old 05-12-2006, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hugh1850
This has been discussed many times. Try a search. In summary: Yes, you need to fill up with premium. The difference is only $5 a tank between regular and premium.
Assuming a 10 cent price difference between 89 and 91 octane, it's under $2 ($.10 x 18.5 gallons) per tank . . . . about the same as one cup of Starbuck's coffee. If you use a tank a week, premium will cost under $100 per year more.
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  #9  
Old 05-12-2006, 12:42 PM
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The manual for my 97' 528i says to use 87 AKI minimum, however, higher octane will slightly increase performance and fuel economy. When I look at my gas cap, it says 89 AKI minimum, so I run 89 octane. Now, I have the single VANOS 2.8l M52 engine. I do not know if the fuel grade requirements changed with the introduction of double VANOS on the 2.8l M52engine. I would suspect it could be possible due to necessary modifications to the engine control module to control the second cam.

Last edited by manticore33; 05-12-2006 at 02:43 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-12-2006, 12:53 PM
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Uhh... not sure where you get your facts from, but I switched from Premium 94 octane, to Regular 87 octane because of the gas prices. I'm getting better mileage out of the 87 octane fuel than the 94 octane fuel. I used to only get 380 to 420 KM's on tank with 94 octane. Since using 87 octane the car feels more powerful and responsive, and I'm getting 450+ KM's per tank now.
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  #11  
Old 05-12-2006, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mimic
Uhh... not sure where you get your facts from, but I switched from Premium 94 octane, to Regular 87 octane because of the gas prices. I'm getting better mileage out of the 87 octane fuel than the 94 octane fuel. I used to only get 380 to 420 KM's on tank with 94 octane. Since using 87 octane the car feels more powerful and responsive, and I'm getting 450+ KM's per tank now.

You've probably, subtly, changed your driving habits due to the higher fuel prices. Iím willing to bet in a controlled situation of constant speed that the premium fuel would net more mpg than regular, all else being the same.

Also, as others and I have stated, youíre saving $100/year in gas by putting in regular, assuming that you would get the same mpg. If thatís putting a dent in your lifestyle itís time to get a bus pass.
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  #12  
Old 05-12-2006, 01:31 PM
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Interesting. Typically, a car pulls timing to induce a rich situation to reduce and elminate knock and help prevent detonation. When this occurs, your car starts running rich, which requires more gasoline, and the combustion is not as good which results in the loss of power. The octane rating is just the stability of the fuel to not predetonite in more "extreme" or "higher heat" circumstances; like forced induction (turbos and super charges) and high-compression engines. Likewise, knock can be reduced by cooler intake air. Hences, why cars perform better on cooler days and why intercoolers, water injection, and etc. are used to maximize forced induction performance (more timing advance, leaner cylinder conditions for a better burn). I am not sure why your car is different ? Now, you did state you ran 94 octane which could be part of the problem. The higher the octane, the harder it is to ignite, which is why it is foolish to run above the manufacturer's specific required fuel grade (you do not get a complete burn).
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  #13  
Old 05-12-2006, 01:34 PM
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Also, it could be due to seasonal fuel mixes of why the regular is yielding a better MPG over the premium.
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2012, 08:33 AM
mmadison17 mmadison17 is offline
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i have a 1997 i have been puttin all grads in my tank 87 89 and just recently been puting 91 the thing of it is is that everytime i would put 87 i would follow it up with a gas treatment could i mess my bmw up that way or should i just stick to 91 like everybody in thid forum is sayin
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  #15  
Old 09-06-2012, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truelies View Post
The user manual says should be premium gas, but this is expensive. If I use regular gas, will it cause any damage to engine? Thank you!
+1 to what everyone has said. But to answer your specific question: NO, regular gas will NOT damage your engine.
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  #16  
Old 09-08-2012, 11:48 PM
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Details here:
- All you need to know about engine fuel & octane (1) & The Gasoline FAQ & top-tier gas stations (1) & how large is the fuel tank and reserve in the E39 (1) & what gasoline to use (1) & how much gas should be left to cool the fuel pump (1) & how to siphon the fuel out of the tank (1) & does spilled gasoline go into the charcoal canister (1) & what is the cost differential between 87 & 91 octane AKI (1)

Quote:

6.3 What fuel property does the Octane Rating measure?

The fuel property the octane ratings measure is the ability of the unburnt end gases to spontaneously ignite under the specified test conditions. Within the chemical structure of the fuel is the ability to withstand pre-flame conditions without decomposing into species that will autoignite before the flame-front arrives. Different reaction mechanisms, occurring at various stages of the pre-flame compression stroke, are responsible for the undesirable, easily-autoignitable, end gases. During the oxidation of a hydrocarbon fuel, the hydrogen atoms are removed one at a time from the molecule by reactions with small radical species (such as OH and HO2), and O and H atoms. The strength of carbon-hydrogen bonds depends on what the carbon is connected to. Straight chain HCs such as normal heptane have secondary C-H bonds that are significantly weaker than the primary C-H bonds present in branched chain HCs like iso-octane [21,22]. The octane rating of hydrocarbons is determined by the structure of the molecule, with long, straight hydrocarbon chains producing large amounts of easily-autoignitable pre-flame decomposition species, while branched and aromatic hydrocarbons are more resistant. This also explains why the octane ratings of paraffins consistently decrease with carbon number. In real life, the unburnt "end gases" ahead of the flame front encounter temperatures up to about 700C due to compression and radiant and conductive heating, and commence a series of pre-flame reactions. These reactions occur at different thermal stages, with the initial stage ( below 400C ) commencing with the addition of molecular oxygen to alkyl radicals, followed by the internal transfer of hydrogen atoms within the new radical to form an unsaturated, oxygen-containing species. These new species are susceptible to chain branching involving the HO2 radical during the intermediate temperature stage (400-600C), mainly through the production of OH radicals. Above 600C, the most important reaction that produces chain branching is the reaction of one hydrogen atom radical with molecular oxygen to form O and OH radicals. The addition of additives such as alkyl lead and oxygenates can significantly affect the pre-flame reaction pathways. Antiknock additives work by interfering at different points in the pre-flame reactions, with the oxygenates retarding undesirable low temperature reactions, and the alkyl lead compounds react in the intermediate temperature region to deactivate the major undesirable chain branching sequence [21,22]. The antiknock ability is related to the "autoignition temperature" of the hydrocarbons. Antiknock ability is _not_ substantially related to:- 1. The energy content of fuel, this should be obvious, as oxygenates have lower energy contents, but high octanes. 2. The flame speed of the conventionally ignited mixture, this should be evident from the similarities of the two reference hydrocarbons. Although flame speed does play a minor part, there are many other factors that are far more important. ( such as compression ratio, stoichiometry, combustion chamber shape, chemical structure of the fuel, presence of antiknock additives, number and position of spark plugs, turbulence etc.) Flame speed does not correlate with octane.
EDIT: Drat. The line feeds in the quote are messed up. Sorry. You can read the details in the original FAQ.
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 09-08-2012 at 11:51 PM.
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  #17  
Old 09-09-2012, 02:35 AM
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Cheap gas aka low octane in itself will not damage your engine. YOU can damage your engine by running cheap gas though.

Low octane fuel (below what the motor is designed for) can cause damage from spark knock over a long enough period of use. Its even a valid reason to deny warranty work which bmw has done before too.

Piston damage from low octane fuel:



Some more things to consider. Effects of ethanol fuel :


Last edited by crowz; 09-09-2012 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 02:41 AM
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More low octane joys :



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Old 09-09-2012, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowz View Post
More low octane joys
I suspect those photographic horror stories are not due solely to low octane fuel, per se.

I don't know that (as you know where the pics came from and I do not), but severe detonation (heavy pinging) can be due to a multitude of factors, only one of which is the wrong octane rating of the fuel (versus spec).

Specifically to the point of THIS thread, I suspect it's RARE (maybe even non-existent) in the USA for low octane to cause such damage to an E39 (which has piezoelectric knock sensors as a protective mechanism).

Sure, if you put an 80% mixture of 2,2,4 trimethylpentane (i.e., iso-octane) and heptane, you could easily get such damage ... but ... I suspect (caveat: I don't know the history of those photos) that those pictures are due to an engine which had other (major) problems.

Here are some 'other' major problems which 'can' (and do) cause such severe damage and, which, I suspect, are the true cause of such damage above:
- Overheating
- High compression
- Excessive loads
- EGR malfunctioning
- Far-advanced timing
etc.
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  #20  
Old 09-09-2012, 07:49 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmadison17 View Post
i have a 1997 i have been puttin all grads in my tank 87 89 and just recently been puting 91 the thing of it is is that everytime i would put 87 i would follow it up with a gas treatment could i mess my bmw up that way or should i just stick to 91 like everybody in thid forum is sayin
I'm not even sure that you and the original OP (from 2006) have the same fuel requirement. The OP had a 2000 528i which would be the M52TU engine...and your 97 would have the M52 engine. I've never owned a BMW with either engine, so I am not specifically sure if their "recommended" fuel requirement is the same. But I am sure that the minimum requirement is at least 87 AKI.

I would refer you to look in your owners manual...or look for a sticker/label on or around your fuel filler cap for information. I know that my M62 & M62TU engined BMWs have slightly different recommendations. Both have the same 87 AKI MINIMUM REQUIREMENT...whereas the older M62 engine has a RECOMMENDATION to use 89 AKI...while the newer M62TU engine has a 91 AKI RECOMMENDATION.

I will also add that I understand the meaning and intent of minimum fuel requirement...and BMW recommendation.



(M62TU gas filler cap & fuel octane specs)


(M62 gas filler cap & fuel octane specs)
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Last edited by QSilver7; 09-09-2012 at 07:56 AM.
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  #21  
Old 09-09-2012, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I suspect those photographic horror stories are not due solely to low octane fuel, per se.

I don't know that (as you know where the pics came from and I do not), but severe detonation (heavy pinging) can be due to a multitude of factors, only one of which is the wrong octane rating of the fuel (versus spec).

Specifically to the point of THIS thread, I suspect it's RARE (maybe even non-existent) in the USA for low octane to cause such damage to an E39 (which has piezoelectric knock sensors as a protective mechanism).

Sure, if you put an 80% mixture of 2,2,4 trimethylpentane (i.e., iso-octane) and heptane, you could easily get such damage ... but ... I suspect (caveat: I don't know the history of those photos) that those pictures are due to an engine which had other (major) problems.

Here are some 'other' major problems which 'can' (and do) cause such severe damage and, which, I suspect, are the true cause of such damage above:
- Overheating
- High compression
- Excessive loads
- EGR malfunctioning
- Far-advanced timing
etc.
This ones actually very simple. If you hear dedonation or spark knock you are causing damage. There is NO way to twist it or argue the fact. Because the very fact the noise is occuring is because the mixture is igniting BEFORE its suposed to. This causes damage. Minor knocking (which is whats occuring) isnt going to instantly kill a motor but prolonged exposure to this will cause damage to the motor and shorten its useful life.

The knock sensor is designed to compensate for this condition by allowing the computer to sense the knock and backing off the timing. But it can only back the timing off so far. Try downloading some of the packages out there for programming ecm's and you can see how it works.

Again the computer can only compensate to a certain extent. If you hear spark knock then your beyond what its able to adjust for and mechanical or fuel changes are required to do any more than that.

But to put it as simple as possible and not leave any room what so ever for arguement or opinions :

If you use cheap gas and the motor knocks or pings you MUST change to higher octane fuel to prevent harming your motor. If the motor doesnt knock or ping then your ok running that fuel. But you will suffer worse gas mileage from the cheaper fuel on a modern computer controlled vehicle.
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