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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 08-29-2007, 07:33 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Odd electrical problems (turn signal, dash backlight, hazard switch)

The turn signal in my 1998 528i has been acting up the last few days. I checked all the fuses and found no problems. After searching all the fuses and verifying they are set properly I checked the turn signals again and they worked fine. This morning I wanted to make sure the turn signals were working and everything was fine so I left the hazards on to make sure the “fix” would last. After a few minutes the turn signals stopped working correctly and the problem was back. Along with the turn signals not working, the dash backlight also doesn’t illuminate, the head lights work but will not switch to the high beams, and the hazard switch flashes at times (but the signals or dash indicators don’t light) and at other times it stays continually illuminated. I assume these are all connected but with the problem being intermittent troubles me (everything worked fine (signals, hazard, backlight, high beams) but only for a few minutes this morning). The car was just sitting in the driveway warming up; I wasn’t driving around while waiting. Has anyone encountered this problem before?
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2007, 07:52 AM
NeoCole NeoCole is offline
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Sounds like a bad ignition switch, after market iPod adaptor, Battery going out and/or Alternator going out, or a LCM going bad. All issues are listed in order of probability.

If you have an after market iPod adaptor, or any device that plugs into the IBUS CD Changer plug, remove it. Test your battery and your car's charging system.

There's something you can do with the sun visor/ vanity mirror to verify bad ignition switch, but I can't remember the steps.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2007, 08:29 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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No after market items in the car. What exactly is the ignition switch – can I change it myself?

I don't know how old the battery is but it is at least 3 years old…. I will have the battery tested, that should be easy.
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  #4  
Old 08-29-2007, 08:34 AM
NeoCole NeoCole is offline
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The ignition switch is the thing you stick your key into and turn the car on/off. You can change it yourself, but it requires a bit of work. Not sure where the write up is on changing it. However you'll want to verify the issue before just throwing parts at it. Get your battery / charging system tested. If it passes, I'd lean on ignition switch.
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  #5  
Old 08-29-2007, 09:15 AM
Johnex Johnex is offline
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Here are the instructions, click on the link. Also, I bought my switch from oembimmerparts in San Antonio, TX for under $50.00.

http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/244045

PS: If I can change this part, anybody can....LOL. It is very do-able.
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  #6  
Old 08-29-2007, 11:23 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Thanks for all the input - I will check the battery and alternator and then go after the ignition switch. I will update when complete.
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  #7  
Old 09-06-2007, 10:29 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Over the weekend I removed the negative wire of the battery as the Hazard button was illuminated when I returned home from work one Friday. I had taken another car so the BMW was sitting in the garage all day - possibly with the light on all day?! Tuesday I re connected the battery and drive 3 trips (start-drive-park-off) without problems then on the 4th trip of the day the turn signal (and other items) stop working again. Over lunch I went to AutoZone and they checked the battery / alternator and no problems were discovered. Does this confirm that the problem is the ignition switch? Even with the intermittent functionality?

I also unplugged the battery when I returned to work, plugging it back in after only a minute and the problem still exist. I wanted to test to see if turning off was resetting something….

Ignition switch replacement?
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  #8  
Old 09-06-2007, 02:48 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Try replacing all the turn signal bulbs. I know it sounds crazy, but these cars do funny things when the bulbs start aging and their measured resistance starts creeping up. Besides, this is cheaper and easier than the ignition switch.

Check for any corrosion in the bulb housings, too.

However, I honestly don't think this will fix your problem but it is cheap/cake to try.
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  #9  
Old 09-07-2007, 07:59 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Thanks for the idea. I will replace the bulbs this weekend and see if that helps!
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2007, 06:43 PM
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lild lild is offline
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It Sounds Like You May Short In The System, Such As A Ground Wire Some Where In The Car Is Loose. Take It To Automotive Electrical Specialist, Or The Dealer. I Could Be Wrong But The Ingintion Swictch Would Not Cause The High Beams Not To Work Or The Dash Not To Light Up. I Would Take And Have Look At Asap Before You End Up With Bigger Problems.
P.s.
I Just Remembered I Had A Vw Jetta Here The Shop Last Week, With The Turn Signals And Hazzards Not Working, It Turn Out To Be The Hazzard Swith In The Dash Went Bad, You Could Try That First.
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  #11  
Old 09-14-2007, 06:40 AM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Can it be a short even though everything has worked a few times after removing the battery? I have been dreading that it might be a short but after the first weekend of the battery disconnected I pulled the car out of the garage and left it running. The car didn’t move but the problem re-appeared after about 5 minutes. Could a short “re-activate”, as everything was working, without the car moving?

The complete list of items that stop working are: turn signals, hazard button, daytime lights come on (light switch doesn’t activate them), fog lights, backlight for dash, ashtray light, seatbelt idiot light (does not even light during the initial ignition test but others – airbag, etc do during initial test). I think that is the complete list. Also, before I changed all of the bulbs I checked to see if the car would sense not having the turn bulbs and the sensor (the lights in the instrument cluster) didn’t indicate the missing bulbs.
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  #12  
Old 09-14-2007, 08:01 AM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Do you have a good local independent shop? It might be worth their time to help track this down for you. Otherwise, you might end up replacing a lot of stuff before you finally hit it. My vote is for the LCM - light control module but I think the ignition switch is much cheaper. Electrical problems are such bears to figure on on this cars....
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:31 AM
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lild lild is offline
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Well Short Can Be As Simpale As Ground Wire Not Correctly Attached, Also After Talking To A Freind Of Mine He Said The Ing. Failure Cause The Same Problem,he Said He Could Drive Thr Car And Turn The Switch Alittle Forward And Everything Work. But If You Are Not Really Sure Take It To A Pro. The Last Thing You Don't Want To Do Is Fry The Electrical System.
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  #14  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:31 AM
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lild lild is offline
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Some Things Are Worth The Money
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  #15  
Old 09-19-2007, 05:06 PM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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Unfortunately, the ignition switch didn't solve the problem…. Should I even attempt to fix the LCM (with the chips from Cam) or should I just suck it up and take it to the stealer??? Anyone know a trustworthy shop in northwest Indiana?
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  #16  
Old 09-19-2007, 05:16 PM
dkrieg dkrieg is offline
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While replacing the switch I did notice that it looked like a lot of grease was in the bottom steering clamshell. It looked like it came from the area which actually turns and might be normal but it was enough that I had to wash my hands a few times and get a paper towel to keep things clean.
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2007, 06:15 PM
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lild lild is offline
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take it to some one who knows what they are doing, i hate when i screw up something and have to take it to a pro., it hurts the pride.
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  #18  
Old 03-14-2009, 10:05 PM
myankow myankow is offline
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Crazy light problems this looks like the answer

Thank you for sharing this problem and solution. I have a 1998 528i also and am encountering similiar if not almost exactly the same problems.
*High beams do not come on when placing high beam switch in on position
*turn signals on dashboard do not light
*dashboard lights flicker when light switch is turned on-this also flickers one of the tail light bulbs on each side (this happens in both light switch positions)
*when light switch is on the turn signals do not work (both switch positions)
*when light switch is off the headlights and taillights are illuminated and tun signals illuminate properly and flash (although flash is a little wierd)
*when driving at night or car running in driveway the headlights and tail lights flicker off once at about 15-20 seconds (this happens with light switch on or off)
*4 way flasher switch remains illuminated even when car is off
*4 way flasher works properly when depressed and car off
*front yellow corner lights do not illuminate when light switch is placed in first position - I will put new bulbs in here tomorrow first before ordering the ignition switch
*Reverse lights do not work
*New Battery was installed
*One Time the key switch rotated 360 degrees multiple times
*Alarm sounds when opening the car door for about 10 seconds. Pushing the lock unlock will make the alarm noise go off.
I also changed or swapped all the rear light bulbs to be sure that they all illuminiate when powered.
I will follow the link you supplied for ignition switch replacement, after replacing the front corner light bulbs, and let you know if it fixed the problem.
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  #19  
Old 11-18-2009, 08:53 PM
seano523i seano523i is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW E39 523i
I have the same problems....

Did the ingnition switch solve the problem for anyone? The ignition switch is only a couple of hundred dollars here in Australia, however, the LCM is 1200.
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  #20  
Old 11-19-2009, 06:23 AM
carjoe carjoe is offline
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I had something similar though nowhere near as problematic. I thought it was the LCM but it turned to be the harness in the trunk. One wire had broken. One measly stinking wire caused me all this grief...
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  #21  
Old 11-29-2009, 05:48 PM
TeeRoy TeeRoy is offline
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I know this is an old thread, but has anyone found any solutions to their probems? I have the same issue. I swapped out good a good LCM, a good check control module, and flasher relay. Took the car to someone with a computer and it showed alot of faults coming from the Steering Column. Thinking about swapping an ignition switch and turn lever.
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  #22  
Old 05-29-2012, 09:27 AM
jrcastro jrcastro is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i & 1999 540iA
I'm having the same symptoms on my 99 540i but has been intermittent and has only happened a few times. Any new answers to this issues?
My battery is going bad (about 7 yrs old) but pretty certain it has nothing to do with this. Although this will be my first attempt to solve these issues.
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  #23  
Old 12-25-2012, 04:42 PM
Damion134 Damion134 is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 528i
98 528i

I'm having similar problems with mine I'm the second owner been taken care of it for last 3yrs do most work thanks to yu guys,..
My tail light indicator was on and none of my lights was out, my blinkers have no sound and the radio won't come on, no fuse prob don't Kno what it is please help
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  #24  
Old 08-28-2013, 07:41 PM
stlsinger stlsinger is offline
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Mein Auto: 528i
I have the exact same issues. Took it to the dealer today. They said they were getting crazy readings from the general module. So to fix they want to replace it. 500+ for the part the 3 hours labor. I thought this was easy to replace. Not 3 hours. They even said it was behind the cluster? I read it's behind the glove box. Any one resolve this issue successfully yet?
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  #25  
Old 08-29-2013, 02:22 AM
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mjalloul11 mjalloul11 is offline
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The general module is behind the glove box.
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