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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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  #51  
Old 12-28-2007, 07:28 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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Bigred455,
Wouldn't you think I would get a warning light or Check Engine Light if this fault occurs?
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  #52  
Old 12-28-2007, 08:26 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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Here is the official Commerce Insurance letter of refusal to pay! DO NOT BUY COMMERCE INSURANCE. They will screw you!

"Pursuant to Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy, General Provisions And Exclusions, Page 26, Paragraph 9, states:

"We will NOT pay for damage to your auto which is due solely to ordinary wear and tear, freezing, mechanical or electrical failure, or for ordinary road damage to tires. We will, however, pay for this damage if it is the result of some other loss which is covered by this policy".

As a result of our investigation and the policy language set fourth above, we will be unable to respond to your claim damage. This decision to DECLINE coverage for your claim is based on the fact that there as a short in the engine wire harness causing damage to the computer and thermostat. There was no fire no resulting damage from a fire. The damage to your vehicle was caused by a mechanical failure.

Now let me explain a few things. BMW determined the damage was caused by a failure of the Electro Mechanical Thermostat which burnt out the wiring harness, computer and other select items. FIRE is defined not a seeing FLAME, but bringing matter to a point of meltdown. If I was to leave the door open and introduce enough oxygen into the car, it would have burst in flames.

Although Commerce Insurance is bad and is not working in good faith, the fault really lies with BMW that they knew this componet is dangerous and put my children, wife and myself at risk everytime we drove in it.

The problem is now in the hands of BMW North America. They are sending an engineer to look at the damage, take pictures and bring them back to the BMW engineering team. After this we will determine the next step. BMW may decide in good faith to fix the car or do what Commerce is doing and simply say "ITS NOT OUR PROBLEM".

Either case I always loved my 540 but this incident has put a sour taste in my mouth and I will be hard pressed to buy another BMW if this is not taken care of properly. This is already my second BMW and we have been considering the new X5.

I am taking a wait and see attitude right now. In the meantime please share this with all BMW owners and people that are thinking of buying a BMW.
ken
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  #53  
Old 12-28-2007, 10:17 AM
Viktor Viktor is offline
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Geez, so if I saw smoke coming out of a house, no matter how foul or good it smelled, I should not assume it has nothing to do with any kind of fire.
So all that smoke I see coming from Burger King has nothing to do with any kind of heat, its a Fog Machine that smells like burgers! ... Is that what the insurance is saying?

Last edited by Viktor; 12-28-2007 at 10:19 AM.
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  #54  
Old 12-28-2007, 10:24 AM
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I would expect BMW to fix the car with no charge to you. Their reputation is on the line and without a good reputaiton they have no buisness. I know if this happened to my car and they didn't take care of the issue I would never buy a car from them again. Let them know how this will effect attitudes towards their products if the matter is not resolved. They wouln't lose hardly any money fixing the car considering their price for parts and its the company doing the labor themselves. I would press for them to fix the matter.
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  #55  
Old 12-28-2007, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
The $4k is what they found just UNDER the hood. Never got in the car yet. I got this feeling this is not going to get fixed so I already hired an attorney to go after BMW for negligence and also the insurance company.

If I end up paying for any of this crap it will be my families last BMW and I will sell this as soon as it gets fixed.
Note to self: Do not buy a 2000 BMW 540i from ANYONE in New England....

Sorry, just having fun...hope everything works out for you. It sure is a pisser, however.
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  #56  
Old 12-28-2007, 05:46 PM
Bigred455 Bigred455 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
Bigred455,
Wouldn't you think I would get a warning light or Check Engine Light if this fault occurs?
No, usually it blows the fuse and causes a 'no-start' complaint. The problem is when the tech or owner finds this fuse blown and replaces it THAT is when they usually catch fire.

It is coolant that weeps past the map connection that causes shorting out the wiring harness, not the electrical components of the t-stat themselves.

Note: most 99% of the time the thermostat shows signs of the leakage, this usually doesn't just all of the sudden leak then fire.

EDIT: the smoke you had through the A/C vents was not actually fire in the cabin of the car. I would bet the A/C was on Fresh air not recirc. The fresh air intake is directly above the E-Box. Also, I have seen flames from a vehicle that shorted the harness as yours did. In that case the vehicle need a new t-stat, engine harness and DME.

What is the list of parts for your $4000 quote?

Last edited by Bigred455; 12-28-2007 at 05:52 PM.
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  #57  
Old 12-29-2007, 04:03 PM
bmwadam bmwadam is offline
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I am sorry to hear about this. You have a terrible insurance company. I have a friend whose Toyota Camry caught fire (YES even the japs have problems like this) due to an electrical short, it burned to the ground, was totaled, and his insurance company paid the claim.

It is best to replace thermostats every 3 years or so on these cars after they come out of warranty. Its also best to replace water pumps every 3 years, AND fan clutches and fans (they like to explode and dent the hood). Moral of this is preventative maintenance. Your thermostat lasted 7 years. It is VERY RARE that a failing thermostat causes a fire. I have only heard of this one time before and in that situation the poor guy replaced the fuse which triggered the short.

I know of 540's with over 300k on them. I know its hard to believe this now, but the 540 is a fantastic car. You just had a Murphy's law moment. But learn from this: ALWAYS drive with a fire extinguisher, no matter what car u drive.

Advice: Go after the insurance company, and go after the dealer. If you had been taking your car in for routine maintenance, THEN they should have replaced the thermostat. Sue BMW while you are at it to, they may just pay your car off or give you an excellent trade in for it to make you go away.
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  #58  
Old 12-30-2007, 01:12 PM
dpatel1026 dpatel1026 is offline
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I had an e46 that caught on fire from the battery. The insurance totaled the car out and cut me a check. They hired a special fire forensic guy to find out what happened. He said the battery was the cause which I got at Sam's, then the insurance company wrote me a letter stating if i would like to go after Sam's for selling me the wrong battery, but i would only recover my deductable.
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  #59  
Old 12-30-2007, 01:16 PM
xxpanipuri xxpanipuri is offline
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man whats with all these bimmers catching on fire!
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  #60  
Old 01-01-2008, 11:14 AM
franka franka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxpanipuri View Post
man whats with all these bimmers catching on fire!
in comparison to all the BMWs sold the percent of fires is very very small and probably much smaller than other mfgrs
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  #61  
Old 01-03-2008, 06:12 PM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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No Excuses for BMW's Catching Fire

With all due respect I do not see any margin for BMW's catching fire, even one. Let's say I had my family in that car and we could not get out and things DID worsen.

Now I do know from my research that BMW is aware of this problem and has showed up on a number of vehicles. I do know that the DOT also know of this problem and has several reported cases. Last time they called me, I suspect they are building a case to go after BMW North America.

My car has been sitting in a snow pile up here since Dec 11th. BMW has done nothing to date, I keep getting promises but that does not fix the car.

I am hopeful they take care of the problem so I dont need to go the distance, and I will if I have to.
Ken
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  #62  
Old 01-03-2008, 07:43 PM
franka franka is offline
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If they haven't done anything to date nor given you a time when they would then you have to go that distance now. A little more time will not chaqnge anyone's mind.

Good luck
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  #63  
Old 01-04-2008, 06:41 AM
beemer540ia beemer540ia is offline
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BMW Not Moving Fast Enough!

Last I heard from BMW North America they said its going to take a little time since all this happened before the holidays. I told them I understand. Yesterday while at Tulley BMW in Nashua, NH. I heard that BMW is suppose to be there around the 8th of Jan.
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  #64  
Old 01-14-2008, 02:06 AM
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Any word now, I'm very curious about this...
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  #65  
Old 01-14-2008, 07:43 AM
wolfen wolfen is offline
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time for your guys with 540's that burned to get together on a conference call. CArs catching on fire is NOT NORMAL. BMW KNOWS THIS. THEY ARE BURYING THEIR HEAD IN THE SAND.

What if this happened while driving down the highway with your family in the back seat. Poof! All potentially dead.

Time to start calling news outlets, media centers, cahnnel 2,4 ,8, 10 etc etc etc...

They WILL all love to do a piece on BMW's spontaneously catching on fire. TRUST ME! Don't let an opportunity for local and potential national exposure go by you. Shame on them from knowing about this and playing the numbers game to get away with the least possible financial responsibility at the risk of your and your families life.

There are at LEAST 3 members here with 540's that burned up for no apparent reason. It's enough for something to smell fishy.


Start making calls to local papers and TV news stations. I will be GLAD to organize something like that.
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  #66  
Old 01-14-2008, 07:51 AM
juanchi29 juanchi29 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
time for your guys with 540's that burned to get together on a conference call. CArs catching on fire is NOT NORMAL. BMW KNOWS THIS. THEY ARE BURYING THEIR HEAD IN THE SAND.

What if this happened while driving down the highway with your family in the back seat. Poof! All potentially dead.

Time to start calling news outlets, media centers, cahnnel 2,4 ,8, 10 etc etc etc...

They WILL all love to do a piece on BMW's spontaneously catching on fire. TRUST ME! Don't let an opportunity for local and potential national exposure go by you. Shame on them from knowing about this and playing the numbers game to get away with the least possible financial responsibility at the risk of your and your families life.

There are at LEAST 3 members here with 540's that burned up for no apparent reason. It's enough for something to smell fishy.


Start making calls to local papers and TV news stations. I will be GLAD to organize something like that.
I concur with you totally, And i gotta ad that i'm so upset at this, i got a 323ci that i'm gonna trade in for a 02 540i witch now i'm sacared. I wanted to get rid of the 323ci cuz the subframe ripped on me it probaly will again, the tranny might of just decided to go soon and a bunch of problems those cars got. Now i'm gonna switch up and the 540's got A SH*T LOAD OF PROBLEMS. i love bmw's the way they feel no car, has that feeling but i'm just dissapointed there should be a recall for alot more things, were gonna have to all get together on this one..
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  #67  
Old 01-14-2008, 07:57 AM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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Originally Posted by juanchi29 View Post
I concur with you totally, And i gotta ad that i'm so upset at this, i got a 323ci that i'm gonna trade in for a 02 540i witch now i'm sacared. I wanted to get rid of the 323ci cuz the subframe ripped on me it probaly will again, the tranny might of just decided to go soon and a bunch of problems those cars got. Now i'm gonna switch up and the 540's got A SH*T LOAD OF PROBLEMS. i love bmw's the way they feel no car, has that feeling but i'm just dissapointed there should be a recall for alot more things, were gonna have to all get together on this one..
I'm a glass half empty guy, but your car burning up wouldn't be the top of my list on why not to buy a 540i (plenty of other issues to deal with....like the insane "maintenance" bills which I put cooling and suspension at the top of this list).

If all three cars that roasted, trace back to the same part and cause, then there is some reason for concern. If it's random crap....and some freak occurrence on the other 2 cars......then I'll put this in my BMW feature book and move on.
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  #68  
Old 01-14-2008, 08:37 AM
juanchi29 juanchi29 is offline
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Suspension isen't that expenisive, or something you change often so i dont know why that would be on the top of your list? as far as bills any bimmer will be expensive to maintain if you take it to the stearlership or a expensive place. There are indy shops that dont charge a arm and a leg, I'm start trying to diy you save a ton of money. And another thing its not a 504i thing, or a 323ci thing, e46...e39..e36...if you look at all the series they all seem to have a list of a problems that seem common. I guess it does not matter what model/series you get...they each come with there baggage. Its just a bmw thing, But like i said before they drive like no other car out there i'am getting sick of there quite often problems.

Last edited by juanchi29; 01-14-2008 at 08:41 AM.
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  #69  
Old 01-14-2008, 08:43 AM
franka franka is offline
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[QUOTE=dbruce;2929423] why not to buy a 540i (plenty of other issues to deal with....like the insane "maintenance" bills which I put cooling and suspension at the top of this list). QUOTE]


Maintenance is not insane. I have almost 200K miles on mine and I disagree.
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  #70  
Old 01-14-2008, 08:49 AM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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[QUOTE=franka;2929526]
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbruce View Post
why not to buy a 540i (plenty of other issues to deal with....like the insane "maintenance" bills which I put cooling and suspension at the top of this list). QUOTE]


Maintenance is not insane. I have almost 200K miles on mine and I disagree.
For a 540....cooling system every 40k and suspension update every 70K (shocks, sway bar links and control arms at a minimum......and70k is pushing it). This assumes that is all that goes wrong on the car............which anyone will tell you is a big if.

I have a friend with a 98 528i, that's had it for close to a 100k (has 120k on it).....so I knew what I was getting into. He will only lease them after his experience....loves the car....but it's a money pit compared to most cars. At 120 and change.....he has decided not to put any more money into it..........just too much money.

For those that consider BMW "maintenance" normal....pick up just about any Japanese brand or even domestic these days....and this stuff just doesn't happen.


http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=255386

Quote:
Complete overhaul imo.

Tie Rods - $120.00 for both sides Lemforder ONLY
Sway Bar links - $80.00 for both sides Lemforder ONLY
Lower Control Arms - $300.00 for both sides Lemforder ONLY
Upper (Thrust) Control Arms - $250.00 for both sides Lemforder ONLY
Consider changing wheel bearings - this is optional but smart...both sides are $360.00

Keep your springs, replace Struts and Shocks. OEM non-sport...figure $500.00
Change strut mounts and shock mounts - $175.00
I know...I know.....it's worth it.
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  #71  
Old 01-14-2008, 08:58 AM
juanchi29 juanchi29 is offline
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I'VE had four jap cars. They are more reliable, cheaper to mantain however i did have a 99 stick altima witch the tranny went on me twice. But the feel of these jap cars is no where near a bmws but i agree the prices are insane.
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  #72  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:09 AM
dbruce dbruce is offline
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Quote:
But the feel of these jap cars is no where near a bmws but i agree the prices are insane.
I've had an E36 M3 and driven quite a few cars as rentals and owned some interesting cars. BMW's drive very well.....but brands like Infinity are catching up in a big way. The previous G35 was a very nice car....minus the auto I hated and the newer version was also very nice and vastly improved.

I will only lease BMW's in the future.....dealing with issues as older BMW's age gets tiring when you don't have the time to deal with the stuff. A friend of a friend, who's a BMW mechanic at a dealership, mentioned that the only people that own the larger BMW's. once the warranty ends, are the mechanics.....since they get discounted parts and free labor. The "free maintenance" from BMW also dumps a bunch of cars in the used market that have been poorly maintained.....adding to the expense of a used one.

I'm not trying to fan any flames here......but the costs associated with keeping these cars running tiptop is damn expensive compared to other cars (I'll leave out Mercedes ). People that can easily afford them, turn them in for a new one every 3 or 4 years......so they don't worry about the costs later. For the used car buyer, with no CPO, keep some money in the bank....you will need it.
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  #73  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:22 AM
franka franka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbruce View Post
I've had an E36 M3 and driven quite a few cars as rentals and owned some interesting cars. BMW's drive very well.....but brands like Infinity are catching up in a big way. The previous G35 was a very nice car....minus the auto I hated and the newer version was also very nice and vastly improved.

I will only lease BMW's in the future.....dealing with issues as older BMW's age gets tiring when you don't have the time to deal with the stuff. A friend of a friend, who's a BMW mechanic at a dealership, mentioned that the only people that own the larger BMW's. once the warranty ends, are the mechanics.....since they get discounted parts and free labor. The "free maintenance" from BMW also dumps a bunch of cars in the used market that have been poorly maintained.....adding to the expense of a used one.

I'm not trying to fan any flames here......but the costs associated with keeping these cars running tiptop is damn expensive compared to other cars (I'll leave out Mercedes ). People that can easily afford them, turn them in for a new one every 3 or 4 years......so they don't worry about the costs later. For the used car buyer, with no CPO, keep some money in the bank....you will need it.
Seems you should sell any BMWs you own and move on.
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  #74  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbruce View Post

For a 540....cooling system every 40k and suspension update every 70K (shocks, sway bar links and control arms at a minimum......and70k is pushing it). This assumes that is all that goes wrong on the car............which anyone will tell you is a big if.

I have a friend with a 98 528i, that's had it for close to a 100k (has 120k on it).....so I knew what I was getting into. He will only lease them after his experience....loves the car....but it's a money pit compared to most cars. At 120 and change.....he has decided not to put any more money into it..........just too much money.

For those that consider BMW "maintenance" normal....pick up just about any Japanese brand or even domestic these days....and this stuff just doesn't happen.
Anyone who buys a BMW expecting the maintenance to be like a Japanese car probably shouldn't be buying a BMW, just like anyone who buys a Japanese car expecting it to handle like a BMW probably shouldn't be buying a Japanese car.

I don't see needing to replace a radiator and expansion tank which cost about $250 every 3 to 5 years (40 to 60K) as insane maintenance. The I6's usually go about 80K or every 5 to 7 years. And most cars need new shocks at around 100K which is when I replaced mine on my previous 525. If you have a sports package and drive on rougher roads, then yes, you'll probably have to replace them sooner, but even using your 70K miles, you're talking about every 5 to 6 years of average driving.

All I can tell you is that the maintenance costs on my BMWs have been fairly minimal, but I sold the last 2 at between 130K to 135K miles which is when I think a lot of parts start requiring replacement, but I think that's true with most cars. I had a Toyota Supra that I sold at around 100K and the maintenance costs on that were lower per part, but it required more maintenance sooner including a new radiator and shocks so it cost me more overall.

As for the fires, it is strange that 3 members with 540s have had fires in the last month, but I did a search and found only one other instance a couple of years ago along with a couple of e46 I6's.

Last edited by 1Dreamer; 01-14-2008 at 09:34 AM.
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  #75  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:35 AM
franka franka is offline
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That quote in post 74 is NOT mine. Pls correct it
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