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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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  #126  
Old 03-26-2009, 02:28 PM
johnniegold johnniegold is online now
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Sorry if this is in the wrong thread. Mods please move if necessary. But on the topic, my mechanic called and said the computer is shot and it would need a new harness etc. He suggested I call my insurance company before I decide to do anything. Not a happy camper right now.
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  #127  
Old 03-26-2009, 07:43 PM
scott0357 scott0357 is offline
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I'm surprised that BMW does not have a recall on this problem. I'm also curious to know which wire(s) got shorted and caused the fire. If the wires are shorted, the fuse should have blown first before drawing too much current to cause the fire, unless there's no fuse for the thermostat.
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  #128  
Old 03-26-2009, 10:28 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnniegold View Post
I have been reading this thread because today on my way home the engine cut out on my '97 740i. I coasted through the intersection and pulled over to the side of the road. I saw some smoke under the hood and smelled something burning. I opened the hood and saw some smoke coming from the front of the engine cover. While looking I noticed a small flame starting. Instinctively, albeit stupidly, I looked at the small flame and blew it out.

I called my mechanic and he told me that, without looking at it, it sounds like the thermostat but he will look at it tomorrow and assess the damage. If I didn't blow out the flame, the car probably would have burned out. Well, let's see what happens. Hopefully, it's just the thermostat. The car has 74,000 miles on it and I was hoping to at least double that.

If it IS the thermostat, like the original poster, please report this to the appropriate federal agency, as listed earlier in this thread. It is important in order to track if there is a trend.
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  #129  
Old 03-27-2009, 01:38 PM
johnniegold johnniegold is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
If it IS the thermostat, like the original poster, please report this to the appropriate federal agency, as listed earlier in this thread. It is important in order to track if there is a trend.
Insurance company sending someone to look at it on Monday. I'll follow-up.
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  #130  
Old 03-30-2009, 03:34 PM
johnniegold johnniegold is online now
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Following up from previous post. The good news is that my insurance will cover the damage. This includes a new wiring harness, computer and assorted hoses, etc. However, they would not cover the thermostat since it was determined to be the cause of the fire.
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  #131  
Old 03-30-2009, 04:11 PM
jburnham jburnham is offline
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It sure looks like there is a batch of dangerously defective M62 thermostats out there. With no alternative parts, I guess we are just supposed to keep our fingers crossed? Since there isn't a TIS (that I know of), asking the dealership isn't going to provide any extra saftey - and if you press the issue, I'm sure they'll tell you to replace yours with another (which could be equally dangerous) to cover their asses.
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  #132  
Old 03-30-2009, 04:24 PM
chucksrt chucksrt is offline
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any pics of the problem area?
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  #133  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:00 AM
franka franka is offline
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Any smoke damage in the passenger area?
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  #134  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:36 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemer540ia View Post
I have a 540 year 2000 which caught fire the other night coming home. BMW says it was a faulty electronic thermostat that started it. So far I am up to $4000.00 in damages under the hood. Who knows what damage is under the dash since the inside of the car filled with smoke!

BMW claims they dont have any recalls or faulty parts (Then why did my car catch on fire!).

And to make matters worse the insurance company will not pay for any damage because "A FLAME WAS NOT VISIBLE". What a bunch of crap this is.

Anyone with any knowledge please give me a shout at beemer540ia AT yahoo...

Thank you,
Ken
I believe I have read all the posts...at least 100% of the first 3 pages I'd guess. I am still unsure how the insurance company-who obviously was not there at the time- knows there were no "flames". Let's assume that there weren't any flames, how would they know or anyone else for that matter who did not have their head underneath the hood for the entire duration of the event? Did the original poster )Ken) tell them there were none visible?
Forget debating at what point combustion occurs or whether smoldering wiring is "less of a fire" than a small, but visible flame that extinguishes by itself". Has anyone started a pile of leaves or any debris only to have the flame go out? I really fail to see what difference smoke and smoldering wiring has with a flame, but that aside.....so, it's their definition-- a visible flame-fine. How can they say there never was one?

It all worked out, but this posting is a permanent "sticky" for me as I find the story and the resolution fascinating.

Bill
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  #135  
Old 03-31-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnniegold View Post
Insurance company sending someone to look at it on Monday. I'll follow-up.

Please report the incident to the NHTSA, don't expect your insurance to do it:
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/
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  #136  
Old 04-01-2009, 04:17 AM
johnniegold johnniegold is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chucksrt View Post
any pics of the problem area?
Sorry, I don't have any pics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
Any smoke damage in the passenger area?
None.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
Please report the incident to the NHTSA, don't expect your insurance to do it:
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/
I will.
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  #137  
Old 04-01-2009, 05:42 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Johhiegold: If I missed the answer somewhere, forgive me. This is obviously a thread of great interest to many and there is a lot of dialogue. The insurance company was not there. They maybe correct actually that there were no flames. That appears to be a pretty narrow definition of fire/combustion/whatever that a flame must be visible. But, "ok" it is their language and regardless how petty it sounds they chose this language and the consumer accepted it. I just want to understand how they reached the conclusion that there NEVER, at any point, were flames visible to you or not as I assume that the hood was closed at first when the smoke started to be noticed in the cabin. On what information was it decided that flame was never present? I realize it is later in the whole deal, you have reached your end with it and moved on- I am not-- um, trying to fan the flames of the whole ordeal. I just have been reading this since it was three pages and I kept thinking someone else would ask or I would find the answer.. Just very curious about how after-the-fact the pronouncement was made that not flame ever existed? Nuff said.

The second part is when an insurance company decides for whatever reason to make their insured covered against fire damage, what do they really mean or "intend"to mean? A flame causes no damage in and of itself. The flame is obviously just an indication of very high heat. The heat does the damage and the flame is a secondary, totally insignificant by-product. It is even less important in terms of damage than smoke, soot, or the actual flame. You intend to cover someone from the effects of intense heat. I guess they want to make sure they don't get claims for dashboards that are ruined in the intense heat of the sun?? Interesting argument about exactly what tragedy they feel compelled to save their insured from. Pure sodium placed on top of a bowl of water will generate intense heat and if metal is introduced to the equation of sodium and water it will generally explode. (ask me how I know). Sparklers burn yet have no flame. An electrical failure such as yours near a rubber fuel line could have ended far worse. I assume then it would have been covered regardless of what started it? Sorry,I guess I should have tried out for the debate team in HS if I am so interested in intent vs. actual and the like. I tend to focus on the intent of a document rather than the actual written word. My bad!
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  #138  
Old 04-01-2009, 03:40 PM
johnniegold johnniegold is online now
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540iman, I think you are confusing my situation with the original poster. In his case, I believe the insurance company indicated that they would not cover the insured because there was no visible flame and that the damage was caused by a mechanical malfunction which they do not cover. After some wrangling with the insurance company and BMW, I think they reached an agreed upon settlement.

In my situation, I raised the hood of the car and did a see fire which I was able to extinguish. Certainly there was evidence of fire damage that the claims adjuster could see. My insurance company has already issued me a check to cover the repairs on the car for a new wiring harness, computer and labor. The insurance co. would not pay for the thermostat as they deemed it to be the cause of the fire.

Finally, I got a call from the repair shop: 10 days to get a new computer from Germany. Oh well.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. I am covered under comprehensive and have to pay $100 deductible but that is certainly much better than the alternative.

Also, putting in a new thermostat, as its been said before, does not mean this can't happen again.
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  #139  
Old 07-11-2009, 10:08 PM
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M///Chook M///Chook is offline
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I've studied this problem a little myself-

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=382190
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  #140  
Old 04-29-2014, 10:34 AM
Bmwkt11 Bmwkt11 is offline
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Exclamation BMW fires are still a very real and relevant problem

Just want to direct everyone to a recent thread i've been following with regards to BMW fires, BMW NA not taking any responsibility for it or even giving explanation and Mr. Jay Hanson http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...10#post8307910
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