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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 05-14-2008, 03:02 PM
chipchidster chipchidster is offline
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Driver side sun visor crashes radio

Hi,
i noticed something really odd on my way home this evening. I pulled down the sun visor and pushed back the mirror cover and the radio died. Nothing i did managed to get the radio back, the trip computer also refused to display - although i could still access the 'secret' test mode by holding in the right hand stalk on the dash.
After i had stopped and restarted the car, i managed to get the radio back by opening the passenger side sun visor and opening the mirror - this seemed to perform some kind of reset, although it didnt work when it all first fell over.
Does anyone have any idea as to what the heck is going on, my great worry is that the onboard computer is about to let go and is playing silly buggers first.
Thanks
Dan
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  #2  
Old 05-14-2008, 03:08 PM
PJB. PJB. is offline
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Do a search for "ignition switch," and you should find your symptoms, a diagnosis, part number, and fix.
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2008, 03:10 PM
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spydrz spydrz is offline
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Definitely the ignition switch.
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2008, 03:17 PM
PJB. PJB. is offline
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I really hate to send you off an a search without a few results to look at, so:

People with similar symptoms:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=131976
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=272888

The part number that you need to buy and replace (about $60):
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=284526

DIY writeup (about 30 min):
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=131977

R. Kelly - Igniton remix:
Lyrics: http://www.lyrics007.com/R.%20Kelly%...%20Lyrics.html
Video:

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  #5  
Old 05-14-2008, 03:21 PM
John@AstigRacing John@AstigRacing is offline
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i heard that if your battery is weakening this can happen.
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  #6  
Old 05-14-2008, 05:14 PM
NNY528i NNY528i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astigracing View Post
i heard that if your battery is weakening this can happen.
Nope not really, this is most assuredly the ignition switch. The symptoms are VERY repeatable and VERY, VERY Specifc(Passenger visor, Airbag, radio, Cruise Control)

This is caused by deposits that build up on the points of the ignition switch contact #2. The deposits increase the resistance through the switch which when over loaded causes the voltage to these specific items to be off and as such they do not operate properly.

Replace the switch and all returns to normal immediately.

While a dying battery can cause weird things to happen they are random and happen in all different car systems.
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2008, 12:14 AM
chipchidster chipchidster is offline
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Thanks PJB - i will have a go at that tonight and see if it resolves my problems. I does seem to fit with other electrical gremlins that i have been seeing - airbag light coming on every so often, cruise control dying intermittently.
It's a shame really, as otherwise it is a fantastic car - apart from the fuel bills that is!
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  #8  
Old 05-15-2008, 04:43 AM
NNY528i NNY528i is offline
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The switch will absolutely fix your problems, its not that hard to do and does not cost you much at all.
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  #9  
Old 05-15-2008, 05:01 AM
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chivas chivas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJB. View Post
I really hate to send you off an a search without a few results to look at, so:

People with similar symptoms:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=131976
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=272888

The part number that you need to buy and replace (about $60):
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=284526

DIY writeup (about 30 min):
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=131977

R. Kelly - Igniton remix:
Lyrics: http://www.lyrics007.com/R.%20Kelly%...%20Lyrics.html
Video:

... R Kelly... hahahahahaa!!!!!!!!!!
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  #10  
Old 07-17-2008, 11:55 AM
Mfecani Mfecani is offline
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I'm having the same issues, but my mechanic insists the ignition swith is fine. Plan B?
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  #11  
Old 07-17-2008, 12:35 PM
PJB. PJB. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfecani View Post
I'm having the same issues, but my mechanic insists the ignition swith is fine. Plan B?
A few things...

1) Tell us your symptoms, then tell us if those are the same symptoms that you described to your mechanic, then tell us why your mechanic is saying it's not the ignition switch and what your mechanic says it is.

2) Get a second opinion from another mechanic over the phone, keeping in mind that they might tell you it's your alternator.

3) Welcome to the 'Fest.
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  #12  
Old 07-17-2008, 12:40 PM
Mfecani Mfecani is offline
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Symptoms are: no radio, none of the steering wheel controls work, when I pull down the visor and expose the lights the steering wheel tilts up and down. My mechanic saw of this himself. he couldn't believe it. He ran a diagnostic test and says its not generating any faults. He doesn't know what it could be.
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  #13  
Old 07-17-2008, 12:48 PM
pauleeee pauleeee is offline
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When my ignition switch was bad I didn't have any steering wheel controls, No Radio, Airbag light on, and no rear sunshade activation. You decide.
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  #14  
Old 07-17-2008, 12:55 PM
PJB. PJB. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfecani View Post
Symptoms are: no radio, none of the steering wheel controls work, when I pull down the visor and expose the lights the steering wheel tilts up and down. My mechanic saw of this himself. he couldn't believe it. He ran a diagnostic test and says its not generating any faults. He doesn't know what it could be.
Personally, if it were me, I would gamble the $60 and get the ignition switch. Your symptoms are very indicative and consistent with others who have had a faulty ignition switch. When our ABS units are malfunctioning they don't give codes because the module that finds faults is itself at fault. Kind of like how a sick cop won't give tickets, ya get the analogy? Point being, the switch being faulty might not give codes, or it might be a component that wasn't designed in the first place to give codes.

Hopefully you don't know this by now and hopefully you won't know it anytime soon, but $60 for a part for our cars is not that much, relatively. A tank of gas costs more. Spend the $60 at a place with a return policy, and give the DIY an hour of your time. If it doesn't fix the problem, return the part and you may only be out $20 or so, not a big deal. If it DOES fix the problem, inform your mechanic and he may hook you up for proving him wrong and providing some knowledge.

I know that throwing parts at a problem is the most expensive way to diagnose, but in this case there's not much else it can be and the part is not that expensive. Don't use this technique on a suspension problem, though. THAT will cost a lot.
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  #15  
Old 07-17-2008, 02:01 PM
NNY528i NNY528i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfecani View Post
Symptoms are: no radio, none of the steering wheel controls work, when I pull down the visor and expose the lights the steering wheel tilts up and down. My mechanic saw of this himself. he couldn't believe it. He ran a diagnostic test and says its not generating any faults. He doesn't know what it could be.
The only reason your mechanic is saying this is because he has not encountered this issue before. Your problem is WITHOUT ANY DOUBT AT ALL the ignition switch.

Inside the switch there are several different contacts which are very much like the condenser points from back in the day(your mechanic will know about those) Any way the problem that occurs is with the contactor for the second circuit which feeds all of the items discussed before. The ONLY thing these different systems have in common is that they are connected through this particular switch contact. The other switch contacts are unaffected and behave normally. the problem arises I believe from arcing, voltage or amperage fluctuations across the contact(that is why the visor trips everything weird because it is a high amp draw, same with the CC)

I will personally guarantee that if you change out the ignition switch as described in the above references your problem will go away. I would print this information and take to your mechanic, order him to change the switch and then let us know how amazed he was when it worked like we said it would. You too will believe and become one of the enlightened of the cult of the switch!

Seriously though, there is no doubt about this, change the switch your car will be like new. You could even bet the labor with your mechanic that the switch will fix it(if it does he doesn't charge you for the work) I bet he would take that bet.

Now what would be really cool would be to meet the guy who figured this out for the very first time, that has to be either one lucky bastard or the worlds greatest troubleshooting genius.
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Last edited by NNY528i; 07-17-2008 at 02:05 PM.
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  #16  
Old 07-17-2008, 03:54 PM
Mfecani Mfecani is offline
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Thanks!

Great advice from everyone. Its greatly appreciated. I did print this thread, and he's going to change it. I will keep you posted.
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  #17  
Old 07-24-2008, 04:23 PM
Mfecani Mfecani is offline
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You were all correct. Switch was changed and all is back to normal.
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  #18  
Old 07-24-2008, 06:24 PM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Remember, these are the same techs who INSIST that you must remove the windshield, which is glued to the frame, in order to replace the cheap rubber windshield covering, which is not....
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  #19  
Old 07-24-2008, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfecani View Post
You were all correct. Switch was changed and all is back to normal.
Congrats, glad to hear that worked for you.

The first time I saw one of those threads I was absolutely amazed at the weird connection between the two.
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