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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 03-21-2009, 07:54 PM
loufong loufong is offline
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540i overheating because of slow FAN

My 97 fan spins but it's not fast. In hot weather and stop and go traffic the engine temp rises to critical levels. I'm getting my Bentley Manual in next week and I'd like to tackle the issue next weekend. ANy suggestions? Thanks for your help.
Louis
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2009, 07:58 PM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Lazy fan syndrome. Easy fix--get a new fan clutch. There is a special tool for fan clutch removal but if you have a very wide-opening and VERY narrow adjustable wrench, that will do. Fan clutch is reverse threaded, so righty-loosy, lefty-tighty!
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2009, 09:02 PM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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+1 on the bad fan clutch. Also look into water pump and fan blade replacement.
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2009, 10:27 PM
loufong loufong is offline
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Thanks for the replies. I just had the WP replaced too! I wish the mechanic caught it at that time.
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  #5  
Old 03-22-2009, 08:35 AM
DrewCrewOf2 DrewCrewOf2 is offline
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Which fan Sir?

The electric fan should kick in and protect your engine. There is a resistor on the top of the electric fan which has three "stages" to it. When the top speed engages you will hear a LOAD noise. Mine burnt out and when in Vegas on a 112 degree day stuck in stop and go trafic on LV Blvd (the "Strip") one day, I really overheated. Had to pull over and put all my passengers in a taxi.

Here is what I paid for a new one:
Make: BMW Year: - Aux. Fan Resistor Price: $65.99 Qty: 1 Part #: W0133-1612761
From:
Thanks again for shopping with us.
sales@bimmerpartswholesale.com
www.bimmerpartswholesale.com
"Your Discount Auto Parts Source"

A real B@!%*** to put in, I did it from the front cutting a little of the plastic (very little) and spliced in the new unit.

Hope this helps!
Dennis
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  #6  
Old 03-22-2009, 08:51 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Question...does the aux fan even turn on at all (#5 in diagram below)? This is the fan that you can see when you stand in front of the car and look thru the kidney grills. That fan should turn on when ever the AC (snowflake button) is pressed...or when the coolant temperature rises too high. This fan comes on to facilitate cooling everything back down to normal operating temps.

Like DrewCrewOf2 stated...if the aux fan is NOT coming on...that may be the problem. The part nbr he gave must be specific to the website he linked to...but the BMW 11 digit part nbr for that resistor is BMW part # 67 32 8 371 873 (#8 in the diagram below).

Post back and give us more details (is the aux fan turning on).


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  #7  
Old 03-22-2009, 09:42 AM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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The OP is talking about the main mechanical fan. The electric aux fan, or "pusher" fan, is primarily used in connection with the a/c. However, as stated, it also has a "failsafe" feature that will kick in to "push" air into the engine when, despite the main fan, the engine is getting too hot, such as idling in traffic. But note that if your aux fan kicks in, especially to "high," then there is a problem with your cooling system! This is truly a "failsafe" device in this mode to help save your engine from overheating. If your cooling system is working optimally and your main fan is spinning fast enough at idle, then this mode should never kick in, or at least only under VERY extreme conditions.

My experience a couple years ago--my aux electric fan kept kicking on when the electronic engine temp needle just ticked a second past "12 o'clock" and often the fan switched to high speed, when idling or driving slowly, despite new wp, tstat replaced, no leaks to radiator, and everything appearing fine in the cooling system. After looking at the engine while idling for a bit, it dawned on me that the main fan was just not spinning fast enough at idle. It seemed lazy, especially compared to other cars I've owned. I swapped it out, and the change was immediate. Now after two years, the aux fan has never kicked into med or high speed and temp needle has never moved past 12 o'clock...even once while stuck in 103 degree temps in heavy traffic for almost 3 hours one time. I have since needed to replace the radiator and expansion tank, so now my cooling system overhaul is complete. Main fan should go "VROOM!" at startup and spin fairly fast even when cold--will spin VERY fast when the engine is warmed up, which is what it is supposed to do. Good way to test the fan clutch is to spin the fan by hand when the car is cold. It should still offer some resistance and should NOT spin freely. Of course, it should offer much more resistance to hand-spinning when the engine is hot.
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  #8  
Old 03-22-2009, 09:49 AM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loufong View Post
My 97 fan spins but it's not fast. In hot weather and stop and go traffic the engine temp rises to critical levels. I'm getting my Bentley Manual in next week and I'd like to tackle the issue next weekend. ANy suggestions? Thanks for your help.
Louis
One issue brought up above should be looked into regarding the aux. fan-- If your engine is getting hot (due to slow main fan) your electronic aux pusher fan SHOULD kick into high speed to help save your engine from overheating. While I think the culprit is the slow main fan, you should check out your pusher fan too--it should kick into "high" and you will notice the jet-like sound. As suggested, maybe check the temp sensor if this fan is not kicking on when the engine is getting hot, as it is a failsafe mode.
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  #9  
Old 03-22-2009, 09:50 AM
DrewCrewOf2 DrewCrewOf2 is offline
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Right, the risitor thingie is item #8 in QuickSilvers diagram above. Cooling system on my E39 always keeps me on edge...
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2009, 04:40 PM
loufong loufong is offline
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Hi,
THanks for the updated thread. I have a 'few' issues on my car. I can tell the main fan is not spinning fast becasue I can stop the fan with my hand when the car is running. the auxillary fan is working. For the interior climate fan, that isn't working and i'm changing out the resistor network to see if it'll work.
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  #11  
Old 03-25-2009, 04:48 PM
Cereall Cereall is offline
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woo if you can stop with your hand... no good

just needs a new fan clutch... which isnt a very hard thing to replace... just need a large crecent wrench or a 50$ specialty tool that some online places sell...

i wedged a crecent wrench in there and jammed a flat head screw driver under the wrench and above a nut on the clutch and it came loose... there are many DIY guides on here

just remove the fan shroud first and its pretty straightforward... remember the thread is reverse thread so turn right/clockwise to loosen

i saw new fan clutches on ebay today for around 50$ which is pretty good deal... about 1 hr install for first time doing it i would say
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  #12  
Old 03-25-2009, 07:07 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Actually, stopping with hand at idle means the clutch is OK. You should be able to turn it when the car is off but it will provide resistance rather than spinning freely.

Sounds like you're due for the infamous E38/E39 Cooling Rebuild! Don't use MTC fan blades though!
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  #13  
Old 03-26-2009, 06:42 AM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
Actually, stopping with hand at idle means the clutch is OK. You should be able to turn it when the car is off but it will provide resistance rather than spinning freely.
I would disagree with this statement, especially if the car has been running for several minutes. Engine will retain much more heat at idle because the car is obviously not in motion so the only airflow through radiator and around engine is by the main fan. It should be spinning quite strongly.
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  #14  
Old 03-26-2009, 01:00 PM
idp@skypro.be idp@skypro.be is offline
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The "pusher fan" also has a role in cooling the auto transmission oil cooler - leading to low gear being held automatically when the ATF gets too hot.
Ian
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  #15  
Old 03-26-2009, 02:57 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waveho View Post
I would disagree with this statement, especially if the car has been running for several minutes. Engine will retain much more heat at idle because the car is obviously not in motion so the only airflow through radiator and around engine is by the main fan. It should be spinning quite strongly.
According to the forums here, when the fan cannot be stopped at idle with a rolled-up newspaper, the fan clutch is ready to explode. Of course, it's gotta be a cold engine. When it warms up it should shred the paper. This is why you shouldn't be using your hand!
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  #16  
Old 03-26-2009, 06:08 PM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
According to the forums here, when the fan cannot be stopped at idle with a rolled-up newspaper, the fan clutch is ready to explode. Of course, it's gotta be a cold engine. When it warms up it should shred the paper. This is why you shouldn't be using your hand!
That I would definitely agree with. Being able to easily stop the fan by hand, even cold, though, is a red flag that the fan is worn and is not functioning properly; it's not drawing enough air. It should stop if you use rolled up newspaper, as you say.
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  #17  
Old 04-09-2009, 10:22 PM
loufong loufong is offline
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Hi,
I bought a $100 fan clutch (Sachs), replaced it in about 25 minutes and it solved my fan issue.
Thanks again!
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  #18  
Old 04-09-2009, 10:33 PM
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LaCrosse540i6 LaCrosse540i6 is offline
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I used to be able to stop my fan with my hand on my E34 525i, after I tried stopping it with a stick of course.... But that never overheated
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  #19  
Old 04-10-2009, 07:13 AM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaCrosse540i6 View Post
I used to be able to stop my fan with my hand on my E34 525i, after I tried stopping it with a stick of course.... But that never overheated
Well thats a totally different setup. Cars back then ran much colder, I had an e34 that never cracked 150 F, while the e39 540i runs at nearly 230F. The 525i you had didnt need as much airflow at idle, however if you left it running for a long time like that it would eventually overheat.
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  #20  
Old 03-01-2013, 11:55 AM
Theola_Henry214 Theola_Henry214 is offline
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Waveho, I drive a '97 540i.

Your post sounds VERY familiar!!!!

I replaced the radiator a month ago after it 'popped' due to one time overheating.

A week since replacing the radiator, I noticed the temp gauge moving slightly, from "12 o' clock " to "12:05"... "12:10". Then it'll move back to midway; all of this while I am driving. It's very inconsistent, too. One day it moves the next day it'll be fine.
The mechanic that worked on it informed me that I could have a bad fan clutch, and that the gaskets were good.


What is the problem? I even get a message to 'Check Coolant Level'. But with the new radiator I thought its automatically filled as needed by the mechanic.....



Help!!
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  #21  
Old 03-01-2013, 02:56 PM
mbell666 mbell666 is offline
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I guess your mechanic failed to bleed the coolant system correctly. Check for coolant leaks, top up the coolant level and keep an eye on it. If it continues, take it back to your mechanic.

Do not drive the car if it reports that the coolant level is low, until it has been topped up. If it reports it when driving I'd pull over and stop.

If it is the fan clutch the temp will rise when your in heavy traffic or driving hard. If the temp is raising when your cruising at speed then it is unlikely to be the fan clutch. More likely water pump or thermostat. (If it is correctly bleed.)
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  #22  
Old 03-01-2013, 06:38 PM
Theola_Henry214 Theola_Henry214 is offline
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Hello, Mbell666.


Thank you for the response. Well, I informed the mechanic of the issue the week after repairs and his demeanor made me assume that he would charge me again if I brought my car back.


HE asked if it was leaking coolant, I told him 'No' and he implied my fan clutch needs replacement and/or (even after a successful gasket test) that my head gaskets needed replacing.


My avionics(sp?) engineering sister has since been telling me that there is a chance that the thermostat is installed backwards or incorrectly, which could cause this issue. Is that true?


So far, I will check the coolant level. (Top off with....? and NOT water)


Monitor gauge, then what???


I'm sorry for all the questions I am due to drive from Austin to Dallas and I am extremely nervous!!!!!!


Theola
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  #23  
Old 03-01-2013, 07:21 PM
mbell666 mbell666 is offline
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I.d top it off with water as long as it not more than a quart or so to fill it. If it needs more you need to go buy some anti freeze. Then take it for a run and watch the temp, if it does overheat note what you were doing. Cruising at speed, Sat at traffic lights etc.

Can't fit the thermostat backwards on mine and that would cause a full blown over heat if it was. The thermostat could be failing thou, had similar issues with mine and failing thermostat.
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  #24  
Old 03-01-2013, 07:29 PM
Theola_Henry214 Theola_Henry214 is offline
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Is it bad to mix water and coolant? Can I put just "any" coolant"?

Second, should I go with replacing the thermostat or the fan clutch after a self diagnosis?


How much wood can a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Where do babies come from? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God?......

Again, I am new to this type of vehicle so I apologize for the questions
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  #25  
Old 03-02-2013, 06:51 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Cars usually have 50/50 mix of coolant and water so water can be mixed in, but you should stay close to 50/50 mix. You can't just put in any coolant. You need to check what you currently have and put that kind of coolant. Coolants can usually be identified by their color.
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