Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-12-2008, 10:42 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
What can we modify on the E39 to drain dank AC evaporator pan pooled water?

What can we modify on the E39 to properly drain pooled AC evaporator pan water?

After reading many BMW AC evap-o-stink threads on Bimmerfest, I think the BMW AC stink problem is a BMW engineering problem that can be resolved with a Bimmerfest engineering fix.

Multiple "workarounds" have been proposed (I can summarize them for you later) but what I'm asking in this thread is for Bimmerfest suggestions to daily mechanically DRAIN the POOLED WATER that is the primary cause of this BMW A/C smell problem.

What part would you modify to drain the pooled water in the BMW E39 air conditioning evaporator water collection pan?

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	parts.gif
Views:	17146
Size:	54.6 KB
ID:	166610  
Reply With Quote
Ads by Google
  #2  
Old 11-12-2008, 10:46 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Summary of the workarounds proposed for smelly BMW AC

Proposed workarounds:
1. Once a month, turn the heat up to 90 and let it blow for 15 minutes.
2. Each day, turn the AC off five miles before you arrive at your destination.
3. Set the AC to 72 degrees, "Auto", "Snowflake", & "Circle without the A"
4. Drill a hole near the gas pedal side panel & spray disinfectant monthly
5. Drill a larger hole & periodically clean the evaporator fins with a toothbrush
6. Unclog the drain hose for the AC condenser (under the center console)
7. Replace the "micro" filter once a year (or more if it seems wet in monthly tests)

Presumed rationale:
1 & 2 --> dries up the water the bacteria, mold, & yeast need to thrive
3 --> reputedly supplies less water (but some say this step is useless)
4 --> kills the bacteria & yeasty beasties that are thriving on excess condensate
5 --> removes oils and contaminants that allow moisture to collect & beasties to grow
6 --> reduces the amount of water available (if and only if the hose was clogged)
7 --> I don't see how replacing the micro filter will help at all (do you?)

Proposed engineering solution:
8 --> Modify the E39 evaporator collection pan system so that water no longer pools

Presumed rationale:
8 --> drain collected water so there is nothing for the beasties to thrive on

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	ac.jpg
Views:	12289
Size:	101.7 KB
ID:	166611  

Last edited by bluebee; 11-12-2008 at 11:12 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-12-2008, 11:00 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
What part would you modify to better drain the AC collection pan?

As one of the steps in engineering a mechanical fix to the stinky BMW ventilation system, let's state the presumed sequence of events which cascade to cause the musty cabin odor.

This blurb says a lot:
1. It's first & foremost a design problem (due to compactivity or leakage)
2. Then, it's secondarily a moisture problem (due to excess moisture)
2. And, as a tertiary result, it's an organismic problem (due to stuff to eat)

Rather than attack the tertiary problem (kill the microbes) or the secondary problem (blow off the excess moisture with a variety of workarounds), why not resolve the design problem (too much water is collecting) by draining the excess water in the collection pan?

To start:
Does anyone have a photograph of the evaporator water collection pan?
Do you have a photograph of the drainage tubes from that pan?
What mechanical modification would you suggest to increase drainage from that pan?


.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	e39_stink.jpg
Views:	11503
Size:	110.6 KB
ID:	166613  
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-12-2008, 11:23 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
This thread is different than the rest (it's looking for a permanent solution)

To reiterate, this thread is different (I think) than the rest of the BMW cabin stink threads in that I'm not asking for us to come up with yet another workaround .... (like drilling holes and periodically cleaning & spraying).

I'm asking if we can come up with a solution.

The solution, it appears to me, would involve DRAINING out the water during and after each use (just like every other luxury car does).

Can you help me arrive at a permanent mechanical solution by proposing what parts to add or modify (with pictures if possible) to increase water collection pan drainage in the BMW E39?

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	bmw_e39_water.jpg
Views:	16119
Size:	111.5 KB
ID:	166620  
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-12-2008, 07:24 PM
gunship911 gunship911 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: northeast
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 116
Mein Auto: 2003 530i 2011 550xi
Hey Bluebee: I killed the stink this year. It has not come back.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-12-2008, 07:26 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
The problem may be the drainage 'duct' having a sharp bend

Over in the E60 "stinky A/C" thread, it is said that the real problem isn't the lack of drainage of the evaporator collection pan but a too-sharp "duct" which collects water inside of it.

QUESTION 1:
Does anyone know if an evaporator collection pan even exists?
(I can't find it in the realoem diagrams).

QUESTION 2:
Can anyone confirm the real design problem lies in the "duct" shape?

QUESTION 3:
If it's the duct curvature, which duct do we think is the problem duct?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	E39_parts_only.gif
Views:	11368
Size:	28.3 KB
ID:	166641  
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-12-2008, 07:36 PM
gunship911 gunship911 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: northeast
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 116
Mein Auto: 2003 530i 2011 550xi
Bluebee: You need to get the
1Z Einszett Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Treatment. I bought mine from Autogeek. It comes with a long tube that you insert into the center vents. The tube will reach the evaporator. Empty the can and allow the foam to work from approx 1 hour. You will see the foam liquid drain from your evaporator drain tubes. If you don't your tubes are clogged and must be cleared. Then turn up your fan and blow out the remaining odor. This has worked brilliantly for me since August 08. I will use another can in the spring and everything should be great.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-12-2008, 07:42 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
A behavorial workaround isn't a solution to an engineering problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gunship911 View Post
Hey Bluebee: I killed the stink this year. It has not come back.
It will come back. It has to. If the same conditions exist. The only real solution is an engineering solution which allows you to go back to the proper use model (which is to use the A/C like it's supposed to be in a luxury car).

I think we're close to the solution though. What we need to do is identify which duct is trapping the condensate; and then how to modify that duct to not trap condensate.

The problem right now is identifying which duct is the problem duct and then, how to modify it so that it's no longer the problem.

I would think BMW would have thought of this though ... so ... let's ask.

Does anyone here have a friend who works at BMW who can ask which duct is the problem duct?
1) Water drain (left, right) 64118367963 & 64118367964 $5.52 each
2) Condensation-water outlet hose (left?, right?) 64118369505 & 64118369506 $9.82 each
3) Left, Right condensation-water outlet hose 64116904641 & 64116904642 $9.82 each

Note: I can't find the "evaporator pan" in any diagram (can you)?

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Dash_During_3.JPG
Views:	12206
Size:	152.4 KB
ID:	166642  

Last edited by bluebee; 11-12-2008 at 07:57 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-12-2008, 07:48 PM
gunship911 gunship911 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: northeast
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 116
Mein Auto: 2003 530i 2011 550xi
Unless you reengineer your duct work, the only alternative is to clean out the evaporator. BMW is too arrogant to believe their duct work is faulty. Good luck in your endevor.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-12-2008, 08:04 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by gunship911 View Post
Bluebee: You need to get the
1Z Einszett Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Treatment.
Disinfectant won't work for all of us based on my research (see quote below) ...

"There have been many postings on the various forums about dealing with this problem. Most of them recommend spraying some form of disinfectant/deodorizer into the fresh air inlets downstream of the micro-filters. Some even recommend removing the ducts between the micro-filter boxes and the firewall to get a better shot into the evaporator housing. Unfortunately the blower obstructs direct access to the evaporator coil/housing and limits the effectiveness of this method. It does work quite well for some owners but for others, (depending on the climate and vehicle usage); it becomes an almost never-ending task."

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Progress2.jpg
Views:	15088
Size:	227.0 KB
ID:	166643  
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-12-2008, 08:23 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by gunship911 View Post
Unless you reengineer your duct work, the only alternative is to clean out the evaporator.
I think there are three possible ways to approach the problem:

Most insane approach:
1. Change our habits (e.g., cook the yeastie beasties along with ourselves or turn off the A/C five minutes before arriving home, etc.) ... (remind me why I bought a luxury vehicle again please - was it so I could babysit the A/C system?)

Most sane approach:
2. Disinfect our vents (e.g., drill holes in the foot well or spray foam down the vents) ... (ummm... again remind me why I bought a luxury car - was it so I could have endless mundane maintenance tasks of a poorly designed A/C system?)

Most elegant approach:
3. Modify our ducts (e.g., once we figure out which duct is the culprit, we can begin to see how we might eliminate the condensate caught inside the sharp curves of that problem duct).

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	evapdrain7.JPG
Views:	12344
Size:	52.4 KB
ID:	166645  

Last edited by bluebee; 11-12-2008 at 08:26 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-12-2008, 08:36 PM
gunship911 gunship911 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: northeast
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 116
Mein Auto: 2003 530i 2011 550xi
QUOTE]Most elegant approach:
3. Modify our ducts (e.g., once we figure out which duct is the culprit, we can begin to see how we might eliminate the condensate caught inside the sharp curves of that problem duct).[/QUOTE]

Do you know that the sharp curves are the culprit? It seems like the problem is more systemic rather than just the "sharp curves".
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-13-2008, 06:33 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Doesn't anyone have a friend at BMW who can look this up for us?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gunship911 View Post
QUOTE]Do you know that the sharp curves are the culprit? It seems like the problem is more systemic rather than just the "sharp curves".
I only know what I read here and on the net (and that my local BMW dealer told me to my face it is perfectly normal for a BMW to stink.)

It seems we don't really know where the excess condensation lies.
However, I'm convinced BMW knows where the engineering problem lies.

But I can't find a single photograph of the evaporator drainage system.

Doesn't anyone here on Bimmerfest have a friend at BMW who can pinpoint for us the engineering problem (ducts? coils? pans?)?

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	bmw_evaporator.gif
Views:	12823
Size:	38.8 KB
ID:	166689  
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-13-2008, 08:31 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Omaha NE
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,782
Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
Interesting!

My 98 528i runs fine, AC drains water dripping down the draintube to the driveway without problems.
I'd think if you get a stiff wire and crawl underneath to make sure the AC drain is not clogged and that should be sufficient.
I always turn OFF the AC 2 minutes before getting home.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-13-2008, 10:35 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Where is a picture of the drains under the E39?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
get a stiff wire and make sure the AC drain is not clogged and that should be sufficient. I always turn OFF the AC 2 minutes before getting home.
It's a terrible suggestion to manually control the A/C so that it won't stink ... however ... there's nothing wrong with cleaning a clogged drain ...

This weekend, I'll lift the car and crawl under to find those drain hoses.

Since I'm decidedly not mechanically inclined, it would help if someone has a picture of the BMW E39 drain hoses under the car (I don't even know where to look).

Does anyone actually know what the AC evaporator condensation collection system really looks like?

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	bmw_e39_evap.gif
Views:	13547
Size:	55.1 KB
ID:	166705  

Last edited by bluebee; 11-13-2008 at 10:37 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11-13-2008, 11:07 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Omaha NE
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,782
Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
In the E38 (740i), the draintube is along side the transmission (see picture).
Similar for E39.
Keep looking, you will find it.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	E38draintube.jpg
Views:	5449
Size:	37.8 KB
ID:	166708  
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11-17-2008, 07:13 PM
norotonfd norotonfd is offline
Registered User
Location: CT
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 540i
Finding the A/C drain under the car

I ran my a/c for the first time in a month and after 20 minutes I noticed my drivers side footwell front and rear was soaked. I think my drain is clogged.

I saw the photo and I will be looking for the drain near the transmission. If it is clogged what is the best way to clear it?

Should I blow compressed air up? Should I look for something with suction to suck the problem out?
What is the proper method?

Thanks
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 11-17-2008, 07:34 PM
chiefwej's Avatar
chiefwej chiefwej is offline
Freude am Fahren
Location: Tucson, AZ
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,296
Mein Auto: 2003 540i/6 //m-tech
I think the real problem is when you shut the car off the air ducts close and with the cabin filters on top, you seal in all the air and moisture. A fellow BMWCCA member who lives in Sierra Vista, AZ (we use a lot of AC here in AZ) says he has permanently licked the problem. He wired the damper in the duct part way open, so it will never fully close. He claims it works flawlessly. I haven't got around to getting in there, so I continue to spray mine through the hole I made next to my gas pedal, every month or so.
__________________
chiefwej 2003 540i ///m-tech 6-speed
Black Sapphire Metallic w/gray
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 11-22-2008, 05:25 PM
buddy325i buddy325i is offline
Registered User
Location: Virginia
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 2004 325i
I recently bought a used E46 that has the "stink" problem. I had the evaporator treated twice, and this improved the situation, but the car has given myself and two others asthma even after the treatment. I agree that a permanent fix is needed, not just a workaround. How did you wire the damper in the duct to stay open? Has anyone found out any further info about how to permanently fix the problem? Does your evaporator look normal when you have the "stink" problem? Would there be any obvious signs of mold? I took the car to an independent BMW shop and they found that the evaporator looked clean.

Thanks for your help.

Paul
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 05-19-2009, 05:09 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy325i View Post
Has anyone found out any further info about how to permanently fix the problem?
With summer coming up, it's time to resurrect this thread seeking a more permanent solution to eliminating the pooled water where the germs grow, causing the nasty AC stink.

Here are some cross references, but, all just propose workarounds:
My Car Stinks... Literarly!
Stinky AC
weird smell with heat on?
The return of Stinky AC
Nasty smell is hard to get out of the car
etc.

The closest permanent answer is to 'wire the duct open" .... but where (how?)???

What we need is a permanent solution. Does anyone have an idea on how to permanently eliminate the water from pooling in the too-small A/C evaporator ductwork?


Last edited by bluebee; 05-19-2009 at 05:12 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 05-19-2009, 06:30 PM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Honolulu
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 245
Mein Auto: 2006 550i/A SP, CA, L7
I don't have the problem. My car is a 2002 525i. Carfax showed that it's been registered in Hawaii its whole life. One can assume the AC has been used year round for 7 plus years and the heater more than likely never used (OK, never say never, but at most maybe a few times). I do notice that the AC drains very well when it's parked and the AC is running.

I'm posting this to help, really. Did BMW redesign something in later E39s? Not having the problem, I really haven't read up on this subject to know if it affects "facelifted" E39s.

Here's hoping mine doesn't develop the problem. That would not be good, especially in Hawaii!
__________________
2006 550i/A, Alpine White, Black Leather, Sport Package, Logic 7 Sound, Comfort Access, BMW Star Spoke 124s Staggered
MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 05-19-2009, 07:25 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
I don't have the problem. My car is a 2002 525i.
Mine is a 2002 525i also. And boy oh boy, does it have that dank stank!

I've learned the 'tricks' to avoid the stink but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.

- I've run the heater, in the height of summer, for fifteen minutes (presumably that cooks the bacteria, mold, and fungi and boils off the pooled water)
- I've sprayed disinfectant in the ductwork and onto the cooling fins of the evaporator
- I've replaced the air filters numerous times
- I've turned off the A/C ten miles from home to let it dry out a bit

I never did find the hoses that might be clogged so I've still gotta do that though!

And, I've never located how/what to wire to keep the ductwork open.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 05-19-2009, 07:29 PM
TheStig TheStig is offline
Some say...
Location: N/A
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,515
Mein Auto: N/A
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post

I never did find the hoses that might be clogged so I've still gotta do that though!
It's by the transmission on the drivers side.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 05-20-2009, 02:16 AM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Honolulu
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 245
Mein Auto: 2006 550i/A SP, CA, L7
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Mine is a 2002 525i also. And boy oh boy, does it have that dank stank!

I've learned the 'tricks' to avoid the stink but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.

- I've run the heater, in the height of summer, for fifteen minutes (presumably that cooks the bacteria, mold, and fungi and boils off the pooled water)
- I've sprayed disinfectant in the ductwork and onto the cooling fins of the evaporator
- I've replaced the air filters numerous times
- I've turned off the A/C ten miles from home to let it dry out a bit

I never did find the hoses that might be clogged so I've still gotta do that though!

And, I've never located how/what to wire to keep the ductwork open.
OOPS-yeah probably could have seen that under "mein auto".

WHen you run your AC and the car is parked do you see a puddle of water running from under your car? Give it 3 minutes and you should see it. If not it could be clogged, depending on how hot and humid it is.
__________________
2006 550i/A, Alpine White, Black Leather, Sport Package, Logic 7 Sound, Comfort Access, BMW Star Spoke 124s Staggered
MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 05-20-2009, 05:40 AM
ProRail ProRail is offline
"Clunker" *****
Location: Columbia MD
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,601
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528A--165K
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
I don't have the problem. My car is a 2002 525i. Carfax showed that it's been registered in Hawaii its whole life. One can assume the AC has been used year round for 7 plus years and the heater more than likely never used (OK, never say never, but at most maybe a few times). I do notice that the AC drains very well when it's parked and the AC is running.

I'm posting this to help, really. Did BMW redesign something in later E39s? Not having the problem, I really haven't read up on this subject to know if it affects "facelifted" E39s.

Here's hoping mine doesn't develop the problem. That would not be good, especially in Hawaii!
No problem in my 1999 528. If I use the AC in the spring or fall, I generally shut the AC down a few minutes before I get home so it doesn't fog up the interior when I turn the heater on at start-up. Every other car I've had required the same treatment.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:57 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2011 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms