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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 01-28-2009, 09:54 AM
bluescholars bluescholars is offline
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Monthly Battery Drain

I dont know what else to do. My battery has been changed once every month or two for the past 4 months, because it drains completely after a few months. I cant figure the problem out. Ive had the car for two years, and this problem has just started this winter. The alternator is pretty new, and the car runs fine when jumped. If anyone can provide any help or experience with this it would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 01-28-2009, 09:59 AM
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fsu.. search it. need to do mine as well.
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  #3  
Old 01-28-2009, 10:12 AM
bluescholars bluescholars is offline
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common e39 problem. how likely is this to be the problem?
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  #4  
Old 01-28-2009, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescholars View Post
common e39 problem. how likely is this to be the problem?
do you poop? yep... it's that common.
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  #5  
Old 01-28-2009, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
do you poop? yep... it's that common.
Same problem ... am hopeful the FSU I just ordered will solve this embarrassing situation ... see helpful links posted by doru

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  #6  
Old 01-28-2009, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Same problem ... am hopeful the FSU I just ordered will solve this embarrassing situation ... see helpful links posted by doru

doru has posted some very good info.
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  #7  
Old 01-28-2009, 12:29 PM
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A symptom of a bad FSU is that your A/C or heater fan appears to be possessed, i.e. it begins to operate (or not), at varying speeds, with no regard to the actual fan setting. And it is as common as pooping! If you remove the FSU and the problem goes away, then you have the source of your problem.
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2009, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
A symptom of a bad FSU is that your A/C or heater fan appears to be possessed, i.e. it begins to operate (or not), at varying speeds, with no regard to the actual fan setting. And it is as common as pooping! If you remove the FSU and the problem goes away, then you have the source of your problem.
not always. OmarMc had his go bad by draining his battery.

mine is going flat after sitting around for 5 days, not dead, just flat.
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2009, 01:20 PM
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[quote=chivas;3876320]not always. OmarMc had his go bad by draining his battery.


+1. That's what happened with my car too.
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2009, 11:45 AM
amerritt74 amerritt74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
not always. OmarMc had his go bad by draining his battery.

mine is going flat after sitting around for 5 days, not dead, just flat.
My car is having a very similar problem, except it goes dead about every 2 weeks. My car show no signs of a bad fsu (possesed ac/heat) but are you saying that my problem could still be the fsu?
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  #11  
Old 01-29-2009, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amerritt74 View Post
My car is having a very similar problem, except it goes dead about every 2 weeks. My car show no signs of a bad fsu (possesed ac/heat) but are you saying that my problem could still be the fsu?
are you driving it or just letting it sit for 2 weeks?
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  #12  
Old 01-29-2009, 02:32 PM
amerritt74 amerritt74 is offline
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Driving it.
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  #13  
Old 01-29-2009, 09:34 PM
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Mine is showing two problems, which, after careful thinking, I think I can workaround the dead battery until my FSU arrives from UPS.

The interior A/C & heater fan was always a bit wierd. It quit on me for two weeks once, and then just came back to life on its own. It's generally a bit wheezy upon startup, for at least a half hour or so, and then goes quiet.

But, the wierdest of all is sometimes, when I shut off the engine and pull the key out, I can still hear a faint blowing of the interior motor. This sound is so faint I have to be in a quiet spot to hear it, but, I can hear it somewhere deep in the dash. I can not feel air coming out of the vents, but, I can hear the motor ever so slightly.

My workaround to the dead battery (until I get the new FSU), is to listen each time I shut down the car for this slight motor sound. When I hear that, I start up the car again and I futz with the settings on the heater or A/C. I change fan speed, automatic settings, heat settings, etc., until when I shut down the E39, I no longer hear the fan.

Generally it takes two or three tries, but, I can type like a monkey and get it to finally shut down. Then I park the car.

So far, the battery hasn't died with this workaround .... but I'm not really sure if I'm doing anything or if this is just voodoo medicine.

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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-29-2009 at 09:38 PM.
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  #14  
Old 01-29-2009, 09:54 PM
BimmerAddict530 BimmerAddict530 is offline
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fsu is a common problem, but it is very possible that your car has a draw. I have an 01 e39 530 and my battery died after 2 days of not driving it (battery was depleted, wouldn't even unlock the doors.). I knew my fsu drew power intermittently because sometimes it would act strangely turning on and off. My tech friend found a draw in one of the fuses, which was the interior general computer module (controls all electronics inside your car) ($450). It sucked because i didnt have my car for a week and a half (yes it took then that long to find where the draw was coming from). The worst thing about this job is that it takes forever to find where the draw is in the car. it could be anywhere (for example, if you have two wires touching, that will create a power draw on your battery. My whole job for fsu ($100) and general module was 900 with labor since my tech friend got me a deal from his boss. Don't take it to a dealership if its not the fsu, because it will cost A LOTTT of money to find the draw if that is the case. good luck.
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  #15  
Old 01-30-2009, 08:57 AM
amerritt74 amerritt74 is offline
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I have had it to a guy's shop that i know, and he said that it was my ipod dock, but i had checked that before. About a week and a half later it was starting to go dead again. I just don't want to have to take it to the stealership.
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  #16  
Old 01-30-2009, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amerritt74 View Post
he said that it was my ipod dock
Luckily for me, I'm replacing both my "iPod dock" (i.e., the DICE Silverline) and my FSU at the same time ... so if my monthly dead battery finally goes away ... it would have been one or the other (I hope)...
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  #17  
Old 01-30-2009, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Mine is showing two problems, which, after careful thinking, I think I can workaround the dead battery until my FSU arrives from UPS.

The interior A/C & heater fan was always a bit wierd. It quit on me for two weeks once, and then just came back to life on its own. It's generally a bit wheezy upon startup, for at least a half hour or so, and then goes quiet.

But, the wierdest of all is sometimes, when I shut off the engine and pull the key out, I can still hear a faint blowing of the interior motor. This sound is so faint I have to be in a quiet spot to hear it, but, I can hear it somewhere deep in the dash. I can not feel air coming out of the vents, but, I can hear the motor ever so slightly.

My workaround to the dead battery (until I get the new FSU), is to listen each time I shut down the car for this slight motor sound. When I hear that, I start up the car again and I futz with the settings on the heater or A/C. I change fan speed, automatic settings, heat settings, etc., until when I shut down the E39, I no longer hear the fan.

Generally it takes two or three tries, but, I can type like a monkey and get it to finally shut down. Then I park the car.

So far, the battery hasn't died with this workaround .... but I'm not really sure if I'm doing anything or if this is just voodoo medicine.

Are you sure your not hearing the small fan behind the climate control unit? Its normal for that to stay on for up to 16 minutes after the car is shut down.
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  #18  
Old 01-30-2009, 11:39 AM
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How do we locate which fan is running?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannyc9997 View Post
Are you sure you're not hearing the small fan behind the climate control unit? Its normal for that to stay on for up to 16 minutes after the car is shut down.
Oh. Uh?.... ... I didn't realize that. I don't even know what the "small fan behind the climate control unit" is ... uh ... um ... I don't even know what the "climate control unit" is .... (revision: Googling, I find that the CCU is the A/C-Heater control box thingey just below the radio) ...

How many temperature fans are there and which operate with no key?

1. Fan in front of radiator (I think this can stay on even if the E39 is off)?
2. Fan for blowing hot/cold air in the cabin (does normally this stay on when E39 is off?)
3. Climate control unit fan (apparently stays on 16 min even when E39 is off)

When we hear a 'fan' sound with the E39 key out of the ignition, how can we locate it to #1, #2, or #3 best?


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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-30-2009 at 03:01 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01-30-2009, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Oh. Uh?.... ... I didn't realize that. I don't even know what the "small fan behind the climate control unit" is ... uh ... um ... I don't even know what the "climate control unit" is .... (revision: Googling, I find that the CCU is the A/C-Heater control box thingey just below the radio) ...

How many temperature fans are there and which operate with no key?

1. Fan in front of radiator (I think this can stay on even if the E39 is off)?
2. Fan for blowing hot/cold air in the cabin (does normally this stay on when E39 is off?)
3. Climate control unit fan (apparently stays on 16 min even when E39 is off)

When we hear a 'fan' sound with the E39 key out of the ignition, how can we locate it to #1, #2, or #3 best?

Donna, you should not hear #3 (sampling fan). If you can hear it, it means it is dirty. You will have to pull the whole unit out (hold in place only by pressure), and slowly dismantle it from the back. The amount of dust can be insane. Once cleaned and replaced, you should not hear any noise (very,very faint maibe). This fan works until the ECU shuts completely down (15-16 minutes after locking the car)
If that fan goes kaputt, in winter or in cold days, the warm setting will not work (a friend of mine X5 has this problem)
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Old 01-30-2009, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amerritt74 View Post
Driving it.
how much are you driving?

i use to drive abotu 2 miles each way to the bridge and back for school. 2 miles is not enough to charge the battery for each start apparently so after 2 and a half weeks or so, the battery would start protesting; i wasn't driving it on the weekends either at the time.
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Old 01-30-2009, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
how much are you driving?
It's clearly something is draining the battery because whether or not it dies is not dependent upon the miles driven. Generally I drive only 20 miles to and 20 miles back from work; but I've been doing this ever since I got the E39 and it's working fine.

It's just that once a month, or so, the battery is so dead the lights won't even light, after leaving it overnight or during the work day. It's almost totally dead. Once I give it a quick jump, in ten seconds, it's good as new (yes, I know the battery needs to be charged for about 15 minutes on the highway).

I'm pretty sure it's something running that shouldn't be. Since the FSU is the main culprit, it's scheduled for an FSU-extraction when the new one arrives from UPS. Likewise with the DICE Silverline which is also being replaced this weekend (it's not charging my second-generation iPod touch).

If anyone has a good diagnostic procedure for which of the three fans is causing the noise after shutdown, let us know.

By this time next week, I'll have a new FSU and a new DICE Silverline so they will be eliminated as the cause of the battery drain disease.
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-30-2009 at 02:54 PM.
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  #22  
Old 01-30-2009, 02:58 PM
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What's a good way to measure battery current drain overnight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Once cleaned and replaced, you should not hear any noise (very,very faint maibe). This fan works until the ECU shuts completely down (15-16 minutes after locking the car)
It would be interesting to find out typical battery-drain current figures for
1. Car turned off, but prior to the 16-minute ECU shutdown ... and ...
2. Car turned off, and after the 16-minute shutdown has occurred.

The presumption is the drain should go from a reasonable level to a much lower level after shutdown of the ECU.

1. Do we have those two drain amperage numbers?
2. What's a good way to measure this battery current drain?
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
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  #23  
Old 01-31-2009, 09:29 AM
amerritt74 amerritt74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
how much are you driving?

i use to drive abotu 2 miles each way to the bridge and back for school. 2 miles is not enough to charge the battery for each start apparently so after 2 and a half weeks or so, the battery would start protesting; i wasn't driving it on the weekends either at the time.
It is the only car i drive so... to high school, to college, then back to high school, then home, then to work, then back home or out, every day. So i drive it quite a bit. Oh ya, and it was dead today

Last edited by amerritt74; 01-31-2009 at 09:32 AM.
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  #24  
Old 02-02-2009, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amerritt74 View Post
So i drive it quite a bit.
Me too. Today, while you guys were watching the Superbowl, I replaced my FSU in the hopes that the monthly dead battery will stop happening.

The FSU is very difficult to unclip but the rest is easy. Just one bolt, two panels, and that dastardly clip holding the FSU connector in place, and then an easy clip holding the FSU in place.

I ended up breaking the clip holding the FSU connector in place which was the only way I could get it out. Since that's OT, I'll put more details in the FSU thread but I can't see anyone ever disconnecting this just for fun.
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
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  #25  
Old 05-11-2009, 10:21 PM
higgsboson2010 higgsboson2010 is offline
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I have the same battery drain problem and I replaced the FSU, but that did not help!
After replacing the FSU the car would not drain the battery for many month. What made me almost believe that the problem is fixed. But about a month ago it was dead again. The car usually needs to be untouched for two days until the battery might be dead. The fan also never acted up on me.
It looks like the dead battery is more likely to happen when it is really hot outside. This is probably the reason why I did not have any problems first after replacing the FSU as it was winter.
I was curious to see how big the current is that is draining the battery. On a hot afternoon I disconnected one battery terminal and feed it through a DVM back to the battery. I placed the DVM outside the trunk so I could close the lid to make the trunk light go off. After the 16min wait (for the car to sleep) the DVM measured a current of 0.9 A. In the following couple hours the outside temperature went down and the current dropped to 0.2A. I stopped the measurement here as I did not want someone to steel my DVM during the night.
What part could possibly cause this behaviour?
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