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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 07-19-2011, 09:43 AM
kym kym is offline
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Angry 2000 540i Intermittent Engine Cutoff | Nightmare Problem to Find

I have been pulling my hair out with a car that will intermittently strand you on the side of the road and sometimes not restart for a random period of time. It could be 10 seconds to a 2 hour sit, but it always restarts eventually like nothing ever happened. The dealer has looked at it twice, my local mechanic is ready to throw his hands up and I've invested too much in this car to walk away from it. I have added chassis and engine grounds, gone through all the existing grounds, checked every single accessible connector I can find on the car, and have replaced everything I can think of that would be causing this. I get no codes whatsoever and it runs beautifully (until it craps out that is).

I have replaced:

fuel pump
fuel filter
fuel sender
MAF sensor
2 cam sensors
crankshaft position sensor
fuel pump relay
injection relay
DME relay
ignition switch

Is there ANYTHING anyone could think of for me to check or look at? This is driving me absolutely insane at this point!

Thanks for any help,
-Kyle
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2011, 09:53 AM
kym kym is offline
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I will note that it seems lately sharp bumps, turns, or speed humps sometime seem to trigger this as well.
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2011, 12:52 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Is it a crank-but-no-start, or no crank, during this time where it sets?

Have you examined the grounds for the DME?
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  #4  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:21 PM
kym kym is offline
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It always cranks fine, just no start. Sometimes a cough-sputter-die and sometimes no catch at all. I have looked at the ground right next to the DME box and retightened it, is that the one you are talking about or is there more to look for? The one I'm speaking of is the one between DME box and motor on the inside of the wheel well.
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  #5  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:48 PM
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adjmcloon adjmcloon is offline
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I had a short in the main cable that ran to the starter in my 535i, which would prevent it from starting for random intervals. Obviously this wouldn't make the car cut off while driving, however you may have a similar electrical issue somewhere else. I would have your indy pull back the insulation on some of the obvious important cables (battery, alternator, etc.) and check for broken wires or cut shielding. If it cranks but no start, I would look at the fuel pump and also check your coils, which I'm sure your indy has already done.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by adjmcloon; 07-19-2011 at 01:50 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:58 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Sounds like a fuel problem. The fuel pump is grounded via the X494 ground shoe. Unfortunately, it's buried under the right side of the rear window shelf, which requires removal of the package shelf and C-pillar cover.

Intermittents are a bear to troubleshoot, and, if you let someone else do it, the cost can be GREAT.

Consider removing the rear seat to gain access to the fuel pump. When the car dies, check the ground lead to see if it's still grounded.

Since it seems to be a fuel problem, you'll need to determine why the pump is dying. Is it a ground problem (likely), or a problem with the anti-theft system. Since the engine cranks, you can eliminate the EWS (anti-theft).

Do you have the Bentley E39 service manual? If not get a copy, and learn how to use it. There are functional circuit diagrams that can help you troubleshoot.
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  #7  
Old 07-19-2011, 08:26 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Seeing that you have thrown a lot of parts at it already you may just want to replace the fuel pump relay which is in the trunk above the battery. I'm pretty sure it's the one closest to the front of the car.
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2011, 06:03 AM
kym kym is offline
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I have pulled the back seat and removed the fuel pump cover to test for voltage while it was on the side of the road. I got 12v, although it still could have been a bad ground. I'd imagine there wouldn't have to be much as far as a ground goes to get a meter to give a reading. Last night I decided desperate times call for desperate measures, I yanked the seats and ran power to the fuel pump directly from the battery (pulling the pump connector when done driving). If it runs fine for a few days I'll start backtracking from there.

And the fuel pump relay was replaced months ago.
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2011, 06:57 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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Ignition relay ,
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  #10  
Old 07-20-2011, 07:08 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Ignition interlock dying? That's rough!
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  #11  
Old 07-20-2011, 07:29 AM
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TemporarySanity TemporarySanity is offline
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That sucks! Would you say it's caused more by vibration or heat?
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2011, 07:48 AM
kym kym is offline
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It does suck... And driving around with no back seat and the fuel pump cover off is LOUD. It's amazing how much sound deadening that provides. Although it's currently better than the alternative "try not to get killed in rush hour traffic" solution.

It seems to do it more often when it's hot out, and it is sometimes but definitely not always caused by vibration. It may refuse to start first thing in the morning or crap out after a few miles. Or run fine. You never know.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2011, 05:06 PM
Brett San Diego Brett San Diego is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kym View Post
I have pulled the back seat and removed the fuel pump cover to test for voltage while it was on the side of the road. I got 12v, although it still could have been a bad ground. I'd imagine there wouldn't have to be much as far as a ground goes to get a meter to give a reading. Last night I decided desperate times call for desperate measures, I yanked the seats and ran power to the fuel pump directly from the battery (pulling the pump connector when done driving). If it runs fine for a few days I'll start backtracking from there.
I'd say that's a pretty good diagnostic approach. Tough one for sure. Sounds like a bad electrical contact given the association with heat soak and vibration. And I like the idea that the problem lies with power to the fuel pump. What about contacts to the fuel pump relay? All good and solid? Maybe try bending the prongs of the relay in one direction or the other to give better contact when plugged in.

good luck,
Brett
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  #14  
Old 07-21-2011, 06:11 AM
kym kym is offline
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Well, it's not fuel related. It's died on me several times (rush hour traffic in the middle of an intersection of course) and I could hear the pump running the whole time. Looks like I have some DME gremlin to deal with. Lovely. Not really sure where to start on that one.
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  #15  
Old 07-21-2011, 10:04 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kym View Post
I have replaced:

fuel pump
fuel filter
fuel sender
MAF sensor
2 cam sensors
crankshaft position sensor
fuel pump relay
injection relay
DME relay
ignition switch

Is there ANYTHING anyone could think of for me to check or look at? This is driving me absolutely insane at this point!

Thanks for any help,
-Kyle
This MIGHT be a bad ECU.
See if you can get your hand on a used ECU from ebay and keep it in the car.
When the car stalls, swap the ECU (Ebox is on passenger side near widnshield area, use 6-mm Allen key to open it).

If car starts, then ECU is defective.


Many many years ago, I had this issue in my E23 (1983 735i), it was a bad ECU.
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  #16  
Old 07-21-2011, 10:17 AM
kym kym is offline
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From what I understand the DME is linked to the EWS and cannot be swapped without replacing both...
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  #17  
Old 07-21-2011, 11:09 AM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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What a nightmare! Total stab in the dark but the DME makes sense though, the fact that this is happening when it is hot, and is somewhat related to vibration. The electrical connections could be just coming apart due to overheating, similar to what happens to the ABS modules on these cars. Never heard of it happening before on an E39. Does the Ebox fan work?
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  #18  
Old 07-21-2011, 11:44 AM
kym kym is offline
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Well I can't say for certain it's related to increasing temperatures, it's hot as hell in Houston and never really backs off. The problem could just be getting worse regardless of temperature. No way to really tell as it's still 80 degrees at night...

I haven't checked the ebox fan as I sometimes have the problem trying to start the car in the morning while it's "cool" and in the shade. It would have to be able to handle temperatures in that range so the ebox fan shouldn't have been a factor. I think I may try to find a pinout for the DME and see if I can verify good grounds. I heard the dealer can reprogram a DME to the EWS so maybe I can try going that route?
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  #19  
Old 07-22-2011, 02:43 PM
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adjmcloon adjmcloon is offline
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I assume you still have power to everything when it cuts off? Is it a situation where it cuts off quickly or do you have some related noise or stumbling beforehand?
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2001 530i tiAg sport (sold)
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2006 330i sport (sold)
2008 535i-6 sport (sold)
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2002 525iT alpine sport
1990 325i sedan
1990 325is coupe
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  #20  
Old 07-22-2011, 02:58 PM
kym kym is offline
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Have power to everything, it cranks, nothing is out of the ordinary except it won't start. When it happens while running it's an instantaneous power loss. I'm sending my EWS and key to rpmmotorsports for a reman ecu on Monday. All I can think of to do.

It happened again today while not moving at a stoplight. I'm crossing my fingers once again this is the problem, I replaced a bad alternator a while back and am praying it might have messed the dme up.
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  #21  
Old 07-23-2011, 12:56 AM
bmwtks bmwtks is offline
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Check to make sure your battery terminal connections are tight....
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  #22  
Old 07-23-2011, 07:39 AM
kym kym is offline
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I only wish it was that easy. Trust me I have checked everything prior to blowing thousands on chasing this damn gremlin!
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  #23  
Old 07-28-2011, 11:35 AM
kym kym is offline
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Well I have a remanufactured DME linked to the EWS with a fresh flash from RPM Motorsport out of Canada. It did not fix the problem but I want to say these guys did a great job, they have a wealth of knowledge and the best customer service I've experienced in years. After laser cutting me new keys to match, getting my remote to work, linking a reman DME to my EWS, giving me a fresh cut backup key, and getting it back to me just when they said they would, I found out the DME wasn't the issue. Chris is continuing to work with me and is getting me the diagnostic tools and software I need sent down here so they can diagnose the car remotely which is certainly above and beyond the call of duty. Judging by the job they did doing what every local shop told me was impossible I'm hopeful I may have some help getting me new leads.
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  #24  
Old 07-28-2011, 12:20 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Have you changed the DME or the Unloader relay?
They cut off power to the coils and injectors.
Here is a pic of them (2000 540/6), relays are at back side, left and right of the 5 fuses.
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  #25  
Old 07-28-2011, 12:30 PM
kym kym is offline
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I have replaced both the DME and fuel injection relay.
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