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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 01-20-2009, 10:41 AM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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Angry Crosspost with Dead Pixel Thread

Original post here.

Thought I'd cross-post since the original is buried on page 22 of the dead pixel thread.

Just called BMWNA to get the ball rolling on replacing my now completely failed radio display - no dice. They are only helping owners with failed pixels in the odometer display.

VERY frustrating. I'd love to know if anyone has an idea on how I might appeal this. I thought BMW would step up and do the right thing with these chronically failing displays.

Has there ever been any talk of a class action suit? Seems like an obvious path since their failure rate is appallingly high and consumers are left holding the bag for BMW's engineering mistakes.

For those of you shopping for E39's, factor in the price of replacing the radio display if it hasn't been done already.

Ben
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2009, 11:44 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Ben,

I share your frustration, but could have told you the result before you asked. Even though this is a chronic issue, you really can't blame BMW for not stepping up. The thing is out of warranty. Period. Please know I feel your pain as I just did a MID replace myself out of pocket. I tried to fix my old one first and managed to destroy it. Bought one for $75 off Ebay with 100% of the pixels working so I was lucky. This is not a safety issue so therein lies the difference between the odometer display where you get mileage, overheating, etc. and the MID which just gives radio stations, etc.

Is it a piss-poor design? Certainly. Is it an item they should replace out of warranty? No.
Be patient and watch for a good deal on Ebay.

Bill
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  #3  
Old 01-20-2009, 12:08 PM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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Bill,

Thanks for your input. And while I understand your logic, these parts have got to be past the threshold of "recallable" for lack of a better term. I obviously don't have access to overall failure rates for these displays but I've looked at a LOT of these cars shopping over the years and nearly all of them have this problem.

I was just quoted $922 + tax for a new unit (with DSP) from BMW Seattle.

Think I'll post a poll and get some info from our breathren.

Ben
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  #4  
Old 01-20-2009, 12:48 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Would the MID be repaired by VDO?
If yes, would that not be a definitive fix? (just like the Odo)
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  #5  
Old 01-20-2009, 02:33 PM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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Originally Posted by doru View Post
Would the MID be repaired by VDO?
If yes, would that not be a definitive fix? (just like the Odo)
No idea. A quick search on "VDO" turns up info on heater controls.
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  #6  
Old 01-20-2009, 03:11 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Presently, VDO does not repair MIDs, but I don't know their logic. You are correct that a vast majority of E39s all exhibit this flaw in design. I wish they would stand behind them for sure. I mean, you'd be crazy not to wish BMW would replace these for free, but the facts are that all parts will fail at some point and they have to draw the line somewhere. I'm sure that every vehicle has their achilles tendon so to speak, but they have to stop somewhere. I mean we could include vanos, headlight adjusters, cooling systems, SAP systems, and on and on. I think we feel we bought a premium car and should not have these problems. Maybe so, but the picture is pretty black and white and it is what it is. We all had the ability to research these issues beforehand.

I hurts to even mumble the words "they aren't responsible", but if I take the emotion out of it, then that is what I am left with. You can get perfect mids on Ebay for around $200. Remember that you do not need the same part number. If the right side buttons are exactly identical to yours, it will work.
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  #7  
Old 01-20-2009, 03:26 PM
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No idea. A quick search on "VDO" turns up info on heater controls.
Try this one out
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  #8  
Old 01-20-2009, 04:46 PM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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Originally Posted by doru View Post
You had my hopes up until I ran across this...."Currently we do not repair pixel issues in the radio MID consoles".

Thanks for the tip. I may use them if BMWNA changes its policy on the Odometer display.

Ben
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  #9  
Old 01-20-2009, 04:52 PM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
I hurts to even mumble the words "they aren't responsible", but if I take the emotion out of it, then that is what I am left with. You can get perfect mids on Ebay for around $200. Remember that you do not need the same part number. If the right side buttons are exactly identical to yours, it will work.
You're absolutely correct - I'm just harping on the lousy outcome of my situation. That said, the rest of the car is great. I should just be counting my lucky stars something catastrophic hasn't failed. "Dude, the glass is half FULL!"

I'm also basing my failure rate assumptions on a VERY small sample size, never a good thing. Ah well, guess I'll take your advice and start trolling in the eBay cesspool for the right deal.

If anyone has a trustworthy source for radio displays at reasonable prices, I'd love to hear from you.

Best,

Ben
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2009, 06:01 PM
andyffer andyffer is offline
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I sent an email to BMW NA about my radio.
They responded and want all my info, registration, licence, all the info on the car, VIN, etc.
I havent done it yet.

I doubt they will replace it so I guess it is off to eBay and finding a radio display!
Yippie!
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  #11  
Old 01-20-2009, 06:28 PM
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On Ebay, the only source I trust because he always shows your actual unit being auctioned hooked up in his vehicle is a seller named Germanaudiotech out of California. He has a lot of them in varying conditions. A "perfect one" will run you between $200-$225 An excellent display with maybe a lamp out or a single vertical column will run $150-$175.

I am working on VDO to see why they won't work on them. There are folks around that claim good success repairing them- look on E38.org There is even a DIY to fix there, but I caution you about trying it. He recommends Acetone to take tape off ribbon cable, but it took off not just the tape, but the trace conductive strips as well.
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2009, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
On Ebay, the only source I trust because he always shows your actual unit being auctioned hooked up in his vehicle is a seller named Germanaudiotech out of California. He has a lot of them in varying conditions. A "perfect one" will run you between $200-$225 An excellent display with maybe a lamp out or a single vertical column will run $150-$175.

I am working on VDO to see why they won't work on them. There are folks around that claim good success repairing them- look on E38.org There is even a DIY to fix there, but I caution you about trying it. He recommends Acetone to take tape off ribbon cable, but it took off not just the tape, but the trace conductive strips as well.
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2009, 10:59 AM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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540iman -

No way would I try to repair the existing display. Nada, zilch.

I'll look up Germanaudiotech and see what he's got. Thanks for the tip!

Ben
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2009, 11:22 AM
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Ben, I was at a point where I knew that I would want to replace the MID anyway. What I did not anticipate was that I would make it worse such that it no longer functioned at all. I am pretty handy with electronics so I never envisioned that I would make it worse, but the acetone which the DIY author said to use removed everything- not just the glue and tape that needs to be removed to expose fresh contacts. If you ruin the MID, it is just like one is not installed at all..the radio will play for 30 seconds and then quit.

Let me give you and others a word of caution- something that I found out the hard way. There is a 594 display that came on to Ebay just today. A "594" is the last three numbers in the part number and is really meaningless...there are several with 6 buttons on the right side that will work...ANYWAY, the display is described as "EXCELENT". In MID speak, excellent means that it just has a few missing pixels or maybe a single row or column. If ALL the pixels light up, it will be described as "perfect". Excellent means really that you can read the numbers or letters, but just has a few bad pixels. I would not buy from anyone but Germanaudiotech as he plugs in all his displays and will show you exactly what you will receive. Perfect displays go for $200-225. This "excellent" display that came on today is ****it-now for $150 IIRC and being excellent you need to be prepared when you get it that it will already have some lights missing.
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  #15  
Old 01-21-2009, 12:09 PM
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e

Last edited by ben753; 01-21-2009 at 03:57 PM.
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  #16  
Old 01-21-2009, 12:11 PM
ben753 ben753 is offline
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540iman -

This is invaluable info - your expertise is appreciated! Thanks!

Ben
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  #17  
Old 01-21-2009, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben753 View Post
You had my hopes up until I ran across this...."Currently we do not repair pixel issues in the radio MID consoles".

Thanks for the tip. I may use them if BMWNA changes its policy on the Odometer display.

Ben
Yes, I know. I hope they will change that one day. With: xx.xx $ for the MID
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  #18  
Old 01-21-2009, 01:27 PM
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Here is VDO's response when I asked why they would not repair the MIDs since they already can do the instrument clusters on our cars. There is not much here to go on, but it comes down to economics in their opinion. I do not know that people would not pay as much for a radio display repair as they would for the cluster, but here is what they said...
I think VDO is missing a great opportunity but what do I know! These are the same people that state that their repair is "different" and will last forever, yet they sell a longer warranty for another 100 bucks! If it is the last repair you will ever need, why would you need a longer warranty? Anyway, here is their answer:


Hello,

All electronics are not the same. The MID is completely different than the instrument cluster. We have determined that the time and replacement parts do not make it a profitable fix.

Sorry that we donít fix it.

Kind regards,

Sales Ė VDORepair.com
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
Here is VDO's response when I asked why they would not repair the MIDs since they already can do the instrument clusters on our cars. There is not much here to go on, but it comes down to economics in their opinion. I do not know that people would not pay as much for a radio display repair as they would for the cluster, but here is what they said...
I think VDO is missing a great opportunity but what do I know! These are the same people that state that their repair is "different" and will last forever, yet they sell a longer warranty for another 100 bucks! If it is the last repair you will ever need, why would you need a longer warranty? Anyway, here is their answer:


Hello,

All electronics are not the same. The MID is completely different than the instrument cluster. We have determined that the time and replacement parts do not make it a profitable fix.

Sorry that we donít fix it.

Kind regards,

Sales Ė VDORepair.com
Hah! Thanks 540iman for the update.
Do you think they work like some of the sponsors? Like Group Buy?
Or maybe send them a link with the MID not working post(s), maybe they change their mind?
The OP will take out and ship the MID, all VDO has to do is to fix the dam thing, which IMHO looks much easier than the odo (no needles)
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:59 PM
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I bet if enough people go to their website and use their feedback form they would change their mind. I doubt they read forums such as this one and have likely decided that repairing your cluster (since you do not need to re-code, etc.) is a money-maker whereas the MID display will never make them squat. I think they have it all wrong as they must know that BMWNA is taking care of 98% of the clusters and at some point they will run out of clusters to fix. MIDs are a different matter as they do not have to compete with BMW since they will not do a goodwill replace. They have no clue how big an opportunity they are missing.

Bill
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  #21  
Old 01-21-2009, 02:53 PM
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List of design flaws in BMW E39 to watch out for

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
we could include vanos, headlight adjusters, cooling systems, SAP systems, and on and on.
I removed my OT post at the request of others ... (sorry)

Donna
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Last edited by bluebee; 01-23-2009 at 11:21 AM.
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  #22  
Old 01-21-2009, 03:14 PM
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Suggest you start your own new thread for this. You have affirmed that you also see the pixel issue, but you are going to take the thread in a completely different direction. Good post, just OT as you pointed out.

Bill
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  #23  
Old 01-21-2009, 03:22 PM
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Bluebee, all cars have flaws.
The e39 forum(s) are the strongest forums IMHO, so everything is reported.
Therefore, our cars [U]seem[U] to have soooo many problems. There are not actually. Our cars are performance sedans. Everything that comes with performance, will have a price.
There are a few flaws however:
Weak cooling design
Bad Vanos seals design

Those are the main flaws.

The secondary air system (SAP) or the FSU will eventually break (a good guess is about 100k miles - that's a lot of miles). The 2n SAP actually, after I read quite a few posts, could be prevented by changing the actuator valve (this breaks and takes down the more expensive vacuum pump)
The A/C smell? A/C should be turned off just before arriving home or wherever your destination is - this will prevent accumulating humidity in the ducts
There is a list of maintenance (for the rubbers I use Gummipflege, and my rubbers look like new), one could clean the ICV (idle control valve), etc, etc
Some stuff seems trivial and people don't do it. One part will take down another part, until the whole car breaks down.
We have solid cars, while driving in a luxury environment enjoying decent performance.
Lots of automakers tried to emulate German cars. Most of them could not come close to have a performance luxury car as a WHOLE. So they have compromises.
You can buy a car where quite a few parts last a bit longer, but then you miss the performance, or maybe the luxury. Some have more performnce, but then the interior is like crap. etc, etc.
Sure, there are things that could be done better, but that's why we have forums, so we can educate ourselfs and take action when the brown stuff hits the fan. Knowledge is power.
I had a frozen CCV that tore the VCG. I was not happy, but that's pretty much my incident. And I do love my car. Next time, whenever I notice my oil level going south (about 1/3 to 1/2 qt per 5000 miles) I know the CCV is going and I will change it. Problem fixed. That will happen well after 60k miles on my car.
On a domestic, I changed a PCV valve pretty much every oil change (dino oil = 2000 miles = 25-30 PCV in 60K miles)
0.02
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Old 01-22-2009, 07:49 PM
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Pixels out on my MID

OK. Understood. All cars have flaws.

But, when I see how badly some things are designed on my 2002 BMW E39, it makes me wonder about that 'vaunted' engineering.

After all, the stuff that breaks a kid could've designed better. I mean, did they ever test these things in real world conditions? Ever?

It just makes me wonder ... that's all. These things are no better than American cars when it comes to some of the design elements.

Anyway, I've only a few pixels out on my 2002 E39 MID... See pic below.

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  #25  
Old 01-22-2009, 07:54 PM
andyffer andyffer is offline
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Are you actually USING the cupholders?!
Woah!
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