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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 04-14-2010, 02:04 PM
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Johnny Canada Johnny Canada is offline
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Fixed your leaking vapor barrier? Don't forget to lift the carpet.

BMW uses a high-density foam backing that is bonded to the E39 carpet. It's a great noise insulator, but it also acts as a giant diaper when the vapor barriers leak.

So, if your rear carpet feels damp to the touch, it's actually saturated with a shocking amount of water that is held within the foam.

Once water gets absorbed into the foam, it's impossible to dry without lifting the carpet.

There are several bundles of electrical wires under the carpet, so I think it's beneficial to thoroughly dry the foam backing.

Start by removing the back seat. Then the rocker trim. It uses a 10mm bolt with 2 push-in fasteners (be gentle.. this piece is brittle)

Then I popped off the bottom of the B pillar cover. This allows the carpet to be folded back and lifted up.

I've spent over 2 weeks placing absorbent ShamWow towels (made in Germany. You know the Germans make good stuff) under the carpet overnight, wringing the excess water, letting the towels dry, and repeating the process again and again.

I've pulled out so much water that it makes me wonder how many electrical problems could be attributed to wet carpets.
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2010, 04:53 AM
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Hooray! Hooray! is offline
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I think you are right, mine leak and are on my list to fix. I put a piece of aluminum foil on the door jam so it extends inside 3" and under the door 3" then close. I have towels on the floor and they dont appear to get wet any more. I put a dehumidifier in my car overnight on high and in the AM, things are pretty dried out inside... now I need to jump on these, driving me crazy. Did you use the weatherstrip "bead" or 3M Weatherstrip Adhesive (Yellow) approach?
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2010, 07:30 AM
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Johnny Canada Johnny Canada is offline
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I purchased a roll of Butyl adhesive (that's what the factory uses) from a local auto body supply company. It sticks like crazy on the door, but I had issues getting a secure bond on some smaller areas of the vapor barrier. I think that the process of removing the barrier, and the old Butyl, slightly delaminated the surface of the barrier. If I ever need to do this again, I'll order new vapor barriers (about $35 each) to insure clean bonding surface.

PS: A quick way to check your vapor barrier is to remove the Puddle Light and stick your finger inside. The panel will be wet in that location if the barrier is leaking.

Last edited by Johnny Canada; 06-05-2010 at 07:33 AM.
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  #4  
Old 06-05-2010, 09:14 AM
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Hooray! Hooray! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Canada View Post
I purchased a roll of Butyl adhesive (that's what the factory uses) from a local auto body supply company. It sticks like crazy on the door, but I had issues getting a secure bond on some smaller areas of the vapor barrier. I think that the process of removing the barrier, and the old Butyl, slightly delaminated the surface of the barrier. If I ever need to do this again, I'll order new vapor barriers (about $35 each) to insure clean bonding surface.

PS: A quick way to check your vapor barrier is to remove the Puddle Light and stick your finger inside. The panel will be wet in that location if the barrier is leaking.
For $35@ probably not a bad idea, do it once, do it right, never do it again. I'm thinking of picking up the BSW stage 1 speaker upgrade kit as well and swap out the stereo speakers at the same time... again, dont want to open up the door again while I have the car (the PO replaced both rear window regulators, hence why I suspect they leak).
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  #5  
Old 06-09-2010, 09:48 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Two things:

1. The Vapor Barrier: I think you can use any thick plastic barrier at hardware store. This is the same stuff people lay on the basement gravel before pouring concrete floor. Make sure you get the thicker plastic type.

2. The butyl roll: I got a roll from a local Auto Glass Repair shop: 15-foot roll for $15.
The roll is the same size as the pencil (about 3/16" in diameter). Go to any local Auto Glass Repair shop and ask for it. This butyl stuff was used in American cars from 1970s and 1980s Chevy etc. It looks like this:

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  #6  
Old 03-20-2011, 05:27 PM
cautionmoon cautionmoon is offline
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Smile cautionmoon

wowwww..great advice on the vapor barrier,i had the same problem...now i will try this...i will let you guys know how it came out.......2002 530i......
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2011, 04:21 AM
Jimmys 530i Jimmys 530i is offline
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I usually take the carpet completely out, pressure wash it to remove the odor, and dry it in a paint booth oven. Always works like a charm.
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  #8  
Old 01-15-2013, 07:45 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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The E46 crowd is having trouble finding the right sealant according to this post today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by computerwhiz1 View Post
I have redone all 4 doors vapor barrier seals twice now. I used the 3M window-weld in a roll which is exactly what the dealership told me to use. Apparently its what they use to do the job as well. The first time I redid the seals they leaked and I assumed that it was because I hadn't pressed down hard enough to obtain a good seal. So this most recent time I used a small paint roller to roll over the fresh bead of window-weld on each door to be sure that I got a good seal. I checked each of the vapor barriers right after resealing them and all of the seals looked good and held when I tugged on them even moderately. I thought that surely I had solved the problem. Not so! The doors have now leaked again, all four of them. It has rained here in the south-east for about the past 7 days straight so I have some pretty soggy floor boards on all four corners. I am going to reseal them again this weekend using silicone sealant as I am about 99% sure it will work. I will just loose the ability to simply pull the vapor barrier off if I need to get under it at a later date. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to what to use before I use the silicone sealant? I am sure it is the vapor barriers as I have taken the door panels off and watched the water run out from behind the vapor barrier and into the car where the vapor barrier has pulled away from the bottom part of the door.
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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.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #9  
Old 01-15-2013, 07:57 PM
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Anyone tried this:



I heard really good things about it. Seems like the windows shop have it. (3M 08609) I also found it on Amazon
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  #10  
Old 01-16-2013, 02:37 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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Why not just use regular old silicone caulking?
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  #11  
Old 02-27-2013, 12:23 PM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
The E46 crowd is having trouble finding the right sealant according to this post today:
I did mine a couple years ago and found out recently that both doors are leaking again. I used the 3M window weld last time and wondered about trying something else this time, like this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Anyone tried this:



I heard really good things about it. Seems like the windows shop have it. (3M 08609) I also found it on Amazon
I wonder if this creates a more permanent bond? I'm heading out to Auto Zone to check that out or buy the window weld.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
Why not just use regular old silicone caulking?
Silicone makes a more permanent bond and you want to avoid that in order to reuse the vapor barrier.
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  #12  
Old 06-26-2013, 12:02 PM
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collardgreens collardgreens is offline
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Resurrection

I've used almost a whole tube of 100% silicone on my vapor barriers
When I redid them. I used tape to hold the barrier tight and let it cure for almost 4 days.


It did stop the leak however when it rained a lot, I did have a slight wet towel smell but no wet carpets.

Fast forward a year later and I'm doing a window regulator. The silicone did not bond to the vapor barrier. Seemed it had a minuscule bond, It peeled it back like weak masking tape peels off things. I did not gave the hellafied bond I hoped for on the door either.

I did clean the old stuff off and used mineral spirits and dried real good before I did it also.
I left some parts with the old butyl residue and it seemed to grab there a little better.

Maybe I sabatoged myself with the mineral spirits the first time.

Going with window weld and butyl this time.
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  #13  
Old 06-26-2013, 07:10 PM
FLE39 FLE39 is offline
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I just did my RR door. I used 3M Black silicone adhesive, guess it's for weather stripping and what not. So far so good. 2 or 3 rain storms bone dry. need to do the LR door. I've never noticed this issue on the front doors. Do they suffer from this lack of F'n design also? I need to pull the carpet up and check for water, but I removed the floor mat and in 120 degree FL Sun days, 10hrs in the parking lot, day after day pretty much dried everything out that I could feel.
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Last edited by FLE39; 06-26-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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  #14  
Old 06-27-2013, 05:42 AM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by collardgreens View Post
Resurrection

I've used almost a whole tube of 100% silicone on my vapor barriers
When I redid them. I used tape to hold the barrier tight and let it cure for almost 4 days.


It did stop the leak however when it rained a lot, I did have a slight wet towel smell but no wet carpets.

Fast forward a year later and I'm doing a window regulator. The silicone did not bond to the vapor barrier. Seemed it had a minuscule bond, It peeled it back like weak masking tape peels off things. I did not gave the hellafied bond I hoped for on the door either.

I did clean the old stuff off and used mineral spirits and dried real good before I did it also.
I left some parts with the old butyl residue and it seemed to grab there a little better.

Maybe I sabatoged myself with the mineral spirits the first time.

Going with window weld and butyl this time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FLE39 View Post
I just did my RR door. I used 3M Black silicone adhesive, guess it's for weather stripping and what not. So far so good. 2 or 3 rain storms bone dry. need to do the LR door. I've never noticed this issue on the front doors. Do they suffer from this lack of F'n design also? I need to pull the carpet up and check for water, but I removed the floor mat and in 120 degree FL Sun days, 10hrs in the parking lot, day after day pretty much dried everything out that I could feel.
What I discovered to be the problem causing my second leak was the broken white plastic, (not sure what to call it) snap-locking, push/pull "clip." Since one of mine was broken and did not block the corresponding hole, the water poured in through that opening. I blocked it using the 3M butyl tape and have not had a problem since.
There are plenty of tips on how to do this DIY, and another helpful idea is to use a heat gun on the butyl tape before putting on the vapor barrier.
Here's a thread depicting what I just explained above:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...50#post7431750
Good luck!!!
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  #15  
Old 06-27-2013, 06:12 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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  #16  
Old 10-13-2013, 09:45 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the cross-linked record, a similar question came up today asking what length of adhesive bead to buy ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > how much vapor barrier seal
Quote:
Originally Posted by gibo58 View Post
Going to the dealership tomorrow to get some vapor barrier seal, they are selling it to me by the metre ($9 per metre) and was hoping someone would know the approximate length required to do the rear doors
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
You could measure around the door panel and figure it out.
I'd say 2.5 meters/door shoud be enough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GSA1 View Post
3M Window weld. 1/4 0r 3/8 box is inexpensive, not messy and easy to use
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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
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  #17  
Old 05-10-2014, 10:42 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Hi guys,

Apologize for resurrecting this thread but the time came to have my own pond on rear passenger footwell.

In preparation for tackling the issue I bought new BMW sound dampeners, cause I can't really call them vapor barriers . They are very,very flimsy ... Can't imagine how that thin foam would prevent the water coming in. I need to handle them like raw eggs.

So I bought some real vapor barriers from Home Depot, 152 micrometers thickness. My plan is to use the Home Depot product to seal against water then apply the BMW sound dampening foam over it.

Has anyone tried his before ?

Thank you

PS. As the sealer I intend to use the 3M 08609 - window welding urethane.
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  #18  
Old 05-11-2014, 06:49 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Here is the rear left door with Home Depot vapor barrier applied (still need to trim the edges once the sealant is cured).

One thing I like about using the vapor barrier vinyl is that you can easily check whether you've applied the calk uniformly and truly sealed everywhere. The pitfall in this case however, is making sure you have left enough slack at the bottom for the concave part of your panel (at least I hope I did ... - I'll know tomorrow).

Am am still waiting for the sealant to cure and then I will apply the sound dampener on top of vapor barrier (if possible). As I do not need a sealant anymore, I am still debating what type of glue I should use for this step. I think I can attach the dampener only on a few spots.
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