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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 02-07-2014, 12:52 AM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 540I
'97 540I Keeps Failing CA Smog HELP!!!

Hello Everyone,
I really need some help here in getting my '97 540I to pass the California Smog Test. This is the 3rd failure I have had this past month in my attempt to renew my registration. I keep failing because of abnormally high NOX levels. My car has over 200K miles on it so after the first failure I figured that my engine probably had a large amount of carbon build up so I Seafoamed the intake,

Second smog test the NOX levels were even worse and my car had thrown a P0430 code once before which means "catalytic converter below threshold bank 2". I cleared the code and it never came back but I could hear one of my cats rattling so I knew it had to be replaced. I had a Magnaflow 46105, 50 state legal cat put on today. Strange thing however is that my passengers side cat was the one that was shot and that is bank 1.

Third smog test after installing new passengers side cat and you guessed it the NOX levels were worse than the previous two test. Anyone have any suggestions as to what may be the problem? I know that high NOX levels means that the combustion chamber temps are above 2500 degrees but my car is not overheating and runs fine but I did get a P0170 Fuel Trim Bank 1, P0173 Fuel Trim Bank 2, P1174 and P1175 on my way home from the 3rd failed smog test. I know that the P1174 and P1175 usually mean a t/b vacuum leak or bad CCV but my car idles fine. Those issues I can deal with. I just need to figure out what is causing these high NOX levels which have caused me to fail smog test 3 times. My registration has run out and I need HELP! Anyone? Thank you in advance, you guys are all awesome!

Vincent

Last edited by 540IVincent; 02-07-2014 at 12:52 AM. Reason: to crammed together
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2014, 01:13 AM
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eparayno eparayno is offline
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I made a thread about my 530 failing the NOx roller test.

I changed the oil, changed the pre-cat )2 sensors, installed a new air filter and a new PCV valve for a just in case measure.I also drove the car hard for about 20min on the highway and pulled into the SMOG station and was tested right away. I passed with flying colors the second time around. Although for your case the other cat is probably the culprit.

Last edited by eparayno; 02-07-2014 at 01:15 AM.
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:18 AM
Bearfan4life Bearfan4life is offline
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Mein Auto: 97 540i
I also have a 97 540 with 96k on it. Just passed smog. I have replaced both cats, all O2 sensors, CCV car is very well maintained. Failed 1st test. Ran can car for about 50 miles and pulled in and right was tested right away and passed . When I get home I will let post smog results for you.
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  #4  
Old 02-07-2014, 09:30 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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+1 on the cats. If they are original, they have long since died. Early V8 cars generally need replacement in the 130k region.
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2014, 06:45 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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Thanks guys for the replies. The NOX levels read over 1000 in both the 15mph and 25 mph test this last time out. The first test I took it was only out of whack in the 15mph test by about 100ppm and passed the 25mph test. I would have thought that with at least one new cat that it would have lowered the numbers a little but no go. The cat I changed sounded like it had marbles rolling around in it and the other one was solid. Going to also do a smoke test and check the fuel pressure to see if they might be adding to the problem but I will go on ahead and get the other cat replaced too.

It is crazy the hoops that California makes its citizens jump through every two years in order to have the privaledge of driving their own cars. My car has been well maintained throughout its life and I would like to get another 200K miles out of it.

Would like opinions as to whether anyone thinks that a vacuum leak and/or low fuel pressure would give me such high NOX readings? If the O2 sensors were bad wouldn't I be running rich and have higher HC levels and not such high NOX levels? Thanks in advance for all of your responses and help, I really appreciate it very much.

Vincent
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  #6  
Old 02-07-2014, 06:51 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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Vincent: Always change your cats as a set. It does not make sense to only change one side out. Also, a lean fuel mixture (vacuum leak) and a failing MAF can cause high NOx levels. How do your HC numbers look?

Ed: What makes you say that the early V8 cars need their cats changed around 130k? Personal experience?
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  #7  
Old 02-07-2014, 07:48 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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I left the results in my office so I do not have them in front of me but the first test everything was in order except the NOX levels during the 15mph test, second test the HC levels and NOX levels were above max allowed. The NOX levels were close to 1000ppm in both the 15mph and 25mph test and the HC levels were only slightly over the allowed limit. The third test after installing the p/s cat everything was in range except the NOx levels which were slightly above 1000ppm in both the 15mph and 25mph test. I just hate to throw money at smog station owners praying that I will pass after fixing one thing after another. The nice California weather sure does cost a lot sometimes. Thanks for your reply,
Vincent
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  #8  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:03 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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Yes, Kali is not a very friendly car state (except for the roads).

Really, smog can be thrown out of wack due to only a few things:

CCV system [two parts, the cyclone separator (rare and expensive failure due to labor involved needed to get to it, part itself is cheap) and the rear manifold separator]
Vacuum leak [once u find it, its a cheap fix]
Valve cover gasket/spark plugs [relatively easy and inexpensive]
MAF/O2 sensors [arguably the most expensive on this list]
CATS [can be pretty inexpensive and painless if you know where to look]

If its none of those things, then its probably something else and not as common or you have failing piston rings, which is when its probably time to get rid of the car. I highly doubt this last one.
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  #9  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:23 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it very much. I noticed my idle today was a little rough which leads me to believe I have a vacuum leak. Will now once I perform the smoke test and then I can fix that. V/C gaskets are faily new. 50 state legal cats are faily expensive, even the universal, nonOEM ones. Cost me $280 to install a Magnaflow 46105. If you know of a good source in which to acquire a better price please do let me know. Thanks again so much. I will report back as things progress.
Vincent
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  #10  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:34 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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$280? Ouch. Research is your friend.

Check this out:
http://performancepeddler.com/catalo...=46105&x=0&y=0
http://performancepeddler.com/catalo...G46105&price=1

Click on it and put $1 in the offer box.

$148.92 and I believe free shipping. I have used them before, non complaints.
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Last edited by GreenTiger; 02-07-2014 at 08:35 PM.
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  #11  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:46 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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You are the MAN! Thank you so much! I paid $280 installed which I thought was okay since the only price I could find was $225 but of course that is just standard retail pricing. This will save me a $100 and I can use that to buy the parts to fix all of the other misc items. I love this forum and people like you that are on it. Thanks again!

Vincent
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  #12  
Old 02-07-2014, 08:52 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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lol, no problem man. This forum is awesome.

Good luck with your fix and hope you can come back with an update and good news.
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  #13  
Old 06-09-2014, 10:56 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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It has been sometime since I posted to this thread but I wanted to let everyone know that I finally passed the California smog and can get my car registred fro the year. Yeah! The solution was to install one more new Magnaflow catalytic converter and fix a vacuum leak. The vacuum leak I found using a homemade smoke machine I made of which I learned to fabricate via this forum. This forum and its members rock! Thanks to all for your suggestions and assistance. Also my 540I is running better than ever after fixing the vacuum leak. Hope that this thread might help someone else. Thanks again to all!
Vincent
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  #14  
Old 06-09-2014, 10:58 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Write up and post the construction of your smoke machine.

Where were the vacuum leaks?
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Last edited by edjack; 06-09-2014 at 10:59 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-10-2014, 01:25 AM
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shaftdrive shaftdrive is offline
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Does a cat really affect nox?
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  #16  
Old 06-10-2014, 09:07 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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Yes. The 3-way cat is designed to reduce NOx, CO, and HC. When the engine is designed to run w/o an EGR system, the cat must pick up the extra NOx load.
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  #17  
Old 06-10-2014, 02:04 PM
540IVincent 540IVincent is offline
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Hi Ed,
I copied a very simple smoke machine design I found on this forum. It consists of a large plastic 2lb protein container with a hole drilled in the lid and a hole drilled near the bottom/side. The hole in the lid I glued a plastic elbow into it and on the inside glued a socket that would hold a cigar, the hole near the bottom of the container I inserted a plastic niple into it and sealed the area around it with silicon glue from a cheap glue gun.
I then attached rubber hose to both the elbow sticking out of the lid and to the niple sticking out of the bottom/side of the container. I lit up a cigar, placed into the socket that was glued to the inside of the lid, inserted the hose coming out of the lid that was attached the elbow into the brake booster line and blew air manually from my mouth into the line that was attached to the hose that was attached to the niple at the bottom/side of the container.
This sent the smoke from the lit cigar all the way through the vacuum system. I found a small leak just below and behind the bracket that holds the throttle cables that springs open and closed in a circular motion. Not sure what this is called but there is a vacuum line that attaches to a piece just behind and below this part.
The vacuum line on the other end attaches to an odd shaped three way splitter if that helps. Anyhow the clamp was broken where the leak was so I just removed and actually replaced the vacuum hose with new hose and clamp and that resolved the issue.
I forgot to mention that I placed a zip lock bag over the large rubber acordian hose that attaches to the maf sensor just before the maf sensor and clamped it down with the original clamp. Obviously I disconnected this large hose from the maf sensor prior to placing the ziplock over the end of it.
Car runs beautifully now and most important I passed smog! Sorry for the poor description but I hope all will be able to understand it and I hope it will help someone else in the future. Thanks to everyone for their imput and assistance! You guys are the greatest!
Vincent
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  #18  
Old 06-10-2014, 07:08 PM
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helmet75 helmet75 is online now
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congrats on finally passing! I have found this forum to be one of the best as well!
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Looking for Parts for my E39- PM Me for wishlist and to deal!
2000 528i- Current Daily Driver and Project Car
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  #19  
Old 06-11-2014, 06:48 AM
haolibird haolibird is offline
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Vincent
You just saved me $80.00!
If/when you go to "Pick - your - part"in CV, hit me with a pm.
Lunch is on me.
Mahalo!
Tom

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
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  #20  
Old 06-11-2014, 08:57 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Over the past six years, the only thing on my California smog tests that is going way up are the hydrocarbons:
- What you can expect for E39 smog emissions test results (1)

Here are those results for:
  1. 2010 false failure for a P0500 due to rebuilding the ABS control module
    • Hydrocarbons = 0 ppm at 15mph, & 0 ppm at 25mph
  2. 2010 pass after driving the BMW drive cycle
    • Hydrocarbons = 9 ppm at 15mph, & 2 ppm at 25mph
  3. 2012 pass after fixing many hose leaks in multiple places
    • Hydrocarbons = 2 ppm at 15mph, & 2 ppm at 25mph
  4. 2014 pass after fixing minor vacuum leaks
    • Hydrocarbons = 31 ppm at 15mph, & 10 ppm at 25mph
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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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  #21  
Old 06-11-2014, 09:09 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Who said cigar is bad lol...?
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