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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 05-08-2010, 09:14 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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DIY: 1998 528i Bosch Alternator Rebuild for $30!

For 6-cylinder, you can rebuild your Bosch Alternator for $30!!!

I am gathering information for us 6-cylinder owners to tackle this Alternator Rebuild and do a quality job. So feel free to add info if you know of any good suppliers out there.

I called around, as it turns out many rebuilders in the US put in cheap Chinese bearings, no wonder the Bosch Alternators fail again in a few years. There are a few suppliers that sell rebuild parts to the majority of rebuilders throughout the US. And each rebuilder rebuilds the Alternator his way: you may get only new brushes, the old bearings may receive only grease (instead of being replaced). So when buying a rebuilt alternator, you are at the mercy of the rebuilders, whether it is sold at Autozone or online vendors.

Unlike other previous Bosch Alternator, the E39 Alternator uses a larger FRONT bearing 17x52x17mm type (this bearing takes a lot of pulling force from the drive belt, so they made it bigger to last longer), but this creates a different problem (see below).
Finding this larger bearing from a quality maker like SKF or Koyo is very very difficult (I have not found the supplier yet), so you may have to settle for Chinese bearing, which "might" be OK because Chinese bearings are a "hit or miss" thing, the Quality Control is spotty, some Chinese companies are very good and some very poor. And you don't want to take your alternator apart in 1-2 years to replace the front bearing. So if anyone knows a source for quality FRONT bearing, please chime in.

Reputable bearing makers are:
- INA
- F.A.G.
- SKF (USA)
- Timken (USA)
- Koyo (Japanese)
- Nachi (Japanese)

If you do the Rebuild yourself, you know you will do a quality job. The Bosch rebuilt alternators at Autozone are probably OK, but 99% of the time, they use cheap Chinese bearings, which may be OK but may not last as long as factory alternator.

Time to study the Typical Bosch Alternator anatomy! In fact most alternators, whether it is Honda, Toyota, or whatever car, have the similar setup. If you have not slept through your high-school Physics class, you probably understand how a typical alternator works.




Take you time and go through this excellent Rebuild DIY for a Bosch Alternator in a Range Rover, the E39 is slightly different and I will discuss below:
http://www.rangerovers.net/repairdet...pair.htm#steps

-------------
For 1998 528i (or similar models), the Alternator is:
- 120A Alternator
- Bosch 0 123 515 022
- BMW 12 31 1 432 986


A very good source for technical data is a company from the UK company Wood Auto:
http://wo***********/Unit.aspx?Man=BOSCH&Ref=0123515022

All you need are:
1. Set of Carbon Brushes for $5:
- The whole Rectifier assembly is Bosch 1127319712 ($50 on ebay). If you buy this whole assembly, you don't need to buy the brushes.
- But a set of good carbon brushes is good enough because the rectifier rarely ever goes wrong. Brushes are Bosch 1127014028. Just undo the old brushes and install new brushes, you may have to solder them in the existing rectifier assembly.
Voltage12; Depth 3.9; Width 5.9; Length 16.
In the US, you can get the brushes from Wagner Alternator Supplier (PN W030-03K). The bearings they carry are Chinese (they told me! Anyway this is what you get when you buy a rebuild Bosch Alternator!).
http://wagneralt.com/visions/wagner.asp?ID=232568

2. Small REAR Bearing 6203-2RS:
(2RS means "rubber seals" on both sides).
This bearing is very standard for Alternators: 17x40x12mm.
Search ebay, amazon etc. you will find some people selling SKF or Timken bearings.
Your local bearing store should have this.

3. Larger FRONT bearing: 17x52x17mm:
Bosch PN 1120905012
or B17-99:
You can easily find this for $9 at Bearings Direct:
http://www.bearingsdirect.com/store/..._detail&p=3485
If you don't mind using Chinese bearing for this part then go ahead, I still have trouble locating this particular bearing part using a reputable bearing makers mentioned above (SKF, Timken, Koyo, Nachi etc.), so any info on this particular bearing is appreciated!
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Last edited by cn90; 05-08-2010 at 04:19 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2010, 09:51 AM
edjack edjack is online now
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Great writeup!

Note that all ball bearings have stock numbers on them, which defines the dimensions, etc. Major manufacturers can cross-reference these numbers and supply the correct part.
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Old 05-08-2010, 09:57 AM
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Dmendez Dmendez is offline
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Excellent Info.! I guess the best time to buy the parts are now, with the alternator working fine.

My doubt will be if is the same one for a 01' 525i. Can you tell me? Thankx
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:27 AM
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Great post, and appreciate the information. I would recommend that one always replace both the rectifier and regulator...those are the most common failure items in most alternators. Replacing the bearings and brushes is a bonus, and makes it "like new" .
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  #5  
Old 05-08-2010, 04:37 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmendez View Post
...My doubt will be if is the same one for a 01' 525i. Can you tell me? Thankx
Realoem.com lists different part numbers for 1997-98 and 2001 models.

But from Google search etc., the alternator is exactly the same for all the E39 6 cylinders from 1997-2003.

A good example is here, this website lists this alternator as AL0703X:
1998-2000 E39 5 Series 528i
2001-2003 E39 5 Series 525i & 530i
http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html...UCT_ID=AL0703X
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2010, 08:54 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Great Info for V8 water-cooled alternator from E38!!!
http://www.meeknet.co.uk/E38/Alternator/Index.htm
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  #7  
Old 05-24-2010, 09:27 AM
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ganesht ganesht is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
All you need are:
1. Set of Carbon Brushes for $5:
- The whole Rectifier assembly is Bosch 1127319712 ($50 on ebay). If you buy this whole assembly, you don't need to buy the brushes.
- But a set of good carbon brushes is good enough because the rectifier rarely ever goes wrong. Brushes are Bosch 1127014028.
thanks for the write up! i was trying to hunt down this same information yesterday!

Could you post a link to the 50 bosch regulators? the only ones i could find seemed to be aftermarket ones..

also do you know how to diagnose a bad rectifier vs just bad brushes?
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2010, 09:47 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
...Could you post a link to the 50 bosch regulators? the only ones i could find seemed to be aftermarket ones..

also do you know how to diagnose a bad rectifier vs just bad brushes?
Bosch regulator is here. Ebay seller is "suppersellstore", whic carries alot of alternator rebuild parts:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/alter...Q5fAccessories

Bad rectifier or bad brush: no charge: same symptoms.

The front bearing: 17x52x17mm ---> very difficult to find it in Koyo, Nachi or F.A.G. brands, so you may have to settle for Chinese bearing.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:46 PM
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thanks cn, thats the same part i was looking at... at that price im guessing its an aftermarket regulator, do you think it might cause any problems with our electrical systems?
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Old 05-25-2010, 06:51 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
thanks cn, thats the same part i was looking at... at that price im guessing its an aftermarket regulator, do you think it might cause any problems with our electrical systems?
I don't know if it is aftermarket or not.
Why don't you send a PM to the ebay seller and ask specifically this question?

On the other hand, the whole thing is usually not needed b/c this whole thing contains: rectifier + brushes.

The rectifier part rarely goes wrong.
All you need are new bruses.

As I mentioned, I spoke to a few rebuilders in the US, during a typical rebuild, they replace:
- brushes only (unless rectifier is bad, then they will replace the rectifier).
- bearings from China.
- repaint the casings so it looks good when assembled.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I don't know if it is aftermarket or not.
Why don't you send a PM to the ebay seller and ask specifically this question?
already sent, once i get a response ill post it up.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:23 PM
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I have read several rebuild articles for Nippondenso alternators used in Ferraris. People have had good luck with Regitar USA brand parts, and less than satisfactory luck with Transpo (assembled in Costa Rica) brand parts. FWIW. I rebuilt my ND alternator with Regitar parts and it runs just fine.

I bought my parts from this online seller, their prices are reasonable and shipping was quick. They sell mostly Regitar parts.

http://www.holcombedirect.com/browse.cfm/2,205.html
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 05-25-2010 at 12:28 PM.
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  #13  
Old 06-03-2010, 10:13 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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BMW die-hard Fan Rejoice!!!

I just spoke to Dave at Smith Co Inc. Alternator Rebuilder in Greely Colorado (Contact Info is below).
Good news if you want to rebuild your alternator to factory spec!

As I mentioned above, a typical rebuild Bosch Alternator you find at Autozone or online:
- Chinese bearings x 2
- New Brush Holder (HUCO brand, made in Germany)

Dave told me in theory you can undo the old brushes and put in new brushes, but the Regulator assembly has a circuit board that is solid state. And even solid state circuit board can only handle so many million cycles, and they can go bad. So Dave recommends replacing the Entire Brush Holder instead of brushes alone
(Brush Holder = Regulator + Brushes)

So I recommended Dave to list all these items on ebay for us, so we can order all we need from a single source.

1- FRONT Bearing 17x52x17mm:
- They currently list a Chinese bearing now for $29.99.
- Dave will list the Bosch OEM bearing (likely Koyo brand) with picture on ebay for $39.99.

2- REAR Bearing 17x40x12mm; 6203-2RS type:
- They list a Chinese bearing $6.95.
- Dave will list a quality brand (? SKF, F.A.G. etc.) soon for about $8-10.
- If not you can easily find this bearing on ebay by searching: "6203-2RS" and scan the ebay search results for brands such as:
F.A.G., SKF, Koyo, NTN.

3- Brush Holder for my year 1998 528i is: 8020-1172.
- Made by HUCO (Made in Germany).
- Will be listed on ebay for $59.

There you go, if you want factory Bosch quality.

Keep an eye on their ebay page for an update soon.

-------------------------
Smith Co. Inc.
530 11th St.
Greeley, CO 80631
USA
Phone: (970) 353-3121
Ebay seller name "smithcoelectric".
http://www.stayingreen.com/5.html

Last edited by cn90; 06-03-2010 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:00 PM
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
BMW die-hard Fan Rejoice!!!
So I recommended Dave to list all these items on ebay for us, so we can order all we need from a single source.
Cool!
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  #15  
Old 06-03-2010, 12:18 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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RE Slip rings.
I just spoke to Dave @ Smith Co Inc again.
Bosch Alternator slip rings are very good and after 100K miles, all you need is to smooth it up using 3M emery cloth or very fine sand paper to shine it.
No need to replace the slip rings.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:41 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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This is all great information and I'll tuck it away for when I may need it. Does anyone venture to guess how many miles a typical Bosch Alternator is good for? I know that there are a lot of variables.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:57 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Rolando View Post
This is all great information and I'll tuck it away for when I may need it. Does anyone venture to guess how many miles a typical Bosch Alternator is good for? I know that there are a lot of variables.
Jim,

I posted the Poll here in 2008.
Some people have failure at 110-120K miles.
Some run it into 200K with no issues!

http://bimmer.roadfly.com/bmw/forums/e39/8995698-1.html
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Old 06-03-2010, 01:16 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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Thanks. All encouraging. Sometimes one gets paranoid reading this forum and worries about driving there cars very far at all because SOMETHING is going to go wrong. The more I read and participate though, the more it appears to me that the people who really get into trouble for the most part are those who have cars that have not been maintained and/or are generally lacking in basic automobile knowledge. I have had a lot of experience with a lot of cars for many years, but, never an E39. I can comfortably predict that I would have gotten into trouble with my cooling system if you had not admonished me to overhaul it before something happened. I knew that the water pump had been replaced about 20K ago with one with a metal impeller and when I first bought the car I figured based upon previous experience that was enough. Everything else looked brand new. But, then at your advice I replaced the rest of the parts; fan and clutch, radiator, expansion tank, thermostat and housing, tensioners and idlers and belts, but, I did not replace the hose fittings. Two weeks later one failed.

I am not sure what this rant has to do with alternators, but, it would be good if more of us posted postive reliability experiences with our cars, like the alternator running for a long time. I'll let you all know if I make it back from Oregon and up the coast in a couple of weeks. LOL
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:14 AM
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Hello Cam. I found this great DIY on the Land Rover forum on how to rebuild a Bosch alternator, and I believe it completes nicely your rebuild procedure. Lots of great details and pics.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:11 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Hello Cam. I found this great DIY on the Land Rover forum on how to rebuild a Bosch alternator, and I believe it completes nicely your rebuild procedure. Lots of great details and pics.
Dear Doru,

I already mentioned the Land Rover it in the DIY above (the link is part of the DIY).
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Dear Doru,

I already mentioned the Land Rover it in the DIY above (the link is part of the DIY).
Sorry Cam, I was looking at that stuff (alternator rebuilding & parts, stumbled upon this DIY coincidentally), not reading your whole post. Sorry man.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
For 1998 528i (or similar models), the alternator is:
- 120A Alternator
- Bosch 0 123 515 022
- BMW 12 31 1 432 986
I wish I had seen this rebuild DIY and proactively bought the parts instead of having my alternator just suddenly die on me sans warning ... leaving me stranded in the middle of the road.
Even if I didn't rebuild the alternator at the time the parts arrive, they'd be waiting for me back home instead of me waiting for the new rebuilt alternator to arrive and for me to ship back the old one to get my core charge back.

For the record, for the 2002 525i (and similar models), the alternator is:
- 120A alternator
- Bosch AL0703X (0 124 5 15 050)
- BMW 12 31 7 501 599

BTW, this thread says there is an error in the original exploded alternator diagram in the OP which maybe we should rectify.


Last edited by bluebee; 09-16-2010 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:37 PM
ULTIMA ULTIMA is offline
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Hey Cn90, very informative thread, thank you very much. My problem is that I dont have the time or technical knowledge to remove or revamp my alternator.

I have a 1997 bmw 528i and I look at the engine bay and it has a barcode and what looks like 140 A on it...does that mean it is a bosch alternator? I was able to squeeZe a flashlight and see the words "osch" and 140 A so im pretty confident I hope its a bosch. I dont know how to figure out which one I need, cause I dotn have tools or able to access where it says the manufacturing data. Can you send me a pm of good rebuilders please. Would appreciate it.

Is a reman alternator just as good performance as a brand new one (i called bosch and they said they dont make those anymore..)

my car has 158,000 and the other day i was at a light, radio started going on and off, lights dimmed, car went into safe mode....AAA came...put boost pack on my car...it started up...took pack off and car died...so AAA said its a dead alternator...

Last edited by ULTIMA; 10-25-2010 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
My problem is that I dont have the time or technical knowledge to remove or revamp my alternator.
Guys like cn90 know WAY more than I do about this but I'll just say that if I can do it, YOU certainly can! I simply brought my laptop into the garage and every time I got stuck, the guys here (especially cn90) walked me successfully through every single step (even how to unscrew-up what I screwed up).

It's just wrench twisting (once you have the knowledge that the guys here have and are willing to provide to you).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
see the words "osch" and 140 A so im pretty confident I hope its a bosch.
Again, I only know what I've experienced, but, when I was looking up possible alternators for my E39, there were only two "brands" as OEM, namely "Valero" and "Bosch". So, if you can see "osch", then I can't imagine it not being a Bosch alternator. Mine is 120Amps but if you see 140A, then I would assume you have the "Bosch 140Amp" alternator (if that exists). You can google for that to confirm. I just did google it and it does exist ( http://tinyurl.com/32m8t7u ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
Can you send me a pm of good rebuilders please.
Cn90 may respond to that but isn't most of that information ALREADY in this thread??? What happened when you contacted the parts manufacturers in this thread?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
Is a reman alternator just as good performance as a brand new one
I think cn90 covered that ad infinitum already! Search for "China" and "Bearings" for example. Here's the cliffs'notes edition:
- A rebuild CAN be as good or better than the OEM alternator
- A lot depends on the BEARINGS they use (which is why YOU want to do the rebuild yourself)
- To a lessor extent, the quality depends on whether they replaced the regulator also

I'm not re-reading this thread, but, ummmmm.... isn't ALL that already in this thread above???

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
(i called bosch and they said they dont make those anymore..)
IIRC, when I spoke to the sponsors (EAC Tuning, OEMBimmerParts, etc.) when I was replacing my alternator, I was told (don't remember by whom) that Bosch does NOT do the remanufacturing. The remanufacturing is done ON a Bosch alternator so it should be as good as new (caveats about bearings and regulators notwithstanding); but Bosch isn't doing the remanufacturing AFAIK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTIMA View Post
my car has 158,000 and the other day i was at a light, radio started going on and off, lights dimmed, car went into safe mode....AAA came...
Yup. Same thing happened to me:
- One users' example of total electrical failure (AAA towed away) alternator repair (1) (2)

These links from the bestlinks thread should be useful to you:
Common questions which need to be answered BEFORE you do an alternator and/or drive belt system overhaul:
- 1st: Physically, determine what type of tensioners you have (1)
- 2nd: Physically, determine exactly what alternator you have (1)
- 3rd: Determine which parts you need to buy for a complete drive belt system overhaul (1)
- 4th: Do the alternator and drive belt system DIY (belts, tensioners, pulleys, rollers, alternator) (1)

Alternator and Belt Drive DIYs:
- Removal instructions for the alternator & drive belt system of a 2002 525i
- Removal instructions for the fan shroud of a 2002 525i
- Alternator and Belt Drive DIY (1)
- How to tell if you have spring-drive or hydraulic belt tensioners or both (1)
- How to diagnose noises coming from the drive belt system (1)
- Video of cold idle engine squeal (1)
- Recommended parts list for a complete belt drive system overhaul (1)
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Last edited by bluebee; 10-25-2010 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:33 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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Location: Oshkosh Wisconsin
 
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Mein Auto: 2010 M3
Once again, hats off to CN90 for a great thread of helpful information.
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