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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 11-06-2014, 05:04 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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Coolant Gauge not working, red illuminated.

'98 BMW 528i

The coolant temp never moves from L but the red part of the dial is illuminated.
Scanning with an Autel MaxiSys reveals no related codes but the engine temp seems to be reacting normally. The info display doesn't say anything about coolant.

I have tried replacing the easy sensor (on the radiator) but thought I'd ask about it here before I (potentially) waste my time taking off the intake mani to get at the temp sensors on the head.

Any ideas?
Thanks.

Last edited by bmos; 06-08-2015 at 12:01 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-06-2014, 05:10 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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You can get a digital temperature out of the DTS and you can also adjust at what temperature the gauge moves:
- How the thermostat works, including what the normal temperature of the coolant is when the thermostat opens under normal conditions (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best 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

Last edited by bluebee; 11-06-2014 at 10:00 AM.
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  #3  
Old 11-06-2014, 08:41 AM
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golferjohnm golferjohnm is offline
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you can also unlock your OBC and run test #7 to see the actual coolant temperature in Celsius...there are many posts regarding this and how to access
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2014, 09:07 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
You can get a digital temperature out of the DTS and you can also adjust at what temperature the gauge moves:
- How the thermostat works, including what the normal temperature of the coolant is when the thermostat opens under normal conditions (1)
Quote:
Originally Posted by golferjohnm View Post
you can also unlock your OBC and run test #7 to see the actual coolant temperature in Celsius...there are many posts regarding this and how to access
Thanks but I have already checked the engine temp (via the scanner) and it appeared to react normally so I am pretty sure that it is either the sensor or the gauge. Neverless I will check the temp via your suggestions and post it here.
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2014, 09:14 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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Did you try turning it off then back on again? (Sorry that's mid day humor.) Anyway what I really mean is disconnect your battery for 30 minutes. Then see if it still does it, the 30 minute disconnect resets the computers, modules, sensors, your clock, ect and could be enough to fix your problem, and as always remember to wait the 16 minutes for the trunk light to turn off. This means your car is asleep, meaning all the modules and computers have safely powered down. If not try use a mulitmeter to see what kind of resistance your sensor has.
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  #6  
Old 11-06-2014, 09:45 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
Did you try turning it off then back on again? (Sorry that's mid day humor.) Anyway what I really mean is disconnect your battery for 30 minutes. Then see if it still does it, the 30 minute disconnect resets the computers, modules, sensors, your clock, ect and could be enough to fix your problem, and as always remember to wait the 16 minutes for the trunk light to turn off. This means your car is asleep, meaning all the modules and computers have safely powered down. If not try use a mulitmeter to see what kind of resistance your sensor has.
I have done that. I left it unplugged overnight, in fact. I even re-coded the modules. I will see about checking resistance soon.

I checked via OBC unlock and test 7.0 flattens out around 88-91C.
Test 2.0 did show that the coolant dial motor isn't broken, either.

Last edited by bmos; 11-06-2014 at 09:47 AM.
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  #7  
Old 11-06-2014, 10:02 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmos View Post
I even re-coded the modules
Did you change the temperature at which the gauge reads?

I don't think, from the anecdotal record, anyone has ever done that here for the E39, so, if you did change the calibration, how you did it would be of interest.


For example, from the thread I already referenced, here's an E46 gauge with the old and new temperature readings ...
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best 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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  #8  
Old 11-06-2014, 10:07 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Did you change the temperature at which the gauge reads?

I don't think, from the anecdotal record, anyone has ever done that here for the E39, so, if you did change the calibration, how you did it would be of interest.
Well I certainly didn't change it intentionally. I will get a scanner on it when I get the chance and see if I can find such a setting but I didn't see anything last time I went poking around trying to see if it was software-related.

Last edited by bmos; 11-06-2014 at 10:29 AM.
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  #9  
Old 11-06-2014, 11:59 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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Well then my next suggestion would be to pull the cluster and check the harness, see if maybe your wires didn't fall victim to some fraying.
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  #10  
Old 11-14-2014, 07:53 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
Well then my next suggestion would be to pull the cluster and check the harness, see if maybe your wires didn't fall victim to some fraying.
Wouldn't such a situation also prevent test 7.0 from displaying data?
Unless that's a different sensor...

I am replacing the valve cover gasket in a week or two so I'll probably just throw a new sensor in while I have the easy access. Normally I'm more of a test first, replace bits later kind of guy but it's a cheap sensor so heck with it
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2014, 09:20 AM
timarnold timarnold is offline
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This is probably no comfort, but it could just be a glitch with in whatever brain turns that specific light on. For instance, on my car, the "Park Brake" light is perpetually illuminated even though the Hi OBC will only display the "Release Parking Brake" warning only when the parking brake is engaged while the car is moving. It's only annoying for the first 20-30k miles.
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  #12  
Old 11-14-2014, 02:43 PM
bmos bmos is offline
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Originally Posted by timarnold View Post
This is probably no comfort, but it could just be a glitch with in whatever brain turns that specific light on. For instance, on my car, the "Park Brake" light is perpetually illuminated even though the Hi OBC will only display the "Release Parking Brake" warning only when the parking brake is engaged while the car is moving. It's only annoying for the first 20-30k miles.
I am positive that it used to work but I'm not certain when it stopped. I would hate to have a nonfunctioning coolant gague on a car with 170k that hasn't had coolant system rebuild yet.
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  #13  
Old 11-14-2014, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmos View Post
I am positive that it used to work but I'm not certain when it stopped. I would hate to have a nonfunctioning coolant gague on a car with 170k that hasn't had coolant system rebuild yet.
Does the needle start at the left of the gauge when when you first start the car?
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R.I.P. Otto, 04/17/97 - 02/02/15 You'll be missed my drunken Bavarian friend.

"Owning one of these cars is much like owning a two year old child. It's annoying most of the time, but if anyone tries to take it from you'll kill them." J. Clarkson.
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  #14  
Old 11-14-2014, 03:10 PM
djmjd djmjd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timarnold View Post
This is probably no comfort, but it could just be a glitch with in whatever brain turns that specific light on. For instance, on my car, the "Park Brake" light is perpetually illuminated even though the Hi OBC will only display the "Release Parking Brake" warning only when the parking brake is engaged while the car is moving. It's only annoying for the first 20-30k miles.
Check your brake fluid level.
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  #15  
Old 11-14-2014, 04:05 PM
bmos bmos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
Does the needle start at the left of the gauge when when you first start the car?
Yes, and that is where it stays unless I execute Test 2.0 in the instrument cluster.
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  #16  
Old 11-14-2014, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmos View Post
Yes, and that is where it stays unless I execute Test 2.0 in the instrument cluster.
Hmmmm.. Ok I'm staring to think it may be a DME issue then. The motor works.. The light obviously works.. May be time to go to the dealership and see what they can do..
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R.I.P. Otto, 04/17/97 - 02/02/15 You'll be missed my drunken Bavarian friend.

"Owning one of these cars is much like owning a two year old child. It's annoying most of the time, but if anyone tries to take it from you'll kill them." J. Clarkson.
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  #17  
Old 06-08-2015, 08:13 AM
bmos bmos is offline
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It's almost certainly a cluster coding issue.
I swapped in a compatible cluster coded to another car (which then made the gauge function properly) but when I tried to code it to this car (using Autel diagnostic computer) it made the gauge do the same thing.

Looks like the Autel device is doing something dumb.

Any ideas before I take it to a dealer?

Last edited by bmos; 06-08-2015 at 09:49 AM.
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