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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 12-06-2014, 11:44 AM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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A 5 Year Love Affair with my E39 530i

After 5 years (nearly to the day), my beloved "Helga" decided she'd had enough of the 90,000+ miles of use and abuse I inflicted upon her. With her clock reading nearly 155k, she was faithful right until the end. Yesterday, I heard an apparent water pump squeak/squeal and knew the time to act was near. I didn't think it would be 10 minutes later, but on my way home, catastrophic failure occurred with pieces of belt, fan blade, and shroud plastic and a steady stream of steam and antifreeze strewn about the engine compartment. In the 10-15 seconds it took me to pull off the highway safely, nearly every light on the cluster was lit and I was reading Trans Failsafe and Check Coolant messages. Not a pretty sight on the side of the highway in darkness, 40 degree temperature, and heavy rain.
So, here I sit pondering the pros and cons of sinking a ton of cash into my car. It has a lot of other issues that I was beginning to address this week ($525 for new tires on Thursday, brakes 2 months ago) in advance of the annual inspection that is soon due. But all of these issues, and not knowing if I cooked the engine are making me consider parting her out and joining the E60 club.

So, it looks like I'm going to need:
Radiator, fan, water pump, hoses, etc. to repair the damage.

The laundry list of items required for inspection:
Catalytic converter
Rear suspension (control arms, sway bar links, needs shocks)
Rear brake lines
Front suspension (thrust arm bushing, steering boot, ride height sensor, needs struts)

Other stuff on the to-do list:
Oil change
Alignment
Replace right rear axle seal
Valve cover gasket oil leak
Spark plugs
Perform brake system fluid service
Recommended Fuel Injector Service
Replace left rear axle seal
Replace input shaft seal

I think I already an$wered my own que$tion, but I truly love thi$ car. It ha$ a great look, i$ fun to drive, and ha$ great brake$. I ju$t wi$h it didn't have to end thi$ way...
Part of this love affair has been getting to know and working on the car with the help of this community. It's difficult for me to leave all of this behind.
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2014, 01:25 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I am surprised you have been this long in the forum and yet still ignore the cooling overhaul.
Anyway:
- Engine compression test
- If Ok, then cooling overhaul and keep going.

Stay away from E60.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2014, 01:51 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Do they still have that great ice cream up there at PSU???

Anyway, you have a long list! 90K is young in e39 terms. Seems she is just lacking in keeping up with the things that any mature e39 lady needs. As cn90 has said, compression is the elephant in the room. After that, depending, I guess you need to look at a balance of what it will take vs what will a new ride cost you. Don't forget, all that glitters... The new ride may well have a surprise or 2 awaiting you. With this one at least you know what you have and what you need to do. Another option is pick up something cheap to drive for a while and give this car undivided attention while you get caught up on your "honey do list."

doc
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Last edited by MKJS; 12-06-2014 at 01:58 PM.
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2014, 02:05 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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+1 on cn90. You waited just a bit too long on the cooling system replacement.

I would repair my car or buy a used e39 rather than buy a used e60. Buying a used car means you will be buying the problems someone else was not willing to fix. Most importantly, the cost difference to fix your car should be less than buying a "newer" one. At least you know (or think you know) what your current problems are. The cooling system will only cost about $650 to repair, assuming you DIY and your engine is fine. Regarding your inspection, I believe it can pass with a LOT less work. If your ball joints are fine, your suspension should pass. I have never seen a safety inspection check the shocks, bushings or boots. Sway bar links are also not checked at inspection but make awful noises when driving. As long as your brakes work, the brake lines will pass. And how do you know your cat needs replacement? Has it failed an emissions test?

Good luck whatever you do.

Yes the Berkey Creamery is still there. We are...
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  #5  
Old 12-06-2014, 03:36 PM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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I forgot (duh!) to mention the water pump, radiator, and hoses were replaced about 2 years ago.
Never did the VANOS...and a few other things that most would recommend.
Car shopping isn't any fun when you really don't want a new (used) car...
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Old 12-06-2014, 03:50 PM
SeanPhang SeanPhang is offline
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I think Some members were confused about the mileage of the car. OP bought at 65k, put on 90k, so now it's 155k.

If it was still on the original cooling system, then it was way past due.
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06/10: rear shocks
08/11: cooling overhaul, O2 sensors
09/11: auto transmission drain & refill
09/12: alternator, VANOS seals, differential oil change
04/13: 2nd auto transmission drain & refill, changed fuel filter
12/13: OFH gasket
05/14: Aux. fan
09/14: CCV
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  #7  
Old 12-06-2014, 04:10 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanPhang View Post
I think Some members were confused about the mileage of the car. OP bought at 65k, put on 90k, so now it's 155k.

If it was still on the original cooling system, then it was way past due.
That would be me. Yes, thank you. 155K, makes a tuffer decision.

doc
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  #8  
Old 12-06-2014, 04:23 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by severe530i View Post
I forgot (duh!) to mention the water pump, radiator, and hoses were replaced about 2 years ago.
Never did the VANOS...and a few other things that most would recommend.
Car shopping isn't any fun when you really don't want a new (used) car...
Did you replace the tensioners? That may have been the squealing noise. What water pump did you replace the original with? 2 years or 40K is awfully soon for a failure.
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  #9  
Old 12-06-2014, 06:06 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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The E60 looks like a pile of dog sick laid in shag pile carpet!! Its brutally horrid looking. Everytime I look at anything from that damned designer I nearly vomit. The only good looking chassis out of that dark period was the E90 - E93. Everything else was horrible. Disgusting complicated stupid machines... Anyway rant over and get one if you want but be warned someone will vomit on it someday.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2014, 06:37 PM
BavarianE31 BavarianE31 is offline
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I'd go with a E90 sport any day over an E60. But if you are set on the E60 platform, get the LCI years cause the older ones I heard have horrible engine problems. But yes, it seems that it is time to let the E39 go... Why not get another? I'd love to get a 5 speed E39 530i....
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2014, 06:50 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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WP fails within 2 years, what brand is it?
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  #12  
Old 12-07-2014, 01:15 PM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
Did you replace the tensioners? That may have been the squealing noise. What water pump did you replace the original with? 2 years or 40K is awfully soon for a failure.
Yes, did the alternator, belts and tensioner right before that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
WP fails within 2 years, what brand is it?
Not sure, but this was the second radiator since that original job was done. The first one failed and my old indy replaced it under warranty. I trusted those guys to order the water pump from BMW, but I don't know where they got any of the parts. I stopped using that garage because they broke my angel eye light socket but denied it...

My thought is to get another car and possibly fix this one. It just needs so much work...not worth getting rid of it, so in the driveway it will sit for now.
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2014, 02:44 PM
plmadding01e39 plmadding01e39 is offline
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I'm not a huge fan of the E60, but the E61 is another story! I LOVE the look of the E61!!!
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2014, 05:26 PM
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moots moots is offline
wat's dat noise
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
The E60 looks like a pile of dog sick laid in shag pile carpet!! Its brutally horrid looking. Everytime I look at anything from that damned designer I nearly vomit. The only good looking chassis out of that dark period was the E90 - E93. Everything else was horrible. Disgusting complicated stupid machines... Anyway rant over and get one if you want but be warned someone will vomit on it someday.
Different folks different strokes.....
'84 e28 520i '96-'99 / '90 e34 525i '99-'09 / '97 e39 528i '09-'14 / '04 e60 525i '14-to date
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  #15  
Old 12-08-2014, 09:27 AM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by severe530i View Post
Yes, did the alternator, belts and tensioner right before that.


Not sure, but this was the second radiator since that original job was done. The first one failed and my old indy replaced it under warranty. I trusted those guys to order the water pump from BMW, but I don't know where they got any of the parts. I stopped using that garage because they broke my angel eye light socket but denied it...

My thought is to get another car and possibly fix this one. It just needs so much work...not worth getting rid of it, so in the driveway it will sit for now.
Is it possible your plastic fan exploded? That could cause much of the damage you describe. If would suspect that is a possible cause. The fan clutch can also cause this to happen if it suddenly seizes. If you pulled over as quickly as you say, your engine is probably OK but as others said, check compression.

Why not buy a cheap reliable car like an older Subaru to drive while you fix your E39? When I lived in State College many years ago, I drove an ancient Plymouth Valiant with slant six, 4 speed manual transmission, limited slip diff, and 4 snow tires. It was dead reliable, good on gas, and ugly as hell but it let me spend my money on restoring the car I really liked.
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Last edited by mda185; 12-08-2014 at 09:32 AM.
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  #16  
Old 12-11-2014, 09:41 AM
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severe530i severe530i is offline
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Update: $502.34 for indy to install new radiator and water pump + $158 for towing and I'm back on the road today. It appears the water pump failed and the impeller broke inside the engine. Hopefully there are no pieces floating around inside. I just drove 50 miles and no problems or lights/codes.
Now, I have to address the laundry list of other items to pass inspectionů
Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1418315803.260226.jpg
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  #17  
Old 12-11-2014, 09:55 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by severe530i View Post
Update: $502.34 for indy to install new radiator and water pump + $158 for towing and I'm back on the road today. It appears the water pump failed and the impeller broke inside the engine. Hopefully there are no pieces floating around inside. I just drove 50 miles and no problems or lights/codes.
Now, I have to address the laundry list of other items to pass inspectionů
Attachment 480739
Is that a plastic impeller? I replaced my original OEM WP with an Autozone special last year, metal impeller vs plastic original (original looked OK at 120K miles). Surprised it failed catastrophic like that.

dave
03 540i6
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  #18  
Old 12-11-2014, 10:01 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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If that WP is OEM and has plastic impeller, it is pretty good that it lasts this long.
I only use HEPU WP, best bang for the bucks.
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