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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 10-21-2010, 03:26 PM
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beemster beemster is offline
In the drivers seat
Location: Long Island, New York
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 261
Mein Auto: 540i sport dinan
Car won't start "sometimes"

2003 540 sport m package with about 40,000 miles on the clock.
Sometimes when trying to start the car, it will just click when I try the key. It might take two or three turns of the key and then it will turn over. My first thought is the starter, only because when it does turn over it starts right up, doesn't sound like the battery is straining to start it. On the other hand the battery is original. Any thoughts would be great appreciated.
Thanks
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2010, 03:29 PM
dboy11 dboy11 is offline
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Location: Sonoma County CA
 
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Mein Auto: 99...540i
Ignition switch sounds like what happened to mine.
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2010, 03:36 PM
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borderchris borderchris is offline
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Location: San Diego
 
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Mein Auto: 550i and E34 530i
Most likely ignition switch, but do you have any other odd electrical gremlins with any dash stuff (visor lights, indicators or other wise)? Typically a bad ignition switch will start manifesting itself in really odd stuff before totally failing...
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  #4  
Old 10-21-2010, 03:37 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Dunno if these are the best links to put in the bestlinks thread, but for what it's worth, here they are:
- hhWhat to do when the lights all work, the key turns, solenoid clicks, but the engine won't start (1) (2)

If you have BETTER links for this symptom, let me know so I can add it to the bestlinks thread.
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  #5  
Old 10-21-2010, 03:47 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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Mein Auto: 530I/5SC 97-528/5
40K miles that's it! You don't drive your car enough, I think it's your battery, you need to drive it more often think of ice cream, donut or go for desert after diner, just find a reason to drive, your car hates to be left alone.
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  #6  
Old 10-21-2010, 03:54 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Measure the battery voltage after the car sets overnight, and before you start it. S/b 12.5 V min. If much less, the battery is dead. The alt should put out 14+ V at 1500 RPM.

You can measure the voltage if you have the high cluster. Search this site for info on how to do that.

The ignition switch may also be faulty.
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  #7  
Old 10-21-2010, 04:28 PM
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beemster beemster is offline
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Location: Long Island, New York
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 261
Mein Auto: 540i sport dinan
Quote:
Originally Posted by 16valex View Post
40K miles that's it! You don't drive your car enough, I think it's your battery, you need to drive it more often think of ice cream, donut or go for desert after diner, just find a reason to drive, your car hates to be left alone.
I know, I know.... she doesn't like to sit.....sometimes I'll have a chance to drive it a couple of times a week and then she'll be on her own of a week or two. I am fortunate enough to own a couple of different rides. It depends on the weather and what I feel like driving.
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  #8  
Old 10-21-2010, 04:35 PM
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beemster beemster is offline
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Location: Long Island, New York
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 261
Mein Auto: 540i sport dinan
It "feels" like it could be the ignition switch to me as well. I usually leave it on a trickle charge if I don't drive it for awhile, which is sometimes the case with only 40 on the clock. I will check the voltage of the battery. Is the ignition switch a relatively easy fix and do I have to change the key? Thanks
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  #9  
Old 10-21-2010, 08:20 PM
sealbeach740 sealbeach740 is offline
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Location: Seal Beach, CA.
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 740iS, 2003 540iS
Quote:
Originally Posted by beemster View Post
It "feels" like it could be the ignition switch to me as well. I usually leave it on a trickle charge if I don't drive it for awhile, which is sometimes the case with only 40 on the clock. I will check the voltage of the battery. Is the ignition switch a relatively easy fix and do I have to change the key? Thanks
You don't have to change the key - it's not the mechanical key switch they are talking about, it's an electrical ignition switch. Not to hard to change it out, see the link below:
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/244045

FWIW, when my ignition switch went bad, I didn't get any "clicks" when turning the key - I got nothing. I would try 2, 3, 4 times, and then it would finally start like nothing was wrong. Clicking usually means your starter is trying to engage the engine, but there isn't enough power to turn the engine over (battery not strong enough).
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2003 540iS. MKIV, 16x9, PDC, CWP, TV tuner, backup camera with 'on demand' switch, paddle shifters, windows/sunroof close via remote, iPod video & audio.
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  #10  
Old 10-22-2010, 07:40 AM
blubyu blubyu is offline
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Location: Canada
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 60
Mein Auto: 2001 530i Sport
Quote:
Originally Posted by beemster View Post
2003 540 sport m package with about 40,000 miles on the clock.
Sometimes when trying to start the car, it will just click when I try the key. It might take two or three turns of the key and then it will turn over. My first thought is the starter, only because when it does turn over it starts right up, doesn't sound like the battery is straining to start it. On the other hand the battery is original. Any thoughts would be great appreciated.
Thanks
FWIW, I had a very similar problem where car would start after repeated tries. Dealership fixed problem saying they replaced the ring antenna... Part of the ignition switch?
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2010, 08:04 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 740iL / 2006 X5 4.4
To the OP...I would suggest unlocking your OBC and running TEST 9 (with ignition in POSITION 1)...this will give you your batterys' voltage (if you don't have a multi-meter). At 11.89 volts...your car's battery is at 0% state of charge...and if this is the original battery...and you don't drive the car much...the battery is probably done. Does it have one of those "eyes" that indicate if it is dead?

Here's a video of Cliff (visionbmw) running TEST 9 on one of his bimmers...EXCEPT he is looking at the charging system (alternator) since the engine is RUNNING...if you do this with the ignition in POSITION 1 or 2...then you will see the voltage output of the car's BATTERY:



Here's a video by BIG E on how to UNLOCK the HIGH instrument cluster:



Quote:
Originally Posted by blubyu View Post
...they replaced the ring antenna... Part of the ignition switch?
No, the Ring Antenna surrounds the ignition lock cylinder...the ignition switch is on the lower LEFT side of the steering column...the ignition cylinder IS attached to the switch (by way of the steering interlock (#1 in diagram below)...but they are not the same thing.

  • #2 = ignition switch
  • #6 = ignition lock cylinder
  • #7 = ring antenna

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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 10-22-2010 at 08:22 AM.
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  #12  
Old 10-22-2010, 02:32 PM
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beemster beemster is offline
In the drivers seat
Location: Long Island, New York
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 261
Mein Auto: 540i sport dinan
Thanks for all your posts and ideas. I am working on her this weekend to find and correct the problem at my buddy's shop. I will post results later.
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