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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 11-01-2010, 12:09 PM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Lightbulb Belts / Tensioner s/ Idler Pulley Replacement

I am trying to get all my "ducks in a row" before proceeding with the replacement of my belts, mech. tensioners and idler pulley. I found some information that leads me to believe that I may NOT have to remove the fan shroud in order to accomplish this (But im not sure).
The following was indicated by Bluebee in a summary version of the cn90 DIY :

Summary of the nine removal steps (supplied by cn90):
0. Leave fan shroud in place & you leave the fan loose inside the shroud
1. Disconnect battery positive terminal in the trunk with 10mm box wrench
2. Remove the mass-air filter housing (a few 6mm hose clamps & a 10mm bolt)
3. Undo fan clutch nut with 32-mm thin wrench & 45-mm spacing counterhold tool
4. Apply clockwise force (16mm) to each tensioner to remove both drive belts.
5. Disconnect power (13-mm) & rectangular connector in back of alternator
6. Unbolt the PS reservoir bracket (two 13-mm bolts) and set it aside.
7. Remove two alternator 16-mm bolts; the upper bolt also holds idler pulley
8. Remove upper mechanical tensioner (two 13mm bolts) with spring extended
9. Remove lower mechanical tensioner (two 13mm bolts) with spring compressed
10. Wait for new parts to arrive (alternator, idler, & mechanical tensioners)


Questions:
1 - Am I right in saying that I can DIY this without removing the fan shroud? Maybe makes the DIY a littler easier up front but a little harder to repace the mechanical tensioners?
2 - If the above is true, I assume I will still put the front of the car on jack stands in order to remove the protective engine cover in order to better access the lower AC belt and assocated tensioner?
3 - Obviously if I am not replacing the alternator I do not need to disconnect the battery to accomplish this DIY.
4 - If I remove the upper radiator hose (car is cool) will I lose coolant in the process? I would think that by removing this hose it would aid in accessing both the idler pulley and upper tensioner.
5 - Any addl. comments to simply this DIY would be appreciated.

P.S. - One might suggest I go ahead and remove the fan/shroud and perform some of the other DIY's in the area but with a hair less than 46K miles Im going to wait until Mike Miller 60K to do the full cooling system overhaul. Currently I have the "cold start squeel" discussed in another thread and want to tackle that immediately.
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  #2  
Old 11-01-2010, 12:16 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The biggest question for you is that: "which pulley is culprit?"

There are a total of 3 pulleys for the 6-cylinder engine.

Here is the cooling overhaul from my 1998 528i, so you can see that you can access all those pulleys from above:
http://bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986

1. But if you want to replace the AC pulley from below, it is fine too, just drive it up the ramp like this, no need to jack it up and jackstand:



2. Check realoem.com for PNs etc. to be sure what to order.

3. You can simply remove Fan Clutch and set it inside the Fan Shroud like this:



4. No need to d/c radiator hose, b/c you WILL spill coolant.
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  #3  
Old 11-01-2010, 12:26 PM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The biggest question for you is that: "which pulley is culprit?"

There are a total of 3 pulleys for the 6-cylinder engine.


1. But if you want to replace the AC pulley from below, it is fine too, just drive it up the ramp like this, no need to jack it up and jackstand:

2. Check realoem.com for PNs etc. to be sure what to order.

3. You can simply remove Fan Clutch and set it inside the Fan Shroud like this

4. No need to d/c radiator hose, b/c you WILL spill coolant.
Im fairly confident it is the idler pulley based on researching threads and youtube videos and of course sticking my ear as close as I can to the area that the sound is coming from. Bluebee's thread helped bigtime with this aspect of the DIY.

1 - I have two (2) composite ramps. I will probably go that route. I need to get wheel stops. Thankfully there is a harbor freight close by.
2 - I orderd all parts from AutohausAZ (after originally ordering them from my beloved BAVAUTO (long story)) and they are arriving this Thursday. All OE by INA with conti belts.
3 - Ok. So no shroud removal required. I just remove the fan clutch and push it forward toward the radiator while I DIYaway.
4 - Thanks. Dont want to get involved with this if I dont have to.

Thanks again cn90.
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  #4  
Old 11-01-2010, 12:31 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Just apply a bit of antiseize on the Water Pump's Bolt thread, so next time it is easy to remove the Fan Clutch.
When re-installing the fan clutch, it can be tricky to thread it in (reverse thread, so turn it counter-clockwise to tighten it) b/c the space is so tight.
If you run into problem, use this "Poultry Cord" trick!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=240143

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  #5  
Old 11-01-2010, 02:32 PM
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You're in good hands ... I can tell that you've read the DIYs ... and cn90 is always right.

Just to re-confirm, there are some who say you don't even need to remove the fan pulley to replace the drive-system belts, tensioners, and idler pulley; but I listened to the rest of the folks and removed the fan pulley.

I was almost completely done with the entire job, when I threaded the fan pulley back on crooked ... but if you use the cn90-patented fan-clutch-nut-install-trick, you should definitely be able to do the entire job on the I6 E39 with the fan shroud intact.

In the end, I busted my upper radiator hose bleeder (in the very last step!), so I had to remove the upper-radiator hose (using the documented trick of ever-wider screwdrivers). As I removed the upper hose, I was surprised at how very little coolant dripped out. Maybe I lost a lot of coolant in the fountain that occurred by breaking the upper bleed screw, but what must have helped is the fact the car was on ramps. Point is, I recommend removing the upper radiator hose for additional access.

One more thing related to room. I have mechanical tensioners, which do not need the pulley removed (you gain nothing by removing the pulley because the pulley isn't sold seperately for mechanical tensioners apparently and the pulley isn't how you loosen mechanical tensioners anyway). The mechanical tensioner pulley is held on by a T50 Torx bolt. None of my Torx wrenches, once fit on the pulley, would accept the socket-set handle with the fan shroud in place. I don't know much about hydraulic tensioners, but, they sell the pulley separately and you may need to loosen that pulley to remove the belts.

Therefore, if you have hydraulic tensioners, you "may" have a similar problem with room for the Torx bit (or is it an allen bit as some say for the hydraulic tensioners) holding the pulley in place - if it needs to be removed.

So, my summary to your question about access is:
- You certainly do NOT need to remove the radiator shroud to replace both belts and (mechanical) tensioners on the E39 I6 (nor the alternator)

However:
- You might need slightly more room if you have hydraulic tensioners depending on the length of your torx/allen bits?

And: (in hindsight)
- You will gain some room without losing too much coolant by removing the upper radiator hose (car on ramps)
- You will certainly get more room by removing the fan shroud (but you can easily break nipples)

Good luck. Please snap some pictures and let us know what can be improved.

PS: What type of tensioners do you have? Mechanical? Hydraulic? Both?
EDIT: Nevermind. I see you have mechanical tensioners from this response on another thread.


Last edited by bluebee; 11-01-2010 at 02:54 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-02-2010, 07:50 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Mechanical or Hydraulic

I identified that my upper tensioner is mechanical by using Bluebee's reply #37 to the thread mentioned below. As blue did I used a small mechanics mirror to identify the "raised hex hollow casting". I must admit I am less sure about the lower tensioner because it was a little harder to get that small little mirror down there at the correct angle with the correct lighting. Assuming that it is mechanical, I'm confident that I have the correct lower tensioner (Part #11287512758 for 03 525i "from 9/2002").

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What type of tensioners do you have? Mechanical? Hydraulic? Both?
[/IMG]
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  #7  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:02 AM
Garrison5 Garrison5 is offline
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I've done this a few times. Here's your list altered with what I actually did to change these parts out.

0. Leave fan shroud in place & you leave the fan loose inside the shroud
2. Remove the mass-air filter housing (a few 6mm hose clamps & a 10mm bolt)
3. Undo fan clutch nut with 32-mm thin wrench & 45-mm spacing counterhold tool
4. Apply clockwise force (16mm) to each tensioner to remove both drive belts.
7. Remove only the blot that hold the ideler pulley.
8. Remove upper mechanical tensioner (two 13mm bolts) with spring extended
9. Remove lower mechanical tensioner (two 13mm bolts) with spring compressed

No need to remove the upper radiator hose.

And use the "chicken cord" solution to putting the fan back on. The first time I did this I knew nothing about this and cursed at it for a half hour. This solution has the job done in seconds.

Good Luck.
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  #8  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:29 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_jeff_325i View Post
I identified that my upper tensioner is mechanical by using Bluebee's reply #37 to the thread mentioned below. As blue did I used a small mechanics mirror to identify the "raised hex hollow casting". I must admit I am less sure about the lower tensioner because it was a little harder to get that small little mirror down there at the correct angle with the correct lighting. Assuming that it is mechanical, I'm confident that I have the correct lower tensioner (Part #11287512758 for 03 525i "from 9/2002").
Jeff,

Don't guess the lower pulley whether it is mech vs hydraulic.
- Drive the car up the ramps
- Remove plastic shield (Phillips screws), it takes about 3 min to remove the shield
- Then check the AC pulley before buying it.
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  #9  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:43 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Hydraulic

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Jeff,

Don't guess the lower pulley whether it is mech vs hydraulic.
- Drive the car up the ramps
- Remove plastic shield (Phillips screws), it takes about 3 min to remove the shield
- Then check the AC pulley before buying it.
Real OEM for my car (2003 525i - May 03 build date) does not list a hydraulic tensioner for the lower AC (climate) belt...unless I am missing something.
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  #10  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:47 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Getting underneath and look will take you less than 10 min.
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  #11  
Old 11-02-2010, 08:48 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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10 mins.

No...I know...but...any thoughts on the realOEM part #?...
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  #12  
Old 11-02-2010, 09:04 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Whatever you do, this layout is from an E46 but same motor as yours (M54):

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  #13  
Old 11-02-2010, 09:22 AM
kpex76 kpex76 is offline
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I just did the pulleys and belts this past weekend, my suggestion is to remove the fan/fan shroud as you will have more room to work. The fan and the shroud is fairly easy to remove.
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  #14  
Old 11-02-2010, 09:43 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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If I decide that I have to...

....remove the fan/shroud I believe this is the "odds & ends" I will need to make this as stress free as possible:
Once again a this a compilation by Bluebee w/ assumed deletions based on the scope of this DIY:

"ODDS & ENDS:
- Extra radiator nipples (BMW PN 17.11.0.419.132).
- Extra fan shroud rivets for 8mm holes (BMW PN 17.11.1.712.963).
- Extra brass bleeder screws (aftermarket), ~$4 (Do I need this?)
- Extra fan shroud seal surrounding the expansion tank bleeder screw (PN 17 11 1 723 580).
- Extra 10-inch long zip ties (to secure plastic wiring harness to upper radiator hose)"
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  #15  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_jeff_325i View Post
I am less sure about the lower tensioner because it was a little harder to get that small little mirror down there
Did you put the E39 on ramps (or jacks) and remove the engine lower splash panel first?


Last edited by bluebee; 11-02-2010 at 11:31 AM.
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  #16  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_jeff_325i View Post
I am less sure about the lower tensioner because it was a little harder to get that small little mirror down there
Once you remove the nine single-twist screws on the bottom engine plastic pan, you can quite easily look UP at the lower tensioner and, in seconds, see the entire lower tensioner sans a mirror! Therefore, it turns out, identification of the lower tensioner is easy (in five minutes you're done).

(You still may need a mirror for the upper tensioner identification, whether you identify it from the top or bottom.)

PS: I hope people appreciate these pictures because they take longer to take (by far), with the proper lighting and angles than the actual repair job itself!

Last edited by bluebee; 11-02-2010 at 11:34 AM.
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  #17  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_jeff_325i View Post
Real OEM for my car (2003 525i - May 03 build date) does not list a hydraulic tensioner for the lower AC (climate) belt...unless I am missing something.
I thought I said it before, but, I'll say it again ...

As far as anyone can tell, there is NO WAY other than to LOOK in order to tell if you have one of each of both of the others.

Looking from the top takes a good five or ten minutes with a mirror; looking from the bottom is trivial once you remove the lower splash pan and elevate the car (as cn90 and I both said).

It will take you less time to do that than to respond to these posts.
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  #18  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:41 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
PS: I hope people appreciate these pictures because they take longer to take (by far), with the proper lighting and angles than the actual repair job itself
Pictures are very much appreciated!....now that everyone has indirectly pointed out my lack of willingness to locate my ramps, drive the car up them, remove the protective cover and look myself.....I will endeavor to do just that ASAP.
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  #19  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:47 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Again again and again...look from underneath!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I thought I said it before, but, I'll say it again ...

As far as anyone can tell, there is NO WAY other than to LOOK in order to tell if you have one of each of both of the others.

Looking from the top takes a good five or ten minutes with a mirror; looking from the bottom is trivial once you remove the lower splash pan and elevate the car (as cn90 and I both said).

It will take you less time to do that than to respond to these posts.

Sorry Blue......the question in regards to RealOEM is really related to if I determine I do have a hydraulic lower tensioner I cant seem to locate the part # through the realOEM parts list......however I am sure you have listed the part numbers on another thread...so I will look closer and avoid asking anyone to repeat information that may be readily available elsewhere.
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  #20  
Old 11-02-2010, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_jeff_325i View Post
I am sure you have listed the part numbers on another thread...
Probably not, mainly because I didn't need part numbers when I replaced mine (I just gave them the make year and model); and partly because they might be different for different E39s anyway.

What I did was just order them for the year and model from oembimmerparts. If you need to, just call them and they'll tell you everything you need to know, once you tell them it's mechanical or hydraulic.

Good luck! Sorry the part number isn't on RealOEM or on these threads. You might have to skip that step and go right to the supplier.
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  #21  
Old 11-15-2010, 07:57 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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DIY Complete....but?

I was able to complete this DIY this past Friday with the help of all of you and a youtube video or two. Comments:
1 - RAMPS - I found driving the car up on ramps much easier than dealing with a service jack and jack stands. I of course utilized wheel chocks for safety.
2 - LOWER TENSIONER - Removing the protective engine cover WAS extremely simple and made removing the lower mechanical tensioner fairly easy. (Yes I did have a mechanical tensioner for the AC belt). I ran into a bit of trouble utilizing the T-60 socket to release tension on the lower AC belt tensioner because I have the combination of a 3/8" drive ratchet with a 1/2" drive adapter and the 1/2" drive T-60 socket. The back of the ratchet was compressing a lower radiator hose during this process. I was affraid I was going to break a clip or puncture the hose. Thankfully I didnt. See below for marked up file picture. Im really sorry I didnt get a real photo of this tenisoner in place. I dont see any like this in anyone's post after doing further research this morning. This lower tensioner according to REALOEM is for a 2003 525i from 9/2002. It was the exact one that was on my car manufactured by INA.
3 - ACCESS TO UPPER TENISONER AND IDLER PULLEY - I did remove the upper radiator hose utilizing the patented Bluebee screwdriver method so as not to break the 7+ year old plastic necks. I slowly removed each end and had a flexible plastic cup under the connection point to catch the coolant little by little until it was no longer flowing. I had a shallow bucket under the car to catch any drips/overflow. For me personnally I found removing this hose essential in completing this DIY. It gives you clear sight and access of the idler pulley and upper accessory tensioner. I did NOT remove the air box.
4 - THE INFAMOUS FAN AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WATERPUMP- I had NO problem removing the fan from the water pump by using a 32MM combination wrench I picked up locally for $12.99. I utilized the hammer method of two (2) firm strikes toward the driver side of the car. No holding tool required. The nut loosened fairly easily (i dont know if that is good or bad). I found using a large adjustable cresent wrench easier in removing the nut all the way from the water pump. It was also much easier using the crescent wrench to re-install the fan clutch nut onto the water pump. Leaning over from the drivers side of the engine bay I held the fan with my left hand against the male connection from the water pump. Very carefully I utilized the adustable cresecent wrench with my right hand to thread the nut back onto the water pump. Dont get me wrong. This took about 3 trys to make it happen and I was concerned about stripping. My fall back plan was the patented CN90 method.
5 -UPPER TENSIONER AND IDLER PULLEY - These were fairly cut and dry. The lower bolt on the tensioner was easier for me to loosen (and for the initial re-install) from below the car. Bluebee mentions this in the thread on the subject. I completed the removal of the lower bolt from above. I torqued both bolts from above as that final turn I found easier from this location. I found the removal of the fan essential in removing the idler pulley bolt because it is so long it extends into the fan housing.
6 - BELT INSTALLATION - Fairly cut and dry. I did see that apparently my belts were changed in 2007. The most challenging part is releasing tension from the tenisioners. You need to find that best body position and wratchet angle to accomplish while leaving one hand free to make final placement of the belt. I checked and re-checked the belts positions like 5 times. I did NOT want to screw this up.

FINAL CONCERNS:
1 - Is the short spread on my upper mechanical tenisoner holes due to new belts? See attached picture. There is only about 3/8" of an inch spread.
2 - The "cold start" squeeling sound is gone but I now have a constant moderate clicking sound in the vicinity of the alternator. i dont think this was there before. Im going to try to post a video shortly. I have no known electrical issues with the car.
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  #22  
Old 11-15-2010, 08:37 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Good jobs, couple points:

1. "I have the combination of a 3/8" drive ratchet with a 1/2" drive adapter and the 1/2" drive T-60 socket."
- Get a 1/2" ratchet and 1/2" drive for the next time.


2. "Installing new belt"
- Another way is a 2-foot section of 1" Iron Pipe (the stuff used for natural gas piping) and use it with 3/8" ratchet.
- This gives you a lot of leverage.
- I borrow this pic from another thread so you can see the Iron Pipe:


Last edited by cn90; 11-15-2010 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:44 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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The video from this AM



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Old 11-15-2010, 09:59 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I understand you try to replace belts, pulley, tensioner but you should have done a cooling overhaul while there.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:01 AM
bmw_jeff_325i bmw_jeff_325i is offline
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Cooling overhaul

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I understand you try to replace belts, pulley, tensioner but you should have done a cooling overhaul while there.
Im at only 46k miles....Im going to wait til 60K.
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2014 E84 X1
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Past BMWs:
2008 E70 X5
2003 E39 525i
2001 E46 330ci
2001 E46 325i
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