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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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Old 12-18-2014, 02:56 PM
BbradenMmillerW BbradenMmillerW is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 73
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 525i - Black e39
Electrical Failures, Round 2 - Bentley Vol. 2 Info Needed

Hi All,

Vehicle: 2002 BMW 525i - 170,0XX mi - M54 2.5l I6 - Steptronic ZF Auto - Facelifted w/ factory Xenon HID Headlights

I only have Bentley Vol. 1... If somebody would PLEASE be kind enough to load the applicable wiring schematics / pages of information out of the Bentley Vol. 2 for the A) driver side headlight assembly, B) passenger side taillight assembly, and C) reverse lights both sides, I bet I'll find the answer. I would be very grateful.

Brief History:

A number of months ago I posted about electrical issues I was having. The solution, at that time, was replacing the battery - popped in the new battery, and everything went back to working 100%. Five months later, every electrical component that was not working before, suddenly stopped working again, simultaneously (two days ago). Exact same symptoms. Nothing more, nothing less. Only this time the battery is 100%. Tested w/ DMM. It has been raining recently, and the car has been known to get wet under carpet, floor, etc. It's also gotten much colder out in the last week.


-All Lights in Driver Side HEADLIGHT Assembly Not Working (Except Xenon Headlight "Lowbeam" Itself -- which is powered by the Ballast and must be powered/grounded in different location than the rest of the bulbs in the assembly.)

-Driver Side Fog Light Not Working

-All Lights in Passenger Side TAILLIGHT Assembly Not Working (Except horizontal LED Running Lights DO work -- like Xenons up front, I'm betting these LEDs get power from / are grounded to different areas than the other lights in the assembly) *No brake light, no turn signal, no reverse light*

-Reverse indicator white lights not working on EITHER taillight. (Car shifts into reverse as normal, cluster and shifter indicator illuminate, and passenger side view mirror auto-angles down for "curb spot mode". This indicates the car knows it's in reverse, and even "thinks" the reverse white lights are coming on, as there is no check control message, but the lights do not illuminate.

-The "beep" or "chirp" when locking/unlocking the car with my key fob only sounds from the rear alarm unit, as opposed to the normal front & rear sounding. The front siren is inside the front drivers side bumper/fog light area. It's reasonable to think this wiring is related to drivers headlight assembly (the other items that are not working).

NOTE: **Instrument Cluster shows all lights properly working and Check Control gives no alert of any lights being offline.
--Blinkers illuminate L & R in gauge cluster, at the normal speed, even tho drivers front and passenger rear are not working.
--High Beam blue icon illuminates in gauge cluster even tho drivers beam doesn't work (Same with green icon for fog lights)

-Battery Voltage
-Bulbs are good
-Fuses (Trunk 2x, Glove Box, Ebox, Under Passenger Seat, Used DMM to test power on battery side and accessory side of large fuses)
-Grounding Plates (Trunk 2x, Engine bay 3x total, Under passenger seat 3x, Under drivers seat 3x. Under both seats, the areas were damp, and the foam insulation still wet. Dried it up and ensured good contact).
-Ground Wires (Ebox Main Ground under hood, Chassis Ground under car front passenger side.)

QUESTION: Is there a way to test the various GROUND PLATES with a DMM to ensure they are working properly electronically? I only made sure they were dry, clean and tight w/ good contact. Please give details, thank you.

-NEED Applicable Bentley Vol. 2 Pages (HELP!!)
-Start removing protective tape & expose wiring in search of damage... Don't want to do this...

I'm convinced my issue is likely a single failed point / junction - an unknown "X" component if you will - that is probably common to all of my affected items, causing the failures, but NOT alerting the Check Control System. Reads "Check Control OK".

Again, anybody that would offer the applicable pages out of the Bentley Vol. 2 would be doing me a huge favor. I'd be very thankful. Tried getting the wiring diagrams online with WDS, but my computer isn't loading it. Sorry for lengthy post. Just trying to include all related data.

Along the wired path from battery to component to ground, there's surely an item or component that my failed items must share. A common denominator that itself has failed in some way, disrupting the power or ground of all above items. Find what they all carry in common, find the source of the issue. I'm betting they all return to normal operation with one single fix.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by BbradenMmillerW; 12-18-2014 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 12-18-2014, 04:52 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 9,728
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Did you carefully examine the fuse box under the passenger seat? If it got wet, there could be corrosion present.

Don't cheap out - buy the manual. That's where I got the following information.

Ground shoe locations

There are several so-called "ground cable shoes" scattered around the chassis. These "shoes" terminate a few, and many ground wires. The Germans prefer the color brown for ground.

Here's where they are:

1. Two under driver seat carpet, near door threshold. X151, X173. Opposite these, X1108.

2. Left front inner fender panel. X165

3. Engine compartment, front right. X166, X1106

4. Engine compartment, right rear on outside of e-box (under the cabin air filter housing). X6454

5. Right side footwell, under carpet X490,492, X218 splice, X10012, X961

6. Right side of trunk, in battery compartment X498, X13075

7. Left side of trunk behind trim panel X13016

8. Under rear window shelf, right side X494, X18129 Splice terminal 30

There are no unique locations for the wagon in the Bentley's manual.

Might be a good idea to inspect these shoes for tightness and cleanliness. Begin with the shoes close to the problem area.

Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.

Last edited by edjack; 12-18-2014 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 12-20-2014, 05:04 PM
'lowkillz's Avatar
'lowkillz 'lowkillz is offline
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Location: Rochester New York
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 182
Mein Auto: 2002 525i
I'm also having some odd electrical issues. The right turn signal will engage at random even when the stem is in the neutral position (replaced the stem and the issue still occurs). Also the dash lights (dash, radio and climate buttons, ect) do not illuminate when the headlights are activated. Some time the lights will flicker on and off.

I should look into the grounds as well
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Old 12-20-2014, 09:46 PM
occhis occhis is offline
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Location: Westford, PA
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Mein Auto: 1998 528iA
Here you go. With regard to the alarm chirp, there is only one siren AFAIK, so if you're getting a chirp from the left rear fender all is well.
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Last edited by occhis; 12-20-2014 at 09:49 PM.
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