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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 12-12-2010, 11:38 AM
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doru doru is offline
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No start problem

I need some help here.
I needed to leave this morning, and the car did not start. The starter would turn the engine over, but it would not fire the engine.
Thought I might have a weak battery. Charged the battery, and same thing. I was quite stubborn and hold the key in the start position for quite long - the engine turned over but did not start at all. (could I have "drowned" the cylinders with gas?)
Thought I might read some codes, but nope. There is not a single code!!!!
I am stumped. The battery is strong. The spark plugs were changed at around 70 k miles and now I have around 85 k miles. The fuel filter has been changed also last year. Oxigen sensors about 2 years ago. I only use premium gasoline. Last time I drove the car was 2 days ago, and there was absolutely no problem with it. No stumbling, no rough idling, nothing.
Not sure where to start now.
Car is 2003/530 stock.
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2010, 11:50 AM
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DominguesE30 DominguesE30 is offline
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Good thing you didn't hold the starter for to long. I don't think it's possible to flood but I might be wrong however trying to start a car for over a minute is not good for your cat converter.


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  #3  
Old 12-12-2010, 11:50 AM
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Water in the petrol?


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  #4  
Old 12-12-2010, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by DominguesE30 View Post
Water in the petrol?


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Not sure about that. Also how could I tell?
As said I use premium fuel - Shell V-power. I don't think it has water in it.
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  #5  
Old 12-12-2010, 02:38 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Given your symptoms, I am guessing fuel as the root cause vice air or electrical. Air issues usually result in poor running and electrical issues won't usually affect all cylinders at once. Can you check if the fuel pump is operational? This one is a bit unusual. Please post your outcome.
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  #6  
Old 12-12-2010, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Not sure about that. Also how could I tell?
As said I use premium fuel - Shell V-power. I don't think it has water in it.

I guess you would psychically could have to check it
Has there been flooding in your area or the area of the petrol station recently?
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:38 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46183


That DIY might help you troubleshoot.
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  #8  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DominguesE30 View Post
I guess you would psychically could have to check it
Has there been flooding in your area or the area of the petrol station recently?
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Thanks for your help, but for the last month or more we have sub freezing temperatures. I live in Canada.
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  #9  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46183


That DIY might help you troubleshoot.
Thanks Pleiades.
I will check it out.
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  #10  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:42 PM
E39 Paul E39 Paul is offline
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Had same problem only couple days ago... Turned out tobe intank fuel pump. Replaced pump and fuel filter. All ok after


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  #11  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:44 PM
My39 My39 is offline
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do you know what your battery voltage is when cranking the engine?
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  #12  
Old 12-12-2010, 08:28 PM
Jude_Mauritius Jude_Mauritius is offline
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Hi.

I am pretty sure it's your fuel pump. I replaced mine (only the fuel pump not the whole kit with fuel level sensors, etc.) for $250.

Car started on first crank after that.

Good luck.
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  #13  
Old 12-12-2010, 08:51 PM
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Do u ever run the car dry?


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  #14  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:33 PM
Jude_Mauritius Jude_Mauritius is offline
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Yes, I did !

And that is the most regretful thing you can do your car. NEVER run the car with the low fuel light on. It not only makes your fuel pump suck up all the muck from the bottom of your fuel tank but HEATS up the fuel pump as it needs fuel to cool.

So, now I never allow my car to fuel to go below 1/4 tank.
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  #15  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
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Do u ever run the car dry?


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Never.
I also posted this on the other forum, where I got lucky (maybe). It seems when the car is cold and you start it, then turn the engine off, you might experience the problem I have - documented by by somebody and Poolman told me the story.
It is almost the same script as mine: I parked the car Friday after work, Saturday I had to move it a few yards and Sunday it would not start. Seems there is a workaround for this problem too. I will try tomorow after work and post my findings.
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  #16  
Old 12-13-2010, 05:12 AM
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Hrm, I thought I read a possible solution for this scenario (not starting after moving the car a few yards then shutting down) on this very forum itself just the other day! From memory, it involved cranking the car with the throttle floored. Should start after around 30s. Seems like you know about this already. Good luck!
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  #17  
Old 12-14-2010, 08:44 AM
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So it's a no go.
Pulled the spark plugs, cleaned them, put some engine oil in each cylinder, buttoned her up, and she almost started - or sounded like it, but very soon she went to the status-quo. Just turninng by the crank without firing up. This leads me to believe something is wrong with the firing of the coils/spark plugs. Not sure what it is, but dealer, here I come. Again, no codes. It's a lovely machine which tells you everything is fine, but she don't start.

Like in the hospital: The surgey went perfect, but the patient is dead.
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  #18  
Old 12-14-2010, 08:47 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Are you certain the car is getting fuel? I would suspect the fuel pump....
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  #19  
Old 12-14-2010, 08:55 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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I think the Houligan introduced a virus into the ECU. LOL


j/k. Another vote here for the fuel pump.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:02 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+,

Jump the fuel pump relay (in the trunk) using a paper clip.
Then open the hood and feel the fuel hoses for vibration, if none, then fuel pump is dead.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:12 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
So it's a no go.
Pulled the spark plugs, cleaned them, put some engine oil in each cylinder, buttoned her up, and she almost started - or sounded like it, but very soon she went to the status-quo. Just turninng by the crank without firing up. This leads me to believe something is wrong with the firing of the coils/spark plugs. Not sure what it is, but dealer, here I come. Again, no codes. It's a lovely machine which tells you everything is fine, but she don't start.

Like in the hospital: The surgey went perfect, but the patient is dead.
For my own edification... why would you pour engine oil in the cylinders? I mean, what is that meant to determine? I'd be afraid to do that out of risk of fouling the plugs and the chance it may complicate troubleshooting the original problem.

Also.... if you take a look at the link I provided earlier, they mention checking the cam position sensor as a common factor in the "won't start" scenario.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:24 AM
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There was fuel smell after attempting to start the car. I believe there is no spark. I did not test this, but the car is still under warranty until February next year. If it is the fuel pump, I will not pay for it. If it is the ECM, I will not pay for it.
If the car would not be under warranty I would have torn and tested more things than what I did for now. I am only frustrated, that's all.

For Pleiades: I have no CEL, and no stored codes. This rules out any known hiccups these cars can exhibit. If the CPS are gone, a code is stored. If a major vacum leak is there, code is stored. If the MAF is gone, a code is stored. If the oxygen sensors are bad, a code is stored etc. I checked different forums and there are tons of "no start" threads/issues. The only ones that are similar to mine point to a compression loss due to cylinder washout.
The oil (in very sparse amount) is meant to "seal" the pistons in case of "washout" - no compression. Poolman directed me to this - same situation happened to othe BMW owners and this was an effective method of creating some compression. It was discussed on different other boards - I was able to track those posts. The oil is burned away instantly. You do not pour ounces, just a 1/4 maybe 1/2 of a straw in each cylinder. After that, the engine almost started - it was a very noticeable change. Again, I thought I had it, but probably after the little oil went away, the original symptom came back - just cranking to an eternity with no sign of the engine getting spark.
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Last edited by doru; 12-14-2010 at 09:29 AM.
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  #23  
Old 12-14-2010, 09:42 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Okay, I'm better enlightened now.

As to whether the car is getting spark or not, don't know about these e39s but on older/other cars it was easy to pull a plug, keep it attached to the ignition wire/coil, ground the plug (plug threads against the engine head) and see if it sparks when the engine is cranked. I haven't tried this with a modern car but maybe there is a "safe" (for the car and you) way to do that?

I understand you might not want to troubleshoot elusive problems if the car is in warranty. Good luck, hope you get it fixed quick.

Last edited by pleiades; 12-14-2010 at 09:43 AM.
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  #24  
Old 12-14-2010, 09:54 AM
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Yes, it's layed out in the Bentley. You need also another "special" tool if you want to go by the "bible", but the old way should work if you take care not to get zapped, or having gasoline around you.
I just did not want to mess with it any further. Had I loss of ignition on 1 plug, I might have dwelled deeper. But to have no sparks, or no fuel - I don't want to change these items out of my own pocket.
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  #25  
Old 12-14-2010, 12:32 PM
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It's almost impossible for me to help you as you already know a lot and have had a lot of help.

The only thing I can reassure you of it's gott'a be one of these:
- Gas
- Air
- Spark
- Compression
- Timing

And, well, you've already looked at all but the timing.
- GAS: Your Shell gas and fuel pump & filter were checked already
- AIR: No MAF or vacuum codes & new O2 sensors - but you suspect this
- SPARK: Battery was checked, new plugs were looked at
- COMPRESSION: Cylinder wash was looked at, oil was squirted in,
- TIMING: ? could this possibly be a cause ?

Wow. While it has got to be one of those five things, you've looked at many of the causes. I see you've suspected gas and spark, as an improper air ratio would cause DTCs. Compression and timing don't often change catastrophically.

But still, it HAS to be one of those! Dunno which though.
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