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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 12-17-2010, 08:55 AM
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High fuel consumption issues and cold start issues

I chose to start a new thread on this subject because although it seems to tackle 2 problems, it’s only one.
Issues: for the last year and a half I noticed my fuel consumption went steady down. 2 years ago, I had an average of 21-22 mpg city driving, peaking (negative of course) this year to about 16 mpg city driving. I was curious enough to reset the fuel consumption instant gauge on the MID some mornings because I noticed it went down with a cold engine. Resetting the fuel consumption when the engine was warm, it showed instant fuel consumption almost right where it should be.
Then I had the cold start issue – flooded engine with gasoline. The verdict was deteriorated O-rings around the injectors, which let by-pass fuel into the cylinder. If the car was driven (engine hot) and turned off, there is no problem. The O-rings seal. If the car sat and the temperature is low (probably around 0° C), the old O-rings contract and let the fuel by-pass together with the needed injected fuel, leading to a rich mixture and high fuel consumption. This is why every e39 owner experiences high fuel consumption after some years of service, and everybody is looking at oxygen sensors, MAF, vacuum leaks etc. Some of these issues are warranted, but these pesky O-rings are almost always overlooked.
Also, under these circumstances, if you chose to only move the car a few yards, then shut the engine off, all the fuel under that 70 psi pressure in the fuel lines, will trickle into the cylinders, effectively flooding the engine, resulting in a no go situation.
For the I6 engines, the injectors are Siemens I believe. Here is the link to look them up
I am not sure about the v8 engine, but it can be checked on the mentioned link as well. I looked up the Bosch systems catalog and they did not mention any injectors for the i6. But they have the injectors for the v8 engine. Here

Changing the O-rings, does not seem to be very hard. Pelicanparts has a good DIY with pics, here

All I want to do is raise the awareness that there are other things that can affect the gas consumption besides the well known culprits. Also, for an effective consumption restoration, the injectors should also be cleaned and recalibrated for the correct nozzle spray pattern.
Please post the correct part #’s for the correct application in this thread, if you feel like. Also, your outcome.
Thanks and hopefully this will help .
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  #2  
Old 12-17-2010, 09:03 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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Please explain how the fuel gets past the O-ring. As I understand how a fuel injector works, the only passage for fuel is through the tip, which is sealed by the pintle.

The only O-ring of which I'm aware is the one that seals the injector into the cylinder head.

Also, how does one "calibrate" an injector?
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2010, 09:13 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post

Also, how does one "calibrate" an injector?
FYI, should one decide to send it out for calibration and cleaning, the O-rings, pintle caps and screens are replaced for you.



post from another thread: 540 m-sport regarding service at Dr injectors

OR you can just send it out to a place like this for about $25/ injector:

Last edited by dvsgene; 12-17-2010 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:32 AM
poolman poolman is online now
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Good to hear that your up and running again Doru--on the injector deal--how's the mileage now that you
had the 0 rings replaced--little stuff like this can reach up and bite us if we aren't aware of the problems
I knew there was a reason not to drive the car and cut off when cold--was told that it killed the compression
didn't know of this problem though--will be doing the job when the spring thaw comes along.

Last edited by poolman; 12-17-2010 at 11:41 AM.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2010, 12:48 PM
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Poolman, as far as I know they did not replace the O-rings. they just cleaned the engine (not sure how or what they did). But doing my research, and also what Gene posted, it seems like after about 80 k miles one should service the injectors.

For Edjack. The O-rings are there to seal the flow behind the injector (among sealing the front as well - the tip, pintle as you correctly said). Once the seal is gone (O-ring), more fuel gets into the burning chamber - the cylinder.
The injectors are all calibrated to give a certain amount of fuel. The nozzles can get clogged, leading to less fuel and/or an unefficient spray pattern. I don't know how the injectors are calibrated, I know there are shops that do this work. Some injectors cannot be re-calibrated if they heavly worn out (eroded).
I usually do a Lubro-Moly injector treatment every now and then just to keep them unclogged, so I get more service out of them, but I didn't know about the failing O-rings - there are 2 of them. One at the tip and one at the back. Probably both have to be changed out after so many miles.
And I am not saying it has to be done, yadda,yadda,yadda. Just letting you guys know what I found out. It's fine if you doubt what I layed out. I might be wrong, but in my case, I am a firm believer I will have to change at leat the O-rings. That's all.
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Last edited by doru; 12-17-2010 at 12:49 PM.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2010, 01:25 PM
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I just read that whole Pelican DIY. Interesting that he recommends AGAINST changing the o-rings if you don't suspect they are leaking fuel due to how easily one can mar/damage the plastic fi nozzle. Seems it might be best to have your fi cleaned and calibrated...perhaps whoever does this has special tools to properly service them?

Good to know stuff...thanks.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:26 PM
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Very interesting. What's your current mileage, Doru? Haven't experienced anything like this but I just want to keep an eye on this, just in case. Thanx for the heads up!
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:49 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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Do you suppose that the O rings on the injectors are made of the same material as those that support the VANOS seals? If that is the case we'd probably all best be paying attention to this if mileage starts to fall off. It may be a problem with other vehicles as well. My Nissan truck has been getting really bad mileage lately and when I start it cold I can smell raw gas pretty stongly. I am going to start looking for vaccuum leaks and a throttle problem when I have a minute. But, this might be worth cosidering as well. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:11 PM
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Jim, what I came up with so far is that one cause of smelling the gas, is when the injectors are leaking. Documented on different sites. I could smell the gas too, and first I looked for leaks, but could not find any. There could be other causes as well. I am only a hobby mechanic (not even a tree shade mechanic).
I think some gas is by-passing the O-rings when the engine is still cold, until it warms up, so you end up with gas in the cylinder from the injector per-se and from the leak/bypass until the engine warms up and the O-rings expand. This is in the case the O-rings are not badly destroyed. On the BMW I tried to re-set the trip computer (zero it) at cold start - the mpg is horrible. I didn't had it that low a year and a half ago. Once the engine is warm, reset again the trip computer. You will see the mpg gets much better now. Almost to stock value. This got me puzzled the previous weeks/months. I was chasing all kinds of vacuum leaks, pulled and cleaned the MAF, lambda sensors are new, it drove me nuts. Could not find a thing. I believe 100% once spring hits, and I can work leisurely outside on the car, that once those O-rings are changed the mpg will return to close what it should be.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:17 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
I believe 100% once spring hits, and I can work leisurely outside on the car, that once those O-rings are changed the mpg will return to close what it should be.
Subscribed.

Let's see what happens with this in a few months. I seem to have the same issue upon cold start: poor gas mileage for about 1 mile then normal but this may be due to the engine not being up to temperature as well. Might be worth a try for a $25-30 FI seal kit.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:22 PM
poolman poolman is online now
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Poor gas mileage upon start up is normal--the fuel needs to be rich to keep the car running--like a choke was needed on the older carb equiped cars of yesterday--if the car is cranking OK and gets good mileage once it's warm, everything shoul;d be OK--whats not OK is if the fuel mileage falls off once warm.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:25 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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Well, I'm even less of a mechanic, but I try. Your analysis is interesting. Although I don't have a computer in the Nissan to check, it is around town, stop and go, not really getting warm, that I have noticed the real drop in mileag. It isn't great under the best of conditions because I've got 439 gears. But, usually I'd be about 17 or so. Now it is down to about 12. However, a couple of weeks ago I took it on a sixty mile or so trip and highway mileage was normal. For quite some time now the smell of gas at start up has been noticable. These past weeks when it has been really cold, it is even more strong. I had a really bad idler bearing that finally went a couple of days ago. I changed it and now things are quiet again. I had been hoping that maybe the extra drag caused by the bearing would explain the mileage. But, I think most likely that is living in a fools paradise.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by poolman View Post
Poor gas mileage upon start up is normal--the fuel needs to be rich to keep the car running--like a choke was needed on the older carb equiped cars of yesterday--if the car is cranking OK and gets good mileage once it's warm, everything shoul;d be OK..
I understand that. My point is the faulty O-rings can compound the low gas mileage issue and if we simply account for low gas mileage due to a rich warm up, we might encounter an engine flood like Doru did and simply ignore the possibilities of worn O-rings. Just my perspective.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
I understand that. My point is the faulty O-rings can compound the low gas mileage issue and if we simply account for low gas mileage due to a rich warm up, we might encounter an engine flood like Doru did and simply ignore the possibilities of worn O-rings. Just my perspective.
Ditto. I noticed at the end of last winter that the mpg was getting lower. I also thought the car was getting a little lazy to get to the operating temperature. When I first purchased the car, I played with the instant mpg, and it it did not sway much. That's how I noticed that the mpg is falling big time off the chart lately, and I could not put a finger on it. Zeroed it a few times, and it took longer to reach the "optimum" mpg. I thought the engine was warming up slower, although the temp gauge was creeping to the 12 o'clock at the same rate as 4 -5 years ago. It must a compounded gas feed, or a heavy vacuum leak which will lead to more fuel. But if the ECU is not picking up the extra air (CEL or stored code), it's something else, not a bad air meterage. Effing O-ring.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:51 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Like I said, for $25-30, worth a try as I'm always searching for rubber items to replace on the car to keep the car in top running shape.

Every single O-ring, Seal, Gasket, Bushing, Hose on a 13 year old car is near its end of life. Bushings crack, O-Rings crack or dry up, seals harden. It's a given.

Even Viton designed for gasoline and high heat environments only last so long sitting on the combustion chamber, it makes sense-logically.

Last edited by dvsgene; 12-17-2010 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
This is why every e39 owner experiences high fuel consumption after some years of service, and everybody is looking at oxygen sensors, MAF, vacuum leaks etc. Some of these issues are warranted, but these pesky O-rings are almost always overlooked.
This is an excellent observation.

To help with awareness, I added the related fuel injector seal o-ring links to the work-in-progress diagnostic DIY for misfires.

I do realize your symptoms are far worse than a cold-start misfire ... but do you think these seals might be the cause of some of the intermittent cold start misfires?

- How to diagnose a BMW E39 engine misfire (1) & a cold-engine intermittent misfire (1)
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Even Viton designed for gasoline and high heat environments only last so long
After Doru's original post, I looked up the fuel injector seals (two for each injector, each a different size).

What I'm wondering is have we narrowed the choice of desired MATERIAL yet?

I've seen Viton and Nitrile fuel-injector seal o-rings advertised so far.

Do we have a preferred material figured out yet?
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Like I said, for $25-30, worth a try as I'm always searching for rubber items to replace on the car to keep the car in top running shape.

Every single O-ring, Seal, Gasket, Bushing, Hose on a 13 year old car is near its end of life. Bushings crack, O-Rings crack or dry up, seals harden. It's a given.

Even Viton designed for gasoline and high heat environments only last so long sitting on the combustion chamber, it makes sense-logically.
This is 100% correct, my 1967 AH had to have every rubber item replaced, part of the "antique" in "anitque auto" I guess... but now my e39 is approaching 9 and anything rubber mixed with fuel not matter what the material is suspect... have a squeak from my power steering pump (I think), need to search for a DIY on that (sounds expensive!).
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:06 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What I'm wondering is have we narrowed the choice of desired MATERIAL yet?

I've seen Viton and Nitrile fuel-injector seal o-rings advertised so far.

Do we have a preferred material figured out yet?
Donna, As I pointed out in Doru's original thread Viton is the material of choice over Nitrile
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Old 12-17-2010, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
This is an excellent observation.

To help with awareness, I added the related fuel injector seal o-ring links to the work-in-progress diagnostic DIY for misfires.

I do realize your symptoms are far worse than a cold-start misfire ... but do you think these seals might be the cause of some of the intermittent cold start misfires?
- How to diagnose a BMW E39 engine misfire (1) & a cold-engine intermittent misfire (1)
Donna, here is another piece of observation. If the computer does not throw a CEL or there are any codes, a few things should be looked after: fuel pump, blown injectors (O-rings, or badly eroded injector tips), stuff like that. But I did not experience any judder, misfire, rough idling, nothing like that.
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:31 PM
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Anyone replace their fuel filter? At 100k, I just replaced mine. I have no clue if it needed but seemed like a good idea.
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:31 PM
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Sounds like we need to remove the intake and injectors and replace all of the 0 rings and gaskets --just to be sure--that might be the real trick to getting all well again--but remember winter gas will play tricks as well.
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Old 12-18-2010, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
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Sounds like we need to remove the intake and injectors and replace all of the 0 rings and gaskets --just to be sure--that might be the real trick to getting all well again--but remember winter gas will play tricks as well.
Yes Poolman, I had a lower consupton due to winter gas. Nothing major though. At the end of last winter, everything changed. Summer gas & winter gas. Oh well...
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Old 08-30-2011, 12:20 PM
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Update on the raw fuel smell & some starting issues when it's cold.
I had the raw fuel smell this past winter when it was really cold outside, even the car was garaged. After starting up and driving the first few miles, the smell in the cabin was nauseating. I opened the hood - the temp was around -30°C (around -22°F), and there was a cloud of fuel vapours steaming from the fuel rail at the injector level.
I was told and was certain it was due to aged injector O-rings.
As it turns out, this is an issue, but the problem is much worse and very $$$$.
This situation applies to the 3 liter M54B30 engine for all series: e39, e46, e53, e85.
The problem: the Siemens VDO injectors for this particular engine.
My indy was a BMW master-tech, and now has his own repair shop. I had the car for an alignment and I told him about my issue I had last winter. He told me this is due to faulty manufacturing of those injectors for this engine model. After years of usage, the VDO Siemens injectors manufactured from 2001 for th 3 l engine, will deform and shrink, allowing fuel to seep around them. The O-rings will NOT cure the problem I know, I replaced the O-rings and no dice. He told me that BMW knew about the problemand had an internal bulletin, but managed to avoid the recall, although it's a safety issue - those vapors can catch fire very easy. Also, the old p/n has disappeared from realoem WITHOUT the "superseeded" or similar and the new p/n listing. It looks as if that part was since these car models were produced. The p/n is 13537546245. This is the new updated part. My indy told me to change the old injectors ASAP before winter hits. This issue is surfacing wherever it is very cold in winter, and although the injectors are not at spec, they might work fine where no deep freeze is felt. I was told to buy the new injectors made by Siemens VDO (the p/n is listed above) or OEM BMW which is the same as VDO Siemens. Also, to be careful and make SURE it's the updated part. The only difference between the old part and the new part is a fine print that says either "new" or "updated" on the vendors website, right at the description.
This is a FYI, and I thought to bring it up especially for people who live in cold climate zones and be prepared for it. It's not fun truobleshooting at -20°C or lower, so I am doing it this coming weekend or next at the latest. Parts are on the way.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:00 PM
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Thanks Doru--please get back to us on your findings after the new injectors are installed. Inquiring minds need to know---Good Luck
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