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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 12-23-2010, 08:49 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What are the most common items that go wrong with the E39 and in what orer of import?

What are the most common things that go wrong with the E39 and in what order of importance?

As always, I'll propose a list from which we can add/subtract and/or modify:
  1. - COOLING SYSTEM CATASTROPHICALLY FAILS: brittle plastic expansion tank, radiator, & thermostat housings that blow up due to faulty plastic mostly at the upper hose neck and also faulty water pumps, hoses, and fan clutches that send whirling blades through the hood and quarter panels (1) & autopsy here (1)
  2. - I6 VANOS SEALS DETERIORATE: they're made out of the wrong materials so that they harden and leak over time causing degraded performance (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & how VANOS works (1) (2) (3) & what your options are (1) and vanos application table (1)
  3. - V8 VALLEY PAN GASKETS LEAK: poorly designed V8 valley pan gaskets that leak coolant (1) (2) (3)
  4. - CLUSTER PIXELS FAIL LINE BY LINE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on the instrument cluster causing dead pixels (1) [cluster removal instructions (1) (2)]
  5. - MID PIXELS SLOWLY DIE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on MID causing dead pixels (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) [MID removal instructions (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)] [MID pixel test sequence (1) ]
  6. - HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS CRUMBLE: brittle PBT plastic headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) & a comprehensive list of all your available options, by price (1)
  7. - FAN CONTROL GOES HAYWIRE: poorly ventilated final stage resistur/final stage unit (FSR/FSU) modules that are practically sure to go haywire due to poor heat-sink design (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) ... Autopsy (1) (2) often causing the battery to drain overnight (1) (2) (3)
  8. - CCV FAILS: crankcase ventilation valve diaphragm tears, freezes (1), &/or clogs (1), necessitating CCV replacement (M54,M54,M54) (M52,M52) (M52TU) (M62,M62) ('99 528i) ('98 528i); raising pressures, often causing the OFH oil filter housing to leak (1) (2) (3); frequently blowing the VCG valve cover gasket (1); and sometimes the head gasket (1) (2); often causing vacuum leaks (1) (2) (3)
  9. - AMBER ABS/DSC/BRAKE LIGHTS: tack-welded steel resistance-welded Bosch 5.x ABS control module power wires that break off their gold contact because of being too close to engine heat and vibration (1) ... Abs control module autopsy (1) (2) (3) (4) ... and explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools fail (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  10. - REAR DOOR VAPOR BARRIER FAILS CAUSING WATER PUDDLES: improper adhesive used on rear door vapor barrier seals that allow rain water to fill the rear footwell (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  11. - FRONT SHOCKS FAIL PREMATURELY VIOLENT SHUDDER WHILE BRAKING: OEM Sachs shocks fail causing violent shudder upon front-wheel braking on bumps (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  12. - POWER WINDOWS SUDDENLY STOP WORKING: low-quality unreliable window regulator mechanisms (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) and a repair kit (1) (2) and for other models (1) (2) (3) (4)
  13. - TRUNK WIRING FRAYS ATROCIOUSLY: a badly designed trunk loom wiring harness certain to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2)
  14. - THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS TEAR: fluid-filled thrust arm bushings that crack and tear causing vibrations at speed (0) (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  15. - IGNITION SWITCH FAILS: ignition switch that fails causing electrical problems (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
  16. - AMBIENT TEMPERATURE SENSOR BREAKS OFF: low mounted ambient temperature sensors in the passenger side front wheel well cover is practically designed to be ripped off on a parking curb (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
  17. - SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER BREAK OFF: seat covers that don't protect switches for both the steering wheel tilt & driver's seat control (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  18. - SEAT CABLES BREAK: seat cables that fall out causing seat twist (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & accidental airbag light fix (1) (2)
  19. - WINDSHIELD WASHER LEAKS: windshield reservoirs prone to leaking due to an ill-fitting pump o-ring gasket (1) (2) or to hose disintegration (1) (2) or to leaks in the main reservoir (1) (2) (3) or leaks in the intensive wash system (1) (2) or the pump itself goes bad (1) (2) & debugging hints (1) & adjusting nozzles after repair (1) & windshield washer fluid (1) and intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
  20. - POWER STEERING RESERVOIR CAP LEAKS OILY MIST: constantly wet power steering reservoirs due to poor O-ring design (1) (2)
  21. - POWER STEERING HOSE DRIPS ATF ONTO ALTERNATOR: power steering hose clamps practically guaranteed to leak (1) (2)
  22. - ALTERNATOR FAILS PREMATURELY: most say this premature failure is due to power steering leaks just above it so do a rebuild BEFORE your alternator fails catastrophically on you (1) (2) & how to prevent leaves in your alternator air-intake duct (1) (2)
  23. - SAP CLOGS or FREEZES (1): the secondary air pump (SAP) valve (aka diverter valve) clogs, taking out the SAS (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  24. - MAF CLOGS: the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and idle control valve (ICV) require periodic cleaning (1) (2)
  25. - DISA VALVE FLAP BREAKS: the DISA valve flap breaks, sometimes with parts sucked into the intake manifold (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & recommended parts (1) (2) & brand selection (1)
  26. - WINDSHIELD MOLDING CRUMBLES: heat labile rubber windshield & back window molding that crumbles in three years due to poor choice of recycled materials (1) (2)
  27. - JACK PADS FALL OFF: plastic jack pads that fall off the underside of the frame due to poor latch design causing jack failures & wind noise (1) (2) (3) & good jack stands (1)
  28. - AIR CONDITIONING ODORS: poorly designed cabin-filter housing drain hoses to clog which leaves causing gym-sock smells from the AC (1) (2) (3)
  29. - BMW ROUNDEL PAINT CHIPS AWAY: cheaply painted BMW emblem roundels that wash away in the car wash over time (1)
  30. - CUPHOLDERS BREAK EASILY: front and rear (nearly useless) cupholder replacement strategies (1)
  31. - WOOD TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: wood trim whose varnish cracks and whose cd cover doors rattle (1) (2) (3)
  32. - PLASTIC VENT TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: plastic trim around the air vents which invariably crack at the corners (1) (2) (3)
The purpose is to provide a checklist of commonly broken items on the E39 for us to check off when looking at our own cars or a prospective purchase.

What else would you add to this list?
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2010, 10:44 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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This link, from a similar BlackBMWs thread, has great explanations of:
- Common Problems Experienced with E39 BMWs

The author of that report, owning a 540, gives details on the following:
  1. Radiator failure*+
  2. Water pump failure*
  3. Coolant low messages from MID*+
  4. Misc. coolant leaks*
  5. Cam shaft position sensor failure*
  6. Power steering fluid leaks*
  7. Valve cover gasket leaks*
  8. Front wheel bearings
  9. Rear tire wear excessive*
  10. Front end "shimmy"+
  11. Parking brake doesn't hold*
  12. Auxillary fan fires
  13. Auxillary fan not working properly
  14. ASC light stays on+
  15. Display reports check bulbs front or rear, yet bulbs working*+
  16. Display reports check fog lamps, yet fogs working*
  17. MID lights "flare" to bright*
  18. Odometer and other LED display elements missing pixels*+
  19. Battery failure+
  20. AM radio reception poor*
  21. Single window fails to open or close properly+
  22. Door actuator failure
  23. Trunk actuator failure+
  24. Sunroof or windows do not fully close with one-touch close*
  25. Fuel sender failure
  26. O2 sensor failure
  27. Outside temperature reads -40 degrees (or other obviously incorrect number)*+
  28. Final stage unit failed+
  29. Misc electrical gremlins*+
  30. Catalytic converter failure*
  31. Doors make a creaking or rattling noise*
  32. Seats click and/or rock when turning, stopping, or accelerating*
  33. SRS light on*
  34. Seat belt warning light stays on even with seat belt latched*
  35. Glovebox fails to open and/or falls off hinges*
  36. Cup holders front and/or rear not functional*+
  37. Wind noise from sunroof area excessive*
  38. Window "clunks" and/or rattles when rolled down+
  39. Seat and wheel position adjustment not working+
  40. Center air vent not moving fully through range of adjustment
  41. Clicks from B-pillar in area of the upper seat belt retainers*
  42. Rear floor wet+
  43. Steering wheel creaks/groans/squeals when turned*
Note: Asterisk happened to that 540i owner; plus happened to me.

Attached Files
File Type: pdf common_BMW540i_problems.pdf (198.6 KB, 386 views)

Last edited by bluebee; 12-27-2010 at 01:59 PM.
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  #3  
Old 12-23-2010, 10:49 PM
bugratu bugratu is offline
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i think climate control button replacement is an unavoidable necessity for long term E39 users.
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  #4  
Old 12-26-2010, 11:32 AM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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ABD (traction control) Module

ABS (Traction control ) Module - E39. I know at least 4 people with broken one at about 90000 miles including me.
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  #5  
Old 12-26-2010, 09:06 PM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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U need a job.
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  #6  
Old 12-27-2010, 08:46 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bugratu View Post
i think climate control button replacement is an unavoidable necessity for long term E39 users.
That has not been my experience. I live where we have 4 seasons...and I rarely have to "touch" the IHKA panel. If you have the IHKA (auto) system...there's really not much need to touch the buttons unless something extreme occurs. If you set the temp dial at a setting that is comfortable...there's rarely a need to change anything other than using the AC (snowflake) button..

In 3 season areas of the country you may need to use the MAX setting when it get's up into the 90s/100s. Or you may need to press the upper button if you need to defrost/defog the windshield etc. But for the most part...if you're using the AUTO programmings...the system takes care of everything.

I probably have to touch the IHKA panel more in the winter than any other time due to snow/ice/cold/rain etc which means I may need to use the rapid defrost or the rear window defrost and the windshield defrost. Plus moving the stratified air dial toward the red (but that's not on the IHKA panel).

I wonder if some members may have "gorilla finger" syndrome. I just don't see how the buttons on the IHKA get torn off (unless by accident i.e. something falling up against the panel...or vacuuming roughly). The car doesn't get cooler or warmer any faster by changing the temp setting higher or lower. If you set the dial at a comfortable temp...the IHKA system will do what it has to do to get the cabin to the temp as fast as it can automatically. The blower will speed up or slow down, the fresh air flaps will open/close etc....the newer e39s even have a solar sensor on the dash that changes how the HVAC system handles the intensity of the sun on the interior of the car.

Always manipulating the IHKA panel many times is UNNECESSARY unless you are engaging/initiating a button to take care of something that isn't automatically being done...or to take care of something particular like de-misting/de-fogging/de-icing or de-humidifying (AC button)...or changing air direction for a specific reason. The AUTO programs seem to do what they were intended to do for the most part.
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  #7  
Old 12-27-2010, 02:04 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bugratu View Post
i think climate control button replacement is an unavoidable necessity for long term E39 users.
I wonder if that is a "common" failure on the E39 because I searched for "climate control button DIY" and nothing interesting popped up except:
- Climate control buttons
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  #8  
Old 12-27-2010, 02:56 PM
thecushion thecushion is offline
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Just my .02 ----CHEAP PLASTIC through out the car.
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2011, 10:20 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecushion View Post
Just my .02 ----CHEAP PLASTIC through out the car.
Today a post of the problems experienced at "high mileage" piqued my interest.

There may be two sets of "common problems"
  1. The score of idiotic problems that occur at fewer than ~100K miles
  2. The more realistic repairs that occur at greater than ~150K miles
For the most part, "cheap plastic" style problems are in the first set (and have been covered in the posts preceding it).

This post today covered typical problem that happen after 150K miles.

Let's see if we can flesh these out.

Here's my modified version of that list (in miles):
Note: I combined redundant information & re-ordered by miles, & removed all but potentially common repairs, & made minor edits for re-usability.
  • oil filter housing (OFH), 110k
  • oil pan gasket, 110k
  • tires, 110k
  • power steering reservoir cap o-ring, 110k
  • spark plugs 115k
  • battery, 115k
  • complete cooling system overhaul, 115k
  • faulty alarm, 115k
  • disa valve failed in engine clicked gave CEL and was replaced, 120k
  • alternator, 120k
  • brakes, 120k
  • power steering hoses, 125k
  • thrust arm bushings, 125k
  • control arms, 125k
  • tie rods, 125k
  • water pump, 130k
  • cluster from ebay (matched VIN in IKE), 130k
  • windshield washer jet, 130k
  • sway bar links, 135k
  • welded exhaust console hanger above front sway bar, 135k
  • belt-drive system, tensioners, pulleys, & belts, 140k
  • thermostat, 140k
  • right thrust arm with HD bushing, 140k
  • complete cooling system overhaul, 140k
  • Besian vanos seals, 140k
  • valve cover gasket, 140k
  • fuel filter, 140k
  • side marker housing, 142k
  • oil and differential fluid change, 142k
  • Motor and transmission mounts, 142k
  • Bilstein HD struts mounts pad, 144k
  • Conti dws tires/alignment, 144k

Spare parts to keep on hand:
  • fsu spare, 140k
  • hd bushing spare, 140k
  • front & rear brake pad spares, 143k
  • O2 sensors spares, 9/13/10
  • H7 auto illumination and bulbs, 9/13/10
  • Expansion tank, cap spare, 9/30/10
  • Gatorback Belts spare, 10/12/10
  • Rotors spare, 10/12/10
  • CCV system spare, 12/24/2010
What I'd ask is whether we can improve this 150K mile list of repairs to expect, and spare parts to stock.

For example, I'd add an alternator set of spare bearings & pulleys to stock.

Last edited by bluebee; 01-06-2011 at 11:13 AM.
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  #10  
Old 01-06-2011, 11:30 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Here's a start at a combined list of spare parts to stockpile (meaning they're gonna go ... you just don't know when):

Note: We'd only stockpile expensive parts if they're critical to the operation of the vehicle; and we'd only stockpile cheaper parts if they are either hard to find or if they affect the safety or use of the E39.=
  • You'd stock things that die suddenly which ground the E39 (e.g., drive belts & cooling system parts)
  • You'd stock things that can't easily be found in a short time (e.g., alternator rebuild parts)
  • You'd stock things that are safety related (e.g., critical fuses & bulbs)
You probably would not need to stock things that die slowly:
  • Brake pads and rotors are critical; but they can usually be ordered within a week as they don't die suddenly
  • A lot of parts die suddenly, but you can live a week w/o them (e.g., FSU, windshield washer jets, etc.)
  • Wheel bearings? Dunno' about them. Do they die suddenly? What do you think?
  • What else on the E39 dies suddenly after 150K - and that would ground the E39?
With that in mind, here's the start of recommended E39 spare parts to keep on hand at 150K miles:
  • Critical E39 bulbs, e.g., H7 (Q: What's the best link for this list besides the owners manual PDFs?)
  • Critical E39 fuses (Q: What's the best link for this list?)
  • Both serpentine belts as per the recommended parts list for a complete belt drive system overhaul (1)
  • Alternator rebuild parts as per the Cn90 explanation of why you want to rebuild your own alternator (1) & hard-to-get parts (1)
  • Complete cooling system overhaul kit (radiator, expansion tank, caps, bleed screws, radiator nipple, etc.) as per the recommended parts list (1)
  • What else?

Last edited by bluebee; 01-06-2011 at 11:38 AM.
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2011, 12:41 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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I try not to stockpile any parts except what I buy in quantity (e.g. filters & wiper blades) as I intend to use these regularly for scheduled maintenance (and to qualify for the free shipping!). I just find BMW parts to be too expensive to have new spares on hand as you really can't predict what will break when. I have ordered parts online and have gotten them within 48 hrs, in an emergency. And worst case, the stealer is just 5 minutes down the road. I do keep all my old parts that have been replaced due to preventative maintenance (& even repairs) in my "boneyard" for possible reuse, in a pinch. Given that I am big into preventative maintenance, that boneyard box keeps growing every year with all sorts of stuff, in serviceable working condition (struts, bulbs, pads, thrust arms, etc.) and some (SAP, CCV, etc.) in not such good shape. Just my approach as I am a cheapskate!

Correction: I do have some parts (ATF filter & gasket) bought for planned service but due to my procrastination, are still sitting in my tool chest 8 mos later awaiting installation.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2011, 03:12 PM
UltimateDriving UltimateDriving is offline
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Well, in my experience:
-A/C broke like 2 years ago, complete A/C system change
-Climate Control button is broke too, i just use it like it is
-Radiator Plastic housing leaks, had to change completely
-Faulty DSC Module, changed to new one
-Ignition Coils
-Dead Pixels in center screen, what a pain
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  #13  
Old 01-06-2011, 03:24 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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i think its better say

What are the most common items that DO NOT FAIL on the E39 ?

But i still enjoy my E39 whatever should brake i already fixed
haha
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:51 PM
yesman400 yesman400 is offline
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Hello

when you buy new parts from the dealer that are known to be problematic, does BMW make replacement parts that are better or do we install the same faulty parts?
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  #15  
Old 03-14-2011, 06:29 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yesman400 View Post
does BMW make replacement parts that are better or do we install the same faulty parts?
Good question ...

Take them on a case-by-case basis:
  1. - COOLING SYSTEM
    • Radiator, expansion tank, fan, clutch, hoses, sensors, thermostat & housing: most buy as close to OEM as possible, in general (same crappy design)
      • Radiator, expansion tank, fan, clutch, thermostat housing: Some spend 3x for Zionsville (lifetime repair)
      • Note: Chinese expansion tanks, even Behr/Hella, are problematic at times
    • Water pump most buy metal impeller (see cn90 Hepu references)
      • Some go for Stewart (lifetime fix)
    • Some modify the cap or fluids or both for lower pressure (as per chiefwej)
    • Some modify the (older) thermostat itself (drilling hole) as per cn90 trick
  2. - I6 VANOS SEALS
    • All buy upgraded aftermarket parts (not sold by BMW) as per poolman
  3. - V8 VALLEY PAN GASKETS
    • Dunno; someone else needs to answer
  4. - CLUSTER PIXELS
    • Most get BMW to replace the cluster, either under warranty or under goodwill (same crummy cluster)
    • Many buy aftermarket ribbons (not sold by BMW)
    • Many send them out for repair, ala VDO Repair
  5. - MID PIXELS
    • Same as with cluster pixels except BMW won't do the goodwill replacement
    • Additionally, many buy on Ebay used and/or repaired items (same design)
  6. - HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS
    • All buy adjusters from BMW on older models
    • Most buy aftermarket adjusters from EAC Tuning on newer models; adjusters are not offered by BMW on newer models
    • Some replace the headlights, almost all replacements are aftermarket (due to cost)
  7. - FSU
    • All ONLY buy Sitronic OEM (BMW updated the part) from our sponsors (there is no other way!)
      • Note: Some buy from Ebay and are always sorry
  8. - CCV
    • Dunno (someone else can answer)
  9. - AMBER ABS/DSC/BRAKE
    • Most buy wheel speed sensors ONLY from BMW (same design)
      • Note: Some buy from Ebay and are often sorry
    • Nobody buys the ABS control module from BMW (too expensive at >$1,000)
      • Most have ABS control module repaired by BBA/MM/ATE in that order ($300 to $150 in toto, in that same order)
      • Many buy from Jared or Mark new modules for $450 (if/when the rebuilders fail) + VIN recoding
      • Some buy from salvage yard + VIN recode
  10. - REAR DOOR VAPOR BARRIER
    • Nobody buys from BMW (crappy adhesive)
    • Most buy (better) adhesive from Lowes or Home Depot
  11. - FRONT SHOCKS
    • Some buy Sachs OEM from BMW (same lousy life design)
    • Others buy Bilsteins or Konis on the aftermarket (better design)
  12. - POWER WINDOWS
    • Some buy window regulators from BMW (same crappy design)
    • Others buy window regulator repair kits on the aftermarket
  13. - TRUNK WIRING
    • Doesn't seem like anyone buys the trunk wiring loom from BMW
    • Most fix the wires, one by one
  14. - THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS
    • Most do NOT buy bushings from BMW (lousy design)
    • Most buy solid HD Meyle bushings + the arm from EAC Tuning (not offered by BMW)
  15. - IGNITION SWITCH
    • Dunno ... probably BMW
  16. - AMBIENT TEMPERATURE SENSOR
    • All buy from BMW (same design) I think
    • Some re-locate to a safer area using cn90 trick
  17. - SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER
    • Most fix; otherwise replace part with BMW part (same design)
  18. - SEAT CABLES
    • Most fix; nothing to buy in most cases (I think)
  19. - WINDSHIELD WASHER
    • Most buy from BMW; same lousy design
  20. - POWER STEERING RESERVOIR CAP O-ring
    • All buy o-ring from BMW; same lousy design
  21. - POWER STEERING HOSE
    • Most buy nothing but a clamp (they use the cn90 trick)
  22. - ALTERNATOR
    • Most buy rebuilt (not from BMW) due to cost
    • Some plan ahead and rebuild using non-BMW non-Chinese parts (cn90 & aioros DIYs) if they have time
  23. - SAP
    • Dunno; others will have to tell you
  24. - MAF
    • Most buy from BMW (same design)
    • Some are clever, and buy from VW, Land Rover, & Kia (same part, lower price)
  25. - DISA VALVE FLAP
    • No other alternative than to buy ($200) from BMW (same horrifically lousy design)
  26. - WINDSHIELD MOLDING
    • All buy BMW (same crappy design)
  27. - JACK PADS
    • All buy BMW (updated design that no longer falls off)
  28. - AIR CONDITIONING ODORS
    • Most buy Mann OEM carbon activated new cabin air filters
    • Some use Cadillac filters (as per cn90 trick)
  29. - BMW ROUNDEL PAINT CHIPS
    • Most buy aftermarket (some buy BMW); all stink I think
  30. - CUPHOLDERS
    • Most buy BMW but many buy aftermarket improvements
    • Many replace with a panel to eliminate the problem once and for all
  31. - WOOD TRIM
    • Most buy BMW or live with it (same lousy design)
  32. - PLASTIC VENT TRIM
    • Most buy BMW or live with it (same crummy design)
For the items I don't know, please someone else who does have an idea, let us know.

Last edited by bluebee; 03-14-2011 at 06:52 PM.
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  #16  
Old 03-14-2011, 08:42 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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8. CCV - Most buy from BMW, to include the hoses. Cold region owners typically get the insulated CCV. Have not seen an aftermarket design. Given that the OEM CCV is not the best design and aftermarket designs are typically not as good as OEM, stick with OEM.

26. SAP - Most buy the BMW SAP (fairly expensive ~$400) and valve. The SAP is similar to other SAPs (Volvo) but I cannot speak about compatibility of the mounting bracket.


WRT to 11. Front Struts - Billys and Konis probably offer better handling but compromise ride quality at a higher cost compared to Sachs. The OEM Sport Sachs are almost half the price of Bilstein HDs and preserve the OEM ride and handling. Sachs also have a lifetime warranty. Billys have a really long lifespan. It's all about the tradeoffs.
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  #17  
Old 03-14-2011, 09:30 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 530 Sport Twins
THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS
Most do NOT buy bushings from BMW (lousy design)

WTF ???
if EAC has business with Meyle doesn't mean anything about OEM bushings

Last edited by champaign777; 03-14-2011 at 09:36 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-15-2011, 12:17 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS
Most do NOT buy bushings from BMW (lousy design)

WTF ???
if EAC has business with Meyle doesn't mean anything about OEM bushings
Hi champaign,
Reading that over and over, I still have no idea what you're trying to say.
Can you rephrase so I (or someone else) can respond to clarify?
thanks
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  #19  
Old 08-01-2011, 11:08 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Based on input from this thread today ...
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > 1998 540i inspection two

I just updated the bestlinks with two useful 'common problems' paragraphs.

Here is a good set of inspection checklist links & fluid charts:
- BMW service/maintenance schedule & checklists I, II, and III (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & an archived BMW CPO PPI inspection checklist (1) & a classic E39 inspection I, II, III DIY (1) (2) (3) & tips for BMW E39 150K mile maintenance issues (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & a glovebox printout for replacing all fluids (1).

And, here is a good set of canonical threads on common E39 problems:
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  #20  
Old 08-02-2011, 03:48 AM
wyowolf wyowolf is online now
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Mein Auto: 2004 545i Six Speed
Timing chain guide rails?? 130k
Power Steering Pump broke the bracket!! 140k

I would have to say that the Timing Chain Guide?rail design is one of the worst I have ever seen... I am surprised more do not fail...
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  #21  
Old 08-02-2011, 05:15 PM
Belicek Belicek is offline
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BMW has the perfect mix for the perfect storm

All cars have certain parts that fail at different rates, regardless of the make or model.

My opinion of BMW has dropped considerably after buying the 528it. Besides the Chinese made plastic these cars seem to be made of, the price of the parts are what (to me) make this car unattractive. Every time I turn around something is either cracking or breaking and the price range of pretty much ANY part STARTS out at a minimum of $100+.

Some here may tell me I shouldn't have bought a car that I can't afford, but that is far from the truth. While I can afford the car (and endless/costly repairs); I simply don't see the value for money ratio in the Stateside model BMW.

When stationed in England, I had a 535i that was lighter, maintained 38 MPG, and I could get parts for at any junkyard (excuse me...auto recycling center) for next to nothing. Fast forward to my eventual return to the states where I buy one of these POS based on my European experience...what a letdown. I get a car that gets a fraction of the gas mileage, is heavier (and feels like it) and all parts are worth their weight in gold because you have a "BMW" ooohhh ahhhhh.

I will fix the problems (there are plenty to choose from), sell it and get a car that gets better mileage, is faster, has better reliability and parts that can be obtained without being held hostage.

Now does anyone have a xenon headlight housing?

Man, that felt good to get off my chest, let the flaming begin!

P.S. I have a 2000, 528it with 80k.
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  #22  
Old 10-03-2011, 10:27 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the cross-linked record, here is a nice list from this thread today:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > When buying a e39

Quote:
Originally Posted by energizedmortal View Post
this is what followed after buying my 2003 530i at 97,000 miles...

oil housing110 k
oil pan gasket 110 k
bmw belt cured tensioner whine belts ,140k
water pump, 130k
spark plugs 115k
disa valve 120k
thermostat, 140k
alternator,120k
battery,115k
brakes 120k
power steering hoses,125k
thrust arm bushings,125k
control arms, 125k
tie rods 125k
pullies, 140k
radiator, reservoir and cap, hoses 115k
faulty alarm, 115k
tires, 110k
sealed vapor barrier,115 k
cluster from ebay (matched vin in ike), 130k
welded exhaust console hanger above front sway bar 135k
windshield
windshield washer jet 130k
metal bleed screws
sway bar links 135k
upper radiator hose 140k
besian vanos seals 140k
valve cover gasket 140k
fuel filter 140k
right thrust arm with HD bushing 140k
Fan clutch and blade 140k ordered -Installed October 8 2010
Radiator & coolant flush 140k - installed October 8 2010
Lower radiator hose 140k 9/30/10installed October 8, 2010
Motor & Transmission mounts 142k
Brake shield /front brakes 142k
Bilstein hd struts mounts pad 143k
Conti dws tires alignment 144k 11-17-2010
Rear Bilstein hd struts, mounts, pads
Emergency brake rear rotors 145k 3-24-10
Misfire cylinder 2 spark plugs 6/2011
Spark plugs & coils 8/16/2011
Front brakes and rotors 9/12/2011
Brake fluid ,02 sensors 9/12/2011

and I still have to watch out for...

MAF, throttle body, secondary air pump/valve, ccv vacuum hoses, head gasket, electrical gremlins, driveshaft, suspension, all fluids, belts, pulleys, cooling, transmission,

These cars will never be new again but I've had acura vigor, vw jetta, audi a4, and I think that the e39 has the best build quality of all cars i have had, yea the cooling system sucks but once u get the cooling, suspension, and disa valve done it can go a while. If you do get a e39 from my experience if you go in blind with no records like I did...do the cooling system, then the disa valve, get a new battery and alternator and your chances of destroying the engine or being stranded go way down. good luck
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  #23  
Old 10-03-2011, 05:03 PM
ProRail ProRail is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528A--165K
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What are the most common things that go wrong with the E39 and in what order of importance?

As always, I'll propose a list from which we can add/subtract and/or modify:
  1. - COOLING SYSTEM CATASTROPHICALLY FAILS: brittle plastic expansion tank, radiator, & thermostat housings that blow up due to faulty plastic mostly at the upper hose neck and also faulty water pumps, hoses, and fan clutches that send whirling blades through the hood and quarter panels (1) & autopsy here (1)
  2. - I6 VANOS SEALS DETERIORATE: they're made out of the wrong materials so that they harden and leak over time causing degraded performance (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & how VANOS works (1) (2) (3) & what your options are (1) and vanos application table (1)
  3. - V8 VALLEY PAN GASKETS LEAK: poorly designed V8 valley pan gaskets that leak coolant (1) (2) (3)
  4. - CLUSTER PIXELS FAIL LINE BY LINE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on the instrument cluster causing dead pixels (1) [cluster removal instructions (1) (2)]
  5. - MID PIXELS SLOWLY DIE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on MID causing dead pixels (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) [MID removal instructions (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)] [MID pixel test sequence (1) ]
  6. - HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS CRUMBLE: brittle PBT plastic headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) & a comprehensive list of all your available options, by price (1)
  7. - FAN CONTROL GOES HAYWIRE: poorly ventilated final stage resistur/final stage unit (FSR/FSU) modules that are practically sure to go haywire due to poor heat-sink design (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) ... Autopsy (1) (2) often causing the battery to drain overnight (1) (2) (3)
  8. - CCV FAILS: crankcase ventilation valve diaphragm tears, freezes (1), &/or clogs (1), necessitating CCV replacement (M54,M54,M54) (M52,M52) (M52TU) (M62,M62) ('99 528i) ('98 528i); raising pressures, often causing the OFH oil filter housing to leak (1) (2) (3); frequently blowing the VCG valve cover gasket (1); and sometimes the head gasket (1) (2); often causing vacuum leaks (1) (2) (3)
  9. - AMBER ABS/DSC/BRAKE LIGHTS: tack-welded steel resistance-welded Bosch 5.x ABS control module power wires that break off their gold contact because of being too close to engine heat and vibration (1) ... Abs control module autopsy (1) (2) (3) (4) ... and explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools fail (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  10. - REAR DOOR VAPOR BARRIER FAILS CAUSING WATER PUDDLES: improper adhesive used on rear door vapor barrier seals that allow rain water to fill the rear footwell (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  11. - FRONT SHOCKS FAIL PREMATURELY VIOLENT SHUDDER WHILE BRAKING: OEM Sachs shocks fail causing violent shudder upon front-wheel braking on bumps (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  12. - POWER WINDOWS SUDDENLY STOP WORKING: low-quality unreliable window regulator mechanisms (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) and a repair kit (1) (2) and for other models (1) (2) (3) (4)
  13. - TRUNK WIRING FRAYS ATROCIOUSLY: a badly designed trunk loom wiring harness certain to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2)
  14. - THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS TEAR: fluid-filled thrust arm bushings that crack and tear causing vibrations at speed (0) (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  15. - IGNITION SWITCH FAILS: ignition switch that fails causing electrical problems (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
  16. - AMBIENT TEMPERATURE SENSOR BREAKS OFF: low mounted ambient temperature sensors in the passenger side front wheel well cover is practically designed to be ripped off on a parking curb (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
  17. - SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER BREAK OFF: seat covers that don't protect switches for both the steering wheel tilt & driver's seat control (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  18. - SEAT CABLES BREAK: seat cables that fall out causing seat twist (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & accidental airbag light fix (1) (2)
  19. - WINDSHIELD WASHER LEAKS: windshield reservoirs prone to leaking due to an ill-fitting pump o-ring gasket (1) (2) or to hose disintegration (1) (2) or to leaks in the main reservoir (1) (2) (3) or leaks in the intensive wash system (1) (2) or the pump itself goes bad (1) (2) & debugging hints (1) & adjusting nozzles after repair (1) & windshield washer fluid (1) and intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
  20. - POWER STEERING RESERVOIR CAP LEAKS OILY MIST: constantly wet power steering reservoirs due to poor O-ring design (1) (2)
  21. - POWER STEERING HOSE DRIPS ATF ONTO ALTERNATOR: power steering hose clamps practically guaranteed to leak (1) (2)
  22. - ALTERNATOR FAILS PREMATURELY: most say this premature failure is due to power steering leaks just above it so do a rebuild BEFORE your alternator fails catastrophically on you (1) (2) & how to prevent leaves in your alternator air-intake duct (1) (2)
  23. - SAP CLOGS or FREEZES (1): the secondary air pump (SAP) valve (aka diverter valve) clogs, taking out the SAS (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  24. - MAF CLOGS: the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and idle control valve (ICV) require periodic cleaning (1) (2)
  25. - DISA VALVE FLAP BREAKS: the DISA valve flap breaks, sometimes with parts sucked into the intake manifold (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & recommended parts (1) (2) & brand selection (1)
  26. - WINDSHIELD MOLDING CRUMBLES: heat labile rubber windshield & back window molding that crumbles in three years due to poor choice of recycled materials (1) (2)
  27. - JACK PADS FALL OFF: plastic jack pads that fall off the underside of the frame due to poor latch design causing jack failures & wind noise (1) (2) (3) & good jack stands (1)
  28. - AIR CONDITIONING ODORS: poorly designed cabin-filter housing drain hoses to clog which leaves causing gym-sock smells from the AC (1) (2) (3)
  29. - BMW ROUNDEL PAINT CHIPS AWAY: cheaply painted BMW emblem roundels that wash away in the car wash over time (1)
  30. - CUPHOLDERS BREAK EASILY: front and rear (nearly useless) cupholder replacement strategies (1)
  31. - WOOD TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: wood trim whose varnish cracks and whose cd cover doors rattle (1) (2) (3)
  32. - PLASTIC VENT TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: plastic trim around the air vents which invariably crack at the corners (1) (2) (3)
The purpose is to provide a checklist of commonly broken items on the E39 for us to check off when looking at our own cars or a prospective purchase.

What else would you add to this list?
I would drop at least 75% of this list.
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  #24  
Old 10-03-2011, 06:54 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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DELETED:
Reason: Decided on the better part of valor ...

Last edited by bluebee; 10-03-2011 at 07:53 PM.
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  #25  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:46 PM
brc5 brc5 is offline
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Mein Auto: 535i, 528iT
You need to include the Rear Subframe Bushings for Tourings. These don't last much beyond 60k miles, and make a huge difference when replaced. Also rear air suspension springs will die between 50 and 80k, depending on conditions.
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