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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 10-29-2013, 05:23 PM
Lithium559 Lithium559 is offline
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540i E39 loud whinnying sound

Got off work and my 540i e39 decided to start making this loud whining sound while idled. I have no clue what is going on with this car and now it will start and something will get locked up in the engine and it'll just shut off.
Maybe a bearing is broken in the alternator?!?

My everyday car ! I think if I keep starting it to pin point where the sound is exactly coming from I might snap a belt or something....

SOS
HELP!!!
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2013, 05:57 PM
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LaCrosse540i6 LaCrosse540i6 is offline
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Try to post a video. Sounds like your timing chain guides may have given out.
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2013, 05:58 PM
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diggyd357 diggyd357 is offline
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Re: 540i E39 loud whinnying sound

Yeh DON'T continue to start it whatever you do !!!!!

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  #4  
Old 10-29-2013, 07:48 PM
Lithium559 Lithium559 is offline
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This is the sound it's making before it cuts off
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2013, 08:05 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Under what conditions does it make this sound? If it's reproducible, open the hood and try to find out where the noise is originating, while someone starts the engine.
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  #6  
Old 10-29-2013, 08:24 PM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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Might be the sound of your cash going into the car?
My wagon sounds like that some days.
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2013, 09:45 PM
Lithium559 Lithium559 is offline
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the sound is kind near the driver side of the engine. It'll make that sound as soon as I start it up.
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  #8  
Old 10-29-2013, 09:46 PM
Lithium559 Lithium559 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
Might be the sound of your cash going into the car?
My wagon sounds like that some days.
Is that what it sounds like?
hey hey its not just any wagon it's a sports wagon
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  #9  
Old 11-05-2013, 02:56 PM
Lithium559 Lithium559 is offline
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It was a broken bearing in the alternator
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2014, 08:24 AM
DeckMan DeckMan is offline
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Mine is making the same sound. Just made the noise then died. Did yours go all of a sudden?
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2014, 09:50 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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Originally Posted by DeckMan View Post
Mine is making the same sound. Just made the noise then died. Did yours go all of a sudden?
Mine sure did, with a horrifying squeal that scared the hell out of me. Here's a photo taken last year, near Taos, NM on my road trip. Luckily, it happened just outside of town. You can read about it here: Around the Country in 80 Days, More or Less, post #56. The car had about 175,000 miles on it at the time.

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  #12  
Old 10-18-2014, 10:00 AM
DeckMan DeckMan is offline
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Bob,

I remember reading about your failure, great read!!! Mine made quite the racket , so much for a productive morning.

Got another one on the way for Tuesday, the alternator failure also seems to be leaking coolant out now.

Driving along, made the screech and shut off. Then restarted with no problem and made it another 1/2 mile and the noise came back 10x. Pulled over and called AAA.
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  #13  
Old Today, 06:37 AM
DeckMan DeckMan is offline
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Here is my bad Alternator bearings

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  #14  
Old Today, 07:35 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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Yeah, mine made the same sound as yours does at the beginning of the recording, but mine didn't stop--or at least, I didn't wait for it to stop. It began while I was doing about 40mph, and I just pulled over at the first opportunity.

Be sure to bleed the cooling system well. If you get a bubble, or air gap, in the coolant flow, you can overheat the engine.
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Old Today, 07:54 AM
DeckMan DeckMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Yeah, mine made the same sound as yours does at the beginning of the recording, but mine didn't stop--or at least, I didn't wait for it to stop. It began while I was doing about 40mph, and I just pulled over at the first opportunity.

Be sure to bleed the cooling system well. If you get a bubble, or air gap, in the coolant flow, you can overheat the engine.
Yeah, when the engine/bearing is cold the noise is less. When it started it was constant. I always use a Snap-on air bleeder



These work the best in my experience for ensuring no air pockets.
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  #16  
Old Today, 12:02 PM
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AnotherGeezer AnotherGeezer is offline
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540i E39 loud whinnying sound

Perhaps you ran over a Mustang?
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  #17  
Old Today, 01:38 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Originally Posted by DeckMan View Post
These work the best in my experience for ensuring no air pockets.
Ya, and more than I paid for my house I bet!!
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  #18  
Old Today, 01:41 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Originally Posted by Lithium559 View Post
It was a broken bearing in the alternator
This seems to be quite a common problem. In all the years I have driven I have never had an alternator bearing go out. Had to replace several alternators but they just quit working. Usually brushes etc. I'm wondering what is making these common failures, bad bearing quality, or too much pressure on the bearing surfaces from some engineering/mechanical problem. Any thoughts?

doc
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  #19  
Old Today, 02:37 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKJS View Post
...In all the years I have driven I have never had an alternator bearing go out. Had to replace several alternators but they just quit working. Usually brushes etc. I'm wondering what is making these common failures, bad bearing quality, or too much pressure on the bearing surfaces from some engineering/mechanical problem. Any thoughts?

doc
Neither have I, but I've never put 175,000 miles on any of my cars before. At any rate, for the model year 1999, they bumped the alternator output up to 150 amps from 120, switching to water cooling at the same time, and it's on a high-revving engine; so the bearings may be a little under-engineered.
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  #20  
Old Today, 02:40 PM
DeckMan DeckMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKJS View Post
Ya, and more than I paid for my house I bet!!
Think it was like $175-200ish iirc
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