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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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  #51  
Old 02-16-2011, 06:40 AM
franka franka is offline
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This is a great thread.
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  #52  
Old 02-16-2011, 05:04 PM
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Man! It's so hard to find a leak down tester in local stores! I already went to all the stores I know, none of them have it. I'm giving up on the idea of buying a premade set and looking for components to build one myself, but even that is not trivial. I'm going to try Dale Hardware and if they don't have everything, I'll have to go and get the stuff from Lowe's where they had the necessary fittings but at a pretty steep price (brass).
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  #53  
Old 02-16-2011, 05:51 PM
franka franka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540alex View Post
Man! It's so hard to find a leak down tester in local stores! I already went to all the stores I know, none of them have it. I'm giving up on the idea of buying a premade set and looking for components to build one myself, but even that is not trivial. I'm going to try Dale Hardware and if they don't have everything, I'll have to go and get the stuff from Lowe's where they had the necessary fittings but at a pretty steep price (brass).
Rentals, maybe?
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  #54  
Old 02-19-2011, 10:48 PM
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Finally I got the tester built, compressor purchased and did a leak test today. Almost all valves are leaking, some more then others. The best cylinder (5%) showed at least intake leakage. I think the good news is that since the best cylinder leaks at valves, the piston rings should be in good shape. I did the test several times, here are the results:

#1: 19%-15%
#2: 10%
#3: 16%
#4: 14%
#5: 12%-15%
#6: 32%-45%
#7: 28%-35%
#8: 5%

Tomorrow I plan to start removing the heads for the valve job.

These are very good tutorials:



Last edited by Flug540; 02-19-2011 at 11:36 PM.
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  #55  
Old 02-20-2011, 04:53 AM
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I spoke to my brother again :-) regarding your leakdown test figures.
He said that most are ok, and to be expected at 80k miles. Even the higher leakage readings at cylinders 6 & 7 are probably due to carbon build-up, and are likely to be clearable with something like Techron (if you give it enough stick :-) )
He also said 2 other things. First that if you take off the heads, re-lap (or replace) valves and it works well (in other words it seals the top end) it is likely that leakage will then occur past the rings, to some extent. If you have a leaky top end, it takes pressure off the cylinders. If you seal that top end, then all the pressure is put on the rings, and it is likely they will show some leakage (although possibly not a huge amount, with only 80k on it).
The second thing he said was that he, personally (having done hundreds of head jobs), would avoid taking the heads off, if possible. He would give a top end cleaner a chance to work first.
Possibly this is not what you expected to hear, and you would be wise to bear in mind what other people have to say in this respect.
Obviously the decision is yours and it may be that you would rather take the heads off, just to have a look :-) However, as previously stated, this is a big job and it should not be under-estimated. It would have the advantage of making the replacement of other parts much easier (ccv/ rear engine to bulkhead water hoses etc).
Best of luck to you in your quest!
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  #56  
Old 02-20-2011, 10:32 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540alex View Post
Finally I got the tester built, compressor purchased and did a leak test today. Almost all valves are leaking, some more then others...Tomorrow I plan to start removing the heads for the valve job.
Did you use a stethoscope to listen for the source of the leak, as suggested in the video, and confirm that the valves were the culprit? Nice find on the leakdown DIY, by the way.
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  #57  
Old 02-22-2011, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Did you use a stethoscope to listen for the source of the leak, as suggested in the video, and confirm that the valves were the culprit? Nice find on the leakdown DIY, by the way.
Yes, I did use my stethoscope, but since my intake was off, the easiest thing was to spray some WD40 in the ports. Once I did that, I saw bubbles in most valves. Some were pretty spectacular

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
Best of luck to you in your quest!
Thanks Quackers and everyone else for the words of wisdom. Despite all your warnings, I went ahead and removed the heads over the weekend. The engine is actually pretty clean inside for the most part minus the valve area, which requires some cleaning, but also not to bad luckily. I mostly did it because I know I would regret it later if I didn't go "all the way" and cleaned/lapped the valves. Almost all major gaskets in the engine need to be replaced because of leaks, I also removed the leaky oil pan, which did have some residue on the bottom, but not too much. The chain guides seem to be in good shape. Now comes a lot of cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.

This is somewhat off topic, but my wife asked me why is it our Toyota 4Runner doesn't leak a drip of oil or coolant and at the same time the bimmer is leaking everywhere. I came up with a few excuses, but didn't really have anything of substance to say. Both cars have similar mileage (Toyota has about 10k more) and similar age (Toyota is 2 years younger). I'm guessing that the fact that the BMW didn't get much use, which is usually thought of as bad for the gaskets, also, that she spent most of her life in a hot climate. The first owner was in San Diego, the second in Sacramento...
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  #58  
Old 02-22-2011, 12:49 PM
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I thought you might go that way :-) It's tempting to go all the way, I know, but you have a lot of careful work rebuilding it! Cam tools etc, nevermind, it's done now.
Are you going to clean and re-lap the valves yourself, or have a professional check things out (like guides etc)?
I presume that none of the leaky gaskets were the head gaskets?
Oil leaks happen sometimes. On these motors the worst offender is the power steering fluid from the downpipe at the bottom of the reservoir. After it's been leaking for some time, it can be blown all over the place. What other oil leaks do you have?
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  #59  
Old 02-22-2011, 01:10 PM
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Yes, very tempting indeed...

I'm going to clean everything and re-lap myself. I'm just going to take my time on it and go carefully through it step by step. I have not done this before, but there is so much information and video tutorials about this on the web this site included, and I've already watched many videos and feel fairly confident doing it. When everything is clean, I'll check the surfaces for straightness and at that point, if I see something is off, then I'll bring the heads to a shop to resurface them.

Many things were/are leaking, the valve covers, the upper timing covers, lower oil pan, valley pan, steering plumbing. I have not specifically checked lower timing cover yet, and the back of the engine, I should do that actually... Transmission is also wet at the back of the housing, but not enough to drip on the floor yet.
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  #60  
Old 02-22-2011, 01:20 PM
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The tranny being wet could be runoff from the valve cover leaks, perhaps. Or something else :-)
If you undid the head bolts in the correct sequence, and the engine hasn't overheated, there is no way the surfaces should be anything other than straight. It's not something that can be checked easily though afaik.
You could take this opportunity to check the ccv and the small water hoses that go from the back of the engine to the heater, maybe the water pump for play etc etc.
Are you going to scrape the pistons clean or not? If so, don't go right to the edge!
Clean it nice, build it nice, then give it some welly :-)
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  #61  
Old 02-22-2011, 01:28 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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Good read here, I'm interested to see how much compression is regained. It would have been fun to dyno test the car before and then after to see what kind of numbers it was and will be making.
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  #62  
Old 02-22-2011, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark@EACTuning View Post
Good read here, I'm interested to see how much compression is regained. It would have been fun to dyno test the car before and then after to see what kind of numbers it was and will be making.
Yes... Too late for the before unfortunately, but I may go and dyno it after anyway. I'm also curious to see what the number will be.

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Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
The tranny being wet could be runoff from the valve cover leaks, perhaps. Or something else :-)
If it's runoff, I don't think it could be from the engine, as it's at the end of the tranny towards the rear of the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
If you undid the head bolts in the correct sequence, and the engine hasn't overheated, there is no way the surfaces should be anything other than straight. It's not something that can be checked easily though afaik.
Yes, I did follow the sequence, and the engine never overheated under my watch, always held the temperature right in the middle so hopefully everything is straight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
You could take this opportunity to check the ccv and the small water hoses that go from the back of the engine to the heater, maybe the water pump for play etc etc.
Are you going to scrape the pistons clean or not? If so, don't go right to the edge!
Clean it nice, build it nice, then give it some welly :-)
Agree, as I clean every part, I'll examine everything as much as I can. Thanks for the tip on the valve cleaning. I'll use toothbrush as much as I can with solvents, that should be safe, no? Do you guys have any suggestions on the cleaning techniques? Is using fine sandpaper permissible? Doesn't sound like a good idea to use sandpaper on head surfaces, but what about other like oil pan, valley pan? Is using a gasket scraper considered a good way to clean gasket surfaces?

I have several solvents already (engine degreaser, brake cleaner, carb cleaner, gasoline, mineral spirits), which one works the best? Maybe kerosene or diesel fuel?

Here's one way of cleaning the head and the block deck:


Last edited by Flug540; 02-22-2011 at 05:55 PM.
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  #63  
Old 02-22-2011, 04:51 PM
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Looks like thin razor blade and acetone are popular for cleaning gasket surfaces. Then use 120-grit paper on a hard (small) sanding block, then finish with 400-grit.

Last edited by Flug540; 02-22-2011 at 04:53 PM.
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  #64  
Old 02-22-2011, 05:48 PM
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I've just used a gasket scraper and a dry cloth to clean mating surfaces. I've never used sandpaper or anything else. Wouldn't really want any bits of sand around :-)
I clean everything with a parafin bath (if it will fit in). I would think petrol would be good.
If some valves are really coked up you can probably chip it off, otherwise lapping them in again should be enough. You only need them to seal against the valve seat properly, so it's the back of the valves and valve seats that need to be clean. It isn't really important what they look like. If there are clumps on the cylinder side you can scrape them off so as to negate any chance of hotspots developing, but it's doubtful they'll be that bad.
Are you familiar with lapping in valves ok?
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  #65  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:08 PM
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I referred someone today to this thread which looks to me like it could be a classic due to the helpful videos.

One question for the OP ... when you test compression ... what did
you disconnect so that the engine doesn't start in the process?
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  #66  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:12 PM
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All the spark plugs are out :-)
But your question is valid in that a nasty fire could be caused with all that petrol vapour being spewed out of the spark plug holes.
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  #67  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
I've just used a gasket scraper and a dry cloth to clean mating surfaces. I've never used sandpaper or anything else. Wouldn't really want any bits of sand around :-)
I clean everything with a parafin bath (if it will fit in). I would think petrol would be good.
If some valves are really coked up you can probably chip it off, otherwise lapping them in again should be enough. You only need them to seal against the valve seat properly, so it's the back of the valves and valve seats that need to be clean. It isn't really important what they look like. If there are clumps on the cylinder side you can scrape them off so as to negate any chance of hotspots developing, but it's doubtful they'll be that bad.
Are you familiar with lapping in valves ok?
I did see several videos on lapping and pretty comfortable doing that. Have you ever lapped yourself? BTW, isn't it night time in Manchester now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I referred someone today to this thread which looks to me like it could be a classic due to the helpful videos.

One question for the OP ... when you test compression ... what did
you disconnect so that the engine doesn't start in the process?
As Quackers noted, the plugs are out so the engine wouldn't start. But to avoid the gasoline to be sprayed into the cylinders you have to take the DME relay out.
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  #68  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:31 PM
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Thanks for that. Yes, it's 1-22am here.
Yes I have lapped in valves before. There are a couple of ways to do it. The old-fashioned way is to use a stick with a sucker on the end. The sucker gets stuck to the flat surface of the valve, a few dabs of rubbing paste (coarse at first) are applied to the seating edge of the valve and the valve is then pushed against the valve seat and the stick is rubbed between the hands, pressing the valve against the valve seat, with varying pressures. Then when everything is shiny, you clean off the rubbing paste/compound and apply the finer rubbing compound in the same way, and start all over again. When you've finished, both the upper side of the valve and the valve seat are uniformly shiny and smooth, and therefore able to seal properly.
It is time consuming - especially if you have 32 valves :-)
I don't know what the current methods are, but people started putting the valve stem in a drill chuck and effectively pulled the valve against the valve seat. It is quicker that way, for sure.
Either way it will take a lot of time.
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Last edited by Quackers; 02-22-2011 at 06:42 PM.
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  #69  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:36 PM
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Yes, the old fashioned hand method makes sense to me, that's what I'm going to attempt. I think you'll get a better feel if you avoid power tools.
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  #70  
Old 02-22-2011, 06:39 PM
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Yes, I'm sure you're right, but 32 is a lot of valves!
I suspect most would opt for the drill though. See if anybody else has a space-age method :-)
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  #71  
Old 02-22-2011, 11:51 PM
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I have found that lacquer thinner works better than carb cleaners for removing combustion chamber deposits. You will still have to use quite a bit of elbow grease. If it's really necessary, a large FLAT honing stone is easier to use than sandpaper on the gasket surfaces. The flatness of the stone will prevent low spots from forming, at least it would yield a flatter result than sandpaper.
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  #72  
Old 02-23-2011, 07:44 AM
franka franka is offline
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Thinner is good. Acetone is another.

I would keep all stones, of any kind, far away from an open engine.

Ok on heads, etc IF far removed from the engine compartment.
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  #73  
Old 02-24-2011, 08:07 AM
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Thanks guys!

Meanwhile I started the cleanup, LOTS of parts

Ordered new parts yesterday.

I'll update when I have something new.
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  #74  
Old 02-24-2011, 05:12 PM
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Enjoy :-)
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  #75  
Old 02-27-2011, 02:44 PM
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I'm going to refer all people who overheat to this thread (so I will add references, as needed, to flesh out the story for everyone).

As a compression cross reference, on 2/22, this overheating thread:
- Overheating and water loss
Resulted, this week, in an engine compression test:
- E39 528i Engine removal/replacement

With the compression figures of:
  • Cylinder 1 Dry - 14 bar, Wet - 17 bar
  • Cylinder 2 Dry - 12 bar, Wet - 16.5 bar
  • Cylinder 3 Dry - 15 bar, Wet - 17 bar
  • Cylinder 4 Dry - 8-12 bar, Wet - 17 bar (i thought i'd found the problem when this was dry at 8 bar, but repeated it dry and it returned 12 bar the second and third time)
  • Cylinder 5 Dry - 14 bar, Wet - 16.5 bar
  • Cylinder 6 Dry - 12 bar, Wet - 17 bar
These were not the expected figures; but that's what they were.
(Details here.)
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