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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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Old 12-04-2013, 12:50 PM
dirtbiker1824 dirtbiker1824 is offline
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Location: Hermosa Beach
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 99 528i
99 528i safe mode, misfire, MAF, Throttle Body issues

Hello all,
As of yesterday I am the proud new owner of a 99 528i BMW. I bought the car for $190 (reinbursment for a tow fee and parking fine) and it has a few issues.

The previous owner said the car went in to "limp" mode and now doesn't run, he suspected a head gasket failure. I will list my current problems below and also what I have done so far (I have never worked on BMW's before fyi...)

Issue: Car turns over, starts up then immediately shuts off.

I did a compression test on all 6 cylinders and found all the pressures to be between 175 and 185 psi - I don't think i have a compression issue.

I then read the codes out via OBD II, and I had 0303 - missfire in cylinder 3, and 1580 - throttle body mechanically stuck.

I cleared all the codes, changed the #2 and #3 coil over and expected to see #2 cylinder misfire. Engine started then immediately died but no cylinder misfire errors (still had 1580)

I then pulled air filter, cleaned MAF, and adjusted throttle cable to remove some slack. I then started the car without the air filter box installed and it started up fine, but still stuck in limp mode (2k rpm limit) and no codes. I ran this way in park for about 20 mins for everything to heat up. I turned the car off then tried to turn it back on and I had the original issue, it starts but immediately dies.

As it sits now, in order to have the car actually start up I need to have the MAF sensor disconnected. In this configuration I have codes 0101 (MAF) and still 1580 but no missfire code which i guess is good?

I'm curious how I can get the car out of limp mode and wonder if the MAF sensor is the root cause for the engine shutting down after start up. I'm reluctant to take it to a BMW dealer as I took the car as a fun project, so paying someone else to do the work would defeat the purpose of having it

Hopefully someone out there is knowledgeable on these issues and can provide guidance, I would be grateful for it!

Last edited by dirtbiker1824; 12-04-2013 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:36 AM
lsrguy98 lsrguy98 is offline
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Location: St. Louis Missouri
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 185
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528i
Hi. I have the same problem on my 99 528i. I just ordered a scanner and am waiting for it to come in. In the mean time I found a brittle vacuum hose so I replaced that but didn't do anything else. Did you find out what the problem was?

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Old 01-14-2014, 09:50 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 8,910
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Yes, agree, look for crumbling vacuum hoses, of which there are many! Make sure the idle control valve is clean and free - it can be cleaned with brake cleaner, but don't poke anything inside.

Sounds like the throttle body needs work, too.

Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:50 AM
KKlop KKlop is offline
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Location: Timonium, MD
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 118
Mein Auto: '99 528i M52TU
Check the rubber boots/hoses between the MAF and Throttle. I believe I read posts on this forum that cracks/air leaks are common and can cause your symptoms.

As you learn about your car, if you have not used RealOEM.com, do so. Great resource.
1999 528i Jet Black Sport/Premium Sedan - Dinan ECU Stage II, CAI, Scorpion Free Flow Exhaust, Rouge Pulleys, Akebono pads

Last edited by KKlop; 01-14-2014 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:09 PM
lsrguy98 lsrguy98 is offline
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Location: St. Louis Missouri
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 185
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528i
Bad Idle control valve.

I took the MAF out and cleaned it with brake cleaner. I then started the car and it ran smooth but still wouldn't idle. I took it to a friend of mine who has a scanner, since mine is slow in coming, and it said to check the ICV. We took it out and cleaned it, put it back in, and this car just purrs and keeps idle. Thanks everyone for all of their help.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:53 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,539
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Dunno the answer, but, the list of culprits is explained here:
- How to diagnose a typical BMW E39 engine misfire (1)
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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0303, code 1580, maf

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