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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 04-07-2011, 03:49 PM
bennette bennette is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 528iT, 5spd
Electrical woes: GMIII, K-Bus, P-bus?

I posted this on another forum site in pieces, though I received little feedback. Hoping the folks here can help me out!

The problem came out of nowhere (no mods/fixes/events) and appeared as flickering interior lights, intermittently functioning accessories (e.g. windshield wipers), and a completely dead central locking system, which all occurred whether the car was on or not. I presumed low voltage at the battery was to blame, and although the 12.4/14.0 off/on readings seemed acceptable, I elected to replace the 4 year old unit. This caused absolutely no change in the symptoms. I then stumbled upon the various good posts concerning the Ignition Switch, and although I did not pass the "Vanity Light Test", it still seemed like the most logical culprit. One new switch and an hour of labor later, the problems remained exactly as before. Notably, I checked and polished all the major electrical terminals I could locate, though this too caused no change and I did not find anything loose.

I then took the car into the mechanic (not a BMW-specific shop, unfortunately) to see if they might stumble across anything obvious. They found that jiggling the General Module (GMIII) exerted some control over the symptoms and identified it as the problem. As the car was there and coding would be required anyhow, I had them install and code a new GMIII ($$$). Although this remedies the interior lights and wiper issues, the IHKA still turns on and off intermittently, the drivers seat and steering tilt/telescopic adjustments do not work, and the window motors occasionally produce a god-awful noise instead of actually moving the windows up/down. The shop guys did some level of troubleshooting and suggested that the Passenger Door Module was causing all the trouble, perhaps taken out when the GMIII was on the fritz, and that the driver's seat module was also toast. Notably, when the IHKA is on the fritz, tapping the buttons for the passenger side window can make it go away.

I've now replaced both the passenger door module AND the driver's seat module to absolutely no avail. No remote keyless entry, no seat/steering adjustment, and the occasional IHKA flashing. I'm beginning to think the problem still lies with the General Module (which was replaced!) or one of the connections. The problems are, however, not isolated to either the K-bus (keyless entry control module, FBZV) or the P-bus (seat memory module, PM-SM, and Passenger door module, PM-BT). It would seem odd that both buses would shoot craps, though I'm willing to believe anything at this point.

Any ideas out there? I've run out of theories and will have to unload the car, as my fiancée can no longer drive it (without seat adjustment). Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2011, 05:52 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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It seems to me I've read a few posts about a failing alternator causing what seemed like anomalous electrical behavior. Try searching the "very best links" sticky, using your browser's search function (f2 for Windows or Command-f for Mac), for terms like "alternator failure," or similar.
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  #3  
Old 04-07-2011, 07:27 PM
bennette bennette is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 528iT, 5spd
Thanks for the reply! The alternator would make sense, although the problem is present even when the engine is off (key in accessory position). Also, the remote locking system is down, which is a totally "off" system.

Along those lines - I did suspect (and replace) the battery, as well as check for loose or faulty grounds. I didn't come across anything apparent, though if folks know of a particularly susceptible weak link in the chain, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again.
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  #4  
Old 04-07-2011, 07:45 PM
bennette bennette is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 528iT, 5spd
Just looking through the Bentley manual (again) - there is an "Overload Protection" relay module, K72, that supposedly opens if an increase in amperage is detected. The manual instructs one to "Switch the ignition to OFF for 16 minutes and disconnect the relay" to reset. Or to use a BMW Service tester to reset. I thought this was a culprit after the GMIII replacement didn't restore seat & steering function, and did the reset procedure, but it didn't do anything. Perhaps now with the new modules it will. I'll give this a shot tomorrow..... (my concern is that the flickering that still sporadically pops up may indicate the cause of such a short is still present)

Anyone have any experience with module K72?
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  #5  
Old 04-08-2011, 06:48 AM
bennette bennette is offline
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Scratch that - just reset K72 (including sitting in the car for 16 minutes....), to no avail.
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  #6  
Old 04-08-2011, 07:15 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Sounds like a bad ground SOMEWHERE in the car. Might be hard to find...
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  #7  
Old 04-08-2011, 11:22 AM
edjack edjack is online now
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There are several so-called "ground cable shoes" scattered around the chassis. These "shoes" terminate a few, and many ground wires. The Germans prefer the color brown for ground.

Here's where they are:

1. Under driver's seat

2. Under driver seat carpet

3. Left front inner fender panel

4. Engine compartment, front right

5. Engine compartment, right rear on outside of e-box (under the cabin air filter housing)

6. Right side footwell, under carpet

7. Right side footwell, under carpet, beneath cover

8. Right side of trunk, in battery compartment

9. Left side of trunk behind trim panel

10. Under rear window shelf, right side

There are no unique locations for the wagon in the Bentley's manual.

Might be a good idea to inspect these shoes for tightness and cleanliness. Begin with the shoes close to the problem area.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:02 AM
yspeedk yspeedk is offline
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Have you eventually find the problem? I have exactly the same problems like yours. The central control unit is not working and all windows doors and the rest. I'm working on this but so far it is not working. If you have any new ideas please post here. Thanks for this post.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2012, 03:56 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yspeedk View Post
The central control unit is not working
Since it's free, easy, and only takes a minute, I'd check the trunk loom (which is known to cause central locking mischief):

- How to diagnose & repair cracked, broken, or frayed BMW trunk loom wires causing all sorts of strange mischief (1)
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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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  #10  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:34 AM
yspeedk yspeedk is offline
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Thanks for the lead

I will try that. This car has an accident and the trunk door was replaced.
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  #11  
Old 10-19-2013, 06:38 PM
thesalboy thesalboy is offline
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Mein Auto: 93 325is, 06 2.5GT Wagon
What happened with either of these cars?
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  #12  
Old 10-19-2013, 11:59 PM
yspeedk yspeedk is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 740iL
The car has been fixed while ago. The electrical connection was really broken under the passenger seat. I was able to find problem only after I bought a book with electrical schematics. If you have similar problem post here, I can find book in my Garage.
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  #13  
Old 08-14-2014, 08:36 PM
ali1 ali1 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1996 BMW 740il
1996 BMW 740 il
Electrical problem
car been siting for wile, i start it and window start going up and down rapidly and then stop , master window swich not working, changed it some window worked and then stop working
only passenger window working
radio not working
sunroof not working
any help be apreciated
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  #14  
Old 08-15-2014, 12:12 AM
yspeedk yspeedk is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 740iL
I have a book for BMW E38 but I think it cover 97 to 99 not 96. Do you have electrical diagram, or schematic?
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