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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 04-29-2011, 04:43 PM
russelltickle russelltickle is offline
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Vapor Barrier Question

I've searched and read and still don't get it. It looks to me like the vapor barrier doesn't do anything, I know I'm wrong and would appreciate some education here. It looks to me like the water pooling in the door would rise to the level of the trim holes and pour in from there before reaching the vapor barrier. And why seal the top, the water would have to pool two feet high to get there and there's a big hole for the door handle in the middle?

I resealed the thing once and still have a wet left rear side foot well. I checked it today and it was intact, but water intrusion continues.
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  #2  
Old 04-29-2011, 05:12 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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The vapor barrier must be tightly sealed everywhere, not just at the bottom. Water contacts the vapor barrier at several points as it runs down the inside of the door. If the seal is not made, it will leak past. Make absolutely sure you have a good seal, by using lots of the proper stuff, and run a wallpaper seam roller over it AFTER you heat the seal up good with a hairdryer. That will seal it up really good.
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Old 04-29-2011, 06:09 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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The water drips off the window and hits the middle of the VB, like 540 M-Sport said it will then run into the cabin if the VB isn't sealed properly.
Try this...open the door and spray water on the window (slowly), see if it comes out of the 2 bottom drain holes only, if it does the VB is sealed OK.
If it also runs out between the inner door panel and the door your VB is leaking.
It's a crappy design, if they designed it so the bottom of the VB was on the inside of the door 99% of the leaks wouldn't make it into the cabin.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:11 AM
russelltickle russelltickle is offline
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Thanks

540 and Jim, thanks, I think I'm starting to get it. I'll use the hair dryer and roller to get a good seal after I run some water like Jim said to see what's happening. Thanks for the help, I appreciate it.





Russ
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2011, 10:10 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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When you replace/repair the butyl tape/cord seals, it might be a good idea to use naphtha (Ronsonol lighter fluid etc) to clean up the spots (both sides=inner side of vapor barrier and door metal) where you plan to adhere the new stuff. Naphtha cuts right through butyl and also removes any silicone residue from car-wash/detailing agents .... I had one spot that I had to repair three times; the new butyl just wouldn't stick very well. Probably due to silicon residue.... I cleaned the areas up with lighter fluid the last time (before applying new cord) and it has held up perfectly.

If you park your car outside, you'll know you've done it right if, on cool mornings the car doesn't have any fogged up windows on the -inside- of the glass.
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:09 AM
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I loved the explanations in this thread from 540 M-Sport & JimLev so much that I added this thread (see bold red below) to the bestlinks so others can find it easier in the future:

- How the vapor barrier works (1) & the problem with front & rear door vapor barrier adhesives which allow rain water to wet the carpet (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & what adhesives to buy (1) & what sizes for the adhesive beads (1)
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  #7  
Old 04-30-2011, 11:19 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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If you use the naphtha/lighter fluid, make sure none gets on your tires or any other place that has rubber. As pleiades says, it will cut right through butyl and any other form of rubber.
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2011, 12:08 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
If you use the naphtha/lighter fluid, make sure none gets on your tires or any other place that has rubber. As pleiades says, it will cut right through butyl and any other form of rubber.
And of course, don't get it near any flames. Wet a rag and use that, don't just spray naphtha straight onto the parts to be cleaned. And let the area dry before putting new butyl on and/or applying a heat gun to soften it.
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:20 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
And of course, don't get it near any flames. Wet a rag and use that, don't just spray naphtha straight onto the parts to be cleaned. And let the area dry before putting new butyl on and/or applying a heat gun to soften it.
That's one thing that always cracked me up about Ronsonol, the Ronson lighter company's proprietary name for their lighter fluid. I don't know if it's still true, but the can had this caution on it: "Warning: Do not use near fire or flame."
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:25 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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The Ronsonol bottle I have is about 1 year old. They don't sell this stuff much for lighters anymore, now that most smokers are hooked on butane versions, so the labeling puts a lot of emphasis on the cleaning solvent angle.
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  #11  
Old 05-01-2011, 07:26 AM
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After doing the new seal and before you put the door panel back, run water over the window aqgain and watch the barrier to see if there are any leaks remainig.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:21 PM
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For the record, this came up today:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Leaking doors!

See also:
- How the vapor barrier works (1) & the problem with front & rear door vapor barrier adhesives which allow rain water to wet the carpet (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & what adhesives to buy (1) & what sizes for the adhesive beads (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best 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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