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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 01-18-2015, 01:08 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Reliability mods? replace something once and never again

so i see a lot of griping about the suspension and cooling systems, among other things, and i'm wondering if there's a list of reliability boosting mods out there.
here's all i have off the top of my head


-replace entire cooling system with aftermarket versions, electric fans and metal expansion tanks etc. Zionsville's kit with a metal impeller water pump and better thermostat costs $1,500
*along with this, getting a lower pressure cap (like 1.4 or 1.2 bar) and switching to race coolant like evan's. this DOES NOT lower the pressure of the system, but it lowers the pressure ceiling so parts are stressed less during unusually warm circumstances

-as bushings fail, replace with much longer lasting Powerflex equivalents. firms up the suspension too. full set would cost like $1400, but its better to replace as they fail or at the appropriate mileage.

-get one of those silver ribbon cables for the interior of the LCD screens, lasts far longer than the carbon cables and you'll probably never see missing pixels again. the cable costs like $15 and the teardown/assembly takes about an hour

-replace VCG, oil filter housing gasket, and oil pan gasket with newer gaskets made of VINTON rubber, which takes heat swings way better (up to 400 degrees, instead of 213) and is not attacked by synthetic oil. should last far longer than stock gaskets. also possibly Loc-tite gasket bolts so they dont try to back out and lose torque. Raj from besian systems did some tests on the newest (less than a year old) OEM bmw vcgs for both the m54 and m62 and confirmed they're ALL viton now from the factory.

-oil catch can to replace the very unreliable CCV system, although some have recently attempted a move to a traditional PCV valve instead, still waiting on long term reliability information on such a conversion

-upgrade to the newer timing chain tensioner design ASAP, it will give you much more time on the stock timing chain guides
*if you do need to do the guides, change out the timing chain cover gaskets to VITON as well


some other suggestions;
-Brass Caliper Bushings to replace the rubber ones
-stainless steel brake lines
-Install GAS DISA valve
-brass bleeder screw
-RTV sealant for vapor barriers on the doors
-aluminum thermostat housing
-CEL free thermostat mod, to make the valves open sooner http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...925&highlight=

Last edited by joekitch; 04-11-2015 at 10:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2015, 04:43 AM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Have you bought an E39 yet?
The suspension really isn't much of a problem, I'm still on all the original parts at 143K, except for struts and springs.
A lower pressure cap won't lower the system pressure, only allows it to overheat at a lower temp.
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  #3  
Old 01-18-2015, 05:28 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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Well... looks like you already know the answer.. so there no need to beat you over head

zionsville aluminum setup (with the tank)

brass bleeder for the tank

alumium gooseneck for the i6 guys

and when suspension components are replaced..... replace with power flex polyurethane bushings


other then that.... theres not a whole lot let... I dont consider interior issues to be a part of mechanical problems, cosmetics also don't count, so things like twisted seat or door handles are just a part of owning any car, Now vapor barrier leaks (which can turn destructive) actually in my book hold a high point value, Interior electrical...... thats why its a two book volume
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  #4  
Old 01-18-2015, 09:55 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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You can always do the LS1 swap for the V8s.
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  #5  
Old 01-18-2015, 10:04 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
You can always do the LS1 swap for the V8s.
true, but that's veeerrryyy expensive and lots of work. LS1s are not getting cheaper or younger
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  #6  
Old 01-18-2015, 10:57 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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because mixing gm and bmw is just how to make a mechanical nightmare better how?
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  #7  
Old 01-18-2015, 11:26 AM
TurnzSr TurnzSr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
Have you bought an E39 yet?
The suspension really isn't much of a problem, I'm still on all the original parts at 143K, except for struts and springs.
A lower pressure cap won't lower the system pressure, only allows it to overheat at a lower temp.
You're fortunate. I have had to replace the thrust arms 3 times in 149,000 miles. Last time was with Powerflex to get away from liquid filled bushings.
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Old 01-18-2015, 11:35 AM
BavarianE31 BavarianE31 is offline
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Use Viton (or similar) for all gaskets (VCG) and o-rings (VANOS).
Install GAS DISA.
RTV sealant for vapor barriers

Last edited by BavarianE31; 01-18-2015 at 11:36 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2015, 12:15 PM
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matt540 matt540 is online now
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SS brake lines, to get rid if the rubber ones. Better brake feel and less chance of failure
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:28 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
because mixing gm and bmw is just how to make a mechanical nightmare better how?
BMW puts that nightare senario together all on their own sometimes as well, keep in mind I have a BMW. Motor mated to a GM tranny.. And that's how it came from the factory..
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  #11  
Old 01-18-2015, 07:13 PM
E39toE60 E39toE60 is offline
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Ls1 more reliable and you can get full swap for 4500 plus our motors our tuned almost to the max. And the Ls1 has sooo much more room to build hp without boost. Oh and you can get parts everywhere the same day. Plus any swap is just good fun.
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  #12  
Old 01-18-2015, 07:57 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E39toE60 View Post
Ls1 more reliable and you can get full swap for 4500 plus our motors our tuned almost to the max. And the Ls1 has sooo much more room to build hp without boost. Oh and you can get parts everywhere the same day. Plus any swap is just good fun.
honestly more horsepower doesn't really interest me, i prefer "enough" power (350 or so) and rock solid reliability
but $4,500 for a whole ls1 swap? would that be if you got a junked ls1 and junked transmission and did the entire swap yourself, zero labor?
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:36 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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and out of curiosity, most complaints about the m62 are either oil leaks or cooling system related but...

aren't there only three major gaskets on the m62? oil filter housing, valve cover, and oil pan? not including valley pan gasket though since that's coolant and no oil.
am i missing lots of other potential oil leak points?
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  #14  
Old 01-19-2015, 11:53 PM
GreenTiger GreenTiger is offline
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Evans is not a cooling upgrade. It's an upgrade for lowering pressure.


A lower rated bar cap has zero affect on system pressure. It will only vent at an earlier pressure.
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  #15  
Old 01-20-2015, 12:28 AM
Techno Duck Techno Duck is offline
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In my opinion ask yourself is it worthwhile to do the 'overkill' mentality when making repairs / mods to the car. Now i am a super anal person and like to have the best if its feasible, i decided to take a different approach on this E39 than what i had done on my other money pits.

Just my thinking...

The Zionsville radiator / expansion tank is a really nice piece, i dont doubt that. I also bet the service life of one is significantly longer than an OEM Behr radiator. But look at the cost difference; your looking at nearly $1200 for the Zionsville radiator, expansion tank and electric fan mod. You can get a Behr radiator for around $160 (i bought one from AutohausAZ a few months ago), $100 or a OE BMW expansion tank and $100 for a Behr fan clutch. So your looking at around $350 for a brand new OEM type cooling system. The service interval of these parts i think everyone will debate but say you go on the real low range of that and do 6 years or 60k miles. In 12 years / 120k miles you will have spent $700 on parts...do you honestly think your still going to be driving this car in 12 years and after 120k miles?

Same goes for the thrust arms and other bushings. Also a ~50-60k mile service life. That is not too bad i think as you are probably looking at replacing them every 5 years or so.

Now i guess one can debate you have peace of mind from not having a spontaneous failure of one of these parts... but if i was scared of that happening i wouldn't have chose to buy a 11 year old BMW as literally anything else can fail on the car with that mindset.

Just playing devils advocate . Some things there is merit in doing, like the aluminum thermostat housing..etc. Thats all inexpensive, but for the really high dollar items it makes me think differently. And i guess one needs to factor in labor for doing things twice, but i usually dont count that as i do the work myself. And your still not addressing things like old coolant hoses, water pump, valley pan for an M62 ...etc.

And regarding LS1 swaps... having done one on another car i can say it sounds really simple to just say put in an LS1. But actually doing it and getting everything to work correctly is no small undertaking. Full swap for $4500?? That is likely what you would pay just in a donor engine and parts. Then factor in many hours of labor. Ive only looked a little at the details of doing one on a E39 but i bet your probably looking at $4-5k in parts and another $4-5k just in labor if paying to have someone do it. Also now days the LS1 is getting old and harder to find. Other options are the 5.3L Vortec which shares many parts with the LSx engines..these are plentiful, cheap and will do probably 95% of what an LS1 could. If i were to do another engine swap i would probably go with a LS3 hotcam crate engine with 1-year warranty from GM. I paid around $2500 for a '04 GTO LS1 and put another $1-2k in just refreshing the engine. Puts out 380whp with a cam and minor bolt ons. The LS3 hotcam can be had for aroun $5k if you shop around and out of the box (stock!) will make around 400whp.
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Last edited by Techno Duck; 01-20-2015 at 12:32 AM.
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  #16  
Old 01-21-2015, 06:18 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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i cant believe i forgot this.. if not the best and cheapist thing you can do that will give you the most output


SPORT PIN's front and rear....
will even your brake pad wear out.. will stop any pull when braking.. and will exstend the life of your pads..
cheap think its 30$-40 bucks... and will not ware out over time..

ez to install.. truelly something i missed and i cant beleve i did.. cause ive used them on all 4 corners of 5 of my bmw's now..

And then you will relize that every bwm since 1974 has been useing the same rubber boots for the calibers.. and you will ask your self how can this be..

the same pin kit will fit 3,5,7,x series
all of em
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"Burning 2nd is a lot like vitamin tonic. Overly harsh, tastes like crap, but somewhere in all that there's good intent......just have to learn to read between the lines, actually you have to squint really hard to see the good, but its there somewhere"

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  #17  
Old 01-21-2015, 06:44 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno Duck View Post
but say you go on the real low range of that and do 6 years or 60k miles. In 12 years / 120k miles you will have spent $700 on parts...do you honestly think your still going to be driving this car in 12 years and after 120k miles?
parts of the system will break more often than that, but yeah it's a peace of mind thing, also higher performance if you'd like

also you could kinda sorta make a case for it increasing the value of your car if you go to resell, especially if you sell it to another bmw fanatic
"dont have to worry about the cooling system for another ten years" sounds mighty nice and it's not exactly inaccurate...
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Old 01-21-2015, 06:46 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
SPORT PIN's front and rear....
wait, what is that exactly..?
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  #19  
Old 01-21-2015, 07:29 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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sport pin replacement for the brake cailber pins...

gets rid of the rubber bushing...
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"Burning 2nd is a lot like vitamin tonic. Overly harsh, tastes like crap, but somewhere in all that there's good intent......just have to learn to read between the lines, actually you have to squint really hard to see the good, but its there somewhere"

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Old 01-21-2015, 10:05 PM
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He's referring to Brass Caliper Bushings:



http://www.amazon.com/Brass-Caliper-.../dp/B004SYA3RE
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:35 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
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thats da ****
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"Burning 2nd is a lot like vitamin tonic. Overly harsh, tastes like crap, but somewhere in all that there's good intent......just have to learn to read between the lines, actually you have to squint really hard to see the good, but its there somewhere"

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  #22  
Old 01-22-2015, 01:17 PM
Konishiki-Lite Konishiki-Lite is offline
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Of those that I've done and so far enjoy:
1.
CE-free cold thermostat mod (86-88 deg running temp). Works great so far, not seeing any difference in MPG, as many predicted.
2.
Hi-perfomance Stewart pump
3.
Evans coolant = zero pressure in the system, so no need to worry about exploding tanks, rads or hoses.
4.
Euro3 ECM flush and resulting SAP delete (only applicable in certain states, I guess. We have no emissions checks here)
5.
CCV delete, replaced with oil catch can + PCV valve
6.
Off-the-shelf wipers instead of proprietory E39 designs.
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  #23  
Old 01-22-2015, 04:38 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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actually, general M62 question; does the m62 have as much of a need for a CCV delete?
....does it even have a ccv?
is that a m54 specific thing?
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Old 01-22-2015, 04:45 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Yes, the M62 does have a CCV.
I've got the caliper bushings and pins, they do keep the calipers from twisting.
Got them from BAV.
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:22 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
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ive ordered all mine from bav as well
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"Burning 2nd is a lot like vitamin tonic. Overly harsh, tastes like crap, but somewhere in all that there's good intent......just have to learn to read between the lines, actually you have to squint really hard to see the good, but its there somewhere"

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