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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 08-26-2014, 05:57 PM
RPW44 RPW44 is offline
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Mein Auto: 5/2000 BMW 540i M-Sport
Replaced Water Pump & Thermostat now I have Alternator light

Hey guys,

replaced the WaterPump in my 5/2000 540i AT 175k miles and when I fired the car up to start filling and bleeding the coolant/water my car slowly started to die and I looked at the dash and saw my alternator light on. Jumped the car, it cannot hold a charge.
My question is: what's really the culprit? Tensioner pulleys, or could it really be that coincidental that the alternator gave out after installing the new water pump?
There is a slightly high pitched whistling noise that I didn't remember hearing before while the car was running. I did research and lead me to think I should hear grinding if the alt has gone bad.
Thank you to those who give helpful input. My goal is to fix what's wrong and not just buy new belts/pulleys/& alternator.
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2014, 06:21 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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Mein Auto: 04/1997 528i Auto,
Well.. Give it a spin with the belt off if it doesn't move freely the alt is seized. Obviously. It could be that some coolant got in there and killed it. Also while the belt is off check the tensioner. Also.. Make sure your belt is routed correctly of course.
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2014, 05:33 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Look at the sequence of events in order to troubleshoot. You replaced the WP, which relates to cooling of the engine but has nothing to do with the running of the engine. You say it "slowly started to die". Can you explain how? Did the revs just die down until it quit? Was it missing? First, pull the codes to determine if there is any malfunction. Then recharge your battery and then check it's output. If it the voltage is not at the proper level (13+ V) or it fails to hold a charge, replace the battery. Once you start the car, then check the alternator output. Search this forum for the details on how to do each step.
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  #4  
Old 08-27-2014, 10:25 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Did the engine overheat?

If so, you've got bigger problems than the charging system, but, assuming at face value that the problem is the charging system, then I'd type /alternator f3 in the bestlinks, which comes up with this:

- DIY how to test a BMW E39 battery & alternator
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2014, 10:35 AM
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Yes, check the battry voltage when its running. Anything else is just a guess at this point.
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2014, 04:13 PM
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microswitch microswitch is offline
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I doubt it it is the alternator.
Maybe you battery just died!!
I would do the following;

1) test battery less than 12.00 V is out of charge. Remove go to autozone ans have them recharge it and test it. They will tell you if it is faulty
2) With a recharged or new battery installed start the car. measure current while car running... anything lest than 13.7 bad alternator. remove alternator and have Autozone test it....

but I bet while putting everything back you must have forgot to plug something....... check again for loose harness!!
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2014, 04:34 PM
karl1 karl1 is online now
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Mein Auto: 525i sport
If you got antifreeze in the alt then it may have killed it. I just replaced the rad on mine and got antifreeze on the belt. The thing will not stop making a noise now. Jump start and stick a multimeter on the battery. 13.8v is perfect. Below 13v and you have got issues.

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  #8  
Old 08-27-2014, 05:30 PM
damisco damisco is offline
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I am curios how can the antifreeze get into the alternator I changed my water cooled alternator with a remanufactured one from USA alternator with Bosch 150 watts my light won't go away till 30 mn on over 80F under 70F the light can be on after 2 h of drive but never starting issue got new battery too after a test at advanced auto parts I was told the alternator wasn't charging enough about 12.80 I am still under warranty but just lazy to tackle the DIY job right


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  #9  
Old 08-28-2014, 07:45 AM
RPW44 RPW44 is offline
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Mein Auto: 5/2000 BMW 540i M-Sport
Unhappy Thanks guys!!

Really appreciate everyone's input! This forum has been a lifesaver (and $$ saver).

I can't reply to everyone, I'll try to touch on the important stuff.

The car dies while running. I started it up, ran fine but then started to idle roughly, continually getting worse, I jumped in the car to see WTH was going on and lights were going dim and Alternator light was on. So I jumped the car and left the jumper cables on, car ran fine, once the cables were removed it slowly started to die again.

I DID clumsily spill coolant from the upper radiator hose above the alt, and I'm sure coolant got on there. I feel so dumb if that's what the issue is

I'm not entirely sure the serpentine belt has enough tension - I do know FOR SURE it's routed properly and facing the right way though.

I'm going to take the fan & shroud off, get the alternator out, carefully clean it up & take it (along w/the battery) to Autozone. Then go from there.

Thanks again everybody greatly appreciated!!
Cheers, Ryan
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  #10  
Old 08-28-2014, 11:08 AM
damisco damisco is offline
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What kind of alternator you have if it is a water cooled one antifreeze can't get into it if it is the non water cooled one and u believe u accidentally dropped antifreeze into it crank the car and keep it running while u spray water on it leave it running for about 30mn till the water dries out
I used to own an e46 with a non water cooled alternator and I washed my engine about 3 times never had a alternator issue I think yours is just gone don't blame antifreeze could be defect I have 1 year warranty on mine so I will send it back for replacement b4 it expires
Good luck
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  #11  
Old 09-01-2014, 04:55 PM
RPW44 RPW44 is offline
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Mein Auto: 5/2000 BMW 540i M-Sport
Follow up:

Autozone cannot test an alternator unless it's in the car for V8's.

But the good news is I cleaned the alternator, cleaned the area up, put a new serpentine belt on and made sure the tensioner was down snug and no more problems. Must've gunked up the old belt and wasn't getting proper tension on the alternator.

thanks again everybody for the insight!
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  #12  
Old 09-01-2014, 05:14 PM
damisco damisco is offline
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Light
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  #13  
Old 09-01-2014, 05:39 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is online now
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Mein Auto: 04/1997 528i Auto,
Do you think it was slipping? My belt started slipping because I forgot to tighten the Vanos line and it leaked. Lubing a belt that didn't need lube
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