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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 01-16-2012, 02:44 PM
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the540wgn the540wgn is offline
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bad starter

So I went out to my car this morning and it would not start.
All the dash lights still turn on when the key in different positions.

When I try to start it I hear a clicking(not really a turning)
The battery is fairly new, and I tried jumping the car: still nothing.

I suspect a bad starter but I'm not sure.

Is there anything else I should check for? (I don't have a voltmeter so I can't check the battery that way)
I'm read some threads that that the starter is a tougher fix to do yourself.
How much will this fix run me if I take it to an Indy?
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2012, 03:13 PM
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flyboyy flyboyy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the540wgn View Post
So I went out to my car this morning and it would not start.
All the dash lights still turn on when the key in different positions.

When I try to start it I hear a clicking(not really a turning)
The battery is fairly new, and I tried jumping the car: still nothing.

I suspect a bad starter but I'm not sure.

Is there anything else I should check for? (I don't have a voltmeter so I can't check the battery that way)
I'm read some threads that that the starter is a tougher fix to do yourself.
How much will this fix run me if I take it to an Indy?
If you turn your key and you hear a CLICK , CLICK.. it most likely means you do not have enough juice to start up the car... did you leave any light on ? you will need to check that battery out... you need a Digital voltage meter to check out your battery and alternator to see if it is giving enough current.. check battery when car is off and when car is on.. report back voltage..

if you can remove battery out of car you can take it to autozone and they will check it for free.
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  #3  
Old 01-16-2012, 03:19 PM
acoste acoste is offline
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Check battery first :-)
gives you a lot more information. Get a voltmeter. Battery can die overnight due to fsu or something.

Check if the clicking comes from the starter and check if the lights dim while turning the key.

Starters usually start to squeak before they die but if you have to replace it, an oem starter is around $300.
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  #4  
Old 01-16-2012, 03:25 PM
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the540wgn the540wgn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboyy View Post
you need a Digital voltage meter to check out your battery and alternator to see if it is giving enough current...
Quote:
Originally Posted by acoste View Post
Check battery first :-)
Get a voltmeter.
hmmmm I guess I really just need to get a voltmeter
I just didn't expect it to be the battery since it wouldn't start even while jumping it

Thanks for the info guys,
I'll keep you updated
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  #5  
Old 01-16-2012, 03:32 PM
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newcombe newcombe is offline
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my starter was replaced last year sometime from indy. I will check to see the total cost. Was not turning over and clicking so I checked battery which was fine and I then tried to fix by replacing ingnition switch but that didn't do it and eventually had towed to the indy and fixed.
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2012, 03:53 PM
acoste acoste is offline
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You could try the old "refresh" method for the starter however it is not recommended nowadays. Hit the starter body gently with a small hammer.

Last edited by acoste; 01-16-2012 at 04:02 PM. Reason: grammar
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  #7  
Old 01-17-2012, 06:09 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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yep... the technical Tap method...

3/8 long extension give the starter a few bangs....

dont short it out... and dont hit it hard enough to put the extension Thur the casein
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  #8  
Old 01-17-2012, 07:39 AM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Jumper cables don't always give you a good connection. When you still get a click click click you need to make a better connection with the jumpers.
You should also have the other vehicle running to help charge your battery for 5 min before you try to start your car.
Get a cheap digital meter, $10 at some places.

Last edited by JimLev; 01-17-2012 at 07:39 AM. Reason: fix typos
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  #9  
Old 01-17-2012, 08:23 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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I agree with the others. Although there's a good chance you need to replace the starter, it's a good idea to check the battery voltage first, because the combination of a low battery and inadequate connection with the jumper cables can produce the same symptoms.
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  #10  
Old 01-17-2012, 12:27 PM
WaveSurfin3100 WaveSurfin3100 is offline
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It's your starter! Figure around $500.00 and change if you have Indy do the work! They made it so you have to remove the engine to change out that damn starter...not really, but almost! Had same clicking issue a few months ago, bad starter!!

Last edited by WaveSurfin3100; 01-17-2012 at 12:28 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-17-2012, 12:52 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaveSurfin3100 View Post
...They made it so you have to remove the engine to change out that damn starter...
This isn't really true of the V8, according to Bentley's
The starter is on the right (passenger) side of the engine, and is removed from below. Access to starter bolts is difficult. Be sure to have the proper tools on hand before proceeding."
You only need to remove the engine splash shield and starter heat shield first, and possibly the right side oxygen sensor harness connector from the retaining clip (to get at the terminals). The "proper tools" are "suitable extensions and universal joint," according to Bentley's.
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  #12  
Old 01-17-2012, 01:40 PM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
This isn't really true of the V8, according to Bentley's
The starter is on the right (passenger) side of the engine, and is removed from below. Access to starter bolts is difficult. Be sure to have the proper tools on hand before proceeding."
You only need to remove the engine splash shield and starter heat shield first, and possibly the right side oxygen sensor harness connector from the retaining clip (to get at the terminals). The "proper tools" are "suitable extensions and universal joint," according to Bentley's.
Right. Shouldn't take more than 90 min to replace it. I did it on a friends 540 a few months ago. It's not a difficult job.
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  #13  
Old 01-17-2012, 02:32 PM
WaveSurfin3100 WaveSurfin3100 is offline
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I should have stated that the Six is the PITA!! They made things a bit more difficult on the Six...
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  #14  
Old 01-17-2012, 09:16 PM
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Trebbia Trebbia is offline
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Originally Posted by the540wgn View Post
How much will this fix run me if I take it to an Indy?
A lot more than the 50 dollars a voltmeter will cost you.
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  #15  
Old 01-17-2012, 09:55 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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You might estimate your potential DiY savings as follows. If you figure 1.5 hrs of labor as JimLev estimated above, at $100/hr for an independent mechanic (of course, rates vary across the country), that would give you $150, but that doesn't take into account what the flat rate manual, which most shops use, allots for the job. So if you round it up to 2 hrs (wild guess), your'e saving that times your local mechanic's hourly rate. Plus, if you replace it yourself, you might be able to get a better price on the part.
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  #16  
Old 01-17-2012, 09:57 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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You could also call a local independent shop and ask for an estimate to replace it, and it just occurred to me that this is a simple enough repair that a run of the mill garage should be able to do it, as long as they get a quality replacement starter.
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  #17  
Old 01-18-2012, 04:40 AM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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I agree with the above. Get a quality starter.

I lucked out. Got off active duty in June of 09, came home and my 97 starter was dead. Ordered a used one from the wrecking yard in Alabama, $54 shipped. It was supposed to be a temp fix, but it's still on the car.



Mine is a six cylinder M52 and it was a bear. I'm guessing the V8 is probably tougher to access?
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  #18  
Old 01-18-2012, 07:50 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarhed1964 View Post
Mine is a six cylinder M52 and it was a bear. I'm guessing the V8 is probably tougher to access?
Actually, it's a lot easier. See my quote of the Bentley's manual, above, and JimLev's comment from his personal experience.
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  #19  
Old 01-18-2012, 08:05 AM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Actually, it's a lot easier. See my quote of the Bentley's manual, above, and JimLev's comment from his personal experience.
Right, the V8 is easier to replace. Jack car up, make sure it won't fall, disconnect negative battery lead, remove heat shield, disconnect wires from front of starter, take 2 bolts out.
Here's a pic of the back of the engine when I changed my clutch. The starter is on the right (pass) side, the starter bolts had to be removed in order to get the tranny out.
You need some E sockets, Sears sells them.

I changed my friends starter because the link was rusted out. He didn't know this and bought a new starter before I arrived. He decided that he wanted the new one put in instead of fixing the bad link.
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Last edited by JimLev; 01-18-2012 at 08:09 AM.
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  #20  
Old 01-18-2012, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Plus, if you replace it yourself, you might be able to get a better price on the part.
I find in general that I pay about 3/4 the price for better parts than what the indy would give me.

So you win on both price and on quality.

Plus I do a better job than the indy would have done, with my focus being on the results as opposed to their focus on getting to the next money making job.
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  #21  
Old 01-18-2012, 04:44 PM
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the540wgn the540wgn is offline
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Well I'm very thankful for all you who persisted in telling me to check the voltage of my battery. (I'm such a noob >.<)
I read 8 volts with key in position 1.

I tried jumping the car again and it worked! I suspect that the clips must not have been fully seated on my buddy's (slightly corroded) battery terminals on the first jump attempt.

After the car didn't start on the first jump I immediately suspected the worst.
Thanks for steering me in the right direction
I'm probably going to go in and get the battery tested, then I'll decide whether to get a new one or maintain the old.

Thanks again to all for your help!
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:13 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Glad you found your answer. When you get the car running, you might want to check your voltage at idle, which should be something like 14.5. If it's lower, you may need an alternator.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:16 PM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Make sure they read the voltage at the battery when the engine is running.
If it's below ~12.6 volts your alternator is not charging the battery properly.
Your voltage could range from ~12.6 to 14.2 or so depending on the start of charge the battery needs and what other things in the car are drawing power.
Below 12.6 isn't good.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:24 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Thanks for the more precise voltage range, JimLev.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:29 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Thanks for the more precise voltage range, JimLev.
All the specs you could possibly need to test the alternator & battery are here:
- 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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