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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 09-23-2014, 07:22 PM
bccwu bccwu is offline
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 540i
e39 540i auto: What is this sensor and where should it go?

I feel I opened a can of worms. Because of the engine start issue I was having ( cable/connector corrosion), I got underneath my car for the first times to clean the connectors to starter. Then I noticed something dangling right behind the passenger front wheel. Please refer to the attached two pictures. The metal connector has been rusted out. I suspected it must have been like this for years. This car had always been serviced by the local stealer.

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Can anyone tell what is that black sensor (I assume it's some sort of sensor) and what it is used for? Also, where should that piece of metal be connected to? It seems to me it might be attached to the screw close-by, but I cannot be sure.

Now, I got a hang of fixing that minor issue, I would like to fix this one as well.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 09-23-2014, 08:01 PM
Cgrants09 Cgrants09 is offline
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That is the headlight leveling sensor, it senses ride height and aims the headlights accordingly. I don't remember exactly where that clips to but it's somewhere on the suspension nearby.
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  #3  
Old 09-23-2014, 08:23 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Does it fit to the thrust arm? I've noticed there were notches on my thrust arm.. Like two little lines running paralle to each other.m ?
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  #4  
Old 09-23-2014, 08:30 PM
Cgrants09 Cgrants09 is offline
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I think that is right. Id have to check one of my cars in the morning to be sure though.


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  #5  
Old 09-24-2014, 02:17 AM
pudl pudl is offline
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Like this.

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  #6  
Old 09-24-2014, 07:05 AM
Cgrants09 Cgrants09 is offline
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That's it! Now your headlights should adjust themselves based on the height of the front of the car.


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  #7  
Old 09-24-2014, 04:50 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I don't have the feature, and it's hard for me to see it in the picture, so, did I circle the right thing for the "what is this" thread?
- Getting to know your bmw (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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  #8  
Old 09-24-2014, 04:53 PM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Yes, you did.
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  #9  
Old 09-24-2014, 05:01 PM
pudl pudl is offline
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Another one from a different angle for your pictorial enjoyment.

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  #10  
Old 09-24-2014, 06:39 PM
Cabover1000 Cabover1000 is online now
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Its not just for self levling headlights. It also sets off your alarm if you jack your car up with it armed.

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  #11  
Old 09-24-2014, 07:58 PM
bccwu bccwu is offline
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Thanks alot for all the very helpful replies. I was using my cellphone to look at the photo pudl posted earlier and had a tough time figuring out where the clip should be clipping to (cellphone is terrible for display photo details!). Thanks to Bluebee for circling the exact spot where the clip should go and also the link to the great post for getting to know the parts. Now it should be a quick job.
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  #12  
Old 09-24-2014, 08:04 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabover1000 View Post
Its not just for self levling headlights. It also sets off your alarm if you jack your car up with it armed.

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Cab, I don't have those parts and my car still goes off when jacked.. So I don't think so. I think the alarm level sensor is somewhere different not attached to suspension. And I know I don't have them because I replace both thrust arms and didn't have to take those off..
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  #13  
Old 09-24-2014, 08:07 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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I'm also psyched I knew where it went even with out having them myself... My E39 knowledge is expanding....
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  #14  
Old 09-24-2014, 08:16 PM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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The level sensor for the alarm is in the left rear corner behind the amp in the trunk.
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  #15  
Old 09-24-2014, 09:19 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
The level sensor for the alarm is in the left rear corner behind the amp in the trunk.
Do you know any more about it? Like how it works? Is it simply a mercury switch with open circuits at both ends? Or is it more simular to the fuel level sensors with their floats and swing arms? I'll delve into google after this post but usually don't find answers to those questions.. I would disect my own.. But I think I need it.
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  #16  
Old 09-25-2014, 07:06 AM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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JDeGraff89, it's a sealed chamber that has a conductive liquid in it, don't know what it is, never opened one up.
There are probes that stick into the liquid that give a resistance value that changes depending on the angle of the car.
When you lock the car that resistance value is read by the GM. If the resistance changes from the reference (stored) valve the alarm is triggered.
If you lock the car and then press the lock button on your fob again the interior motion sensor and tilt sensor are ignored.
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  #17  
Old 09-25-2014, 07:32 AM
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Thanks jim. So it is a lot like the old mercury switches on home thermostat units. A little more advanced but same principle. I know its kind of useless info but I love knowing how something works. Knowing how it works isn't really going to help me repair it at all but at least its not just some magic box.
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  #18  
Old 09-25-2014, 08:15 AM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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Same here, gotta know how it works. I usually take things apart just to see what's inside and how they work.
Knowledge is power.
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  #19  
Old 09-25-2014, 02:41 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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Its also very common to be broken on lowered cars, cars that people attempted there own suspention work and comes in 2 different lengths




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  #20  
Old 09-28-2014, 07:51 PM
bccwu bccwu is offline
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This is to complete the thread I had started. I jacked up the car and attempted to reconnect the metal rod of the headlight level sensor to the thrust arm. However, there was so much rust on the metal clamp that it was not able to clamp back. So I just used some metal wires to secure the clamp to the thrust arm. Not pretty, but it works for now. Will get a replacement next time in the States.

Now it's nice again to see the headlight light tilts up (hadn't seen that in years!).

Thanks again for all the help. Much appreciated.
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  #21  
Old 10-06-2014, 03:59 PM
M3inSC M3inSC is offline
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Thanks for this information!

The exact same thing happened to me today! I saw the sensor hanging from my front right suspension and had no idea what it was!
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