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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 02-04-2016, 02:11 PM
Amrathe Amrathe is offline
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Pulley Tensioner question

I was looking but no one really recommended a particular or branded pulley tensioner. The water pump is discussed at ad nausium but the the tensioners are never really mentioned other than to be replaced.

SO my question is simply this, what brand is considered the best or at least reliable/quality recommended over the others?

Gates v. URO v. Continental Elite v. Hayden v. ACDelco v. Dayco v. BMW

If anyone has a vendor that is not mentioned, please let me know. I know it may seem trivial as all of them probably will be good for 50K or so, but I would rather put in something that I will expect to last longer, but not kill me in the checkbook. I have used URO in the past and have been OK with them, however, I also had a couple that crapped out within a year so, if anyone has experience with a longer lasting product, I am all ears.

- Amrathe

Last edited by Amrathe; 02-04-2016 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Forgot to add Dayco
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  #2  
Old 02-04-2016, 07:48 PM
ca2014mp2 ca2014mp2 is online now
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I wanted to send you an answer because we don't want to miss any question. You question is very strange to say the least. That is probably why you didn't get a response. Your header is for pulley tensioner... but you listed vendors of belts not pulleys.. So I think you are asking about belts and not tensiners so I will suggest that Gates makes a good belt. If you do a search here on this site you will see we just had a conversation on belts and several agreed with Gates,,, I bought mine at a good price over at RockAuto.com but check with realoem for their listing and if you are on a major budget ebay. (not so recommended). IF you were after tensioners do a search as well as we've covered that as well. so either way you should be covered. Also know you can re pack these bearings if you need more time to buy replacement parts. I've done it and it works well. good luck and come back if you have more questions.
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Series E39 Vehicle code DP63 Model 528ITA Engine M52TU
Body type OTHER Catalog model USA Production date 1999 / 06
Transmission Automatic Steering Left Catalyzer YES

Production FROM : 1998/09/01 TO : 1999/08/31
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  #3  
Old 02-05-2016, 08:58 AM
Amrathe Amrathe is offline
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Ca2014mp2,

Thanks, but these are vendors for the pulley tensioners. They are from companies I have purchased from before and some from Amazon's site. So I appreciate the information on the belts, it is in fact the tensioners I am interested in. As for no answers or a lack thereof is more because not many people have contributed such information, rather than the heading of my topic. As for the belts, like the water pump, there are a lot on that topic, but nothing really with the tensioners, so It thought that both weird and missing in what is a very good research base for those who DiY.

- Amtrathe
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  #4  
Old 02-05-2016, 09:38 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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I've not seen any threads discussing either tensioner assy or pulley life vs brand. (but I suspect now that I've said that, someone will turn up with links to some comparisons. )

You don't mention why you're asking the question, but reports of tensioner assy failure are very rare. But pulley failure is relatively common as the bearings dry out with age and become noisy.

The one exception to this "rule" is that a few engines with mechanical tensioners develop a "tick" although the pulley bearings are good. BMW issued a bulletin describing that over time the tensioner seating surface in some engines develop a very slight warp. The mechanical tensioner with only 2 bolts can then rock on its seat and makes a noise. The solution is to convert to the hydraulic style with 3 bolts which eliminates the rocking. Analogous to the difference between a bicycle and tricycle.
EDIT: to clarify, warp on the engine side, not the tensioner assy itself.

I've seen listings from Gates, Continental, etc., too but they are most likely rebranded from another supplier. But those are good name brands & unlikely to put their name on marginal quality parts. INA is BMW's supplier for tensioner assemblies including the pulley/bearing. At least for the mechanical style tensioner, pretty sure for the hydraulic style too. INA has a reputation as a premium bearing brand comparable to SKF, F.A.G., Timken, etc.

RealOEM lists a replacement pulley for the hydraulic style only. I've seen listings for Dayco and INA for mechanical tensioner pulleys. So if it's a bad pulley on a mechanical, no need to replace the entire assy. The pulley is a fraction of the cost.

Some have reported that repacking a pulley's dry bearing can quiet down and save one starting to become noisy. But that takes some experience and judgement to determine if the bearing has been damaged by lack of lubrication.
Some also report routine PM repacking the grease in the bearing every 50k miles or so extends the life. There are DIYs for this. Be sure to use high speed spindle grease - pulleys rotate ~20,000 RPM at engine red line. And do not completely pack the bearing race. Overpacking risks pushing the seals out when the bearing is running. The recommendation is to pack 1/4 to 1/3 of the volume.

If you're asking because the pulley's plastic wheel has broken you should suspect a misalignment problem putting excessive &/or "cocked" stress on the pulley. Unless perhaps the pulley is an "economy" or "value" cut rate brand. That is probably true of the bearing too, come to think of it.
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Last edited by rdl; 02-05-2016 at 09:40 AM.
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  #5  
Old 02-05-2016, 09:50 AM
theWalkinator theWalkinator is online now
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I replaced all 3 stock plastic pulleys with Dayco steel pulleys and they are quite good, no problem so far.
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  #6  
Old 02-05-2016, 10:19 AM
Amrathe Amrathe is offline
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Thanks for the info. I was asking as no one has ever really added the tensioner to this question. On my E46 for instance had the A/C tensioner seemed fine, but in reality was too weak. So the pulleys were wearing out too soon. I noticed this when I had to remove the water pump, that the tensioner seemed much easier to de-tension to remove the belt than when I replaced it with a new tensioner. The new tensioner required a bit of effort to move back, while the old one was much easier to move. Otherwise, never know it was bad. This wore out at about 2 years, far less than what you would expect of a tensioner. Hence the reason for my asking this. Also, any preferences for the pulleys would be great as well.

- Amrathe

PS: The tensioner I am referring to is the mechanical one. I haven't used the hydraulic one yet on any of the three Bimmers I have.
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  #7  
Old 02-05-2016, 10:23 AM
Amrathe Amrathe is offline
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I used Dayco before, as well as INA. I haven't used Gates pulleys yet, but heard generally good things, but is it worth the cost? URO is also OK for the pulleys, but the last set I used is already grinding and it was only 6 months old. Was wondering on any vendors that may have made pulleys that don't wear out so quickly.

- Amrathe
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  #8  
Old 02-05-2016, 10:41 AM
ca2014mp2 ca2014mp2 is online now
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Here's the thing.. no matter who makes what they have simple common bearings in them. So I go by, who makes the bearings, and use those,,, often from other makes of cars and even once tried my hand at just pressing new ones in.. it work but it's not worth the time. I think the reason you haven't seen any good info on that is that it's too basic. Who cares what brand bearing you put in as long as it's a good one. My 2cnts worth.
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Series E39 Vehicle code DP63 Model 528ITA Engine M52TU
Body type OTHER Catalog model USA Production date 1999 / 06
Transmission Automatic Steering Left Catalyzer YES

Production FROM : 1998/09/01 TO : 1999/08/31
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  #9  
Old 02-05-2016, 10:54 AM
Amrathe Amrathe is offline
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Ca2014mp2,

I don't think you get what I am asking for. I don't care for the vendor brand name for the sake of the brand, but to see from others, on which ones are well built or of quality. So I would then keep that in mind so my expectations from that brand should be a good quality item and not to have to revisit it in 6months to a year later.

As your statement doesn't make any sense to say "...who cares what brand bearing you put in as long as it's a good one." In that how would you know that it *is* a good one unless you know by brand from other recommendations. Maybe that it is too basic for some, but so are belts, wipers, lights, spark plugs and other simple, basic items. Yet, we talk about them because some DiY'ers would like to add in the part that is viewed most favorably from other experiences. Is the part super critical, no not really (except if it seizes, but that's another issue). I view the pulleys and tensioner as being a PITA to replace mostly because of the BMW design with the fan clutch. My back doesn't like it much, and I would like to keep from having to do it unnecessarily. For others, it is trivial. For me, I view it more as an item I prefer to avoid or delay for as long as possible.

- Amrathe
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  #10  
Old 02-05-2016, 11:08 AM
theWalkinator theWalkinator is online now
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Dayco pulleys use NTN bearings which are very good quality bearings:
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  #11  
Old 02-05-2016, 11:25 AM
ca2014mp2 ca2014mp2 is online now
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Amrathe no, you miss read what i wrote. I'm not talking about brand of tensionner I"m talking about brand of bearing.
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Series E39 Vehicle code DP63 Model 528ITA Engine M52TU
Body type OTHER Catalog model USA Production date 1999 / 06
Transmission Automatic Steering Left Catalyzer YES

Production FROM : 1998/09/01 TO : 1999/08/31
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  #12  
Old 02-05-2016, 12:15 PM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amrathe View Post
I used Dayco before, as well as INA. I haven't used Gates pulleys yet, but heard generally good things, but is it worth the cost? URO is also OK for the pulleys, but the last set I used is already grinding and it was only 6 months old. Was wondering on any vendors that may have made pulleys that don't wear out so quickly.

- Amrathe
URO is one of the most commonly mentioned "economy" brands. Targeted at owners that drive very little or plan on selling soon. Or to repair shops that want to quote a low price to the uninformed &/or extremely price sensitive customer.

You might read the threads on preferred brand names in general. Even there, one does need to be careful. It isn't common that a brand makes say excellent brakes and dodgy suspension parts. But some have a "service grade" line and a preferred line. And clearly ID'd as such, but not always. For instance I recall years ago that Moog was an absolute "can't go wrong" name in suspension parts, although not the least expensive. Lately thought I've seen complaints about Moog parts failing early. Co-incidentally, a few years ago Moog introduced an "R" line of parts, significantly less expensive than their "C" line. One suspects that those folks were sold on the Moog reputation without realizing they were getting "R" line parts.

BTW, I agree that the crucial part of the pulley is the bearing. And I think good brands will use good bearings. "Economy" brands will use economy bearings.

As for "worth the cost?" ... that's your decision. Everyone has their own values, expectations and budget.

As an aside, I don't subscribe to the "you get what you pay for" philosophy. One only needs to look at the range of prices one can find on identical parts. Instead, I look for a brand or two that I have confidence will be reliable and then search for the best price, delivery, service, etc. that I can find.

Last, FWIW, I've never found Amazon to be the best overall value for E39 parts. The preferred vendors listed in this forum and some ebay vendors are consistently better priced. I think you'd do well to expand your search horizon.
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Last edited by rdl; 02-05-2016 at 12:41 PM. Reason: typo
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  #13  
Old 02-05-2016, 12:20 PM
Brandon002 Brandon002 is offline
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I've used almost every brand on the market. The only brand that failed prematurely was URO. Everything else lasted the duration of the belts recommended service interval.
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  #14  
Old 02-05-2016, 12:33 PM
ca2014mp2 ca2014mp2 is online now
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Great info RDL.... you touched on a great point.. its not automatic that a good vendor will always put out good parts.. just as "you get what you pay for" is certaninly not true in this day and age. What is true is NTN, NSK have been building these simple but important devices for years. That is what I go for and then like RDL says hunt out the best price.. OFTEN the part was never "supposed" to be used in another car.. You only have to look at your car to understand that with our GM transmission..
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Series E39 Vehicle code DP63 Model 528ITA Engine M52TU
Body type OTHER Catalog model USA Production date 1999 / 06
Transmission Automatic Steering Left Catalyzer YES

Production FROM : 1998/09/01 TO : 1999/08/31
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  #15  
Old 02-05-2016, 12:45 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amrathe View Post
Ca2014mp2,

Thanks, but these are vendors for the pulley tensioners. They are from companies I have purchased from before and some from Amazon's site. So I appreciate the information on the belts, it is in fact the tensioners I am interested in. As for no answers or a lack thereof is more because not many people have contributed such information, rather than the heading of my topic. As for the belts, like the water pump, there are a lot on that topic, but nothing really with the tensioners, so It thought that both weird and missing in what is a very good research base for those who DiY.

- Amtrathe
I'm not sure exactly what components you're asking about, but if it's tensioners and tensioner/pulley assemblies, you might check this FCPEuro page. They offer a lifetime warrantee on everything they sell.
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  #16  
Old 02-05-2016, 08:42 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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INA is factory original supplier.

I wrote a partial cooling overhaul for my 2006 X5 M54 engine, your 525i is very very similar (if not the same):

http://www.xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-foru...16k-miles.html
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  #17  
Old 02-05-2016, 09:40 PM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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IMHO rdl has covered the question Anrathe posed perfectly. I happen to be one of those who regreases the bearings on pulleys. I find that the practice makes the brearings last a very long time.

I just had the tensioner on my pickup fail and am buying a new Motorcraft tensioner and bearing (yes it's a Ford). The tensioner comes with a new idler pulley and I shall open it up and add more grease to the bearing if I think it is a bit short of the stuff. Makes the pulley last almost forever. And yes, I did regrease the old pulley years ago and it's still going strong.
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