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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 02-22-2012, 12:08 PM
Pretzilus Pretzilus is offline
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Location: Hershey, PA
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Unhappy Electrical Problems in PA

In March of 2011, I purchased a E39 from 1997 with 114,000 miles on it. Carfax report was clean with one owner and it had been regularly serviced at the dealer in Greenville, SC where it was purchased. There were no obvious problems with the car and I drove it up to Hershey,Pennsylvania without any issues. I have serviced it regularly after these long drives and when it runs, it runs well.

At any rate, in late Summer, I began to notice a musty smell and found that the carpets were wet. Since there are a few things that could cause this, I made sure my windows were up and the doors were completely shut (apparently, most people don't realize these doors take a little force to close). The musty smell was reduced significantly, but still apparent, especially after rain, even when the car wasn't driven, and I saw again that it was the passenger side front.

When the flooding rains came in Fall, the car kept shorting out to a point where I couldn't jump it or move it, given the saturation of water in the carpet and compartment below. Being a single woman far away from anyone I know, I don't have any help and I was stuck with the situation. I finally got it into a parking garage, but I'm sure it is too late.

After reading some forums, it makes sense that the vapor barrier is not sealing properly and the leak is flooding the circuitry below. From the fantastic step by step guides on the forum, I think I can redo the vapor barrier, but I have no idea how to remove the seat (mostly because it is dead and positioned all the way forward) and the part(s) name(s) for the components below in order to replace them. I'm sure they are corroded through, since the last time I got the car to crank, everything was intermittent and after about two miles, the car just turned off. The battery was completely charged and was drawn dead when the car was on, during the drive.

I've heard going to the dealer for this stuff is appropriate, but it is extremely expensive for what I need and I'm on a budget (since I'm a graduate student on limited means). There aren't any real local shops in this area, just a bunch of "one man show" type deals and the last time I tried that there was more broken than when I started. I think with a decent guide, I could do some of the work to lower the cost on what the dealer doesn't necessarily need to do.

So, my questions are:
1)what are the parts I would need to order, if my suspicions were true?
2) how do I remove the seat if it is positioned all the way forward and I can't use the switch to adjust it, since the car is "dead"
3) how do I replace the corroded parts?

Thanks for the consideration

Last edited by Pretzilus; 02-22-2012 at 12:17 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2012, 01:53 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Location: Omaha NE
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,917
Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
Wow,

It looks like you have done quite a bit of reading and are very knowledgeable.
Don't despair, the 1997 528i, IMHO, is a very good car.

1. Vapor Barrier, very easy.
Go to local auto glass repair shop and get a roll of "Butyl Rope".
This is used in older Chevy/Ford etc.
About $1/ft or $15 for a 15-foot roll.
Or you can order it online.

DIY is below. Note that this is for windows regulator repair (which you don't have). To replace the V.B. all you need are: flat screw driver, phillips #2 screw driver, cloth, and an old hotel plastic card (any old gift card is fine) to help remove the old Butyl Rope.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=556902


2. Water damage:
If water gets down in the floor, it will pool at the bottom.
There are crash sensors, fuses in that compartment (pass side).
To get there, all you need is Torx #50 socket. All you need is in this DIY:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=459397


Now, the problem is complicated by the fact that the seat does not move.
Look at this DIY by "ElwoodBlues", there is a place where you can insert a key and slowly rotate the motor to move the seat.
Pay attention to the diagram where it shows "Fwd/Back": this is the motor that moves the seat back and forth:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=444287

3. Down the road, when you have time, search "cooling overhaul" (a weakness of this car) and take care of it soon.

Post a follow up later.

Last edited by cn90; 02-22-2012 at 01:56 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2012, 02:00 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Location: Omaha NE
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,917
Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
Also, you may want to browse through this section to see if you can find the info on how to move the seat "manually":

http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/e39/52...ormal,_manual/

http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/e39/52...mal,_electric/
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  #4  
Old 02-23-2012, 06:02 AM
Pretzilus Pretzilus is offline
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Location: Hershey, PA
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Parts?

Once I access the area underneath the seat on the passenger side, I will be looking at the "electrical distribution center" as named in one of the links you gave. Given the level of corrosion, I would say it needs to be replaced as a whole unit. What is the part number/technical name for this box of fuses? Is there a DIY for replacing this box?

I have tried searching, but I think since I don't know the official name, I won't come up with it on a search
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  #5  
Old 02-23-2012, 07:48 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Location: Omaha NE
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,917
Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pretzilus View Post
Once I access the area underneath the seat on the passenger side, I will be looking at the "electrical distribution center" as named in one of the links you gave. Given the level of corrosion, I would say it needs to be replaced as a whole unit. What is the part number/technical name for this box of fuses? Is there a DIY for replacing this box?

I have tried searching, but I think since I don't know the official name, I won't come up with it on a search
Don't buy any parts yet.

Just open the floor up and look and see what you find.
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