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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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Old 06-02-2012, 07:53 AM
cdorsettc cdorsettc is offline
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Location: Long Beach, CA
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2000 540i sport
Electrical failure while driving

While I was driving, my 2000 540i died, all gauges, door locks, alarm system, everything electrical died. I attempted to start the car and literally nothing happened. It seems to be a problem series 3 owners experience. Thank God, I had just exited the freeway and was pulling into a parking lot when it happened. I can't imagine what I would have done if I was on the freeway. What could be the problem?
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:54 AM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Location: Sundance Mesa, NM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,319
Mein Auto: 540/6, '16 Highlander XLE
Was the alternator light on prior to the car dying?
Could have baan any number of things, battery, connection problem between battery and engine, DME, etc.
You said that you attempted to start the car and literally nothing happened, what does that actually mean? Did any instrument lights come on, does the radio work? Do the headlights work?
You need to start by checking a few things. Battery voltage would be a starting point.

2000 540/6 Slightly tweeked...everywhere
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Old 06-02-2012, 01:12 PM
cdorsettc cdorsettc is offline
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Location: Long Beach, CA
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2000 540i sport
Thanks for responding. No warning lights whatsoever prior and when I said nothing happened I mean no dash lights no hazards...as if the key was never inserted. So what I have done is fully charge the battery (The battery is less than a year old and the alt is 2 years old) and it is running fine. Checked the charging system and everything seemed okay so I drove it home about a mile. I won't trust driving it until I figure out why it died in the first place. I was on the freeway for an hour and had just exited when it happened and can't imagine having everything shut down, power steering, brakes etc... no hazards while I was in the fast lane on a crowded yet fast moving traffic day.

A person suggested I look into the brand of battery a purchased. He said just because a battery fits the car doesn't mean it is the right battery for the car. I have to research what he is talking about. Do you agree?
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Old 06-02-2012, 04:18 PM
edjack edjack is online now
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Location: San Jose, CA
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 13,274
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
The E39 takes a group 49 battery. Any name brand (and some house brands) will serve okay. Have you made sure the battery posts and connections are clean and tight?

A battery can fail internally, so that it cannot output current, and this can be an internittent condition. I've had more than one fail this way, over the course of many years.

Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.

Last edited by edjack; 06-02-2012 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 06-03-2012, 06:48 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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Location: Louisville, Ky
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Mein Auto: '98 528
Most likely a loose battery connection, maybe a loose ground strap someplace. The hazards are powered directly off of the battery. If they dont work the battery is disconnected. Its unlikely the battery would be good for a start then go totally to zero.
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