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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 09-24-2012, 06:36 PM
neilw neilw is offline
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Alternator Replace 2003 530

Good news and bad news. Just got a nice, clean 03 530i. Bad news? Had a leaky power steering reservoir that appears to have taken out the alternator. Got the dash red light Friday, but did manage to make it home and into my garage (no dealer for 400 miles).

Been reading the various DIY's and Bentley on replacement of the alternator, but still not clear on a couple issues. Do I have to take off the fan shroud and fan to replace the alternator? I have the Bentley manuals, but they are not clear either on the 03 530. I am hoping that I can avoid this if possible (senior citizen trying to make this as easy on the body as possible!).

Will also fix the leaky reservoir at the same time. Have a new reservoir coming since as long as I am tearing things apart, might as well change. I also have the 2 reservoir hoses coming, although I have seen the mod on just cutting the existing hoses back a 1/2" and using new hose clamps. I am inclined to change the 2 hoses to the reservoir as long as I am tearing stuff down, but curious as to how tough it is to access those 2 hoses (obviously, the bottom ends) once the alternator is out. Easy? Tough?

Thanks for any input/guidance to a new BMW owner/past Porsche guy.
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  #2  
Old 09-24-2012, 06:50 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Change the hoses. Some people might talk you into the "forum" solution: to cut 1/2" of the hose and clamp it. Some people had luck, I didn't. It lasted only about 1 year or maybe 1 1/2 years. The rubber gets deformed, and the thick one started to sweat through it.

For the alternator, if the bearings are still good, you can snag the Bosch rectifier/brush combo for about 40 bux from vendors like Autohaus, ECS tuning etc. If you go this route, you don't need to remove the fan, shroud, etc.
All you need to do is take out the airbox (which has to go anyways if you do the 2 hoses, and then you can replace the rectifier in situ. It is hold in place by 2 bolts if I rembember correctly.

You have the take out the vent hose at the back
Disconnect the electrical connector, the take off the nut that holds the power cable (hot all times).
Take off the plastic back cover - it's still held in place by 1 nut, which is hidden under a plastic protector cap.
The rectifier combo is now exposed. You will need good lightning and a mirror to see clearly how it's secured. You will also find probably some nasty road debris in there.

Do this after you remove the ATF can & the 2 hoses.

GL
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  #3  
Old 09-24-2012, 06:50 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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You do not HAVE to remove the fan shroud but it does make access easier. I suggest you remove the shroud since this is your first time. I had a harder time removing the hoses that run from the bottom of the expansion tank from the shroud. These two hoses are attached to the shroud and I could not remove them without breaking a support bracket.

With the alternator the hose from the PS reservoir is easy to replace. I have not attempted the other hose.

Good luck.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:05 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Use this DIY for fan shroud removal: http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm

This will greatly facilitate access to the alternator.

And this is for alternator removal and replacement: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...=472739&page=2
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  #5  
Old 09-24-2012, 07:21 PM
neilw neilw is offline
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Thanks for the quick info. I already ordered the rebuilt alternator today, so looks like that is a replace job. I had also looked over the beisansystems procedure, but it shows raising the car up and working underneath to take off the bottom engine cover, then removing hoses from the shroud. expansion tank, etc. Worried I am a bit too old to be working on my back under the car and was hoping to avoid that if at all possible. Sounds like it is not possible to avoid???

When reading the shroud procedure, I was not clear if coolant hoses needed to actually be disconnected (losing coolant), or just removed from holding/routing brackets?? While I feel somewhat comfortable R&R the alternator, reservoir and hoses, not sure I want to get into the cooling system. Don't want to bite off more than I can chew!

Again, thanks for the advice.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:32 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Here's a pic of the link posted above:



As you can see, there's plenty of space to remove the rectifier (imagine the PS ATF can & the 2 hoses gone). Much easier than to remove the alternator.

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  #7  
Old 09-25-2012, 04:39 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilw View Post
Thanks for the quick info. I already ordered the rebuilt alternator today, so looks like that is a replace job. I had also looked over the beisansystems procedure, but it shows raising the car up and working underneath to take off the bottom engine cover, then removing hoses from the shroud. expansion tank, etc. Worried I am a bit too old to be working on my back under the car and was hoping to avoid that if at all possible. Sounds like it is not possible to avoid???

When reading the shroud procedure, I was not clear if coolant hoses needed to actually be disconnected (losing coolant), or just removed from holding/routing brackets?? While I feel somewhat comfortable R&R the alternator, reservoir and hoses, not sure I want to get into the cooling system. Don't want to bite off more than I can chew!

Again, thanks for the advice.
I recommend removing the shroud because you must remove the belt to remove the alternator and I cannot see how to reach the belt tensioner with the shroud in place. While I have done the cooling system replacement, I have not replaced my alternator yet, so I may be wrong.

Removing the bottom engine cover is not difficult. Just a few screws. However, it requires two jackstands (or several 2x12s stacked as the wheels stay on) and wheel chocks to maximize safety. The bottom panel must come off to access radiator hose removal from the lower shroud.

The only hose that requires disconnection during shroud removal is the expansion tank overflow hose. That will leak some fluid.

I agree that you should not bite off more than you can chew but doing it the right way is the only way. I would simply follow the DIY referenced above as that is based on successful experience. Shortcutting the DIY procedure often results in unintended consequences and is not recommended.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:49 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The easy way:
- D/C battery cables.
- Leave Fan Shroud in place, just undo the Fan Clutch (32mm, REVERSE thread) and set the Fan Clutc/Fan Blade combo inside the Fan Shroud.
This may be difficult so you may need to spray some WD40/PB Blaster to the Fan Clutch nut ahead of time.
- Then loosen the tensioner (you likely have mechanical rather than hydraulic) and remove belt.
- Alternator is held by 2 bolts, during re-installation, it may be difficult to align the holes, so use a screwdriver to align the new alternator to mounting holes.

PS: Fan Clutch re-install is tricky, use this trick (you can use shoe lace):
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=240143
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:53 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I recommend removing the shroud because you must remove the belt to remove the alternator and I cannot see how to reach the belt tensioner with the shroud in place. While I have done the cooling system replacement, I have not replaced my alternator yet, so I may be wrong.

Removing the bottom engine cover is not difficult. Just a few screws. However, it requires two jackstands (or several 2x12s stacked as the wheels stay on) and wheel chocks to maximize safety. The bottom panel must come off to access radiator hose removal from the lower shroud.

The only hose that requires disconnection during shroud removal is the expansion tank overflow hose. That will leak some fluid.

I agree that you should not bite off more than you can chew but doing it the right way is the only way. I would simply follow the DIY referenced above as that is based on successful experience. Shortcutting the DIY procedure often results in unintended consequences and is not recommended.
It is possible to replace the belt with the shroud in place. It is just a major PITA!!! I would not recommend it unless you have already replaced the belt at some point before. You have to do a lot by feel with the shroud in place.

The references above give you all the information you need. Just take your time and enjoy the end product.
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  #10  
Old 09-25-2012, 06:40 AM
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I found the alternator to be extremely easy to change on the 530i. I just removed the airbox and released the tension on the belt and pulled the alternator. However, I cannot remember if I had to do anything with the power steering fluid reservoir, but I know I did not loosing the fan shroud or remove the fan clutch.
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Last edited by manticore33; 09-25-2012 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:29 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+,

In the pic posted by bluebee above, once the Air Box is out the alternator is in full view.
The only issue now is how to undo the belt....if you are good like manticore33, you can slip a ratchet in the correct place simply to undo the belt (just make note of the belt routing BEFORE removing it).
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:51 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Attached is the belt routing (generic pic).

If you can magically pass a ratchet down to the tensioner adjusting bolt (BLUE arrow), then you are golden, i.e., no need to undo the Fan Clutch...


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  #13  
Old 09-25-2012, 08:42 AM
neilw neilw is offline
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This is really helping clarify the job. Thanks a lot for the help/advice.

Yes, I can now understand where the issue is (I think). Trying to get to the tensioner adjusting bolt. But these pics and advice help. Too bad the Bentley doesn't have as good of advice and clear pics, at least as far as I can discover so far.

I guess the process will be to get the airbox out, then the power steering reservoir, then see where I am at and if I think I can reach the tensioner okay. If I can, from what I am reading, I should be okay. If I can't, then I guess I go the other route and start tearing apart the fan shroud, etc.

Am I on the right track? I am sure once I start tearing into it, it will all be a bit more obvious. I teach at university and always try to teach my students that training is great, but experience is far better! You guys have the experience, so I am trying avoid the errors made by others when trying to do this.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:53 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The only way to learn is to get one's hands dirty...
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:21 AM
neilw neilw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The only way to learn is to get one's hands dirty...
HOPEFULLY without breaking anything else! Having read about the cooling system issues, I am shy to be messing around all that plastic!
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:22 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Actually, once your alternator goes (which is around 120K-150K), you need to think about cooling overhaul ASAP.
The cooling system is like a ticking time bomb after the car has 100K....tick, tick, tick...
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:59 AM
neilw neilw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Actually, once your alternator goes (which is around 120K-150K), you need to think about cooling overhaul ASAP.
The cooling system is like a ticking time bomb after the car has 100K....tick, tick, tick...
From the looks of the cooling system parts, and as compared to other BMWs I considered purchasing, this one looks like it has new cooling components. Some white around the compartment on other nearby parts, but the expansion tank, shroud, hoses, connections, radiator, etc. all look new. One of the reasons I selected this one versus a couple others I looked at. Has 157k, so high miles. But didn't see signs of leakage and looked like new cooling parts. Assumption is that this mod was done.

The alternator failure is highly likely due to the power steering major leak onto the alternator I am thinking. Got to be a pretty big drip before I tracked down the reasons/source. Keep my fingers crossed on the cooling system!
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Old 09-25-2012, 10:04 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Contrary to popular belief, ATF leak (from PS reservoir) has nothing to do with alternator.
Alternator dies at 150K, give or take, even in cars with no leak.

Re cooling system, if you can get service records from the P.O., that would be great.
Otherwise, you basically gamble on the cooling system.
Blown head gasket is a $3000-$4000 job (if done at the shop)....very labor-intensive job.
So at all cost, prevent overheating the M54 engine.
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Old 09-25-2012, 10:36 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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I'll throw my 2 yen in the fray here....

If mechanical, the tensioner for the serpentine belt should have a 16 mm boss projecting from the body. If hydraulic tensioner, you would insert the proper bit into the tensioner wheel spindle (after popping off the plastic cap. In either case, you'd turn *clockwise* to force the tensioner arm down and release tension on the belt. You only need to get the belt off the alt pulley, otherwise you can leave most of it in place. It's much easier to see and do these things from underneath the front end of the car with the under-tray removed.


However, if your alternator hasn't been making bearing noises, chances are that the only thing wrong is the regulator unit. You can remove and replace that part with the alt still mounted on the car. Only need to remove the airbox (a lot of fun all by itself).

Here's a TIS procedure for replacing the regulator. Just to give you an idea. They say "remove the alternator" but it is not necessary at all.

http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/s/view.pl?2/45/10


And here's another TIS link for alternator removal should you go the full 9 yards. (Just more information to chew on, pick out the good stuff and leave the rest....)

http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/s/view.pl?1/00/30/73


Enjoy the three days of lumbago waiting for you.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:12 AM
neilw neilw is offline
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Okay, looks like I will return the reman alternator to the local parts place. I just ordered a regulator from Pelican 2-day, only $39 for Bosch unit + shp. So money ahead if this works. But like you said, may save me a lot of physical pain for many days if this does the trick (my youth catching up with me). Like saving money and don't like aches and pain! (Although not sure why I got the BMW then... Hmmmmm.)

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Last edited by neilw; 09-25-2012 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:15 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Make sure you write down the EXACT alternator make and model number (Bosch vs Valeo etc.). Write down the exact BMW PN.
Then order the regulator. A Bosch regulator will not fit a Valeo alternator.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:24 AM
neilw neilw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Make sure you write down the EXACT alternator make and model number (Bosch vs Valeo etc.). Write down the exact BMW PN.
Then order the regulator. A Bosch regulator will not fit a Valeo alternator.
Yes, thanks for the caution. Checked RealOEM with my VIN first. Had already checked the alternator and saw the label (with a mirror) showing a Bosch 120. Part number on RealOEM matches the Pelican Parts # and is speced for my 530 with a Bosch alternator. Think I am safe, hopefully!

Thanks again.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:34 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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neilw, just to belabor the obvious.... Once you've checked the battery terminal cables (loose? dirty? cracked terminals?), disconnect them and see if you can check the other positive/negative leads in the engine electrical system. There are quite a few positive leads and grounding shoes on/under the chassis, in the engine compartment, and of course the one on the rear of the alternator. Even the end of the neg. battery cable that bolts to the chassis under the taillight. If you have a safe means of lifting the car (solid ramps or heavy-duty jack stands), you'll see a fairly large + lead just aft of the driver side strut tower and one (neg. I recall) near the AC compressor.

If all you have is a loose connection, easy day.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:43 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Contrary to popular belief, ATF leak (from PS reservoir) has nothing to do with alternator.
That's interesting!

I wonder if there is a thread on that? I don't know either way, but I've heard what everyone else has heard (and I even followed your DIY for cutting the last half inch off the PS hose on the bottom of the reservoir).

Back on topic, to the OP, ignore the text in the re-used photo below from the reference Fudman and Doru gave you already - but notice that while the alternator 'can' be removed without removing the fan shroud - if you're like me - you'll try it ... and then you might desperately WISH you had removed it from the beginning and just done BOTH the cooling system & belt drive system at the same time!

If you are NOT going to remove the shroud, at least consider removing the top radiator hose which will give you a LOT more elbow room that it appears from this photo! (See the trick for nondestructive removal.)

See also this cn90 classic DIY if it's not already referenced:
- Entire cooling system by cn90

Maybe even consider the CCV?
- Fudman DIY CCV replacement for an E39 M54 (2001-2003)


Anyway, to the OP: If I can do it, anyone can (trust me). The guys here will walk you through EVERY obstacle ... (ask me how I know). ...
- How not to remove the nipple from the E39 radiator (broken radiator nipple)
- How not to put your E39 fan clutch back on (crooked fan clutch nut)
- How not to bleed your E39 cooling system (1) (broken bleeder screw)
- How not to replace your E39 thermostat (thermostat loom misplaced)
- How not to remove your E39 expansion tank (broken expansion tank nipple & cn90 repair)
etc.

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Last edited by bluebee; 09-25-2012 at 11:48 AM.
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  #25  
Old 09-25-2012, 01:45 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Bluebee,

I don't know why people keep saying ATF kills alternator! There is simply no proof for that.

When you think about it, millions of Auto Transmissions or PS systems have ATF in there and it is the ATF that lubricates the bearings etc.
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