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E34 (1989 - 1995)

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  #1  
Old 03-07-2013, 02:23 AM
greasemonkey greasemonkey is offline
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1990 535i 5speed questions

First i want to say hello. Im new to this site and im new to the world of bmw. I recently acquired my first bmw in a trade. I have a 1990 535i 5speed. The car has a metric crap ton of miles (468887)! It runs and drives good though. It is in awesome shape for the year and miles. At this point i have nothing into it because i traded a torn apart camaro for it. Really im just inquiring about a few faults it has. First the onboard computer doesn't work and some of the push button temp controls also. Second the rear passenger door won't open (i was told its a child lock issue). Third and final issue is that the transmission although it pulls like it should and doesn't slip whines in 2nd and 3rd gear. If anyone here has dealt with or has some insight on these issues and maby if they are common issues please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help with these issues. In the end its still an awesome little.commuter car. I just get intrigued to fix the little things.
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2013, 07:09 AM
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Radian Radian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
I just get intrigued to fix the little things.
Unfortunatley, it's not a cheap car to fix like the Camaro can be.

This car functions as a single, highly tuned, dynamic unit. Which it has to, in order to support it's 140 mph top speed. All repairs have to be done right in order for them to last and the machine to work correctly. You have to know how the system works as a whole to solve issues on this car. That's where it gets frustrating and expensive. The individual parts aren't pricey, but a "proper fix" usually involves several seemingly unrelated parts and obeying proper procedure...and that can add up quick.

It's not a "fixer-upper" per say, unless your budget runs well into the four digit terrritory.

Just saying. If you've got the $$$ to throw at it, proceed. But coming from an previous owner who just accept a parted out F-body in trade ..I'd be inclined to just get my kicks with this one for as long as you can, and move on when it hard breaks. It's not worth the your time, unless you really go all in.

That being said:

First order of business is switching out the coolant to Evans NPG+, following their specific guidelines for purging out all the old coolant. That will help you avoid any catastrophic cooling system related failures in the near future.

As for the tranny whine, try changing out the fluid. Order it from the dealer. That's about all you can do there.
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  #3  
Old 03-07-2013, 07:56 AM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
I have a 1990 535i 5speed. The car has a metric crap ton of miles (468887)! It runs and drives good though. It is in awesome shape for the year and miles...
Enjoy the 535i I'm on number two and when taken care of will be very reliable.
Just a FYI your questions aren't hard to diagnois. But for us to give you a definitive answer we will need more info. You'll see what I mean by my answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
The onboard computer doesn't work and some of the push button temp controls also...
Easy fix. First are the led screen and lights on the OBC working?
As well can you cycle through it on your instrument cluster using the left stalk?
If so then it's just bulbs which are cheap. If not then check your fuses. If that doesn't resolve it.
You can replace the OBC which can be easily obtained through a junkyard, someone parting a e34 or ebay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
Second the rear passenger door won't open (i was told its a child lock issue)...
Could be if it will not open from the inside.
Otherwise if it's not opening from inside or outside it can either be the actuator or the lock mechanism itself.
It's not a terrible job but if locked from both inside and outside you'll have to try and pull that lock pin up (which can be difficult) or the most dreaded.
Pull the door panel off.
I say most dreaded due to the fact most of the panel clips on the door will be hard to get to with the door locked close.
In some cases, the door panel can become damaged attempting to do this. Resulting in replacing the door panel as well as fixing the issue.
Not fun and can be hard to locate a matching panel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
Third and final issue is that the transmission although it pulls like it should and doesn't slip whines in 2nd and 3rd gear...
I agree with radain in this one. Check your tranny fluid.
There should be a 17mm bolt on the left side (not the bottom) of the trans. Can't miss it.
Unscrew that bolt and dip your finger in there.
If the fluid is at or pretty close to the bolt opening. Your good.
If not you'll have to add some.
When you fill your going to need a oil pump of some sort which can be bought at most (I say this loosely) autoparts stores.
For in my experience due to room, there's no other way to get the fluid in there without using a hand oil pump.
Now when it comes to fluid check your manual or the side of the trans.
There should be a orange tag or iirc a different color tag stating what fluid it takes.
From there it's pretty simple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
If anyone here has dealt with or has some insight on these issues and maby if they are common issues please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help with these issues. In the end its still an awesome little.commuter car. I just get intrigued to fix the little things.
I think doing a good internet search would be the best advise.
As well get a bentley manual (there's a few copies online.)

There are things you'll have to expect when repairing or doing routine maintenance on these cars.
As well they are 18 to 24 year old cars. There are things that will break or need refreshing.

That said be prepared to kick out money for suspension parts, cooling system items,
learn how to fix a seat twist issue, and learn how to do a valve adjustment (535 aka m30b35 specific).
These are the most common issues with every e34.

Everything else is pretty much minor, model specific, routine, or don't affect the performance of the car.
So to make a thread about them would take up too much bandwith.

Congrads and good luck
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  #4  
Old 03-07-2013, 04:05 PM
greasemonkey greasemonkey is offline
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Thanks for the awesome info. Also i have a possible update on the trans issue. There's a rattling noise at idle but it goes away when i push in the clutch. The sound is coming from the bell housing area. Does this sound like a common problem. My first thought are throwout bearing or possible clutch but it drives and hooks up well so i think the clutch is ok.
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  #5  
Old 03-07-2013, 05:32 PM
snowsled7 snowsled7 is offline
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That is typically the throw out bearing. Not necessarily common to this car but a possible issue for any manual trans car at this age.

The other possibility is the dual mass flywheel. Mine rattles when you shut the car off, otherwise it doesn't cause any other issues.
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  #6  
Old 03-09-2013, 03:20 PM
Orlando Chacon Orlando Chacon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
First i want to say hello. Im new to this site and im new to the world of bmw. I recently acquired my first bmw in a trade. I have a 1990 535i 5speed. The car has a metric crap ton of miles (468887)! It runs and drives good though. It is in awesome shape for the year and miles. At this point i have nothing into it because i traded a torn apart camaro for it. Really im just inquiring about a few faults it has. First the onboard computer doesn't work and some of the push button temp controls also. Second the rear passenger door won't open (i was told its a child lock issue). Third and final issue is that the transmission although it pulls like it should and doesn't slip whines in 2nd and 3rd gear. If anyone here has dealt with or has some insight on these issues and maby if they are common issues please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help with these issues. In the end its still an awesome little.commuter car. I just get intrigued to fix the little things.
Grease monkey please check for a BMW shop to determine the cumputer falt and use scaner to see the trans faults coul be dangerous since the tranny slips as a emergency shift. This can cause inernal damage and plates burns. Orlando
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  #7  
Old 03-09-2013, 03:44 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando Chacon View Post
Grease monkey please check for a BMW shop to determine the cumputer falt and use scaner to see the trans faults coul be dangerous since the tranny slips as a emergency shift. This can cause inernal damage and plates burns. Orlando
It's a manual not an auto. There are no trans codes to speak of.
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Every once in a while the Lion has to show the Jackals who he is...
- Christopher Walken "The Lion Speech"
95 e34 525 5 spd S52 Swap... The new Garden State Grocery Getter projekt.
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2013, 06:09 AM
greasemonkey greasemonkey is offline
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by MySatinDoll View Post
It's a manual not an auto. There are no trans codes to speak of.
I agree there are no possible code to find on a manual trans. I have a personal code reader but im not that worried about it. It was just a minor annoyance and if it were a common problem ill mess with it. The main concern i have is for the trans whine. There is no slipping at all but it whines when i accelerate in 2nd and 3rd. I haven't had a chance to put it on the lift yet to check the fluid either.
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  #9  
Old 03-10-2013, 03:07 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
I agree there are no possible code to find on a manual trans. I have a personal code reader but im not that worried about it. It was just a minor annoyance and if it were a common problem ill mess with it. The main concern i have is for the trans whine. There is no slipping at all but it whines when i accelerate in 2nd and 3rd. I haven't had a chance to put it on the lift yet to check the fluid either.
You can always do a stomp test to find some codes.

Turn key to start (don't start the car) press the gas pedal 5 times.
The check engine light will flash in sequence to what code it has.
You can find the various codes via Bentley.
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Every once in a while the Lion has to show the Jackals who he is...
- Christopher Walken "The Lion Speech"
95 e34 525 5 spd S52 Swap... The new Garden State Grocery Getter projekt.
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  #10  
Old 03-13-2013, 08:37 PM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasemonkey View Post
First i want to say hello. Im new to this site and im new to the world of bmw. I recently acquired my first bmw in a trade. I have a 1990 535i 5speed. The car has a metric crap ton of miles (468887)! It runs and drives good though. It is in awesome shape for the year and miles. At this point i have nothing into it because i traded a torn apart camaro for it. Really im just inquiring about a few faults it has. First the onboard computer doesn't work and some of the push button temp controls also. Second the rear passenger door won't open (i was told its a child lock issue). Third and final issue is that the transmission although it pulls like it should and doesn't slip whines in 2nd and 3rd gear. If anyone here has dealt with or has some insight on these issues and maby if they are common issues please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help with these issues. In the end its still an awesome little.commuter car. I just get intrigued to fix the little things.
My first bimmer was an 89 535i 5 spd that like yours, had a ton of miles on it when I bought it. I loved that car and drove it another 100K miles before body rust got so bad, it was not worth fixing any more. I agree with other post about OBC. There is a small light bulb in those that burns out after many years and this is first thing to check. I am not sure what you mean about push button temp controls. I thought all E34's had manual temp controls with possible exception of M5. If yours is the automatic temp control like what I have seen on E32 sedans, they are known to fail and be a PITA to fix. Rear passenger door is most likely a seized actuator. This is a common failure and unfortunately, you usually have to damage the door panel to get it off with the door closed. A new actuator runs about $100 if I remember correctly. It is possible to take the old one apart clean and grease it to restore proper operation but can be time consuming and not guaranteed to work. I did this with one of mine at it took about 5 hours but I was intentionally going slow. Gear whine in a manual box is not good but first thing is to check fluid level. Actually, you should drain and put fresh fluid in. Forget about having to use dealer fluids. Red Line makes some excellent synthetic gear oils that are at least as good as BMW factory fluids. There are other good brands out there but Red Line is what I have used for 15 years with great results. If your 535i will never see cold temps, you may want to try Red Line 75w-90 NS gear oil. It is specially formulated to improve synchronizer action compared to regular heavy gear oils that can also be used in differentials. The heavy weight may quiet the gear whine if it is due to wear and lack of lubrication. Normal recommendation for this gearbox would be Red Line D4 ATF or MT90 gear oil. I run a 50/50 mix of the 75w-90 NS and D4 ATF in mine. It quiets some gear rattle I get from running a single mass flywheel and works great. (I have a UUC single mass aluminum flywheel with M5 clutch.)

The rattle you are hearing could be throw out bearing, gearbox input bearing, or dual mass flywheel. Hard to tell from your description. Most common failure is the dual mass flywheel. No real way to determine which one for sure without pulling tranny. At your mileage, a dual mass flywheel has usually failed. If yours is the original one, it is time to replace it. A good mod for your car is to get an early E28 M5 single mass flywheel and clutch. It is a direct bolt on and should be much cheaper than the UUC one I bought for my E34 with S52 engine swap. The E28 flywheel does not fit the newer engines but is great for the M30 with 5 speed. That is what I put on my 535i and loved it. I had slight gear rattle with that at low rpm and did not know about the trick of blending the two Red Line oils back then. The clutch was fantastic and very easy to drive in traffic. Pedal effort was low and engagement was very progressive and smooth. Not at all like the hi performance clutches I have driven on Asian cars.

Last edited by mda185; 03-13-2013 at 08:47 PM.
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  #11  
Old 03-14-2013, 02:23 AM
greasemonkey greasemonkey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mda185 View Post
My first bimmer was an 89 535i 5 spd that like yours, had a ton of miles on it when I bought it. I loved that car and drove it another 100K miles before body rust got so bad, it was not worth fixing any more. I agree with other post about OBC. There is a small light bulb in those that burns out after many years and this is first thing to check. I am not sure what you mean about push button temp controls. I thought all E34's had manual temp controls with possible exception of M5. If yours is the automatic temp control like what I have seen on E32 sedans, they are known to fail and be a PITA to fix. Rear passenger door is most likely a seized actuator. This is a common failure and unfortunately, you usually have to damage the door panel to get it off with the door closed. A new actuator runs about $100 if I remember correctly. It is possible to take the old one apart clean and grease it to restore proper operation but can be time consuming and not guaranteed to work. I did this with one of mine at it took about 5 hours but I was intentionally going slow. Gear whine in a manual box is not good but first thing is to check fluid level. Actually, you should drain and put fresh fluid in. Forget about having to use dealer fluids. Red Line makes some excellent synthetic gear oils that are at least as good as BMW factory fluids. There are other good brands out there but Red Line is what I have used for 15 years with great results. If your 535i will never see cold temps, you may want to try Red Line 75w-90 NS gear oil. It is specially formulated to improve synchronizer action compared to regular heavy gear oils that can also be used in differentials. The heavy weight may quiet the gear whine if it is due to wear and lack of lubrication. Normal recommendation for this gearbox would be Red Line D4 ATF or MT90 gear oil. I run a 50/50 mix of the 75w-90 NS and D4 ATF in mine. It quiets some gear rattle I get from running a single mass flywheel and works great. (I have a UUC single mass aluminum flywheel with M5 The rattle you are hearing could be throw out bearing, gearbox input bearing, or dual mass flywheel. Hard to tell from your description. Most common failure is the dual mass flywheel. No real way to determine which one for sure without pulling tranny. At your mileage, a dual mass flywheel has usually failed. If yours is the original one, it is time to replace it. A good mod for your car is to get an early E28 M5 single mass flywheel and clutch. It is a direct bolt on and should be much cheaper than the UUC one I bought for my E34 with S52 engine swap. The E28 flywheel does not fit the newer engines but is great for the M30 with 5 speed. That is what I put on my 535i and loved it. I had slight gear rattle with that at low rpm and did not know about the trick of blending the two Red Line oils back then. The clutch was fantastic and very easy to drive in traffic. Pedal effort was low and engagement was very progressive and smooth. Not at all like the hi performance clutches I have driven on Asian cars.
Thanks for the good info. First the pushbutton controls are the ones just left of the slide zone controls. They are for the rear defrost,ac, and re-circulate.As for the OBC issue i think it might have been sorted but not sure yet. I found a spot in the fusebox where a fuse had melted a bit. I need to investigate that a bit more. The trans whine im starting to believe new fluid will help a lot. It seems to come and go a bit. I'll defiantly look into that oil also i haven't ever used it before. For right now i have some royal purple syncromax manual trans 75-90w sitting in the shed so I'll try that first. The door i might tackle that sometime when im bored but prob not soon. Thanks again for the input everyone on here has been very helpful. This weekend i plan to tackle some of this so I'll be sure to.post an update.

Last edited by greasemonkey; 03-15-2013 at 05:18 AM.
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  #12  
Old 03-14-2013, 06:31 AM
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BMR_LVR BMR_LVR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mda185 View Post
My first bimmer was an 89 535i 5 spd that like yours, had a ton of miles on it when I bought it. I loved that car and drove it another 100K miles before body rust got so bad, it was not worth fixing any more. I agree with other post about OBC. There is a small light bulb in those that burns out after many years and this is first thing to check. I am not sure what you mean about push button temp controls. I thought all E34's had manual temp controls with possible exception of M5. If yours is the automatic temp control like what I have seen on E32 sedans, they are known to fail and be a PITA to fix. Rear passenger door is most likely a seized actuator. This is a common failure and unfortunately, you usually have to damage the door panel to get it off with the door closed. A new actuator runs about $100 if I remember correctly. It is possible to take the old one apart clean and grease it to restore proper operation but can be time consuming and not guaranteed to work. I did this with one of mine at it took about 5 hours but I was intentionally going slow. Gear whine in a manual box is not good but first thing is to check fluid level. Actually, you should drain and put fresh fluid in. Forget about having to use dealer fluids. Red Line makes some excellent synthetic gear oils that are at least as good as BMW factory fluids. There are other good brands out there but Red Line is what I have used for 15 years with great results. If your 535i will never see cold temps, you may want to try Red Line 75w-90 NS gear oil. It is specially formulated to improve synchronizer action compared to regular heavy gear oils that can also be used in differentials. The heavy weight may quiet the gear whine if it is due to wear and lack of lubrication. Normal recommendation for this gearbox would be Red Line D4 ATF or MT90 gear oil. I run a 50/50 mix of the 75w-90 NS and D4 ATF in mine. It quiets some gear rattle I get from running a single mass flywheel and works great. (I have a UUC single mass aluminum flywheel with M5 clutch.)

The rattle you are hearing could be throw out bearing, gearbox input bearing, or dual mass flywheel. Hard to tell from your description. Most common failure is the dual mass flywheel. No real way to determine which one for sure without pulling tranny. At your mileage, a dual mass flywheel has usually failed. If yours is the original one, it is time to replace it. A good mod for your car is to get an early E28 M5 single mass flywheel and clutch. It is a direct bolt on and should be much cheaper than the UUC one I bought for my E34 with S52 engine swap. The E28 flywheel does not fit the newer engines but is great for the M30 with 5 speed. That is what I put on my 535i and loved it. I had slight gear rattle with that at low rpm and did not know about the trick of blending the two Red Line oils back then. The clutch was fantastic and very easy to drive in traffic. Pedal effort was low and engagement was very progressive and smooth. Not at all like the hi performance clutches I have driven on Asian cars.
Very good, concise advice. I learned a lot from your post. Thanks
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  #13  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:47 AM
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A whining trans at near 500k ain't a surprise. Servicing the fluid is about all you can do, regular ATF is the recommended fill, lots of guys swear by Redline fluid, it can't hurt to try.
The door lock issue is likely a frozen lock actuator, this is pretty common on the early cars. BMW changed the design beginning in '92(?).
The door can be unlocked and opened by removing the inner panel to access the locking mechanism. It's a challenge, takes some finesse and a lot of patience. Remove the back seat, pull out the weather stripping and follow the normal panel removel procedure. It has snaps around the perimeter and several retaining screws, one is behind the ash tray, another under a plug in the recess for the opening handle, maybe another, it's been a while since I've had to deal with this. Removing the w/strip gives you some wiggle room. The panel needs to be lifted as well as pulled away. the bright trim strip remains in place, only a very small bit of the panel goes under it. The actuator is a seperate device and can simply be disconnected if you wish.
As already stated check the bulbs in the OBC, if you can shine a bright light at it and read the display all you need is the bulbs. Should the OBC be dead replacements are plentiful, I have two spares myself.
Imagine what a nice car this was 400k ago.
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Last edited by ross1; 03-14-2013 at 07:48 AM.
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  #14  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowsled7 View Post
That is typically the throw out bearing. Not necessarily common to this car but a possible issue for any manual trans car at this age.

The other possibility is the dual mass flywheel. Mine rattles when you shut the car off, otherwise it doesn't cause any other issues.
Throwout bearing noise wouldn't discriminate gears and usually manifests itself with the clutch "in" regardless of gear selection.
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