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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 01-11-2013, 05:17 AM
e39540iv8 e39540iv8 is offline
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Location: Australia
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 540iA
E39 540iA to 540i 6spd Conversion

How hard would it be to convert my 540iA into a 6 spd and what parts do I need (beside the gearbox)...
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2013, 05:44 AM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Hi,

I'm no mechanic, nor do I have a comprehensive parts list needed, but there are some threads around a few BMW forums which give more information. You will need, the correct gearbox, manual pedal box, instrument cluster change, wiring loom change or modification, coding of the ECU/electronics. You could save the cost of labour if you do it all yourself, else you'll need to add on that as well.

In markets where these cars are more widely available, the best way is to sell the auto car as is and buy a manual example. I think there's not very many examples in Australia, so if you have deep enough pockets, go for the conversion if no suitable manual cars are available.

cheers, Dennis!
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  #3  
Old 01-11-2013, 06:26 AM
e39540iv8 e39540iv8 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 540iA
Actually there are nearly no 6 spd 540is in Australia so I thought if it's not too expensive I'd source a box from overseas and do the conversion so I can sell the car for more being a sought after option. I thought it would be simpler. I have also noticed 6 spd boxes aren't cheap or as available even in the US as I thought.
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2013, 10:15 AM
edjack edjack is online now
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
You may wish to think about WHY there are no 6-speed-box-equipped cars Down Under: they may have much less value in your market than an auto. Thus, the value of your car, as converted, may be worth much less. Indeed, here in the States, any E39 with a manual gearbox is about as rare as chicken's lips. I'd hazard a guess that less than 10% of all the E39s sold during the model run had a manual box, and probably most of these were special order.

The ECU recoding is not trivial, and s/b done by someone who's been successful at it. The trans controller is a physically separate board from the ECU, but the ECU must be recoded so that it no longer looks for signals from the absent trans.

Given enough time and money, it can be done, and has been done here in the States. It's doubtful you'll recoup your expenses.

BTW, the Getrag 420 is a rather large, brawny, sophisticated box; therefore, not cheap, and only available used from scrapped cars.

Search this site for more info, as well as other BMW forums (try Google).
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2013, 05:39 AM
e39540iv8 e39540iv8 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 540iA
I guess you're right. It's too difficult to make any profit from but believe me, a manual 540i would sell for ALOT more than an auto. It would be a rare car and more fun. E39 M5s are still over 40k here so 2-3k more for a manual 540i than an auto would be a good deal to people. It seems too expensive to do though.
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  #6  
Old 01-12-2013, 05:43 AM
Ed Cheung Ed Cheung is offline
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Mein Auto: E39
There is no manual sold here in HK as well. If I can get hold of the manual box with a reasonable price shipped here, for sure I will swap it.
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2013, 07:00 AM
e39 crackr e39 crackr is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 540i/6
The hardest part for you to do the swap would be the coding of the DME(ecu). Like others have said, need to find someone who has successfully recoded. The mechanical swap is no biggie, except earlier(97-98) pedal assemblies into later models are difficult to swap. The only wiring is a clutch switch to the DME to allow starting and reverse switch out of tranny(if you want reverse lights). HOWEVER, Chigga on Bimmerforums does not have clutch switches hooked up, but his is on a european code which does not require the switches, nor 4 O2 sensors, only 2.


I will be doing this swap, along with M5 diff/driveshft, this spring. I have a total of $2000 in parts right now and it will take the mechanic either an hour or 3-10 hours(if needs rewire, so must get right or swap will be a bust) to reprogram with a GT1. I'm not too worried as the shop I'm going to has done a shop project complete 6 spd swap into a 740iL, and recoded the following:1 740i, 2 540it, 2 528i, 1 530i, and over a dozen e46's.

Here's some links that have been very helpfull:
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1550673
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...light=faq+6spd
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ghlight=swap+6
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ghlight=swap+6
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Last edited by e39 crackr; 01-12-2013 at 07:02 AM.
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  #8  
Old 06-03-2013, 08:07 AM
e39540iv8 e39540iv8 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 540iA
I know I said I can't do this swap because it wouldn't be worth it but the auto on my car is GONE! It was coming too as it has 230k on it (kilometers, not miles). I did find an E39 M5 gearbox being sold here in Sydney for a fair price so I have a couple of questions...

1. Is the whole reprogramming thing hard, who can do it and what tool do they need. I've been trying to call around and ask some BMW specialists but no one has given me a definite answer.

2. Will the E39 M5 gearbox fit the 540i no problem, I mean actually bolt on.

3. If I purchase a pedal box from the US would it be fine on a RHD car and how hard is it to fit?

4. Why does the cluster need to be changed and if it isn't what is/are the consequence(s)?
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  #9  
Old 06-03-2013, 04:38 PM
e39 crackr e39 crackr is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 540i/6
Quote:
Originally Posted by e39540iv8 View Post
I know I said I can't do this swap because it wouldn't be worth it but the auto on my car is GONE! It was coming too as it has 230k on it (kilometers, not miles). I did find an E39 M5 gearbox being sold here in Sydney for a fair price so I have a couple of questions...

1. Is the whole reprogramming thing hard, who can do it and what tool do they need. I've been trying to call around and ask some BMW specialists but no one has given me a definite answer. This will be the most difficult part. If a shop has reprogrammed an e46 auto to manual, then they can do an e39. Here's the info for tricking the computer so it's driveable: automatic..swap..mechanical An e46 local owner drove his swap around for 6 months with this and the trans fail yelling at him, but ABS, DSC, and trac control worked. We did the same thing for mine and drove down the road just fine.

2. Will the E39 M5 gearbox fit the 540i no problem, I mean actually bolt on. YES, but not the flywheel. You will use your flywheel pulse sensor as the auto and manual use same.

3. If I purchase a pedal box from the US would it be fine on a RHD car and how hard is it to fit? Check realoem.com for all that.

4. Why does the cluster need to be changed and if it isn't what is/are the consequence(s)? Mine changed right away after the first retune. Your "PRND" will be blacked out
My pile-o-parts before the swap minus driveshaft.
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