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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 03-19-2016, 02:02 PM
harleycolt harleycolt is offline
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Location: Orlando, Florida
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 2001 525i
serpentine belt replacement

I need to replace the serpentine belt on my 2001 525i. I notice that there is very limited room to work with because of the fan shroud and I'm looking for input on the best route for removal. What parts should I be removing to make this job pain free as possible? I'm pretty much a hands on unlicensed mechanic and all feedback is appreciated.
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Old 03-19-2016, 02:09 PM
TheHockeytowner's Avatar
TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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Location: Ypsilanti, MI
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 386
Mein Auto: 2003 525i
Definitely take off the fan and fan clutch. It's not terribly hard with the fan shroud in place. Taking the shroud off is a bigger headache than it's worth for easier access to the belt.
Go Wings!
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Old 03-19-2016, 02:16 PM
edjack edjack is online now
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Location: San Jose, CA
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 12,236
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
I vote for removing the shroud, and covering the backside of the rad with cardboard to prevent slicing up your hands.

No need to pull the hoses off the expansion tank; just dislodge it and tie it off out of the way.

Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
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Old 03-19-2016, 02:53 PM
dvdlkd dvdlkd is offline
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Location: south carolina
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 174
Mein Auto: 1997 528
If you have ramps, or better yet a lift, you can remove the belt and install a new one from underneath without removing the fan shroud. I avoid removing the shroud because that means you have to remove the fan. AC belt has to come off first, fairly easy from underneath.
From below, using a breaker bar and the appropriate tool for your tensioner fully, push the tensioner toward the driver side and roll the belt off the power steering Pully. Now you can relax the tensioner and begin working the belt forward, around the fan and off.
Thread it out in front of the fan one by rotating the fan and pulling the belt forward one blade at a time. Once it is all in front of the fan you can pull it out between blades Insert new belt same way by slipping past fan and shroud one blade at a time (rotating fan).

Now comes the fun part. Get the belt around all the pullys except power steering. Using breaker bar, pull tensioner Pulley as far as you can against the spring. This should give you enough slack to get the belt around the power steering Pully. Helps if you have a helper. Takes a little patience.

Don't forget to put AC belt back on. My car is a 97 528 but I think our belt layout is the same.
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Old 03-19-2016, 03:55 PM
harleycolt harleycolt is offline
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Location: Orlando, Florida
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 2001 525i
Thanks for the rapid responses. I don't have a lift but I have access to ramps. I prefer not taking anything apart unless absolutely necessary so I'll tackle this project early next week and provide follow up. Thanks again for the responses, this is a great forum and my second time using it.
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