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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 09-08-2013, 06:47 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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fuel door actuator alarm falsing

03/03 build 525I Auto Sport.
Bought the car second hand with about 59,000 miles (11/12). Previous car was e34 sold off with 256,000 miles.

Ok, so never having a car with an alarm before, when it started to go off with no apparent reason I started looking for possible explanations on the net. The most common was change the cars battery. It seems some think the battery is a maintenance item to be changed every few years, or if the cars not driven for a length of time to have it on a tender. The car false alarmed maybe three or four times. Very disturbing because it would sound when I went to unlock the car. I looked to maybe take it in to have it shut off permanently by the dealer rather then buying the software to do it myself.

Now adding all the low battery symptoms up that people were talking about. I figure there must be a parasitic draw. If the car is to go to sleep in 16 minutes, and if does go to sleep there is no draw. Ok so what I noticed was that the Fuel door wouldn't always be closed all the way, when the car was parked. I'd see it just a bit ajar and if I noticed I'd push it shut. Now the alarm is suppose to chirp if everything is cool when the alarm is set. Its near the rear passenger side and I rarely hear it with my hearing being what it is (too much heavy metal as a youth). Plus I back into my space at work so I'm walking away from that corner when I set the lock. I don't always hear the chirp and wouldn't see the door ajar. Likewise parking at home I'm walking away from the driver side and don't see the fuel door.

So if the fuel door was ajar I might not notice and the alarm was set it might not chirp and I wouldn't hear it anyway. So knowing that the fuel door locked when the doors were locked, and alarm on, I looked more closely at the fuel door. At first when I closed the door I felt like there was a detent that the door need to get past. Since I would find the fuel door ajar I looked for what it might be and see if the detent need addressing? So while washing the car I took a very good look at the fuel door and I noticed there wasn't any detent, that the previous owner had shaved some of the Green Plastic from the piece that holds the fuel cap while fueling. At first I thought maybe for some reason, the fuel cap was "clocked" the wrong way, possible a replacement filler neck?? Anyway checking all the other BMW's in the company lot, it looked as they are all clocked the same way as mine. So playing detective if the fuel door was ajar and the car locked, the plunger wouldn't make it into the corresponding hole in the fuel door. You could open the fuel door the rest of the way and the plunger would kind of spring out. I tried to repeat it and did a few times but not always.

Now adding up threads discussing the fuel door lock fuse (#53 in the trunk). Many people have an issue with it blowing and end up disconnecting the actuator or having to replace the actuator because its "fried". I wonder if when its not aligned, the actuator is still getting power drawing down the battery which caused my falsing.

If you look at the following pictures you'll see that b/c I wanted that little green thing to hold the cap I raised it up and out a bit on the door. It is still secure to the door and the cap fits and that has been my fix. It hasn't falsed again in more then 7 months, and I still haven't replaced the battery. I didn't look for its date code on this one but my e34 went 12 years on the oem and 7 years later when I sold it, it had the same battery from the stealer! The e34 also had the battery under the rear seat and that could mean something.





The ruler is across the body of the car and this is the recessed distance to the part of the cap that makes contact with the green piece.



This is the length that the green piece protrudes there is a definite interference with mine.



How it looks when ajar.



Noticed the carving work done to try and give some extra space. This is the OE position.



Clear shot of it making contact again.




The raised position.




Now it clears just fine in the raised position.



The clocked position you can even see the rub mark of the green thing hitting over time.


Last edited by small_525; 09-08-2013 at 06:48 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2013, 07:54 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Thought we answered this problem on bimmerforums a few weeks ago.
You don't have the correct gas cap.
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2013, 08:39 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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I posted this over there originally and was told I was over analyzing heck you said +2!! on that point. Thanks for taking a second look. I did update not that long ago. This was a follow up to an issue I thought I resolved which was alarm falsing and what may have caused it. If I have the wrong cap that explains why I get the interference. Odd the original owner would change the cap, have the interference and would carve the green thing up rather then just get a new cap. If the work was done at the stealer (like the autolite oil filter) its possible they used that cap and tried to make it work like I have.

Cool I see it, I didn't get a notice anyone had replied. That explains it in my case. Still I think that the cap was causing the condition that caused the falsing, which hasn't happened since I moved it up. I'll get a new cap.

Last edited by small_525; 09-08-2013 at 08:49 PM.
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  #4  
Old 09-08-2013, 08:59 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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Funny I just did a search for a new one and all "photos" show the same as I have? One site say my cap #16116756772 has been superseded to #16117222391??

So maybe the new one now requires a different green piece?

The plot thickens.
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  #5  
Old 09-08-2013, 11:55 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I removed my gas cap to run a long term P0455 test for the team, and, in the end, I lost my gas cap (never did find it). Months later, I bought a new one. Didn't have any problems - so this green-plastic-problem thing is news to me.

Not much on this in the bestlinks. This is what /gas cap F3 got me, for example:
- How to replace the gas cap tether (1) & the P0455 diagnostic trouble code when the gas cap is missing (1)

So, I'll cross reference back to this thread, so that this information gets fleshed out better in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
It seems some think the battery is a maintenance item to be changed every few years
Hmmm... the battery "is" a maintenance item, to be replaced every few years. Most wait for it to die first though. Some test it before a long trip or before winter. It's really up to your risk tolerance though.

However, if you want to test it, typing /battery F3 in the bestlinks nets this:
- Complete DIY for how to test a BMW battery & alternator (1) & a diagnostic procedure to test for overnight parasitic battery drain (1) & how to find all the fuses (1) & how to choose a good aftermarket battery (1) and a simple battery replacement DIY (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
The car false alarmed maybe three or four times.
I think, from the record, most false alarms are the hood switch, but, typing /alarm F3 nets a few links that might help:
- How to understand the BMW E39 EWS alarm drive-away protection system (1) (2) (pdf) & troubleshoot the alarm & hood switch (1) (2) (3) (4) or replace the siren (1) or disabling or enabling the unlock chirp (1) (2) (3) & how to maintain (1) and repair your hood release bowden cable (1) (2) (3)

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
maybe ...have it shut off permanently by the dealer rather then buying the software
Some just buy the cable and set the registers themselves:
- The most often recommended BMW diagnostic tools & cable interfaces (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
I figure there must be a parasitic draw.
See above test for parasites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
I noticed was that the Fuel door wouldn't always be closed
Ah. The culprit?
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-09-2013 at 12:29 PM.
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  #6  
Old 09-09-2013, 06:41 AM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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BlueBee can I ask you to measure the height of the cap to see if there is some difference between what you have and mine. I took the bike to work so I'll check mine this evening to compare. They look the same and most retailers are showing OEM caps that look like ours. Funny Q and Lev both think mines after market and causing the problem. From the picture you post your does appear to be smaller but photos can be very misleading.

Heck maybe its the battery
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  #7  
Old 09-09-2013, 11:44 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
measure the height of the cap
Mine is three inches tall, measuring from the top curvature of the cap to the bottom of the base:
EDIT: Measured with a caliper, it's 2.985" tall, from the top of the cap to the bottom of the stem.

It's a replacement cap though, so, you really need someone to measure the original gas cap.
As for brand, mine says AUSTRIA clearly on one half, but the other half seems to say "Platte" or "Rlatte" or "Platt".

When I put the cap back, I opened and closed the fuel filler door a dozen times, and, guess what?
I barely hear a tiny, almost inaudible "click" as the green holder nudges ever so slightly against the top edge of the cap.
It was difficult to get a picture with my cell phone though and a video would never hear that almost imperceptible click.

So, to prove the green holder actually touches the cap, I spread a thin layer of dialectric grease on the edge of the holder.

Shutting the door just once, upon opening, I could see a slight spot where the green holder nudges the cap:

The touching is so slight, that I had never noticed it before.
It would be interesting to see if the green holder touches the original cap.
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-09-2013 at 11:46 PM.
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  #8  
Old 09-09-2013, 11:53 AM
BioGuy BioGuy is offline
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Maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't the simple solution to just remove the green thing? Or- purchase the correct cap?
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  #9  
Old 09-09-2013, 12:17 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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Thanks BlueBee nice scale you have there. From the picture if the ruler and the edge of the cap "Handle" are lined up it looks like its 15/16" from the face (the point that contacts the filler and where the handle rubs in my case)

BioGuy, If I remove the green thing completely I have no place to put the cap while fueling. Where it sits now seems to work. Its only recently people seem to think I have an aftermarket cap that is causing the issue. While all retailers are showing the same cap I have, and are calling it OEM not aftermarket. Since I asked for a measurement so I had something to go on since I don't have another on hand to compare. BB's looks very much like the one I have so I asked. If it turns out I get the same part as I have now when I order, what then?

One retailer like I mentioned said the Original number became superseded (the part number or part changed) and there is now a new number. Its possible (yet not likely) that when it changed the number for the green piece changed too (I now see some that are black) and that is the piece that needs changing. $.50 vs. $18.

Again the point at the beginning of the thread wasn't so much the cap as it was a story of a False Alarm and what I thought may have caused it. Now I see so many people with new caps that look like mine I wonder if they aren't some of the same ones with a falsing issue or dead battery or bad actuator or blown fuse??
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:27 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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My factory gas cap (from 1998)...the ridge in the middle of the gas cap is narrower than the bluebee photo, so no collision between the green thingy and the gas cap.
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:01 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
if the ruler and the edge of the cap "Handle" are lined up
I tried to line up the 0 point (which isn't at the wood edge) of the ruler with the highest point in the circular curve of the cap. Doing that, the total length is about 3 inches (perhaps 1/16" less).

What probably matters more is the length from the seat to the top of the cap; and, more importantly, the width of the handle on the cap (as cn90 noted).
Also, I know my cap isn't the original (I lost the original); so it's best to measure an original cap, as mine seems to touch, ever so slightly, but not as badly as yours does.
Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
the point ...was a story of a False Alarm and what I thought may have caused it.
So that we may leverage your efforts, I've taken the liberty to add to the bestlinks a pointer to this thread, as follows:
- How to understand the BMW E39 EWS alarm drive-away protection system (1) (2) (pdf) & troubleshooting the hood switch, battery, siren, and interior motion sensor (1) (2) (3) (4) & troubleshooting the fuel filler door switch (1) & replacing the siren (1) or disabling/enabling the unlock chirp (1) (2) (3) & how to maintain (1) and repair your hood release bowden cable (1) (2) (3)
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-09-2013 at 01:03 PM.
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  #12  
Old 09-09-2013, 02:39 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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So bluebee yours does touch? Where did you get the cap from? When you ordered it did it have the same part number as the on realoem 16 11 6 756 772?

Pelican show that number is no longer available (NLA) and say to use " ** USE 16-11-7-222-391-M9 INSTEAD ** Fuel Tank Cap"

ESC said the same thing more or less.
"This product has been superseded to ES#1900543
Genuine BMW Fuel Tank Cap
Brand: Genuine BMW - Corporate Logo
ES#:36122 Mfg#: 16116756772
New Item
Brand: Genuine BMW - Corporate Logo
ES#:1900543 Mfg#: 16117222391 "
Which is the same number as Pelican mentions. So the part number has changed, I wonder if the part did too? None of the other online retailers mention the parts changed but each search using the realoem number brings up the new number.

eEuroparts shows the original number ...***772 its a few bucks higher then the rest maybe worth a shot to me.

Ok and another thing all these cap holders are green, right? So searching that number (#51171928699) to see if the number changes or not, I see ESC has it in black and it looks different in shape then my green one. Amazon also shows it in Black.

I think I'm going to reach out to ESC they are a sponsor and see what they say about the part they have to offer? Is it green, is it black, does it compare to my pics, etc?

OK waiting on hold, (listening to bad music) I see that esc calls the black piece the actuator cap! Going back to realoem, they show the fuel cap holder (green Piece) and the door actuator black piece for the central lock!! Both are 51171928699

realoem diagram #14 and #29 have the same #51171928699

When ever the guy come back on I'll ask about the difference.....
Ok the guy on the phone said he is skeptical its the right part, the part is now black (like in the picture) but its the only number they could find. He has the same car and agrees it looks more like the one for the lock not the fuel cap. it's Ninty-Nine cents.. 15% restock if it wrong and again more to ship then the parts worth!

When I get home I will try and swap the actuator cap for the fuel cap holder (green piece) and see if that will work. Looking at my pictures (not posted here, see album by clicking on a photo) those parts other then color look a lot alike. Maybe they are now dual purpose?
Talk about whodunit mystery. No one thought this thread would turn into this.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:00 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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OK so BlaŚ is aftermarket out of Austria. To note too; the numbers stamped on mine while hard to read were similar to yours Bluebee. 7 222 391-03 and 2310 100 30 970

http://www.blau.co.at/670_46085_shop_T119.aspx?LNG=en

The Black Actuator cap/retainer/clip Realoem #14 on the drawing part# 51 17 1 928 699 is identical in every way but color its black to #29 on drawing part # 51 17 1 928 699 which is green. Go figure.

I tried to swap them and they do swap just fine. When I placed the black in position on the door where the green one would be I couldn't close the door without fear of smashing it. So no point in forcing it.

I also measured the cap from the "face" to the point in which there was contact. (Its on the corner if you were looking at it as a clock I'd say at 2 o'clock. The distance 0.932". Since the cap get a bit smaller higher up, moving the green piece up has it clear just fine. I have no answers! Yet if Bluebee has the same cap and hers does close, makes contact but closes, what gives?












Last edited by small_525; 09-09-2013 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:41 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
Where did you get the cap from?
The story of how I ordered my cap is already detailed in this thread:
- The P0455 diagnostic trouble code when the gas cap is missing (1)

In summary:
- I ran a months-long test of the cap removed, for the team.
- In running that long-term test, I eventually lost my cap (see this post).
- I tried to buy from Max at Oembimmerparts, but he didn't carry caps.
- Three times I tried to buy an Autozone gas cap (see this post).
- Then, on 9/20/2011, I ended up with this gas cap (see this post).

This is the cap that you see in the photos today:
- $19.94 Bavarian Auto Parts in NH, 800-535-2002 (http://www.bavauto.com).

There are a bunch of other suppliers also listed for that gas cap in that thread.
Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
So bluebee yours does touch?
Yes. But almost imperceptibly so.
You can see the tiny bit of grease where the green holder hit the cap handle:

I think, as cn90 noted, the width of the handle may be important.
Mine is ~1.10 inches wide at the widest point (at the ends) and ~0.850 inches wide at the narrowest point (center).

For the height from the seat to the top, I get around 0.960 at the end, which is really about 1.00 inches, if you account for the curvature.

So, roughly 1 inch wide by 1 inch tall is the absolute maximum the cap can be, and still fit, at least in my fuel filler door.
Bear in mind, what you really need are the measurements from an original cap; but, since mine (barely) fits, 1"x1" must be the maximum allowable measurements.
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-09-2013 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:52 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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One thought.
Maybe your fuel filler door hinge was replaced at some point?
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Gas door won't stay open

Even if it wasn't, maybe you can put a washer or two in the attachments?
Would that nudge the green/black holder enough away from the cap?
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-10-2013 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:35 AM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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OK in the second caliper picture most similar to mine, I read your caliper to show 0.9115" and unlike MPG, thousandth matter

So there must be variations enough in the cap and that it matters. The dimensional difference isn't noticeable by sight. Heck I wonder if you really ever noticed yours rubbing and touching before this thread?

I wonder if there is ANY correlation to a gas cap and the actuator issues and the fuse, and alarm falsing for others? My "fix" has worked very well for me. I'm disturbed that the cap is to blame. Possible on my next stock up order of parts I'll grab a new cap and holder. Measure the cap and see for myself the difference in height.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:18 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I just measured my gas cap. The widest part of the ridge is 16mm (in contrast to bluebee 1.10").
My 1998 528i gas cap PN is 1183342, which according to realoem.com, fit 528i and 540i and M5 models.

For whatever reasons beyond my comprehension, the 525i 530i models gas cap has PN 16116756772!!!

A gas cap is a gas cap is a gas cap. OK I admit not all gas caps are the same, but give me a break these BMW engineers for changing them during the same production cycle?

Anyway, you guys might want to try the 528i gas cap, just a thought.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:03 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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cn90 that number now is superseded!! and the new one does not seem to work with what I have I guess. It may just be "out of spec" who knows. I thought I'd found one with the original part number went to order and its changed!

Am I the only one this is happened too?
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:15 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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If this was my car, I'd remove the green thingy, use a hack saw and cut along the red line to avoid "collision".
Then re-install the green thingy.
This should be a simple fix.


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Old 09-10-2013, 02:29 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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Oh if I only could. I wonder if yours shouldn't be the installation instructions for the new cap.

If you look at the pictures, the previous owner or shop did hack away, rather then I imagine, just return the cap! Again having it sit higher where it doesn't clear the door works quit well. No need to hack anymore at this point.

Like I've said I may just try my luck with another cap and see what it works out to be. If Bluebees closes but just barely touches without any mod to the green piece then with my modified piece it should clear ok while in it original position on the door. Worst case I buy a new battery
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:46 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
I read your caliper to show 0.9115"
Don't read the size off the dial in the pictures because I set the calipers down in order to snap the pictures.

So, the reading in the pictures will be slightly off, since I needed three hands to take the picture.

The measurements that I posted in TEXT are what I found (although, because of curvature, it matters greatly WHERE we put the jaws of the caliper, as you undoubtedly have found out).

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
I may just try my luck with another cap
This seems to make the most sense. If everyone had the wrong cap, we'd have heard of this problem before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
If Bluebees closes but just barely touches without any mod to the green piece then with my modified piece it should clear ok while in it original position on the door.
Exactly.

My holder and fuel filler door are original. Only the gas cap is a replacement part. It fits so well, that I hadn't even known it was touching until you pointed it out.

As far as I know, the amount it touches is so very slight that nothing bad happens. The door closes. The alarm works as it's supposed to.

In fact, if it mattered, I could file away either the cap or the green holder; and that would solve the touching.

Maybe, if you buy a new cap, you can then risk filing your old cap, to see if it can be "lowered" by enough to clear the green holder?
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  #22  
Old 09-17-2013, 07:55 PM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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Location: Illinois
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
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Mein Auto: 2003 525i auto
I received a email back from Blau and they said they weren't aware of any issues like this with their caps. Translations aside they said they couldn't even determine when the one on my car was made. They said that the new number has been used though since 2001. They sent this link>

http://www.blau.co.at/670_46085_shop_T119.aspx?LNG=en

Again I plan with one of my next purchases to buy another cap to see. Just to put this to rest. I'd still love to hear from others if there is any correlation to; new gas caps, fuel door actuators, alarm falsing, weak battery's, etc.
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  #23  
Old 09-17-2013, 08:04 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by small_525 View Post
Since links are ephemeral, here's what that link shows:
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  #24  
Old 10-19-2013, 07:43 PM
K927A K927A is offline
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Location: Houston, TX
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 30
Mein Auto: 02 525i, 00 323i, 92 325i
So I'm not sure where to post exactly as there are a few threads on the tether/new gas cap. This seems the most recent. My tether was discovered broken today when i went to fill up. I've been expecting it to happen, but what I wasn't expecting was being able to find a replacement tether/gas cap that fits! I've been looking at gas caps from similar models and it seems the x5 cap is a possible fit, anyone try it? As for just the tether, one could buy an e38 cap and transfer the new tether to the old gas cap. Seems an expensive way to go. The X5 tether looks a bit thicker, not sure if it folds up the same way.

Sorry to resurrect an old topic! Like others, silly as it may seem, I like my car complete and OEM. When a part wears out no matter how small or insignificant I seek to replace it!

Edit: Just wanted to add, Bluebee I noticed you took a lot of flak for the whole tether issue. I just wanted you to know this is one reader that appreciates your in depth and sometimes overboard analysis of all things E39. Your threads have sure helped me more than once!

Last edited by K927A; 10-19-2013 at 07:49 PM.
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  #25  
Old 10-20-2013, 06:32 AM
small_525 small_525 is offline
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Location: Illinois
 
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Mein Auto: 2003 525i auto
Hey K927A one way to check to see where parts overlap is to use the realoem site and compare part numbers. With my cap there doesn't seem to be a way to just change the tether so swapping from on cap to another I don;t think is an option. Also note my issue with a "correct cap" that some how doesn't work as it should.
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