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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:26 AM
phaar phaar is offline
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Location: Columbia, SC
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 06 X5 4.8is
Difficult dealers having difficult time with my difficult X5

First time poster, although I have read several hundred threads already in my short 5 months as an X5 owner. Used to have an '04 325, but never encountered (or have ever heard of anyone encountering) this many issues with one vehicle.

I first want to say that I am amazed at the amount of useful information I have found on this forum. I would even say that many of the members here know way more than the dealer "techs" I have been dealt with over the years. This car has been a puzzle to me, and I sometimes get lost for hours in all of the potential leads I find posted.

Sooo that being said, I will start with my most pressing questions (there are many). I could give the full background on the vehicle since I have owned it in the last 6 months, but because it is so long I may lose a few readers. But, I feel like giving some background may help any potential hypothesis because I now realize how tied together all these electrical components are.

Long story short, the car began acting up a few weeks after I drove it off the lot. It began with a periodic DSC inactive lamp, which progressively grew into a full-blown warning trifecta I have read so much about (4x4, ABS, Brake lights) and the trans failsafe. Took it back to the dealer shortly thereafter to have them repair a few agreed upon cosmetic things and had them look at it. They outsourced to a local shop. After a bit of grumbling, they paid to replace the ABS module and the adaptive headlight module (the lights are another story...auto still not working properly.....).

This seemed to do the trick, until about a week or two later and the problem came back worse than ever. Based on my interaction with this shop, I was not confident in their ability to make anything better, so I took it to an authorized dealer. At this point I had also gotten two warnings about my left rear brake light and tail light (both were out at the time, but magically came back to life soon thereafter), engine oil pressure warning (checked oil level, all good), and an intermittent TPS warning. The dealer replaced the DSC module and the alternator. This in fact has done the job and I have not had any recurring problems. They also noticed a leak in one of the power steering lines, which I postponed replacing for about a month.

A month later, I am a few days out from my scheduled appointment and the TPS light came on. Ordinarily, this would not have alarmed me, except for the fact that the TPS light was one of the initial warnings that showed just before the trifecta would occur. I checked all the tires, all good. Moved up my appointment to the next day. Dealer could not find any fault regarding the tires, so they reset it (as I had done many times), serviced the power steering, and replaced the LCM (still trying to fix the auto light function).

When switched to the automatic position, the headlights will come on for about 10-ish seconds and then switch off, no matter the ambient lighting. Also, the auto wipers steadily declined in function since I bought the car, and now they will not work unless they are all the way in the top position and wiping rapidly. Dealer finally came to the conclusion it was the aftermarket windshield, which at the time I thought was a bit ridiculous, but after looking on here I guess it is not totally out of the realm of possibility. Thing is, both worked for a time after I bought the car.

So now I come to my latest struggles, which have had me worried. About a month ago, I began to notice some very odd shifting/idling issues...cold or warm, happens all the time. Within days, it became very alarming. I noticed it was idling lower than I had seen it before and it was unsteady sounding...when I would make a complete stop, the rpm's would dip below 500 (almost sounding like it was going to stall) and then tick back up to just below 600. I also began to notice that coasting downhill would elevate the rpm's far beyond what I had been seeing on the same hills...at one point they got up to 4,000 before I switched to manual and shifted. One day I started the car and sat for about 3 minutes while ending a phone call and all of the sudden the rpm's shot up to 3,000 inexplicably, and at that same moment, the steering wheel lifted and then came back to its original position.

So I decided to pop the hood and take a look at the engine. I have attached pictures of what I could see in the limited light and with my limited engine knowledge. As you can see, it is clear that coolant is/has been leaking very slowly from either the expansion tank and/or the small hose you can see in picture 3. I checked the coolant level and the bobber popped almost completely out of the expansion tank. I also noticed that it looked like the oil had boiled over at some point out of the dipstick (pic 2). Finally, I don't know what this metal hose is in picture 4, but it does not look like it is the type of quality component I would expect to find on a high performance engine. Is that connector supposed to look like it is busted up?

After seeing the coolant and oil leak, and experiencing what I thought to be transmission issues, I had it towed to a local authorized dealer (not the same as before). They sure did take their time in getting around to looking at my car, and when they finally did they said they could not reproduce the symptoms. The only code they seemed to find was regarding the steering angle sensor. They acknowledged seeing the dried coolant, but claimed that a pressure test did not turn up any obvious leaks. They did say though that the transmission as a "seep"/ever so slight leak and that I need to keep an eye on it over the next 6-12 months. Otherwise, no problem. So I picked it up, and the problems persist. There is still a small amount of coolant leaking from somewhere, and the shifting continues to be erratic.

I will note that maybe I am crazy, but 85-90% of these issues seem to have occurred either in the rain or shortly after a car wash. I don't want to put ideas in anybody's head, but I have been convinced that water may have something to do with it. I have checked the battery, no water so far. Although I am not sure there hasn't been at some point.

I am in my mid-20s...I realize that I don't look like (and sometimes don't act like) a cash cow compared to some of these dealers' top customers. But I don't appreciate being jerked around, and I REALLY don't appreciate being made to feel as though my diagnosis doesn't deserve more than a 7 mile (that was the "test drive") journey to Burger King.

I apologize for being long-winded, it is very hard to keep it short! Can anyone offer any advice? On any of the issues? I have racked my brain and this forum to find some kind of key that would magically unlock the answers...but to no avail. If the dealers can't/won't take the time to figure it out, I am determined to. For a while now, I have been looking for a common theme in all these issues...module locations, function linkages, etc. I am now hoping that the vast amount of knowledgeable members in this forum can possibly lend some guidance. If you have read this far, thank you. If you can provide any feedback, I would be very grateful.
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:32 AM
tmvE39/E53/Z32's Avatar
tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Seattle --> Atlanta
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,033
Mein Auto: Dinan //M5, Dinan 4.8iS,
That's quite a few strange symptoms on your iS. Didn't sound like you had a PPI on it.
I wouldn't bring it to the dealer if I were you. They wouldn't spend the time needed to figure thing out. and if they do, that would result in a ridiculous high diagnostic fee base on their labor charge. Find a reputable bimmer shop in your area and have them take a look at it. They should be more willing to spend time on it. Check here www.bimrs.org
Good luck!

2000 Dinan S1 //M5 (my DD), 06 DINAN E53 4.8iS (wife's DD), 90 Straman Z32TT (my pride & joy ride)
Gone, but not forgotten: 01 E53 3.0i, 01 525i Sport, 03 DINAN 540i MSport, 01 //M5 and 91 Z32TT
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