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Old 06-16-2011, 10:12 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Common E39 Problems
Common problems and fixes
E39 Problems Checklist
- Compendiums on common problems, fixes, & repairs for parts that go bad on the E39 (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
etc.

Since these are 'common' problems, I doubt this thread will improve upon them ... since they've been covered numerous times ...

1. Go to the E39 bestlinks thread (at the top of this forum);
2. Press control+f (find) in your browser & type the desired keyword;
3. Press F3 (repeat) to find each of the links of interest, or press "Enter" to open that link in your browser.

The most common problems to check and/or repair in the E39 appear to be (1) (2):
  1. - COOLING SYSTEM CATASTROPHICALLY FAILS: brittle plastic expansion tank, radiator, & thermostat housings that blow up due to faulty plastic mostly at the upper hose neck and also faulty water pumps, hoses, and fan clutches (1) that send whirling blades through the hood and quarter panels (1) & autopsy here (1)
  2. - I6 VANOS SEALS DETERIORATE: they're made out of the wrong materials so that they harden and leak over time causing degraded performance (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) & how VANOS works (1) (2) (3) & what your options are (1) and vanos application table (1)
  3. - V8 VALLEY PAN GASKETS LEAK: poorly designed V8 valley pan gaskets that leak coolant (1) (2) (3)
  4. - CLUSTER PIXELS FAIL LINE BY LINE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on the instrument cluster causing dead pixels (1) [cluster removal instructions (1) (2)]
  5. - MID PIXELS SLOWLY DIE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on MID causing dead pixels (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) [MID removal instructions (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)] [MID pixel test sequence (1) ]
  6. - HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS CRUMBLE: brittle PBT plastic headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) & a comprehensive list of all your available options, by price (1)
  7. - FAN CONTROL GOES HAYWIRE: poorly ventilated final stage resistur/final stage unit (FSR/FSU) modules that are practically sure to go haywire due to poor heat-sink design (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) ... Autopsy (1) (2) often causing the battery to drain overnight (1) (2) (3)
  8. - CCV FAILS: crankcase ventilation valve diaphragm tears, freezes (1), &/or clogs (1), necessitating CCV replacement (M54,M54,M54) (M52,M52) (M52TU) (M62,M62) ('99 528i) ('98 528i); raising pressures, often causing the OFH oil filter housing to leak (1) (2) (3); frequently blowing the VCG valve cover gasket (1); and sometimes the head gasket (1) (2); often causing vacuum leaks (1) (2) (3)
  9. - AMBER ABS/DSC/BRAKE LIGHTS: tack-welded steel resistance-welded Bosch 5.x ABS control module power wires that break off their gold contact because of being too close to engine heat and vibration (1) ... Abs control module autopsy (1) (2) (3) (4) ... and explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools fail (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) & accessing the wheel speed sensor at the wheel (1)
  10. - REAR DOOR VAPOR BARRIER FAILS CAUSING WATER PUDDLES: improper adhesive used on rear door vapor barrier seals that allow rain water to fill the rear footwell (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & sizes for the adhesive (1)
  11. - FRONT SHOCKS FAIL PREMATURELY VIOLENT SHUDDER WHILE BRAKING: OEM Sachs shocks fail causing violent shudder upon front-wheel braking on bumps (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  12. - POWER WINDOWS SUDDENLY STOP WORKING: low-quality unreliable window regulator mechanisms (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) and a repair kit (1) (2) and for other models (1) (2) (3) (4)
  13. - TRUNK WIRING FRAYS ATROCIOUSLY: a badly designed trunk loom wiring harness certain to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2) & opening the trunk with the key when the car battery is dead (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  14. - THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS TEAR: fluid-filled thrust arm bushings that crack and tear causing vibrations at speed (0) (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  15. - IGNITION SWITCH FAILS: ignition switch that fails causing electrical problems (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
  16. - AMBIENT TEMPERATURE SENSOR BREAKS OFF: low mounted ambient temperature sensors in the passenger side front wheel well cover is practically designed to be ripped off on a parking curb (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
  17. - SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER BREAK OFF: seat covers that don't protect switches for both the steering wheel tilt & driver's seat control (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  18. - SEAT CABLES BREAK: seat cables that fall out causing seat twist (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & accidental airbag light fix (1) (2)
  19. - WINDSHIELD WASHER LEAKS: windshield reservoirs prone to leaking due to an ill-fitting pump o-ring gasket (1) (2) or to hose disintegration (1) (2) or to leaks in the main reservoir (1) (2) (3) or leaks in the intensive wash system (1) (2) or the pump itself goes bad (1) (2) & debugging hints (1) & adjusting nozzles after repair (1) & windshield washer fluid (1) and intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
  20. - POWER STEERING RESERVOIR CAP LEAKS OILY MIST: constantly wet power steering reservoirs due to poor O-ring design (1) (2)
  21. - POWER STEERING HOSE DRIPS ATF ONTO ALTERNATOR: power steering hose clamps practically guaranteed to leak (1) (2)
  22. - ALTERNATOR FAILS PREMATURELY: most say this premature failure is due to power steering leaks just above it so do a rebuild BEFORE your alternator fails catastrophically on you (1) (2) & how to prevent leaves in your alternator air-intake duct (1) (2)
  23. - WINDSHIELD MOLDING CRUMBLES: heat labile rubber windshield & back window molding that crumbles in three years due to poor choice of recycled materials (1) (2)
  24. - JACK PADS FALL OFF: plastic jack pads that fall off the underside of the frame due to poor latch design causing jack failures & wind noise (1) (2) (3) & good jack stands (1)
  25. - AIR CONDITIONING ODORS: poorly designed cabin-filter housing drain hoses to clog which leaves causing gym-sock smells from the AC (1) (2) (3)
  26. - BMW ROUNDEL PAINT CHIPS AWAY: cheaply painted BMW emblem roundels that wash away in the car wash over time (1)
  27. - CUPHOLDERS BREAK EASILY: front and rear (nearly useless) cupholder replacement strategies (1)
  28. - WOOD TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: wood trim whose varnish cracks and whose cd cover doors rattle (1) (2) (3)
  29. - PLASTIC VENT TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: plastic trim around the air vents which invariably crack at the corners (1) (2) (3)
  30. - SAP CLOGS or FREEZES (1): the secondary air pump (SAP) valve (aka diverter valve) clogs, taking out the SAS (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  31. - MAF CLOGS: the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and idle control valve (ICV) require periodic cleaning (1) (2)
  32. - DISA VALVE FLAP BREAKS: the DISA valve flap breaks, sometimes with parts sucked into the intake manifold (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & recommended parts (1) (2) & brand selection (1)
  33. DOOR EDGE PROTECTION MOLDING SEALS neoprene rubber crumbles prematurely (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
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