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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 05-15-2019, 05:15 AM
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Weird Starting issue

On Monday, about to join a funeral procession line, I turned the key to start the car and the starter just ran with no engine ignition. I have the automatic start feature. I almost crapped my pants given the situation. How embarrassing would that have been.

It almost sounded like the old cars that had a kill switch. I immediately reversed the key, looked at my girlfriend and said holy **** and then tried it again and it fired up as normal.

Is this an indicator of something I should look into or just one of those weird gremlins? Anyone have this experience?
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:38 AM
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how long had the car been turned off when you tried to start it? if it was my car, id check fuel pressure at the rail first, reading after its sat for an hour with out trying to start, then again with the engine running. mine was doing a similar thing a while back, intermittent hard start, let it sit for a while and checked pressure, it had dropped to near 0 after sitting an hour, not every time, took multiple tests to see it do that. replaced the fuel pump, turns out i was running on the original fuel pump at 185k miles. nary an issue since.
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:04 AM
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how long had the car been turned off when you tried to start it? if it was my car, id check fuel pressure at the rail first, reading after its sat for an hour with out trying to start, then again with the engine running. mine was doing a similar thing a while back, intermittent hard start, let it sit for a while and checked pressure, it had dropped to near 0 after sitting an hour, not every time, took multiple tests to see it do that. replaced the fuel pump, turns out i was running on the original fuel pump at 185k miles. nary an issue since.


Thanks Matt. The car was only sitting for an hour and a half.


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Old 05-16-2019, 04:49 PM
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still worth reading the fuel pressure as stated in post #2. would i be correct in assuming that youve been driving it since and has no issues? anything in the maint record of the fuel pump or relay having been replaced?
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:56 PM
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still worth reading the fuel pressure as stated in post #2. would i be correct in assuming that youve been driving it since and has no issues? anything in the maint record of the fuel pump or relay having been replaced?


Correct, it happened on Monday and hasnít happened since. No records of the fuel pump or relay in my file on the car which includes the prior owners records.

Iíll have my shop test the pressure at my next oil change which is soon.


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Old 05-17-2019, 04:06 PM
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Ok, did again leaving work. This time I let the starter spin a bit longer seeing if it would engage and it didnít. Turned the key to off, waited a half second and it started right up.

One time maybe a freak thing, two times in 5 days means thereís an issue developing. Iím guessing by the low volume of input on this thread, this is not one of those things that ďyup, at a 100k miles itís definitely thisĒ so Iíll do some research.

Thanks Matt, Iíll start with your fuel pump and relay suspicions.


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Old 05-17-2019, 04:55 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Either....

Car is saying get me a burial plot OR how long has it been since yo replaced my fuel filter? Reminds me I need a filter R&R. I'm pushing 100k mi. since I did it last.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:09 PM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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Yep...probably, a clogged fuel filter that has never been replaced. Check and replace the fuel hoses lines leading to the fuel filter when you replace it.

It is a pretty easy DIY job. Make sure you disconnect the negative cable of the battery when you do it.
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  #9  
Old 05-18-2019, 01:41 AM
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Thanks to both of you. That certainly sounds like an easy cheap option to try first. I'll google where it is and how to do it.
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:50 AM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4thBMW View Post
Car is saying get me a burial plot OR how long has it been since yo replaced my fuel filter? Reminds me I need a filter R&R. I'm pushing 100k mi. since I did it last.
I do it by the BMW book, at 50 K miles intervals. And never had any fuel related problem.
I have replaced it 3 times on my car (180 K miles)
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  #11  
Old 05-18-2019, 06:35 AM
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I've had the identical starting issue...but I'm discouraged to do any maintenance due to the fact that 80% of the time the thing starts instantly...first turn, at the start of the day turns over like a champ! pretty impressive, now if I could get this to 100%...I've got a replacement kit on the shelf for the fuel pump/filter unit. Now that I think about it...could the performance be dependent on the level of gas in the tank...never put the two together until now.

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  #12  
Old 05-18-2019, 07:14 AM
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I've had the identical starting issue...but I'm discouraged to do any maintenance due to the fact that 80% of the time the thing starts instantly...first turn, at the start of the day turns over like a champ! pretty impressive, now if I could get this to 100%...I've got a replacement kit on the shelf for the fuel pump/filter unit. Now that I think about it...could the performance be dependent on the level of gas in the tank...never put the two together until now.

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Fist time for me was on an over 50% fill. Second time I was on fumes.


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  #13  
Old 05-18-2019, 08:01 AM
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I think Iíll let my shop do it. I donít even own a jack. Seems easy if itís on a lift.




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Old 05-18-2019, 08:54 AM
Asbradley21 Asbradley21 is offline
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I did mine without jacking up the car. The hardest part is just removing the underbody panel.
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  #15  
Old 05-18-2019, 08:56 AM
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I did mine without jacking up the car. The hardest part is just removing the underbody panel.


Yeah without jacking it up that could be a bitch. My car sits pretty low.


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Old 05-18-2019, 09:06 AM
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a jack is pretty much needed to replace the filter with the lower msport....unless youre a tiny person. when working on the car next, look and see if there are any pending codes just for grins.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:46 AM
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a jack is pretty much needed to replace the filter with the lower msport....unless youre a tiny person. when working on the car next, look and see if there are any pending codes just for grins.


Ha, I ainít tiny but even 6feet 185 Iím not lying on the ground blind for $100 in labor.


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Old 05-18-2019, 12:35 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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That "continuous cranking" problem has been addressed ver the years

on this site and elsewhere as related to the key switch mechanism...have a search on that.
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Old 05-18-2019, 01:54 PM
djbecker djbecker is offline
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I would suspect the ignition switch first. That is a known problem with this era of BMW.

The symptoms do not match a clogged filter. And it's never the filter. A clogged filter would first show as a lean condition under high load, not during starting.

It could be the fuel pump. The best diagnostic is checking for pressure at the schrader valve after a non-start event, before attempting to re-start. If you press down on the pin and get a squirt of gas in the eye, the pressure is good. If not, suspect the pump.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:25 PM
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I've had a similar problem. Started at around 100k+ miles, the car would occasionally turn over, but never "catch" or run. Just kept cranking until I manually turned the key to 0 position. Would do it randomly about once every one, two or even three months, before it happened again. I eventually had the ignition switch replaced, thinking this might be the fix. It stopped for about 50k or so miles, then started up again. I replaced the ignition switch again, maybe 75K miles later, and again, seemed to stop the problem for maybe a year or two, then returned. I haven't replaced the ignition switch for a third time. I'm not convinced this is a fix or not. My fuel pump died about 5 years ago, and I had a new one installed at the dealer, it still did it after the replacement.
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  #21  
Old 05-19-2019, 05:23 AM
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Thanks for the insight. Seems this could be tough to diagnose


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Old 05-19-2019, 10:46 AM
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unfortunately you might end up with a "process of elimination" in diagnosing this.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:41 PM
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Thanks for the insight. Seems this could be tough to diagnose


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I gave up. At present, it only does it every 4 to 6 months, so I haven't worried about it much. If it bothers you, or is frequent, I would start with the ignition switch. Factory ones are less than $100 online. Stick with oem. Make sure you get the right one, there is a separate one for manual, versus automatic trans.
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:21 PM
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i will say this much...i had an intermittent crank no start on my 528i some time ago. couldnt duplicate it, once it malfunctioned, next crank it started every time. never a code. i did pull the fuel pump relay, saw some brown/black discoloration of the male pins on it, cleaned the socket, new relay, no problem since. could be coincidence, dunno. prior to replacing the relay, i wondered the age of the fuel pump, pulled the back seat, saw that the factory oetiker clamps were on the fuel line, went yikes that i was approaching 180k miles on the original pump. changed it, still saw the original intermittent problem. but i do feel a lot better that i replaced the pump.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:50 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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ROGER *all of that* @153K mi.

and orig. fuel pump 100 k 'old' filter and get my head gear for a squirt in the eye ...not.

ordger a new filter and the 'other' hatch lift shock...+ 10 oil filter before tariffs kick in.
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