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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 07-29-2015, 11:09 AM
gprix77 gprix77 is offline
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Beware OEM Jack

The factory jack for my 97 528i is a joke, my first flat, the rear passenger tire, I pulled of the road and place the parking brake on,chucked the front wheel, I loosened lug nuts, and then proceeded to jack car up, i have a habit of placing the flat tire under the vehicle thank god i did, because as soon as i started to mount the spare the Jack just gave way, it just bent luckily the flat tire was under the car. this oem jack sucks, If you still have one invest in a better jack.
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  #2  
Old 07-29-2015, 12:24 PM
Peter T Peter T is offline
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Been there, done that, got the t shirt!

I now carry a portable 2 ton trolley jack at all times.
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  #3  
Old 07-29-2015, 12:57 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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The OEM jack IS serviceable, if properly positioned on the plastic jack pads. Perhaps yours are gone, not uncommon.
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  #4  
Old 07-29-2015, 01:28 PM
1gr8e39 1gr8e39 is offline
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I've used my OE Jacks on all my e39's over the years on gravel, dirt, hills, etc and never had one slip. I think more important than OP saying "never use the jack your provided," say instead "if your using your oem Jack make sure you have e brake set, car is on level surface, have your spare out and ready, and place flat under car while installing the spare. Better instructions on how to properly use the Jack is better than scaring all e39 owners away from changing their own spares with the Jack that has not only been provided, but has worked successfully in hundreds of thousands of spare changes, just because you had a bad experience, which could've been your fault. I'm not trolling here. I just don't want people to have fear about a Jack that so many people have used and never had issues. Just make sure when you use the Jack to follow the instructions provided in your owners manual the first time so your familiar with the right procedure for it to be safe.
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  #5  
Old 07-29-2015, 03:21 PM
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Sorry to hear this happened...but glad you did mention that you chocked the front end. As other's have already stated...the oe jack must be used with thought of how it's made and where you are lifting.

It has a very small foot print...thus concentrated weight in a small space. If the surface is loose or soft...then this could present an issue. Also if the vehicle is not on a level surface (yes, this may be difficult to get around in a roadside emergency)...as well as if you're lifting the rear of the car.

When the rear of the car is being lifted...there is nothing to prevent the vehicle from rolling forward...the parking brake secures the rear axle...and if the vehicle is an automatic and in PARK...then the park pawl is also only preventing the rear axle from moving. There is NOTHING to prevent the front axle from rolling forward UNLESS you chock the vehicle when lifting the rear end. So any slight movement or bump can cause the vehicle to move forward...and the oe jack will act like a pivot as the weight of the vehicle moves forward...and if the ground is soft or loose...this makes it even worse.

I carry an extra 6"-8" square of plywood to use as a platform for the base of the jack to sit on...in case of emergency and the ground is wet or soft....this will disperse the weight over a larger area. And asphalt isn't much better...because on a very hot day...it can soften enough to cause a jack to tip over. Many motorcycle owners carry a kick stand pad because their bikes can fall over if the asphalt gets too soft.
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  #6  
Old 07-29-2015, 04:25 PM
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the e39 OEM jack is known as the "suicide jack" because it is known to blow out. The threaded rod goes through a nylon thread plastic nut at the pivot which is obviously not the appropriate material for something so important. The first time I used mine I had the car up in the air and it collapse just as I put the jack stand under the car narrowly avoiding severe injury.
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:16 AM
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Actually the real name for the OE jack, as far as the bimmerheads call it, is: "The Widowmaker"
It's a real POS just like the cupholders.
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  #8  
Old 07-30-2015, 09:02 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Hydraulic Floor Jack (the 2-ton type sold for $25) is great for jacking the car. However, the downside is oil leak, if you are not careful, oil may leak out the fill port (rubber plug), messing up the trunk interior.

The factory jack, if you look carefully, has a small metal plate acting as the "nut", surrounded by plastic. It is a very dangerous design, basically deadly. Very stupid engineering, which is surprising coming from BMW, a reputable car mfg. I threw the E39 factory jack away.

I now use a Honda Odyssey "scissor-type jack", which is all metal: no plastic!
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  #9  
Old 07-30-2015, 10:33 AM
jatsold3 jatsold3 is offline
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I travel with a hydraulic jack. I've had issues with the OEM one. Still wish my Buick scissors jack would work, they made it with a lip on it and there is no place to use it on the E39.
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2015, 11:05 AM
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seemyad seemyad is offline
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I keep a set of these in my car

FloTool 11930MI Heavy Duty Wheel Chocks
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...rch_detailpage

I do not recall ever using my jack. I may have used it once four years ago in my garage but not sure.

This is a good thread because a jack is something you never think about (at least I don't) until you need it. Car jacks are typically buried in the trunk. Out of sight, out of mind. Thanks to this discussion, I will give some thought to the best course of action (keep the OEM jack or replace it).

We sometimes become complacent, which can result in serious injury. Other times we are forced into a situation where we have little or no experience. I have not changed a flat tire in over a decade. I just assumed that when the time comes it won't be very challenging to do (complacent).

On another safety related topic. I intend to change my fuel filter. Before doing so I will purchase a fire extinguisher to have on hand. I have one for the condo I live in. It's one of those break the glass to use in an emergency. I don't have one in my garage or my car. Again, complacency can be deadly.

All of the comments here have been very useful for me . Some flats occur on perfect days and newly asphalted, flat roads. While other flats occur during a rain or snow storm on uneven surfaces. The question to be asked is:

Is the jack safe enough for a novice to use under worst case scenario road conditions?

It may work wonders in good weather. As they say. hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

PS I keep a really nice reflective triangle in my trunk that also has oscillating LEDs that flash and move around the perimeter.

Last edited by seemyad; 07-30-2015 at 11:06 AM.
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  #11  
Old 07-30-2015, 11:33 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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@seemyad,

To answer your question, the factory jack is "somewhat safe" IF one follows these recommendations:

- One does not crawl underneath!

- Limit tire change to 15 seconds: in other words, get the spare out first, verify that it has air (> 30psi), set the spare right there and get ready to swap.

- No passenger or heavy cargo in the car. No kids jumping up and down inside the car!!!

- Solid surface like concrete is best. If not use QSilver7's advice of having a small piece of plywood as a platform on softer surface.

- As mentioned above, chock both the fore and aft part of diagonally opposite tire with wheel chocks. If replacing RR tire, chock the fore and aft parts of LF tire.

- Now loose the lugs and jack the car up.

- The time the car has no tire should NOT be more than 15 sec, i.e., quickly swap tires.


----------
See video below on E46 jack, which is the same as E39. It shows you the "nut" as a combo of steel plate and plastic:



Last edited by cn90; 07-30-2015 at 11:38 AM.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2015, 11:47 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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If you look carefully at the design...

- White Plastic Plug is basically a "filler".

- When car is up in the air, the downward force (from the weight of the car) acts on the steel rod screw, which acts on the steel "nut", pushing the steel nut into the steel frame (BLUE arrow). So it is "OK" (not that bad). But the steel nut is the weakest link here because it is flimsy design!

So, as long as people swap tires quickly in an emergency, then it is fine...



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  #13  
Old 07-30-2015, 12:31 PM
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seemyad seemyad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
@seemyad,

To answer your question, the factory jack is "somewhat safe" IF one follows these recommendations:

- One does not crawl underneath!

- Limit tire change to 15 seconds: in other words, get the spare out first, verify that it has air (> 30psi), set the spare right there and get ready to swap.

- No passenger or heavy cargo in the car. No kids jumping up and down inside the car!!!

- Solid surface like concrete is best. If not use QSilver7's advice of having a small piece of plywood as a platform on softer surface.

- As mentioned above, chock both the fore and aft part of diagonally opposite tire with wheel chocks. If replacing RR tire, chock the fore and aft parts of LF tire.

- Now loose the lugs and jack the car up.

- The time the car has no tire should NOT be more than 15 sec, i.e., quickly swap tires.
Great intel! Good, clear instructions.

I don't even know if the jack boots are still attached to the bottom of my car. Thanks to the video, I can go and take a look, and buy new ones if they are missing.
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post


So, as long as people swap tires quickly in an emergency, then it is fine...



lol sure its safe as long as your fast, I like that. Fast enough to change the tire before the jack blows out without any warning, the car comes crashing down and kills you. THINK FAST!
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  #15  
Old 07-30-2015, 02:40 PM
jetsam jetsam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemyad View Post
I don't even know if the jack boots are still attached to the bottom of my car.
There is a thread I saw that is pages and pages about the jack pads with pictures of what happens when you use the oem jack without them.

You should find that thread.
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Old 07-30-2015, 03:46 PM
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seemyad seemyad is offline
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What are some recommended viable substitutes that are sturdy enough for the job yet do not take up much more space than the OEM jack?
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Old 07-30-2015, 08:21 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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As mentioned above, good alternatives are:

- Honda Odyssey scissor jack, about $30 on ebay.

- Volvo XC90 jack, also about $30 on ebay.

You can also find them at local junk yard.
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  #18  
Old 07-30-2015, 10:29 PM
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musa musa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
lol sure its safe as long as your fast, I like that. Fast enough to change the tire before the jack blows out without any warning, the car comes crashing down and kills you. THINK FAST!
Yeah, my OEM jack failed on me once (wheel wasn't yet removed when I got interrupted leaving it holding the car up) and since then I'm always careful with it not to leave it too long supporting the vehicle. But actually floor jacks too have the same caution.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:17 PM
Peter T Peter T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
@seemyad,

To answer your question, the factory jack is "somewhat safe" IF one follows these recommendations:

- One does not crawl underneath!

- Limit tire change to 15 seconds: in other words, get the spare out first, verify that it has air (> 30psi), set the spare right there and get ready to swap.

- No passenger or heavy cargo in the car. No kids jumping up and down inside the car!!!

- Solid surface like concrete is best. If not use QSilver7's advice of having a small piece of plywood as a platform on softer surface.

- As mentioned above, chock both the fore and aft part of diagonally opposite tire with wheel chocks. If replacing RR tire, chock the fore and aft parts of LF tire.

- Now loose the lugs and jack the car up.

- The time the car has no tire should NOT be more than 15 sec, i.e., quickly swap tires.


----------
See video below on E46 jack, which is the same as E39. It shows you the "nut" as a combo of steel plate and plastic:


Sounds great!

Early morning in winter, dark, raining, I defy anyone to change a wheel in 15 seconds, even with loosened wheel bolts and the spare standing by!!
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter T View Post
Sounds great!

Early morning in winter, dark, raining, I defy anyone to change a wheel in 15 seconds, even with loosened wheel bolts and the spare standing by!!
I'm going to order the Honda Odyssey jack. The Volvo jack has the long, zig-zag shaped arm that I don't care for (its the arm that you turn to jack up the car). Some people prefer it though. I have long arms so it feels a little awkward to me.

I have used fix-a-flat years ago on other vehicles. Of course that left a mess on the wheel inside the tire.

I keep a can of fix-a-flat with me on road trips for GPs. I'd use the spare before the fix-a-flat. However, if it were raining cats and dogs and lightning was striking all over the place, I'd use the fix-a-flat as a quick fix (of course unless the tire was ripped or shredded).
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:10 PM
jetsam jetsam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemyad View Post
What are some recommended viable substitutes that are sturdy enough for the job yet do not take up much more space than the OEM jack?
Why carry a separate jack for something that almost never happens?

How many times in your life do you expect to change a tire on the side of the road?

While I'm no fan of that jack, mine is brand new, and has never been used.
It's just there in case it is needed in a real emergency.
Which has never happened to me yet.

The biggest danger isn't the jack anyway.

How many people get killed by getting hit by cars while changing tires on the side of the road?

My advice is simple.
  1. Make sure your jack pads are in place and in good condition
  2. Make sure you have chocks and the OEM jack in the boot
  3. Don't change a tire on the side of the road, if you can help it
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:16 PM
jetsam jetsam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemyad View Post
I keep a can of fix-a-flat with me on road trips for GPs. I'd use the spare before the fix-a-flat.
I used to keep a can of the fix a flat stuff for years and the cheap kit for repairing nail holes, but they always went bad in the heat of the trunk before I ever needed thjem.

I also used to keep a halon fire extinguisher, bandages, splints, and other first aid supplies, in the back seat, addition to a set of tools in the boot. With the exception of the tools, I never used the other things, so I don't carry them anymore.

I guess the fix a flat is a good idea to get off the highway because the biggest danger isn't the jack of death. The biggest danger is another motorist hitting you while you're on the side of the road working on the wheels.

So, ANYTHING that gets you to a safe spot is what you need to plan for.
The jack is meaningless in that context.
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  #23  
Old 07-31-2015, 06:58 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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@seemyad,

Visit a local Pick-and-Pull junkyard. My junkyard charges $7 for a tire jack. Tons of them in the jy lot. Pick whatever you like, as long as it is not rusted and all steel, then you will be fine.

@jetsam: "How many times in your life do you expect to change a tire on the side of the road?"
This is like buying health insurance, why would anyone buy health insurance...
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  #24  
Old 07-31-2015, 10:22 PM
jetsam jetsam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
This is like buying health insurance, why would anyone buy health insurance...
No it's not like health insurance. You buy health insurance because you can't afford the consequences, not because you don't trust the doctor.

You buy a second car jack because you don't trust the first jack, not because you can't afford to replace it.

Mind you, I don't have anything against a better jack than that OEM jack of hell but now it's going to take up space in your trunk and bounce around if you don't secure it. Is it worth that?

It isn't worth it to me but if the guy wants to, I'm not going to stop him. The OEM jack stinks but I'll bet his problem is missing jack pads anyway. So first things first, that's all I'm saying.
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  #25  
Old 07-31-2015, 10:45 PM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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We should be clear about what a jack failure is and is not:

a jack failure is:
physical collapse (i.e. via component failure) of the jack so that it is no longer capable of supporting the vehicle

a jack failure is not:
improper placement of jack on missing jack pads/jacking points
operator error / failure to account for soft/uneven surfaces or initial/mid jacking misalignment


both scenarios end the same way, but the causes are very different.
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Although I have nothing scientific to say, I can confidently say that it works.
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