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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 08-14-2019, 03:31 AM
silvre39 silvre39 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540i
alternator life expectancy

Hey I'm new to the e39 and this forum but not forum etiquette. I've tried the search function but never really found the answer I'm looking for.
My 540i has about 100kmiles and has been sitting last 2 years from PO. Now in my hands I want a update the maintenance and reliability.
I'm doing cooling system work anyway so have this question..
How long can we expect our dearly beloved liquid cooled wonders to last?
Cheers
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  #2  
Old 08-14-2019, 04:04 AM
Santaclaus4 Santaclaus4 is offline
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Mein Auto: Two 2003 540i Msport's
My 2003 540i had the original alternator last 150,000 miles. The first replacement lasted about 10,000 miles. I'm on the third and so far it's been installed about 8,000 miles.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:09 AM
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Hitdog540 Hitdog540 is offline
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Location: Stoughton, MA
 
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Mein Auto: '03 540/6, '15 550
235k miles...original
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:14 AM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Mein Auto: 540/6, '16 Highlander XLE
Put the year and model (540i or 540ia) in the Mein Auto:, top right corner so we won't need to ask that info. Sometimes it matters.

My first water cooled alt lasted about 5 years, maybe 70K. My 2nd one is still fine, I'm at 160K now.
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  #5  
Old 08-14-2019, 09:37 AM
CSMBlack-540i CSMBlack-540i is offline
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Location: "Empire State" of Mind
 
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Mein Auto: CDN 98 540i M62 3.15
Air cooled still original and 130K miles. Have the bearings, brushes and slip ring parts on standby in a box for a rebuild when it goes.
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  #6  
Old 08-14-2019, 01:35 PM
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energizedmortal energizedmortal is offline
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Location: North Carolina
 
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Mein Auto: 2001 530i
Original died at 125,000 miles. Reman replacement was at 211,000 still going.
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  #7  
Old 08-14-2019, 03:41 PM
Chedley Chedley is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 E39 540i
My first original water-cooled alternator lasted 17 years, 160 K miles. I am on my second alternator (Bosh brand name oem).
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:23 AM
yodude66 yodude66 is offline
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Mein Auto: 528i\X3
I replaced 4 with re-builds each lasting 135K-153K air cooled.
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  #9  
Old 08-15-2019, 05:19 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is online now
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Location: Seattle, WA
 
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Mein Auto: 01' 540 M-Sport, Scuderia
First alternator lasted about 119,000 miles. I had the BMW dealer replace with their factory rebuilt Bosch with lifetime warranty. That one went about 130,000 miles to failure. Got my free one, and free coolant, hose, hose clamps and misc parts, but did charge me for four hours of labor for "diagnosis and installation". Failure mode for both was the voltage regulator. When it comes time to replace yours, I would shop around online for the Bosch factory rebuild. They are available in the USA for around $400, with a $150 core charge (core charge returned upon receipt of your old alternator). There seems to always be complaints about the variable quality of rebuilt alternators these days...the Bosch seems to be pretty decent. They should know how to rebuild them, since they made them originally for the M62/540 engine.
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 08-15-2019 at 05:24 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-16-2019, 02:43 AM
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Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
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Mein Auto: e39, e83, e60
247,7**original water cooled
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Last edited by Burning2nd; 08-16-2019 at 02:45 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2019, 06:12 AM
silvre39 silvre39 is offline
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Location: ontario
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 540i
Hmm
Except for Burning2nd amazing numbers and not knowing the service history of this vehicle looks like a flip of the coin to change out at 100k.
Well I for one would've thought a water cooled unit would outlast an air cooled! But hey, been wrong before!
I seriously dislike changing parts when there not broken but a alternator going bad has a way of ruining some of the best made plans.
cheers
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  #12  
Old 08-17-2019, 07:22 AM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 528i
97 528i w/ 134k , still on original alternator .


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  #13  
Old 08-17-2019, 11:18 PM
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musa musa is offline
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Mein Auto: E39, E53, E92, F86
'97 528 air cooled. Original died after 17 years with 181k miles on the odometer. Replaced with rebuilt one for $200 from starterpros.com. Still going strong with 240k miles on the odometer. They're pretty cheap nowadays. Can get them for $115k rebuilt in USA to OEM standards.
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Last edited by musa; 08-17-2019 at 11:28 PM.
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