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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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Old 05-20-2008, 10:51 AM
djt5150 djt5150 is offline
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Musty Smell in your car?

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Old 05-22-2008, 04:56 AM
djt5150 djt5150 is offline
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Electronics going crazy?

Seems to be a frequent occurence. It's probably the ignition switch at fault. Here's a thread with some good links regarding this phenomenon.

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Old 08-21-2008, 05:53 AM
djt5150 djt5150 is offline
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Secondary Air Pump Problems

This seems to be pretty common. I'm working on mine right now. I did some research, and thought it would be a good idea to compile the good stuff here.



These are some good discussions on the air pump system/problems/solutions/part numbers. What I'm finding out is that replacing the valve and the air pump may fix your CEL for a while, but there may still be problems. For instance, when I took off my old air pump, being the curious person that I am, I took it apart (you pretty much have to tear the pump into pieces - but I knew it was bad so what the hey) and found that it was completely melted on the inside. So I put the new one on and it did not have any power. I found the relay in the E-box and took it out. Jumped the big two wires together and the new pump came on (only works when engine is running - and cold). So my relay is bad - stuck in the "off" position. I must assume that the relay was bad earlier - and was probably stuck in the "on" position which fried my pump due to overuse.

So, everybody will tell you that when replacing the pump, go ahead and get the secondary air pump valve. I would take that a step further and say, go ahead and get the salmon colored relay for it, too. According to this research, these relays are a main culprit for pump failure (I'm not unique). Hope this helps somebody else.
And that's when I saw my entire checkbook flash before my eyes...
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:22 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Some research for the E39 FAQ that I wish I had before I did it

Here are some DIYs and research that I would want others to have access to in the E39 FAQ.

My repair list for the 525i E39 is currently ...
- air conditioning stink research & diy
- windshield cover molding diy
- driver seat cover replacement diy
- cupholder replacement diy
- instrument cluster (pixels out) replaced by dealer
- intermittent fan blower (FSU) research
- jack lifting pads research & diy
- broken gas cap tether research
- brake bump shudder judder shake to pieces research

My maintenance list is currently ...
- four wheel brake job diy
- brake fluid diy
- H7 light bulb research
- oil change power extractor research

My nice-to-have list is currently ...
- dice ipod research & DIY
- best parts supplier by price and availability research
- obnoxious door lock research

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Old 03-24-2009, 04:38 PM
sick528i sick528i is offline
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My car is acting up when i start it up to warm up. At first the car seems fine, but once the temp gauge reaches between the edge of the blue on the gauge and the first line after, it sounds like it dies, and accelerates over again without touchin the pedal. The car sometimes dies if it is too cold outside and the computer when plugged in told me to replace the double temperature switch coolant temperature switch. I dont know why it is doing this or what that sensor has an effect on the car warming up. HELP ASAP
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:11 PM
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synenergy52 synenergy52 is offline
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Spinning Key Syndrome help:

I finished the install of my ignition housing, switch, and tumbler. I am sorry I did not take any photos. The only camera I have is very expensive and I didn't want to risk damaging or dirtying it! But I'll be as detailed as possible.

I had the dreaded spinning key syndrome. I came home from work one day and tried to shut off the car and the key came out, but engine running. After messing around a bit, I figured out how to start the car by inserting my car key, or a flat-bladed screwdriver into the ignition SWITCH which had to be dislocated from the ignition housing. Waive the key by the transponder (The circular plastic ring around the ignition key hole) and you'll hear a little click. This means the car verified the correct key is IN or AROUND the ignition. Proceed to start by turning ignition switch. This was a temporary way for me to drive until I ordered the parts needed.

So after a month of starting my car with a screwdriver, I decided to bite the bullet and take on this repair.

These are the parts I bought, and the prices from Tischer BMW (getbmwparts.com) they apply to my 97 528i 10/97 build. Yours may be different, but not likely if you have an E39. *NOTE: PropellerHead indicates this part is different on some E39s, namely the V8 models with the comfortstart feature* To be safe, plug your vin # in to wherever you purchase from.

32320002723, Ignition Tumbler, $100.78
61326901961, Ignition Switch, $44.12
32301093572, Ignition Housing, $82.32
32311157967, Fracture Bolts (I think $1.50 each or something?) MAKE SURE YOU GET THESE!

The tumbler has to be coded, and you'll need to provide your driver's license and registration to any BMW dealer who orders this part for you. It will fit your key and your key only.

Kudos to Tischer BMW for their outstanding service and lightning fast shipping. It took about 5 days from the time I ordered for the parts to arrive to me all the way in California. Absolutely outstandidng!


Undo negative terminal from battery in trunk by using a 13MM open end wrench. You can use the one in the BMW tool kit. Place a cloth or blanket between the cable and the negative post. You don't want the cable falling back onto the terminal. This is important due to the airbag removal you're about to do. I tried to discharge any remaining electricity by waiting 10 minutes and flicker the interior light switches, headlights, etc. (JUST TO BE SAFE)

Remove steering column trim/panels. Two bolts holding it on, one top one bottom. Remove steering wheel. This is done by unscrewing two T-30 TORX bolts. I used a Torx T30 screwdriver. The bolts are behind the steering wheel, one on the left and right sides. You may want to do this with the car on as you'll need to turn the steering wheel left and right to gain access. DON'T remove all the way with the car on, just break them loose enough so the airbag/cover can be pulled. The bolts are stubborn but with enough force they WILL break lose. Keep trying. They release the airbag/cover which allow you to get to the main 17mm bolt to release the steering wheel.

Don't fully remove the airbag cover just yet! There's 3 wires connecting the radio controls, horn, and of course the airbag. Carefully release all 3 wires. The airbag/cover will come free. Place in a safe area BMW logo pointing down. Just put it far away where animals or other small children won't chew on the wires or anything.

Ok now you'll see your dirty grimy and dusty steering wheel guts. Get a breaker bar or torque wrench and a long 17mm socket. It's better with an extension. Once 17mm bolt is removed the steering wheel will come out. There's cables underneath which attach to the steering wheel. I think two of them. Release them carefully. There's a ribbon cable inside the steering wheel, make sure that does not come out. place wheel in a safe place after removed.

You'll need to remove the blinker/windshield wiper control stalk (one piece) next. It's clipped on both sides of the housing. Just take a screwdriver and firmly tap it. It should come out. I let it hang--couldn't figure out how to remove it. Just be careful not to put any unneeded force on it while it hangs. Also remove the black cable on the back of the housing with a 13mm open end wrench. This is the cable which putting the car in park engages so you can remove your key.

If you ordered all 3 parts you can remove the housing with the old tumbler inside it. NO NEED TO DO THIS UNNECESSARY STEP of removing the damn tumbler with some stupid special "tool" or paperclips, etc. You're going to discard the housing/tumbler as a unit. Toss it.

OK now the ignition switch is held on by two tiny bolts using a flat-bladed precision screwdriver. Point the screwdrivers blade towards the sky under the ignition switch. Two bolts holding these to the ignition housing. There's also a bracket held on by two allen key bolts. This holds the ignition switch to the ignition housing. Remove those two bolts as well and shove it to the side (the bracket).

Ok here's where you'll have to be clever. There's probably TEN billion ways to do this but this worked for me. The FRACTURE/SHEAR bolts. Everyone said this is the hardest part--WRONG. It was actually quite easy. I'll describe the hard part later on.

I took my $40 costco drill and a small bit I bought from home depot, ALONG with a small, sharp chisel I also bought from Home depot and hammered out the bolts. The chisel is the size of a thick pencil. About 7" long. Take your small drill bit and drill an INDENTATION into the shear bolts. Just enough so where you strike it with the chisel it will catch on. This isn't necessary but makes the job easier. Once you engrave two tiny divets into the bolts. Take your chisel, point the corner of it into the bolt and angle your chisel to where if you strike it, the bolt will turn counter-clockwise! It will take a few very hard strikes to bust it loose. I used WD40 to penetrate the bolts about 8-10 minutes prior. This helped a lot. You'll start to see the bolts turn. Then with medium force just consistently tap the bolt. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap and it will drive out. The bolts are very soft so the chisel digs in nicely. You may not even need to use the drill bit. But I did and it worked. Continue to unscrew the bolts by hand. Toss 'em.


Don't pull the housing just yet. A slip ring is preventing the housing from sliding out towards you. Look on the very edge of where the steering wheel mounts. You'll see a ring which looks kind of like a key ring. It almost makes a complete circle... about the size of a nickle. This is holding the housing on. THIS IS THE TOUGH PART.

Here's how I did it.

this will require two hands and concentration. BE CAREFUL not to damage or MAR the steering wheel spline (The part where the steering wheel slips onto!) It's extremely fragile and the slightest impact will mar it, preventing the steering wheel from slipping back on) ask me how I know!

With one hand take your thumb and hold the slip ring firmly into place. With the other take a VERY thin flat bladed screw driver and shove it between the slip ring and twist and push it in. Not much force is needed. You'll see the ring LIFT just enough to slip the screwdriver in near where your thumb is. Remove your thumb from where you were pressing. Hopefully the ring didn't budge and you can stick another screwdriver where that space opened up. Then carefully twist the ring off using your screwdriver. This was a ROYAL pita. ONLY technique which worked for me.

The rest is easy. Various parts and rings slip off. BE CAREFUL to pay attention to which way they go on. Take pics if needed. The housing comes off now. CAREFUL. Don't throw away the housing just yet! There's little parts attached to it including a bearing which you'll need to transfer to the new housing. A bearing and a plastic clip. Pry em off with a screwdriver. Easy.

Take your car key, place it inside your new tumbler. Turn is just enough so you hear a click and the little protruding metal arm on the tumbler goes back in. This will allow you to slip the tumbler into the new housing. Make sure you line the tumbler up correctly with the housing. There's a tiny notch on both pieces to align. Easy. Click in.

OH NOES you can't remove your key? Don't fret. On the back of the housing you'll see a threaded opening. Take a small screwdriver and gently press down on the tab inside the opening. This will release the key. This is what is engaged when you put the car in park as mentioned earlier.

Slip new housing on with all new parts. Install top plate with new shear bolts. Torque em snugly but not enough to shear the heads off. You'll reach the specified torque when the heads shear off. Just don't shear the heads off until you're certain you did everything right. Otherwise you're back and square 1.

Now here's another TIP.

You'll now need to put the snap ring back on. Take your 17mm steering wheel bolt and put it back on the column. Don't tighten it al lthe way. Just thread it a few times.. I did this to pull the steering arm towards me while i put the snap ring back on. You'll see what I mean when you do this. Youll grab onto the 17mm bolt. It works great.

Snap the ring back on in its little groove. Use your screwdriver and start at one end and slowly work around to the other end. PATIENCE.

Install everything back in reverse order.

It now works like new.

Only gripe I have is the part Tischer sent me wasn't manufactured correctly. The area where you attach the ignition housing bracket and associated BIG heavy rubber block (no idea what this is or what it does) was not threaded. So I couldn't put back those two allen bolts. This isn't tichsers fault as they did not make the part. I will call Tischer Monday and see what they can do about this. This means my ignition switch isn't as tight against the housing as it should be. I ziptied it for now.

Sorry for the lengthy write up just trying to be as detailed as possible and help other BMW owners who may have had this problem. If you have an E39 and this hasn't happened to you yet, bookmark this.

Feel free to ask any questions.

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Shop at FCPEuro.com and use code MangoFCP5 at checkout for 5% off your order!
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:54 PM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540i
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
So instead of heading over to the dealer and bend over for the O2's, Autozone carries the Bosch PLUG AND PLAY (very important since others sell GENERIC ones that you need to SPLICE into the harness and that's just a glutton for pain and punishment).

it may not be in stock but give it a few days and they'll get it in. i'm not 100% sure about other E39's but for 540's the Bosch part # is: 13 559. They run for $65 (plus tax if applicable). sure beats the $135 dealer charges for the same damn part.
Sounds reasonable. Thanks
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Old 10-15-2009, 05:49 PM
Wicked.- Wicked.- is offline
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Spinning key additional notes

I am doing this exact job right now and just have a couple important things to add to the awesome write up above.

After reading the above instructions I went to work and following the above directions everything came apart like clockwork. The only difference is I took out my tumbler as opposed to getting a new one. How you do it is:

1. Pop off the plastic sensor that surrounds the key by taking a smaller flat blade screwdriver and putting it underneath the wire connector and between the metal lock body and plastic ring. Carefully twist forward till it pops off.
2. Turn the key to the 1 position
3. locate the the tiny hole at the edge of the key slot
4. find a nail that will fit in it but that's not flimsy and about 2.5" to 3" long
5. By hand start pushing the nail into the hole firmly and if you're lined up it should go in at least and inch. If you can't get it that far by hand take out the nail and double check your in position 1 and try again.
6. If it does go a ways in by hand then grab some pliers and firmly push it in harder. At this point take the pliers and grab around the tumbler and pull it out.
The paper clip may work but it's easier with the nail. I also tried using a small allen/hex key but it didn't work for me. They trick is to have it lined up in the 1 position and press the nail in firmly.
Lastly do not take out the nail until you're ready to put the tumbler in the new lock. Once you put it in the new one the ring will lock back in and you can then pull out the nail

The sensor ring just snaps right back on.

Second issue. There is a plastic bracket that surrounds the ignition switch, holds some of the wires and attaches to the steering lock you're replacing. It is held on by 2 #30 torx screws. The old screws did not fit the new steering lock for whatever reason. However I was able to thread in the bottom screw and it seemed like it self tapped.


After I picked up the parts today I excitedly drove the wife's Volvo Wagon home and changed clothes to put it all back together. While getting into the car the new ignition lock fell out of the box and BROKE............ When I say broke I mean the piece that holds the column lock down popped out... So I put it back together and re-assembled it with the ignition switch to see if it was o.k.. Unfortunately it would spin backward if I tried after the key was first put in. I then figured maybe it was a fluke and re-assembled the lock to the column. I even put on the snap ring. This time the key got stuck again........

I promptly called the dealer and ordered another ignition lock which will be here Monday.


Apart from these things I still recommend doing this yourself with the above instructions. Had I had someone else do it or the dealer the labor would have been minimum $300 and as high as $450. The parts with my buddy discount were originally only $180. That is going to now shoot up to $250 but the savings were worth it.

Overall time to do the job had I had the parts on hand would be two hours taking your time.

Pics Below


Last edited by Wicked.-; 10-16-2009 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:35 PM
Steveoreo Steveoreo is offline
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The real answer is change out the ignition switch. 90 bucks and 30 minutes later your electrical gremlins go away. Weird but true. Go to pelican parts.
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:07 AM
peter 1978 peter 1978 is offline
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2000 bmw 528i

my car is losing power it wents to shut off then youdrive for a while and rides fine but it putters around no engine light
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:20 PM
Steveoreo Steveoreo is offline
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go to e39.org/e39 awesome set of links that will help you
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Old 04-15-2011, 04:20 PM
[email protected] Joe@Bavarian is offline
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Sandbagging when you get an alignment. Yes, No & Why?

Sandbagging when you get an alignment. Yes, No & Why?

Some people say you have to sand bag your BMW to get an accurate alignment, others say it doesn't matter. Well that all depends on who sits in your car. If you are the only one in your car for more than 75% of the time and you have factory suspension & tire sizes, than no you don't need to sand bag it. 75lbs does not make enough difference to cause excessive tire wear. I know your thinking "75lbs"? Who weighs 75lbs? You split the weight… So if you wanted to do it anyway and you weigh 150lbs you would put a 75lb sandbag in the driver's seat. You also split the weight in tank. So you want a 1/2 tank of fuel. Now, on to the sandbagging.

When you do a sand-bag alignment, you want to set up your car the way it will be driven most of the time. You want to factor in how many people are in your car 75% of the time. We will pretend you have two people (including you) in your car most of the time.

1 - The first thing you do is only have the most common items in your trunk (the stuff you never take out).
2 - Make sure you have a 1/2 tank of fuel.
3 - Go off of your weight for all bags (avg is 150lbs). We have two people so we want two 75lb bags, one in each seat.

Now you have your car set up in the mid range of the average weight that it is driven most of the time. This is intended to give an even tire wear.

Now the question is "should I do it?"

If you have 15's - 16's tires on your car, then probably not. You have enough sidewall to compensate so you won't see much difference but it's your call.

Now if you running 17's - 18's or 19's like me then I do recommend it. The sidewall is low profile and very stiff not allowing much if any flex. This is when sandbagging can give you more of an even tread wear. At $200 - $400 dollars a tire you want to get as many miles as you can…

In the end it's your decision...
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Old 04-15-2011, 04:42 PM
ProRail ProRail is offline
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Originally Posted by sick528i View Post
My car is acting up when i start it up to warm up. At first the car seems fine, but once the temp gauge reaches between the edge of the blue on the gauge and the first line after, it sounds like it dies, and accelerates over again without touchin the pedal. The car sometimes dies if it is too cold outside and the computer when plugged in told me to replace the double temperature switch coolant temperature switch. I dont know why it is doing this or what that sensor has an effect on the car warming up. HELP ASAP
Typical VANOS problem. During the period between blue and vertical keep your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the accelerator and you'll get through this problem time. Yes, it shouldn't be a problem but no, it's not worth fiixing.

Last edited by ProRail; 04-15-2011 at 04:45 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 05-21-2011, 12:24 PM
Leben Leben is offline
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Originally Posted by chivas View Post
Ever start the car first thing in the morning (or when the block is cold) and when you start to drive off the car spudders a bit and only when the car warms up a bit does it run smooth from a dead stop? well, it's your buttplug..i mean sparkplug.

these should be changed with inspection I and II but hell, who's counting?

My source for the OE replacement at the cheapest price is at:
part #:
discount code:
nicoclub thanks to, well, you guessed it, NICO club (for those that don't know it's Nissan/Infiniti forum)

this is for NGK plugs BTW.

i orded 8 for the 540 and total FINAL price (included shipping) was $67.01

some other sites are going to cost about the same but they all do the same. the other sites might be forum sponsors so do buy it from them if you can/want to spring the extra dough. i bought mine before finding all this out or i would have supported the sponsors for a few bucks more. i'm cheap but when it comes those who make this place possible, i'm all for it.
Chivas, does this have anything to do with when the engine is cold and first started, and the RPM periodically drops and then raises while it's idling...almost like it's lightly revving itself? I'm new to the BMW community, so I'm a little unsure of all the interesting phenomena. Is it normal? Once engine reaches normal op temperature it stops doing this, that's why your post made me think of it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:34 PM
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seemyad seemyad is offline
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Ooops. I posted a reply in the wrong section.Sorry.

Last edited by seemyad; 07-27-2011 at 08:35 PM. Reason: wrong section
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Old 06-30-2012, 01:31 AM
brianst12 brianst12 is offline
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Where is the fuel pump relay. And i already replaced fuel pump and still no pressure to the fuel rail
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:03 AM
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eohagan eohagan is offline
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Originally Posted by bimmerd00d View Post

Based on color coding of the wires, I have the following associations between the drivers and the wires in the connector, including polarity:

Rear left voicecoil 1 + yellow/red - gray/brown
Rear left voicecoil 2 + blue/white - blue/brown
Rear right voicecoil 1 + yellow/white - yellow/brown
Rear right voicecoil 2 + yellow/black - yellow/gray

I also think I use the wiring diagrams at http://www.bmwtips.com/ as reference. The connector my wires go into is a 12 pin connector, with the outside pins unused.
came here to submit these color wires for adding an amp to the DSP system - all the wiring diagrams and links on bmwtips.com used to point to a bimmers.org forum that is now dead. Took me 3 weeks of dicking with my car to find the right wires to LOC into my amplifier!
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:09 AM
radd radd is offline
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Possible tires & Rims sizes

just try to cover future confusion about tires & rims changing
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Old 08-04-2013, 03:36 PM
scpousnret scpousnret is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i
gets in the way of my gun bag.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:40 PM
Beast540 Beast540 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iA Sport
I read that the batteries were always recharged when the keys are in the ignition and would never need replacement. However, both my keys are dead so I'm not sure this is correct.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:50 PM
scpousnret scpousnret is offline
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I thought the same thing and both of my
keys are dead also, which was the nature
of my original post/delima.
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:30 PM
xenopherous xenopherous is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 528i
Originally Posted by chivas View Post
yes, it's a great car but NO, the cup holders work as well las LBJ's legs.

you got 4 choices:

1: get OEM so look around ebay since most dealer's price is kind of a rip though not always.

2: http://ultimatecupholders.com <-- great cup holders which holds a varity of cup sizes. my only gripe is that if you get a drink with a lid, the carpet might catch it and if you go around a turn, the drink will spill out and all over the carpet.

3: http://www.tecaccessories.com <-- again, a great cup holder but it's more of a 12 oz beer..., i mean soda, can holder. anything else is pushing it. if you drive an auto, this works great. if you have a manual, well.. it kinda gets in the way but nothing double jointed bad.

4: leave it broken and just ignore it.

what i did was got a paper cup holder which carries 4 cups..cut it in half and put it against the original E39 open cup holder latches to hold it. lol..works for me
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:12 PM
Beemergirlie Beemergirlie is offline
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Cup holder solution

My suggestion? Drive your BMW as it was meant to be driven.. If you wanna spend your days eating burgers and drinking sodas in your car? Get a minivan.. There is a reason why the stereo controls are on the steering wheel... Because these vehicles aren't dining rooms, they're driving cars.. And if you're taking advantage of what they really offer? You won't have the hands to be fumbling for a soda.. Or is that just how I drive? Lol.. Supposed to be funny not offensive...
All of my cup holders are broken.. Thanks kids trying to impress females borrowing MY car.. I just pushed them back in, wedged a black piece of plastic under them, so they don't spring back out, and never use them. They're useless anyway... A penny may work too.. I would LOVE to replace my entire console.. If anyone has a tragic 98 540i loss, with a great console left? Send me a msg lol!
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Old 04-21-2014, 08:29 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Originally Posted by brianst12 View Post
Where is the fuel pump relay. And i already replaced fuel pump and still no pressure to the fuel rail
Hello fellow Nebraskan. I don't have the answer to your question. But I have a question. With your. No pressure at the rail is your car running? Mine runs but has horrible starts. Cranks but no fire. But I've got no missfires I also replaced my pump and. Not solving the issue.
Current: 12/16/2002 530i Auto Titangrau/Standardscwarz

R.I.P. Otto, 04/17/97 - 02/02/15 You'll be missed my drunken Bavarian friend.

"Owning one of these cars is much like owning a two year old child. It's annoying most of the time, but if anyone tries to take it from you'll kill them." J. Clarkson.
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:47 AM
slb4life slb4life is offline
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Mein Auto:
What to look for when I buy a 2000 E39 with M package.
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