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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 08-11-2008, 05:11 AM
djt5150 djt5150 is offline
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Tighten your ground wire today

Hey everybody, maybe you've been reading about my electrical problems with my 2000 528i in another thread. I thought I had found the culprit, but I was wrong.

Saturday, the electrical problems started again. I got out my service manual and started researching everything that could go wrong. I ran across a picture of a ground wire that I was not aware of (I had already cleaned and tightened the ones on the fender with all the brown wires hanging out the bottom). I think everyone with an E39 should take 5 minutes and check this out. It may save you some headaches and $.

You just need a 10mm wrench or socket.

Open hood. Unlatch the wire retainer from the passenger side cabin filter housing. Remove the lid. Remove the oval duct from the side by popping up the three locking tabs and rotate the duct toward the engine out of the way. Remove the cabin filter and housing by pulling up on the engine side and pulling toward the engine. Underneath, you will see a tuperware like container with a flat top. This contains a several relays and modules that control your cars emissions and performance. On the outside of this container (closest to the engine) you'll see a couple of rubber boots that serve as electrical raceways coming out of the container. At that location there will be a metal stud with wires and a nut. Mine was so loose I could take it off by hand. Take some sandpaper or plumbers cloth and shine up the terminals and tighten that nut.

As soon as I did, all of my electrical problems ceased. I had been having trouble with my cruise control working intermittently ever since I purchased the car. Now it works like new.

My DSC and brake light would come on after about 5 minutes of driving - and I thought it was a speed sensor or ABS unit going out. Now that's fixed.

Most recently, my car was dying altogether while driving. All of the lights on the dash would light up and the temp gauge would peg in conjunction with losing all power. Sitting on the side of the road is no fun. Now that's fixed.

Everyone within the sound of my voice should at least check this connection. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes (seriously). If it helps you, please report back and post on this thread. Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 08-11-2008, 08:00 AM
poolman poolman is offline
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Good post--thats one we should all follow +1
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:08 AM
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Great post!
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:50 AM
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This should be in the FAQ. We had similar problems, and they were fixed by a new ignition switch.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:20 PM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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Great Post

I think this is one thing we all fear...

You should write a DIY with some pics, and I use dielectric grease to make sure corrosion doesn't interrupt that good connection.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:40 PM
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Nice find - thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:10 PM
djt5150 djt5150 is offline
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So did anybody do this and it helped???

I'd like to hear if anybody else's was loose...and what problems it caused.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:52 PM
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Mine was pretty tight. I managed to turn the nut another maybe 20 degrees tighter with my 10mm box end wrench, whereas some other grounds in the engine compartment were already too tight for me to tighten... if that makes any sense. So I'm saying that that ground stud was the loosest on my car, of the four I checked.

BTW, the whole air filter / tupperware box discussion is useful for locating the ground screw, but it's not necessary to pull any of that stuff apart in order to tighten the nut.

Thanks OP!
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:01 PM
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Great tip! I have found with any car over 7 or 8 years old, that ground connections are always one of the first things to check when electrical gremlins show up. The hardest part is finding where all the main ground points are, and your tip helps by fiind what appears to be a rather hidden one. Thanks!
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  #10  
Old 10-08-2008, 02:08 PM
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I have the gremlins right now, have changed the ignition switch to no avail. My symptoms are loss of turn signal, central locking, wiper high-speed setting, headlight and fog light lamps on dash and digital clock on radio. The problems seem to be more prolific in the rain. I will check this ground point and let you know what I find. Are there any other ground points I should check?
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Old 10-08-2008, 02:44 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Pics please!!!
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Old 10-08-2008, 03:04 PM
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yeah pics please. btw, why would the ground wires go loose at the first place. is it because bmw didn't tighten them right or due to service guy not caring.
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  #13  
Old 10-09-2008, 09:30 AM
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and this is the cuplrit of the dying cars? hmmm ill have to check this out.
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Old 10-09-2008, 09:35 AM
ChileBeem ChileBeem is offline
 
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is the point the same in the 540's? (too lazy to take apart to find it's not
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:10 PM
Huey Huey is offline
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Ok, its not the best picture but its a start, too wet today to take a better one or lift the bonnet to have a look at the ground connection, maybe tomorow.

Last edited by Huey; 10-09-2008 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:18 PM
Huey Huey is offline
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Maybe this will work
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:26 PM
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Do we need a quick class on posting pics?
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[---Quote (Originally by Tex330i)---
You can warranty a turd, that way when you have a problem you can exchange it for a new turd.---End Quote---
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:30 PM
Huey Huey is offline
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I attached the photo to the signature in the CP, yes is the straight answer
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:47 PM
poolman poolman is offline
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Perfect likeness---Hang in there kid--I'm so damn old I'm doing well to turn my computer ON.
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  #20  
Old 10-09-2008, 03:44 PM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Me no see picts...???
Where are picts?
Please?
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  #21  
Old 10-10-2008, 08:53 AM
Huey Huey is offline
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Pics as requested. Now all I got to do is figure out this camera!!!!! BTW still bucketing down, didnt get under the hood yet.
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Old 10-10-2008, 09:18 AM
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I'm feeling really cheated here.....
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[---Quote (Originally by Tex330i)---
You can warranty a turd, that way when you have a problem you can exchange it for a new turd.---End Quote---
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  #23  
Old 10-10-2008, 09:39 AM
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This is a photo I had, from when my #[email protected]$% mechanic left the parts that you see missing (the tupperware cover, and air filter assembly) in the trunk! DO NOT try to drive your car in the rain with these wires exposed!



This at least gives you an idea of the area he's talking about.
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Last edited by AirWreck; 10-10-2008 at 09:44 AM.
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  #24  
Old 10-10-2008, 10:32 AM
BMVaughan BMVaughan is offline
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Hi djt5150,

Your problem with the abs/cruise intermittent failure sounds exactly like mine. I've had new wheel speed sensor, new abs sensor as reported as a fault on th DME....I also get an intermittent pixel failure on the odometer (trip meter). I'll check this out as soon as I can. BTW, where are all the other grounding points? Meanwhile, thanks for the great post.
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  #25  
Old 10-12-2008, 02:13 PM
Huey Huey is offline
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I found three ground points in the engine bay of my 03 touring, located on the inside of the wing in front of the suspension bulkheads. They looked in good condition but I cleaned them up all the same. One of these grounds leads back to the Tupper ware control box, could not see any others. Did notice that the steel gutter behind the Tupper-ware box was full of water and dripping down on the back right cap screw holding on the lid of the box. This has being going on for a while as the screw is badly corroded. Had a look inside the box, things seemed dry but maybe there is some moisture getting in. Unblocked the drain hole so let's wait for the next deluge, in these parts shouldn't be long. Will keep you informed.
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