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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After lots of very intensive searching, I finally found my car! It is a 1997 528i, and though it has a bunch of miles (153K) they're not that many for her age, and she was babied through most of her life. I've already started taking care of her, but there are quite a few things that need attention. I think I will make sure she runs beautifully, the way she is supposed to, before working on cosmetic issues. . I am ordering a Bentley manual and will be taking care of the cooling system; I'm on the fence about whether I should just fix the parts that went bad or do a complete overhaul. I also got her aligned and balanced, and a slight shimmy when applying the brakes at highway speeds makes me suspect that she will need new calipers.

Please feel free to share advice on anything! This is my first Bimmer, and I really really like her. As soon as I arrived home with her (I had to drive her back from Jersey) my wife asked me "Why are you grinning so much, after a 4 hour drive???" It's hard to explain, I'm afraid. She just feels the way every car should. Here are some pictures I just took of her with my Nikon :)


A classic beauty for excellence.


One of the headlights is brand new. The other one really, really needs to be cleaned. I saw a nice post on headlight restoration, and just ordered an EZ1 kit to do the same. Maybe in the future I'll put some sort of angel eyes... I'm thinking Umnitza, but I'm not sure about it.


The taillights are in great shape, and I think there is a certain charm to their classic look, with all that orange; on the other hand, something with clear plastic might look nicer. I have mechanical issues to deal with anyway, so I have plenty of time to think about this.


Right after I bought her I took her to service the AC. After they filled her up with freon, the system overheated and the freon was released; turns out that the pusher (auxiliary?) fan had seized, so this will be the first thing I have to work on. I took her later to get aligned and balanced, and they discovered two more things: there was a bees nest in the bumper (!!! - she had been sitting for a while, eh?), which they removed, and there was no coolant.


They topped it after balancing and alignment, and now I'm keeping a close eye on it. It's a little below the 'cold' mark, so I am afraid there might be a small leak. So, like I said, I'm trying to decide if I should do a complete overhaul of the cooling system or just fix the parts that went bad.
 

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If your shimmy isn't the front suspension arms it's the rotors, not the calipers.
Next mod for you is to use those wheels for your winter tires and get some new summer wheels.
Nice looking car for a 15 year old car with 152K.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely take a look at it. It overall feels like a braking issue, so I'll focus on the rotors. Here are more pics:


Broken cupholders??? Imagine that! I just ordered a part from ebay; the kind that has different diameters, and goes fixed in there.


Also bad. I'm thinking about getting that storage compartment there, and remove these. Then maybe get cupholders in the doors for the passengers. Anybody know of a better solution?


This is broken; I got the new knob, but I can't figure out how to put it in place. I'm afraid there were some plastic arms that should hold it in place that were broken. I'll have to keep researching how to fix it.


Somebody took off the stock knob and put this fugly one instead. The shifter also feels a bit loose; I don't know if it's the way it's supposed to feel, or if I'm too used to Nissan and Infiniti shifters, which are usually very tight. I'm trying to decide what knob to get to replace this. I saw a nice one on Amazon.com; anybody have this?
http://www.amazon.com/BMW-Genuine-L...d=1344259442&sr=8-2&keywords=bmw+shifter+knob


it is missing the flashlight. Already ordered a replacement from ebay.
 

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If your shimmy isn't the front suspension arms it's the rotors, not the calipers.
+1, check your front thrust arms (the control arms with the slight curve) first. Look for signs of leakage in the bushings. The bushings tend to leak after 75K. At 153K, if these are original, I'd recommend replacing the thrust arms with Lemforder (OEM) w/ Meyle HD bushings to avoid this issue in the future. Available at EACEuro. Do a search on this topic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks a lot for the advice, guys; I am avidly reading the forum for this problem, and will definitely check those thrust arms, as well as the rotors, but I want to wait until my Bentley manual arrives in the mail, so that I can read the documentation and follow all the proper procedures, since I'm new to working on brakes.

Talking about the mail, my new cupholders arrived today! Here is the very first upgrade I do to my car. I do a lot of night driving, especially when I'm coming back from dancing, so it is important to me to have somewhere to put my coffee. As you can see in this pic, the fit and finish is quite good (especially for a $14 part)


They have a bit of glue in the bottom, so they stay attached once you install them


Somebody in one of the 'cupholders' thread had suggested to magnetize the scewdriver so the screws don't fall inside the dashboard. I've had similar experiences before, so I attached my screw retriever tool to the screwdriver while I took them out (the retriever itself wouldn't fit in there)


I read somewhere that you could only take this part out by destroying it. I filmed myself during the very first try: it only took a little bit of determination and patience, as you can see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N1eLVLtsYQ&feature=plcp

Here are the new cupholders installed... sorry about the pic's quality, this and the one before were taken with my phone.
 

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Welcome aboard Tango. I have a 199 528i with 218k that I have had since 105k

I did my headlights with the Sylvania kit sold at Advance Auto for about $20 - fantastic.. They look new.

Where did you get the cupholder? I have looked on ebay and did not find one like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
a search for "e39 cupholder" should show it on the first page :)

@Fudman, after reading around several things on the web and especially here in the forum, it really sounds like it must be the thrust arms as you said. I suppose this should be my number one priority now, since it's probably more important than the auxiliary fan. I will order the parts and they should be at my place after the bentley manual arrives, so that should give me some time to read there, here in the forum, and anywhere else to make sure I do the job right.

About the fan, I am thinking that it must be just stuck with crap, because I can't even make it move with my hand; I would guess that if the motor was really bad, it would at least spin, right? In any case, I will try taking it apart over the weekend and see if I can just fix it without getting a new part. It seems like the coolant hasn't leaked; it might have evaporated before, or who knows... the poor car was sitting in a parking lot for a while before it was sold.

Please keep the advice coming! I am a newbie, and it helps me a lot. I will keep sharing my experiences as well, in case it helps others in the future.
 

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One more thing, just out of curiosity: Why Lemforder and not TRW? TRW are a bit cheaper. EACeuroparts sells both with the Meyle bushings.
From experience; when changing out suspension parts ALWAYS stick with OEM. Remember, you get what you pay for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I got some goodies in the mail! The ez1 kit for restoring the headlights and the bmw original flashlight (it was missing in the glovebox) arrived:



So while I decided to get started with the light restoration (and put the flashlight in its place). I did a lot of scrubbing, and after a while I was able to see the lights:



After a lot more scrubbing I started to get disappointed every time I cleaned it up with a microfiber cloth (as they instruct) because I had thought the second product was only meant to protect the results, but it turns out that the second product clears them out a lot; it ended up looking almost like the new one:

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Then even more goodies came in the mail! My car has an airbag light on, so I ordered the Peake SRS tool (after reading a bunch of posts here). Since I was at it, I also ordered an OBD scan tool, and I also got this:



It's a box in a box! Surrounded by little bags! Inside there were my Bentley repair manuals. Very heavy and pretty books!



I have been reading them quite a bit, so I decided to go for the first 'real' repair: The auxiliary fan. My strategy was to go to a local Autozone, which is in an area surrounded by other autoparts store, because I know a lot of these fasteners would come appart, bolts and nuts would be corroded, etc.; also, If I couldn't make the motor work after cleaning it, I could try to buy a replacement from Autozone or one of the other stores. Big mistake. After removing the bumper at the Autozone parking lot, and when I was in the middle of taking the fan appart, I raised my head to see a random dude who was drinking a beer with one hand and holding a bottle of some other alcoholic beverage covered in a brown bag in the other. He started being extra friendly and trying to strike up a conversation with me, and after a little while of pissing me off he offered to watch over my tools and car while I went to get the replacement part.



Since I'm not an idiot, I just put the thing together with only the most important bolts and came back home, driving without an aux. fan in there. Before doing that, after locking everything in the car, I asked in Autozone if they had the motor; they didn't, they could only order the fan for me, for about $400. I ordered one from ebay; not an OEM, but an alternative brand part, for about $120. I couldn't find just the motor anywhere. Since the OEM part was so poorly made and already failed, I decided to try this other cheaper replacement. We'll see how it goes. I also ordered the Thrust arms with HD bushings from EAC autoparts, which arrived today:



I'm doing a lot of reading to make sure I can handle this right before I start tackling it, but I'm also looking forward to this challenge. Please wish me luck! The adventure has begun, indeed...
 

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Hi!

I have a 10/1997 528i 155k. I know what you mean about enjoying the car. It is just so peaceful and solid. But still has sporty characters.
I would like to share some of my experience so you might gain something.

I recommend you to clean the air intake to the alternator (back side) under the plastic cover, this was almost clogged on mine. Easy thing to protect the alternator. Oil filter housing is there, check for oil leaks under it. Easy and cheap fix. Sometimes the oil pipe above the oil filter housing leaks too.

nice job on the headlights!
Regarding the taillights. I think clear signals look very good on silver cars, but not on dark colors. I would go with smoked signals if I would have to, but as you mentioned I also like the classic look.

Apply some silicone spray or dashboard shine (which contains silicone) onto the black plastics outside, that will make them darker.

The original shifter knob has wooden trim. You feel the shifter loose because of worn shifter bushings. Cheap fix but lot's of labor.

Regarding the suspension. All the ball joints were good when I replaced them at 140k. The thrust arm bushing was weak but not broken. I recommend that to replace. I have replaced the ball joints, control arms on the rear and that has made a big difference.

If your key buttons are shabby you can buy the buttons only on the ebay for cheap.

Cooling system:
I think you have a metal impeller on the water pump (mine did have that) so if the bearings are o.k., no need to replace it. Early E39s seems to have a better plastic components on the cooling system. My one looks very good. I check all the plastics every 5k and no issues so far. I only had to replace the thermostat cover due to a small leak (which was visible under it but I have had no significant coolant losses).


Enjoy you car!
 

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Grats on the car and it looks like your getting along nicely on restoring it.

I bought my wife a 97 528i burnt red this past tuesday and basically doing the same repairs to it your doing to yours interior wise. I got lucky on the suspension as it seems all new parts were installed fairly recently it seems as struts, bushings etc are perfect.
 

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Nice write up and congrats on the car! I give you credit for having the balls to take the front end of your car off in an Autozone parking lot. I hate doing work on cars in any place but the comfort/safety of my own garage. Good luck with everything!
 

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Congrats on the car! I just got myself a 1997 540i about 1 month ago. I am ordering a completed cooling system.
***8226;Radiator By Nissens Part# 17 11 1 702 969

***8226;Waterpump By Saleri /Graf Part# 11 51 0 393 340

***8226;Thermostat By Behr OEM Part# 11 53 1 437 526

***8226;Upper Radiator Hose By Rein / Conti Part# 11 53 1 745 595
***8226;Lower Radiator Hose By Rein / Conti Part# 11 53 1 741 409

***8226;Expansion Tank By Meyle Part# 17 11 1 741 167

***8226;Expansion Tank Cap OEM Part# 17 11 1 742 231

***8226;Waterpump Belt By Conti OEM
***8226;A/C Belt By Conti OEM

It is gonna be fun!!!

I got the parts from
http://www.oembimmerparts.com/
 

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Congrats on the car!

If you haven't yet read the FAQ that is at the beginning of this forum! There's a really good bit on the cooling system and its overhaul. A good idea to look at some parts that you know will not let you down!

I really like those new cup holders! thinking of getting some myself.

That's strange that Autozone didn't have the Auxiliary fan motor, I had just read a thread about them having the same one as OEM with a part number and everything. Believe a link to that thread is also in the FAQ.

Let me know how the thrust arm work goes please! I also have a shimmy when I brake and I always assumed it was the rotors, but if the shaking goes away when you fix it then that will probably be the next thing on my list of stuff for the 5er!

Ethan
 

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Welcome and good luck on keeping up with the maintenance. I see you are taking it seriously by buying manuals, code readers and asking for advice on the forum. I have the same cup holder that you bought and I like it. I also put in one of those pockets which replace the rear one. These cars may seem like a maintenance nightmare but they are so enjoyable to drive, it makes up for it. I have an e34, e39, and an e60 and must say that the e39 is still my favorite to drive. I'm very close to 300,000 miles on it now without any major overhaul so you still have plenty of life left in yours.
 
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