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Norb's 2001 540i/6 Progress Thread

8654 44
just wanted to make a thread to update the progress of my 2001 540i/6. bought it September 22nd, 2011, completely stock.

bought this to replace my beloved '06 blue Spec V. that was a great car but i was ready for something more mature and nicer.

i have always wanted a BMW ever since seeing the new E39 and E36 models as a kid in Europe. i decided to finally fulfill a dream.

copied and pasted from the P.O.'s for sale ad. I have made my own personal notes too.

Year: 2001
Make: Bayerische Motoren Werke
Model: E39 540i
Mileage: 100,800 (75K on the new motor)
Location: Buffalo NY
Color: Black
Transmission: 6 Speed
Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive

Options that this includes are:
Heated Seats
Power Moon Roof
All automatic windows
Dual power seats / Steering wheel with memory
///M Seats, steering wheel and shifter
17" ///M Wheels (Style 66). I just replaced all 5 tires on the vehicle in July (full sized spare).
New Battery in February.

Interior is great. There is no rips or tears and only minimal wear on the leather. Basically the drivers seat has rub wear on the bolster. Dash is not cracked and is in perfect condition and the carpets are great. One of the mats is missing the velcro backing.

New Plugs
New Coils/ Boots
New CCV Valve (and all attached hoses)
New front brake pads
Newer rear brake pads

New (used) Motor.
New Clutch & Flywheel
(previous motor had a blown headgasket)

We ordered a comparable motor, upon inspection it was no good. He finally caved in and got me a motor with about 73K on the clock. I have added about 2K since having it installed. This motor has been nothing but strong and reliable. I have had ZERO motor issues since the swap.

There is one missing button and a couple of loose buttons on the hvac controls. This is a common issue and the buttons are readily available online.
I do plan on fixing these eventually, but not too worried about it now.

Both sides of the car have a line of dings in the door. It almost looks like someone shot a bb gun at it or something. It is not a horrible thing but it could use a good smoothing.
Willie, you will have to work your expertise here. There is also a fair amount of swirling throughout the whole front end of the car. front bumper and hood could use a respray as well. Just standard highway rock chips, not a big deal. I also want to buff out the headlights.

The dash has the common dead pixel syndrome. It is not as bad as most and the mid is good, but there are dead spots and it is hard to read. I found no justification to spend $250 on a fix that is only guaranteed for 1 year.
Don't really give a ****…no car is perfect

The rear sunshade tabs are broken. The motor still works so all that needs to be replaced is two little plastic tabs on the control arms. I didn't care enough to deal with it and I can't imagine that you will either. Rip it out and call it weight reduction.
I will actually be fixing this, because the repair is to replace tiny little plastic clips that break with age, and it's cheap to do so. Unfortunately they don't sell just the clips, so I will be sketching up my own on AutoCad, and maybe I'll have someone machine them out of aluminum or even ABS plastic (might have a source for this). Might even be able to sell these in bulk to all the tards that want to fix theirs too.

My personal plans for it:

Front plate delete blockoff strip (in the process of painting it)
Rear trunk lip spoiler (M5 style)
Minor maintenance under the hood (oil sep. valve, common problem, cheap fix)
New front LCA's
QTP Cutout (already have it, need to find time to weld it in myself)
yellow fogs because cool kids do it

i already removed the CDV (Clutch Delay Valve). this is a small hydraulic fitting with a tiny orfice in it that restricts how fast the clutch can engage. basically, it stops you from dumping the clutch and shifting more aggressively, and was installed because BMW thought that every person that bought the car was never going to drive it hard. now you know why i removed it.

Sometime in the future I want to put 3.15 rear diff in it, as the stock one is a 2.81 and is a little too long-legged for my taste. Bolt in, easy mod.

****ty ****ty pictures the PO took. i will have my own up in a bit. some are on FB already.



235 width all around. they can fit much much wider in the rear, but the previous owner got a good deal on 4 tires and got the same size. the factory rims on this car are already staggered (8" front, 9" rear), so there's plenty of room.

removed the retarded clutch delay valve last night.

random picture that i took, that came out oddly cool.

one of my favorites

super colorful, the headlights are all washed out because they're so bright, and because the lenses could use work, they need wetsanding

also one of my favs, has an old feel to it.


clutch delay valve is gone
still chasing down a cooling system bug (maybe needs bleeding)
i will be doing the OSV today (oil separator valve, on the back of the manifold). mine went bad and causes smoking and a howling noise.

the car has factory staggered wheels...8" wide front, 9" rear. i had old tires left over from the Sentra (215s) that i wanted to waste, so i put the wide rears on the front, and put the 8" fronts on the rear. turns out the wide rears are too wide for the front and hit the strut body, so i put on some high offset 16" Borbets i picked up for the winter up front (they fit perfect). i now have narrow baby tires in the rear, makes for TONS of fun being able to spin tires all the time and not feeling guilty about destroying expensive tires that came on the car!

also bought 17.5mm ECS Tuning spacers/lugs for the front so i can run those wide 9" rears on the front with no rubbing issues.

i will try to GoPro some burnouts soon.

off to the garage! maybe i'll snap some pics


17.5 mm spacers went on in the front last night along with extended lug bolts.

current setup:

FRONT:9 in wide rims with big beefy 235s (great tread, Ventus V12s), along with spacers.
REAR: 8 in wide rims with very very worn 215s (old sentra tires)

i set it up like this on purpose. fun times.


everything went very well last night. i am super happy because i resolved more than one problem that had been bugging the **** out of me.

1. the belts were squeaking (probably original) so those were replaced. i didn't have any kind of repair manual, and only a vague text only DIY online, so i had to spend a few minutes figuring out how the hydraulic belt tensioners (2) worked. it's a weird bracket on a pivot system with 4 bolts, 1 of which is the pivot, another of which is on the pivot axis, but is cast as part of the bracket, and is used to turn the bracket. anyhow, i actually put the belts on last night, but was unhappy with the tension, so i went back over it today and figured out the right way. it's weird because it's not retard-proof like the sentra's belt was, but it is still effective. the original belts were badly cracked and the new ones are silent.

2. obviously the coolant leak. originally i was told it was the radiator overflow tank (pressurized), and this was replaced as part of the deal from the PO. turned out not to fix it and i had been adding coolant every 2 days since i bought it. not fun. finally had it pressure tested by a nice guy on NYSPEED, and found that there was a sizeable leak coming from the driver's side area (only the side of the radiator and the upper coolant hose can be problems in that area. the weirdest part was that sometimes, when you added coolant, you could drive the piss out of it for a while and it wouldn't lose any coolant. it was as if the high pressure kept the coolant from coming out. i have a feeling that the heat from a long drive made certain parts expand, and this held the coolant in. for example, i drove to Toronto on Sunday with the girl, and had a great day, no misbehaving by the car...not so much as a low coolant warning. got home that evening and parked it, the next morning came out to go to work, and found a huge puddle of coolant (green, wrong kind) puked all over the driveway underneath the front. the contracting parts finally let all the coolant leak out in that area.
when the radiator went in, i had to disassemble the fan clutch, shroud, overflow tank, and the whole intake up to the throttle body. i noticed a few problems while all this **** was out, but long story short, the rad went in fine (after a good amount of finagling), i did a coolant flush, and bleed. no more problems. took it out last night and heat was strong in cabin. no leaks this morning. verrrrrrry niceeeeeee!

3. while i had all the aforementioned **** apart, i noticed the source of a small oil leak that i had been looking for and could NOT find. it was weird--oil around the valve cover gaskets (known to leak on this car, and yet the actual gaskets weren't leaking. i couldn't figure out where it was coming from until i took apart the intake and fan shroud area. the oil was pissing ALL over the intake tubing, pooling on the intake silencer, splattering on the air filter and fenderwell, etc.
on each head, on the front of the timing cover, there is a Cam Position Sensor--very very similar in design to the Spec ones, for those of you who have changed them. a sensor bung that inserts into the head, and a small nub with a mounting hole next to it that the bolt goes through, into threads machined into the head, that holds the CPS in place. these threads go all the way into the head/valvetrain where oil is circulating. directly next to this CPS, but not in any way related, is a small protruding threaded port (still on the head) that is drilled all the way through into the valvetrain area, so oil can pass through and leak to atmosphere if the required bolt isn't in place. i have no idea of the purpose of this port, but it's plugged up with a Torx head fastener (M8x1.25) from the factory. you might see where i'm going with this.
on the driver's side head, the CPS mounting hole AND random mystery threaded port were both secured with factory Torx hardware. no leaks, duh. on the passenger's side head, hidden by the intake and such, BOTH pieces were randomly missing. the CPS was only held into the head by the friction of the sealing O-ring, and the threaded port was open and free to leak oil. picked up some hardware from Lowe's and threw it in, i think this solved my problem. i will have to check if this actually solved it over the next few days as i JUST cleaned up the area, but i'm fairly confident that was it.

4. wires going to the MAF are insulated with a nice sheath going all the way from the harness to the sensor, except for a 2" portion where the sheath was gone, and the wires had rubbed through (2 of 6). quick electrical tape job on each wire, and then then whole bundle, made sure it's sealed.

very very happy that i found and fixed each problem, i can drive without the annoying warnings now.


will be tackling that first thing saturday morning.


weekend update.

started to cut apart the exhaust to weld in the cutout, haven't actually welded it in yet. i removed the rear section of the exhaust (resonator and twin can mufflers) so i'm running pretty much open pipes right now (cats are still there, and will stay there). not SUPER SUPER loud, but pretty damn loud. i LOVE it. almost sounds like NASCAR, but has a more refined european tone to it, instead of a big angry mad pounding 2 valve/cyl american V8. the plan is to weld in the cutout and have it all done sometime this week.

but here's where this weekend got really ****ing interesting...

when i had the radiator out, i replaced both accessory belts. the tensioner was a little weird to operate but i figured them out. the "left" belt operates just the AC compressor, and the "right" belt operates power steering, alternator, water pump, and 2 idler/tensioner pulleys. got them both on no problem, everything ran great.

today i'm driving around downtown Buffalo with the girlfran, and as i look down at the dash, i see the battery light come on. ok, no big deal, it's an older car and maybe the alternator has gone bad. 30 seconds later, the steering gets SUPER hard to turn, power steering is gone. i'm like WTF, how can 2 items break within seconds of each other? i start to slow down to pull over and check under the hood, and RIGHT as i do, the temp gauge starts to rise towards the red very quickly.

shut off the car, check under the hood, and it's obvious that the 'right' belt has come off the pulleys. ok, no big deal, it's not damaged. i had my buddy bring me my tools, and i dove right in and started taking apart stuff to get to the tensioner. included taking off the intake, the fan (big ass 32mm fan clutch nut), etc. get it all apart, figure out the routing (i forgot how it went), tension it up, reinstall intake and big fan, start the car, and IMMEDIATELY the belt comes off again. what the ****, maybe i didn't tension it enough. let's do it again. take apart all that **** again, put the belt on, tension it HARD this time (pain in the ass, 2 wrenches at the same time), put fan and intake back on. i stand by the engine while Melissa starts it, and BOOM, again belt comes off.

at this point i'm livid because i have done this twice now and something is obviously wrong, more serious than i think.

i inspect each pulley and they all seem fine. however, when i loop the belt around them right and pull hard on it, it's still somewhat not tight (has a BIT of slack in it). as i'm tugging on it, i see one of the pulleys MOVING (not rotating, but actually wiggling in and out, and rotating around the wrong axis. it's the power steering pump pulley, so i figure a bearing has gone bad and now we have shaft play. i get under the car and inspect closer, and i look at the mounting points for the pump where it bolts to the engine block....


there are only 2 or so (couldn't see well) holding it to the motor, and at least 2 are clearly gone. the whole pump is rotating and moving, no wonder the belt won't stay on.

my friend calls AAA and we get it towed home. tomorrow i have to find out how many bolts are missing and their thread/pitch, so i can get it back on there.

long story short--the shop that did the motor replacement ****ed up SO BAD, didn't torque things down, and now i'm paying for it. ALSO, when i did the CDV delete on the car, i also noticed that out of the 10 or whatever bolts holding the motor to the tranny, 1 had completely backed out and had fallen into a smaller crevice that held a wiring harness, 3-4 were only finger tight. i had to go around the retorque all of them.



put in an alternator and new battery this past month. i think when i replaced the radiator, they may have sent a defective one as it is leaking in the same spot the last one was.

besides that the car runs like a raped ape.

just put the winter wheels and tires on. 16" borbet aluminum 5 spokes, and some Dunlop snow tires. had the car washed last night and i'm ready for winter.

i absolutely love spinning the tires and getting sideways in this car, so rather than buy new tires all the time($$$$$$$), i keep my eyes open on local forums and CL for used tires that have decent life left for super cheap. just picked up a set of 17" Contis for $40 with about 40% life left. i also grabbed my mom's old tires off her Lincoln LS (16" Dunlop) which will go on the winter wheels this summer for burnout tires.

it works nicely because i can do burnouts and slide all the time without feeling guilty about shredding tires, and it costs me very little. i just pulled off the most recent victims (17" Kuhmos off the old sentra) and they were down to the cords. ;)

i have the 4 very good Dunlop snows on the car right now, and in the garage: 4x 17" burnout tires, 4x 16" burnout tires, and of course the 4 very very good Eagle F1 (i think) 17" tires that came with the car. i will be running the ///M-i'll save those for long trips like to Florida and when i visit preston.

car is still straight piped. i have not gotten around to finishing the cutout, but it sounds so good that i'm tempted to leave it "open". i might even sell the cutout and just weld a new exhaust all the way to the back of the car. right now i terminate under the rear seats. i have a few videos on my phone but quality is meh. it doesn't do it justice. i need to fix my camcorder under warranty and then record it. it crackles and backfires a lot on decel, sounds awesome. once in a while when beating on it and upshifting, i will get a BIG booming backfire, i'm hoping it's flames.

took the car to rochester a few weekends back to visit some friends and go to some bars. took it up on the Ontario Expressway, a mostly deserted secondary highway right by lake ontario. hit 155 for the first time, solid as a rock.

from that trip; dirty, but so much fun. these are my summer wheels, the ///M Style 66's.

1 - 20 of 45 Posts
decided to see how the car sounds fully straight piped, rather than go with the cutout. ordered all the piping yesterday. the "single" section will be 3", then split into 2x 2.5" pipes. although this isn't a true dual setup, i'm fine with that due to fitment constraints and cost.
Your post is a BMW Love and Lust novelette. You couldn't make it more apparent that you enjoy your car.

Love/Hate, with some lust thrown in. i really do love the thing but i'm paranoid about it breaking down sometimes.

just recently i was an idiot and paid for it--after draining the coolant to replace the radiator, i must have forgotten to insert the radiator drain plug properly, because coming around a corner with some decent revs, the plug popped out and my poor car puked coolant everywhere. luckily i pulled over in time, but it had to sit overnight at a Tim Hortons until i could come back the next day with the drain plug from the old original radiator, and refill the system. not a problem, just more of an annoyance.

i replaced the radiator and expansion tank since owning the car to cure a coolant leak, but i still have a leak somewhere on the driver's side of the car. i think it's coming either from the plastic end tanks crimped on (faulty new radiator), or from the very small overflow hose that runs from the top of the radiator, across the top of it, into the top of the overflow bottle. i bought a pressure tester from Harbor Freight yesterday and will be checking it out tonight or tomorrow.
Your post is a BMW Love and Lust novelette. You couldn't make it more apparent that you enjoy your car.
I've let loose on the Lake Ontario Parkway myself, watch out for the Parks Police! I grew up in Youngstown, what part of buffalo you at?

03 540i6
Hey how's it going? good to see someone local...there aren't too many E39 owners that i know of. I grew up in Amherst by South Campus but I currently live in East Amherst. i take the 990 to work, fun highway.
I've let loose on the Lake Ontario Parkway myself, watch out for the Parks Police! I grew up in Youngstown, what part of buffalo you at?

03 540i6
I'm a UB grad, lived on sweet home rd for awhile. Yup, 990 is nice, short enough to scout for the cops before heading out for a spirited drive!

03 540i6
Hey how's it going? good to see someone local...there aren't too many E39 owners that i know of. I grew up in Amherst by South Campus but I currently live in East Amherst. i take the 990 to work, fun highway.
likewise! BSME, December 2010.

so, interesting story about last night with the 5

my girlfriend bought a mattress (queen size) to replace her full size. The deal was that if I helped her move the new one in, I could have the old one (I sleep on a twin***8230;it***8217;s tiny).

So instead of paying the ridiculously high fee to have them deliver, I figured, hey, I think I***8217;m a pretty innovative guy, we can make anything work.

I strap the new mattress to the 5 and set out into the night. It***8217;s raining pretty well at this point. We get to her house in 1 piece, and I park in front (she lives in the City of Buffalo on a relatively busy street). Oh yeah, she lives on the upper level, lucky me, I get to carry all that up the stairs!

Disassemble the old bed, move the old mattress/boxspring into the living room, and try to move the boxspring up the stairs. No way, not happening, just too big. I rig up a hoist and we***8217;re going to pull it up over the balcony.

I hear a kid backing out of his driveway across the street, and CRUNCH! He backs right into my car pretty hard. Surprisingly I was pretty calm, I think my girlfriend was madder than I was.

I am expecting a claim from the insurance adjuster today, we***8217;ll see what they say. The door is undamaged, thank God, it***8217;s just the driver***8217;s fender. The fender is really bad though, it***8217;ll have to be replaced, the metal is completely stretched and pinched.

So after all that crap happens, I strap the old mattress and boxspring to the 5 again, and it***8217;s off we go, 20 miles to my house ;)
I'm a UB grad, lived on sweet home rd for awhile. Yup, 990 is nice, short enough to scout for the cops before heading out for a spirited drive!

03 540i6
didn't post in a while so here you go.

my workspace

the source of the best sound in the world to me

made a cupholder with some sheet metal from work, since all the factory ones are ****ty and broken

check out the alternator in the background ;)

various stuff on the car. playing around with the 50mm 1.8. the 1.8 aperture is soooo fun. these are all straight off the camera, no editing whatsoever

OEM Waveguide LED technology tail lights. pretty cool. looks like a toaster

playing with editing now. love photoshopping.

installed GayDM Yellow fog lights, and also yellow highbeams. i love how it looks

also installed a Thule 753 base rack, and a Thule 725 board/ski rack. holds up to 4 boards or 6 sets of skis. looks pretty good and is solid for being used stuff.

i have a check in the mail coming from the insurance company. already have a black fender in the mail from a dude in Massachusetts who had a 528i with a motor problem. will install that shortly. I plan on finally buying the 3.15 diff i have always wanted to give me some oomph, and paying off some of my student loans with the rest.

update, 2/6/11

the leaking defective radiator that Pelican Parts sent me was a ticking time bomb and 2 weekends ago it finally let go

see above video (end)

it had been leaking ever since I installed it back in November, but it was under warranty so I wasn't too worried. I would simply top it up every 2 days and things were fine. Went to do some donuts on a snowy Sunday (1/29/12) and mid donut, I see a huge cloud of steam and coolant smell. Pull up to a spot, see underneath already that it has blown. Leaking badly from the end tank (drivers side, where it was leaking), and most of the coolant has leaked out. i grab a few cups and bottles, walk to a nearby building and fill them up with water, and fill up the rad the best I can. Limp the car home, doesn't overheat, and I'm home safe. A few days BEFORE this happened, I decided I had had enough of this, and had ordered the warranty replacement, along with new coolant, a few clips (odds and ends), and a new revised water pump. Disassembled the whole cooling system Wednesday (2/1), removed radiator and water pump, installed new water pump and gasket, etc. Radiator came in Thursday (2/2) and the car was back on the road by 9pm. Super happy with the result, she is running perfectly with no leaks at all.

Now that I have all the teething problems and issues out of the way, I will start to focus on some fun things. Biggest thing on my list right now is a 3.15 diff. It currently has a 2.81 open; the 3.15 open was standard on automatic 540i's (assuming to help with their **** responsiveness). Everything bolts right up and the 3.15s are going for under $300 at wrecking yards everywhere. I am really going to be looking forward to 12% more TQ and HP everywhere in the rev range, with only 200-300 more revs while cruising.

I found a gearing calculator online and entered all the ratios, along with tire size and all other axle info, to find what my revs will be before and after the swap, at various revs. The car can pull from 500rpm in 6th gear so that's a decent place to start, and it goes all the way to 6000ish, although there's no point to rev it out that high. Even with the shorter gearing the car will theoretically still do nearly 170mph although it's limited to 155 so that's irrelevant. I don't think I'll need to ever go that fast anyhow. Since cruising is really only relevant in 6th gear this whole graph is only for that gear.

Also got the check from the insurance company for the guy that backed into my fender and ****ed it up, so a used black fender is already bought and in my living room and will be going on probably next weekend.

Took a few shots also.

i realized this thread doesn't have enough pictures!!!

talked to a junkyard in the South about ordering a lower ratio diff but it turns out that one was crushed under a junk car so they couldn't help me out. the search continues.

scooped these up yesterday. i will be refinishing the valve covers in a wrinkle black. they are OEM magnesium alloy, trick stuff.

also picked up a pre-VANOS intake manifold. in 1999 or 2000 they changed the design to one with smaller runners more better low and mid range power, at the expense of top end. so this one will be going on to find that 3000rpm+ power. i'm gonna soak it in a water/soap/simple green mixture to clean it up the best i can. any thoughts from you guys on how to clean it otherwise?

valve covers dropped off. i decided to go with a Brilliant Silver/aluminum type finish instead of black.

intake manifold has been soaking for a day or two now. I have been letting it sit for a few hours in a big basement sink full of hot water and soap, and scrubbing it hard right before I drain the dirty water. The water is a little less dirty every time, which means the method is working. I'm not going for show quality (obviously), just trying to get old oil and gunk out of there.

The manifold came off a 1997 540i (pre VANOS V8) and came with the old car's throttle body, too. I would have liked to use the old TB as it is half an inch wider in diameter, but it's a drive by cable, and my car is drive by wire (electric TB). Not a big deal.

Ordered $293 worth of new gaskets, fittings, coolant hoses, coolant bypass pipes, etc etc. Also grabbed a new valley pan and valley cover and they're known to leak on these motors. Doing that maintenance is usually a very time consuming job but seeing as the valve covers and IM need to come off to get to it, and I'll already have them off anyways, it was a no brainer.

Also FINALLY put the new (used off a '98 528i) fender on. Pretty easy, just time consuming finding all the mounting points and getting to them. Mishka lent me a hand and it helped so much. It was fun aligning the fender and watching her use my air ratchet to snug it down-she's scared of air tools, lol.

Yes, that's my potato gun acting as a hood prop

Old on the left, new on the right. If you look closely you can see the big dents on the old one. I put the tape on the new one because when I transferred the side molding from the crashed fender to the new one, I accidentally cracked one of the really brittle clips. Mishka can attest to the profanity that ensued. I held it in place from behind with a dab of silicone caulk and it has held up absolutely perfect since installation.

Life in the garage is far better with this guy: wall mounted infrared radiation plaque heater, 16,000btu, propane fired. Works so well. I have it mounted on the wall facing the area where the hood of the car would be so that you're kept toasty on the coldest nights wrenching.

update 2/20/12

picked up some pretty things today.......

got a wash on the way home for the first time in months

video dump from the past couple months. fun times.

the girlfriend kicking ass.
Man those aftermarket intakes scare me, just looks like a hydro-lock waiting to happen.
Enjoying this thread, Ive just recently entered the E39 world and I find this forum to have almost all of my questions already documented and answered.
That being said, this is the first build thread of sorts I have come across, we need more build threads on here! Tuned in for progress.
the only "aftermarket" part of my intake is a 3" PVC pipe painted wrinkle black, and a 4" K&N filter. the filter is mounted in the same location as stock. i'd rather have a "hot" air intake, with amazing sound, and low risk of hydrolock. i find that this intake works perfect for me with that. i know that "intakes" don't make power, and i'm okay with that, i could care less. i did it for the sound and i'm happy with it.

Man those aftermarket intakes scare me, just looks like a hydro-lock waiting to happen.
Enjoying this thread, Ive just recently entered the E39 world and I find this forum to have almost all of my questions already documented and answered.
That being said, this is the first build thread of sorts I have come across, we need more build threads on here! Tuned in for progress.
thank you. i still consider myself inexperienced in the platform, although i've done my fair share of work to this car.

i will keep updating this as i go! i have a HUGE job coming up (intake mani swap, valve cover gaskets and new covers, valley pan, cover, all gaskets, Evans NPG+ coolant swap, etc.

tomorrow morning i am doing both lower control arms on a 1998 528i for a friend. should be fun.
Your honesty is refreshing. The loss of a few horsepower is nothing compared to the wah factor I suppose.

We inline guys need every pony we can get so these intakes pretty much make us slower than a Prius. :rofl::rofl:
i know that "intakes" don't make power, and i'm okay with that, i could care less. i did it for the sound and i'm happy with it.
I hear ya. The first car i had was woefully underpowered (145hp moving 3800 lbs. 1996 V6 thunderbird, automatic.) However, the rear wheel drive won me over.

The next car was a bit quicker (2006 Sentra SE-R Spec V).ran low 15s but still didnt snap necks.

I fought for every pony i could squeeze out of those that i have some power to spare i am enjoying the sounds and mechanical beauty i never could. Maybe it's just automotive evolution, maybe it's a sign of maturity. Who knows.
Your honesty is refreshing. The loss of a few horsepower is nothing compared to the wah factor I suppose.

We inline guys need every pony we can get so these intakes pretty much make us slower than a Prius. :rofl::rofl:
We all mature. Sometime we go kicking and screaming but eventually we all get there. :thumbup:
Update, 2/27/12

Last week I saw my twin on Hertel Ave. had to snap a pic.

My sister asked me to look at her friend***8217;s E39, needed front lower control arms on both sides, the ball joints had massive slop in them. Took care of that quick Saturday morning (working on cars is a great hangover cure).

Pulled out of the garage, next to mine. His is a 1998 528i (inline 6, automatic). His is also prefacelift, mine is post-facelift.

My sister was working on a project for her art class***8212;she took an existing 8.5***8221;x11***8221; photo of my car that I took, and drew/painted it from scratch with just black ink and canvas.

I started detailing and cleaning some of the stock engine covers, since I like their design a lot.

Factory engine cover was cracked, see following pic, so I just trimmed the silver side covers right off.

Finished cleaning the intake manifold of grease and oil with Simple Green. That stuff really is amazing.
did some research tonight and made some conclusions.

i drove the car nice and hard on the way home. high revs, high speed, made sure to put a lot of heat into the system. when i got home, i opened the hood and let the engine cool for approximately 2 hours. my theory, before i began any work, was that the end tanks and plastic all expand with the heat from driving, and seal up all leaks. however, when everything cools and contracts, the coolant finds its way through tiny passages and begins to drip.

2 hours after getting home and letting it cool somewhat, i came out to the garage and sure enough, there was a small puddle exactly where it has been leaking this whole time. i think my theory was proven correct--thermal expansion does play a role in the radiator's operation.

anyhow, i finally pressure tested the cooling system. i made sure everything was secure, pumped the system to 2 bar, and went underneath to inspect. found a small exactly where i thought it would be--driver's side end tank, at the very bottom, where the aluminum meets the plastic. i got my face right up in there to determine exactly where the fluid was seeping from; it was one or two small ribs up from the bottom. the test was performed with the engine completely off and cold. this confirms that the head gaskets are fine (not pressurizing the cooling system). big sigh of relief there! :)

i attempted to recrimp the radiator using channel-locks (only tool with a jaw large enough to fit over the end tank). the conclusion is that while you may be able to crimp down one end, it never crimps the other side evenly as well. the factory must have a special jig/tool that crimps everything, exactly at the same time, with the same pressure. for what it's worth, this is my 2nd radiator: an aftermarket Behr, produced June 2011 in South Africa. the first one was also an aftermarket Behr, produced in South Africa, and failed exactly the same way (although more spectacularly).

i do not see a reasonable "fix" with these aftermarket radiators that are leaking. recrimping is inconsistent and is unfortunately not a reliable fix. perhaps the Nissens are possible to recrimp--they have the different style "fingers" that can be crunched down much more easily.

to see if any other leaks were present, i wanted to "fish them out"--i pushed the pressure to 33-34 psi. i noticed extremely tiny trickles coming from my valley pan, and also at another point on the crimping on the driver's side of the radiator. the valley pan i knew was already leaking as i had removed the intake tubing to inspect things more closely, and saw dried coolant around it.

as a curiousity, i thought to myself--what does cooling system reliability look like with "low pressure" applied? i ordered waterless, pressureless Evans NPG+ coolant las7t night and will be putting it in the car this weekend once i do my intake manifold swap and valley pan replacement (which i also found is leaking). i sprayed out all the leak points with compressed air to clean out the coolant residue, and then repressurized the system to 10psi--this is theoretically far higher than the Evans NPG+ will ever generate, but then again, i'm trying to be on the safe side here. 10psi, also, is much lower than the 25-30psi that the standard BMW coolant/E39 system generates, so i thought it was a fair pressure to "test" with.

at 10psi no leaks were encountered at all. this produces another conclusion for me to keep in mind--when i do install the Evans NPG, it SHOULD run lower than 10psi pressure, and therefore, SHOULD NOT leak.

if it doesn't leak, great.

if it does, at this point, i have to replace the radiator, AGAIN.

my options are:

-Nissen aftermarket (blehhhh to aftermarket crap now)
-OEM BMW Genuine (but this is Behr....sooooooo......uh...same as the one that just failed?
-Zionsville ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$....$$$$$$$$$$$$.....and more $$$)
-have custom end tanks welded to my existing Behr, or have a complete custom unit made. i work for a mechanical contractor as an engineer and have access to a full sheet metal shop, so perhaps i could draw/design my own end tanks and go from there.
went shooting.

Just thoroughly enjoyed reading through this thread and seeing all the awesome photos and that insane exhaust clip. You and a few other members on this forum have inspired me to start my own build thread. It's a great way to document the journey you and your car undertake. Very nice example of an E39, props to you sir :thumbup:
thanks so much. i try hard to make it all run well. i actually recently installed a new radiator and it's not leaking anymore.

be sure to link me to your thread when you post it! i love build threads.
Just thoroughly enjoyed reading through this thread and seeing all the awesome photos and that insane exhaust clip. You and a few other members on this forum have inspired me to start my own build thread. It's a great way to document the journey you and your car undertake. Very nice example of an E39, props to you sir :thumbup:
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