BMW E39

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About this Wiki

The E39 Wiki should be used as a tool to help all E39 owners. The greatest feature of the Wiki is that anyone with an account on Bimmerfest has the ability to edit it. If you see something incorrect or notice something missing, simply click on the edit link to the right of any section. Please respect the contributions made by other members.

The E46 wiki has a lot of information, and the I6 engines are largely shared with the E39. If the answer to your question is not here, have a look over there. Also, check out the E39 "Best Links" thread and wiki.

Model Summary

The E39 was produced from 1995 to 2004. It was the successor of the E34, and was replaced by the E60. Sales to Germany and the United Kingdom began in 1995, and by 1996 sales to the rest of the world had commenced. The design draws heavily from the E38 7-Series in body construction, v8 engines and electronic technology. Also, many elements (including the 6 cylinder engines) are shared with the E46 3-series.

In the US, the E39 was launched with the 528i and 540i models. The 528i uses the 2.8 litre M52 inline six cylinder engine from the E36 328i, and the 540i uses with the 4.4 litre M62 V8, shared with the E38 740i. In addition to these models, Europe and some other markets received the 520i (2.0L M52), 523i (2.5L M52) and 535i (3.5L M62) petrol models. The diesel models also initially offered these other markets were the 525td (2.5L M51 turbodiesel inline six) and 525tds (525td engine with intercooler).

The M5 variant was introduced in 1998, using the 4.9 litre S62 V8 engine. The M5 is only available as a sedan.

The V8 models were upgraded in September 1998 to the M62TU engine, which features single vanos and electronic throttle. Similarly, the six-cylinder petrol engines were upgraded to the M52TU engine in September 1998. Also in September 1998, the touring body style was released and stability control was upgraded from ASC to DSC.

The major update ("LCI") appeared in September 2000 for the 2001 model year. The major changes are:

  • 525i (M54) replaced 523i (M52TU)
  • 530i (M54) replaced 528i (M52TU)
  • 520d was introduced, using the M47 four-cylinder turbodiesel.
  • 525d (M57) replaced 525td (M51)
  • 525tds (M51) was discontinued
  • 530d (M57) had a slight increase in power
  • V8 engines were unchanged
  • All models received "angel eye" headlights, LED tail-lights, widescreen navigation and various detail changes.

In 2003, the limited edition 540i M-sport model was produced.


Model Range

Petrol Engines

Model Engine Displacement (cc) Bore/Stroke (mm) Comp. ratio Power (kW/bhp) Torque (Nm/ft-lb) 0-62mph (manual) Years Where sold
520i M52 1991 80/66 11.0 110/150 @6250RPM 190/140 @4200RPM 10.2sec 1996-1998 Non-US
M52TU 190/140 @3500RPM 1998-2000
M54 2171 80/72 10.7 125/168 @6100RPM 210/150 @3500RPM 9.1sec 2000-2003
523i M52 2496 84/75 10.5 125/168 @5500RPM 245/181 @3950RPM 8.5sec 1995-1998 Non-US
M52TU 245/181 @3500RPM 1998-2000
525i M54 2494 84/75 10.5 141/189 @6000RPM 245/181 @3500RPM 8.1sec 2000-2003 Worldwide
528i M52 2793 84/84 10.2 142/190 @5500RPM 280/210 @3950RPM 7.5sec 1995-1998 Worldwide
M52TU 280/210 @3500RPM 1998-2000
530i M54 2979 84/89.6 10.2 170/228 @5900RPM 300/220 @3500RPM 7.1sec 2000-2003 Worldwide
535i M62 3498 84/78.9 10.0 173/235 @5700RPM 320/236 @3300RPM 6.9sec 1996-1998 Non-US
M62TU 180/241 @5800RPM 345/254 @3500RPM 1998-2003
540i M62 4398 92/82.7 10.0 210/282 @5400RPM 440/320 @3900RPM 6.2sec 1996-1998 Worldwide
M62TU 218/282 @5400RPM 440/320 @3600RPM 1996-2003
M5 S62 4941 94/89 11.0 294/394 @6600RPM 500/370 @3800RPM 5.3sec 1998-2003 Worldwide

Diesel engines

Model Engine Displacement (cc) Bore/stroke (mm) Comp. Ratio Power (kW/bhp) Torque (Nm/ft-lb) 0-62mph (manual) Years Where sold
520d M47 1951 88/84 19.0 100/134 @4000 280/210 @1750RPM 10.6sec 2000-2003 Some European countries
525td M51 2497 80/82.8 22.0 114/185 @4800 230/170 @1900RPM 11.9sec 1997-2000 Europe
525tds 105/141 @4000 280/210 @2200RPM 10.4sec
525d M57 17.5 120/161 @4000 350/260 @2000RPM 8.9sec 2000-2003 Some European countries
530d 2926 84/88 18.0 135/181 @4000 390/290 @1750RPM 8.0sec 1998-2000 Europe
142/193 @4000 410/302 @1750RPM 7.8sec 2000-2003


VIN decoders

Enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at these websites for information on the model, engine, gearbox, production date and options of a particular vehicle: bimmer.work, bmw-z1.com.


Owner's manual

Owner's manuals are available from these websites: bmwtips.com, e38.org (bottom of the page), wedophones.com.


Bootlid badges

The E39 generally follows the traditional BMW model naming convention. The first number represents the platform (5 Series), the second is the engine capacity (litres times 10) and the letter is the engine type. "Individual" models have interior and exterior colours that are not available in the standard model range.

Engine types are as follows:

  • i - Petrol engine (historically, the letter i means "electronic fuel injection")
  • d / td / tds - Turbodiesel engine

Therefore a 525tds has a 2.5 litre turbodiesel engine, and a 535i has a 3.5 litre petrol engine.

Exceptions to the naming convention are:

  • 520i models after September 2000 have a 2.2 litre engine
  • 523i models use a 2.5 litre engine
  • 540i models use a 4.4 litre engine

Engine- Mechanical

Oil and filter change

Like most cars, the typical method of removing old engine oil is by removing the sump plug ("gravity draining"). Some people like to use an extraction pump (cnn thread) or "vacuum extraction" (cn90 thread, Bluebee thread) instead.

For choosing which oil to use, BMW recommends "LL-01 Approved" (aioros thread) for the E39. There is a wide variety of oils used by owners, and the topic is the subject of much debate (bluebee thread, jnyost thread, brandon002 post).

The oil service indicator (SI) light can be reset without any tools (mr-fix video).

Oil pressure

Low engine oil pressure can cause engine damage. The red "oil can" warning light on the dash indicates that oil pressure is low, therefore running the engine may cause damaged.

Discussion about causes of low oil pressure: toofast02 thread

Oil level and oil consumption

As opposed to the red "oil can" light (see above), the yellow "oil can" warning light merely indicates that the oil level is one quart low (fudman post), which does not present an immediate risk. To accurately measure the oil level, the dipstick should be used (dcolangelo thread).

In E39 petrol engines, it is common to need a 0.5 litre top-up of oil between oil changes (brandon002 post), which is possibly due to CCV problems (vavet5308 thread). The BMW dealership information (TIS) states that up to 0.7 litres per 1000 km is normal consumption. Excessive oil consumption is likely due to an oil leak or oil burning, and should be investigated (Energizedmortal post).

Discussions about oil consumption: morrisroad thread, poolman thread 1, poolman thread 2, Bavauto blog

Discussion about dipstick calibration: fudman thread

Oil level sensor replacement procedure: TKC thread, bokchoys.com, Westech thread

Oil leaks

Oil filter housing: The gasket at the bottom of the oil filter housing is a common cause of oil leaks.

Oil filter housing gasket replacement procedure: cn90 thread, bowmang thread, BMWtips, ElwoodBlues thread

Freeze plug: The freeze plug (also known as Welch plug) is also a possible cause of oil leaks (cn90 post- see second half of past).

Oil pan gasket: The oil pan gasket is a potential source of oil leaks, however in many cases the leak has actually been caused by the oil filter housing gasket (nyclad thread). The official procedure for the M52/M54 involves dropping the subframe, however it is possible to avoid this by cutting the new gasket into pieces (mudbone thread) or RTV sealant (trickstar thread).

M52 replacement procedure: bluebee post

M62 replacement procedure: zerodfx post

Valve cover gasket: A common source of oil leaks. Leaks can be caused by poor sealant, cracking and occasionally a warped valve cover (sixpot_simon thread).

M52 procedure: Pelicanparts, Millertimebmw video

M54 procedure: mkodama thread, Bimmer Zeit video

M62 procedure: ArbysNight thread, Scotmm thread, stas thread

Head gasket

A failed head gasket can cause the coolant, exhaust gasses and/or engine oil to mix.

Replacement procedure: Jackcat559 thread

Crank case ventilation valve (CCV)

A failed CCV (sometimes called "positive crankcase valve" or "oil separator valve") is a common cause of poor running (due to vacuum leaks) or high oil consumption (bluebee thread, RDL thread). . The valve itself can fail (jfive96 thread), the associated hoses can leak and the dipstick tube can become clogged (blueebee thread). Some people have replaced the CCV with an oil catch can (eparayno thread). Replacing the CCV is a large job, and easier to do with the intake manifold removed (BavarianE31 thread).

The tube from the CCV to the dipstick can become clogged (blueebee thread).

There is a special "insulated" CCV to prevent failures in cold weather due to condensation freezing (kjet540 post).

CCV test procedures: Bluebee post, Fix The Bimmer video, rdl post, edjack post

M52 replacement procedure: cn90 thread, jfive96 thread, aioros thread

M54 replacement procedure: Jason5driver thread, fudman thread, bavauto.com

M62 replacement procedure: Cerber thread, vicent page

Timing chain tensioner and guide rails

A failed timing chain tensioner can cause a rattling noise, initially on startup and then constantly as the problem gets worse. If the timing chain slips due to failure of the tensioner or guide rail, this could result in extensive engine damage. Timing guide rail failures are more common on v8 engines, particularly after 150,000 miles (Mkjs thread, edjack post). The M62TU timing chain system is different to the M62, however both versions have experienced failures (Mkjs post).

M54 replacement procedure: doru thread

M62TU replacement procedure: ElJefe125 thread, concrete donkey thread, gary@GAS thread, blackBMWs thread, Bobdmac thread

Camshafts

M54 removal procedure: Jackcat559 thread

Engine mounts

M62TU replacement procedure: blackBMWs thread

VANOS

VANOS is a type of variable valve timing, which advances and retards the camshaft. Single-VANOS (exhaust camshaft only) is used on the M52 (non-TU) and M62TU engines. Dual-VANOS (intake and exhaust camshafts) is used on the M52TU, M54 and S62 engines.

The seals used by BMW seem to have a limited lifespan, and once they fail the VANOS does not function correctly. This can cause rough idle, stalling and loss of power (ca2014mp2 post). The VANOS can be tested using DIS (TheHockeytowner thread). Many users recommend upgrading to seals made from Viton, such as those sold by Beisan Systems (bluebee thread).

Rattling sounds can be caused by failed VANOS bearings, and there are kits available to rebuild the VANOS unit using new bearings.

As an alternative to using a kit to replace the seals and/or bearings in a VANOS unit, refurbished VANOS units can be purchased from Dr Vanos (Fudman post). BMW does not provide the VANOS seals separately. It sells rebuilt VANOS units for ~$500. According to Beisan Systems (who sell the aftermarket Viton seals), BMW's rebuilt VANOS units are supplied with the same o-rings and have been found to fail in 20,000 miles.

Discussion of VANOS operation and faults: bluebee thread 1, shalyndavis23 thread, bluebee thread 2, 16valex thread

M52 (non-TU) seal replacement procedure: Beisan Systems

M52 (non-TU) bearing replacement procedure: Beisan Systems

M52TU / M54 seal replacement procedure: Beisan Systems

M52TU / M54 bearing replacement procedure: Beisan Systems

M52TU / M54 VANOS replacement procedure: Pelican Parts (eg installing a new or refurbished VANOS unit)

M62TU seals replacement procedure: Beisan Systems, Nervous thread, Edwin post

Valley Pan gaskets

On the M62 engine, the valley pan gaskets can leak coolant.

Replacement procedure: e38.org, magnum post, scottmm post, pelicanparts.com

Valley pan discussion: fulltone74 thread, 16hr_Day thread, dbaze540 thread, 540iman thread

Compression test

Discussion about test results for M54 (champaign777 thread) and M62 (flug540 thread).

Engine- Electrical

Spark plugs

The official specification is for spark plugs should be replaced every 100,000 miles (Bluebee post) or when showing signs of wear; however some people prefer to change them more often, eg every 50,000 miles (cn90 post). Using the correct spark plug means the gap size is already correctly set; the gaps are not meant to be adjusted on the spark plugs used by E39s (Ryan M post). Checking the condition of the spark plugs ("reading the plugs") gives useful information about how that cylinder is running (ngksparkplugs.com, procarcare.com, onallcylinders.com).

The specified spark plugs are:

  • M52: Bosch F8LDCR
  • M52TU: Bosch FGR7DQP or NGK BKR6EQUP
  • M54: Bosch FGR7DQP or NGK BKR6EQUP
  • M62 until 7/97: Bosch F7LDCR or NGK BKR6EK
  • M62 from 7/97: Bosch F9LDCR
  • M62TU: Bosch FGR7DQP or NGK BKR6EQUP

Discussion about using single prong NGK Iridium plugs: cn90 post,

Replacement procedure: crdiscoverer thread, Bluebee thread, Bimmer Zeit video

NGK spark plug codes: cn90thread, Tdog67 thread

Ignition coils

All E39 petrol engines use an ignition coil located above each spark plug ("coil on plug"). Lifespan of ignition coils vary greatly, but failures become more common at higher mileage (jieg thread). This can lead to rough idle and a lack of power ([www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=869720 Andlloyd thread]) and sometimes triggers a misfire fault code for the cylinder.

To troubleshoot a single faulty ignition coil that is producing an error code, start by swapping the coils between cylinders and seeing if the error code changes cylinders. Coils can also be tested using an oscilloscope (Jase007 post).

A worn "spark plug boot" is sometimes the cause of ignition faults (540 M-sport post). A replacement spark plug boot is much cheaper than the whole ignition coil assembly.

Discussion about quality of various brands: NY_98_528i thread

Camshaft Position Sensor (CPS)

A faulty CPS can cause a lack of power, stalling and hard starting (Poolman thread). Failures of the CPS is common problem (Edjack post). Often a faulty CPS will not cause a fault code. It is recommended that a genuine BMW/VDO part is used (ca2014mp2 post).

M54 procedure: Bluebee post, Bimmer Zeit video,RichieE46 thread

M62 procedure: jamesdc4 post, magnum post, BMWtips

Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP)

Failures of crankshaft position sensors seem to be rare, however in one reported case it resulted in stalling, hard starting and the Crankshaft Sensor fault code being triggered (Girtho thread).

M52/M54 location: barneyhyphen thread

M62 replacement procedure: zapperjoe thread

Cruise control actuator

On engines with a mechanical throttle, a broken cruise control actuator can be a cause of cruise control problems. Repair procedure: MontanaRob thread

Alternator

A faulty alternator means the battery is not charging properly, therefore it will cause flat batteries. A properly functioning alternator will measure 14.4 volts while idling at full electrical load (Burning2nd post).

Instead of replacing the alternator, it can often be rebuilt (cn90 thread, airos thread, oichan.org). On an air-cool alternator, the air duct should be cleaned of debris such as leaves (cn90 thread, Neversaynever thread).

E39s were fitted with 90 Amp, 120 Amp or 140 Amp alternator. The type of alternator fitted to a car can be identified from the sticker (bluebee thread). However, the M62TU uses a water-cooled alternator (verite thread), and often auto-electricians are not willing to rebuild it. However it is possibly to DIY rebuild this alternator (RocketSurgeon thread).

M52 replacement procedure: flybot thread

M54 replacement procedure: jotscan post, bavauto.com, bluebee post

M62TU replacement procedure: blackBMWs thread, bofessional thread

Battery testing and maintenance

A failing battery can cause many strange problems with the car, therefore it is often worth checking the battery voltage as a first step. Before disconnecting the battery, some people prefer to wait until the car has gone into "sleep" mode (dvsgene thread), however some people consider this unnecessary. A normal cranking speed does not necessarily indicate that the battery is fine (sixpot_simon thread).

Battery test: Bluebee thread

Replacement procedure: jamesdc4 thread

Topping up the distilled water: BMWdiy

Battery drain

A common cause of flat batteries is current drain, however first test the battery to ensure that it is not simply that the battery is too old. Common causes of current drain are a faulty FSU (bluescholars thread), the car is not going into sleep mode (check if light indicating gear on shift lever is out after 20 min without opening doors), the CD changer constantly cycling disks after the car is turned off, or the navigation system.

Procedure for measuring current drain: delfletcher thread, StreetDragster thread

Fuses and relays

Function of each fuse and relay: bluebee thread 1, bluebee thread 2

Failure of the fuel filler door locking solonoid can cause the fuse for the rear door locks to blow (kiwijochen thread).

Rain sensor

Replacement procedure: eaglecomm post, Wade_Dwyer thread

Retrofit procedure: davidf procedure

Earth/ground straps

Poor connections on these straps, including the one located under the cabin air filter (djt5150 thread), can cause various electrical problems.

Ground locations: JimLev post

Cooling system

Warning: the temperature gauge on the dash is heavily buffered and may not show that the engine is overheating until it is too late (edjack post, 1BadE39 post, Waveho post, 540iman thread). Therefore, as soon as the needle moves beyond halfway, turn off the engine to minimise damage.

The coolant temperature can be checked in realtime using the OBC "secret menu" (5th_gear thread).

System overhaul

Many components of the cooling system have a finite lifespan (cn90 thread, bluebee thread). Failure of these components can lead to engine damage through overheating.

BMW specifies unique tools for the cooling fan and alternator removal, however other options are available (bluebee thread).

Overhaul procedure: CNN-090 thread, CNN-090 post, bluebee post

Discussion about date stamps on cooling components: speedgoat thread

Discussion about quality of various brands: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=876465

Bleeding

A cooling system which is not properly bled can suffer sporadic rises in temperature or loss of cabin heat. The BMW TIS has some specific notes about bleeding the cooling system (NNY528i thread). Some people prefer to replace the plastic bleed screws with brass screws (Mack thread).

Bleeding procedure: cn90 thread, edjack post, jamesdc4 post, pelicanparts.com

M54 drain plug location: bluebee thread

The recommended coolant is sold by BMW dealerships, however some owners prefer to use other coolants (agouraM5 thread, official BMW information)

Fan clutch

Installation requires the fan to be held stationary while the nut is being tightened.

A failed fan clutch or fan can lead to the fan exploding, causing significant damage to parts and panels nearby (Schitzo thread, cdb3113 thread, DinanBimmer thread).

Removal discussion: mosearch thread

Installation procedure: bluebee post, cn90 post, bluebee thread, pelicanparts.com

Fan shroud

Removal procedure: beisansystems.com, bluebee post

Radiator hoses

Upper hose removal: bluebee thread

Thermostat

Replacement procedure: bmwtips.com, pelicanparts.com

O-ring replacement discussion: bluebee thread

Operating temperature discussion: bluebee thread

Radiator

The plastic components - especially near hose connections (bluebee thread) - are a common failure, so some people use an all-aluminium radiator instead. A coolant level sensor is only present on cars with the High OBC (cambrian123456 thread).

Replacement procedure: Ohmess thread, pelicanparts.com.

Coolant level sensor discussion: bluebee thread

Expansion tank replacement procedure: pelicanparts.com, bluebee thread

Outlet temperature sensor replacement procedure: pelicanparts.com

Radiator cap and system pressure

Some people believe that the high pressure of the BMW cooling system contributes to failures, and therefore install a lower pressure radiator cap (540IA_750IL thread). The lower pressure cap does not affect normal operation, since the system spressure is below 1.4 bar anyway at normal operating temperatures (Gary@GAS post, JimLev post). The difference is that, if the engine overheats, the system vents pressure earlier.

A waterless cooling system has also been used (chiefwej thread).

Temperature gauge on dash

The temperature gauge is not linear. The 12 o'clock position seems to cover a large range of temperatures. There are reports of a warning bell sound when the engine is overheating (540iman thread).

Observations of temperature gauge behavior: windsmith post, sixpot_simon thread

The temperature gauge can be recoded to show a much more linear temperature progression, and the 12'o'clock position is a much smaller range of temperature. This also gives more warning of overheating e46 thread referencing TerraPhantm's work

Water pump

Discussion of replacement options: bluebee thread

Replacement procedure: pelicanparts.com

Auxiliary fan

This electric fan operates on low speed when the air-conditioning is used. It also operates at medium and high speed as required to assist in cooling the engine. Failure of the fan itself or fuse #75 (cnn post) are common causes for the fan to not operate correctly. For 1997-1998 models (cn90 post), a replacement fan motor is available (PENER thread 1).

Fan replacement procedure: sleekBMW thread, PENER thread 2

Discussion about testing aux fan: shroud thread

Drive belts

The drive belts (also called serpentine belts) provide power to ancillaries such as power the water pump, alternator, air-conditioning compressor and power steering pump. The belts can crack as they age, eventually leading to failure (which can cause the engine to overhead since the water pump stops working). Special tools to hold the rotating parts in place can be either purchased, created or improvised (bluebee thread).

M54 replacement procedure: bluebee post

M62 replacement procedure: ArbysNight thread

Thermostat

The thermostat opens when necessary to route coolant through the radiator, so that the engine is cooled. A failed thermostat can cause an engine to run cold, or (much worse) overheat. A supplier of thermostat upgrades claims that the electronic map-controlled can cause cooling system failures (Zionsville).

M62 replacement procedure: joshs540i thread

Fuel and intake

Vacuum leaks

Vacuum leaks are one of the most common cause of engine problems (ca2014mp2 post). They can result in poor idle, the P0171 error code, lack of power and other symptoms. Sources of vacuum leaks include the intake elbow, CCV, DISA and their associated hoses (poolman thread,Bluebee thread 1, 2, 3).

Common methods of troubleshooting vacuum leaks are:

  1. Reading the short-term fuel trims (STFT) and long-term fuel trims (LTFT) using an OBD2 code reader (Tutti57 post,ca2014mp2 post 1, ca2014mp2 post 2,Schrodinger's Box video)
  2. Spraying carburettor cleaner around the intake hoses while listening for a change in idle speed (Gmak2012 post, Helmet75 post, ca2014mp2 post)
  3. The "oil cap bag test" (Bluebee post).
  4. Measuring inlet vacuum, using the port at the rear of the intake. For the M54 engine, a reading of 18+ inches of water (with the airconditioning off) indicates healthy intake vacuum (F1Jim64 post).
  5. A smoke test (ca2014mp2 post, Johnstern post). Some people claim this is the definitive test for vacuum leaks, however it requires a smoke machine. Check for leaks at the brake booster, secondary air system and exhaust (ca2014mp2 thread).

Intake elbow

Also called "intake boot".

M54 replacement procedure: bimmerfiver thread

M54 Video Installation DIY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AadAO4o1aQ

Idle control valve (ICV)

The ICV can become clogged, leading to poor idle and acceleration.

M54 cleaning procedure: csw8331 thread

M62 cleaning procedure: John540i6 thread

DISA valve

This valve allows different length intake runners to be used, increasing torque at low revs (artisthand post). DISA failure can be caused by the valve becoming clogged, the pin becoming loose (teklord69 thread 1), the plastic cracking, a failed O-ring (brickwhite thread) or the diaphragm rupturing (uncmozo thread, dakarm thread).

This is what a failed DISA valve sounds like on an M54 engine: DISA Valve Noise Video

If a part of the DISA- especially the pin- wears loose and is ingested into the engine, catastrophic damage can occur (ForcedFirebird post). An aftermarket DISA valve, which removes the possibility of a worn pin being ingested into the engine, is available (Gary@GAS thread).

Replacement procedure: SolidJake thread, teklord69 post 2, Shires thread

DISA autopsy: teklord69 thread 3

Discussion about diagnosing DISA failure: bluebee thread

Fuel filter

For 6-cylinder cars, the M54 fuel filter is different to the M52 filter, due to the addition of a pressure regulator (cn90post).

Autopsy of used fuel filters: Nervous thread

M52 replacement procedure: Jamaican71 thread, cn90 thread

M54 replacement procedure: morrisroad thread, casacujo thread, econobox post

Discussion about fuel filters: dalekressin thread

Fuel tank vent hose

The smell of fuel in the car can be caused by a fault with the fuel tank vent hose (Chillebeam thread).

Fuel level sensor

A faulty fuel level reading is commonly due to a failed sensor.

Replacement procedure: jamz thread, phid_bombadier thread

Discussion about repairing fuel pumps: Pistonbroke thread

Fuel pump & fuel pressure regulator

A lack of fuel pressure can cause trouble starting, loss of power and stalling (redbull713 thread, agarch92 thread, cwp01 thread). A faulty fuel pump is a common cause, however, lack of fuel pressure can also be caused by a faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator (FPR) or fuel filter.

Fuel pump replacement procedure: GOKOOLJAPAN thread, jamz thread, vetaldj thread

Relay location: bluebee thread

Valve for testing fuel pressure: luvdriven540i thread, redbull713 thread

Discussion about low fuel pressure and error code 1250: JEREMYZ thread

Fuel gauge sending unit

A dirty sending unit can cause the fuel gauge to read incorrectly (lsfeder thread

Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

A faulty MAF can cause rough idle and poor fuel consumption. Over time, the sensor can become dirty and requires cleaning. A test for MAF accuracy is the fuel consumption readout (which can be accessed using the Secret Menu). Note that the test should be conducted with the aircon off (F1Jim64 post 1).

MAF test results for 6 cylinder engines: auaq thread, F1Jim64 post 2.

Note that a MAF error code can also be caused by a problem elsewhere in the engine (eg CCV, intake leak).

Typically, a faulty MAF will cause the engine to run rich. However, poor performance due to running very lean has also been observed as a result of a faulty MAF (F1Jim64 post). In this case, no MAF error code was present.

M54 cleaning procedure: Bluebee thread, KrisL thread, seemyad thread

M62 cleaning procedure: jamesdc4 thread, sdmike thread

Fuel injectors

Leaking seals can cause leanness and fuel leaks (doru thread).

Engine failsafe error

On the M62 engine, an "engine failsafe" error can be cause by the throttle body (540_M-sport thread, 540VIspeed thread) and the DME fuse (Oscswa thread)

Gas cap

A loose gas cap can cause a Check Engine Light (IH8DMV thread).

Throttle position sensor (TPS)

Discussion about faults: mylo thread, JimLev post

Exhaust

Oxygen sensors (O2 sensors)

A faulty oxygen sensor can cause poor fuel economy. The sensor can be tested (Edwin thread).

Tools required for M54 oxygen sensor replacement: Bluebee thread

Procedure for M62 oxygen sensor replacement: BMWtips

Secondary Air System

Problems with the Secondary Air Pump (SAP) can cause fault codes or thumping sounds (16valex thread). The failure can be the pump itself (cn90 thread), the valve (cn 90 thread) or the vacuum hoses connected to it (fudman thread). The pump and valve can be rebuilt (cnn thread).

It is suggested that cleaning the Secondary Air Valve can prevent SAP failures (JimLev thread, pics in post #17).

Heat shield

Repair procedure for rattling heatshield: cn90 post

Catalytic converter

Discussion about catalytic converter (often referred to as a "cat") problems: coelacanth thread, mtnAVman thread

A clogged cat can be checked using a pressure gauge (poolman post) or analysing the signal output from the oxygen sensors (ca2014mp2 post).

The Japanese cars have a warning message "SLOW! CAT. OVERHEAT" for when the catalytic convertor is overheating due to a rich mixture (edjack post).

Drivetrain

Transmission applications

Automatic transmissions (taligentx pdf, MatWiz thread)

  • GM A4S-270R: 4-speed, used with M52 engine
  • GM A5S-360R: 5-speed, used with M52 engine
  • GM A5S-390R: 5-speed, used with M54 engine
  • ZF 5HP19: 5-speed, used with M54 engine (gtxragtop thread)
  • ZF 5HP24: 5-speed, used with M62 engine
  • ZF 5HP30: 5-speed, used with M62 engine

Manual transmissions (Qsilver7 post)

  • ZF 5SD-320Z: 5-speed, used with M52 and M54 engine
  • Getrag 5SD-250G: 5-speed, used with M54 engine (USA 525i)
  • ZF/Getrag S6S 420G: 6-speed, used with M62 engine

Transmission fluid replacement

Despite BMW's claim that the transmission oil is a "lifetime" fluid, it has been found that the oil becomes contaminated over time, and therefore requires replacement. The type of oil needed is indicated by the colour of the label on the transmission sump (MatWiz thread, Bluebee thread, hungdynasty post).

For the ZF 5HP19, several brands offer fluids conforming to the Esso ATF LT 71141 specifications (fudman thread).

Discussion about flushing very old auto transmission fluid: toothless02 thread

GM A4S-270R fluid flush procedure: jvcajita thread

GM A5S-390R fluid flush procedure: Jason5 thread

ZF 5HP19 fluid flush procedure: TorqueWrench thread, riro424 thread

ZF 5HP24 fluid flush procedure: vicent page

Manual transmission fluid flush procedure: CNN thread

Trans Failsafe Prog

This warning light indicates that the automatic transmission has gone into "limp home" mode, which uses only 3rd gear. It is often caused low battery voltage (flyboyy thread, Mystic66 thread, 1lemone39 thread), a wet sensor (fudman post) or electrical problems unrelated to the transmission (e39dream post). Mechanical failure of the gearbox occurs rarely, but is also possible (ak_inshok thread).

Torque converter slip

An internal seal within the torque converter can fail, causing a "Excessive torque convertor slip" error code (gtxragtop post).

Clutch replacement

Procedure for M52/M54: aa240sx thread, David_Levine pdf

Tools for M62 clutch replacement: DavidPorter thread

Clutch Delay Valve (CDV)

Most manual transmission cars (except M5) include a CDV to prevent clutch abuse. However, many people find it hard to drive smoothly with the CDV installed. The CDV can be either modified (Zeckhausen) or removed (CN90 thread, BMWtips).

Differential oil

There are several opinions regarding what is the best diff oil to use (Bluebee thread).

Diff oil change procedure: cn90 post, riro424 thread, Jackcat559 thread, BMWtips

Transmission mounts

M57 replacement procedure: philthompson thread

M62 replacement procedure: BlackBMWs thread

Driveshaft

Discussion about U-joint repair: bartelbe thread

Discussion about guibo and centre bearing: Ebonix thread 1, Ebonix thread 2

Transmission cooler

Discussion about oil leaks: dannisieze39 thread

Transmission conversion (auto to manual)

Swapping an E39 from auto to manual is more complicated than older cars, due to the electronic configuration (coding) work required. However, several people have successfully converted an E39 from automatic to manual (zer0vette thread, Chigga thread,geargrinder thread).

Suspension and Steering

Front Wheel Bearings

Growling/humming noises from the front wheels are often caused by worn out front wheel bearings.

Front wheel bearing replacement procedure: CN90 thread, Zeckhausen, thesteve thread)

Front struts

In the front struts, the shock absorber also forms part of the suspension geometry (unlike the rear suspension). Therefore, the front strut also holds the wheel in place and creates the up/down axis for the wheel movement. Poor braking and shudder during braking can be caused by failed front shock absorbers(MatWiz post, ahspao thread).

Discussion of worn shock absorber symptoms and replacement options: Bluebee thread

M52 front suspension overhaul procedure: cn90 thread

Front strut replacement: Beisan page

Rear shocks

Worn out rear shocks can cause noises over bumps, poor ride and poor handling.

Replacement procedure: Beisan page

Air springs

Cracked rubber can cause the air springs to leak.

Replacement procedure for rear air springs on Touring: MLue1 thread, mpribanic thread

Rear ball joints

Worn out rear swing-arm ball joints can cause vibration, squeaking, poor handling and uneven tire wear. Ball joints on M52/M54 cars can be removed with commonly available tools (cambrian123456 thread, however M62 cars require a special tool to be purchased (z0lt3c thread, mark@EAC thread) or made (chip740iL post).

Replacement procedure: Besian Systems, ArbysNight thread

Steering link and tie-rods

The six-cylinder cars use a rack-and-pinion steering system, while the V8 cars use a recirculating ball system.

M52/M54 replacement procedure: MatWiz thread

M62 replacement procedure: cdb3113 thread, Al's540i thread, Edwin post

Steering rack/box

The six-cylinder cars use a rack-and-pinion system (aka "steering rack"), while the V8 cars use a recirculating ball system (aka "steering box"). The

M52/M54 replacement procedure: iDrift thread

M52/M54 rebuild discussion: champaign777 thread

Thrust arm bushings

A failed thrust arm bushing is a common cause of vibration at 50-60 mph (Beisan Systems).

M52 replacement procedure: easyover thread, cn90 thread

M54 replacement procedure: champaign thread

M62 replacement procedure: hotswimmer thread

Other possible causes of vibration: ztom thread, Rami2001 thread

Power steering fluid leaks

Power steering fluid leaking from the reservoir or hose can drip into the alternator, possibly causing damage (bluebee thread). Common sources of leaks are the hose, hose clamp, reservoir cap seal and vent hole in the reservoir cap (firemanory thread).

M62 hose replacement procedure: e38.org, jrpastore thread, edwin thread

Discussion of hose and clamp replacement: NC530i-2003 thread

Discussion of reservoir cap: bluebee thread, Rjim thread

Power steering fluid flush

If the power steering fluid is cloudy, it should be replaced with new fluid. There is also a filter in the reservoir which eventually requires cleaning or replacement (bluebee thread, jimlev post).

The fluid BMW specifies for the power steering is Dexron III ATF. However, this is no longer available, so Dexron IV is used (bluebee thread, bimmerfest pdf).

Fluid flush procedure: riro424 thread, kknotsail thread, edjack post, starless thread, paulcalif post (for E38)

Power steering pump brackets

M62 discussion about failures: bluebee thread

Rear sway bar

The sway bar reduces body roll in cornering. The thicker M5 rear sway bar can be used to reduce body roll and understeer.

M54 replacement procedure: Jackcat559 thread

Wheel alignment

Discussion about wheel alignment: bluebee thread 1, HeyYo thread,bluebee thread 2

Rear wheel alignment procedure: cn90 thread

Free play in rear suspension

Discussion about worn wheel bearings, bushings, ball joints and tie rods: rdl thread

Notes on suspension upgrades [Touring specific]

Suspension discussion thread (needs elaboration, with links to specific products)

Note that front suspension components are swappable between touring and sedan models, as long as they share an engine (m54/m62), the m62 requires different components due to the engine's weight Rear suspension options depend on if you decide to keep the SLS (self leveling suspension) air bag system.

The SLS air bags can be lowered through manipulating vehicle settings in INPA or by using adjustable rear endlinks to force the auto-leveling system to put less air in the air springs, making the car lower.

Koni Yellow Adjustable shocks (P/N 8240 1157SPORT) and H&R front springs provide a sportier alternative to stock while retaining SLS

KW makes a setup (the V1) which is a little sportier than the Koni setup, which is also adjustable. Turner motorsport sells an all-in-one kit but it can be purchased elsewhere

Fortune Auto briefly offered an all-in-one suspension option that has since been discontinued.

Ground Control Suspension makes a Coil Over kit for the M5 which can be used on 540i tourings, assuming the SLS airbags have been converted to springs.

Brakes

Brake pad and rotor replacement

Procedure: Bluebee thread, Ronin009 thread, PJB post, BMWtips

Discussion about machining rotors: stigst3r thread

It is recommended that "bedding in" be performed for new brake pads (Zeckhausen).

Rotors can be machined if they are above the minimum thickness (bluebee thread). If rotors are less than the minimum thickness, they should be replaced.

Anti-seize lubricant called "BMW Never seez" (part number 83-23-9-407-830) should be used where the rotor touches the rub and wheel (bluebee thread).

Bleeding

Traditionally, this is done with a second person pumping the brake pedal (pigeon post, Zeckhausen, Pelicanparts). Another method is pressurised bleeding (cn90 thread, E38.org)

For the choice of brake fluid, BMW recommends "low viscosity" DOT4 (bluebee thread, ATE-NA.com

ABS module and wheel speed sensors

Early E39 models use Active Stability Control (ASC), while later models use a more advanced version- Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).

The "trifecta" of DSC, ABS and brake warning lights on the dash is commonly caused by failure of a rear wheel speed sensor or the ABS module. Wheel speed sensors can be tested (Bluebee post, Quick99si thread, 540iman thread). In some cases, the ABS module can be repaired (cn90 thread, 540iMan thread, niffel thread), however it is not always successful (regardless of whether the repair is DIY or professional).

If the ABS module is replaced, the steering angle sensor needs to be recalibrated (bluebee post).

The speedo takes its input from the left-rear wheel speed sensor (Qsilver7 post).

Replacement procedure for ABS module: BlackBMWs thread

Discussion on wheel speed sensor troubleshooting: M00n3ater thread, mbinkley thread

Replacement procedure for wheel speed sensor: jamesdc4 thread, b2ke thread, readyandwilling thread

Discussion on DIY repair for ABS module: 540iman thread

Brake pressure switch pinout: Bluebee post

Steering angle sensor

Replacing the steering angle sensor or the ABS unit may require steering sensor calibration. This can be done using Tool32 (AmericanJambo thread) or INPA (BMW-North post). It is also suggested that the calibration can be done without any tools (Burning2nd post).

Repair procedure: rdc8118 thread

Parking brake (handbrake)

Overhaul procedure: cnn thread

Electrical

Secret/hidden OBC menu

Once you have identified whether you have the High or Low OBC (bluebee thread), you can unlock the "secret menu" to obtain information about the vehicle. This menu also allows you to calibrate the fuel consumption (L/100km or mpg) readout (Brandon 540/6m thread).

Low OBC procedure: jamesdc4 post, E39_source video

High OBC procedure: Qsilver7 post, jamesdc4 thread

Dashboard/MID pixels

Missing pixels on the dash and MID display is often caused by problems with the ribbon cable. Some owners prefer to replace the MID with an aftermarket multimedia system.

Repair options discussion: bluebee thread, neversaynever thread 1, neversaynever thread 2, visionbmw7 post, 540iman thread

MID removal procedure: vdorepair.com, cn90 thread

MID test mode procedure: RDL post

Wiring diagrams

Wiring diagrams: elektroda.pl PDF

Trunk wiring harness

Chafing of the wiring harness in the trunk is a common cause of problems with rear lights and can cause other mysterious electrical problems (bluebee thread).

Lighting Control Module (LCM)

Failure of the LCM can cause a variety of lighting problems. The chip inside the LCM can be replaced (cn90 thread). Later models have the LCM III version, which is harder to repair (doru thread).

Replacement procedure: mario788 thread

Rear lights

Diagnosing rear light problems: bmwMobiletech thread

Replacement procedure for centre brake light: bluebee thread

Ignition Switch

Failure of the ignition switch can cause all kinds of symptoms (QSilver7 thread, nyclad thread, racerock thread). A test for a faulty switch is the passenger sunvisor light (maher528 post, ProV1 thread).

Replacement procedure: DavidC post, synenergy52 thread

Rebuild procedure: cal45fan thread

A broken lock cylinder can cause the ignition key to spin freely (JackNCokeGus thread, SNARF thread).

Licence plate light bulb

Replacement procedure: bluebee post

Alarm and EWS (immobiliser)

The alarm is part of the EWS system. Random alarm activation can be caused by a failing battery (Qsilver7 post, jamesdc4 thread) or hood switch (Touring_Dude post, jamesdc4 thread). After the limit of 10 keys are programmed, no more keys can be programmed (Jimmys_530i post).

Siren replacement procedure: BMWtips

EWS overview: bimmerfest pdf

Keys

Replacement keys can be had cheaper than from a dealership through several means. Certain individuals can code generic eBay keys to your EWS module but this requires removing and mailing the EWS module in your car to the individual. (RocketSurgeon is well known for this procedure)

You can also get a replacement 'valet key' from the dealership for around $60 and glue its immobilizer transponder chip into an ebay key and it will function like a fully functional key that can start the car, but the key still must be cut by a locksmith that can cut so called 'high security' keys, usually for around $25 (Thread describing the valet key procedure)

The keys perform 3 functions: immobiliser (EWS), keyless entry (FZV) and alarm (DWA) ([1]).

Keys contain a chip, which must be specifically programmed for each car. However, there are some third-party key suppliers who are able to provide a fully-functioning programmed key cheaper than the dealerships (nariusb thread, ambishop post, sixpot_simon post, AskoR post). The EWS has 10 "slots" where keys can be programmed, however it is suggested that a new key can be programmed to replace an old key (AskoR post).

If the remote central locking buttons don't work, the car can be manually unlocked with a key (vetaldj thread). If the car's flat battery prevents the central locking from working, an external battery can be used to power the system (cn90 post).

Having multiple transponder chips within one key will prevent you from starting the car, presumably because the chips interfere with eachother as they communicate with the EWS (RocketSurgeon Post)

Earlier e39s /(up to 09/1997 production date) can use EWS emulators but this ceased once they switched to a rolling code EWS-DME (RocketSurgeon Post)

A possible way to disable the EWS system is to somehow attach an immobilizer transponder chip to the EWS antenna ring around the ignition column, then store the antenna and chip somewhere within the dashboard (RocketSurgeon Post)

Procedure for replacing rubber buttons in square key: QSilver7 thread

Procedure for charging key batteries: traviss351 thread

Programming new keys: htownbimmer05 thread, Qsilver7 post, Alex540 thread

Deactivating stolen/lost keys: Qsilver7 post

Replacing battery in diamond key: BMW_525i-Noob thread

Replacing battery in square key: alfonso12 thread, Billy_Hopkins thread

Discussion of options when keys are locked in car: vetaldj thread

Coding software

With the right software and cable, users can adjust electronic settings such as autolocking of doors (bluebee thread, Newbie528 thread) and rain-sensing wipers (rdl thread).

Carsoft, INPA and DIS are commonly used for coding. The following forum contains a lot of information on coding: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?233

PA Soft installation for windows 7: NumbaOneNewb thread

Bodywork

Door locks

Door lock actuators are a common failure, causing a single door to be unable to lock or unlock.

Actuator replacement procedure: fudman thread

How to open a door that won't unlock: cabinetman2 post

External door handle

Replacement procedure: TIPenta thread

Trunk lock actuator

A failed trunk lock actuator prevents the trunk (also known as "boot") from closing (MNsport528i thread).

Replacement procedure: BMWtips

Trunk strut

Sedan replacement procedure: cn90 thread

Touring replacement procedure: xpcgamer thread

Water in rear footwell

The common cause of water in the rear footwell is the door vapour barrier (russelltickle thread). Another possible cause is a blocked door drain (bimmerfiver thread).

Vapour barrier repair procedure: speedchase thread, bimmerfiver thread, stilljester photos

Water in trunk boot

Discussion about clogged drains: HeavyJ thread

Hood adjustment

Discussion about hood adjustment: JCGinMA thread

Hood release (bonnet release) cable

How to open the hood when the cable is broken: 528inOttawa thread

Cable replacement procedure: cn90 thread, Edwin post, larina thread

Door seals

Upper seal replacement procedure: davegraham page

Door jamb seal discussion: Bluebee thread

Window trim

Replacement procedure: 540i6.com

B-pillar trim

Replacement procedure: porksoda thread

Windshield trim

The rubber trim cracks over time (Agent99 thread).

Replacement procedure: blackBMWs thread

Headlight adjusters

The OEM headlight adjusters are made from PBT, which over time becomes brittle over time and breaks. This results in the headlights pointing downwards or moving around. There are many options to repair/replace them (Bluebee thread). Replacement plastic adjusters are available (Ebay, Odometergears), or replacement metal adjusters, or you can make your own adjusters (raf0419 thread). Headlights on 2002+ cars require a different technique for disassembly (jamesdc4 thread).

Replacement procedure: findog thread, jdjg thread, roderick thread, BMWtips, gmindas video, Gary McKee video, MegaBusterBlaster video

The headlight levelling sensor is located in the front suspension (bccwu thread).

Cloudy headlights

Heat and moisture can lead to a cloudy headlight lens (Edgy36-39 thread). Also, over time the outer surface of the lens can become dulled, which can be fixed by polishing (gonzilla thread) or sanding (540IForMe thread).

The headlights are not sealed, they have drain tubes (Edgys36-39 thread).

Sunroof water leaks

Problems with the sunroof drains can cause water leaks in the cabin (j_patterson thread, komato3 thread, pleiades thread

Roundel (BMW trunk and hood badges)

Paint can flake off from the emblem over time. The rear badge is slightly smaller than the front (cn90 thread).

Replacement procedure: bluebee thread, ILVSMOG thread

Rear bumper bar

Removal procedure: pelicanparts.com

Interior

Warning: when working around airbags or seat occupancy sensors, disconnect the battery first to avoid triggering the airbag light (TemporarySanity thread).

Cup holders

These are very fragile, therefore they commonly break. When broken they are unable to be closed.

Installation Video: DIY Video YouTube

Replacement procedure: Bluebee thread, doc540 thread

Trim

Cracks may appear in the woodgrain trim over time, especially on the CD player cover (Fudman thread).

Interior trim removal procedure: bagman thread

Internal door handle replacement

Procedure: BMWtips

Steering wheels

Cars before 03/99 have a single stage airbag. Cars after 03/99 have a dual stage airbag. Therefore a replacement steering wheel must be in the correct date range for the airbag to function.

If the steering wheel lock jams, it can be unlocked by drilling the underside of the steering column (kevinI34 thread).

Steering wheel replacement: BMWDIY, Q thread, Orzan4ik video.

Takata airbag recall

The airbag for the sports steering wheel on 2002-2003 cars is part of the Takata airbag safety recall: Blubee thread

Front armrest

Some drivers have found the American front armrest with plastic cradle to be uncomfortable for their elbow, and have replaced it with the European armrest which does not have the cradle. There are several types of European armrest available (jmhunter thread, shaftdrive post).

Replacement procedure: jackcat559 thread, BMWtips, 540i6

Door panel removal

Procedure: BMWtips, Bavsound

Seat belt

Front belt replacement procedure: cn90 thread, e39dream thread

Front pre-tensioner replacement procedure: cn90 thread

Front Window Regulators

Stuck front windows are often caused by the regulator failing (RookieBMW thread).

Re-installation procedure: MatWiz thread, 82bmw633 thread, jamesdc4 thread, yaofeng post

Other tips: bluebee thread 1, G.P.Burdell thread, bluebee thread 2

Rear window regulator

The regulator is a common cause of power windows not working. You can either replace the regulator (BMWtips), buy a repair kit (LanceM thread) or use JB Weld (Roderick post).

Phantom window opening

All of the windows are opened when the unlock button on the key is held down (Reeds540 thread). Another possibility is a faulty GM5 module (ycoppin thread).

Front seat control module

The control module and wiring can become damaged by the movement of the seat. This causes faults in the seat movement and steering wheel reach adjustment (shockler thread, mmoghbelli thread, Al's540i thread)

Replacement procedure: bluebee thread

Switch repair proceudre: NoTempoLimit thread

Sunvisor

Warning sticker removal: jamesdc4 thread

Sunvisor autopsy: pudl thread

Seat Twist

Seat cables often fall out, causing the seat to twist (ElwoodBlues thread).

Seat removal: cn90 thread

Repair procedure: MMMM_ERT thread, jallen thread

Heated seats

There are reports of fires caused by heated seat malfunctions (Quest_908 thread, ProRaven thread, Zdawg thread

Discussion about diagnosing and repairing heated seat problems: midnitemyst thread, visionman post

Headliner

There are various products to clean dirty headliner (pleiades thread). Sagging headliner can be re-glued (kgorczyn thread, dotcommunist post).

Replacement procedure: DavidC post

Airbag warning light

Failure of the occupancy sensor is a common cause of an airbag warning light. The belt buckle can also cause the warning light (ztom thread). Resetting the airbag light requires special equipment (mattmartindrift post).

Replacement procedure: Sarasota post, itsstock post

Glovebox

The latch can fail, making the glovebox unable to be opened (Paul_Astrike thread).

Removal procedure: wilbura thread

Cigarette lighter

A faulty cigarette lighter is often caused by a blown fuse, but a faulty socket can also be the culprit (559eddie559 thread, fudman thread).

Instrument cluster

Discussion about faulty cluster lights: Mobius528 thread

Indicator stalk

Discussion about removing stalk: 528iAut thread

Rear parcel shelf

Removal of the rear parcel shelf may be required for some repairs to the rear suspension (Reuvers thread, nfs021 thread, joelselman thread, FurryOne thread).

Sources of rattles

Unfortunately, there are many potential sources of rattles in a car's interior. Some documented causes for the E39 are

Climate control

Final Stage Unit (FSU)

A common cause of erratic climate control behaviour is the FSU (also known as "blower resistor"). It has also been known to drain the battery, by running the fan when the car is switched off (Bluebee post). The FSU can be tested (cn90 thread, Bluebee thread). One mode of FSU failure is ageing resin on the circuit board, which can be repaired (Kraft thread).

Some cars also have a rear FSU (ZeroDfx thread).

Replacement procedure: Bluebee post, 540i6.com, Elvis530i thread

Airconditioning smells

Mould in the airconditioning system is the common cause of "gym sock" smells in the cabin (TGray5 thread). Also, the cabin air filters require frequent replacement (bluebee thread, cnn thread).

Cabin air filter replacement procedure: bluebee thread, cn90 thread, YouTube DIY Video Tutorial

Discussion of cabin air filter brands: jbalenzano thread, doru thread

Ambient Temperature Sensor

This sensor often damaged by parking curbs, due to its location. When the sensor is faulty, it reads as -40°F (-40°C).

Replacement procedure: jamesdc4 thread

Relocation of sensor to a safer location: cnn post

Automated Recirculated Air (AUC) mode

When the climate control recirculation mode is set to auto ("A"), the AUC sensor is used to determine whether fresh or recirculated air is used (Qsilver7 post).

Airconditioning fan

A noisy interior fan may be fixed by cleaning and lubricating it (frostone209 thread).

Centre vent

It is common for this vent to crack in the top-left corner (ncmallard78 thread).

Replacement procedure: porksoda thread

IHKA button

It is common for the climate control temperature adjustment buttons to crack.

Repair procedure: violinARC

Beep alerts

A single beep is a warning that ice is likely, due to the outdoor temperature. A triple beep is the hourly alarm (jamiblack thread).

Milage tamper dot

A dot in the dash display indicates an error with the mileage calculation (bluebee thread), therefore the mileage data may have been tampered with.

Airconditioning compressor

A faulty or loose compressor can cause rattling sounds from the engine bay (flug540 thread).

Heater control valve

Failure of this valve can cause problems with the climate control, a flat battery (manualshifter thread) or a loss of coolant (Martel13 thread).

Audio

CD changer "no discs"

A "no discs" error is commonly caused by a faulty CD changer (bigjaggs thread, Neils528iM5 thread, forest540BG thread). In some cases, the problem can be fixed by dismantling and cleaning the changer (bem-ster thread).

AM radio reception

Repair procedure: cnn thread

Aux connection

For cars built after 09/2002 without navigation, the BMW aux cable can be retrofitted: Bimmerfest PDF, ge39.com PDF, severe530i post

For other cars, retrofitting of the BMW aux cable also requires stereo to be replaced with one from after 09/2002 without navigation. (Brandon002 post).

Other options for listening to audio from mp3 players etc include tape to aux cable adaptors, FM transmitters and aftermarket stereo replacements.

Head unit

Removal procedure: gray1g thread, ludongtan thread, bobthedog01 thread

Miscellaneous

Jump starting

Procedure: Ustad thread

Technical Information System (TIS)

The official BMW information provided to dealerships. It contains repair procedures and other technical information.

Raising/jacking the car

BMW specifies 4 jacking points- 2 on each side of the car. Some models- possibly excluding the 528i and 540i- also have a jacking point on the engine crossmember (see 2nd picture on BMWtips). Some people also use the differential as a jacking point, while others prefer to use ramps (discussed on page 2 of Neversaynever thread).

M52/M54 jacking procedure: BMWtips, sjjjones1 thread, jamesdc4 thread, Pelicanparts (for E36)

Jack pads (wind noise)

Missing jack pads (also known as "support lifting platform") can cause wind noise (blueebee thread, Qsilver7 post, jstover thread) and difficulties using the BMW jack.

OBD fault codes

Scanning the fault codes is recommended as a starting point for many problems. Fault code(s) will be stored when the Check Engine Light (CEL- an orange light on the dashboard) is lit. However, there are also many fault codes which do not cause the CEL to be lit. Scan tools- some of which also can reset service lights- are available from a range of suppliers (bluebee thread).

Early E39s have the round port under the bonnet, late E39s have the rectangular plug in the cabin, and some E39s have both plugs. For cars with both plugs, the rectangular plug can only report engine and transmission information, however by jumpering certain wires the rectangular plug can communicate report information from all systems (mattmar1 post).

Fault code translation: Bluebee thread, obd-codes.com, myscantool.com

Fault codes are a valuable clue to diagnosis, but often should not be taken literally. For example, there are many possible causes of a MAF fault code other than a fault with the MAF itself.

Wiper blades

A non-standard design is used, which is often unavailable at local parts stores (bluebee thread, ViolinARC thread).

Windshield washer jets

Adjustment procedure: FIA thread

Windshield washer reservoir

Reservoir leak repair procedure: cn90 thread, Jamaican71 thread

The grommet in the reservoir can cause leaks (shabbaman thread).

Windshield washer hose

Problems with the hoses can cause a water leak and reduced effectiveness of the washer jets.

Replacement procedure: jamesdc4 thread

Parking Distance Control (PDC)

Front and rear acoustic parking sensors were available on the E39. The kit was also sold as a retrofit (bmwtips.com).

Discussion about PDC faults: Mfive41 thread, PliSsk thread, Wiggi post

Replacement procedure: Edwin post

Wheels and tires

Wheel fitment specifications: iceman4169 thread

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (RDC / TPMS)

An option on euro-spec E39s (Dackleone post)

Replacing a broken engine

The E39's large amount of integration between the electronics of the engine and the rest of the car ("body electronics") means that replacing engines is more complicated than on older cars.

Also, the immobiliser system (EWS- described here) requires the several components to be synchronised. Some of these components are unable to be re-programmed or reprogramming requires expensive equipment. The components which need to be synchronised are: DME, EWS control unit and the electronic chip inside the ignition key. The easiest method to maintain synchonisation is to send the new DME, EWS and the car key to a specialist for re-coding (MichaelK5990 thread, 766jack thread). Having the existing key re-coded avoids the need to replace all the locks in the car. Another option is use the DME from your old engine on your new engine.

Even matched EWS components can need re-syncing (HTK12 post).

Replacement with identical engine

Using a replacement engine of the exact same specification (same family, same capacity, same vanos configuration) enables the old engine's electronics to be used with the new engine (Barracuz post). This avoids the complications involved with modifying the EWS system.

Alternative sources for replacement engines:

  • M52: E36, E38 (pre September 1998 only) or Z3 (pre September 1998) (rich0000 thread)
  • M52TU: E46, E38 (post September 1998 only), Z3 (post September 1998)
  • M54: E46, Z3 (3.0L only), Z4 (pre September 2006), E53. Note: the E60 and E83 models also used the M54 engine, however they started production after the E39 was discontinued, therefore there may be changes which are incompatible with the E39
  • M62: E38 (pre September 1998 only), E31 (4.4L only)
  • M62TU: E38 (post September 1998 only), E53 (pre July 2003 only)

Note that coding is required when installing an engine from an automatic car into a manual car, and potentially vice-versa.

Replacement with same engine family, but different engine specification

This section described engine swaps within the same family (eg M52, M54, M60 or M62). Although the M52 and M54 engines are similar in many ways (similarly, the M60 has many similarities with the M62), unfortunately the small differences may cause big problems for an engine conversion (bmwnorcal thread). Therefore, it is often much more straightforward to use a replacement engine from the same family. Nonetheless, there are still challenges when remaining in the same engine family. Therefore, in addition to the issues noted above, the following issues should be considered.

Capacity changes require a change of engine tuning to operate at its full potential. It is possible to get the new tune coded into your old DME (poolman post), thus avoiding EWS modifications. Also, it may be possible to 'virginize' a DME so that a new tune can be used (geargrinder post). Note that sometimes the ancilleries are different for each engine capacity, for example the maf, intake, airbox are different between the M54B25 and M54B30 (Jimmys530i post).

Changing the vanos configuration (eg replacing a single vanos engine with a dual vanos engine) is considered not a practical option (Jimmys530i post, Burning2nd post), since it would require extensive modification to the cars electronics. For example, replacing an M62 with an M62TU would require extensive modifications (JimLev post).

Engine swaps for power increase

"Anything is possible, the question is if it is worth your time and money. I have seen someone swap an engine out of a 2006 M3 into a 1989 M3. Was it really cool and fast? Yes. Was it really worth spending almost $20k for it? No. For that kind of money he could have built up an impressive euro S50 and blown away his current setup" (Jimmys530i).

E39 engines- 6 cyl

The issues discussed above in Replacing a broken engine all apply, plus added complications due to differences in how the car is configured for each engine.

BMW M52TU replacement of M52: discussion thread, discussion thread

BMW M54 replacement of M52: Gary@GAS build thread

BMW M54 replacement of M52TU: raymond3080 build thread (note that this build retrofitted the M52TU intake onto the M54 engine), flashmeow build thread (similarly, this build used the M52TU DME on the M54 engine),Irogers80 build thread, discussion thread, discussion thread As some of the above builds show, the M54 engine can run on an M52TU DME, which avoids many of the electronic complications. However, the M54 engine will not be running optimally in this state.

BMW M52 replacement of M54: rmb213 discussion thread

BMW M52TU replacement of M54: discussion thread

E39 engines- V8

The issues discussed above in Replacing a broken engine all apply, plus added complications due to differences in how the car is configured for each engine.

For 6 cylinder owners, it will probably be cheaper to trade in your car and buy a V8 E39 than to do a V8 engine swap on a 6 cylinder car (discussion thread), discussion thread, http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?1235812-Swapping-540i-engine-into-528i discussion thread], discussion thread, Barracuz post). An alternative is installing a supercharger on the 6 cylinder engine.

BMW M62TU replacement of M62: Theoretically, this swap is similar to M54 replacement of M52TU (see above).

BMW S62: This swap is expected to be very difficult (discussion thread, discussion thread)

Non-BMW engines

Chevrolet LS1: This is probably the most popular swap using a non-BMW engine. rao thread, Mutty build thread, RVAE34 build thread, Stutts115 build thread, M5_Hunter build thread

other Chevrolet V8 engines: nsogiba LQ9 thread, James39 LQ4 thread

Nissan RB26 discussion: Mda185 post

Toyota 2JZ: bmw_2jz thread, Mr535i build thread, Oz923 thread, 930chas build thread

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