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Jane - My Green German Girlfriend

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After weeks of postponement caused by work and uni exams, it's finally time to give Jane some well-deserved TLC. After taking inspiration from @Olaf 's excellent documentation of his journey in his E60 -

- I have decided to do a similar thing with my E39.

 

Exactly four months ago to the day, I drove out of @str8_6's driveway with my first Bimmer, 136,423kms on the clock, and no regrets since.

Over those four months, I have:

- Replaced the leaking radiator, expansion tank (which had previously been glued together at some point 😒), and the upper coolant hose from the thermostat to the radiator

- Fitted a Euro-style license plate surround (couldn't quite justify the $300 for the real deal, maybe one day)

- Received two speeding tickets from the same camera (both within the first week of ownership 😶 ) - cruise control is now used religiously on the motorway 

- Installed a GROM Bluetooth unit into the stock BMW head unit (with the generous help of @str8_6)

- Replaced the wiper blades with a genuine pair from FCP Euro, applied an overdue coat of Rain-X, topped up the washer fluid with genuine BMW concentrate

 

My family has a habit of forming bonds with their cars and keeping them for several decades; a habit which has well and truly passed on to me, hence why Jane has reached 'girlfriend' status. As with all long-term relationships, if you want to keep them, they soon get expensive. Hence, I have a list of future plans for my girl:

- In the 6,500kms or so I have done in Jane, I have managed to buckle both drivers side rims :( . Replacements are needed relatively soon, but I'm unsure of which way I want to go. I love the style 81s that I currently have, so getting a new set of rims isn't really an option. Alternatively, I could either repair the two buckled rims (noting that they aren't severely buckled), or purchase two new style 81s. I'm leaning towards buying two new rims (or maybe just one and using the full-sized spare?), since I'm not totally convinced of the efficacy of rim repairs?? Any advice on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

- Following the rim issue, it is time for new tyres. I plan to buy a set of four Pilot Sport 4 tyres to get fitted when I eventually sort out what I'm doing with the rims

- The GROM Bluetooth unit has highlighted how pitiful the E39 base audio system is. This certainly isn't a pressing upgrade, but a decent audio system is a must for me in the long-term. Has anyone on here upgraded the speakers in their E39 with success?

- Tints. I like the stock look without tints, but we're heading into summer and I'd like to keep the interior looking as sharp as possible.

- Suspension. I am at a crossroads when it comes to what to do with my suspension. I have noticed that the driver's side of the car sits noticeably lower than the passenger's. I did some reading online and was met with conflicting theories; some said they were made like that from the factory to balance out the slope of our roads, and others claimed that because of our sloped roads one side will wear quicker than the other. One thing was for certain, I didn't know the answer. After talking to Jon at Auto 38, the driver's side rear spring is quite tired, causing it to sit 30mm lower than the passenger rear. Okay, so that solves one problem: my 17-year-old car with over 140,000kms has tired suspension, I probably could have guessed that. Now, I have a few options, with the cheapest probably being to just replace all four springs with OEM parts. But if I'm going to be keeping Jane for many years, I am considering being slightly more extravagant with my solution. While the ride is superb, the body roll is laughable on a twisty road. Moreover, I could fit another E39 inside the wheel arch gap with the stock set up. I'm thinking a bit of a suspension rehaul. Maybe some H&R springs? But I don't want the ride height to fall dramatically. Looking online, some suggest also fitting new shocks to pair with the springs, such as Bilstein B8s. Again, unsure of the impact this would have on ride comfort?

I'm far from making a decision on this issue, and have plenty more research to do, but does anyone have experience with either of these? Ultimately, I'm after something that will improve the handling and reduce the wheel arch gap (but still respectable - no StanceNation here), but also not ruining the supple ride of the E39.

Here are a couple of snaps from the BMW Car Club's recent drive to Cape Palliser:

 

 

Jane Cape Palliser.jpeg

Jane Cape Palliser 2.jpeg

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To mark hitting 143,000kms, I had Jon at Auto 38 do the Inspection 2 Service this week

This consisted of:

  • Oil + filter change
  • Diff oil change
  • Brake fluid change
  • Power steering fluid change
  • 6 new spark plugs
  • Idler pulleys x2
  • New wiper relay to fix an occasional stopping of the wipers
  • Rear brake hoses
  • Inspection of all other pulleys, belts and hoses
Edited by BozzaFC
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I upgraded the speakers in my E39 touring i also fitted an aftermarket headunit hidden in the factory location, made a huge difference to the sound, i used JBL speakers and just replacing those was fairly straight forward, the headunit was a solid days work just sorting out the wiring !! I did sacrifice the factory fitted phone though. 

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Think jane needs some shoes. 

The silver bbs rx2 or the grey rs-gt :)

D00A9A25-4446-4847-BFE4-CD2A9FFEE2F8.jpeg

AC74BB1D-405B-48B9-A23B-C81FACDED244.jpeg

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3 hours ago, aja540i said:

I upgraded the speakers in my E39 touring i also fitted an aftermarket headunit hidden in the factory location, made a huge difference to the sound, i used JBL speakers and just replacing those was fairly straight forward, the headunit was a solid days work just sorting out the wiring !! I did sacrifice the factory fitted phone though. 

Cheers for that. I’m looking to keep the stock head unit, and just upgrading the speakers themselves 

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37 minutes ago, qube said:

Think jane needs some shoes. 

The silver bbs rx2 or the grey rs-gt :)

D00A9A25-4446-4847-BFE4-CD2A9FFEE2F8.jpeg

AC74BB1D-405B-48B9-A23B-C81FACDED244.jpeg

Thanks a lot qube, but I’m pretty big on keeping the car as stock-looking as possible. Plus, I really like the style 81s on it already 

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Not having a lot of luck with the rim hunting. Tempted to try and get these ones repaired. Has anyone used WheelFixIt in Auckland? I’m open to any other recommendations

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I just got my wheels back from WheelFixIt.  Good guys and good work done, but not cheap.  Price will depend on what you get done.

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Thanks, their website looks promising.

A bit closer to home, Advanced Wheel Repair in Porirua has been pointed out to me. Does anyone here have experience with them? They seem relatively inexpensive, with $120-$160 per wheel and a quick turnaround 

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After undertaking a few more hours of research, I am now leaning towards just replacing the springs with OEM parts. It’s not only the more cost effective solution, but I don’t want to ruin the soft ride and the look of my car by lowering it excessively (in the future, when I’m older and wealthier, I’ll buy a more sporty vehicle. Perhaps an M5... 😏)

Do we think it is likely that new springs will solve my uneven ride height issue? Or are they just all like that when on stock suspensions?

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OEM Sport suspension springs and shocks would be the go if you want reasonable ride quality with a a little drop and better handling. Otherwise just get some Bilstein B4 Touring's or OEM Sachs if you going to use standard OEM springs.  

Mine is pretty much the same spec as yours and is my daily driver, done 280,000. Ive replaced all the shocks(Meyle - very good deal on them at the time), control arms and bushings and it handles much better.

Number of things can cause changes to the ride height but you say Auto38 has inspected it and determined it was the spring?

 

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Are the OEM Sachs not what are on it currently? Or are they the m-sport shocks?

Ah yes I’ve heard of the Meyle shocks. What has your experience been with them in terms of ride quality and ride height? What springs do you have them paired with? It’s a shame you’re in Hamilton, I would be very interested in having a look at your car before making a decision. 

Yeah Jon said that it’s the springs. I am taking her back next week to get the brake hoses fitted because the part hadn’t arrived when it was in earlier this week. I’ll get this confirmed then

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Most likely OEM non sport Sachs would be what you currently have given you don't have sport suspension optioned. My car is exactly the same spec as your expect colour and added motorsport kit

No issues with Meyle's on standard springs, they ride and handle fine for an OEM replacement but anything is better than worn struts\shocks. They maybe valved a little firmed than OEM standard shocks but ive never felt new Sachs on an E39 so can't say for sure. Also running a set of PS4's make a big difference is handling.  

Given Sachs aren't generally much more expensive it would be best to go for them instead of Meyle and get new OEM strut\shock mounts and maybe bump stops if needed.

 

20181104_112829 (Large).jpg

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Good work on keeping the 81s I had them on my silver E39 and loved them. 

Still regret trading in that car. 

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When I redid the front struts on one of my old E39s I went with Meyle, I also did the shock mounts, bump stops and other associated bits in there as they were all totally shagged too. The springs were fine, I understand it is unusual for the springs to wear out. The Meyle struts were fine as far as function and ride etc but after they were installed the car did sit quite high, so I would advise you to do some homework regarding lowering the car... which means you will need to do the back end too :) What a shame!

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50 minutes ago, NZ BMW said:

Good work on keeping the 81s I had them on my silver E39 and loved them. 

Still regret trading in that car. 

They’re great rims, and even greater cars!

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16 hours ago, Young Thrash Driver said:

When I redid the front struts on one of my old E39s I went with Meyle, I also did the shock mounts, bump stops and other associated bits in there as they were all totally shagged too. The springs were fine, I understand it is unusual for the springs to wear out. The Meyle struts were fine as far as function and ride etc but after they were installed the car did sit quite high, so I would advise you to do some homework regarding lowering the car... which means you will need to do the back end too :) What a shame!

 

Thanks. I quite like the idea of the m-sport springs. Are they compatible with non m-sport Sachs shocks? Or will I need to get the Sachs shocks and other associated goodies like bump stops?

If anyone has a list of all the bits needed for a suspension rehaul that would be perfect 😄

Edited by BozzaFC
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Nice one Bozza!  You've done well to put so many kms on in a short time, and while studying.  She's a beaut car.

If you want to go m-sport springs, you'll want to match them with m-sport shocks.  A little lower, a little more rate, matched with the right damping characteristics.  And then there's the fatter ARBs too.  And, as @Young Thrash Driver  points out, when you do your shocks, you want to be doing the mounts, bushes, bearings etc.  Be prepared to buy a dollop of sachs or lemforder bits too.  Meyle okay - as long as they're Meyle HD (IMHO).

If you look up your VIN on RealOEM, you'll get the suspension listings and all part numbers.  You'll also be able to crib the m-sport suspension part numbers - springs and shocks etc.

One possible option to maintain the ride comfort, height, and address a bit of the roll, is to replace your shocks and springs with OEM, and find the ARB's from M-sport and add new bushes to fit.  They're probably 1-2mm thicker than stock, and will calm it down without sacrificing your ride.  I took this route with my e46; did a full OEM refresh, and found it didn't handle that well (the tyres weren't helping), so (with some excellent advice from @Herbmiester and a drive of his car) I added the staggered rims with wider better rubber, and added the m-sport bars.  This gave me the better roll perfprmance, crisper turn-in, and held the line better, without compromising family ride quality.  

Suggest you drive a recently refreshed Sachs OEM car, and see if you can drive an M-Sport.  I'd be leaning toward M-Sport (it was that fancy electronic active anti-roll thing that disuaded me on the 545i) particularly if you're placing the springs, though your informed decision based on your experience will be far more powerful.  Although the e60's a different beast, you're welcome to have a crack in mine, if only to suss out what a fully refreshed OEM setup can feel like.

Cheers

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PS:  I really like the style 81's too, FWIW.  Keep your eyes skimmed for a set, then you have a couple of spares.  

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Cheaper to buy a motorsport version and get the whole package with all the rest of the bits if you really want to start upgrading things 

Not a simple task to fit front sway bars on E39, not to mention actually finding a set, then you need new bushings, links. Springs are the same really, if you can't motorsport ones and you want to keep ride quality you may as well just get a replace your rear springs, get new shocks all round with mounts etc and replace any worn control arms etc. After that get some decent rubber on and handling wise it will feel like a new car.

Id also recommend doing the Vanos seals if they haven't been done already. Money very well spent for the performance increase 


 

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Thanks a lot for the advice guys.

It seems to me that the most cost-efficient and effective thing to do would be to replace the springs first of all, and get new shocks and mounts etc while I am in there.

My question is, should I just go standard OEM springs and shocks, or go m-sport? If I were to choose m-sport, is it necessary that I do the ARBs and essentially overhaul the entire suspension? I'm not sure if I want to fork out that kind of money on a daily driver. Ultimately, I'd have to take one for a drive to know if it's worth it.

@Eagle @Young Thrash Driver do you guys have the list of parts from when you upgraded your suspensions? I could probably find a list with some research, but if you lads have already been there you might have something? And do both of your cars sit flat? Before upgrading the suspension, do you recall them ever sitting higher on one side??

@Olaf cheers for that. Is your E46 an m-sport? I'd be really interested to have a go in that with just the m-sport ARBs and staggered wheels. Your E60, too, would be very helpful with just the refreshed OEM setup. Would help me to decide whether the gains in handling/ride will be worth the pennies spent to do it. Just keep in mind I am under 25, but in saying that I've driven Jane for four months without so much as a run-in with a curb. Even so much as a ride in them would be invaluable I would imagine

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If there is anyone in the Wellington/Lower North Island area who has an E39 with recently refreshed suspension or another setup worth trying I'd be really interested to have a go in it. I might even shout you some beers for it ;) 

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Yeah id just replace the shocks\springs\mounts for now and not bother about anything else unless its obviously worn (Jon should of picked up that was bad when did the inspection). Once you start doing full suspension overhauls on these its get expensive esp if you cant do the work yourself. Mine would of been 1k-1.5k worth of parts using OEM and Meyle stuff and me doing all the labour. You can google E39 front and rear suspension refresh to get an idea.

If you can't locate any Msport springs then id probably just revert get 2nd hand std ones from a wreckers etc. The bigger ARB do compliment the msport shocks\spring setup making it more neutral handling setup but they are not essential and why bother for a daily driver.

Never measured my ride height but it appear roughly the same on each axle. Not uncommon for BMW's to sit higher or lower on one side. Having you measured your ride heights on flat surface with the hand brake off? 

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Hey Bozza, you're welcome to try both vehicles when we can find a mutually convenient time.  The e46 is bog-stock, standard springs, Sachs OEM shocks; the only changes are the thicker ARBs (Msport front, Cabrio rear), and the staggered rims with wider rubber.  So standard ride height.

Here's Jane on RealOEM (based on your VIN): https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/partgrp?id=DT62-EUR-10-2000-E39-BMW-530i 

To give you some idea of standard shock refresh parts, looking up 2001 530i on FCP:

Rear (Sachs/OEM) https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-shock-absorber-kit-rear-170855kt 

Front (Sachs OEM) https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-strut-assembly-kit-front-556832kt-kit-556832kt 

Plus your springs, as you've indicated they need doing.  Hopefully your tension struts etc are sound and you can do those another year.

You may get away saving on a few bits... but then you get it apart, didn't buy the shims, find them worn... many of the fasteners are single-use, so better not to try and scrimp on those.  The feel of a car when it's been fully done is superb; most reckon my e60 is driving like a new one.  You might get away without some of the hardware like "shock mount plates" and "shock mount supporting cups", take advice.

If you're keeping the car for a number of years, you'll get the value out of it.  It's not a cheap job, though, and I understand your caution.  You don't want to fire 'the parts canon' at it unnecessarily.  Comparatively speaking, around USD100 per corner for OEM shocks is pretty reasonable.  It'd be interesting to see if Sachs OEM for e39 have Alu shock bodies; I think the Bilstein touring are steel (it was this way for the e60), which saves a few bucks and adds a little weight.  Going Meyle shocks/struts and carefully selecting Lemforder/Sachs/Corteco/Rein/Meyle parts may save you $100-200 or so on your overall parts cost, so worth considering.

One thing's for sure, with your suspension refreshed, you'll get much better wear out of your tyres, assuming sympathetic driving.  Another area you may be able to compromomise budget a little is Bridgestone RE003s in place of Michelin PS4.  Not as good, though still very good for the money, and should save you a further $200+?

Hope that helps.

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