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BozzaFC

The Silver Titan

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176,000 kms. 

If there was one thing that my E39 530i taught me it was that one E39 is not enough.

I loved that car. It rode beautifully, was uber comfortable and had a silky smooth straight six. But it was these exact things that I disliked about it too. It was too comfortable, too relaxed and too quiet. It rolled around corners, the standard seats had little support and I quickly grew used to the 230BHP/220 lb.ft power figures.

Then a 540i came into the picture. NZ new, facelift, fully original, great spec and genuine motorsport. While not in my favourite colour for the E39, and not without issues, the spec and price won me over. 

So, here it is:

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so what's on the list, then?  How is it different to Jane?

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The test drive highlighted a few things (issues). But most of all, it showed me how awesome these 540i's are. I've been in an E39 M5 a couple times, but never a 540i. This felt like a baby M5. The suspension was tight, the power was overwhelming (it pulls like a freight train) and the handling was far more confidence-inspiring than my 530i. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I wanted it.

However, several problems appeared. When we first started it it was misfiring and throwing a CEL. This was solved by the seller kindly replacing the coil packs on cylinders 6, 7 and 8 (where the misfire codes were). After getting out onto the road I realised how loud the road noise was (the tyres were years old); getting back in my 530i afterwards felt like stepping into a sound insulated haven.

But most worryingly was the transmission. It shifted fine and initially seemed to have no issues. But about 5 mins into the test drive a spine tingling grinding noise presented itself from under the car. It would last about 2-3 seconds, the revs would drop slightly, and then it would disappear - only to reappear consistently every 10 seconds or so. It would do it most often while cruising along the motorway at about 80-100km/h. Knowing of the cost of repairs for these ZF boxes, I was heartbroken. Was this a failing transmission that would cost nearly double the value of the car to repair? After extensive online research, visits to transmission specialists and phone calls, I was persuaded that a simple transmission fluid flush and filter change could solve my issue.

I took a gamble, and bought it. 

Jon at Auto 38 completed the trans flush and adaption reset. He called me and said he'd taken it for a test drive and the issue was not fixed. Bugger. I went to his shop and took it for a spin myself. All seemed fine; it was shifting smoother and felt a lot better. But about 2 mins into the road as I was driving up a slight incline the noise came back. F**k! I kept driving for about another 10 mins but couldn't get it to do it again. It had definitely improved. I decided to keep driving it for a few days to see if there were any other changes.

Fortunately, the noise never came back, and still has not come back after over 2 months and 3,000 kms. It seems to be shifting fine.

Here is a photo of the old fluid compared to the new fluid:

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I can only presume that based on the colour of the old fluid, this was original. PSA: change your transmission fluid! You'll have a better shifting transmission while simultaneously extending its lifespan! It's a no-brainer. 

At this stage I'm not sure how long the trans will last. Sometimes there's a slightly-too-long delay in engaging reverse, but only when I'm on a decline (ie front of the car pointing down). But other than that, I am having no issues. Seeing how many issues others have with these transmissions, I feel like I should have a plan in place for when this one goes. My plan at this stage is to look out for a lower kms used trans, refurbish the torque converter and put that in whenever this one signs off.

Any advice appreciated.

NB: at no point has the transmission thrown any codes.

Edited by BozzaFC
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Love the e39 passion Boston. Think we need to get together with @adro to arrange a photo shoot of the V8’s. 

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If it starts again try a few packets of Dr Trannys Lubeguard. Ive had excellent results using it along with good fluid fluid change.

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176,200 kms.

After getting the trans issue sorted, it was time to catch up on some maintenance + tend to a few other issues.

  • The car was leaking oil. Badly. The rocker cover gaskets were pissing out oil to the point where whenever I drove the car all I could smell was burning oil. Some of the coils were dripping with oil also. This confused me since the rocker cover gaskets had been replaced within the last 12 months. Turned out all the old bolt seals had been reused and so there there was no chance of creating a leak-free seal. The gaskets and all seals were replaced. Leak solved and car running much smoother + smelling nicer.
  • The water pump to radiator hose was brittle and living on borrowed time. This was replaced.
  • Coolant return hose also looking worse for wear. Replaced.
  • Fluid flush with blue BMW coolant.
  • Oil cooler hose replaced.
  • The cabin air filters were filthy. Looked to have been cleaned with air instead of being replaced. New filters installed.
  • Engine air filter was about 10 years old. New filter installed.
  • Fuel filter dated 2009. New filter installed.
  • Rear tyres. While they still had tread on them, they had been sitting (previous owner used different wheels) for a long time and were past their use-by date. Replaced with Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2's. Has reduced road noise significantly. These tyres are great. The old tyres were so old they had almost no traction. 30% throttle and the DSC was constantly on. Now: much better grip, feel and performance.
  • Wheel alignment done with new tyres. Driving much smoother.

The car was seriously behind on some maintenance, understandably in the circumstances. Car drove and ran far better with these items addressed. Now I am finally able to drive it and enjoy it.

 

Edited by BozzaFC
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176,600 kms.

Addressed a few cosmetic items that have been bugging me. 

  • Driver's side mirror. The 540i's came with auto-dimming side mirrors. At some point in this car's history the passenger side mirror had been replaced with the standard blue-tinted mirror. The driver's side was still the original auto-dimming, and surprisingly had no leaks and functioned perfectly. But the inconsistency annoyed me, plus I like the classic BMW blue tint. Found a cheap blue mirror glass off Ali Express for $25 and swapped it in. Also used the opportunity to give the mirror housing a good clean and remove any spiders and bugs that had made their homes in there. 

Old:

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New:

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  • The driver's door seal was ripped and looking terrible. Replaced this. This was surprisingly difficult. BMW makes the seals to the precisely correct length, so it took many attempts to get the seal to line up correctly without cutting any additional seal off.
  • The interior was in desperate need of a clean. Gave it as good of a clean as I had time to do. Some time this summer I'll spend a weekend on the entire car.

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I also tried to adjust the coolant gauge to read more accurately, like I did in my 530i. I made the same changes to the code using PA Soft 1.4 as I did in the 530i, without any luck. Turns out the 540i is different. So I reverted it back to the original settings. If anyone knows how to do this for a 540i please let me know!

Edited by BozzaFC

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177,000 kms.

The engine is very quiet, with little to no vanos rattle and no chain rattle. However, as preventative maintenance, I replaced the timing chain tensioner. Anyone with an M62: change this tensioner! Doing this, alongside regular oil servicing, is one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your timing chain guides.

The difference between old and new is uncanny. The old tensioner had almost zero spring action left. The one I swapped in is a new, improved design on the original. Sourced from Pelican Parts for not too much (just remember to buy a new o-ring too when you place your order).

Thanks again to @adro for helping me with this! It's an easy job, and takes no more than 15 mins.

 

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177,500 kms.

More maintenance.

  • Oil and filter change. Went with 5w30 this time as that is what BMW recommends. But I have read online and talked to others who have recommended 5w40 for its use in reducing vanos noise and reducing leaks. Anyone have views on this?
  • Diff fluid change.
  • Guibo replaced. Was perished.
  • Had a code for a faulty electronic thermostat. New one swapped in.
  • Power steering leak fixed by replacing leaking crush washers at the pump. Cheapest fix ever!
  • Power steering fluid flush.
  • Replaced rear brake hoses. Old ones perishing.

Very happy with how the car is driving now. Steering feels smoother and more progressive with the fluid change. 

Only one leak remains, but unfortunately it's the rear main seal. If I end up doing something with the transmission I'll sort it then; I am yet to see the oil level change, and there is only an occasional small puddle under the car. I can live with this for now.

Edited by BozzaFC
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178,000 kms.

My most anticipated upgrade. The headlights were badly faded and ruined the look of the car for me. Took it to Final Touch in Porirua to have them professionally refurbished. Really happy with the result. Has transformed the front of the car.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take good before and after photos, but this will do the trick.

Before:

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After:

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179,500 kms.

This brings us to the present. The car is now driving and looking great. My list of jobs to do is quickly narrowing.

Here are a few of the things I want to do over the next little while:

  • Vanos solenoids and gaskets. The engine runs really smoothly when warm, but is quite rough when cold. Engine throws the code "VANOS Inlet Camshaft Control Bank 2". There is also an occasional vanos rattle on startup. Jon diagnosed this as the vanos solenoids and gaskets. These have been ordered and I'll replace them when they arrive.
  • Repair driver and passenger seat twist issue.
  • Brakes. All pads and rotors need replacing before next warrant.
  • Front tyres.
  • New bonnet alarm sensor. Had the classic E39 random alarm activation the other week. Have a new sensor on its way.
  • Tint windows.
  • Dye rear parcel shelf.
  • Glue hanging c-pillar material.
  • Euro plates.
  • Refurb rims.
  • M badge delete. Install 540i badge. Ordered.

 

Edited by BozzaFC
Get that filthy m badge off

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Gave her a quick clean the other day. Titan silver is growing on me...

Also polished the tailpipe.

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Edited by BozzaFC
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Needs M badge delete. 🤓

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Im so jealous. I really want a Titan E39 540i.

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First thing i did one my Silver 530i M Sport, remove grille and boot M Badges. aahhh much better

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Looks great.  The E39 really is a classic look and silver is one of the better colours in my opinion.

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Did you go stainless brake hoses or rubber? MBI is probably your best plan for the gearbox if it's available? Then you would be covered for the guides too? I got off lightly I think @4K for the rebuild of mine, but that's because @rusteee had already rebuilt the box not that long ago!

 

Edited by adro

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Sorry, just seen this. Just went with rubber for now. 
 

With MBI, as far as I’m aware the vehicle age cut off is 2003. Just missed, being a 2002 😒

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Got rid of a persistent alarm today. 

New bonnet sensor and now no more running to the garage to shut it up! 
 

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Why the M badge delete?  As far as I'm aware the NZ new m sports had them from new so "factory"?

Mine is staying right where it is...

 

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needs europlates being a nz new (wider plate space on the bootlid and front bumper)

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4 hours ago, hqstu said:

Why the M badge delete?  As far as I'm aware the NZ new m sports had them from new so "factory"?

Yeah, you're right. It's just personal preference. I think a 540i badge is far cooler. For me, it's being proud of what you own.

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2 hours ago, qube said:

needs europlates being a nz new (wider plate space on the bootlid and front bumper)

Yep. They're on the list :) 

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12 hours ago, hqstu said:

Why the M badge delete?  As far as I'm aware the NZ new m sports had them from new so "factory"?

Mine is staying right where it is...

 

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In my case it looked like a knock off and was very faded and had nasty looking dirt ring around it. I prefer the no badge look for the car. And mine is an import. 

The badge is now stuck on my tool chest, lol. 

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Same. Ive always preferred none on the msport but think the model badge suits the non sports. Saw you Greenwood street today hunter, i think you should get 540i badge also match your plate haha.  

Edited by Eagle
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