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hqstu

540itch Scratching

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Collected this today.. was advertised on here with a failing transmission.  2000 540i pre facelift motorsport, ex Japan.  Drove it 25km home from Cambridge.  Transmission gave me no trouble at all, although I was gently cruising...  Generally a well looked after car with plenty of maintenance including chain guides and all the usual suspects.  There are a few things going on with it however, and I'll document its progress here as we go...

 

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gone to the right home, Stu!

 

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Well after a couple of weeks, I've made a bit of progress and the 540 has started to give up a few "secrets"...

The car was purchased with the following known issues...

  • Failing transmission
  • Airbag light on
  • Brake pad wear indicator on
  • A bit of oil about...
  • Cosmetics and lack of tyre tread...

As I said above the car drove home well, and in the few drives I've had since the transmission has not faltered.. So whilst I research the transmission options, I thought I'd tackle some other things in the meantime...  The airbag light had my attention so I turned to that.  But before much happened... it rained... and rained... and to my dismay the drivers side footwells filled up with water... bugga.

As it turns out, the right front sunroof drain had become blocked and the water found an alternative way down.. A week of drying later, all is well again, all the electrics under the carpet are ok, and I thought maybe this was contributing to air bag light on as a fault indication was right side impact sensor, which was right in the line of (water) fire..  But drying it out it seemed OK...

Whilst drying was happening I sorted the brake pad wear indication issue.  It was the connector on the back sensor, gone bad, and it crumbled in my hands trying to take it apart... so it is hardwired with soldering in the meantime.  I'll splice in another connector etc when I get a round tuit.

I also took to the roof, boot, bonnet with clay bar to get rid of old tree sap or something like that, started work on cleaning up the wheels, grinded a bit of surface rust off the b pillar, and a few other minor bits and pieces... Next issue - the airbag system...

 

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With the airbag light on the suspicion from the previous owner was that the seat occupancy sensor was the culprit, but the codes were indicating something different... 3 codes were up - the right side impact sensor which is under the carpet under the drivers seat (this was suspect in my mind due to the above water pool being constructed when it rained...), a module general internal error, and a module power supply.

The internet led me to all places on this subject... as it does... and it seems the modules of this era e39 (and others) were susceptible to "failing"  If this happens, you either trundle off to the dealer, bend over, and well... you move the car on with airbag light on... or you try and deal with it yourself.

So I went about looking for another module in the first instance.  I trawled the VIN's of the pick a part e39's and as it so happened, for $34 I found a near identical module, same part number, same airbag configuration, and the next software version on.  The modules are located under the back of the centre console so trying to remove one with no power to move front seats to gain enough access is problematic... if you need a centre console - don't go to that particular car...

Yesterday I fitted the module, applied power, coded it to the car with NCSexpert, and tried to clear the modules historic codes which were both front head airbags... the sinking feeling of defeat was lurking as the red dash light persisted... but after about 5 minutes or so, the codes cleared and stayed clear and my dash is now dark...  A major hurdle (for me) overcome as we head down the path towards a WOF...

It also appears that these modules don't necessarily fail, but rather "lockup" with bad data from a rouge sensor, or after a number of crash incidents...  They can be "cleaned" and I intend to send the module extracted off to a bloke I met on the internet (?) and let him wave his magic wand at it...

A good day and also thanks to @BreakMyWindow for his expert guidance as always.

In other news I replaced the power steer reservoir with a new one in the hope of stopping the seepage down the hoses, and also the AUC sensor (the air cons "sniffer" for hydrocarbons which shuts off outside air if detected).  I had grabbed one at pick a part.  The drivers door seal and sill trim were also replaced with good spares I had "in stock"...

Transmission is still behaving, no codes present, but haven't really driven it too much with no WOF and slicks on the back... I have another transmission lined up, still researching details on that subject...

 

 

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Ive never come across a faulty module in facelifted cars so maybe they corrected the fault in the later versions, or maybe its just a numbers game.

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On 7/19/2020 at 8:46 AM, Eagle said:

I've never come across a faulty module in facelifted cars so maybe they corrected the fault in the later versions, or maybe its just a numbers game.

Yes this issue seems particular to 99/00 pfl cars...

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Have managed to do a little bit on the car in the last month.  Focus has been on the front of the car, headlights and bumper.  Bumper has a number of cracks which I'm addressing with a large old soldering iron and bog... the left "pork chop" getting some attention as they are hugely expensive... the headlights have been taken apart for adjuster replacement and lens polishing, back in now, but the auto levelling system doesn't appear to be working so requires some investigation.  Plus I have a condensation issue in the right hand side light.  It has a new gasket and the rear vents are clear, so head scratching on that one...

The front bumper will come off soon for a proper fix up and I'll give it a go at painting it, as the weather warms up... same with rear bumper in due course...

The oil leaks on engine appear to be the vanos solenoid gaskets, possibly the valve covers, and the rear main seal.  I'll be ripping the front off the engine to attend to some of this.  I've decided to recondition the transmission when the time comes instead of fitting another, that's when the rear main seal will be replaced.

I've also lined up a change in interior to silver trim, along with replacement door cards and centre console with blue stitching.  A widescreen monitor will also come in.  Another bootlid as well with the wide number plate recess.

It's looking like a bit of a long termer... too much to do...

 

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The leather has also had a bit of attention with the Colourcare system, looking a lot better now, also replaced the back seat base with a spare recently acquired...

 

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Thanks Colin, I do have front and rear spare sensors. INPA can move the lights but zero voltage is on front sensor so I guess I’ll change it out and see what happens.

Took it for a bit of an open road drive tonight. Ran well, no issues.

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Apart from washing it a fair bit to keep the pollen and bug poop at bay, a couple more things checked off the list...

Replaced the front levelling sensor for the xenons and the lights have sprung into life, doing the dip/check on startup, cleared the fault code with INPA and all appears well in that department.  Still grappling with some condensation issues though...

Started the conversion to brushed aluminum trim and blue stitching on the door trims, more of that tomorrow.  Also a wide screen monitor in as the PFL one is woodgrain...

Also tried out some different wheels on the car, these ones seem to suit the e39 well?

 

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Those wheels ?

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Not sure about those wheels mate. I’m happy to take them off your hands ?

seriously though. Car is looking great. Really suits the silver trim. 
 

I found the auto level sensors in mine today. Just need to find some xenon lights now. Tempted to save for brand new ones  

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Not too much to report of late except it is in having the transmission completely rebuilt with original ZF parts - which kinda makes this thing a definite long termer lol... weep ... lol...

I've also collected a pile of engine oil gaskets and driveline parts for when it gets home...

The interior is all updated to the aluminum / blue stitch look, and road wheel (66's) refurb is getting underway, the new tyres await...

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While I await the cars return with a new transmission costing twice the value... I've finally made a start on refurbishing the style 66's now that that house painting is largely behind me... bring on more garage time...

 

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which filler are you using, Stu?

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It's a 3M product, "Acryl-Red Glazing Putty"

Good for the stone chips and shallow curbing.

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Got the car back today from the transmission shop, as I alluded to above it was a bit $$eye watering$$ to say the least, but it's gunna be worth it - or at least that's what I keep telling myself... next up  - back out with INPA to read the airbag codes again, my refurbished airbag module is on it's way home from Texas via Japan so will fit that back in... but interested to see what the codes are anyway.

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Having just got the car back I was keen to spend the day pottering over it for a few quick cosmetic wins.  So I tackled the windscreen cowl replacement first.  Removing the wipers is always fun on an e39 and this car was a doozy. Ended up modifying a puller to suit as the little one was just not up to it.  While doing this I gave the cabin air filter boxes a good clean plus all surrounds.  Then on to rear windscreen trim and roof rails, followed by boot hinges.. I removed these one at a time to get behind them etc..  Then the rear lights... in need of a bit of a clean....

Finally the rear seat I had been leather restoring got fitted... time for a beer...

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Edited by hqstu
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At least its just about down to routine servicing with the big bills have paid 

Who did the transmission work?

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The airbag fault code is drivers bag stage 2 so pointing to a connection in need of a clean I'm guessing.  It did reset, so will see how long it lasts.  It did fault on a cold morning, so it may be right for a while... There is a minor coolant drip from the pipe into the back of the alternator so new hoses/pipes are on order.  I may bypass the coolant lines between alternator / trans oil cooler / radiator, and run a custom coolant pipe as there is a big aftermarket cooler in place now and the factory cooler is no longer used.

 

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2 minutes ago, Eagle said:

Who did the transmission work?

Mainstreet Transmissions in Te Rapa - they said they didn't get these cars in anymore... I now know why...  They seemed good to deal with.  I'll reserve judgement until the car has a few k's on it.  Seems good although a slight jolt as it downshifts from 5th to 4th..  All new genuine ZF parts and they said it was pretty rooted, not much they haven't replaced...

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Yeah the 5HP24 doesnt appear all that reliable to start with, combine that with lifetime fluid changes and its no surprise most don't want to spend the cost of their car on a rebuild.

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Upon further research via the interweb it appears I can remove the factory trans cooler completely and thus remove 3 coolant hoses.  There is a theory BMW runs the later e39 540 transmissions (and other engines) hotter to make the oil last longer (helping their bogus lifetime fill claim...) The hotter oil burns off condensation etc. but reduces ultimate life of transmission itself.  The previous M62 engine with the traditional cooler in front of the radiator was a much better system than the later coolant/oil heat exchanger the forums seem to suggest.  Always something to learn...  I've heard of aftermarket coolers being installed (like mine now) especially if regular towing is occurring...

 

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Good ol BMW "improvements". I kinda miss the relative simplicity of my 1998 540i haha

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