E39 540i

I've just bought a 1998 one of these for not much money. Amazingly it seems pretty good and everything I look at shows evidence of careful owners. There are some faults (that I've found so far) and I'm listing them here in
the hope that some of them might be common ones. It's an automatic, Steptronic.
Firstly the doors seem to rattle when I'm driving but not when I thump them. Do I remember hearing this complaint about E39s before?
The DSC warning light is always on. No idea what fails on this, anyone know?
I thought the coolant was low, suspecting a leak, but it turns out you read the level from a floating pointy red thing, implying that you're not supposed to see the water. However, the pointy thing is stuck. Maybe it has a leak, maybe it doesn't, I can't tell without that indicator.
The check control display is missing a lot of dots, which I know is common, but since it only lights up on warnings it's not too bad. Can it be replaced cheaply though? More annoying is the lack of backlight on the mileage reading on the display above - I'm hoping this might just be a replaceable bulb or LED?
There is a light knocking from the engine at idle that you can hear from underneath but not above. I wondered if it could be the gearbox but it sounds like top end / cam noise except for the location.
It has the BMW phone which wants a credit card-sized SIM card. Can this be useful at all? If it has a full hands free system can it be adapted to work with a modern phone? Otherwise can the BMW phone be resurrected somehow?
Lovely car, seems to have all the options except sunroof, and everything else seems to work, even the electric memory seats. Satnav, TV and CD all work. Averaged an inspiring 18.7mpg so far.
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Dan Buchan wrote:

Hmm, sounds a bit odd.

Could this be the dreaded loose oil pump bolts?

You'll get close to 30 on a run.
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read
Figured it out. Freed the 'pointy thing' with some pliers, at which point it shot up, indicating that in my naivety - thinking you should be able to see liquid - I'd drastically overfilled it. I've let some out. It doesn't seem to leak, even despite the provocation.

Tell me more. It comes and goes; generally you hear nothing at first and it appears as the engine warms up. I had a garage reading fault codes and asked him to listen to the noise which had been clearly audible when I pulled in but practically disappeared when the engine was restarted. He said timing chain but I'm not convinced he heard the right sound. It's quite a light, but hollow, knocking noise, about 4 times per second at idle. At 500rpm that would be 1/2 engine speed.

all
Up to 21 on the current tank of fuel. It seems to get 30 on the motorway which is not too bad. Waiting to see how many miles range I get because it's claiming 300 but I'm expecting 350; the 525 used to get close to 400 before the light came on at around 23mpg. Sod it, anyone who buys a new Focus is worse off for at least six years whatever their common sense tells them.
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Hope you're a lucky person. In general. they seem less reliable than their 6 cylinder siblings.

Is it the windows? You could try wedging them to prove this.

Not a common one that I know of.

Another new one on me. Does the low coolant warning come on? The rads on these can be a problem.

IIRC, it's a dry solder joint problem and not easy to fix. But you might find a specialist who does an exchange scheme.

Pass.
Pass again.

UK cars with climate control don't have sunroofs. Strangely. So that is probably all V-8s. Although I *think* it could be a special order, so probably not on early cars which were snapped up as soon as they left the production lines.
I've not been much help but the group in my sig probably could be - lots of V-8s in that while I've got the 6. ;-)
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

I think you mentioned this before but so far without backing any of it up. Can you tell me why they're less reliable? I have both.
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Just a probably inaccurate straw poll. Seem to suffer much more from cooling problems. But that doesn't mean all do.
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On the cooling problems, I'd say 'most' do, or at least more than should. Well known common problem. At 70-80K budget for a new radiator and associated bits.
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Tom Too wrote:

So on the V8 the rad is poorly designed and the I6 has a history of water pump problems. I don't see how that warrants "good luck with the V8" type of comments. I'm not saying they are more reliable just that if they're not I'd like to know why so I can check some things out.
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Agreed. I sure hope the V8 is pretty reliable as I pick mine up from my tech today with my new VF Engineering supercharger installed
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Tom Scales wrote:

Nice :-)
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I had endless cooling system leaks on my I6 anyway.
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their
He's just jealous. ;-) So far I think this car is bloody fantastic, famous last words though they may be. I had an E34 525 before, and loved it, but this car is an incredible blend of smooth cruiser and lunatic animal. From a traffic light you can be away from everyone else before they've even started moving - it seems to go from 0 to 20 in an instant - without looking or feeling like a hooligan. On the other hand if you press the pedal straight to the floor it wheelspins like something out of the Dukes of Hazzard. The engine noise is a soft murmur or loud V8 throb. After a week I'm still impressed by the smooth changes of the steptronic box and how well it works with this engine.
I looked at an E39 M5 first and it was incredible, really scary and had more of a different character than the performance figures suggest, but my licence would have lasted about a week. The 540 is nice to drive slowly and that's a useful feature. The 525 was only fun when pressed so that's how I used to drive it. At low speeds it was too loose in the steering and sluggish at low revs.
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Dan Buchan wrote: On the other hand if you press the

Just them good ole boys....
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Nice group. Think I'll join.
I'm sure I remember you from years back. Can't think which group it was, though..
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It is. The 'owner', Don Eilenberger, runs it to a very high standard which is an example to others. Reasonable traffic level and lots of E39 expertise.

That's because I'm old. ;-)

Could be one of the uk.rec car groups.
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On Wed, 20 Dec 2006 09:58:58 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

My UK E39 M5 (not a 540i I know, but 8 cylinder) has both climate control and a sunroof.
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I'm not. But I got it for a good price. I hope.

Seemed like it could be, pressing the glass seemed to make a difference. Where would you wedge them? I've read about door seals chafing also, and updated padded seals to fix this with a allegedly limited success.

Diagnostics reported a failure of the ABS pump to the back right but the mechanic suggested replacing the sensor at that wheel first. ABS light stays on until you drive a short distance, DSC warning is always on.

...
Seems ok, my mistake, and the float was easily freed with pliers.

Is it surface mount? I can solder anything except that. It's become more of an issue since I discovered that you can call up one of the computer readouts on the check control screen. And the dim backlight on the mileage reading is definitely annoying. Two separate problems I think but I did notice the mileage is missing a pixel also - the initial 1 has no little nubbin at the top.

You know how when you get a new SIM card it comes as a credit card-sized thing and you snap the SIM out of the middle? Apparently if you leave it intact you can shove it into one of these phones.

I keep asking people why climate/aircon and sunroof are considered alternatives but no-one can tell me (or they don't care). Used to love my sunroof but the climate control is superb so I'll not cry. To be truthful the car looks sleeker without one. Ooh, it's gorgeous.

Strangely this car was built in December 1997 and registered in March 1998. I got a printout at the dealers. It has M-Sport suspension, other options I could see anyway, but some things like the fire extinguisher are not listed and I'm not sure if the dimming mirror and sensing wipers were options but they aren't on there.

I'll definitely join up - thanks. Used to be in the group for E21s which was very good.
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