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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Please disregard my recent post on this subject. The "weep holes" have been found. For anyone else looking for them, they are located on the bottom outside edge of the rear doors. They are rectangular in shape. BTW - mine were not clogged so I'm still not sure where the water is coming from. Someone else suggested maybe a "vapor barrier" was out of place but I have no idea where this apperatis is located. Anyone have a clue?

    Thanks in advance,

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    The vapor barrier is a plastic sheet just behind the door panel itself.

    You should also check for leaks in your tail light lens gaskets and for a clogged sunroof drain.


  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Thank you for the prompt response Mr. Shiftright. Can you comment on the sunroof drain? I presume the holes I found on the bottom door edges are where the water would come out but where is the hole in the sunroof area that it would orriginate? If i puur some test liquid into it and it doesn't come out the door edge holes do you have any recommendation on what to stick into the sunroof hole to open the clog up? Any help is greatly appreciated.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    A can of compressed air is probably the safest thing. You might have to put newspaper down in the back carpet near the doors, in the crevice where the back seat meets the floor, and in the trunk/hatch, to isolate the source of this water leak.

    Tail light gaskets let in water, which then flows forward as you brake the car. The door drains can clog and the bottom of the doors fill up like a fish tank and overflow through the door panel. The door "squeegee", the rubber strip where the window does into the door, can also tear and leak, letting too much water in the door. The sun roof drain can clog, causing a drip from the headliner....OR...the rubber tubing inside the headliner, by the back window area, can slip off the sunroof drain, causing an internal leak you can't see until it reaches the back carpeting. The last item would be the biggest hassle to find and fix.

    If you pour water into the sunroof drain, it should drip out in front of the rear wheel, not in the doors. If you pour water in that drain and you don't see it draining out under the car, then it's draining out INSIDE the car somewhere.


  • 6_speed6_speed Posts: 37
    I have a 1997 540i 6spd. I have changed the remote batteries once before.

    Today, I tried replacing the battery in my key fob again. These were the steps:
    1) Car is locked.
    2) Remove the 2 batteries (CR1220) from the fob.
    3) Drove another car to Walgreen - can't find CR1220 batteries
    4) Drove back home. Reinsert old batteries BUT didn't properly do the +- matching - I didn't realized until step 8 below.
    5) Remote doesn't work anymore.
    6) Unlock the BMW using key (in keyhole).
    7) Drove BMW to RadioShack. Found CR1220 batteries.
    8) Drove home, replace with new batteries - this time paying attention to the +- matching. Time between 4) and this step was at about 3 hrs - was running other errands.
    9) Remote doesn't work - can't unlock/lock.

    a) Do you think I fried the circuitry on the key fob with the mismatched +- when I reinserted the old batteries?
    b) I read (from div2) that if one takes too long to replace the battery (as I did in this instance), I'd have to re-program. I read through the manual but found no instructions. Anyone here has those instructions?
    c) Do I need a new (master) key?

  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Thank you Mr. Shiftright for the very thorough response.I haven't checked anything on the trunk tail light lens yet (still concentrating on the sun roof/doors. I did find two holes on the front sides of the sun roof. They are a little smaller than a standard sized marble. I'm presuming these are the drain holes. Again they are kind of on the sides as opposed to the floor of the sun roof. There didn't appear to be any type of cloggage blocking them. They were very clear and open as were the holes in the bottom of the doors. One more hint to this whole thing; when I wash the car I always have to open the rear doors to let the excess water out. I'm not talking about buckets here but enough that I wouldn't want to not open the doors. Also, I looked under the car in front of the rear wheels for any holes and couldn't readily see any.
    This really has me stumped can you provide any further guidance given these recent revelations?
    As always, any and all information is greatly appreciated.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    The sunroof drain holes should be in the rails the roof rides in.

    Can you try the paper towel test on the rear floor as you wash the car? Maybe you can keep checking as you wash and see what part of the paper towel gets wet first? If it's the side of the towel facing the door, then it might be a window squeegee that's leaking. If its the rear of the towel facing the back seat, it could be leaking from the trunk. Maybe you could leave water off the roof while you do this testing.


  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Weather permitting, I'll do some testing this weekend. Thank you so much for your prompt thorough responses Mr.Shiftright!

  • jstone9jstone9 Posts: 1
    I spilt some water in my trunk from a cooler and I cleaned it up. What I didn't know was there is electronic control module under the spare tire. There is no drain hole in the spare tire well. So the electronic module shorted out. Dealer says it is my issue and I have to pay.

    So if you haul anything in your trunk, make sure you don't spill anything. I may cost you big time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Oh that's a brilliant place to install an electronic module. Almost as good as when Porsche put the car's engine management computer under the driver's seat.


  • js530js530 Posts: 2
    New to this forum, any suugestions?
    I recently purchased a 1994 530i with 178,000.
    Ran beautifully but had a little white smoke coming from exhaust. Now, 3 weeks later, so much smoke (white) when cold, I'm unable to see out of rear view mirror. Oil and filter/plugs have been changed, compression 180+ on all cylinders. After engine warm......there is less smoke.

    Possibly pvc valve? valve seals? other?
    Any suggestions helpful......thank you.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Do a cooling system pressure test. Pressurize the system and then pull the spark plugs and see if there is coolant on them. If the smoke is truly white-white, you are burning coolant. Is your coolant level dropping?

    Given the high miles, a bad head gasket or cracked cylinder head is possible.

    You should also be aware of this potential engine defect in your car, which may or may not have anything to do with what you are experiencing.

    "The Nikasil problem"

    BMW used Nikasil, an aluminium, nickel, and silicon alloy, to line the cylinders of the M60 engines. The cross-hatched Nikasil linings react with the high sulfur content found in lower-quality gasoline, such as that used in parts of the United States. This reaction causes damage to the very top of the cylinder bore, where there is the most contact of the burning mixture and the cylinder lining. The damage prevents a good seal from forming between the piston and the cylinder wall, causing a loss of compression in the combustion chamber. This "leak down" will cause M60s with worn linings to exhibit a rough idle, and if the problem continues unchecked, the engine will not start.

    The only permanent fix for this problem is the replacement of the short block with the equivalent block using Alusil linings, which do not exhibit this corrosion problem. After the problem was found, BMW issued an extended six-year, 100,000-mile (160,000 km) warranty to cover these engines at no cost to the owner.

    The composition of the engine can be found by checking the serial number stamped into the engine block:


    * 1 725 970 - Nikasil
    * 1 741 212 - Nikasil
    * 1 745 871 - Alusil


  • js530js530 Posts: 2
    Mr Shiftright,
    Thank you for such a quick response.......very grateful.
    Coolant level remaining constant. Very little oil used in the last 1500 mules (not enough to add more yet)
    Although smoke is white (not white-white)there is a slight smell of oil in the exhaust. No smell of anti-freeze.
    It has been suggested that the pvc valve is not working correctly but, I would expect more smoke as the engine got warmer, not the opposite. Another suggestion was to change the oil for 20/50 in case the 'thinner' oil was running down onto the cylinders overnight. As a note, when replacing the plugs, the 2 'rear plug wells' on each head were full of oil, which I guess means the rocker gaskets are leaking slightly. Compression remains good at 180+ on all cylinders which I hope eliminates the sleeves.
    Again, thanks for your response.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Well if the oil is in fact oil smoke than yes, worn valve guides is a good diagnosis, since you would get more smoke at start up, gradually diminishing.

    A good test for valve guides would be a cylinder leakdown test.

    Compression tests really can give you as much bad information as good. You can get very good compression readings on a very worn out engine. You can have good compression rings but bad oil rings and very worn guides and your compression would look fine.

    A cylinder leakdown test can't be fooled.

    Another test for bad valve guides would be to coast downhill with foot off the gas, or coming off a freeway ramp, where you let the engine really 'suck' as the revs drop while in gear....then you punch the gas and you'll see a burst of blue smoke out the back. (of course, do this with nothing in front or behind you).

    With the miles you have, and if the cylinder head hasn't been off, you most certainly have worn valve guides and/or hard valve stem seals.


  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,671
    ..that is definitely a Nikasil engine..

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  • Help!!

    My 535i 73.K mi. has not been started in about a year. I will not go into the details; suffice it to say, I was called away on business and regretably made no arrangements to start and maintain the car.

    Of course the battery is dead. But when the battery is replaced, can I start it? What should I do first.

    Please tell me all is not lost. :sick:

    Always Beamer
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Hmmmm....this is a main concern would be if the gasoline in the tank has gotten foul or not. One year is sort of borderline so I hesitate to say you have to drain the gas tank, which is a BIG hassle.

    I think if you can afford $500 or so, I'd have it towed to a shop and let them revive it. Ideally, they'd put in a fresh battery, change the oil, change the fuel filter, remove the spark plugs and squirt some oil in the cylinders, rotate the engine by hand or with starter but not fire it up until oil pressure is obtained, put in fresh gasoline....check coolant and brake fluid for contamination.....pump up the tires and check them for flat-spotting....and there you go.

    Now some people will just call Uncle Fred, jump start the battery, which will not blow up as it should with a dead battery being violently re-charged, and the engine will not break a piston ring from having rusted to the cylinder wall, and the gasoline will not have turned to varnish screwing up the injectors, and they will get away with everything.

    This could also be you. Like I said, the one year mark is really the cusp for trouble but not a real certain danger point.

    There, was I indecisive enough for you---LOL!


  • MR. (or should I call you) "Doctor" Shiftright,

    I am suddenly advised it has been more like 18+ months, but will go with your suggestions. I will not call Uncle Fred. He blew up the mailbox with his welding torch, and the toaster oven he "fixed" shuts down wireless computer connections for three blocks and makes the cat very nervous...

    Your suggestions are well founded, so its off to tow we go.

    The prayers will continue, I will keep the Beamer faith. If you hear a loud scream, later this week, you will know we seized-er up... or something worse... will be in touch.

    Wanna buy a toaster oven?


    Always Beamer,
    Houston, TX
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    The car will be FINE if it is revived properly. I have started cars that were dormant for THIRTY YEARS with only a day's work (nasty work, but still a day). I wake up cars the way I liked to be awoken....gently and with a fresh glass of orange juice....


  • Mr. Shiftright,

    Thank you so much for your reply and reassurance. Will advise outcome...or what comes OUT!

    Uncle Fred says Hi.

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