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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • 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: 57,343
    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

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  • 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: 57,343
    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.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 63,183
    ..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: 57,343
    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!

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  • 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: 57,343
    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....

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  • Mr. Shiftright,

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

    Uncle Fred says Hi.

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,041
    ". . . .Will advise outcome. . . ."

    Please do, and good luck. Many a fine tune's been played on an old (or inactive) violin.
  • davis177davis177 Posts: 5
    I am in the process of purchasing the 2006 525 that I have been leasing for the last 2 years.
    I have 61,000 miles on the car, and have only brought the car in for it's scheduled services, I am also due for one right now. This car has been a dream, with no mechanical problems.
    I am cheap, I do not actively maintain my cars, I will, if I need to. In past cars it has usually been a trip to Oil Stop after I got sick of looking at the check oil light for a few weeks.
    These are my questions:
    How much would a typical person expect to maintain this car driving 30,000 miles per year.
    How many miles do these cars last for?
    In my mind paying $30,500 seems like a good deal for this vehicle, am I wrong, or are the cost going to be so great that I should pay my $6,000 penalty for miles, and start new.
  • malone2malone2 Posts: 6
    It depends on how you look at it.......Its more expensive to stick alot of money in a car (Ford etc.)on a yearly basis or have a BMW with little or no repairs for years. I just had a clutch and flywheel put in and the last time I had to put maintenance in it was '99. I have '94 525i so its how you look at expense!! Its been a good car!! As soon as I get my daughter out of college in '08 we willbe looking a 325 additional to the 525. JOHN
  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Good day all,
    I recently installed a M5 dead pedal in my 530i (2003). All went fine untill I tried to reinstall the plastic floor trim (2 feet in length) that goes along the floor of the vehicle on the left side of the drivers seat. To confess, I took on this project last night and it was getting dark on me. I removed this trim peice by pulling up on it. That might have been an incorrect way to remove it. Looking at the peice now, there is a long "track" on the bottom of it that runs the length of the peice. On the vehicle floor there are 3 white plastic gromets that are rectangular in shape. They appear to go into this "track". Do any of you knowledgable folks know how to properly re-install this trim peice? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Mr. Shiftright, I found my leak. Many thanks!

  • jbelfi76jbelfi76 Posts: 1

    I also have the exact same problem that bookedup has been describing. Car is a 2002 530i Manual (same design as your 03 as far as I know). My mechanic thought it was a drain in the cowl of the car that was clogged but that didn't seem to fix the problem. All the seals and holes,drains that I've looked at appear clear. It's really frustrating. One thing I've just recently noticed is that the car had a roof rack that was taken off before I purchased it. Maybe you can look at your roof towards the back and see if you have the two holes where the roof rack used to be. Could be a common them between our two vehicles....any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,182
    On the vehicle floor there are 3 white plastic gromets that are rectangular in shape. They appear to go into this "track". Do any of you knowledgable folks know how to properly re-install this trim piece?

    All you have to do is line up the three rectangular retainers and pop the trim strip back on. It may be a bit fiddly and require several tries, but it can be done.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • gboro2007gboro2007 Posts: 8
    I'm about to purchase my first bmw in a couple of days . . . are there ANY issues that i should be aware of or concerned with? particularly with all of the technology in this vehicle?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yup, do yourself a favor and get a low-tech transmission, one that requires three pedals under the dash. You'll be glad you did. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,182
    And forget the Active Steering as well...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • cmr530icmr530i Posts: 278
    My 2001 530i is running in top form. It still has its original battery. I am taking it in for an oil service soon and was wondering if I should have the battery replaced as a precaution. Or should I ask for the battery to be tested? Will a test reveal much about how much life is left? The mileage is at 55K, and for the last year I have been using the car mostly on the weekends.
    Thanks! :)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,578
    I just replaced the original battery in my 2000 528i so I'm guessing that 6 years is what they're good for. It's possible that if the car hadn't sat idle all winter it would've been OK but 6 & 1/2 years is almost twice what I've ever gotten from a battery.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,041
    to have the battery outside of the engine compartment. Besides helping the weight distribution significantly, batteries last a lot longer when they're kept cooler.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,578
    Besides helping the weight distribution significantly, batteries last a lot longer when they're kept cooler.

    Amen to that, the battery in my TR-4A was mounted right behind the engine, those lasted about a year. :cry:

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,182
    I have had OEM BMW batteries last for over ten years. However, I checked the electrolyte levels every six months and topped up with distilled water as needed. If I needed to depend on the car I'd probably replace it at eight years from the in service date of the car. Replacement BMW batteries do not appear to be as robust, and they are expensive to boot; I replaced the battery in my E39 with an Interstate MTP-93. Be sure that the shop includes the vent hose adapter kit which allows the MTP-93 to be connected to the car's vent hose.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • ny540i6ny540i6 Posts: 518
    Don't know if you got this taken care of, and not sure of the trim piece in question... Having "caveated" myself (LOL), when I removed the door sill trim on my 5 I found similar grommets and little tracks on the back of the trim. Spent a looooong time trying to make them all fit together, to no avail. Solution? Gently pry the grommets out of the holes they snap into. Be careful not to break the white tabs. They then slide into the tracks (They are actually designed to snap out/slide in.) In the event you break one, any auto body supply store has them. Hope this helps.
  • ping2ping2 Posts: 6
    I am looking at a '08 535 with sport package. Love the look and feel of this car (Steering ,head rests - seats, rims etc.). I am new to BMW's and have heard of horror stories of the run flats, especially on the low profiles ( mostly concerning the 330's). I have read that they are running into problems under 10k. Is this a general issue or specific to some of the 3 series?
  • bookedupbookedup Posts: 17
    Thanks for the reply. I tried also, for what seemed to be forever to get the white tabs (grommets) back into the door trim piece slots, to no avail. I finally stopped at my local dealer in Sewickley, Pa. My hat's off to them. Specifically Chris (in BMW Parts Dept). He came out to my car (during his lunch hour, I think) and borrowed some type of blue tool from a mechanic and pulled the white tabs out and aligned them in the track and re-inserted the trim piece for me. Super Service from Chris and BMW of Sewickley, Pa.
  • sirdarby1sirdarby1 Posts: 36
    I have a 2003 530i with 50,000 miles. On the digital odometer, the first 0 is half displayed. When I press the trip computer. There are one or two letters fading. Will this get progressively worse or is this as bad as it gets?

    I'd hate to have the dealership tear out the dashboard and cause other problems to surface.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,182
    I'd hate to have the dealership tear out the dashboard and cause other problems to surface.

    Take it to the dealer if it's still under warranty; the R&R of the cluster is very simple. If not, see if the dealer will perform a good will repair.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    It is a known issue. BMW has been paying for the parts (if out of warranty) and you pay the labor,typically an hour. However, I have heard of dealers not being upfront or being "aware" of the program. You can probably google it and find the BMW NA contact information for this issue.
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