Welcome to the E39 board, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

    Take a look at the websites below before you post a "new" question, they have lots of great information on the E39 BMW ranging from common problems/fixes to some nice modifications and may already hold the answer to your question.

    In addition, do take the time to Search the Roadfly E39 Archives to make sure that your same question wasn't recently asked and answered. When asking a technical repair question please give a description of your car, as many details as possible about the problem, and finally include any repairs that you have tried so far.  You may want to add a description of your car in your Roadfly Signature: Year, Model, Transmission, and Production Date. Ex. 1998 540iA Sport (11/97 production), online diagnosis is difficult enough, it really helps to know that information when trying to answer a tech question.

    Finally, read your owner's manual to make sure that the information that you are seeking is not sitting there waiting for you find it. If someone responds to your question with “RTFM”, that is a gentle suggestion that you should “Read The Fricking Manual”, and that an answer that is better than any Forum member could provide is contained within.

    Furthermore, I'm told that Roadfly management would prefer if Off Topic (OT) questions not related to BMW's were posted in the "Lounge"

    There is a "Test Forum" available (right column) for you to experiment with pictures and to see how your signature looks: 

Repair Manuals:
    1.  Bentley Publishers has finally released a repair manual. 

    2.  The BMW TIS (Technical Information System) and ETK (Electronic parts catalog, also EPC) that is used at BMW dealers for parts and technical information is available at the Central Lettershop (specialty tools too), or if you search eBay Motors for "BMW TIS ETK" or our very own Roadfly Classifieds you can find a used or older version for a much more reasonable price. 

  3.  The BMW TIS is also available online at http://www.bmwtis.com, but is quite expensive.

Diagnostic Tools: If your looking for repair manuals, then you are looking to turn some wrenches on your E39. Roadfly can help you diagnose a problem down to a handful of items, but one of these scan tools can tell you exactly which component has failed. Here are some of the Forum favorites:

    Finally, most large Autoparts stores will read OBD-II codes for FREE in hopes of selling you replacement parts.  The OBD-II port is located at the drivers left knee (North American cars).  Forget about the "translation" that the generic OBD-II reader provides, it is more important that you write down the P1234 code and check it at http://www.my330i.com/odb2.php to get the BMW specific fault.  Even knowing the codes does not guarantee that the fault can be pinpointed, but that is why we have a technical discussion forum.  By all means show your thanks to the local store for reading your OBD codes by purchasing the replacement part at their store if they have the right OE part for a competitive price.

Replacement Parts Sources: Once you know what has failed and have the replacement instructions, you need the parts! Not only do Roadfly Sponsors make this Forum available to us for free, but many of them offer a discount to Roadfly members. Crevier BMW even staff's a Parts Counter at Roadfly, its probably the first place to start shopping, or try some of the other Roadfly Sponsors.  Note that you can get actual BMW parts from a BMW dealer at huge discounts by mail order. If that is not enough or you need the parts NOW from your local dealer, most dealers offer an additional discount to BMW CCA members, besides they have a pretty good magazine.

Common BMW acronyms: http://www.mbmw.com/bmw_technical_acronyms.htm
ASC, ASC+T, and DSC?: http://www.mz3.net/articles/115.html

And most of all, have fun here and don't take any comments the wrong way. There is a great group of people here, but we do indeed enjoy taking little jabs at each other.

BMW Similes – A light hearted look at common E39 problems:

The E39 is a benchmark for all Sports Sedans, the V-8 provides ample power for great acceleration, sticks to corners like a sports car, can deliver the family to grandma's in comfort, and still manage to be one of the best looking cars in the parking lot.  The E39 is also equipped with some of the most advanced safety systems of any road going automobile with features like standard airbags, side airbags, head airbags, Anti-lock Brakes, and Dynamic Stability Control. BMWCAR Magazine can even be quoted as saying the following about the E39 5-Series, "I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that this is the finest car that BMW has ever built" (Oct 2002, page 18).  Take the list below for what its worth, some are just observations, some are problems that show up enough on the Forum to warrant their listing.

E39 BMWs commonly do lots of things:
1. Its door seals will “Creak like a wooden sailing ship”, unless you replace the door seals (temp fix).
2. Its Air Conditioning will have the “aroma of a used gym sock”, unless you occasionally disinfect the A/C system.
3. Its front brakes will “Squeak like a scared mouse”, unless you properly lube the brake pad attachment points.
4. Has an electrical system “as stable as MS Windows”, and most electrical glitches can be “fixed” by rebooting the system by removing the appropriate fuses, or disconnecting the battery.
5. The steering wheel will Shimmy like Anna Nicole Smith trying to get into a pair of Guess Jeans (most commonly affects 528/530 Sport models) unless you get just the right torque on the lug bolts and PSI in the tires, Maybe.
6. As pixels burn out the MID computer text will resemble the language for the blind known as braille.
7. Electric auxiliary “pusher” fan will make your car sound like a jet ready for take-off, but only if it works.
8. Rear Window Regulator will “let you down” only when it is most inconvenient for you.
9. Radiator Neck will break off with no warning (at driver side top hose).
10. Catalytic Converters will sound like they full of marbles when they are ready to fail, and are good for about 60k Miles.
11. The Camshaft Position Sensor (CPS) is so reliable that you should carry a spare in your trunk, I do...
12. The Final Stage Resistor will have no problem varying the airflow in your car, but the problem is that it does it even when its not supposed to, until to totally quits that is, then you will have no airflow.
13. Don't even think about using the "canholders" to hold any unsealed container lest you prepare to clean your pants, the car interior, and replace any electronics that were damaged.
14. You say that you like the “Dukes of Hazard”? Well I hope so because you'll be forced to enter and exit your car through open windows like Bo and Luke Duke when the interior door handles break off in your hand. This is the true reason that BMWs can roll the windows up and down from the key.
15. With the manual transmission, no matter how quickly you lift your foot off the clutch pedal, the clutch always engages the flywheel at a constant rate. What's up with that? I'm not even going to try this one, Dave Z has it nailed. http://www.zeckhausen.com/CDV.htm

Note: In no way should I be considered a representative of Roadfly and this information does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Roadfly.

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