Touring Hydraulic Tailgate

My touring came with the hydraulic opening / closing option. This is a really neat option and when the car first came out this would have been really impressive. Of course, most cars these days come with this option as standard but I still think it is great.

When I first got the car the hydraulic lift was not working as it should and I have been asked a few times on how I got this working again. The system is quite simple and there  are really only a couple of things to look at if the tailgate does operate but not to your satisfaction. If the hydraulic pump has gone and you get nothing then this will be an expensive fix. If it does work but needs some help then it will most likely a combination of the hydraulic fluid needing to be topped up or the struts for the tailgate and window section that need to be replaced.

I started off with the simplest check, the hydraulic fluid. The fluid recommended is AeroShell Fluid 41. You can buy this from many places. I got a 1 ltr can for around £10. You can get it from eBay, Amazon or direct from a number of aircraft parts websites.

Once you have the fluid you need to carefully remove the fluid reservoir from the pump. This is a push on affair with a clip. You need a screwdriver to loosen the clip and then really carefully pull off the reservoir. It is only a small holder so does not take much liquid at all. Fill it up just past the max level and put it back on carefully. You will no doubt spill some.

Once you have the reservoir back on then grab a hold of the tailgate and move it up and down a few times to pump the liquid around the system. Do this before you try it with the buttons.

When I first changed the fluid  it seemed to make little to no difference to the system but should always be tried in the first instance.

Next came the more difficult check which I left to my local garage. What I noticed was that if I opened the window portion of the tailgate and then pressed the button to open the tailgate then it would magically work with no issue. The hydraulics could not lift the weight of the tailgate and window combined. What we did next was to change the struts for the tailgate and the window so that they are all new and at their best. Changing the struts can be a bit fiddly, which is why I left it to my local garage, but can be done.

Check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VaFBlyuk6Y&t=77s

Once I had the struts replaced the tailgate now works as it should. It does have some difficulty if the car is pointing down a hill. I am figuring that this is because the tailgate will need more of a push to get it going and the system is not up to it.

Would be great to hear if this has helped or if you have other suggestions for getting this working or making it better.

 

Refurbish Wiper Arms

The wiper arms on the E52 were looking a bit worse for wear. The black had gone very pale and in some places had come off altogether and there were rust patches. It was time for a refurb.

I used a 17mm spanner to remove the bolts holding the arms on and a battery terminal puller to extract the arms off the spindles.

Using sandpaper and spray that I already had in the cellar I set to work.

Sanded down the arms with 250 grit followed by 1500 grit to remove the worst of the rust and to smooth where the original paint had peeled. I then used three coats of grey etch primer followed by two coats of matt black.

I waited at least five minutes between each coat of paint and then left the arms for 24-hours to dry before fitting back on the car.

The end result is astounding and makes such a difference.

The Before
The After

 

 

 

Coding Using BMW Scanner 1.4.0

I’ve been thinking for a while about what to write about next and then it hit me, what have I been doing a lot of lately with the E53 X5 and before that the E39 530i, I have been playing with different coding options. I have also done some coding for other people at various meets.

I started off when I got the E39 buying the software and cable from http://www.cable-shack.co.uk/ as I wanted to be able to program the remote central locking to make a sound when locking and unlocking the car.

The cable shack software was OK and I got the INPA software to connect to the car and I took a look at NCS expert but couldn’t get my head around it. Coding with NCS is not for the faint-hearted. All the messages are in German, you have to know what modules you have available and where things are to export the current settings, modify them in a text file and then import them back in to the car again. This was all a little too complicated for me. I do still use INPA for testing PDC.

BMW Scanner is much simpler to use for coding. You simply pick the module you want to look at from the list presented, go in to the coding section, change the options you want and write them away. Job done.

For more details on BMW Scanner, visit http://bmw-scanner.com/

You can purchase BMW Scanner from a popular trading site by simply searching for “BMW Scanner”.  For my E39 and E53 I use BMW Scanner version 1.4.0

One thing that is asked a lot on the many group pages is whether BMW Scanner can run on Windows 10. The simple answer is Yes. I have this running on Windows 10 Professional. There is a registry hack to allow the drivers to be installed but after that it installs and works as well as it does on Windows XP or Windows 7.

As an example of how easy BMW Scanner is to use I will make the most frequently requested coding change, to have the indicators act as sidelights. Most people think that this is the Daytime Running Lights option but it isn’t.

Coding the Turn Signals as Sidelights Using BMW Scanner

When you first start BMW Scanner it will interrogate the car and provide you with a list of details about the car. This can be turned off in the settings if you don’t want this to happen every time you start the application but I like to keep it on so that I know the software is communicating with the car.

You will be presented with a list of all the possible modules. At this point you can perform a scan which will go through all the modules and tell you if they are present or not and will show you if there are any errors reported by the module.

Double-click on the errors column to see what errors are currently known by the car and be able to clear them.

To code a module, double-click on the name of the module.

The screen for the module will be shown. We want to double-click on the Light Check Module.

Click on the Coding Data Button. The screen of coding options for the module will be displayed.

Here you can tick and untick the options that you want to code.

To have the indicators act as sidelight, place a tick in the Front Turn Signals as Side Lights option and click on the Write button. Now when you put on the side lights the indicators will also illuminate.

It’s as simple as that. All point and click.

I have heard that Carly BMW which runs on your mobile phone is also able to perform coding and various other functions. I do keep having a look at this but the price for the software and being required to use their Bluetooth adapter makes this option a little too pricey for me based on the feedback I have seen on the Android Store. I have used the lite version with the cable shack cable and this was able to talk to the car but with the lite version you can’t actually do anything useful.

 

 

 

Headlight / Tail light refurb instructions

Here are some notes on how to refurb your headlights or tail lights.

Pre-requisites

  • Ensure that the lights have been washed and dried
  • Mask off all the area around the lights to avoid the sanding and polishing going on to the bodywork around the lights
  • Use sanding pads on a fast drill or polisher

Step-by-step

  1. Using a P800 sandpaper, use medium pressure and move side to side and up and down to remove the worst of the scratches. Periodically dust off the lens and the paper to ease the sanding. When finished, the lens should look a little milky. Check all the defects have been removed and then move on to the next stage.
  2. Next use a P1500 in the same manner, at the end, the lens should look more translucent but still a little milky.
  3. Move on to a P2000 and with a little water on the lens and pad continue in the same manner. Avoid the lens becoming dry. By the end the lens should look a  little cloudy.
  4. Next move on to a P3000 and again with a little water and the same movements. Avoid the lens becoming dry. By the end the lens should look more translucent.
  5. The final stage is to polish the lens until it is clear. Use a polishing pad and compound. Apply the compound to the pad and then dab it on to the lens before switching on the drill. This is to avoid compound being thrown all over. Add more compound as needed. Keep polishing until the lens is clear. Wipe down the lens periodically to check. If there are still defects, go back to the P3000 stage.

How to refurb tail lights with Toothpaste

Ok, now I have your attention. Did you really think I was going to go on about how you can get your lights back to looking brand new using only toothpaste from the bathroom? We all know that this will just not work, unless…. You use it brush your teeth before going out to refurb your lights properly.

It appears to be a common issue on the E39 Touring where the lights on the tailgate start to look faded and battered. They do the same thing on the E53 X5 as well I have noticed. The lights on the Saloon and on the side of the Tourer don’t seem to have the same issue and look sparkling.

Anyway, this has been bugging me for a while and I have looked around on Fleabay to see if I could get some replacement lights or lenses at the very least. Nada. Nothing. Just don’t seem to be able to find them. If anyone has a link to some, please do let me know.

I have watched numerous videos on YouTube on how to refurb your headlights, all the different methods that people use, all the different products, including toothpaste.

It just so happened that in my cellar I had some sponge pads that would fit in the drill and some Halfords compound. Surely this must be worth a try. I set about putting on the masking tape and had a go on one of the lights with the rubbing compound. This did make the lens more smooth to the touch but was no way going to make the lights sparkle as they should.

I have been weighing up getting the Maguires 1-step headlight restoration kit and I nearly bought the kit for this very job whilst at the BMW Festival the other week. The thing that stopped me was that Maguires were selling it at the show for around £23-24 and I knew I could get it at Halfords for £21 (the cheapskate Yorkshireman in me). I had also read that the Autoglym Headlight restoration kit was good to use.

When I got to Halfords both products were in stock, the Autoglym being more expensive at £24.99. As I generally like the Autoglym products I took a punt and paid the little bit extra.

The Maguires product just seems to be a wool pad with some compound and they now throw in a couple of sanding blocks for the harder parts. The Autoglym product comes with the drill attachment, various sanding pads, the sponge pad for polishing and the compound.

As it was a nice warm day I set straight to work. I have to admit that at first I didn’t think that was going to do too well but I persevered and after about 20-30 minutes on each light I was generally chuffed with the outcome. There is a visible difference and when I put the lights on you can actually see the light on now rather than just this foggy mess.

Conclusion

As you can see from these pictures, the results are quite good. This was only the first time I had tried to refurb any lights so I wasn’t expecting too much. I had had my headlights done a few months ago by a proper company and they looked awesome (£35 each lense in case you were wondering). The back lights I have done are not as good but I think if I had spent more time on them they would have come up as good as new. I think it would also have been easier if I had removed the lights from the car. I was desperate not to scratch the paintwork and I think I would have been rougher with the sanding if I had not to worry about this.

All in all, I am pretty chuffed with the results and would certainly recommend the Autoglym product.