BMW E53 X5 3.0i Sport

It only seems like yesterday when I was picking up the 530i E39 and was totally besotted (which I still am) but it has now been over a year since the E39 became part of the family.

When I got the E39 I was actually looking for a X5, preferably a 04 or 05 model. Whilst I was looking around I saw the E39 and that was the start of that adventure.

Now that the E39 is as close to how I want it as it can be, apart from some paintwork which will be done over the winter, I needed another project. This is when an 02 E53 popped up on my Facebook page from an X5 group. Turned out it was not too far away and had only just been posted and so no visible interest so far. The car needed some work, the owner was very open about this and was priced appropriately. As this would be a side project then as long as there were no major issues then this could be the car for me. I quickly got in touch with the owner and a meeting arranged.

When I got to see the car I could see straight away that there was some work needed doing, the car needs some TLC. Visibly from a distance it looks great. There are a few bodywork dints here and there,  nothing major. A few scratches that will easily polish out. The wheels are in a bit of a state and may need a professional refurb rather than me getting out the sandpaper and spray cans. The tail gate lights are fogged over, which is the same issue on all these models, including the E39 touring. The windscreen wipers need painting and the drivers side mirror has paint falling off. All this is nothing really for a 15 year old car.  The usual dash pixel problem.

From a mechanical side I had been told the engine light comes on now and again and the three wheel sensor lights (which is fixed by turning the steering wheel to reset the unit, only happens occasionally). I had brought along my laptop with BMW Scanner to take a look at what issues were being reported.

  1. Running lean banks 1 & 2
  2. Drivers door central locking not working
  3. One of the two keys does not start the car. Reports Out of Sync. (the second of the keys, which does start the car is held together with sellotape). Neither key remote buttons work and I have been unable to sync them to the car. Tyres looking very worn.

Again, nothing to make me worried. A test drive showed that there were no funny sounds from the suspension and the gearbox and engine seemed to work well. Head under the bonnet and you can hear a sound that sounds like the bearing in the alternator may have gone so will have the garage check this out.

A deal was struck and I picked up the car the next day. Once you have your hands on the car, this is when you really start to find out all the little things. A full list of items that I have found so far: –

Outstanding Items

  1. Engine light comes on now and again. Running Lean banks 1 & 2.
  2. Drivers Central locking not working.
  3. Issues with the keys.
  4. Garage to check the alternator and the water pump.
  5. When in reverse on a hill the car will sometimes slowly roil forward. Local garage has confirmed that this is working within normal parameters and probably needs a fluid change. This is happening this coming week.
  6. The handle on the handbrake not fastened on. Quick fix to tighten the screws and it now works a lot better although all the teeth seem to have been worn away so I will be having this replaced.
  7. Rear tailgate lights need a refurb. Have already set to work on this with the Autoglym Headlight Restoration kit. First attempt has done good but need to go back and work on all the edges to get them better.
  8. Going to put on new tyres all round.
  9. Just about ready for a service so this is being done for piece of mind.

Fixed Items

  1. The tailgate release switch on its last legs. Sourced a new unit from Sytners. This was an easy swap. Couldn’t fix the existing one due to it being a sealed unit and besides, the rubber was past its best.
  2. The middle rear seatbelt does not fix in to the holder. Replacement sourced from eBay and fitted.
  3. 12v socket in the rear had been disconnected so this has now been fixed. Great that the kids will be able to charge their phones in the back.
  4. Radio does not work in the stereo. An aftermarket Pioneer double din unit has been installed, with screens in the headrests. When this was installed the antenna did not have a converter fitted. Now Sorted with a cable from Halfords. There was all the wiring hanging around for an old telephone Bluetooth kit which has now been taken out.

A few things to sort out to get this car where I would like it to be but not that much, and great fun sorting the little things, leaving the bigger things to my local garage to sort for me. As with all these things, if left they build up. What could have been small costs along the way is becoming a lot of things all adding up but I see this as being well worth while to have a lovely car at the end of it. I will have to watch it though as the better half has decided she likes it too. She prefers it to the 530i. She says she prefers the higher up driving position. How she can say that when she drives a Beetle.

I am looking forward now to following the X5 groups and seeing if there is a group out there for the X5 that can match up to how great the BMW E39 Club UK is. Any group has big boots to fill to try and match The E39 group and I am honoured to be a member.

I’ll be posting more on how the X5 is coming along and posting some pictures when I get to take it out properly for a few good runs.

BMW Festival 2017 – Gaydon

For the second time this year, we were invited to be a part of the BMW E39 Club UK stand. This time the event was the BMW Festival at Gaydon, the home of the British Motor Museum.

The BMW Festival is hosted by the BMW Car Club at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.

The E39 Club stand was once again “King of the Hill” with the cars overlooking the main show arena. There were over 40 E39 on the stand of all different models, Alpina, M5, Pre-facelift, Touring and everything you can think of. In all there were over 45 E39 on the stand. It must have been the biggest club turn out behind the host club.

There were many clubs in attendance as well as a compere through out the day along with an Oom-pah band. A number of trade stands kept our wallets open. Attendees were also free to walk around the Motor Museum and Historical Collection buildings.

The weather turned out great and we had a fantastic day out. I have to say that I love going to the shows and being a part of the club stand. It’s great to meet and put faces to the people we talk to on the club Facebook group and always a good opportunity to catch up, swap stories on the trials of E39 ownership, get some advise or help and maybe even pick up a bargain from a club member.

So looking forward to the show season next year and hope to get to more meets and shows, including Vanity which I missed out on this year.

To Radu and the club admins and mods, Thank you very much for all that you do and putting together the club stands. It is very much appreciated.

BMW Show – Santa Pod 2nd July 2017

For nearly a year I had been waiting for the 2017 BMW Show at Santa Pod. The girls in the house had no interest in going to the show with me but I thought it would be great to have a run out, see all the fantastic cars and get some ideas for small mods I could make to mine. Sorry, not in to the lowering thing after being bone rattled to death in the wife’s lowered New Beetle, just want some simple style / tech mods. I was also saving my “pocket money” for all the trade stands that I would be running up to saying “here, take my money, give me everything”. I finally managed to talk my youngest daughter in to making the trip with me, on the promise that she had control of the stereo in the car. I know, that was a stupid thing to agree to.

So with a month to go to the show I bought the online tickets. Yay. We were going. Now, to keep off eBay and buying stuff as I will surely get it cheap at the show with their show discounts and offers.

Anyhow, a week before the show I received a message from Radu of BMW E39 Club UK asking if I would like to have my car on the stand at the show. Would I? Do bears poo in the woods? How fantastic would that be. OMG. Awesome. (and other such words that I have been learning from my daughters). Of course, Radu. That would be lovely. Thank you. See you there.

When the tickets dropped through the letter box a couple of days later I was literally jumping around the house in excitement.  Not only was I going to the show that I had been waiting nearly a year to go to but my car was going to be on a stand at the show too. How frickin’ (nope, that one is not one from the daughters, thankfully)  awesome is that !!!!!!

The day of the show arrives and it is an early start to meet up with the convoy to drive to the show. A 6am meet at the services just south of Chesterfield on the M1. The motorway is really quiet at that time on a Sunday morning.

After meeting the first couple of cars to go down (Stefan, Mike and Vicki and their friend in a 740) it was off to the next stop, in Leicester.

As we were a little behind on time the journey to Leicester was a little quicker than I imagined. I am the one on the motorway at 70mph with the cruise control on, in the left hand lane. I think that this was the first time my car had been in the right hand lane under my ownership. It did seem to like it and really did want to have a little charge with all those horses. (I spent the two weeks after this part of the road trip waiting for a letter telling me I had some points. Who knew there were all those speed cameras on the gantry near Nottingham these days).

After meeting a few more cars at Leicester it was off to our next stop outside Northampton. A longer stop this time followed by a sedate drive through the country roads and villages to Santa Pod.

Now, if you remember, I had given over the stereo to my daughter. What ensued from Northampton to Santa Pod was Spotify on repeat playing the song Convoy. I still catch myself singing that song in my head weeks later.

When we arrived at Santa Pod it was great to see the crowds and to be entering the venue as part of the convoy. It’s experiences like this that make the day one never to forget.

The BMW E39 Club UK stand looked awesome and the bacon butty’s, burgers and hot dog’s being cooked on the stand really were making us hungry. The packed lunch I had made for us didn’t last long.

To see our stand with 50 E39 was really impressive. I’m sure it must have been the biggest club stand at the show.

We spent our day looking around the other stands and watching the cars on the 1/4 mile.  I wasn’t going to take the car on the 1/4 mile. I’m sure the car would have loved it but I don’t think the beige leather seats would have stood up to what they may have had to endure if I had been behind the wheel. I have much admiration for all of you that did take a ride down the strip.

I have to say that the trade stands left a little to be desired. I expected more traders. At least I saved some money.

We are already looking forward to next year. Thinking of taking the trailer tent next year and going down on the Saturday and making a weekend of it.

Thanks Radu for inviting me to join the stand and for putting it together. It was a great day and very much enjoyed and one I am sure myself and my daughter will speak of fondly for many years to come. 🙂

PS. And I still came home with those bloody door cards. Could not give them away, even tried giving them to BM Spares trade stand for nothing and they wouldn’t take them. They ended up in the skip after I took off all the fixings to save for spares.

The Woes of Owning an E39

This is quite a long post. I hope you don’t get bored reading this but I would recommend getting yourself a drink and going for a pee before starting.

When I first bought my E39 I thought it looks great, it sounds great. This is going to go for ages without needing any work. It had been given an MOT by the dealer I bought it from. As part of the MOT it needed two new rear tyres so the dealer sorted these out. All great I thought.

I should have known in the first hour of ownership that this was going to be a different experience to what I thought. Within the first hour we were driving around and heard a thud and then a scraping sound. Me being a bit deaf thought it was just road noise but the wife and kids said that it was something more. I pulled over to find the under tray had fallen and was scraping along under the car. A quick pull and it came away and went in the boot. At least the touring has a rather large boot for storing the bits that fall off 🙂

Nothing else could be wrong I thought. I had picked up the car on a Friday so I had all weekend to play and drive around and fall in love with my new (to me) car. On Saturday everything was well with the world and I quickly grew to love my car. Then, on Sunday, the alarm started to go off randomly and it refused to start. In fact after trying it a few time a got nothing. Nada. Not even trying to turn over. A quick call to the breakdown people and within the hour they were looking under the bonnet and jump starting the car. It took the breakdown van and a booster pack to get it started. That is some serious power needed to jump start one of these monsters.

Once it was started the breakdown chappy pulled out his multi-meter and diagnosed that the battery was kaput. Oh well I thought. Time to get a new battery. I knew this would not be covered under the month warranty I had with the dealer but thought I would chance it and email them with the things that I had noted so far and the fact that the battery was knackered. The dealer came straight back to me and was very apologetic and said that he would come round to my house the next day with a new battery, even though this was indeed not covered by the warranty.

The dealer came round as promised and brought the biggest battery I have ever seen. Due to the battery being real dead by now I was unable to get in to the boot via the normal method of opening the tail gate. A quick rummage with the back seats and a crawl in to the boot and I found the battery. What I and the breakdown man both failed to do was to actually go look at the battery. What I found was that the negative cable on the battery was loose and had virtually fallen off. Oops. Saying that, the battery that was in the car was much smaller then the new battery so it was quickly swapped out and the car fired straight up. All is well with the world once more, the birds are chirping and the woodland creatures are polishing my wheels. Oh joy.

However, the alarm is still randomly going off. A bit of Googling showed this to be a common fault with the switch sensor under the bonnet. Unclip the sensor cable and hey presto. No alarm going off. Woo hoo. I must get around to finding a replacement sensor.

Sit back and relax. There could be nothing else wrong could there?

Up until now I had not really played with the stereo, preferring to listen to the quiet purr of the engine. The wife found that the stereo had a cassette player and spent an hour or so digging out all her old cassette tapes of the 80’s top 40 faithfully recorded over many years from the Sunday chart show on Radio 1. She was positively delighted to find the cassette player worked. We were not so delighted to find that the volume knob on the stereo had a mind of its own. When you turn it up it would go quiet, if you turn it down it goes to max volume. You never know what is going to happen when you turn the knob (I know you’re sniggering now, queue the remarks). The volume controls on the steering wheel work fine so not a big issue. My OCD kicks in though every time I glance over to the stereo. I just know it doesn’t work as it should and it bugs me. Off to Maplins and got some circuit board cleaning spray. Spray a little in. Hey presto. Works a treat. Until it drys out and then goes back to not working. Doh !!!. So, this can only mean one thing. The potentiometer. First thing to try, dry joints. So, after once more using Google, found how to take out the stereo and the next thing, it is in pieces on the work desk, soldering iron in hand. A little bit of heat and back in to the car. Looks like that did the trick. Well, it did for a couple of months. Performed the same trick again and same thing happened. At this point I am thinking I either get a replacement or I go for an Android unit. The wife loves her cassettes too much so the Android is out the window. The hunt is on for a replacement that is FULLY working. Hard to find one of these C53 flat pin units that is working perfectly.  The search continues…

BMW E39 Club UK

Everything is now working  and every day I find something else to love about the car. By now I have also found the E39 Club UK on Facebook. A great club to be a member of. I hear on the club about a recall for the drivers air bag and get in touch with Sytners in Sheffield. They confirm that my car is one that requires the updates and they duly book me in. When I get the car back, they provide a little video of an inspection they carry out. Well, I thought my car was great. Turns out it is not so great. A list as long as your arm of things they have found underneath. Admittedly some of this is easy stuff, break line rubbing and needs changing, etc. Water pump on its last legs. ooh . hold on. that one sounds a bit more serious. Sytners is really helpful and say that they can book me in to have all the works done and for the very reasonable price of £££££ per hour. I believe they said it was in the region of £150 per hour but that can’t be right. Anyway, a lot more than the £20-30 my local garage charges me.

I take the little video to my local garage and they say that the first thing to do is throw away the video. They will take a look around. Yep, they find a few bits and off they set to fix everything. The list ended up looking something like : –

  • Waterpump (barings had gone)
  • Cooling fan with blade missing
  • Idle Air Control Valve (car was juddering sometimes when stood at the lights)
  • Lower suspension arm
  • Inlet pipe (for something or other)
  • Leaking gasket on oil sump
  • New brake discs and pads on the front.

Whilst it was in the garage I also had them replace all the struts for the tailgate and tailgate window. This cured the hydraulic tailgate not going up without a helping hand. It now works as it should. I also had a couple of holes in the front sports bumper plastic welded and painted. Cant see that there was ever a hole there now.

Now all is certainly well, surely. Well, up to now, apart from some bodywork that needs looking at (and will be after a visit to the body shop next week) it is.

The car has now done over 10,000 miles with me in the last 13 months and on top of the items noted above it has had new front tyres, a new key from Sytners (I should tell you all about that fun some time),  a replacement air bag sensor in the passenger seat (an eBay special for that one). I have also spent money on LED Angel Eyes (cheap ones that last for about 3 months before stopping working) and HID front lights. I’ve had the front headlights refurbished so they look new again.

It passed its first MOT with me with flying colours. Yay!!! I was so relieved.

So, ownership of the E39 has not been cheap. In fact I have spent as much on the car now as I did on buying it and by the time it comes back from the body shop next week, the costs will have increased even more.

Thanks to an invite from Radu at BMW E39 Club UK the car was on the club stand at Santa Pod for the BMW Show. This has to be one of the most exciting moments I have ever experienced (apart from first kiss, first rumpy pumpy, house, marriage, kids, etc. Ok, so it is down the list but it’s still up there)

Arriving at Santa Pod for the BMW Show July 2017

Whatever car I would have bought at the age of the E39 there would have been issues That is just a fact. With this car though you get a lot of car for your money. You get a great drive and a car that you can never ever want to sell because they are just THE BEST CAR EVER !!!!