BMW E39 540i

2003 BMW 540i


M62TUB44 V8 (4.4L)

290 HP @ 5400 RPM

324 LB FT @ 3600 RPM

6 Speed Manual Transmission

Sometime in October, 2015 I bought this car. This was the first car I bought that I actually wanted. I traded in my Dodge Neon and a bunch of money for it.

Unfortunately I wanted it a little too much and my emotions got the best of me. It needed quite a bit of work done to it. Suspension mostly, but some other standard maintenance stuff too. I could have bought one in better shape for less money, but I wouldn't have gotten to know it as well.

I'm missing a lot of pics due to hard drive crashes over the years, but the first thing I replaced was a power steering pump. It's not uncommon for the power steering pump to go out on the M62TU. Many times the mounting bracket will tear itself off. I've actually replaced it twice since owning the car.

February, 2016
The first thing to tackle was the suspension. I believe this is everything minus the shocks, struts, and springs. The transmission mounts are also sitting in the middle there.

May, 2016
The next big thing was to replace the vanos seals, timing chain guides, and valley pan cover, putting it all back together and then timing the engine.

Up until this point in my life, aside from changing a valve cover gasket a few months before, I'd never done any sort of maintenance to an engine. This job took me about 6 days.

A month later I replaced the idler pulley and belt tensioners

July, 2016
I installed new shocks and struts. The Koni FSD technology was designed for the Lamborghini Murcielago. It was later adapted to the usual aftermarket street car.

I also got new rims and tires! I was living in Michigan at the time and wanted more tire on my rim, so I went from the 18" staggered wheels to a 17" square rim setup and Continental DWS06 tires. I will say it's not as attractive, but the ride was much smoother. I also noticed the car was sitting higher now with the new dampers. I later figured out that I had set the rear shocks to the mid setting, rather than the low setting. The struts were also sitting high. I actually didn't correct this until 2020.

18" Staggered setup (Style 37)

17" Square setup (Style 66)

October, 2016
Drivetrain work, and no pics. I replaced the flex disc, center support bearing, CV joint, and installed new shifter bushings.

November, 2016
The M62TU engine has a water cooled alternator. It's completely unnecessary as the much higher performance variant of this engine (S62) has a regular air cooled alternator. Anyway, I was running into issues and determined that the voltage regulator was bad on mine. This and bearings are often why alternators need replaced. A replacement alternator was somewhere around $400, but I found out that I could buy a rebuild kit for $70 on ebay, so that's what I did. It was actually pretty easy to rebuild. The hardest part was waiting for the silicone to dry after reassembly.

May, 2017
The clutch had been slipping, so may as well learn how to do that too. For this job, I replaced the clutch, flywheel, fork pivot, clutch fork, bearings, and everything else related to a clutch. I also replaced the rear water jacket, and the rear main seal for the crankshaft.

I don't have many pics, but one of the guys on the forums said my transmission looked like the bottom of his lawnmower.

Here's the back of the motor. It looks like some Garbage Pale Kids or Toxic Avenger reference, but that's a mix of coolant and oil leaks. It was thoroughly cleaned before installing the new clutch.

The transmission before cleaning.

The transmission after cleaning. I would say the worst part of wrenching is the cleaning.

June, 2017
Power steering hoses and motor mounts replaced.

New brake pads and rotors all around.

August, 2017
Power steering pump was replaced again.

June, 2018
Computer problems! Apparently the wire coming from the thermostat can wick coolant all the way to the computer on the car (DME). I replaced the waterpump, thermostat, thermostat connector, and the DME. The coolant had corroded the pins on the DME, so the car was down for a while as I waited for a forum member to back up my old one and upload to a new one, and then send it back.

At this time I also took it upon myself to rebuild the fuel injectors. I didn't get them professionally cleaned, but I did submerge them in one of those ultrasonic jewelry cleaners and I also connected them to a fuel injector tester that would activate the injectors in a pattern. As I was doing this I connected them to a rig that fed alcohol through them.

The injector repair kit came with new retaining pintle rings, o-rings, as well as new screens.

Old injector.

The corroded pins on the DME. One of them is broken.

Corrosion on the connector.

September, 2018
Replaced front right control arm. Lifetime warranty replacement through FCP Euro. Only paid shipping to replace it.

I also replaced the front left window regulator.

March, 2019
I punctured a tire and bent a rim, but was due for new tires anyway. After weighing my options, the most affordable route was to buy used rims/tires from a forum member. So out with the 17" wheels and onto the 16" wheels. Honestly, I kind of prefer the 16" wheels. The ride is much softer and I like the extra tire. I never bothered to take pics at the time, but here's a pic from 2021 of the new rims.

October, 2019
Time for another big job. The car was making a tapping sound at idle. I lead myself down the path of it must be rod bearings, so those got replaced. Actually it was just a lifter. Something that could be fixed by revving at 2500 rpm for about 30 seconds.

So I can't take credit for all of this one. I took everything off and put everything back on, but as I was tightening one of the rod bolts, the wrench slipped and I punched the sharp edge of the block. I probably should have gotten stitches, but I threw a bandaid on, lost my nerve, and had a friend do all the bolt torquing stuff.

I also replaced the tie rod ends and an end link.

Disconnected the suspension/steering, dropped the subframe, and removed the lower oil pan.

A view from below!

January, 2020
While having a pickup truck would be great, it's just another expense. The cars are paid off and it'd just be another insurance payment. From what I've read, pickup trucks aren't super popular in Europe, so a lot of the cars are capable of towing. BMW actually sold a trailer for their cars.

I looked into it and since my car is so old, there aren't a lot of options. I could import a tow bar from Germany for $800, but to me, that was stupid as I have the ability to create my own, so that's what I did. I mimicked the design of the BMW tow bar and it works great! Also, the trailer was only $250 and it folds up. It'll haul about 1100 lbs and that's totally fine with me.

Also, since the tow bar was a factory option, I was able to buy a new rear diffuser with a removable panel to accommodate it.

August, 2020
The voltage regulator failed again. This time I didn't rebuild, I just replaced the regulator. It cost me $14.