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The story of E39 M5 AK03 DJJ (so far)

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28 minutes ago, Hairyarse said:

Amazing work Richard, and I too love the Alcantara. The paint looked incredible after the respray, such a lovely colour.

Thanks for the price clarification, I had been taking the 18 off the 24 emoji2.png

So is this one a keeper now?

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Yeah, I don't think there would really be any point in selling it now.  Too much effort has gone into it and with the miles (114,400 now) it would never pay back what it owes.


Still some things to do, all three of the mounts for the emissions air pump are broken, so the pump is just hanging in the bracket.  BMW wanted £12.72 + VAT each for them. found some replacements that look pretty much identical for £3.99.  


The broken mount




I'm currently waiting for a replacement bracket as the existing one is pretty badly corroded.  The base of the mounts and nuts were rusted on and took some persuasion to get off!


I've had a go at the exhaust tips too.  They have been bugging me for ages.  The system is stainless steel, but its plated with quite a thin layer. If you look in the picture in the second post of the closeup of the exhaust, you can see that the plating is starting to fail at the bottom of the tip.  As the years went by this got worse, much worse.  Cleaning the tips made them look worse.  The only solution, other than replacing the rear silencers, was to totally remove the plating and take them back to bear stainless.   The company that did the Ceramic Coating go most of it off, I did some extra polishing.  This is the best I've got so far.




The final part of the paint protection after the Ceramic Coating was to have a clear wrap on the bonnet, wings, front bumper, headlights and fog lights.  This is the same type of wrap as I have one the M6, it's done a good job on the M6 and is pretty much invisible unless you look really closely.





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Story of the day.  


I've noticed that the steering weight has not been changing for some time when using Sport mode, it should get noticeably heavier.  More recently I think the steering has been becoming heavier too, but that might just be comparing it to the M6.


I read the codes with my Peake reader and low and behold code 74 came up, this means that the resistance of the Servotronic valve, or Servotrinoc Torque Converter as BMW call it, has become too low and thus the required current too high.  The DME logs a fault and it enters fail safe mode which is low assistance.


Decided to give it a go myself, bought the valve via Cotswold and got the car up on my diddy ramps, gives about 35 cm space under the car which is just enough but rather tight.




First job is to remove the under tray, you can then just see the valve which is on the bottom of the steering box facing the rear.




Remove the heat shield, just 3 bolts




Then spray loads and loads of penetrating oil at it and left it over night, then sprayed more penetrating oil on it.




You need to undo two of the 4 bolts, looking at the new part you can see which ones




The two bolts need a 2.5mm Allen key, which is really small for something that's likely to be pretty well corroded up.  I used a pin to clean as much dirt as possible from around the bolt and in the hole.


Access is not easy, but there is actually a surprising amount of space for your hands etc. You can get your hands in from the front while looking from the rear.  This is the wrench setup that I found worked best




2.5mm Allen key on 1/4 drive with universal joint, then 1/4 extension to 3/8 adaptor, 3/8 universal to 3/8 extension and ratchet.  This enables you to get a good purchase on the bolts.




First one, top left, came out using a fair bit of force, but without drama.  The second one, bottom right. did this to my Allen key




And stripped the hole in the bolt.


At this point I could say that I then did x-y-z and got the bolt out.  But to come clean, the car was booked into the local dealership for the drivers air bag recall, so I asked them to do it!  The 'book' method for replacing the valve is to drop the sub frame which is about 8 hours including the realignment that has to be done afterwards.  I said if you can't get it out in 1/2 an hour leave it.  My backup plan was to use a flexible drill shaft to get access to drill it out, if that failed then it would have to be a sub frame off job.  The garage hammered in a small Torx bit, easier for them to do due to my restricted working space, and got it off.  They fitted the new valve and the tiny filter that come with it, they said that the hardest part was getting the old filter out.


The steering is now back as it should be, it's now lighter in Sport mode than it was and there is a noticeable difference between Sport mode and normal.


The new air bag looks almost identical to the old one.  I can't find any pictures that show it, but the roundal in the middle of the old air bag had a very slight imperfection at the top.  This was the same in my previous E46's with the same wheel so it wasn't just a one off defect.  The new one does not have the imperfection.





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Pretty much up to date now, so roll back to late 2012.  


I took the M5 on a track day organised by the BMW car club, the first attempt in September was very wet.  Managed to get a couple of laps in, not even one full flying lap, then it was cancelled. Got a couple of stills from inside the car and the Car Club photographer took a couple as I went round.


Waiting in the pit lane




The view from outside






and inside






several people doing this caused the day to be cancelled




The second attempt was in November, it was a clear cold day and the track was still wet and very slippery.


Car Club photographer pictures








And a video of a session with an instructor



Despite the weather it was bloody good fun.  Although it's a big heavy car it was pretty good on the wide open spaces and long straits of Silverstone.  The brakes were pretty much shot afterwards though, they picked up a vibration that didn't go until the disks were changed.

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Fantastic attention to detail. 


A true credit to you Richard - keep up the good work!

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11 hours ago, sharkfan said:

How do rate the M5 against the M6GC?     


And against the M1? ;)

They are all very different, and in different ways.


In a straight line, the M6 will leave the M5 for dead, it's much, much faster.  The M6 is also a better motorway mile muncher, not that the M5 is bad, the M6 just makes it effortless.


In the twisties, there is probably not a lot in it, the M6 is heavier but has slightly wider tyres.


Tech wise, the M6 is obviously better, the HUD especially is fantastic as is the surround view (although I wish there was a front camera as there is in the i8), Nav is more modern, the iDrive system has matured and is very easy to use and navigate.


Practicality, the M5 probably just wins, the boot is theoretically slightly smaller, but the opening and shape are more useful.  Rear head room in the M6 is slightly less, but leg room more.


Comfort, not much in it.  Once the M6 seats are adjusted correctly they are great.  The M5 seats are very good to and with less adjustment somehow easier to get right.


The DCT in the M6 is great if you're on a track or in stop start traffic, you can just be lazy and the auto part does a great job.  You can get a little more involvement using manual mode, but it still doesn't have the degree of involvement that using a clutch and manual gear lever do.  For manoeuvring, especially reverse hill starts the DCT and electric hand brake combination is shit, just bloody hard to control. There is so much power and the way it engages meany you have to almost instantly get the throttle pedal position just right.  Not enough and you roll forwards, too much and you wheel spin backwards.  Same in snow, the M5 gives much better usable traction.


The steering in the M5 (especially now it's back to normal after changing the servotronic valve) gives much more feedback than the steering in the M6.  It feels like there is a lot of rubber between the steering wheel and the track rods in the M6.  This dampens vibrations etc.  but it also limits feedback so it's relatively numb.  The whole experience in the M6 is more 'remote' than the M5, if you had no speedo you could easily be doing 130 in the M6 and think it was 70.


From a visibility point of view, which includes parking and placing the car accurately on a track or down a narrow lane with oncoming traffic the M5 wins hand down.  Both are big cars, but the M5 feels much smaller to drive.  In the M6 you're lower down, the lowest seat position on the M5 is about the same as the highest on the M6.  This makes it more difficult to judge the front of the car.  The A pillars are much wider in the M6, they will undoubtedly give better strength but they hamper visibility especially in conjunction with the door mirrors.  The combination create a very significant blind spot looking at about 1 to 2 o'clock, just where you need to look to judge the curb.  I've never curbed a wheel on the M5, in the first year of owning the M6 I curbed 3, although now I'm more used to it I've not done another since.


The M1, that's a different ball game.  It always feels special to drive, not because the interior is plush, it's quite austere, but because of the history of the car and the engine just behind your head.  It's about as fast as the M5, probably would corner much better if you pushed it, which I haven't!   It's surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive, the possible exception being the tweed like material of the seats which must be one of the best thermal insulators known to man, if it's hot, your back and bum get very warm indeed. 


Bottom line, they all feel epic, in their own unique way.  


The M6, it looks fantastic and goes like shit of a shovel, there are not many cars you're likely to come across on the roads that could live with it.  But at the same time you can drive 300 miles, collect your slightly nervy mother and father-in-law and drive the 300 miles back to be home by lunch time.  I did that when they planned to drive up for my sister-in-laws wedding the day before, got a phone call very early in the morning saying they had set off as planned and then lost their bottle, turned round and gone back home.  Obviously they had to attend their own daughters wedding, so I just went and got them!


The M5 is probably the most 'normal' car, it does everything very well, but does not excel at anything.  It's fast, but not ballistic. It handles well, but would be left for dead by any number of small nimble sports cars.  It does not stand out, to many people it's just an old 5 series.  It's got a big boot and can seat 5 in comfort.  I took my son to University for the first time in it, 5 up and all his crap in the boot, no problem at all, it would have been possible in the M6, but a bit of a squeeze for the occupant of the middle rear seat.


The M1, it's a bloody M1!  Every time you go out in it you get looks.  Almost every time you fill up at the petrol station someone wants to talk about it, "You don't see many of those about".  But I'd really not want to use it as my daily driver.  It's the oldest. It has the most character. It needs respect as it has no power steering, no ABS, no traction control, no air bags, no seat belt tensioners.  It's raw, but surprisingly civilised, drive from North Yorkshire to Munich, about 1000 miles, in two days, no problem.

Edited by RichardP

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I'm blown away by this whole thread Richard. What a great read.

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As it's been more than 6 years since the full respray, looking at the playing card reflections made me think it would be interesting to do the same thing again and compare various parts of the car.


Back in 2011, as all the car had been done at the same time, the finish was very uniform.  Since then the boot lid and both front doors have been replaced, the bonnet repainted (twice!) and the bonnet covered in a clear wrap.


So, how do those areas compare with parts of the paint untouched since 2011?


I rummaged through my draws to find the same playing card I'd used in 2011.  Unfortunately the weather was not quite so good as when the original pictures were taken, so the car is inside under LED lights rather than outside in the sunshine. First, the areas that have not been touched, the same areas that were pictured previously


The roof




The rear wing




They look pretty much the same, pretty flat, still nice and shiny!


How about the passenger side front door, replaced in June 2013 due to corrosion on the seams.




the boot lid, done at the same time as the passenger door.




or the drivers door, replaced October 2014 due to the same issue as the passenger door




and finally, the bonnet.  Repainted both in 2013 and 2014  (in 2014 it was taken back to bare metal again) then covered with clear protective film.




You can definitely see the slight texture of the film, not so much in the reflection of the playing card, but in the reflection of the out of focus bottom edge of the wall cupboards.


Overall though, still a pretty consistent texture and finish.  I'm pretty happy with that.






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I read this thread yesterday and meant to compliment you on an excellent thread and for the meticulous attention to detail over the years.  The car also looks great and I'm minded to do something similar when mine finally gets the repaint and body restoration that I promised it last year but ended up rolling to this.  After a lot of pondering and research I have also shifted over to 0w40 Mobil 1, comforted in large part by your experience over the years so thanks for that!

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Emissions air pump mounts and bracket replaced so that's nice and secure now.


A/C re-gassed as i noticed it wasn't blowing cold. The system was checked and found to have no gas at all!  However it held pressure perfectly and once re-gassed blows really cold. I can only assume that the gas escaped while the engine was out and it was never refilled, a bit naughty but at least I now know that everything is working as it should.


First time in a long long time, maybe even since I bought it, that I can't think of any work that needs doing!  Just need to drive it now.



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As I only have room for two cars at home, since the arrival of the M1, the M5 has been stored at a garage not far away.  It was not in a very good state and the M5 had to be kept in a Carcoon.




I decided to renovate the garage, the plan was to finish renovations by the time the car came back from ML in February, err, it overran a little!  In the meantime the M5 has been in the garage at home and the M6 has been sitting outside.


After more than 8 months of renovation, she is now back in the 'new' garage.  Started off as a "I'll just replace the roof, put in some partition walls and new doors.", via "Oh shit, that wall is just about to fall down, it's just propped up by the wooden fence." and finally, "Might as well pretty much rebuild the entire bloody thing properly!".






Need to reassemble the Carcoon, but it's a lot less dirty in there than it was, the roof was 80 year old corrugated asbestos, so there's no hurry, I'll pick a dry weekend or evening.

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53 minutes ago, zarnd said:

What is the carcoon like, any good? Thinking of getting the same one for my SL



It's very good.  Does exactly what it says it does.  Takes a little time to put up as the fans tend to fall over before it's inflated with no frame inside, but that's about the only thing I can think of.

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Are you able to run a charger into it whilst it is inflated and closed? I contacted them directly about being able to use my ctek charger but never heard anything back from them.



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Yes you can.


The fan power supply comes with a charger, but you don't have to use it.


There are a couple of small access holes, just big enough for a U.K. 13 amp plug that you can feed wires through into the carcoon. The holes have zips on, so you close them up after threading the wire through to minimise air loss.

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I've been using the M5 as my 'daily driver' (I say daily, but I don't do that much most days!) for the last couple of weeks and will be taking her on a run down south soon. In the mean time, I re-assembled the Carcoon and temporarily put the M5 in the larger garage, makes the E39 look small.






The M6 has now taken up residence in the Carcoon though.


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Little bit of tidying up completed together with the replacement windscreen yesterday.


Rear window replaced at the same time,  the heating elements and antenna were starting to corrode, a couple of the bottom elements no longer worked.  There was  also a scratch about an inch long that's been bugging me since I got her.


Clutch slave cylinder pipe replaced, it was corroded, it was ordered back in February but was on back order, it arrived a couple of months ago.


Leaking PAS pipes replaced.


Leaking O rings around one of the oil scavenger pump replaced.


MOT done a week or so ago, passed, no advisories.

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After a week performing transport duties for my step fathers funeral on Wednesday, 700 miles over 3 days, she was in need of a wash.






Due to mother in law now staying with us, I only had an hour, so I had to be quick!


Copious Snow Foam












Gentle wash with shampoo on a mit






Another rince






'Dry' by pouring on distilled water






Final towel dry and blast around the block to dry the brakes, you can almost watch them rust when they get wet.






Not exactly concours standard, but I can detail when I have time in the evenings this week.

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