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Jim_C

A few questions about my new 5...

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2005 E61 545i SE Touring Auto with 126k miles and service history (of sorts and not all BMW) up to 105k. Very cheap and a little battered but seems to go/stop/steer pretty well so far.

Hi Everyone,

I'm aware that I may need to split this post up, but right now my head is spinning and I just want to put a few things down and lay them before the forum brains trust!

I've had a few BMWs before, so my eyes are not totally closed to the (financial) perils of ownership!

In no particular order, these are the things on my mind...

  • The car requires a recall for a battery cable in the boot. Should I just book it in with a main dealer for the recall work, or might they run a diagnostic test on it, which is something I'd also like.
  • I have one key - it's a diamond-shape remote fob and the battery is flat (seemingly permanently). Can I replace the battery with a non-rechargeable (I know it's sealed, but I'm reasonably handy) or will that lead to all kinds of issues? Ideally, I want to have 2 remote fobs in working order - is the dealer my answer for this?
  • The inevitable alternator bracket gasket/VCG/coolant bottle/"lifetime" sealed gearbox/assorted oil leak question. Currently I can't see anything resembling a significant leak of oil or anything else, but I know this will need doing if it hasn't already happened. Is this still the "more than the car's worth" job that online forums are filled with or can it be handled sensibly? I am not a mechanic and wouldn't be getting involved in a physical way at all!
  • iDrive and other system software updates. Are these a good idea? I have no aux input and Bluetooth only connects my phone, not media. I don't have a CD collection where I live (in 2020), so I need a new music playing solution. Preferably with DAB+, but I suspect my limited budget will be spent elsewhere.
  • Spacesaver spare. I'm going to buy one of these, but I need to know the exact spec I need so as to avoid snagging the brakes. Can anyone enlighten me? Thankfully, the car isn't on run-flats, but I hate those pump/foam things.
  • Main dealer or independent? If the latter, can anyone point me towards a good indie in/near Gloucestershire?
  • Everything else - what should I be thinking about/looking at?

 

Apologies for the poor forum etiquette of this post and thank you in advance for any info you can throw my way - I'm very excited about the car!

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A few thoughts:

- Any descent mechanic can replace the battery cable (which I think is just a connector nothing else), I'm not sure if anybody other than the main dealer will replace for free. In any case, the main dealer will charge you for a dozen of other things anyway.

- Get the fob to any good indy and will sort it out by replacing the battery, with a rechargeable.

- All that will most definitely cost more than the car itself at the dealer, get a quote from a mechanic and see. Gear oil A/T will probably be the most expensive.

- iDrive update was attempted for mine a couple of times by the main dealer, but never actually done. Every time there was a trick with the bluetooth module that would block the update, or they just didn't know what they were doing. A couple of days ago there was a good thread in this forum about CCC/CIC etc. You might want to have a look.

- What is your tyre size?

- Try not to tamper with things unless you really need to, otherwise once faults start to pop up, it will be a nightmare.

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12 minutes ago, Jim_C said:
  • The car requires a recall for a battery cable in the boot. Should I just book it in with a main dealer for the recall work, or might they run a diagnostic test on it, which is something I'd also like.

There's a fairly comprehensive thread on this. You'll have to find it. Search function is not good though, better to use a site specific (this site) google search. 

  • I have one key - it's a diamond-shape remote fob and the battery is flat (seemingly permanently). Can I replace the battery with a non-rechargeable (I know it's sealed, but I'm reasonably handy) or will that lead to all kinds of issues? Ideally, I want to have 2 remote fobs in working order - is the dealer my answer for this?

I've not had to do this but I think it can be done by key specialists up and down the country.

  • iDrive and other system software updates. Are these a good idea? I have no aux input and Bluetooth only connects my phone, not media. I don't have a CD collection where I live (in 2020), so I need a new music playing solution. Preferably with DAB+, but I suspect my limited budget will be spent elsewhere.

Get an Android unit. Ebay search "E60 android". Mostly plug and play, and you keep your existing iDrive in the background. Might need AUX to be coded first. Are you sure you don't have an AUX input inside the center console armrest or at the rear of it on outside?

  • Spacesaver spare. I'm going to buy one of these, but I need to know the exact spec I need so as to avoid snagging the brakes. Can anyone enlighten me? Thankfully, the car isn't on run-flats, but I hate those pump/foam things.

135/80 R17. They are rare enough so expensive enough. Usually north of £150. R16 space savers from E46/E90 won't clear the brakes on a 520d.

 

Keliuss

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You can bring it in to BMW for the battery recall and any repair for that is free. Pretty sure they can follow the instruction that you don't want any other work done.

 

Keliuss

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Many thanks for your help Euclid and Keliuss.

 

After reading the thread on here about it (thanks for the tip), I've contacted the local main dealer about the recall and they've offered to book it in, plus a free "health check", which I suspect is a thinly-disguised ruse to encourage me to buy tyres, brake components, etc.

One hour of diagnostic time costs £132, which I think I'll leave for now!

I've spoken to a local Timpson that has always been helpful in the past and they think they can get me new/repaired keys, so that's a plus.

 

Another thing has emerged this morning: almost as soon as I started the car, I noticed a sort of buzzing vibration through the steering wheel, which disappeared as soon as I increased the revs. It returned whenever I was at idle and became more pronounced on full lock.

I've bought and added some CHF 11S fluid (the spherical reservoir was below half full) and I *think* it's improved matters, though the vibration is still there. Another thing to add to the checklist.

 

I removed the blank plate below the rear seat air vents (where the Aux and power sockets would be). Behind this there is a connector with a wire that appears to arrive from the direction of the centre console (See pic). This wire then loops round and heads back the same way, BUT... it has been cut. Seems odd!

 

Finally, I've checked the wheels tyres for the space-saver: 18" Star spoke wheels with 245/40 R18 rubber.

 

Thanks again for your help - I so want to love this car, but I don't trust it enough yet to abandon my caution!

 

 

545i Aux cut cable.jpg

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No idea what the cable is but I hate finding somebody else's mess like that. I am surprised a 545i with Bluetooth would come without AUX but I guess these things were just ticked in a box or not when new.

About the wheel. Not sure what you've been looking at but here's the official space saver for your model. States 17 inch. Perhaps what you mention is the original spec for all four corners, not the space saver.

 

Keliuss

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I eneded up getting a 135/80/r17 space saver spare off ebay.

 

 

On 01/06/2020 at 10:11, Jim_C said:

I have one key - it's a diamond-shape remote fob and the battery is flat (seemingly permanently).

The key might just need to be re-sync'd, often a frustrating and fiddly exercise.

 

 

On 01/06/2020 at 10:11, Jim_C said:

I have no aux input and Bluetooth only connects my phone, not media. I don't have a CD collection where I live (in 2020), so I need a new music playing solution.

Cheaper option is to burn DVD/CD of MP3, see info here:

My MP3s worked when  converted to 128kbps (@44kHz sample rate) or my i-Drive skips over them burn to Joliet file system ISO 9660 standard.

A 4 GB DVD-R can hold over 250 MP3 tracks at 128kbps.

 

 

 

Edited by DarkHorse
typo's and details

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Thanks Keliuss. From the info I've read, the space saver for the 520 was different from that for the 530d (for example) as the offset would be insufficient to clear the bigger brake calipers. It's a common issue with spacesavers, but in this case it could be misinformation.

 

Thanks DarkHorse, I've thought about burning some MP3 DVDs or CD's for the changer. If I can remember how! Is there a How to for re-syncing the key? 

 

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The link I posted earlier was the space saver for your 545i and the wheel is the same as what is spec'ed for my 520d.

 

Keliuss

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1 hour ago, Jim_C said:

Is there a How to for re-syncing the key?  

Haven't read it again as I just can't face it, brings me back to the time when.....:shock::lol:.
"I open the door, I shut the door, through pepper over my left shoulder and whispered 'Beetlejiuce!' 3 times" and eventually the central locking just started working!

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, a common problem is the corrosion on the 'Diversity Antenna':
(thanks to another @edd_jedi post ;).

 

 

 

 

Or maybe Tailgate wiring failure related:

 

 

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Thanks again DarkHorse. So basically, more or less anything on the car - or key - could stop the key working. I suppose it's too much to hope that diagnostics will pick anything like that up?!

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Welcome to the forum, and hope you enjoy the new car. you will find many of these are common problems that other people have already investigated and fixed, so searching on this forum should help.

 

Regarding your 'media' dilemma, I was in the same boat and didn't want to spend £400 on an Android unit that by most accounts is good but not perfect. So instead I opted for an Alpine iPod interface kit which replaces your CD changer and will connect to any Apple phone or iPod, you can get them for under £50 on eBay now and it is the closest thing you will get to a 'modern' music experience with CCC iDrive:

 

For DAB and Bluetooth audio, I fitted one of these which plugs into the AUX input:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B076P86LXH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

So under £100 all in to add bluetooth music streaming, DAB radio and integrated iPhone music to my CCC iDrive.

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If there is no oil from the alternator bracket, leave it alone. You need to remove the engine mount too which means supporting the engine while you do it.  Its all good spanner stuff though.  Mine was only just starting to sweat from there at 91,000 miles when I got rid of it.  With it being an N62 there are plenty more oil leak spots that will need fixing.

 

I serviced mine myself latterly. Spark plugs took a few hours getting access to the rear two but we got there.  Did all brakes and some suspension stuff.  The E60/1 has good access for DIY although the oil filter on the N62 isn't exactly well placed!

 

A 545i Touring.  That's as common as treading in unicorn poo.  Good luck with it.

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Thanks edd_jedi and Andrew.

The most important thing for me is an Aux input, leaving me free to attach (almost) any device and play music/radio through Spotify, Sounds, etc. I don't have an iPhone or iPod any more. I'd like DAB+, but learned to live without it in my previous car by streaming radio.

Given that my car never had Aux (or USB), I'm hoping that there may be a way to update the idrive and install the hardware in the usual place. Although an Aux closer to the dash would be better, since my phone is usually in the cradle on the windscreen.

Early evidence suggests that the cigarette lighter power supply in the front ashtray (smoker's package ahoy) is erratic at best, failing to reliably charge a phone with a hitherto functioning charger. Possibly another good reason to install the Aux/power panel behind the arm rest.

 

I've had the garage check over the car for a first and basic idea of what needs doing. We have already discovered a reasonably significant power steering fluid leak, but not the source. Any informed guesses as to the likely culprit? Pipes, seals or pump?

Other than that, nothing is gushing fluids; there is a "misting" of oil, so the garage is going to remove the undertrays and clean things up to get a better idea where it's coming from.

It needs a couple of flexible hoses replacing at the rear and one of the alloys is buckled.

 

I'm drawing a blank so far on the key; both Timpsons and the main dealer want £160+ for a new one...

 

Oh, one other thing - the rear wiper seems to be parked facing the nearside and only wipes up to TDC, then goes back. It seems as though it should be parked facing the offside. Could that explain why it only wipes halfway? 

 

We're hoping that our "rare" car doesn't go extinct!

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On ‎04‎/‎06‎/‎2020 at 07:10, Jim_C said:

 there is a "misting" of oil, so the garage is going to remove the undertrays and clean things up to get a better idea where it's coming from.

 

 

Cylinder head covers x2

Vanos O rings x4

Upper timing case gaskets x2

Lower timing case gasket x1

Vacuum pump to upper timing chain case O ring x1

Oil pressure switch x1

Alternator bracket oil seal x1

 

How are your valve stem oil seals?  Any smoke from the exhaust?  I could faintly smell oil in my exhaust when in a workshop, but oil consumption wasn't particularly drastic so didn't investigate further.

 

Got to love the N62 when it gets older....

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If one key works and the other doesn't then it is probably the battery in the key.

 

You can cut the key open and solder in a replacement battery. Make sure you get the battery with the correct pinout or it won't fit the PCB. There used to be a youtube or two on how to do it. I used black silicone to put the key back together on the last one I did.

 

The battery is a VL2020.

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The battery cable recall can be quite extensive if the entire cable from front to back needs to be replaced. It's all free and they'll give the car a wash too! They didn't touch anything else on my car.

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My upper cam and chain covers are leaking on the right bank. Stem seals seem fine (I get no smoke) but it seems pointless at 94k not to do the stem seals when it's all apart. 

 

You might have the same decision to make.

 

And then you think that you might as well do the alternator bracket....

 

I've just bought a mini with valve stem seal issues so I'll use that to practice on ! 

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Thanks Andrew, JasonH and warnie.

 

The list of potential leak sources is indeed impressive. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that "a misting of oil at the front of the engine" is at the minor, inexpensive end of the scale.

 

As I only have one key, I'm in a bit of a quandary: I'm happy to attempt the DIY battery replacement (despite a lack of experience or finesse in the soldering department), but I'm not keen to do anything that could bork it until I've got a working alternative. Do I just swallow the £160 asked by BMW (as Timpson charge the same, I reckon I'd go main dealer...)

 

I was a bit alarmed to discover that the spare wheel well had a flat edge that prevented me getting my newly aquired space save in place. I understood better once I'd yanked out the carpeted moulding to reveal the emplacement underneath. It also gave me my first glimpse of the various modules, etc. lurking below and the troublesome earth cable. This doesn't seem at all corroded, so hopefully it'll be a minor fix.

 

I've also managed to uncouple the (higly suggestively shaped) factory Westfalia tow hitch that had a key snapped off in the lock. I'm now left with trying to work out what to use to block the tube to prevent dirt getting in, and where to source a blanking panel for the rear bumper. I suppose fitting the bumper cover could kill 2 birds.

Is eBay my best bet? Colour doesn't matter, as I can spray it myself.

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1 hour ago, Jim_C said:

I was a bit alarmed to discover that the spare wheel well had a flat edge that prevented me getting my newly aquired space save in place.

 

What's this flat edge you speak of? My space saver fits in perfect

 

Keliuss

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I think my car originally had one of those foam canister/pump things instead of a spare, plus a polystyrene moulded housing for the tow hitch. The moulded plastic carpeted liner for the wheel well seems to have been made to fit this and was flattened off along the rear edge of the boot. Once I removed this, there was enough space to make it fully round and admit the full spare wheel - to my relief.

Was also pleased to note that the boot well is entirely dry...

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41 minutes ago, Jim_C said:

Was also pleased to note that the boot well is entirely dry...

 

Good news. I would advise checking under the battery too. Might be worth replacing the two rear light gaskets, they only cost about £8 each from the dealer and are a few screws each side to replace, 10 minute job. That's where my leak was coming from, cheap bit of preventative maintenence.

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The E61 boot liner has to be modified to take the correct sized space saver spare wheel, if supplied with runflats from the factory. See the links in this related post.

 

Recently took the rear light gasket out on the E61 above the battery, as I noticed a small amount of water leakage causing some condensation in the reverse light lens. Temporarily cleaned off the crud and smeared a bit of oil on the surfaces to help better repel water in future (though it hasn't really rained for so long, will let you know...). Also got a small bristle brush to get all the green moss out of the top lens lip (as the poor design collects dirt). Caution, don't drop any of the 3 light cluster nutts down the back of the battery or that'll tripple the job time and cost you a fortune at the swear box. I was lucky to rescue a stray one, phew! Not sure if you might be able to get one lodged inside the body skin layers, that would be pretty annoying also.

Edited by DarkHorse
typo's again, dislexic Mo Fo!

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