Please help! 540i dying big time! - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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#1 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 03:08 PM
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Exclamation Please help! 540i dying big time!

Been looking on here for a looonngg time but not a frequent poster on many forums these days. Happy to be here though now.

Soooo my 2002 540i auto keeps dying. The last few weeks the car seems to have felt "heavy" and almost jerky at times relating to throttle response (and tranny was shifting kinda oddly at some points but idk if its related). A few days ago went outside to go grab a bite to eat with the girlfriend and the car would not unlock with the key fob. messed around with the keys for a few minutes and it finally unlocked. (I had been getting the coolant low message once ina bit if that even matters, but i think that might be an expansion tank however i want to divulge everything.)

THEN, I start my car and am just out of my work parking lot and the car studdered a bit then the engine failsafe program mesage displays on the dash. Car drove home and ran almost better than normal (more responsive).

Let the car sit overnight and it started, still has same message display. Unhooked the battery for an hour, hooked it back up then started with no message. It ran for a few minutes and thought all was good. (i also topped off a tiny a bit of oil)

About 1/4 mile after i left my house the car died without any warning. Turned it off after coasting into a parking lot then started right up like no problem. Then on my way home, died again. The car on the last run home was seeming to want to die at lower RPM.

I replaced the battery thinking it might be a voltage issue (and it was the original at 11 years old.) Started and ran well then started the idle issue again.

Started the car and it started wayyy easier quicker and less cranking), ran fine for 2 mins then shut off. Same thing 3 times in a row. Finally the fourth time i gave it a bit of a rev and the car ran fine idling for about 10 minutes. No lights anymore but it never had one when it cut off these 3 times either.

I then cleaned the MAF (only sprayed with MAF cleaner not touching parts with Q-tips), which really wasnt all that dirty but did so and put in a new air filter. The car ran really well for about a day and a half like it was fixed. The car started to lose power when i hit the pedal like it wasnt registering until it would go to a pretty open position and then died again. Had to have it towed home.

So i had the codes read from a Snap-On scanner:

CODE 85 - Secondary Air Valve Circuit

CODE 115 - Hot Film Mass Air Sensor

This lead me to believe the MAF was bad, so i purchased a new BOSCH unit. Waited the few days and installed it yesterday. The car started up and was running much better it seemed while still cold however it was blowing a good bit of smoke from the exhaust. I hadn't ever had a problem with this before so that was odd. Seemed to run ok but was smoking from the exhaust. I thought maybe just because it sat for a few days motionless. Well the car started to run rough and idle unsteadily, then rough. Then I revved the car to see what that might do as a test of the higher RPM and all, and then it dies. Turn it back on and right away i get "!Stop Engine! Check oil something (i believe oil pressure)" from the display. Checked oil level from dipstick and its between the two marks.

Re-Started the car about 2 hours later. It started and ran fine (no smoke or oil pressure warning) but i heard this sound almost sounded like a sucking sound of something closing and then the car idled down like its warmer/in closed loop. This sound is the sound i heard everytime when teh car was dying in the very beginning! It then started idling up and down and also pretty rough and i turned the car off. Whatever this is seems to be at operating or semi warmer temps at this point.


I got it home and am driving the lexus but NEED the BMW running as i have a trip i need it to work for.



So does anyone have ANY freaking idea what is up with the car???
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#2 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:16 PM
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Welcome to Bimmerwerkz. Glad to have you here.

You seem to have a few issues. Vacuum lines when cracked or torn can cause idle issues. Check all the vacuum lines and intake boot for cracks or tears. The ICV (idle control valve) can get dirty or wear out and need replacement. Check it to make sure. As well check your EGR valve. They get clogged over time. I can't remember if you have a PCV valve or not. Look under the intake manifold to see if you have of you has a vacuum line underneath.

What color is the smoke? Thick white smoke means you probably have a blown headgasket.


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#3 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:28 PM
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Thanks i apprecaite the help!

Yea a 2002 doesn't have an ICV so it cant be that. The smoke i really couldnt tell if it was white or blue but it wasnt a whole lot compared to what ive seen from cars with issues. There was enough i was concernrd for a minute, but now its gone so idk there. When you say Intake boot what do you mean? The only check i know of to see about vacuum lines is to remove them and look for breaks and to spray MAF cleaner around them and gaskets to see if idle revvs up. The PCV is on the back of the manifold and its the back plate for the intake manifold on the V8's so that is one of the things on my mind but dont want to get that involved if it isnt needed.
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#4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:41 PM
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If its blue smoke it's probably oil, but of its white it's usually coolant which is indicative of a blown headgasket. The intake boot is the rubber boot from the throttle body to the MAF. They rip and crack over time. The test you mentioned usually works. Checkyour oil level, and the color. If its milky brown (like coffee with creamer) it means coolant has mixed with the oil.

I know on the M50 the PCV can be a failure point and cause issues. Either with the vacuum line or the PCV valve itself. The code you got doesn't seem like it would be that.


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#5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 05:34 PM
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I think the smoke may have been since the car was towed, it was pulled onto the flatbed in reverse so i think maybe some oil spilled into the intake manifold and caused the smoke?

Last edited by JinxyJ08; 03-30-2012 at 05:37 PM.
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#6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 05:42 PM
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How would oil have spilled onto the manifold? Do you have a leak somewhere?


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#7 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 05:45 PM
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nope but the CCV and oil seperator are on the backside of the intake manifold, which if that plate which houses those is bad i imagine oil could seep from there into the intake.
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#8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 05:49 PM
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An oil leak is an issue regardless of where it is. I'm not sure it's immediately connected to your problem.


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#9 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 05:55 PM
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Agreed im just saying the smoke has only happened that one time. Not since then or before so it seemed only after the tow.
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#10 (permalink) Old 03-31-2012, 01:32 AM
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Try this, start the engine and let the idle settle (as much as it does), and then pull the dipstick out and listen;
a) for a slurping noise from the dipstick tube
b) a drop and recovery in the idle level
If you have these symptoms then the Rear Intake Manifold cover is probably due for replacement. Its not a really expensive part, but if you have big hands it can be a pain.
If this part is badly damaged it can allow a lot of oil to be drawn up from the sump and into the intake manifold, possibly to the extent of causing permanent damage to the engine.
Have alook at the in take ducting for cracks between the MAF and throttle body, as well as the gasket between the throttle body and intake manifold.
Good luck.


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#11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2012, 09:58 AM
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got the slurping sound and a tiny bit of idle drop so is it a better idea to just replace all of the intake manifold gaskets as opposed to just the rear plate and gasket?

My hands arent really all that big so should i just do it all at once? I am selling that car after this so.....
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#12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2012, 08:07 AM
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I'd start with the rear intake cover, its a known issue with these engines, and its not that expensive to do.
Have a look at this write up, its what I followed to do mine. Note that there may be some differences on the 540i, but the layout should be fairly similar.
Rear Manifold Cover aka. OSV | BMW 740iL | Magnum


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#13 (permalink) Old 04-01-2012, 08:14 AM
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#14 (permalink) Old 04-01-2012, 02:26 PM
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Hey thanks for that link to the write up, pretty handy!

I have the rear cover off and the spring thingy sems like it just kinda hangs in the back and wasnt hard to take off AT ALL. The hoses seem fine and the orange diaphram is NOT torn at all in the old rear manifold piece. There is however a decent bit of oil in the bottom of the intake manifold so is it possible this is still bad withouth the orange thing being torn?
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#15 (permalink) Old 04-01-2012, 02:38 PM
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While it is commonly found on the V8 cars with some miles on them, it's not something to just ignore. You don't want oil building in the intake manifold. If your intake manifold was clean as a whistle the oil separator and CCV were doing their jobs.

Your oil separator needs to be replaced. It's under the timing cover on the driver's side.

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