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1998 E39 BMW 540i (M62) Service Hints & Tips

Notes to myself about servicing a 1998 E39 BMW 540i (M62) Automatic…

If you’ve never driven one of these, and you get the chance, jump at it. Although they are more than 10 years old, the styling has not dated and they pack more punch than most people will be able to handle and all for an incredibly reasonable price, under R70,000 2nd hand. [at around 13l/100km]

Small Print: Use any of this information at your own risk!

My dad bought his about 6 or 7 years ago for a bargain price because the catalytic converters where in need of replacing and BMW wanted around R30,000. After removing the cat’s and fitting a custom exhaust for about R4,000, the car was still running a little rough and consuming more fuel than expected.

I spent an afternoon servicing the car and then running through all the electrial connections and cleaning then by spraying them with pure alcohol. After letting them dry I reconnected everything and took the car for a test drive.

This car drives more like a go-cart than a large family saloon. The brakes are the best I’ve felt and when you punch the accelerator the car get’s up and goes and doesn’t stop pulling until you take your foot off the “fun pedal”. Ever heard of the steel balls test – put your foot flat to the floorboards and see how many seconds you can hold it for – eish!

Replacing Alternator Serpentine Belt & Tensioner Pulleys

Busy with this one at the moment. The serpentine belt is a 7PK1629, this car has the mechanical, spring loaded, tensioner and not the hydraulic. I tried fitting a more common 7PK1600 but it’s just too short. 7PK1630 is a more common size but still difficult to come by. BMW want over R800 for a fan belt, must be them gold dust covered ones. The exact same spare in the US is $18 dollars, go figure, no idea why BMW want to kick their “customers” in gonads, with a running start nogal.

Tools you’ll need: 32mm spanner to remove the fan, Torx 50 to remove the pulley’s. Others – to come

Remove the fan with the 32mm spanner or if you can’t get it off, remove the fan blades with an allen key, 3 bolts. This will give you access to the tensioner.

Loosen tesioner bolt and the belt should slide off, replace with a new belt. Keep the old as a spare in your boot.

Tension and retighten to lock belt in place.

Service Spares

Pricing as of 15th October 2012

SparesBMWDiesel ElectricAutozoneG-Drive
Fuel FilterR466.00R193.00Fram E63 R264.00R253.94 Meyle
Oil FilterR224.00 R260.95R250.00R160.06 Meyle
Air FilterR176.00 R162.00R172.00R124.66 Meyle
Plugs Bosch F7LDCR (each)R27.09 R23.79R –R –
Castrol SLX 5W-30 Oil (per Litre)R75.00Magnatec Pro R80.00*R75.00

All prices are inclusive of VAT

Note: 8 plugs for V8 and 7.5 Litres of Oil

* 2 x 5L Liqui-Moly Top Tec 4300

Spares page for 540i on G-Drive http://www.g-drive.co.za/shop.html?page=shop.browse&category_id=4777

BMW quote R82.00 for the plugs, Bosch Quad Spark, but I’ve run the Bosch F7LDCR for more than 50,000 km’s without hassles. BMW gave the oil to me for R70.00 /litre and the plugs for R25.00 each, after I told them that is what I had been quoted elsewhere.

Online spares for bigger jobs http://www.oembimmerparts.com/e39engineparts.html

Check out realoem.com for diagrams, part details and numbers and pricing to help you get the right parts.

General Service

I run a K&N Air Filter so I cleaned and oiled it. Please don’t over oil if you are using a long-life cotton filter as this can lead to oil being sucked into your air-flow meter and messing with it’s readings.

The fuel filter I decided to replace with a Fram E63 for R120.00.

Tools Needed: 10mm socket for bolts holding the covers in place and for the nuts holding the coils in position. Plug spanner and socket extension to get the plugs out. Torque wrench if you want to torque your plugs in place. 28NM is equal to about 20 Foot/Pounds. Copper Slip, I put this on the plug threads and all bolt and nut threads to make removal for the next service easier.

Brake Pad Servicing

I recently fitted Safeline [SAF.D4041] pads to my dad’s 540i because the price was reasonable R676.00 incl VAT in comparison to Ferodo for around R948.00 and BMW’s price of around R1300.00. He’s been highly complimentary of them.

Tools you’ll need to change your BMW’s brake pads:

  • Jack, I don’t like the standard BMW jack, so I use a trolley jack
  • Wheel spanner, it’s in your boot toolkit or next to your spare wheel
  • Wheel nut key for your specific nut type i.e. the security nut to stop your flashy wheels from being swiped
  • Large screwdriver or straight wheel spanner, helps push the brake piston back to get the new pads in
  • 7mm Allen or Hex key, not a standard size so I suggest buying one and keeping it in your BMW toolkit
  • Copper Slip, fantastic stuff for stopping brake pads from squealing/chattering

How to:

  • Park the car on a level surface and chock the back wheels
  • Open the brake fluid cap. This is a bit of a job. Open the bonnet/hood and remove the left (if you’re facing the car) air cleaner housing. It sits back left of the engine bay, you need to unclip the lid and remove it, then unclip the pipe from the cleaner and finally you can press th clip that holds the housing to the body. You should find the brake fluid reservoir under the housing. [If your brake pads are very low, you’ll need to remove brake fluid before pusing the piston back or it will overflow.]
  • Loosen the wheel nuts then jack the car up on the left side (from the driver seat perspective), making sure you had a sturdy jack point.
  • Take off the wheel and push it under the car as an added safety if the car should fall off the jack.
  • Remove the spring clip from the caliper
  • Push the caliper open by wedging the screwdriver in between the pad and caliper. The more you can open the calipers now the easier the new pads will slide in later.
  • Remove the 2 black plastic caps over the caliper bolts and remove the bolts with the 7mm hex key
  • Remove the brake pad wear indicator, if fitted
  • Remove both pads and fit the new ones once you have given the caliper and piston a clean. You can use Copper Slip on the piston and the caliper where it makes contact with the back of the pad. [Remember to keep the copper Slip away fro the disc and braking surface of the pads or your brakes won’t grab the disc properly]
  • Refit the 2 bolts after cleaning and rubbing the thread with Copper Slip
  • Fit new brake pad wear indicator or cut off the old one and twist the ends together if you are not going to replace the indicator
  • Replace bolt hole covers
  • Re-fit the spring clip
  • Replace tyre, Copper Slip the wheel nuts to stop them from seizing and tighten.
  • Lower the car and tighten the wheel nuts fully
  • Jack right side and repeat

Resetting 1998 BMW 540i Service/Oil & Inspection Lights

This procedure varies with the year, newer models can be reset from the instrument cluster. Older models need manual resetting or the use of a specific tool.


  1. Remove DLC cap
  2. Ignition OFF
  3. Bridge pins 7 & 19 (make sure you have the correct pins, any others will do harm)
  4. Rotate key to POSITION 2 (OFF is position 0, 2 is just before start and Start is position 3)
  5. Remove wire after 5 seconds for Oil Service and 10 seconds for Inspection (my 1998 BMW 540i resets only when the wire is removed after the correct time, too long and nothing happens)
  6. Replace DLC cap
  7. Turn ignition off
  8. Test by turning back on – lights should all be green and Oil Service and/or Inspection should be off

Simplest performance increase

Buy a K&N air filter. It helps your engine breathe better, so performance and fuel efficiency should improve. They can be washed and re-oiled repeatedly so it’s great in helping reduce waste.

BMW TIS Online – no longer online


VIN Code check


Spares Resources


http://www.m1store.co.za/ – great pricing on a range of BMW models and spares, they can also source 2nd hand spares for you if needed.

http://g-drive.co.za –

http://www.bavarianauto.co.za/ – Bavarian Auto Recycling supplies Used and Recycled BMW Engines to the general public and workshops.



Used Spares





A service kit is $245.00 or roughly R1922 .00 including shipping to SA, not bad when you look at all that is in it. Not sure if customs will whack more than the usual 14% on.


4 thoughts on “1998 E39 BMW 540i (M62) Service Hints & Tips”

  1. sup dude i also have a 540ia and it sounds terible. i tink itz da catz. wil a custom exhaust and removen catz triga engine warning ?

  2. howsit boet im in the process of changing my m sport suspension shocks. any idea for a replacement as gabriel and monroe dont make a shock for sports suspension. bmw wants R4400 ex VAT a side… advise

  3. Hi Lee, I’ll post pictures when I find my camera cable. You are still looking for the same 2 pins 7 & 19 to bridge. I’ll send you a mail once I’ve updated the post.

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