Posts tagged ‘M5 maintenance’

DIY Could Have Saved This Guy

I read a very sad and ironic story on the M5Board this week. A guy named Tom Ranck had owned his 2000 M5 since new, and had driven it for 276,000. Roundel, the magazine of the BMW Car Club of America, ran a profile piece on Tom and his car in this month’s November issue. The same week the article came out, Tom had an accident and sold his damaged M5.

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Here’s the M5Board thread in which Tom explains what happened.

The accident had nothing to do with DIY maintenance. But in the article Tom talks about the high expense involved with maintaining his M5 at his local BMW dealership. He had numerous issues and tells Roundel he wishes he sold the car way back at 80K miles.

Had he done just a little of this work himself, or went to an independent mechanic rather than the dealer, he could have saved a lot of money. Then maybe he would not have hit the breaking point after the accident, and could have spent the money needed to repair the damage above.

Conjecture I know, and to each his own of course. This kind of ending just seems a shame after over a decade owning an incredible — albeit high maintenance — vehicle.

November 11, 2011 at 9:02 am 1 comment

Replacing Oxygen Sensors on an E39 M5

As I’ve stated many times on this blog, when you own a BMW out of warranty you need to learn up on maintenance. With some research and a little effort, you can literally save hundreds of dollars on relatively simple maintenance issues.

A good example is how I recently replaced oxygen sensors on my 2002 M5. The dreaded Service Engine Soon (also known as CEL for check engine light) display had lit up on my dashboard. My code reader told me it was the left O2 sensor in front of the catalytic converter. The E39 M5 has four sensors, two pre and two post cat. So I decided it was best to replace both front sensors.

You can save big on parts before  you ever touch a wrench. The best price I could find from BMW for the sensors was $206 each. A little searching on the M5Board revealed many many owners had purchased the same exact Bosch sensor from Amazon for around $50. A really good tutorial from BimmerDIY was also very  helpful.

So right off the bat, two Bosch 13477 sensors cost me $100, rather than $400.

Old sensor top, new bottom -- exactly the same

Removed sensor

Installation took me less than an hour, and I was working very slowly and carefully. I had also purchased the open 22mm. socket from Amazon to remove the oxygen sensors themselves. The sensors plugged into a small black box on the underside of the car, held in place by two 10mm. bolts. There were two boxes, each containing pre and post sensors on that side of the car.

Sensor box

As usual, my repair was made much easier thanks to my friends at Hollin Hall Automotive lending me access to a lift. While the car was in the air, I replaced the right front plastic underbody piece I had stupidly banged up by brushing against a curb. It was one of those “hard to see but I know its there” type of repairs, and I knew it would be easy to replace.

New underbody panel

The swap was somewhat complicated by the fact that the outside temperature gauge connected into that underbody piece. I was careful with the connector and I closed off the opening with some duct tape.

Old vs. new -- note slot for sensor

New panel in place

I’d estimate that dealers would definitely would charge two hours of labor for this job, maybe even more. At $125 per hour, that’s at least $250 labor and the dealer parts cost of $400. So total of $650, vs. $100 for the sensors and my time on a Saturday morning.

So doing this job myself saved around $550. The DIY satisfaction was priceless.

September 12, 2011 at 8:40 am 1 comment


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