1 2
Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/17/19 12:02 p.m.

I went off-roading in the Shenandoah Valley last year with some friends. We decided to go again this year, but add a Top Gear-esque "challenge" element to it.

Challenge Rules:

  • $1500 purchase price. Ish.
  • All wheel drive required
  • Vehicle may not be equipped with Low range
  • No sharing what you bought 'til you arrive in August 

I've been starting to look around and had cash burning a hole in my sock drawer. I didn't really want a first-gen CR-V or RAV4 as those are the predictable options for the challenge. Talked to a lot of E36 M3ty sellers, looked at a few E36 M3ty cars, and this X5 popped up on Facebook Marketplace yesterday morning. It is uh, still kind of E36 M3ty, but it was located just 10 minutes away and I liked the paint color so that's a start.

Anyway. It's a 2001 X5 with the M54 3.0L I6, paired to a GM 5-speed automatic. It has 195k miles and the title I received indicated it last lived in Arlington VA for an indeterminate period of time. I'm sure it's been whacked in the rear as the tail lights are aftermarket, smoked units and the other lights are stock. It's painted Topaz Blue and has a very gross tan leather-ish interior.

Pros:

  • It runs well
  • The transmission shifts through all five gears on its own
  • All the windows, door locks, rear hatch, and sunroof work
  • It is blue and has most of its clearcoat (minus a small spot on the roof)
  • The tires are all matching and have decent tread remaining - about four years old
  • It drives well, no real steering slop or front-end slop under braking
  • Someone installed an "Eonon" Android head unit with USB/Bluetooth and some of the speakers work
  • It'll do 70 mph and not overheat or otherwise make me worry (for now)

Cons:

  • The dashboard is a Christmas tree (ABS, DSC, Brake fluid, transmission failsafe, Service Engine Soon)
  • Although the turn signals, headlights, high beams, hazards all work, the cluster doesn't really tell you about it
  • It only sometimes knows how to make door chime sounds
  • Occasionally it doesn't realize you've closed the door or buckled your seatbelt
  • It's dirty as E36 M3 inside
  • Headliner is falling down a bit in the rear
  • Headlights are foggy (but can be polished)
  • The Eonon head unit is impossible to figure out and some of the speakers do not work
  • Keyless entry remote doesn't work - the door lock cylinder was replaced and a separate key is required to operate the locks

I think there are some electrical things going on to trigger much of the dash/cluster panic. I'm borrowing a friend's code reader tonight to check the SES light for codes. I've discovered XOutpost, which is still very active, and signs point to a failing ignition switch or wheel speed sensor as the cause of the cluster fun.

cdowd
cdowd Dork
6/17/19 3:44 p.m.

The are pretty good off-road.  I have a 2003 with a 5-speed manual.  You can fit 265-70-17 tires on it which are cheap because they are stock on most pickups.  i have used mine as a DD for almost 9 years so if you end up with questions i know them pretty well.  1500 seems cheap for that.  good luck.

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
6/17/19 4:28 p.m.

Well bought. Should suit your prupose nicely! Get ready to throw a cooling system at it...

hvoxi
hvoxi New Reader
6/17/19 5:54 p.m.

Wow, 195k is impressive. Good luck with the car, it's neat to see an X5 here. I'd ask how they differ from the Volvo/Mercedes, but my guess is it's mostly creature comfort & interface options.

And hey, you didn't even have to pay extra for the custom 1990's GM secure door entry feature(;

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
6/17/19 6:00 p.m.
2002maniac said:

Throw a cooling system at it NOW if you want it to live...

FTFY.

GarageGorilla
GarageGorilla New Reader
6/17/19 6:03 p.m.

Ha! Everything about that photo with the cobblestone street screams Clarendon or Courthouse! I spent many years there at one point in my life.

Good buy!

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/17/19 8:21 p.m.

following

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/17/19 9:53 p.m.
GarageGorilla said:

Ha! Everything about that photo with the cobblestone street screams Clarendon or Courthouse! I spent many years there at one point in my life.

Good buy!

Good eye! I can see Spider Kelly's from my living room.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/17/19 9:53 p.m.

Got home tonight and borrowed my friend's Schwaben scan tool, which can talk to every module the car has. Lots to look at on there! I think I narrowed things down a bit.

Trifecta Lights:
These self-clear upon shutdown and stay off when you re-start. They illuminate after rolling the car forward a few feet. Scan tool says "DSC: Inlet valve, front right" which I assume is a wheel speed sensor.

I checked the brake fluid and the reservoir is full. Wiring looks good, too.

Transmission Light:
This never clears, even if you tell the scan tool to erase everything. The code is "EGS: CAN torque interface." Again, it drives and shifts fine although some shifts are firm and others are more mild.

Service Engine Soon:
Many codes! I cleared them, the light went out, and came back on re-start. The two that seem pertinent are "DME: Signal, mass airflow sensor" and "DME: Oxygen sensor voltage before cat, bank 2."

There were a few other codes related to EWS and tank ventilation solenoid activation. I'll have to check and see what is re-set now that I cleared it. Only drove it a few blocks after clearing.

Instrument Cluster:
Still thinking ignition switch is to blame for this. I read that one test was to see if the driver's sunvisor light works, and mine does come on with the visor mirror cover being moved. BUT... in my testing today, I noticed that the fog light indicator appeared briefly as I bumped the key (fogs work regardless, X5 was running). Ignition switch is relatively cheap and simple to swap.

Eonon Android Head Unit:
Finally found the EQ settings and the balance/fader was just set wrong. All the speakers work, a few are kinda blown, and it paired to my phone over Bluetooth. Yay! No plans to replace speakers as they're "fine" for now. Kind of like how the really blown shocks are also fine. And this heap has a backup camera installed!

So, my plan of attack for this Saturday is...

  • Replace O2 sensor
  • Replace FR wheel speed sensor
  • Clean MAF
  • Bleed brakes
  • Oil & filter change
  • Transmission drain & fill (kit from FCP Euro, new filter)
  • Replace ignition switch
  • Clean the everloving funk out of it


As for cooling system... yeah. That'll be up next. I don't have to have this in tip top shape until August so I have some time. Also, the AC blows pretty warm so I may deal with that (or probably won't).

cdeforrest
cdeforrest New Reader
6/17/19 9:58 p.m.

Gm trans, you say? I wait, diligently, for the LS swap. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/17/19 10:02 p.m.
cdeforrest said:

Gm trans, you say? I wait, diligently, for the LS swap. 

It's a 5L40E... I'm not throwing an ounce more power behind it!

And I don't really do GM anyway, the fact that this has a GM transmission in it is something that I'm forcing myself to ignore ;-)

OjaiM5
OjaiM5 New Reader
6/18/19 10:50 a.m.

I have the same wheels as you, actually pulled off the 18's to swap for the 17's. I put 265/70s on it and it rides terrific. Also helps with the M/T gearing. 

I have the same Eonon as well. Not great but I like the blue tooth feature and the back-up camera. I bought a factory sub box and hooked it to a MB quarts amo. Sounds great. 

Good luck with the project! It seems like I am always fixing something on my X5, most the time window regulators. 

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/18/19 1:14 p.m.
OjaiM5 said:

I have the same wheels as you, actually pulled off the 18's to swap for the 17's. I put 265/70s on it and it rides terrific. Also helps with the M/T gearing. 

I have the same Eonon as well. Not great but I like the blue tooth feature and the back-up camera. I bought a factory sub box and hooked it to a MB quarts amo. Sounds great. 

Good luck with the project! It seems like I am always fixing something on my X5, most the time window regulators. 

All of the windows (and sunroof) somehow work right now. Fingers crossed they keep working.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/18/19 9:02 p.m.

Made it downstairs to plug the scan tool back in just now. Learned a few things.

1. Keys
I re-synced both "diamond" key fobs so that the remotes would work again. They both synchronized and worked to lock/unlock the doors until I turned the car off. Then it was like I had never done it.

2. Dash Indicator Lights
There was a brief moment at first where the fog light indicator, both turn signals, the hazards, and high beams all were indicating properly in the cluster. Then I breathed too hard and they all stopped working again. The fog light indicator came back on briefly (and correctly) when I put the car back in Park.

3. O2 Sensors
I got live data on these! The reader shows the following:

  • O2B1 S1 - This value changes as I drive
  • O2B1 S2 - This value is stuck at 0.430 V
  • O2B2 S1 - This value is stuck at 0.430 V
  • O2B2 S2 - This value changes as I drive

So, I think I have at least one dead O2 sensor if not two. The pre-cat sensors are the ones that seem to actually matter, though.

4. MAF Mystery
SOLVED. Ish. I noticed the live MAF data on the scan tool was not showing at all, either at idle, when revving in Park, or while accelerating in Drive. Just a 0.00 lb/s readout. Popped the hood and found a MAF that isn't secure in its plastic tube, and appears to have one of the two little prong-y things broken in half. I suppose that'll do it:

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/19/19 3:15 p.m.
hvoxi said:

I'd ask how they differ from the Volvo/Mercedes, but my guess is it's mostly creature comfort & interface options.

I'm actively avoiding work for a few minutes so let me tell you how they differ!

Volvo XC90:
Almost bought one with 320k miles for a grand, until I learned it was one of about four that they inexplicably sold as FWD. Yes, an "XC" Volvo could be not very "X." Anyway, they had a few engine options - 2.5T I5, 3.2L N/A I6, 4.somethingL Yamaha V8, and a 2.9L turbo I6. The 2.5T is the classic Volvo engine and is pretty reliable. V8s were out of my budget. Nobody likes the turbo six. The 3.2 I6 is apparently slow and reliable, and has a timing chain instead of a belt. Early XC90s had a GM trans (I think the same one my X5 has) and later years got an Aisin unit that is better. AWD was weak in the early ones and more failure prone. 07+ it got a lot stronger.

Sounded to me like a 2007+ 3.2L was the hot ticket but I couldn't find one in budget.

Mercedes ML:
These had a few drivetrain options as well, and I'd have liked to try one out, but they actually had a low range gearbox! So, they were not allowed in our competition.

Other contenders included:

  • Ford Escape triplets (+ Tribute and Mariner) although I worried about transmission durability and rusty shock towers
  • Acura MDX, again worried about transmission and timing belt needs
  • Early Honda CR-V - I don't fit well in them
  • Early Toyota RAV4
  • Subarus of all kinds - head gasket concerns and I just didn't really want one, you know?

I looked at a really ragged-out 2004 X3, that needed a battery, brakes, tires, VANOS work, and had the 4x4 light illuminated. Got him down to $1300 but just felt bad about it for some reason. 

The guy who sold me this X5 tried to tell me his step-grandmother owned it forever and gave it to him, but it couldn't fit his two kids' carseats and stroller in it vs his GMT400 Suburban. She allegedly moved to Germany after giving it to him. Keep in mind, the seller was early-30s and partially Middle Eastern... the name on the title was a woman named Monique. Ooookay. I found Monique (and her husband, his name was on the inspection receipt) on LinkedIn and sent her a message. She told me they took care of it and finally (earlier this year) gave it to her husband's friend who works on old BMWs. I think the friend couldn't figure it out and passed it along to Ricky, who flipped it to me. 

So Ricky is a big fat liar but Monique and her husband, who most definitely have not moved to Germany, cared for the X5 enough in recent years.

colejv
colejv
6/20/19 1:32 p.m.

Transmission Light:
This never clears, even if you tell the scan tool to erase everything. The code is "EGS: CAN torque interface." Again, it drives and shifts fine although some shifts are firm and others are more mild.

I had this code on my X5 it ended up being that the shop that I had replace the alternator neglected to plug the MAF back in, so I am guessing that's your problem as well, ironically on mine I did not have the DME MAF code. 

RedGT
RedGT Dork
6/20/19 3:09 p.m.

There should be an option in the Eonon head unit to change the led backlighting behind the knobs to match the BMW orange gauges/LCD's.  More or less.  I'm just sayin'.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/23/19 7:17 a.m.

Mileage: 194,750

Great day yesterday with a bunch of friends. We made a lot of progress on the X5 and I learned a lot in the process. So...

Cleaning
Sweet Jesus this thing was disgusting inside. We attacked the hazy headlights with Plastic-X and brought them back to new(er), replaced the torn steering wheel with a $25 junkyard replacement I found yesterday morning in Lorton. We slathered the seats in Leatherique, which is hilarious but also worked to legitimately clean them up. I vacuumed the interior and removed several pounds of dog hair, lollipop sticks, Beanie Baby hangtags, and coins. My friend Jack and I attacked the carpets with a Rug Doctor and got them surprisingly clean again. It all sounds kind of silly on a $1500 beater, but it does make it a more pleasant place to spend time and will help a little with resale.

The car washed up pretty well, too!*

MAF
The new MAF eliminated the transmission failure light and the car shifts like buttah. Yay.

Wheel Speed Sensor
We replaced the WSS on the front right and repaired the E36 M3ty already-repaired wiring. The code for "inlet valve, front right" is still there. Harumph.

O2 Sensor
Taylor broke his O2 socket as I arrived so we didn't tackle this yet. The Bank 1 sensors are accessed from the top of the car and don't look all bad to do.*

Electronics
The whole car continues to freak out about random things. In my case, things go down and then come back based on slamming of doors or hitting bumps or whatever. I think it's a general K-Bus problem.

Tom replaced the ignition switch and that didn't seem to change anything. I got the Schwaben tool to show live battery data and it's consistently at 13.x or 14.x volts with the car running.

I am turning my attention to the Eonon cheap Chinese radio that's installed now.

I got in touch with the previous owner (more on that in a sec) and he said the electronic issues all started when he had Best Buy install the Eonon. So, I'm heading up to Jessup, MD today to the LKQ junkyard. They have two 3.0i pre-LCI X5s and I plan on stealing every piece of the radio from them. I suspect the Eonon has some E36 M3ty wiring work behind it and/or the Canbus adapter is failing.*

Previous Owner
The previous owners called me last night and were super friendly (I found the wife on LinkedIn). They live nearby and owned the X5 from 2003 until about March of this year, it was a dealer demo or something for the first two years. He did much of the work himself and could recall every little thing about it. He claimed that all of this had been done in the last two years:

  • Radiator
  • Water pump
  • Thermostat
  • Drive belts
  • VANOS unit
  • Valve cover gasket
  • Spark plugs
  • Window regulators x4
  • ABS module rebuild (really)
  • Bank 2, Sensor 1 O2 replacement
  • Battery
  • Alternator
  • Eonon head unit install (after MID pixels died on OEM unit)

So I think it has good bones. He told me about these repairs without my prompting so I don't think he's trying to prove anything about how he cared for it. Moreso just a "oh yeah I did this too" - he was pretty up front with everything and kept adding "oh yeah one more" as we talked for about half an hour. I feel better given they owned it for so long continuously, versus a nine-owner example (*cough* my E46 M3). I am hoping this radio replacement will cure a lot of the electronic ailments or at least provide a good baseline. The car honestly drives fine as-is, but I'd like a bit more consistency in how, like, the reverse lights work.

Under the rear seat:



Tom working on the wheel speed sensor wiring:



"We have to have lines in the carpet or the internet will make fun of you!"





This is what came out of the Rug Doctor:



Cleaned up:



I really don't hate this thing one bit. The trip is going to be rad.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/23/19 8:07 a.m.

Nice work.  

It is fun to talk to the previous owners now that they have nothing to hide.  I have done it a couple of times with cars I have bought at auction.  

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/23/19 11:18 a.m.

So I'm back from Crazy Ray's with a new Business CD player, MID/tuner, and amp. The amp works currently so no need to swap it. I pulled the Eonon out and holy wiring hell. Unfortunately, the wiring hell isn't related to my problem. The MID will not light up if I plug it in, but the CD player can eject a disc. 

All Googles so far suggest some funky wiring. Maybe near the parking brake lever? The loss of signals/high beam/fog light and random chimes/door ajar is common among E39 and E53 and it is a K-Bus/Canbus issue. Apparently I can pull Fuse 14 and that may reset... something. 

My K-Bus issue comes and goes and seems to be related to putting the car in and out of Park. Maybe some pinched wire near there, I dunno. This would bother me a whole lot less, except the reverse lights don't work as part of this problem. Ugh.

Anyway, the X5 handled the 70 mile round trip to the junkyard with ease. Rides alright. Shocks are v. tired.

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/23/19 4:57 p.m.

This is absolutely hilarious but I fixed the cluster problem. I noticed everything would start working if I pulled the handbrake fairly hard. I could flip on a turn signal, pull the handbrake and watch the signal work/not work based on how high up it was pulled.

Popped the boot off of the handbrake and wiggled the wiring harness under/near it, and bam, everything works again.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/23/19 5:20 p.m.

Just saw this thread. Nice progress!

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/26/19 7:55 a.m.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier is how I tested for a working LCM. This doesn't seem to be documented well, but a BMW tech shared the test. With the key off and lights turned off, remove the gauge cluster (2x T10 torx) and unplug the two wiring harnesses. If the headlights turn themselves on, the LCM is working. If they stay off, the LCM is dead or dying. You can turn the lights off by cycling the switch.

The turn signals were both out, I think because they were old bulbs and I messed with them a bunch. I swapped the left tail light for the OEM unit and plan to do the same with the right side, once I acquire bulb holders. The cheap smoked aftermarket units look okay but don't match the front of the car (front has amber corners) and the wiring adapters are chintzy. 

Managed to get a complete set of working bulbs and I now have functional turn signals and brake/running lights! Took the X5 to a friend's place for dinner last night and it drove well to and from. It is amazing how heavy the steering is - just typical BMW of the era, really - and I can see why Karen McLexus wanted something with lighter effort for daily driving to soccer practice and Orangetheory.

trigun7469
trigun7469 SuperDork
6/26/19 12:49 p.m.

Have you tried towing with it?

Brake_L8
Brake_L8 Reader
6/28/19 1:21 p.m.

In reply to trigun7469 :

It doesn't have a hitch. Even if it did, the only thing to tow is my big enclosed trailer which would totally overwhelm it. I'd be nervous to put even an open trailer behind the 200k-mile GM transmission.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
VimW1cJ9eBPH9mULVbBvbRvRhiJF4Gy6GE0PLAVhA1qYLC4G8KHcBhh4FTxfYRRe