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BMW E39 Spark Plug Coil Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Spark Plug Coil Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (10mm, 5/8 spark plug socket), flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i Sedan/Wagon (2001-03)
BMW 528i Sedan/Wagon (1997-00)
BMW 530i Sedan (2001-03)
BMW 540i Sedan/Wagon (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Spark plugs, Ignitions coils, spark tester, jumper test leads

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine.

Performance Gain:

Engine runs well

Complementary Modification:

Change engine oil

Replacing the spark plugs on your BMW E39 is part of routine maintenance. BMW recommends replacing the spark plugs on E39 models every 100,000 miles and every 60,000 miles on M5 E39 models. With all the major engine design changes over the years, spark plugs now last up to three times as long as they did in years past. This is good and bad. It means you save money and time not having to service them so frequently, but run the risk of a spark plug seizing in the cylinder head. I suggest replacing your spark plugs every three years regardless of mileage. If you are the last time they were serviced is unknown, replace them right away. Spark plugs on E39 models come with the gap preset, you do not adjust them when installing.

Models with 6-cylinder engine:
BMW E39 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug.
Figure 1

BMW E39 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug. (green arrows) When servicing your spark plugs be sure the engine is cool and leave yourself about an hour to do the job. Be careful not to drop a spark plug, if you do, replace it. The spark plug insulator can crack and can lead to an engine misfire. Remove engine cover on cylinder head. See our tech article on engine cover removing.

Using a small flathead screwdriver; release ignition coil electrical connector retainer by prying up, then pull electrical connector out of ignition coil.
Figure 2

Using a small flathead screwdriver; release ignition coil electrical connector retainer by prying up, then pull electrical connector out of ignition coil. (green arrow)

Next remove two 10mm ignition coil fasteners.
Figure 3

Next remove two 10mm ignition coil fasteners. (green arrows)

Remove ignition coil from cylinder head by pulling straight up.
Figure 4

Remove ignition coil from cylinder head by pulling straight up. If coil resists, twist when pulling up to break free from spark plug. The ignition coil rubber boot can become stuck to spark plug over time. If you find engine oil has contaminated the ignition coil boot you will have to repair the oil leak and replace ignition coil boot (or ignition coil). The source of the oil leak will likely be the cylinder head cover gasket.

Using a 5/8 spark plug socket on a 12Â
Figure 5

Using a 5/8 spark plug socket on a 12Â" extension, remove spark plug from cylinder head. Lightly lubricate new spark plugs with copper based anti-seize. Thread spark plugs into cylinder head by hand, this will prevent accidental cross-threading. Torque spark plugs to 25 Nm (18 ft-lb). Reinstall ignition coils and reconnect electrical connectors. Be sure to route wiring harness as it was before and connect ignition coil grounds. Install engine covers and check your work.

 Models with 8-cylinder engine:
BMW E39 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug.
Figure 6

BMW E39 models utilize an individual ignition coil for each spark plug, referred to as coil over plug. (green arrows) This photo shows the left side of the engine, four of the eight ignition coils. When servicing your spark plugs be sure the engine is cool and leave yourself about an hour to do the job. Be careful not to drop a spark plug, if you do, replace it. The spark plug insulator can crack and can lead to an engine misfire. Remove all of the engine covers. See our tech article on engine cover removing.

Using a small flathead screwdriver; release ignition coil electrical connector retainer by prying up, then pull electrical connector straight out of ignition coil.
Figure 7

Using a small flathead screwdriver; release ignition coil electrical connector retainer by prying up, then pull electrical connector straight out of ignition coil. (green arrow)

Next remove two 10mm ignition coil fasteners.
Figure 8

Next remove two 10mm ignition coil fasteners. (green arrows) If you remove a coil that has a ground strap (yellow arrow) be sure it is reinstalled in the same place you moved it. Each coil had one grounding point that is connected when the coil is bolted to the cylinder head.

Remove ignition coil from cylinder head by pulling straight up.
Figure 9

Remove ignition coil from cylinder head by pulling straight up. If coil resists, twist when pulling up to break free from spark plug. The ignition coil rubber boot can become stuck to spark plug over time. If you find engine oil has contaminated the ignition coil boot you will have to repair the oil leak and replace ignition coil boot (or ignition coil). The source of the oil leak will likely be the cylinder head cover gasket.

Using a 5/8 spark plug socket on a 12Â
Figure 10

Using a 5/8 spark plug socket on a 12Â" extension, remove spark plug from cylinder head. Lightly lubricate new spark plugs with copper based anti-seize. Thread spark plugs into cylinder head by hand, this will prevent accidental cross-threading. Torque spark plugs to 25 Nm (18 ft-lb). Reinstall ignition coils and reconnect electrical connectors. Be sure to route wiring harness as it was before and connect ignition coil grounds. Install engine covers and check your work. 

Diagnosing possible faulty ignition coils: Be very careful when testing spark at your ignition coils. The ignition coils produce a great amount of voltage and personal injury can occur. If your engine suffers from a misfire or a rough idle and you suspect a faulty ignition coil, youÂ're in luck because you have multiple coils you can use for testing. For example, if you have a misfire on cylinder #1, swap the ignition coil from cylinder #1 to a further away cylinder, like cylinder #4. If the misfire follows the location of the coil you moved, the coil is likely faulty.
You can also use a spark test to test the spark out put of your ignition coil.
Figure 11

You can also use a spark test to test the spark out put of your ignition coil. Remove the coil from the engine as described earlier, then connect your spark tester to the end of the coil boot (green arrow). Connect a ground wire to the spark tester and to the grounding tab on the coil (yellow arrow), then connect both ground wires to the ignition coil ground (red arrow). When cranking or running, the coil should fire the spark tester with strong consistent spark. Check that when you connect the ground to the coil, it is attached to the grounding connector on the coil.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Jay Comments: It took two days but the ses light went off by itself. Guess I didn't wait long enough for the computer to reset.
October 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Great news. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jay Comments: If you change all the coils and ses light is still on what do you check next?
October 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check what the fault code is indicating is an issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:05:53 AM