E39 Production Changes

E39 Production Changes 1


The BMW E39 5-series was produced from 09/1995-06/2003 for the 1996-2003 model years. In September of 2000, for the 2001 model year, BMW gave the E39 a facelift. This means that the E39 chassis was updated, renewed both technologically and aesthetically for a few more years of production. Even outside of the big 2001 facelift, things with the E39 changed each year. This article will summarize the changes BMW made to US-spec vehicles throughout the production run.


May, 1995

  1. E39 chassis replaces E34 for 5 series.

  2. Production for 1996 model year begins.

  3. Models offered in the USA were the 1996 528i M52B28 I6, and the 1997 540i M62B44 V8.


September, 1996

  1. Production for 1997 model year begins.

  2. Models offered were the 1997 528i M52B28 I6, and the 1997 540i M62B44 V8.


June, 1997

  1. MIDs upgraded.


September, 1997

  1. Production for the 1998 model year begins.

  2. Optional rear side airbags became available.

  3. Both 528i and 540i models gained BMW’s Head Protection System.

  4. A new Sport Package for the 528i and 540i.

  5. Automatic transmission optional on 540i. The Sport Package included black body trim (standard models had chrome around the top of the windows), a sport-tuned suspension, and 17-inch wheels.

  6. DSC first became available on the 540i with automatic transmission.


September, 1998

  1. Production for the 1999 model year began.

  2. The 540i’s M62B44 was updated to the M62TUB44, adding 15lb/ft (20 Nm) of torque and single (intake valve) VANOS. The ‘TU’ added to the engine codes stands for Technical Update.

  3. The Touring body style returns, and is offered in both I6 and V8 versions (528i, 540i).

  4. Xenon headlights, Park Distance Control, and a self-leveling rear suspension is added for touring models.

  5. The M52 2.8 liter I6 engines were now an all-aluminum block and head. Double VANOS valve timing (both intake and exhaust valves) replaced the previous single VANOS iron block/aluminum head M52.


June, 1999

  1. DSC becomes standard on all models.


September, 1999

  1. Production for the 2000 model year begins.

  2. Rain-sensing windshield wipers and xenon headlamps became standard on the 540i, and were now available on the 528i.

  3. An M-Sport package was added, replacing the standard sport package. The M-Sport included the M-Sport steering wheel, door sills, and shift knob.

  4. All models now had daytime running lights (optional, can be coded), and front fog lamps.

  5. Production for the 2000 model year M5 began in the United States.

  6. BMW key updated to include colored logo and battery charging when in the ignition.


September, 2000 Facelift

  1. Production for the 2001 model year begins.

  2. The 528i model was dropped, and replaced by a 525i M54B25 and a 530i M54B30.

  3. Headlights were updated to Hella lights, featuring halo angel eyes.

  4. Tail lights were updated to Hella CELIS with LED bars. The previously amber turn-signal lenses on the 528i and 540i were now clear on all models with the new tail lights, as the old lights on the 2000 M5 had clear signal lenses.

  5. M5 fog lights were updated with clear glass as opposed to rippled glass.

  6. Side-markers turned from amber to clear (2000 M5 already had clear.)

  7. Non-M5 front bumpers were modernized, and incorporated round fog lights instead of rectangular.

  8. Body trim on the doors and bumpers were now painted body color instead of black, white the M5’s remained black regardless of exterior body color.

  9. A widescreen display and MKIII computer were now included with the navigation system. The Trimble unit was bypassed. Earlier E39s optioned with navigation had the MKI or MKII computer with a 4:3 display.

  10. A new, thicker M-Sport 3-spoke steering wheel was included with the sport package, and on the M5. The M5 got the same new wheel, but with multi-colored stitching.

  11. M5 shift knob and emergency brake handles were changed. The M5 received the stand 5-series leather emergency brake handle, and a nappa leather, illuminated shift knob. 2000 M5s had a metal trimmed shift knob (still illuminated) and a metal trimmed e-brake handle. These pieces proved to wear excessively after little use, so they were updated.

  12. M5 gauges changed from a black to a gray dial.

  13. M5 has M-Audio option to upgrade speakers and include larger subwoofers 4″ Nokia to 10″.

  14. Window regulator motors were updated.

  15. Air conditioning system was updated.

  16. PDC option now included front sensors in addition to rear.

  17. REST button on HVAC changed to incorporate a MAX A/C function, yet retains residual heat functionality when pressed during cold weather, while the engine is at an adequate temperture.

  18. Front kidney grills became more pronounced outside of the hood.


February, 2001

  1. Sunroof switch graphics updated.


September, 2001

  1. Production for the 2002 model year begins.

  2. Automatic headlights became available and standard equipment.

  3. Radio on navigation-equipped cars updated from C43 to BM53.

  4. The trunk emergency release handle was added.

  5. Analog DSP replaced digital DSP for the CD changer.

  6. Steptronic-equipped E39s had their manual shift direction switched to match BMW’s SMG setup (forwards to downshift, backwards to upshift).

  7. The 540i M62TUB44 engine power output was increased from 282HP (210kW) to 290HP (216kW) while torque remained the same.

  8. All non-M models got a standard in-dash CD player.

  9. All sport models received the facelift steering wheel.

  10. I6 models added a standard power passenger seat.

  11. The 525i received automatic climate control standard.

  12. Consumer Reports declared the 2002 BMW E39 the best car they had ever reviewed.


September, 2002

  1. Production for the 2003 model year begins.

  2. Navigation computer updated the DVD-based MKIV.

  3. All models include sunroof as standard.

  4. The Sport package on the 540i carried parts from M-Technic. This included a full M-tech ground effects kit (M5-inspired front and rear bumpers), M-tech II suspension, 18-inch style 37 wheels, and a variety of M badging, such as door sills, steering wheel, shift knob (if manual), and exterior door trim.

  5. Isofix/LATCH child seat anchors were added.

  6. The E39 touring was continued into 2004, awaiting the touring version of the E60 5-series.

  7. CD53 radio in non-navigation cars was replaced with the CD53 unit, which can support auxiliary.

  8. Wheel center caps updated to a higher quality piece.


June, 2003

  1. Production of the E39 ended. *Tour models continued into 2004.


E39 Production Changes 2

Pre vs post facelift headlights and fog lights. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


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Pre vs post facelift tail lights. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 4

Pre vs post facelift navigation displays. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 5

Pre vs post facelift shift knobs. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 6

Pre vs post facelift steering wheels. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 7

Pre vs post facelift gauge clusters. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 8

Pre vs post facelift wheel center caps. Car: 02/2000 E39 M5, DE93 (USA), Silverstone Metallic.


E39 Production Changes 9

Pre vs post facelift headlights, kidney grilles, and front bumpers for the standard E39 (non-M5) 5-series.


E39 Production Changes 10

Top: 2003 540i M-Tech includes 18″ style 37 wheels, M5 inspired front and rear bumpers, black M5-badged side door trim, M-Tech II suspension. Bottom: Pre-2003 540i sport package includes 17″ style 32 wheels, standard bumpers, body-colored exterior door trim).