I sold a car on eBay without any hassle

It took me a year to sell my 1999 BMW 528i. No, I did not spend a year advertising it and dealing with no-shows and time wasters. It just took that long to work up the courage to actually list the car on eBay.


Continue reading “I sold a car on eBay without any hassle”

Replacing the front lower control arm on an E39

About six weeks ago, we returned from a trouble-free 2200-mile road trip around Europe. Nothing went wrong, nothing broke, nothing happened that should not have happened. However, not 300 miles later, I found myself with this:

Continue reading “Replacing the front lower control arm on an E39”

2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39

Tell someone that you are about to embark on a 2000-mile road trip in a 19-year-old car you paid £1000 for more than two years ago, and they’re likely to question your judgement. Cue Jeremy Clarkson leaning in towards the camera, raising an eyebrow, and uttering those immortal words: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’

Well, in this case, absolutely nothing went wrong. In fact, thanks to the car, this was probably the most comfortable and enjoyable road trip I’ve ever been on.

A wet Monday morning, all packed and ready to go.

Continue reading “2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39”

Preparing the E39 for a 2000-mile road trip

Some time ago, when planning holidays for this year, my wife and I decided this was the year we would finally do the family road trip round Europe. We have lived in the United Kingdom for seven years now, and though we’ve visited a number of different places on the continent, we haven’t yet done a full-on road trip. So we marked out a route, picked some dates, and booked a few AirBnBs.

The next step, of course, was to decide on the car. The E39 has served admirably on a number of occasions for family trips, but as I have said far too many times, I’ve been itching for something different. Knowing we would be taking a few smaller trips with my in-laws when they arrived in the summer, I started hunting for a second-generation Volvo V70/XC70, a car that has been on my radar for a while, particularly because of its seven-seat option. However, a couple of months ago, with the search for a seven-seat V70 with the right engine coming to naught, I decided we would just stick with the E39. After all, it has proved its reliability time after time, it’s big and comfortable, and would do the job well.

That said, I knew the car would need a bit of work before it would be ready for a 2000-mile road trip. There were three essential jobs that needed to be done: new front struts, new tyres, and a new water pump. I also wanted to replace the rear differential bushes, rear anti-roll bar bushes, and address a few other minor things. Though the parts ended up totalling more than I had really wanted to put into this car, the work had to be done if it was going to ferry us round Europe safely and comfortably. Continue reading “Preparing the E39 for a 2000-mile road trip”

Flex disc woes

On most rear-wheel drive vehicles, a flex disc, sometimes called a giubo (which, you may be interested to know, is properly pronounced JOO-boh), is fitted where the gearbox and propshaft flanges meet. Flex discs are designed to help smooth out the transfer of torque between the gearbox and the rear wheels. You can see it in place on my E39 below, with the gearbox crossmember removed, which you need out of the way in order to access the flex disc.


The photo below shows the old flex disc from my car on the left, and the new one on the right. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you will know that I replaced this last March. So why am I doing it again now, and more importantly, why is the old one so distressed already? Continue reading “Flex disc woes”

Improving performance by cleaning and re-crimping electrical connections

A few weeks ago, I replaced the seals on the VANOS unit on my E39. Replacing the seals is supposed to restore low-end power and response, increase fuel economy, and help the car idle better. I can’t say I have noticed any dramatic improvement in how the car runs since doing the job. Granted, my seals were only partially worn, but in the 500 miles I’ve driven in the past few weeks, the only noticeable change has been a slightly smoother idle when cold. Continue reading “Improving performance by cleaning and re-crimping electrical connections”

How to cripple your engine in one simple step

Vacuum leaks can be notoriously difficult to diagnose, as they can range from small cracks in a hose or intake pipe, to a clogged crankcase vent system, to an improperly sealed oil filler cap. This is largely the reason I have ignored my E39’s minor leak, because diagnosing it would mean removing the whole air intake system to check everything over. Plus, barring an occasional stumble at idle, the car seemed to run fine. However, last week, when it started tripping the check engine light and logging fuel trim codes, I decided it was time to sort it out. Continue reading “How to cripple your engine in one simple step”

Replacing the rear struts and coils on a BMW E39

A week or so ago, I started to notice a rattle coming from the rear end of my E39. I knew I had a few things loose in the boot, so initially suspected it was just something back there moving around. However, after tidying things up, the noise persisted, and the other day I got underneath the car to see if something like a sway bar link had broken. To my surprise, I discovered this.


I had no idea the coil was in such poor condition. There was no mention of anything when I had it MOT’d in July, and when I most recently inspected it, probably in early autumn, it looked fine, save for some of the coating flaking off. On top of all this, I hadn’t noticed any difference in how the car drove. Continue reading “Replacing the rear struts and coils on a BMW E39”

The E39 has been hit

(Post updated – see addition below)

My wife was out the other day and had stopped waiting to turn right when she was hit from behind by a Citröen Nemo. Thankfully, the impact was at quite a low speed, so no one was injured.

Here is the damage to the E39. As you can see, the damage consists of a large scuff to the bumper, some scratches to the tail light and the edge of the boot lid, and the bumper on the driver’s side being ever so slightly out of alignment with the rear quarter panel.


Typically, the guy had no insurance information with him and found a hundred different ways to blame all the other drivers around him. I’m not going to worry about that, though, as today I went to see a friend who used to work in a body shop, and he thinks the damage is easily repairable, and that a product like T-Cut should easily deal with the scratches and scuffs.

It’s frustrating, of course, but a car can be repaired. Ultimately I’m just glad my wife and kids were okay.



The rain has finally stopped, so I went outside this afternoon to assess the damage to the E39 more closely, and see if I could do anything about it. I was surprised to find that the scuff on the bumper was actually residue from the Citröen’s bumper, and peeled off quite


Underneath, it was better than I expected. One significant scuff, and some light scratches. There is a small crack on the underside of the bumper as well.


In lieu of T-Cut, I remembered that I had some AutoGlym Paint Renovator sitting in my garage, so I thought I’d give that a try.


The results were surprising. Whilst it hasn’t removed the scratches entirely, it has certainly masked them a good deal. I’ll have to deal with the scuff at some point, but at this point, I’m very pleased with how much the AutoGlym restored the surface.


Next time I wash the car, I’ll polish the spot a few more times and see if it can’t be restored any further.