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Hello fellow enthusiasts! Since I like to share my journey on what I've done so far to my E39, I'm happy to announce I was able to successfully swap my 2003 530ia to a 5 speed manual. This process took me over a year to complete, which involved deciding whether to go down the route of rebuilding my ZF 5 speed auto or doing a full manual conversion, eventually choosing to do the 5 speed conversion, sourcing the parts and actually being able to execute the task. It definitely took a lot of effort, dedication, and of course money(and a lot of it) but in the end I see it as worth every penny as I plan to keep the car for a very long time and don't have any intentions on selling it. So please, if anyone has any questions on the process or needs help with their 5 speed swap, please feel free to comment and I'll try my best to help you guys out from the experience I've gained from personally doing the swap on my car alongside the help of a 20+ year certified master-tech in BMWs who has been around these cars since the mid 90's. I'm very Grateful to have had the help of my friend as if it were not for him, this swap wouldn't have been possible. If any of you are in the So-cal area, I would very highly recommend Rancho San Diego BMW Repair as Carlos, a man with 20+ years of experience with these cars, has a seemingly infinite reserve of knowledge about these cars and is very well equipped to solve any problems these cars develop as they age.


Here are some pics of the Manual Trans kit that I used for the swap. I was able to source everything from a donor facelift 530i sport, almost identical to my E39, that the guys at La Jolla BMW Independent Service were parting out. Big thanks to these guys as well, very professional and honest guys with an insane collection of rare BMWs. The gearbox is a ZF 5 speed which I was very happy about since I much rather have the ZF than the Getrag equivalent. The Kit included the following parts:
ZF 5 speed 320zTHCH
2.96 Ratio Differential(For Manual Cars, Auto was 3.46 if I'm not mistaken)
Driveshaft which was newer as it was rebuilt in 2014 by Oceanside driveline
Clutch
Flywheel
Pressure plate
Shifter Linkage
Pedal assembly
Manual support brackets
Slave Cylinder
Clutch lines
Here are some pictures of the kit:
Asphalt Automotive tire Gas Engineering Machine

Automotive tire Tread Automotive exterior Bumper Automotive wheel system

Wheel Automotive tire Tire Motor vehicle Wood

Gas Engineering Auto part Machine Metal

Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Bumper

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle Bumper Gas

Lighting Building Engineering Ceiling Hall



However one of the issues I encountered with the ZF Gearbox was it would not go into 5th gear. This was very concerning at first but I was aware of the issues with the detents prevalent in these gearboxes especially in the 5th gear detent which causes the issue commonly known by enthusiasts as 5th gear lean. How ever all other detents were good so I replaced the 5th and reverse detents which are the most common to go out. Was not a fun process at all as these detents were never meant to be serviceable from the factory. But after these detents were replaced, the Gearbox goes into every gear very nicely.

Of course, I had to buy a lot of new parts as I wanted to do this swap properly and have the car feeling like new. Hence there was a decent sized parts list which of course did increase the price of the swap by a decent margin, but after driving the car afterwards, would definitely say is worth it. Upon request, I can provide the full parts list, including part numbers, if anybody is interested but some of them were:
LUK OE Clutch Kit
Shift lever Bearing
Bush Bearing Oval
Insert Shifter Covering
Shift arm Bearing
Etc...

After the mechanical aspects of the car were done, we moved on to the programing side to actually make the car work properly. Now let me say, the mechanical aspect is nothing in comparison to the programing side of this swap. Definitely a lot of long days and hours researching went into trying to figure out how to make the car think it is a manual and not throw up any lights such as Trans-failsafe errors and check engine lights. The programing aspect involves a lot of researching as slight changes such as the type of cluster you have, whether you have a high cluster or a low cluster would change what you have to do to make the car function properly. For this bit and aspects of the mechanical bit, Youtube and forms are your best friend and channels such as ShoplifeVlogs who covered a manual swap on a 5 speed swap on an E39 touring had a lot of useful information for 5 speed swaps on these cars. After figuring out how to program the Trans-failsafe error out, make the reverse lights work, and regain features such as the mirror tilt when the car is put into reverse, the only thing left was the check engine light. The light came on as the DME was upset that it wasn't receiving any connection with the EGS module, which didn't exist anymore as it is for the steptronic transmission that was no longer in the car, yet was satisfied with all the other modules with the car. Due to this, I took my DME over to BimmerECU Solutions on a Saturday afternoon and Lavin was able to take care of me and programmed my DME in 45 min to manual specification. After this I put the programmed DME in my car and the check engine light turned off. This officially marked the end of the swap as the car functioned as a factory 5 speed car and nobody would ever be able to tell the car was not a factory 5 speed car other than looking at the VIN sticker in the door that says 530IA. After driving the car for 1000+ miles so far, I have no issues to report about the car and I'm very happy with the end result and also I'm very happy that I made the decision to do a 5 speed swap rather than rebuilding the auto as the 5 speed is a lot more enjoyable to drive and really improves the whole driving experience of these cars. Also having a late facelift 530i sport 5 speed manual is rare here in the U.S. and I suspect the 5 speed manual will add more value to my E39 which is nice to know. If you have read this far, you are probably curious about this subject so please, if you guys have any questions or just want to talk to a fellow enthusiast, feel free to comment or send me a PM and I will try my best to answer any questions you guys have. Thanks again and I hope to continue sharing stories of my journey with the E39 and any future projects that I undergo!

Tire Sky Cloud Wheel Car
 

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Hello fellow enthusiasts! Since I like to share my journey on what I've done so far to my E39, I'm happy to announce I was able to successfully swap my 2003 530ia to a 5 speed manual. This process took me over a year to complete, which involved deciding whether to go down the route of rebuilding my ZF 5 speed auto or doing a full manual conversion, eventually choosing to do the 5 speed conversion, sourcing the parts and actually being able to execute the task. It definitely took a lot of effort, dedication, and of course money(and a lot of it) but in the end I see it as worth every penny as I plan to keep the car for a very long time and don't have any intentions on selling it. So please, if anyone has any questions on the process or needs help with their 5 speed swap, please feel free to comment and I'll try my best to help you guys out from the experience I've gained from personally doing the swap on my car alongside the help of a 20+ year certified master-tech in BMWs who has been around these cars since the mid 90's. I'm very Grateful to have had the help of my friend as if it were not for him, this swap wouldn't have been possible. If any of you are in the So-cal area, I would very highly recommend Rancho San Diego BMW Repair as Carlos, a man with 20+ years of experience with these cars, has a seemingly infinite reserve of knowledge about these cars and is very well equipped to solve any problems these cars develop as they age.


Here are some pics of the Manual Trans kit that I used for the swap. I was able to source everything from a donor facelift 530i sport, almost identical to my E39, that the guys at La Jolla BMW Independent Service were parting out. Big thanks to these guys as well, very professional and honest guys with an insane collection of rare BMWs. The gearbox is a ZF 5 speed which I was very happy about since I much rather have the ZF than the Getrag equivalent. The Kit included the following parts:
ZF 5 speed 320zTHCH
2.96 Ratio Differential(For Manual Cars, Auto was 3.46 if I'm not mistaken)
Driveshaft which was newer as it was rebuilt in 2014 by Oceanside driveline
Clutch
Flywheel
Pressure plate
Shifter Linkage
Pedal assembly
Manual support brackets
Slave Cylinder
Clutch lines
Here are some pictures of the kit:
View attachment 955321
View attachment 955323
View attachment 955324
View attachment 955326
View attachment 955327
View attachment 955328
View attachment 955330


However one of the issues I encountered with the ZF Gearbox was it would not go into 5th gear. This was very concerning at first but I was aware of the issues with the detents prevalent in these gearboxes especially in the 5th gear detent which causes the issue commonly known by enthusiasts as 5th gear lean. How ever all other detents were good so I replaced the 5th and reverse detents which are the most common to go out. Was not a fun process at all as these detents were never meant to be serviceable from the factory. But after these detents were replaced, the Gearbox goes into every gear very nicely.

Of course, I had to buy a lot of new parts as I wanted to do this swap properly and have the car feeling like new. Hence there was a decent sized parts list which of course did increase the price of the swap by a decent margin, but after driving the car afterwards, would definitely say is worth it. Upon request, I can provide the full parts list, including part numbers, if anybody is interested but some of them were:
LUK OE Clutch Kit
Shift lever Bearing
Bush Bearing Oval
Insert Shifter Covering
Shift arm Bearing
Etc...

After the mechanical aspects of the car were done, we moved on to the programing side to actually make the car work properly. Now let me say, the mechanical aspect is nothing in comparison to the programing side of this swap. Definitely a lot of long days and hours researching went into trying to figure out how to make the car think it is a manual and not throw up any lights such as Trans-failsafe errors and check engine lights. The programing aspect involves a lot of researching as slight changes such as the type of cluster you have, whether you have a high cluster or a low cluster would change what you have to do to make the car function properly. For this bit and aspects of the mechanical bit, Youtube and forms are your best friend and channels such as ShoplifeVlogs who covered a manual swap on a 5 speed swap on an E39 touring had a lot of useful information for 5 speed swaps on these cars. After figuring out how to program the Trans-failsafe error out, make the reverse lights work, and regain features such as the mirror tilt when the car is put into reverse, the only thing left was the check engine light. The light came on as the DME was upset that it wasn't receiving any connection with the EGS module, which didn't exist anymore as it is for the steptronic transmission that was no longer in the car, yet was satisfied with all the other modules with the car. Due to this, I took my DME over to BimmerECU Solutions on a Saturday afternoon and Lavin was able to take care of me and programmed my DME in 45 min to manual specification. After this I put the programmed DME in my car and the check engine light turned off. This officially marked the end of the swap as the car functioned as a factory 5 speed car and nobody would ever be able to tell the car was not a factory 5 speed car other than looking at the VIN sticker in the door that says 530IA. After driving the car for 1000+ miles so far, I have no issues to report about the car and I'm very happy with the end result and also I'm very happy that I made the decision to do a 5 speed swap rather than rebuilding the auto as the 5 speed is a lot more enjoyable to drive and really improves the whole driving experience of these cars. Also having a late facelift 530i sport 5 speed manual is rare here in the U.S. and I suspect the 5 speed manual will add more value to my E39 which is nice to know. If you have read this far, you are probably curious about this subject so please, if you guys have any questions or just want to talk to a fellow enthusiast, feel free to comment or send me a PM and I will try my best to answer any questions you guys have. Thanks again and I hope to continue sharing stories of my journey with the E39 and any future projects that I undergo!

View attachment 955331
Hi Martin,

I would like to talk to you regarding this process for my 03 530i.

please call or text at 805 5seven3 665 nine

thanks

Ben
 
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