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Bringing a BMW back to life after sitting


My co worker bought a new car and let her 1995 BMW 525i sit for two years (despite my telling her to keep driving it or sell it), then gave it to me recently. I put a new battery in it and changed the engine oil/filter.

Im thinking the gas tank should be drained, so tomorrow I am going to drop the tank and remove the gas (the guage is sitting at E, so it cannot be much gas), put new gas in, and then squirt a little oil in the cylinders…then turn the key!

Am I missing anything before I turn the key??

Would it not be easier to find the fuel filter, remove, turn ignition key on and let the fuel pump empty the tank. Dropping the gas tank is not a simple job. What is left is unusable and will most probably not get sucked into the engine anyway.
By the way,replace the fuel filter at this time.
Replace the oil with the filter.

I didnt know the tank could/should be emptied that way. If its that easy and proper then yes I will do it that way. :slight_smile:

engine oil AND filter were replaced a few weekends ago. Ill go to BMW today and buy a fuel filter!

You pretty much got everything under control. I wouldnt really worry about getting the old gas out, especially since there isnt much in there. I’d just change the filter and fill with fresh gas.

You are correct to question if simply having the key turned to “on” will cause the fuel pump to run for more than a few seconds.

Hm well I keep hearing conflicting info about 2 year old gas. If there is an easy way to do this then I’d like to. Don’t mind getting my hands dirty and I’d rather be safe then sorry.

If the pump thing doesn’t work then what are my options? What about a hose down the fuel filler neck and some kind of small hand pump?

You can use the fuel pump to drain the tank.

Locate the fuel pump relay and remove it from it’s socket. Take a jumper wire and plug it into the two terminals in the socket that supplies the secondary voltage to the fuel pump. Turn the ignition switch to the run position and the fuel pump will run continuously to drain the tank.


You have bigger potential issues than the old gas. Personally I would put in five fresh gallons and not worry the old gas. New filter is ok. Depending on where you live you may need a four wheel brake job. You need an oil change, check the tires. Flush the coolant as well. The distributor and plug wires should get looked at.

You are totally right. I’m just trying to get the engine running right now. Once I know it can move under it’s own power I’ll move on to other things, such as the other fluids/coolant, etc. The tires look rotted. The brake discs look like they need to be replaced. The car has distributerless ignition. So I don’t think I need to change wires. According to the service reciepts the car had a major tune up a few hundred miles before she parked it.

the bimmer forum i visit the most is go to the forum part and look under the 5 series sub section e34, and browse around.
of you can google bmw forums, and pick the one you like best. these cars are picky about what you do to them, get the know how before you just jump in. trust me.

Thanks. I agree. I’ve already been a member of the BMW forums for a few months doing resaerch o. 5s specifically, but not many of them have brought a car back to life. These questions are more appropriate to a forum like this I think. They didn’t know to suggest this fuel pump solution for instance

I already have a build thread for it on the forum too. Up to 4 pages now :slight_smile:

The only reason I did not suggest jumping the relay as you have been told was I was concerned with running the pump dry and damaging it,we always advise people never to run their tanks totaly empty of fuel,I just don’t think the gain is worth the stress you will be putting on the pump,you are certainly free to procede as you wish.

I personally never emptied tanks like that, I either had a old electric pump that I attached hoses to and sucked it out the fill pipe or used a hand cranked pump, never the pump the car will be driven with,but to each his own.

After thinking this through a bit more, the thought of a pump of unknown pressure squirting fuel out at me is not a nice picture. Ill probably siphon out as much as I can through the filler neck, then throw a few gallons of good gas in and turn the key. Hopefully have some good news for you tomorrow!

Car started. Tank was bone dry. Had to put 5 gallons in, then turned the key and there you go. Moves under her own power no problem. brakes and tires eventually.