BMW Jacking Points by Tom McCandless
E39 1999 - 528i, 540i's do not have a center jacking pad under the engine however it can be jacked there. If you are not sure of the location, do not jack.
Proceed at your own risk!
The procedure below does NOT meet with the approval of BMW!
Any damage to your vehicle is not my responsibility.
Both the Owners' Manual and the TIS CD BMW emphatically states that the ONLY place to lift the E39 Series is by the four jack pads located on the bottom of the rocker panels. This leaves the Do It Yourselfer in somewhat of a quandary. How to get the car up on jackstands where it can be safely worked on if the only place to put either the tire changing jack or a roll around floor jack is the very location where the jackstands should be placed?
This procedure is not my invention. Rather it is my attempt to combine and document several dozen forum posts that have answered the question.
Your will need:
1. A good roll around floor jack. At least a two ton capacity is my recommendation. There are very cheap ones and very expensive ones. Costco has a good three ton jack for under $100. I like Sears Craftsman tools because of their quality and excellent replacement parts system. Try to get one that has a big jack head so the load can be spread over a larger area. I've got two sizes because my cheap first jack gave up the ghost (it wouldn't even lift the rear end of my half ton pickup) and I kept the head from it.
2. Four good jackstands if you want the whole car up. Two if only one end. Use the wheel wedge from your car or Sears sells them for less than $10.
3. Two drive on ramps. They only need to be high enough to lift the front of the car far enough to get the floor jack underneath the car. Again, you can go from pennies to big bucks. I went the pennies route as you can see from the pictures. And they will never collapse unlike some of the stamped steel ones. (If you use the Costco floor jack, this is not needed sinec it's long and low enough to slide under the front without lifting one side. You can also use your BMW tire change jack to slightly lift one corner of the front to slide your floor jack under)
4. Pads or cushions for the jack and jackstands. The jacking points we'll be using are aluminum and in one case very convoluted. You need something to spread the load a bit. And besides, you'd rather not scratch the bottom side. Right? And again, pennies to bucks is the rule. If you can't tell by now, I'm a cheapskate. I fold up a couple of old bath towels so they completely cover the jack head.
We'll do the front first.
Warning! The car must be on a hard, stable, level surface! Not in the dirt, not in the gravel, and maybe even not on asphalt.
Refer to Picture 1. Place the ramps in front of the tires. Carefully drive up on them. Turn the car off, set the emergency brake HARD, and chock at least one rear wheel front and rear.
Pad the jack (I didn't bother because my small jack head fits the block so well.) and roll it under the front of the car right in the middle. On this 528iA, hanging down from the center of one of structural members is an aluminum block. See Picture 2.
That's where the jack goes. Center the jack head on the block and start pumping. See Picture 3. Suggestion. To keep from banging the bumper cover with the handle, put your free hand on the handle where it hits the cover. You won't be quite so exuberant with the pumping if it's your hand that's getting banged!
Take it up high enough to get the jackstands under the two front jack pads. Picture 4 is the right front one. VERY slowly release the jack and gently set the car down on the jackstands. As an extra safety measure, as soon as all the weight is on the jackstands, run the jack back up until it is just barely in contact and lock it there.
Put it back on the ground in reverse order.
The rear is easier by far but you really should have a big jack head as is shown in Picture 5. Spreads the load better. Note the ultra high tech cushion
Take it high enough to get the jackstands under the rear jack pads (Picture 6) and gently let the jack down until the jackstands have all the weight. And leave the jack there, just touching the differential case, if possible.
Take it down the reverse of how you got it up there.