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zcasavant
01-06-2003, 09:28 AM
I am considering getting a used 540i. I am looking in the $30k range so the mileage may be kind of high, but that's ok. My question is: are there any problems I should be on the lookout for? When was DSC first introduced? Since I am in New England, and there is snow, is DSC a must or will good snow tires suffice? Any thoughts are much appreciated.

TIA

DrBimmer
01-06-2003, 11:31 AM
I assume you are looking at an E39. If you are looking at an E34, be aware of the engine block issue. On an E39, the newer the car, the better. As with all BMWs, the first models had their glitches. Potential problems that can leave you stranded or cost alot to fix: bad catalytic converters (est. $1200 repair) and questionable radiator quality (also expensive, and it will leave you stranded when the neck of the radiator breaks). There was also a recall on the 99-00 cars to reprogram the DME for thermostat related faults. All in all, the 540 is a well built car and relatively trouble free car as long as it has had its maintenance. Check on those two previously mentioned items, as they can be the most expensive and troubling issues.

I strongly advise that you have a BMW tech look at the car before you buy it. Take it to Inskip and have them look it over, or if you want to save a little, I've heard good things about German Motors on North Main St. They aren't much cheaper, though... they quoted me twice as much as the dealer to mount my snow tires! :yikes: Anyways, a little up front is worth it to be sure everything is in order before you finalize the deal.

zcasavant
01-06-2003, 06:55 PM
Good info. Thanks. Anyone know about DSC vs ASC and the model years they were/are in effect? Also, I know little about the e39 relative to the e46, which I have been researching for some time. Are there any sport packages I should know about, any indispensible options that I should not do without?

I appreciate any and all advice.

DrBimmer
01-06-2003, 07:11 PM
DSC was available as an option early on, I believe. I don't think it became standard until 2000. DSC is better, but with good tires, you'll do just fine it the winter with ASC.

The Sport Package is highly recommended. It includes the sport suspension and 17 inch wheels, but the rest of the equipment changes with model years. The sport steering wheel, shadowline trim and other items were added along the way. Sport seats were a seperate option up until last year. The SP is standard on the 6 speeds and optional on the automatic. It includes steptronic and a performance rear end ratio on the automatic models.

The 5 series has most of the options that are now available on the E46- Nav, Xenons, Heated Seats, Premium Sound, Fold Down Rear Seats, PDC, etc. It was also available with a heated steering wheel (not available if it has sport steering wheel) and Comfort Seats (a la 7 series)

zcasavant
01-06-2003, 07:44 PM
the BMW Comfort Seats are the best seats I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in (neighbor has 1999 740iL). But, I think I want the Sport pkg. How do I know if a 99 or 00 540i has the sport package? Are there particular wheels it comes with? Newer 5 series get the M steering wheel, but old ones got a different one - not the 4 spokes of the current non-sport, but like the 99 M3 with buttons. The more I think about the 540i, and read about it's performance potential, the more I think that spending 30k on a 99 or 00 540 is more appropriate for me than 35-40 on a 2002 330.

Thanks so much for the advice.

bmw325
01-07-2003, 07:48 AM
I love the e39, but are you sure you want the 540 and not a 528?

The 528 is better balanced (due to the lighter engine), and has better steering (rack and pinion vs recirculating ball).

DrBimmer
01-07-2003, 08:25 AM
http://www.roadfly.org/bmw/classifieds/cars/image.php?Id=10753&type=full
These are the stock 99-02 sport wheels.

http://ebiz0.ipixmedia.com/abc/ebiz/_EBIZ_6d37898fceb695ef07de8099e6a5d96d/i-1_L.JPG
These are the optional wheels.

http://www.roadfly.org/bmw/classifieds/cars/image.php?Id=10921&type=full
These are the 97-98 SP wheels.




The great thing about the 5 series is that you can get the Sport Package and the Comfort Seats together. It might be a harder to find combo, but you can definately find a 540i with the Sport Pkg and Comfort Seats.

http://ebiz0.ipixmedia.com/abc/ebiz/_EBIZ_6d37898fceb695ef07de8099e6a5d96d/i-8_L.JPG
This is the Sport steering wheel from the 99-01 cars. 97s and 98s have the regular 4 spoke wheel that came stock on the E39, E38 and early E46s. 02s and 03s have the E46 M3 wheel.

Mystikal
01-07-2003, 08:36 AM
Okay PhD Bimmerman, I deleted my (incorrect) wheels post. :eeps:

Are you sure none of the 97-98 models have the cross-spoke composite wheels? Maybe that was Canada-only.

1997 540i SP:
http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/photos/large/2002/10-25/tsn/10-25-02tsn86-02.jpeg

1998 540i SP:
http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/photos/large/2002/12-13/aba/12-13-02aba91-02.jpeg

1999 540iT SP:
http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/WebPhoto/Large/2439493.jpeg

2000 540i SP:
http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/WebPhoto/Large/2454566.jpeg Another: http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/photos/large/2002/12-20/tde/12-20-02tde04-15.jpeg

2001 540i M-Sport:
http://photoserver1.trader.ca/autotrader/photos/large/2002/12-13/tts/12-13-02tts03-07.jpeg

Yes, things are VERY different in Canada. :confused:

PropellerHead
01-07-2003, 11:51 AM
Originally posted by DrBimmer
The great thing about the 5 series is that you can get the Sport Package and the Comfort Seats together. It might be a harder to find combo, but you can definately find a 540i with the Sport Pkg and Comfort Seats.

Have a friend with a 97 SP and comfort seats- Pretty common early on as the 97's without the optional seats were manual sport seats. In 98, the sport seats went power. I have the sport seats in my 2000 and even though they dont adjust in all the ways a comfort seat (16, I think?) I like them more.They are firmer and have nicde side bolsters. As with anything that boils down to personal preference, there is lots of debate about whats better.
Originally posted by DrBimmer
http://ebiz0.ipixmedia.com/abc/ebiz/_EBIZ_6d37898fceb695ef07de8099e6a5d96d/i-8_L.JPG This is the Sport steering wheel from the 99-01 cars. 97s and 98s have the regular 4 spoke wheel that came stock on the E39, E38 and early E46s. 02s and 03s have the E46 M3 wheel.
Techically, that is a sport steering wheel from a '99- the only year they had the red and blue stitching. My 2000 is shaped the same, but with black stitching and is also thicker than the 99, but not as thick as the 2002's.
edited for content and typos

zcasavant
01-07-2003, 12:09 PM
All very interesting. Ideally, I want a 2000, but if a very clean 99 comes along, I may have to jump on it. I would also like it to be CPO, but for $30k, a 2000 CPO 540 with about 50k miles will be difficult to find.

PropellerHead
01-07-2003, 12:21 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
The more I think about the 540i, and read about it's performance potential, the more I think that spending 30k on a 99 or 00 540 is more appropriate for me than 35-40 on a 2002 330.

Drove the wife's 330 in today and took a friend to lunch. I nailed it into traffic and he said, "Not quite the same as your car. Your car just sort of presses you into the seat and goes quietly into traffic."

Probably, the two put up about the same numbers for everyday driving, but the six sings a little louder in the cabin than the V8.

I like the agility of the 330, but that V8 is like a good woman- Always there when you need her.

zcasavant
01-07-2003, 12:29 PM
Ahhhh....choices, choices. :banghead: :dunno:

If the right CPO'd 2002 330i comes along in the next year, I may get that. If I find a 2000 540 that tickles my fancy first, I may get that. I still have to go drive a 540 - maybe I will hate it. I really like the 330s, but the 2001 models had so many problems (steering, etc).

We will see....

F1Crazy
01-07-2003, 04:06 PM
Originally posted by PropellerHead
Drove the wife's 330 in today and took a friend to lunch. I nailed it into traffic and he said, "Not quite the same as your car. Your car just sort of presses you into the seat and goes quietly into traffic."

Ah, that extra torque down low...:)

Originally posted by PropellerHead
I like the agility of the 330, but that V8 is like a good woman- Always there when you need her.

So true, he he.:bigpimp:

No replacement for displacement! :D

zcasavant
01-07-2003, 04:16 PM
I hope to drive a 540 this weekend. How bad is the steering compared to the 330? I think the engineering behind recirculating ball is pretty cool - you don't see it too often.

I am also hoping that with all of the technilogical doodads, the 540 is not going to turn into a maintenance nightmare (so much to break!).

Would love to have an e34 540 or m5, but I really want a CPO car for the warranty.

PropellerHead
01-07-2003, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
How bad is the steering compared to the 330?A lot of thought and discussion is put into the steering of the 540. Mostly, it's brought up by people with the I sixes who consider it a major benefit of the cars with smaller motors. I can tell you that I also drove a 528 while looking for my 5 series. I even drove an E36 (thats the one before E46, right?) M3 on the same day I drove my first 540i6. Perhaps its the place where I am in my life right now (or then), but I fell right in love with the V8 and (or should I say despite) it's steering. To be honest, it is more important to me to have gobs of power on tap than the lighter steering of the sixes which really, I have only read about and did not actually notice.
Originally posted by zcasavant
I am also hoping that with all of the technilogical doodads, the 540 is not going to turn into a maintenance nightmare (so much to break!). Here is something to think about: after 2000, BMW started including 3 years or 36,000 miles of maintenance and bumper to bumper warranty on all new cars. It is from original delivery date, but if you get a car like mine, delivered in August of 2000 with less than 36K miles, you may be able to upgrade to the 4 year/50K mile extension. If, like mine, it is also CPO, that gives you a warranty until August of 2006 or 100K miles. At my present 25K miles, I am nearly certain it will be the time that runs dry before the miles.
What I am getting at is that for the slight premium over a '99, if you find ANY 2000 (or newer) BMW with less than 36k miles the odds are very good it was dealer serviced at each interval. If it has more miles, you at least can be confident in the first few visits being recorded at a dealer somewhere. You may also find one where the previous owner has already bought the 4yr/50k extension- It and the CPO are transferrable to you.Originally posted by zcasavant
Would love to have an e34 540 or m5, but I really want a CPO car for the warranty. Be wary of the nikasil engines in the E34 540's. The odds it has been replaced are pretty good, but only if there were problems confirmed by a dealer and within the warranty period.

Happy hunting! Keep us posted.
edited for content

DrBimmer
01-07-2003, 09:19 PM
Originally posted by Mystikal
Okay PhD Bimmerman, I deleted my (incorrect) wheels post. :eeps:

Are you sure none of the 97-98 models have the cross-spoke composite wheels? Maybe that was Canada-only.



Canada only, my friend. Those wheels were only available here with a 528i/iT or 525i/iT and the sport package.

zcasavant
01-10-2003, 05:11 PM
Well, I am going to Wagner BMW in Boylston, MA tomorrow to drive a couple of 540s...99s. Before I get too deep into searching for a 540, I want to make sure I don't hate it. Considering I am coming from a 95 Taurus and a 90 Jag, I don't anticipate that happening.:)

I do have one question, and this may have been answered before: what are the differences between the 99s and the 00s? The price difference for the same mileage seems great; one dealership has two '99s with about 50k miles for $34k and a 2000 with 50k miles for nearly $40k.

What types of keyless entry to the 99s and 00s have? I hate having dangly things on my keys so, I hope they are like current models with all of the buttons on the key.

I am driving a Step and a 6sp tomorrow...wonder which one I will like better :D

TIA

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 05:22 PM
All E39s have remote keyless entry and alarm. The 97-99 cars had the all black key with the replaceable batteries, the 00-present cars have the new design key with the colored roundel and the rechargable battery that charges when in the ignition. The lock, unlock and trunk release buttons are all located on the key.

I don't know of any significant changes from 99 to 00. There are probably some, but nothing major. Probably has to do with 99s being four model years old and starting to go out of the new car warranty, while the 00s still have some time left. The CPO warranty is good, but it is not as good or complete as the new car warranty.

zcasavant
01-10-2003, 05:26 PM
Dr. B -

How do you know so much about the 5-series? Ever own one? I definitely want a 2000 - and I think that I can probably get one for below $35k. These cars apparently depreciate way faster than the 3-series. The dealers may be marking them up because of the general public's ignorance of this.

I just hope I can find one in some other color than black on tan or black on black...I live in the city and a black car would look grungy 90% of the time :tsk:

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 05:32 PM
Never owned a 5, just information I have picked up over the years. Alot of the changes were similar in the other BMW lines as well.

Dealers in general will be pretty expensive with these cars, especially if they are CPO.

zcasavant
01-10-2003, 05:38 PM
Dealers in general will be pretty expensive with these cars, especially if they are CPO.

I have noticed that, but I hope to be able to bargain down to under $35k. These cars have so many technological doodads and luxury items that lose value immediately that they seem like pretty good deals preowned. We'll see. I will post tomorrow with my reactions to the test drive.

BTW, is this Dr. Bimmer the Elder?

PropellerHead
01-10-2003, 06:23 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
These cars have so many technological doodads and luxury items that lose value immediately that they seem like pretty good deals preowned. Indeed. I bought my 2000 CPO 540 (with NAV) after it was in service for only 3 months and 2,400 miles in December of 2000.

Saved over $10K in taxes and price- WITH the CPO and extended 4 year/50K warranty.

Even if I only have 25K on and just under 3 years left on the CPO, the fact that you might find one for the mid to high 30's makes my stomach pit a little, but hey, it's a car, not an investment- and it's paid for.:thumbup:

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 06:31 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
BTW, is this Dr. Bimmer the Elder?

Yes. I think I'll have to get "Jr." to come up with his own user name if he wants to start posting here... :dunno:

zcasavant
01-10-2003, 06:31 PM
Originally posted by PropellerHead


Even if I only have 25K on and just under 3 years left on the CPO, the fact that you might find one for the mid to high 30's makes my stomach pit a little, but hey, it's a car, not an investment- and it's paid for.:thumbup:

Hey, it could be worse, you could have a 7-series :D Those things depreciate like its their job!

I am looking forward to my drive tomorrow...:D :D :D :D :D

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 10:21 AM
I went down to Wagner Motors and drove a 1999 540i Step. with the sport package on Saturday. They had just sold a 2000 6sp with all the options the day before :banghead:

It had the sport steering wheel, but didn't seem to have the sport seats - no adjustable thigh support :dunno:

The power is absolutely incredible. I don't even know how to put it into words, but it made getting back into my Taurus a miserable experience. With the step, it wasn't neck-snapping off the line, but from about 15mph to 80mph, it was 100% addictive grin-inducing fun!

One thing I didn't like was the brakes. I don't know if this car has the same brakes as an x5, but they looked smaller. I guess they could have needed to be replaced, but I didn't feel that immediate "grab" when I tapped the pedal.

I would like to try one with a 6sp, but this car doesn't seem to need it - plenty of power even with a step.

Well, I just hope the right car comes along soon....the smile didn't disappear from my face until a few hours after the test drive!

johnlew
01-13-2003, 10:30 AM
Originally posted by zcasavant
It had the sport steering wheel, but didn't seem to have the sport seats - no adjustable thigh support :dunno:

The power is absolutely incredible. I don't even know how to put it into words, but it made getting back into my Taurus a miserable experience. With the step, it wasn't neck-snapping off the line, but from about 15mph to 80mph, it was 100% addictive grin-inducing fun!

One thing I didn't like was the brakes. I don't know if this car has the same brakes as an x5, but they looked smaller. I guess they could have needed to be replaced, but I didn't feel that immediate "grab" when I tapped the pedal.

I would like to try one with a 6sp, but this car doesn't seem to need it - plenty of power even with a step.

Well, I just hope the right car comes along soon....the smile didn't disappear from my face until a few hours after the test drive!

It may have had the 16 way comfort seat, maybe not. That power is wonderful, goes way beyond the 80 mph you mentioned. While I enjoy my 330 immensely, it's a different ballgame in the 540 w/respect to the feeling of power. The brakes on my 540 or not as quick as the 330, but certainly not bad. I have no complaints about them. The right one will come along for you and I will be interested to hear your impressions of a 528 six speed.

PhilH
01-13-2003, 10:37 AM
Originally posted by zcasavant
One thing I didn't like was the brakes. I don't know if this car has the same brakes as an x5, but they looked smaller. I guess they could have needed to be replaced, but I didn't feel that immediate "grab" when I tapped the pedal.
I bet that if you're used to driving your Taurus, you may be used to over assisted brakes. There's probably nothing wrong with the brakes on the 540 you drove, they're just progressive. Stand on them and they'll haul the car down from 100+ mph over and over.

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 11:55 AM
Originally posted by johnlew
It may have had the 16 way comfort seat,

Nope - just had the regular controls. I would have had a hard time passing it up if it had the comfort seats.

Speaking of which, the dealership has a 2001 530i 5-spd coming in this week. It has the comfort seats, Nav, everything else, and it is right around the top end of my price range. Did the 5-series have the same ****ty steering in 2001 as the 3 series? I am not interested if that is the case.

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 12:40 PM
Originally posted by PhilH
I bet that if you're used to driving your Taurus

Nah - I am comparing it to the 2002 X5 3.0 my mother drives. That car has much "grabbier" brakes than the 540 - it could be because it is brand new. I always find myself braking too hard in the x5 - not so in the 540.

The taurus brakes are not that bad, never noticed them to be over boosted.

Mystikal
01-13-2003, 04:31 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
Nah - I am comparing it to the 2002 X5 3.0 my mother drives. That car has much "grabbier" brakes than the 540 - it could be because it is brand new. I always find myself braking too hard in the x5 - not so in the 540.

The taurus brakes are not that bad, never noticed them to be over boosted.

I bet it could be solved with a simple brake fluid flush and replacement.

DrBimmer
01-13-2003, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant
Nope - just had the regular controls. I would have had a hard time passing it up if it had the comfort seats.

Speaking of which, the dealership has a 2001 530i 5-spd coming in this week. It has the comfort seats, Nav, everything else, and it is right around the top end of my price range. Did the 5-series have the same ****ty steering in 2001 as the 3 series? I am not interested if that is the case.

The 5 series never suffered from bad steering. That was an E46 exclusive. The 530 is a great car, it has a good level of performance and it is near bulletproof. The E39 has gotten better reliablility-wise each year. The 530 was recently rated the best car ever tested by Consumer Reports (take it for what its worth, but coming from them, it means alot to me since they usually hate BMWs and high end cars in general)

I believe the 530 has the same steering as the 528, and if so, that is another reason to get it. The 540 has good steering, but the 528 has phenomenal steering. Much heavier than my '02, '00 or '99 E46s. It is simply amazing. Also, the lighter engine makes it handle very well.

In short, I would highly consider it, espectially if the price is good and the mileage is low. Take it for a ride, I am sure you will like it. Only you can tell if you really must have the V8, though...

I would take a clean, low mileage '01 530i SP over an older, higher mileage 540i, unless the 540 was the same price or cheaper.

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by DrBimmer

I would take a clean, low mileage '01 530i SP over an older, higher mileage 540i, unless the 540 was the same price or cheaper.

The salesman said it would be about $35k for the 530i. I am going to have to seriously consider it. A 2000 540i with 50k miles varies from $35 to $40k - and I don't really want to go much above 35 - but maybe for the right car......

By the way, the salesman (I forget his name and left his card at work), was great. Not pushy at all, and did not chaperone me on the test drive, which was much appreciated considering my age.

I will definitely have to check out that 530 this weekend!

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 05:47 PM
The more I think about it, the more I don't think I want a 530. I am sure it is a great car - maybe better than a 99 540. However, as mentioned in a different thread on the 'Fest, there is stigma associated with driving a "newish" 5-series.

I also don't want to buy my dream car....yet. Since I have a whole lifetime of car buying ahead of me, I think I would be better off with something a bit older...and a 1999 or 2000 540i adheres to my policy of choosing horsepower over fluff (let the record show that this policy is hereby instated).

I would get a new e46, but I run into the stigma thing with a new one, and used e46s keep their value so well, not enough money is saved over new.

So, I think I want a 540. I will drive the 530, but my guess is, it will be too expensive, have too many miles, or have some deficiency that keeps me from buying it.

Mystikal
01-13-2003, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by zcasavant

So, I think I want a 540. I will drive the 530, but my guess is, it will be too expensive, have too many miles, or have some deficiency that keeps me from buying it.

Let it come down to the drive. That will tell you if the 530's power is enough, and if the handling difference is worth the power tradeoff.

Here's to even having the choice between these 2 fine automobiles. :thumbup:

zcasavant
01-13-2003, 05:53 PM
Originally posted by Mystikal
Let it come down to the drive. That will tell you if the 530's power is enough, and if the handling difference is worth the power tradeoff.


It goes beyond the power and handling. I just might not be ready for a 2001 5-series - seems like a car my father might like though...

PropellerHead
01-14-2003, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by zcasavant
A 2000 540i with 50k miles varies from $35 to $40k - WHEW! I was worried about your earlier thoughts on a 2000 540 like mine for mid 30's. Good to know I at least have mileage (26K yesterday) on my side.Originally posted by zcasavant I just might not be ready for a 2001 5-series - seems like a car my father might like though... Just because of the year 2001? Is there something ab the appearance- like the color matched side mouldings or angel eye lights or something? If I were looking, I would consider the latest year model I could afford as they are historically the most trouble free and have the best bells and whistles.

Now, if it were, as in your case, between the 530 and 540.. Well, you SEE the choice I made.:thumbup:

zcasavant
01-17-2003, 07:33 AM
Just got a call from Wagner BMW. They just got a 2001 530i 5-spd in. Antracite with black interior - Sport/premium package, nav, dsp sound, comfort seats, xenons...basically all the doodads.

What is the sport/premium package? how does it differ from the individual sport and premium packages?

thanks