Thinking of buying a 1993 M5. Need Advice [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: Thinking of buying a 1993 M5. Need Advice

11-25-2009, 11:43 AM
Hi All,
Long time fest member here from over on the E39 section.
My beloved 2001 540i M tech hydro-locked in some serious flooding here in Panama last week and my insurance company will be writing her off Im getting about $13,500 to play with.

I need some advice from you regarding the E34 in terms of reliability. My E39 was a BLAST to drive and it put a smile on my face every day, but she was a BEAR on maintenance. The E39's have notorious issues with cooling systems, bushings, window regulators, and display pixel failures (all of which I had replaced on my E39 and spent alot in the process).

I have been toying with leaving the BMW world for Lexus/Infiniti but I can't seem to pull the trigger on any of the cars I have seen so far. Nothing beats a bimmer in terms of the smile on your face :bigpimp:

Anyway, I found a M5 for sale with 40,000 miles on her with a computer chip mod. The owner is asking $9,400 but negotiable. My question is, will I be in the same position maintenance wise as I was with the E39? I know the older bimmers were actually much more reliable. How is the M5 as a DD?

What should I look for when inspecting it. I am planning on going out there this weekend if I can.

Here are some pics

E36 Phantom
11-25-2009, 12:28 PM
Looks gorgeous. Basically all BMWs have cooling system issues - water pump, radiator, t-stat, etc. Bushings are common wear items as well. I'm not too familiar with the specific problems of the M5 but I'd expect there to be some maintenance costs involved. One nice thing is the pixel failure from E38/E39s doesn't seem to happen on the E34s.

11-25-2009, 02:26 PM
The E34 M5 is a much more temperamental ride than your E39 540. It will seem underpowered until you wind it past 4k rpm in comparison to the V8. Much more pleasing car to drive when everything is right. The usual BMW stuff to look for like front end wear, cooling system issues, steering box slack, self leveling system woes but infinitely more rewarding once the problem areas are resolved. My sons Calypso 93 is a daily driver and my silver 91 gets less than 500 miles a year (I know, I know). I just drive the Touring with the M5 suspension and S52 M3 engine mostly. These are classics and now is the time to buy while the prices are bottomed out.

11-25-2009, 02:27 PM
If you think your 540i was a bear on maintenance, then wait until you get into an e34 M5. Valve adjustments every 10-15k miles (uses replacement shims), equally as fragile front suspension (although the rear is bullet proof), rear self leveling suspension that will cost at least a few thousand in parts alone, plus labor (which WILL go bad), door weather seals shrinking ($200-300 a pop), and on top of that, parts are at leas twice as expensive as even your 540i; water pumps are $300, thermostat is $100, the gasket ring to the thermostat is $30, valves are $60-80/ea, and need I go on. That and the engine only has a life expectancy of around 200,000 before needing a rebuild, which can easily set you back $8-10,000 if you do NOT have it done at the dealership.

Simply put, the M5 is not for the light hearted. It feels slow until ~3000 rpm, but after about 4000rpm, the engine comes on cam, and a chill runs down your spine as you start carving through the corners like no other. You see, the m5 is a special car that requires a hell of a lot of love, more so than almost every other BMW, but owners don't mind so much the extra cost, because what it gives back something very special indeed. If you are worried about maintenance, do NOT get the M5, especially if the 540i was more maintenance than you would of liked.

For a daily driver, it is an amazing car, and I would go recommend you test drive it, let it get warmed up, and gun it around redline for a bit. If that doesn't convince you of why people spend so much maintenance on these cars, then I would start looking elsewhere. Also, before you buy, MAKE SURE you get it inspected by a professional, and REQUIRE a leakdown/compression test. With such low miles, you should be a OK, however thanks to the age, almost all the rubber bits will need replacing.

11-25-2009, 03:03 PM
Thanks for the honest opinions. I'll check it out and then make my decision.
I would realistically like to lower the cost of running, and not raise it. But on the other hand it is an M5 ;-)
Well see....