Pay a BMW mechanic to go over the car mechanically. Take heed to what others here say.
If the only thing wrong is a bad trans, worst-case is maybe $5k for a factory rebuilt unit, which is the best way to go. Local rebuilds tend to be of poor quality.
These cars, as they get older, need more intensive maintenance, and this car is 15 years old. If you need to rely on a shop to do the work, you should probably walk away. If you have solid automotive DIY experience, these cars are not that difficult to wrench.
Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
Last edited by edjack; 10-30-2012 at 04:46 PM.