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Old 11-28-2012, 10:12 AM
adam98540 adam98540 is offline
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Location: Tiburon, CA
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
Mein Auto: '03 330i-6MT
This rather frustrating search for a 530i (or maybe even a 330i) has me reconsidering getting another 540i. It's not my intent to turn this thread into yet another I6 vs V8 thread, but it's worth mentioning that the I6 isn't exactly a maintenance-free penny pinching engine either.

I6 weaknesses
  • Fixing an oil pan gasket leak on the I6 requires dropping the front subframe and supporting the engine from above. A Sacramento area shop quoted around $600 for this, and I think they might be on the less expensive end.
  • The $8 oil filter housing gasket that always leaks requires a few hours of labor to get to.
  • The 5-speed manuals have an issue where the shift lever rests under 5th (selector shaft locking pin sticks in its bushing). My understanding is this can be fixed and parts cost is cheap, but the transmission has to come down.
  • VANOS issues are common
  • DISA fails. Easy fix for even novice DIY, but a $200 part.
  • Valve cover gasket leaks

V8 weaknesses
  • Valve cover gaskets leak
  • Valley pan gasket leaks
  • Upper timing cover gasket can leak (less common than the other leaks?)
  • Timing chain guide rail can disintegrate!

As someone who would ask an indy mechanic to take care of these issues, I think most of it is a wash. The V8's timing chain guide rails are a painful problem, though it is hard to tell just how common it is. That's the big thing that the I6 seems to have (or not have) over the V8.

Now consider that 540i6s are practically common and available for thousands less than 530i5s. If your driving is primarily highway, the difference in gas mileage shrinks. I manage 24 mpg in my 540 now. What would a 530i get on the same commute? 28?

Food for thought...
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