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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-22-2007, 11:49 AM
pauliec pauliec is offline
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Location: NJ
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 67
Mein Auto: 2000 540i 6-spd
New here... seriously looking at a 540 6-speed

Hi everyone,

This place looks like a great forum. I started researching the 540's and I found you guys via google; everyone seems really friendly and helpful so I thought I'd join up.

For the past 3 years I've been driving a hugely lame VW Passat 1.8T. It has done the job, and even though it's a *nice* car, it's appeal has run its course with me. As a matter of fact, when I bought I had wanted an e46 but settled for that instead.

Well, now I've found a gorgeous 2001 540i 6-speed, and it seems like it's too good a deal to pass up. I just wanted everyone's opinions first. The car has had one owner and has 80,000 miles on it. I brought along a good friend (who is a great mechanic and BMWCCA member) to look at the car for me when I test drove it. We both determined that the belts, hoses, tires, and even the radiator and expansion tank (is that the right term? I momentarily forgot) all look pretty brand new. It seems like all the hard work was already done on this car.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the water pump and the catalytic converters. However, as far as I know, if the water pump doesn't go in the first 50k miles, then it probably won't. Is that true? As far as the cat. converters go, I'm pretty worried. I heard they go for as much as $1200 apiece.

Despite that, the rest of the car is near perfect. The interior is absolutely flawless. The exterior isn't bad -- some dings and scratches you would expect with a 5 year old car. There is, however, a dent in between the headlight housing and the left kidney grill, and that kidney grill is cracked. It looks like someone backed into the car. It's not very noticeable, but my first order of business if I buy the car is get the hood fixed up and repainted.

Anyway, that's my story. I drove the car and I have to say, it feels like nothing else I've ever driven. I used to own a Nissan 300zx 5-spd and it's miles above that, I mean it's that sweet (although I'm sure you already know how great it is, haha). However, I'm still worried about the mechanics.

What do you guys think?
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2007, 12:17 PM
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jermiester1 jermiester1 is offline
'00 540i Sport
Location: Woodinville, WA
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 198
Mein Auto: 2000 540i
Welcome to the forum and potentially to BMW ownership. You will not regret buying a 540i6. It is a great car. I have a 2000 540i and enjoy every minute of driving it. You do need to be aware going into this that BMW ownership is not cheap. If you're not a DYI kind of guy, repairs and services can be costly. You should figure on around $2K per year for repairs and maintenance. E39's of the mileage you are looking at have a number of predictible items that need to be delt with. Here's a link to a site with some good tips http://www.540i6.com/probsfixes.html. It may be worth the money to have the car inspected from top to bottom by a reputable BMW mechanic so there won't be any surprises going into this. BTW, I have 120K miles on mine and the cats are fine. Welcome, and best of luck. If you buy it, post some pics.
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  #3  
Old 05-22-2007, 12:21 PM
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GlobalIntention GlobalIntention is offline
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Location: Colorado
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 378
Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 528i M Sport
How much are you going to be paying for this car because there is someone on these forums selling his baby. Very good looking car here is the link to it. 98 540i six speed with some mods done to it.

http://bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=199688
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  #4  
Old 05-22-2007, 12:42 PM
94CSI 94CSI is offline
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Location: Georgia
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 256
Mein Auto: 540I
You can use aftermarket cats that are not nearly as expensive as OEM. BTW I have 140k on my 1999 540i6 and still have the original cats w/ no problems so far.
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  #5  
Old 05-22-2007, 12:54 PM
pauliec pauliec is offline
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Location: NJ
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 67
Mein Auto: 2000 540i 6-spd
Thanks for the replies on the cats, I guess that's a little more comforting. What about any water pump problems?

GlobalI, that car is pretty nice, but I prefer to get one that I can mod myself... kind of like a blank canvas if you know what I mean.
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  #6  
Old 05-22-2007, 02:09 PM
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smader12 smader12 is offline
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Location: Rochester Hills, Michigan
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 286
Mein Auto: '99 528i
Cats I think are typically an issue, but like 94CSI said, you can go aftermarket and get them for 1/5 the cost of OEM cats (about that I think). I've had no issues with my water pump, but it looks like they're only about $120 on pelicanparts.com. I'd say, get the car and enjoy it. I got my '97 two years ago, so far all I've had to change (besides oil) is one coolant hose--about $10-$15 I think. I got the car with 92K on it and I now have 129K.
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1999 Black on Black 528i Sports/Premium | Style 5 Rims | DJ Auto Angle Eyes w/HID | V1 for protection
RIP: 1997 Montreal Blue 540i | Koni FSD | Eibach Pro Kit | M style grill | Umnitza P39's & Clear Tails | K&N Air Filter
BMWCCA #152100
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  #7  
Old 05-22-2007, 07:17 PM
pauliec pauliec is offline
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Location: NJ
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 67
Mein Auto: 2000 540i 6-spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by smader12 View Post
Cats I think are typically an issue, but like 94CSI said, you can go aftermarket and get them for 1/5 the cost of OEM cats (about that I think). I've had no issues with my water pump, but it looks like they're only about $120 on pelicanparts.com. I'd say, get the car and enjoy it. I got my '97 two years ago, so far all I've had to change (besides oil) is one coolant hose--about $10-$15 I think. I got the car with 92K on it and I now have 129K.


So there's no problem with using non-OEM replacement parts? That's good, because I'm sure BMW really bends you over on part replacement.
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  #8  
Old 05-22-2007, 07:50 PM
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smader12 smader12 is offline
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Location: Rochester Hills, Michigan
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 286
Mein Auto: '99 528i
I know for the cats and the entire exhaust system, a lot of guys use aftermarket. I'm not really sure about other parts, but you're right, the OEM parts are pretty pricey. Let us know what you decide.
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1999 Black on Black 528i Sports/Premium | Style 5 Rims | DJ Auto Angle Eyes w/HID | V1 for protection
RIP: 1997 Montreal Blue 540i | Koni FSD | Eibach Pro Kit | M style grill | Umnitza P39's & Clear Tails | K&N Air Filter
BMWCCA #152100
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  #9  
Old 05-23-2007, 06:22 AM
KTrostel KTrostel is offline
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Location: St. Louis, MO
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 620
Mein Auto: 1998 540i and 2002 M5
Here are a couple of thoughts:

1 - Use Magnaflow OBDII CA Compliant cats when yours die.
2 - Unless you can be absolutely sure of how old the cooling system is, Replace the cooling system regardless of how good it looks. Use the best parts. $400 for parts if you are a DIY'r Vs $8K for a new engine + install
3 - Clutches aren't cheap but there worth 120K+ miles under moderate driving.
4 - Brakes are another DIY item that the dealer will rape you to preform.
5 - Front and rear struts, no one seems to replace them. The car won't appear to need them, it probably does.

Main thing to know - DO NOT OVERHEAT the car. If a hose/tank/radiator/water pump fails, your coolant is above its boiling point at atmospheric pressure - 110 deg C. All the coolant inside the engine will boil off in short order. If the needle goes into the red, pull over and shut it down.

Best of luck

Last edited by KTrostel; 05-23-2007 at 06:26 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-23-2007, 11:58 AM
pauliec pauliec is offline
Registered User
Location: NJ
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 67
Mein Auto: 2000 540i 6-spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTrostel View Post
Here are a couple of thoughts:

1 - Use Magnaflow OBDII CA Compliant cats when yours die.
2 - Unless you can be absolutely sure of how old the cooling system is, Replace the cooling system regardless of how good it looks. Use the best parts. $400 for parts if you are a DIY'r Vs $8K for a new engine + install
3 - Clutches aren't cheap but there worth 120K+ miles under moderate driving.
4 - Brakes are another DIY item that the dealer will rape you to preform.
5 - Front and rear struts, no one seems to replace them. The car won't appear to need them, it probably does.

Main thing to know - DO NOT OVERHEAT the car. If a hose/tank/radiator/water pump fails, your coolant is above its boiling point at atmospheric pressure - 110 deg C. All the coolant inside the engine will boil off in short order. If the needle goes into the red, pull over and shut it down.

Best of luck

Good advice... I actually had the water pump on my Volkswagen blow last year with about 55,000 miles. I guess the guys at VW think they can get away with premium prices for service because they are of German origin - something like $700 to replace the water pump. After that, I learned how to do a lot of replacement stuff on my own.

If I wind up getting this car (which I hope I do), I'll post some pictures and enjoy posting here.

btw, if anyone knows anybody who is in the market for 2002 VW Passat 1.8T with 60k miles, send me a message.
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