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E39 M5 (1998-2003)

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  #1  
Old 12-03-2010, 04:59 AM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Is the reliability really as bad as they say?

Hey guys, looking into maybe getting rid of my ZHP for an 03 M5 (assuming everything checks out), but potential reliability issues have me a little concerned. I've heard all sorts of stories about how M5s are a nightmare to maintain, but I've never seen any specifics (and when I search, information seems to be too scattered to really understand thoroughly). I'm prepared for an increase in maintenance costs, but will the car have a lot of down time? Is the maintenance generally DIYable? If I'll end up having it in the shop more often than I can drive the car, I'll probably try to go for a 550 M-sport. The E39 M5 has been my dream car for a long time though, I'd much rather get into one of those if it's practical

Thanks for any advice you can offer
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2010, 06:41 AM
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Many people have 130K+ miles on their E39 M5's. If you stay up on the preventative maintenance, and plan on budgeting about $1,200 per year to maintain it (excludes tires), you be fine. It's a great car, I've daily driven mine for 5 years (about 50K mi), and it's needed it's share of maintenance work, but has never left me stranded. As long as you have the $100/month set aside in the bank for when you need to fix a leaky rear main seal, or worn out bushings, or a leaky rear diff, you'll be fine and should love it.
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  #3  
Old 12-04-2010, 07:14 AM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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That makes me feel much more comfortable -$1200 a year is just a little more than what I've been paying for my zhp. I already pay $300/tire for this car, and according to tirerack, it's not much worse on the m5; guess I'd have to be more careful with the throttle just so they last

my test drive will have to be postponed though... No point driving an M5 when it's snowing out *sigh*
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  #4  
Old 12-04-2010, 07:18 AM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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There is an M5 board to look for more info. The "beast" does have a price and we have choices. Nice car.
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  #5  
Old 12-04-2010, 09:07 PM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Originally Posted by dalekressin View Post
There is an M5 board to look for more info. The "beast" does have a price and we have choices. Nice car.
Yea I've been looking at m5board too. I've just always liked the community here and wanted to see what your thoughts were. I accept that there's a price to pay to drive one - I'm okay with that as long as it doesn't get to the point where I'm fixing the car more often than I'm driving it.

And thanks - the red one is mine. The gray one belongs to a neighbor of mine; we got together for a quick photo shoot. It's been a great car. If I didn't want something a bit bigger (and more powerful) I wouldn't dream of selling it. It's just that my needs have changed, and an M5 would be perfect for what I'm looking for. I suppose I could go 540i too... but the E39 M5 has been a dream car of mine since they first came out; now that they're within my grasp, I definitely want to go for one.
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  #6  
Old 12-09-2010, 05:24 PM
Aijay's X5 Aijay's X5 is offline
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Dude, go for it. The difference in maint costs isn't that much. And most of the work is DIYable, if you are brave. i will suggest finding a good independent BMW mechanic and you will be fine. The E39 M5 is NOT a toy, it is a brute of a car in a fine business suit. Master it and you will be glad you did. Fair warning though, you will never be the same once you become a 'beast-master'. I LOVE my car and will NEVER sell it, no matter what.

BTW: contact kenny832 on this forum, he just switched from a ZHP to a beast!
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  #7  
Old 12-09-2010, 05:32 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Yea I've been looking at m5board too. I've just always liked the community here and wanted to see what your thoughts were. I accept that there's a price to pay to drive one - I'm okay with that as long as it doesn't get to the point where I'm fixing the car more often than I'm driving it.

And thanks - the red one is mine. The gray one belongs to a neighbor of mine; we got together for a quick photo shoot. It's been a great car. If I didn't want something a bit bigger (and more powerful) I wouldn't dream of selling it. It's just that my needs have changed, and an M5 would be perfect for what I'm looking for. I suppose I could go 540i too... but the E39 M5 has been a dream car of mine since they first came out; now that they're within my grasp, I definitely want to go for one.
E39 M5 is a DIY repair car compared to the E60 M5
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2010, 11:20 AM
kenny832 kenny832 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Yea I've been looking at m5board too. I've just always liked the community here and wanted to see what your thoughts were. I accept that there's a price to pay to drive one - I'm okay with that as long as it doesn't get to the point where I'm fixing the car more often than I'm driving it.

And thanks - the red one is mine. The gray one belongs to a neighbor of mine; we got together for a quick photo shoot. It's been a great car. If I didn't want something a bit bigger (and more powerful) I wouldn't dream of selling it. It's just that my needs have changed, and an M5 would be perfect for what I'm looking for. I suppose I could go 540i too... but the E39 M5 has been a dream car of mine since they first came out; now that they're within my grasp, I definitely want to go for one.
I too traded in my ZHP coupe for a e39 M5, and I too had considered, test drove a 2003 540i 6 speed with the M package, but at the end of the day, it's nice to have the real deal. I have not regretted the M5 and you probably won't either.
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  #9  
Old 12-25-2010, 10:19 PM
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OP - I'm in a similar situation - wow this thread makes me want an E39 more.
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  #10  
Old 12-25-2010, 10:33 PM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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I've actually since decided to go for an E46 M3... very different car I know, but right now I feel like the E46 chasis still suits me better. I just had a lot more fun driving the M3. It didn't help that the seller of the E39 I wanted to buy just stopped answering my emails even though I was ready to fly over and buy the car on the spot. E39 will probably be too old by the time I'm truly ready for a larger car, but we'll see what happens, I might buy one anyway. I'm taking delivery of the M3 either late next week or early the week after
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  #11  
Old 01-12-2011, 05:33 AM
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I bought my 2000 M5 new and have put 118k miles on it. The most expensive repair to date was a new clutch at 88k miles. I get about 25k on set of tires. Got 77k on the first set of brakes. Getting 19 mpg. The car has never let me down, ever. Much more reliable and inexpensive to own than my wifes E320 or G500.

Looking forward to another 10 years of driving this great car.

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  #12  
Old 01-17-2011, 04:09 PM
bimmernut1 bimmernut1 is offline
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In one word, no. I've found them very reliable if they are kept up. It's not a car to let routine maintenance slip on. However, the newest one is now 8 years old so those saying they are not reliable will eventually be right. However, they may miss out on 15 or 20 years of fun waiting to be right.

Here's a link to a discussion of M5 longevity and reliability that I posted on the M5board.

http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/e39...mile-club.html
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  #13  
Old 01-25-2011, 08:47 PM
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This thread is short, but-for me- GREAT! The lease on my Z4 is up in May, and I was debating between getting a new 3 or 5, or getting the car I've wanted since 2004...The E39 M5. I was planning on getting the cleanest one I could find and performing all the wear and tear maintenance on it, then maintaining it myself, and from the experience of the forum, it sounds like that plan isn't as insane as I thought it would be. Excellent...
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  #14  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:53 AM
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I think there are a lot of fanbois here who have yet to experience a big repair bill for the M5.

Don't get me wrong, I have a 2003, and I love my M5.

But if your margin is so tight that you can only budget 1200 bucks a year for maintenance, this aint the car for you.

Do you know how much it cost if your VANOS goes?

Or how about the regular problems of the S62, crank position sensor, cam position sensor, valve cover gasket, fuel sending unit, leaky powersteering hoses, crappy butter soft rear sway links, or even the POS central locking? If you are not handy, can you handle the bills?

And what if your 2003 M5 with 40K miles engine granaded because the VANOS guide went while you were driving? Can you afford to get a used crate motor or have it rebuilt? It is sinificantly cheaper if this were to happen on a pedestrian engine like those in the regular E46.

Let's not even talk about the parts cost for brakes or Michelin Pilot Sport 2.

Just because it now costs 20 some odd K to buy one, it doesn't mean it no longer requires parts for a 75K car.
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  #15  
Old 02-24-2011, 08:05 PM
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Wow, great thread that I never knew I needed to read. I, too, have a ZHP, but am looking to add to the stable with a E39 M5 as a weekend and sometimes car, keeping the ZHP as more of a daily (higher MPG) car. I would say I'm exceptionally handy and capable, as long as I have (or can acquire) the right tools. Sounds like this potentially--or actual--classic BMW is a nice snag as long as I'm up to turning some wrenches. I dig that it's a bit more of a "real car" than the current model, with all of the iDrive and computer crap. That's why I loved the wife's old E36/7 MRoadster, with it's straight-forward maintenance and such.

Still a few months out, but having a car that's a 10-year-old platform (even if 2003, it's a 2000 base) with 400hp and the stance and capability of an ///M BMW is nothing to sneeze at, and still more attractive to me than the Pontiac G8 GXP which would be a competitor for me. I just hope I'm not totally dreaming to have this as a sometimes car and affordable, along with a now-aging 2004 E46. BTW, just did the first brake job on the ZHP at 71k miles, and only needed to replace the rear pads right now. Fronts in a few months, or so,with some new rotors. Awesome. I wish the rear lights were as awesome, with the crappy groundwire issues. Fixed that the other night, though.

Thanks for the info, and I look forward to any added commentary! It's been forever since I've been on here, but hopefully I'll have some more time to stay current.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:00 AM
TerraPhantm TerraPhantm is offline
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Hmm, I forgot I made this thread. I'm still loving the M3, I don't really regret my decision. I will probably add an E39 non-M (540i?) to my stable as a daily driver at some point though
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  #17  
Old 03-03-2011, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
. I will probably add an E39 non-M (540i?) to my stable as a daily driver at some point though
With the costs of M5s so low, I'd do a M5 as a DD ...but only if you DIY.

Mine is my DD for the last 120,000+ miles.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:14 AM
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Hmm, I forgot I made this thread. I'm still loving the M3, I don't really regret my decision. I will probably add an E39 non-M (540i?) to my stable as a daily driver at some point though
Terra: I would be interested in hearing the factors leading to your decision of an E46 M3 over the E39 M5. All other things being equal (condition, mileage, maintenance history, price, availability, etc.), what tipped the scales toward the M3 for you? Like you, I have considered both vehicles as a "stablemate" for my X3, but have not had an opportunity to drive either.

On the whole, I fancy myself more of a "coupe person" than a "sedan person" when it comes to styling, and expect that the smaller M3 would be more nimble than the M5. Plus my transportation needs really don't dictate that I have a sedan. But nevertheless, I still find myself torn between the M3 the M5 -- it kind-of depends on my mood that day...
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  #19  
Old 05-21-2011, 01:24 AM
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Just because it now costs 20 some odd K to buy one, it doesn't mean it no longer requires parts for a 75K car.
Well put.
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  #20  
Old 05-23-2011, 06:36 AM
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well... the M5 is a cruel mistress ... i am the second owner, and the first owner did maintenance to the teeth (changed oil every 5k, every maint possible on time) and did $15000 worth of maint and repairs post warranty ... after i picked it up... i still had at least $5000 worth of preventative and non-preventative maintenance and repairs to go...
just tackled MAF sensor malfunctions, now i got front control arm bushings... the problems never end if you want to make it run perfectly
and i baby my m5 like never before... if i drove it like i drove my z4, man, amex will love me long time.

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  #21  
Old 05-23-2011, 10:46 AM
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"S62" "S62" is offline
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Preventive maintnence is key to these cars. Dont buy a E39 M5 if you dont like cars. Tires are expensive and same with gas but no **** when you have a FAST V8. Get one that has already had the VANOS unit fixed/replaced, I wouldnt be to concerned about rod bearing failure. I love mine to death and I take amazing car of it. I am constantly doing things to it because I love cars to death. Id get a 2001 and up just because you get the angel eyes, tail lights, and upgraded NAV but if the price margain is huge it doesnt matter you can always buy those things from other board members for half the price.
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:54 AM
RJMDADM5 RJMDADM5 is offline
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I have had my baby for over ten years and 66K miles - no problems at all, she is my daily driver and trust me, I drive my M5 like I stole it, daily - Keep up on the maintenance and you should be fine.
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  #23  
Old 11-13-2011, 12:10 PM
captain haddock captain haddock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuka View Post
I think there are a lot of fanbois here who have yet to experience a big repair bill for the M5.

Don't get me wrong, I have a 2003, and I love my M5.

But if your margin is so tight that you can only budget 1200 bucks a year for maintenance, this aint the car for you.

Do you know how much it cost if your VANOS goes?

Or how about the regular problems of the S62, crank position sensor, cam position sensor, valve cover gasket, fuel sending unit, leaky powersteering hoses, crappy butter soft rear sway links, or even the POS central locking? If you are not handy, can you handle the bills?

And what if your 2003 M5 with 40K miles engine granaded because the VANOS guide went while you were driving? Can you afford to get a used crate motor or have it rebuilt? It is sinificantly cheaper if this were to happen on a pedestrian engine like those in the regular E46.

Let's not even talk about the parts cost for brakes or Michelin Pilot Sport 2.

Just because it now costs 20 some odd K to buy one, it doesn't mean it no longer requires parts for a 75K car.
Wow. You called it well. I just bought a 2002 M5 with 49k miles on it. It had just had the valve cover gaskets replaced. I took it in to have the annoying seat rail blocks removed (what's with that anyway? Why build it properly and then cut off the last bit of the rail?) I was told the power steering hoses and reservoir were leaking, the left rear sway bar was broken, and both rear upper control arms needed replacing. All this for a car that 2,000 miles before had been completely serviced and none of these problems had been identified. Now, I am just waiting for all the other things you mentioned to need replacement.

How common is the VANOS failure you mentioned?

Thanks,
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Old 11-13-2011, 12:12 PM
captain haddock captain haddock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by "S62" View Post
Preventive maintnence is key to these cars. Dont buy a E39 M5 if you dont like cars. Tires are expensive and same with gas but no **** when you have a FAST V8. Get one that has already had the VANOS unit fixed/replaced, I wouldnt be to concerned about rod bearing failure. I love mine to death and I take amazing car of it. I am constantly doing things to it because I love cars to death. Id get a 2001 and up just because you get the angel eyes, tail lights, and upgraded NAV but if the price margain is huge it doesnt matter you can always buy those things from other board members for half the price.
How much is a VANOS unit? Also what is "rod bearing failure"? Thanks
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  #25  
Old 11-13-2011, 04:19 PM
ard ard is online now
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True VANOS failures- hard failure of the whole vanos- is rare.

More likely we seen vanos solenoid failures- both solenoid failures and o-ring seal failures. $1000 for a board. and hour to install.

M5 is pretty expensive to keep running perfectly- death by 1000 cuts.... if you cannot DIY it can be very painful. Especially since it is a $73,000 car that people buy for $15k..and zero repair/maintenance history.
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