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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 01-04-2013, 09:28 AM
Beryxil Beryxil is offline
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Location: Tumwater, WA
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i
What do I need to check after buying?

Hi Everyone,

I just purchased a 1997 528i with 98,000 miles on it. What are the things I should check out? I have read that I need to do the coolant system overhaul, but what else do I need to check?

I have never owned a BMW so I don't know how it should feel or sound. Any help would be great.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:47 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
You should have had it checked BEFORE you bought it to identify any problems and potentially negoiate a lower price. Since that horse has already left the barn, you need to replace your complete cooling system. Then check your brakes. Everything else is on an as-needed basis unless you desire to perform preemptive maintenance. I strongly suggest you learn to DIY as maintenance on these cars can suck you dry. DIY makes them quite affordable. Enjoy the ride.
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  #3  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:47 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Wow! Takes real guts to buy an old BMW w/o knowing what the future may hold.

Spend time browsing the Stickies. This site has a wealth of information on maintenance and repair. Common wear items are noted.

First, buy the Bentley E39 service manual. Second, buy a good scan tool. Third, change all the lubes and fluids (you may want to do the cooling system overhaul at the same time as changing the coolant).

Fourth, replace the VANOS seals.

The E39 chassis is quite sophisticated; that's why the car handles so well. Many of the suspension components do require replacement to keep the car handling well.

We are glad to help with specific questions. We do expect you to do some research yourself before asking questions, and report the mileage and symptoms, along with trouble codes. Vague questions are not entertained.
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Last edited by edjack; 01-04-2013 at 10:05 AM.
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  #4  
Old 01-04-2013, 10:10 AM
Beryxil Beryxil is offline
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Location: Tumwater, WA
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Maybe it's all guts and no brain More likely it was probably not enough research upfront and a short timeline.

The car seems to work great. Thanks for your suggestions. I will start there and cross my fingers that I didn't get a bad car.

Thanks again.
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  #5  
Old 01-04-2013, 10:41 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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Mein Auto: '98 528
Welcome. I would do the basics first- Fluids, filters, brake bleed, check pad wear and replace the plugs. There are a lot of supporters of coolant system overhauls as a preventive measure. I dont really subscribe to that. Ive got 187k miles on my 528 and the cooling system is fine. If you feel like spending the $$, go for it. It may be worth getting a Peake code reader if you plan on doing your own work. They are great cars.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2013, 11:08 AM
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IndiansFan IndiansFan is offline
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Mein Auto: '99 528iT
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beryxil View Post
Hi Everyone,

I just purchased a 1997 528i with 98,000 miles on it. What are the things I should check out? I have read that I need to do the coolant system overhaul, but what else do I need to check?

I have never owned a BMW so I don't know how it should feel or sound. Any help would be great.

Thanks.
If you have no knowledge of the service history of the car I would do the following:

Follow the advice of edjack's Item 1 and 2. Do the following inspection at the same time as Item #3. Then move on to Item #4. You will probably find other items that need to be addressed as a result of performing the inspection points below.

BMW Inspection II
The Inspection II Service is the larger of the two Inspection Services and basically includes all of the items performed on the Inspection I Service along with some extras like differential oil change; fuel filter and air filter replacements; Replacement of spark plugs. Inspection II generally runs around $500+ to $800+, if you take it to a BMW dealer or independent BMW mechanic.. Below are the items that are normally performed. If you are a Do it yourself mechanic and performing the inspection yourself, there are many sponsors listed at the top of this forum above that you can source the necessary parts. Click on site sponsors for links.

Undercarriage
Change engine oil and Oil Filter, check engine at its normal operation temperature.

Check transmission for leaks.

Check rear axle for leaks.

Visually check fuel tank, lines, and connections for leaks.

Check condition, position, and mounting of exhaust system. Examine for leaks.

Check power steering system for leaks.

Check overall thickness of front and rear disc brake pads.

Examine brake disc surfaces.

Clean brake pad contact points in calipers.

Grease wheel center hubs.

Check steering for absence of play, condition of suspension track rods, front axle joints, steering linkage, and joint disc.

Check front control arm bushing for wear.

Check brake and clutch system connectors and lines for leaks, damage, and incorrect positioning.

Check for free movement of the parking brake cables. Adjust parking brake if necessary.

Check all tire pressures (including spare). Correct if necessary.

Check condition of tires (outer surfaces (left/right)), tread wear and pattern; In case of uneven tread wear readjust wheel alignment if required.

Check thickness of parking brake linings.

Half-shafts; check for leaks at flexible boots.

Inspect entire body according to terms of rust prevention limited warranty.


Engine Compartment

Read out diagnostic system with BMW scanners.

Check engine cooling system/heater hose connections for leaks.

Check coolant level and antifreeze protection level; add coolant if necessary.

Check level of brake and clutch fluid in reservoir; add fluid if required.

Check windshield washer fluid level and antifreeze protection. Fill up and/or correct if necessary.

Check air conditioner for operation.

Reset Service Indicator.

Replace spark plugs.

Replace intake air cleaner element (Air Filter).


Body/Electrical Equipment

Check battery electrolyte level and add distilled water if required.

Perform battery load test.

Check lighting system, i.e. headlights, foglights, parking, backup, license plate, interior (including map reading lights), glove box, flashlight, illuminated makeup mirrors, luggage compartment lights.

Check instrument panel and dashboard illumination.

Check all warning/indicator lights, check control.

Check turn signals, hazard warning flashers, brake lights, horns, headlight dimmer/flasher switch.

Check wiper and washer system(s); wiper blades, washer jet positions.

Check condition and function of safety belts.

Oil hood, trunk/tailgate, and door hinges.

Grease hood, trunk/tailgate and door latches. Check operation of all latches.

Check central locking/double lock.

Replace microfilter or Acc Cabin Filter.

Check heater/air conditioner blower, rear window defogger.

Check rear view mirrors

Visually examine the SRS airbag units for torn cover, obvious damage or attachment of decals, decorations, or accessories.


Final Inspection

Road test with check of brakes, suspension, steering, clutch/manual transmission or automatic transmission
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2013, 11:42 AM
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gchand gchand is offline
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B. - you've gotten an earful of great advice from the above posts. My first observation is that a 1997 with only 98,000 miles on it would be an extremely low mileage car. Which can indicate several positives and maybe one scary negative. My gut, FWIW, is that you bought well.
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2013, 01:14 PM
Beryxil Beryxil is offline
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Location: Tumwater, WA
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Quote:
Originally Posted by gchand View Post
B. - you've gotten an earful of great advice from the above posts. My first observation is that a 1997 with only 98,000 miles on it would be an extremely low mileage car. Which can indicate several positives and maybe one scary negative. My gut, FWIW, is that you bought well.
What would the scary negative be?

I will confess that I am very pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the community. I was nervous buying the car not knowing much about it or BMWs, but the friendliness and responsiveness of the community makes me feel much better about the car even if I have to fix things.

Thanks everyone!
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2013, 05:26 PM
mhobryan mhobryan is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i 5 speed
The one scary thing ... that it has 1,098,000 miles or the odo has been tampered with.
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  #10  
Old 01-04-2013, 06:00 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,283
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beryxil View Post
friendliness and responsiveness of the community makes me feel much better about the car even if I have to fix things.
Thanks everyone!
Everyone has helped you as they're part of the community.

The community includes you.

Your job is to pay the community for the service it provides you in turn.

That's my job too. And the job of everyone who posted above.

That's what it means to be part of the community.

You WILL have issues to fix on your brand new (to you) bimmer. Trust us on that.

Just as you should have looked over the car BEFORE you bought it, you also should look for the answers before you post them.

The best thread to read, front to back, is the sticky thread:
- How To Easily Find Information on Your E39 Topic Before Posting a New Thread

Here's what you should do for each of your issues:
a) Search for information
b) Read that information
c) If you need more help (you will) then ask in the existing threads
d) If it's unique, or you're not getting traction, open a new thread
e) Whenever you can, ADD VALUE by posting pictures, comments, research, DIYs, etc.

Now, back to your question.
Here is a list of common broken parts and a canonical thread already linked for you:
As for the checklists of things to test, these are the official ones:
- BMW service/maintenance schedule (1) & checklists I, II, and III (1) (2) & tips for newbies for what maintenance to initially perform (1) (2) and typical 150K mile maintenance issues (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & inspections (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & check/replace all fluids (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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