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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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  #26  
Old 01-14-2010, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Where do I begin?

Insurance.
Fuel.
More maintenance due to more parts (two heads versus one, etc)
Tires.
Quote:
kinda sorta but not really but i'll give you this one
Tickets.
General wear and tear of a higher horsepower engine on hard parts (tranny, third member, etc)

I'm not dissing the 540. I'm merely stating the obvious.
fixed...
insurance wasn't much different
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  #27  
Old 01-14-2010, 07:50 AM
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  #28  
Old 01-14-2010, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Live in a dream world much?
just talking from experience...
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  #29  
Old 01-14-2010, 08:24 AM
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ok, maybe we're getting off on a wrong foot. the V8 does cost more but my such a small margin, it boils down to how well the owner treats it.

most people have the misconception that bigger the motor, the bigger the cost of ownership. well, look at rotary motors. every rex owner i have spoken to all had some sort of an oil leak yet the motor has very little moving parts. it's all about how well a car is maintained. the I6 and V8 aren't much different when it comes to cost of ownership. it's just a matter of cost and personal preference.
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  #30  
Old 01-14-2010, 08:44 AM
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10k budget for a 540? Isn't gonna happen. Unless you can get a 97 or 98 in GREAT shape for 5 or 6k$. Good luck!
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  #31  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Mack View Post
10k budget for a 540? Isn't gonna happen. Unless you can get a 97 or 98 in GREAT shape for 5 or 6k$. Good luck!
I'm finding this a bit pessimistic, and the general attitude that made be think I couldn't afford a nice 5-series bimmer. Since reading the many helpful posts in this thread I've found a couple (yes only a couple) good 540's. Having 1 or 2 owners, with alot of the maintenance records, under 120K. They haven't been exactly local yet, but I'm hopeful now.
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  #32  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Where do I begin?

Insurance.
Fuel.
More maintenance due to more parts (two heads versus one, etc)
Tires.
Tickets.
General wear and tear of a higher horsepower engine on hard parts (tranny, third member, etc)

I'm not dissing the 540. I'm merely stating the obvious.
1: Not much difference
2: More parts? You mean valve cover gaskets and such... Ask me at 100K if your hasn't failed as well. While I agree, some parts for the 540i are more expensive, I would rather pay it, and have 6 speeds, 282hp, and 320 lb/ft of torque over what a 530 gives you.
3: Really??? Why. If you drift every corner, and do not have an alignment, sure. Also, staggered wheels add to rear wear, but who cares...
4rive smart, and this goes away... Or spend $400 on a valentine V1, and solve that issue.
5: Same tranny as the M5, not worried. The motor is designed to make that power... You think 2 more cylinders and 1.4 liters of displacement, not to mention more valves and better gearing don't make the car feel quicker as well???

Talk to me about how your trip to the dealer to get your "vanos rattle"resolved... We can compare bills there...

Suspension is the same design, and may only wear out quicker with the 540i due to agressive driving.

Interiors are the same...

Driveline is basically the same, except the weaker Autos and manuals in the 530/525.

Exterior is identical.

So where is the money pit?
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  #33  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack View Post
10k budget for a 540? Isn't gonna happen. Unless you can get a 97 or 98 in GREAT shape for 5 or 6k$. Good luck!
I bought my 2001 for 10.5K...

Sure, I had $1500 in stuff done so far, but it coulda been worse, and honestly, $500 of that was something I knew about when buying the car.

It is not impossible...

Hell, I'll sell mine for $10,000 tomorrow!!!
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  #34  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:19 AM
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Don't get me wrong. There are 540's for $10k or less all day long. I see them daily on autotrader. Bug getting one for $10k or less that has had ALL of the necessary work done and done properly will be an incredibly difficult task. I also don't narrow this simply to the 540 as it really includes ALL E39's. So in closing:

1. Yes you can purchase an E39 under 10k
2. If after the first 12 months of that purchase you still have less than $10k into it including parts, labor, towing, mental anguish etc... I would be thoroughly impressed.

FYI I posted this in another thread but it make even more sense in this one. Again, goodluck!

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  #35  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaputsport View Post
I bought my 2001 for 10.5K...

Sure, I had $1500 in stuff done so far, but it coulda been worse, and honestly, $500 of that was something I knew about when buying the car.

It is not impossible...

Hell, I'll sell mine for $10,000 tomorrow!!!
FYI my math isn't great but $10.5k + $1500 = $12,000
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  #36  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:33 AM
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Funny how only the 540i/6 guys are saying owning a V8 is almost as economical/practical as a 6. I'm pretty sure the 6 cylinder guys would feel differently.

I never said the 540 was a money pit, I merely said more horsepower equal more cost.

It's just simple common sense.
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  #37  
Old 01-14-2010, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Funny how only the 540i/6 guys are saying owning a V8 is almost as economical/practical as a 6. I'm pretty sure the 6 cylinder guys would feel differently.

I never said the 540 was a money pit, I merely said more horsepower equal more cost.

It's just simple common sense.
Then by your math, the 530 is more of a money pit than the 525... and the 323 is the most economical car out there... well, unless you get an E36 318ti...

Thing is, that the 6 cylinder guys may think differently, but if you talk to anyone with a 540i CPO, I am sure the tides change. Cheaper 540's will cost some cash to upkeep, but not nearly as much as cheaper I6's... The more expensive the car, the more them cost of ownership... And the cheaper you buy them used, the lighter your wallet feels.
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  #38  
Old 01-14-2010, 10:30 AM
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Why do the 540 guys keep using the phrase "money pit" when I never did?

Once again, more horsepower equals more cost. In comparable condition, a 530i will cost you less in the long run than a 540i.
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  #39  
Old 01-14-2010, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Why do the 540 guys keep using the phrase "money pit" when I never did?

Once again, more horsepower equals more cost. In comparable condition, a 530i will cost you less in the long run than a 540i.
i think it's even. the V8 has more power takes less effort = less wear. I6 with less power will be more taxing on the motor to do the same. in the long run, it's the same.
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  #40  
Old 01-14-2010, 10:57 AM
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Bah I6's are recognized as some of the best motor designs in history with several awards for BMW over the span of many years. Bottom line is ANY E39 is going to cost you quite a bit of $$ in upkeep whether it's an 8 cylinder or inline 6. I think we can ALL agree on that. So in essence, I guess I agree with you Chivas. Cheers!
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  #41  
Old 01-14-2010, 11:00 AM
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The same? Not a chance.

I'll try to keep that in mind that while I'm getting 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

And I agree that ALL BMW's have the potential to become expensive if not taken care of properly.
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  #42  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:31 PM
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I notice that the vast majority of those who say that a 540 cost a lot more to maintain don't own one, so how is it they know this? I have had a 540 as a daily driver for over four years now. I can say that the only extra cost for maintenance has been two extra spark plugs. Every single other item, (door regulators, cooling system, MAF, tires, filters, oil, etc) are things that are common on all E39's. The cooling system does last a bit longer on the 6 cylinder cars, but then they have a bad habit of blowing the head gasket when it does fail. A blown head gasket is a very rare thing on a 540, and fairly common on 6's.
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  #43  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:41 PM
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I notice that the vast majority of those who say that a 540 cost a lot more to maintain don't own one, so how is it they know this? I have had a 540 as a daily driver for over four years now. I can say that the only extra cost for maintenance has been two extra spark plugs. Every single other item, (door regulators, cooling system, MAF, tires, filters, oil, etc) are things that are common on all E39's. The cooling system does last a bit longer on the 6 cylinder cars, but then they have a bad habit of blowing the head gasket when it does fail. A blown head gasket is a very rare thing on a 540, and fairly common on 6's.
Doesn't the 6-speed transmission 540 have a 20% higher failure rate than the 5-speed on a 525/28/30? Extra gears = extra problems, right?

dave
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  #44  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:44 PM
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do it - just not that one

Make them run it through a high pressure wash before you buy and check the bottom of the doors for leaks or drips...I missed this one myself!

Get a 540 great bang for the buck. My next car (addition) will be an e39 540 wagon or an e39 530i. I love the 530 feel. With that said I don't regret the fact that every time I fix something even if it is expensive as it is always a good feeling. Either I know something won't explode, or I can feel the difference...peace of mind is brutal. In a 540 I know I need to keep up on everything so it won't pile up. At the same time I hope any bimmer owner would do the same. It isn't always that way...keep looking and snatch up a gem...

ps - keep 2 grand in the dresser drawer for a soon to be discovered day.
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  #45  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack View Post
Don't get me wrong. There are 540's for $10k or less all day long. I see them daily on autotrader. Bug getting one for $10k or less that has had ALL of the necessary work done and done properly will be an incredibly difficult task. I also don't narrow this simply to the 540 as it really includes ALL E39's. So in closing:

1. Yes you can purchase an E39 under 10k
2. If after the first 12 months of that purchase you still have less than $10k into it including parts, labor, towing, mental anguish etc... I would be thoroughly impressed.

FYI I posted this in another thread but it make even more sense in this one. Again, goodluck!

I concur
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  #46  
Old 01-14-2010, 04:04 PM
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I notice that the vast majority of those who say that a 540 cost a lot more to maintain don't own one, so how is it they know this?
Simple research plus I have a good friend I work with that has owned a nice 540i/6 as well as a recently purchased E39 M5 so I get to see his repair bills and hear his laments all the time.

And the ZF 5-speed was strong enough for the E36 M3, so I would imagine it will live behind the M54B30 for quite some time...with proper maintenance, of course.

Last edited by AnotherGeezer; 01-14-2010 at 04:10 PM.
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  #47  
Old 01-14-2010, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
The same? Not a chance.

I'll try to keep that in mind that while I'm getting 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

And I agree that ALL BMW's have the potential to become expensive if not taken care of properly.
I get 29 mpg highway. Traveling 15,000 miles a year, that equates to $51 dollars more spent on gas per year (a gallon of gas costing $3 dollars per) or $255 over 5 years. If that's a deal breaker, well, so be it. It was not for me, neither is two extra spark plugs ($14 bones), or an extra set of valve cover gaskets ($39 bones), or extra intake manifold gaskets ($31 bones), or an extra camshaft position sensor ($105), or an extra quart of oil ($5 bones). That's a grand total of $449 dollars over 5 years. That difference wasn't a deal breaker for me and if it is for anybody, then they are looking at the wrong car.
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  #48  
Old 01-14-2010, 06:10 PM
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Doesn't the 6-speed transmission 540 have a 20% higher failure rate than the 5-speed on a 525/28/30? Extra gears = extra problems, right?

dave
how is it a trans that handles 400+ HP without an issue would break mated to a motor that puts out 300?
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  #49  
Old 01-14-2010, 07:02 PM
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how is it a trans that handles 400+ HP without an issue would break mated to a motor that puts out 300?
I guess that all depends on the skill of the pilot but the Getrag should definitely be tough enough to handle the 540's torque no problemo.

I'd keep the power-shifting to a minimum on either manual.
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  #50  
Old 01-14-2010, 09:33 PM
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not all sports have the 3 spoke steering; 97-98 540 sport has the 4 spoke and with the winter package, they are heated 4 spoke which with the recent artic blast has been a god-send to have; not all winter package has the headlight washers either.. at least for the older models. also, for the 540, the 97's did not come with shadowline trim for some odd reason. not sure why. also, the 97 540's navigation had some DUDE's voice... creepy if you ask me but it does come with TV which is now useless since the signals all went digital. the 98+ nav does not have TV but the upgrade is a simple plug and play.

but it is true that if you buy cheap, you'll buy twice on these cars. what may seem like a deal at first can be nothing more than a money pit down the line and you'd end up spending probably more to fix it up than enjoying it. this kind of reminds me of when i picked up my e30 M3; there's the $15,000 rule on the e30 M3's. you can pick one up for $10,000 but end up spending $5K fixing it up or pick up a $15,000 that needs nothing. 6 or half a dozen, you'll end up spending $15K for the E30 m3.
Chivas:

Since the OP had referenced a 2001 540 in the attachment, my comments were specific to that model year.
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