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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 06-20-2015, 10:45 AM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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Location: St. Louis
 
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Mein Auto: 2001 Lexus GS300
Thinking about buying a 540i/M

So title says it all. There is a 2001 540i for sale in my area and for about 9900 (which I think is a bit high, was thinking closer to 8500.). There's 117K on the odo and from the pictures seems to be in great shape. It's a 6speed with the M-Sport package, so all the good options. Seller specifically mentioned Koni adjustable coil-overs and magnaflow catback exhaust.
I drive a 2010 Genesis sedan now and am having a hard time convincing myself to sell a car that I have a factory warranty on for a 14 year old car w/ 100K plus miles. These are supposed to be a blast to drive, but all my common sense is trying to tell me no. I've loved the way these look and I work from home now so having a 100% dependable car isn't a must. My wife's car is an '10 RDX so we're ok from that stand point. Here's a few pics from the craigslist ad. It's local and I'm going to try to test drive it tomorrow. There's a shop in town that specializes in imports, I was going to have them do a PPI if I really get serious about it. Anyway, what do the experts think? I'm aware it will probably need a coolant system redo & timing chain guide. I am no master mechanic so I may have to pay to get the big things like that fixed. If I get the chance to drive it, I'll check all the lights, windows, sunroof, heat/AC, etc. Anything else to be terrified of? -Thanks!




Last edited by matt21484; 06-20-2015 at 10:48 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-20-2015, 11:22 AM
SSJRICH 540i's Avatar
SSJRICH 540i SSJRICH 540i is offline
00 E39 540i/6 M Sport
Location: Vancouver, BC
 
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Posts: 522
Mein Auto: '00 540i M sport
Nice wheels. 3 piece M parallels??

Just be prepared to send $$$$. That's all. When stuff brakes or wears out, it aint cheap unless you can do it yourself. Also if you are not into BMW's, you want to find yourself a good local shop too. They are ultimate driving machines when they are up to date on maintenance.

The only thing with be that having the coilovers, you will get a firmer ride quality over and OEM set up. That's about it.

And definitely have a PPI done. Have the cooling system pressure tested. AND get a compression test done too. The best thing to do is to get the car DEAD cold. Like sat for over night cold, and then start the car up with your head under the hood and listen for timing chain rattle or any other noises.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 06-20-2015, 12:40 PM
aioros aioros is online now
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Location: Wildomar, CA
 
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Mein Auto: '99 528i auto , '01 330xi
Im trying to do (or eventually) the opposite of what you are comtemplating to do. So, the Genesis is on top of my wish list. Which engine model do you have? If you have ever driven an e39, how does your Genesis compare to the e39 in terms of driving experience?
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  #4  
Old 06-20-2015, 02:43 PM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 Lexus GS300
ThanksSSJRICH for the input. I did find a shop that does work on imports and will give them a call about a PPI if I get a chance to look at the car next week. I'm curious about the suspension setup, we'll see how it rides.

aioros, I have the base 3.8 model w/ Navigation. As far as bells and whistles, it works fine for me. The car rides great on the highway, but the suspension is a bit stiff. You will feel bumps in the road. The internet says that every model year improves on the ride quality and the 5.0/rspec lines in 2010 year are an improvement over the base 3.8/4.6. I never drove either so I can't say. I originally got the car b/c we needed the size and the luxury it offers is great for the price. We were able to take it on 400 mile road trips with 2 kids (1 front, 1 rear facing) plus wife riding shotgun without any space issues. Trunk is large enough to swallow two strollers and luggage. In 3.8 form, it's just a bit boring. Kids are older now and we don't haul nearly as much junk around. I live in CO now and am looking for something a little more fun to drive through the mountains on. I work from home so at the end of the day, taking a 45 minute drive through some twisty's is not out of the question.
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  #5  
Old 06-20-2015, 03:18 PM
lesguy lesguy is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 540/6 Sport
Google 'e39 timing chain guides' or rails

Very very common with this engine. Very very laborious to fix. That's biggest concern with the engines on these

Bought my 2003 540/6 in December with 102k. Guides failed two weeks ago. No warning except occasional startup rattle (which isn't always chain related). Several thousand in total repair costs. Or if you are quite handy and have all the right specialty tools, a few dozen of your own hours can tackle it
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  #6  
Old 06-20-2015, 03:55 PM
aioros aioros is online now
aioros
Location: Wildomar, CA
 
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Mein Auto: '99 528i auto , '01 330xi
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt21484 View Post
ThanksSSJRICH for the input. I did find a shop that does work on imports and will give them a call about a PPI if I get a chance to look at the car next week. I'm curious about the suspension setup, we'll see how it rides.

aioros, I have the base 3.8 model w/ Navigation. As far as bells and whistles, it works fine for me. The car rides great on the highway, but the suspension is a bit stiff. You will feel bumps in the road. The internet says that every model year improves on the ride quality and the 5.0/rspec lines in 2010 year are an improvement over the base 3.8/4.6. I never drove either so I can't say. I originally got the car b/c we needed the size and the luxury it offers is great for the price. We were able to take it on 400 mile road trips with 2 kids (1 front, 1 rear facing) plus wife riding shotgun without any space issues. Trunk is large enough to swallow two strollers and luggage. In 3.8 form, it's just a bit boring. Kids are older now and we don't haul nearly as much junk around. I live in CO now and am looking for something a little more fun to drive through the mountains on. I work from home so at the end of the day, taking a 45 minute drive through some twisty's is not out of the question.
Thx for your input. I guess, I need to start test driving the different car/models that are on my wish list so I can keep the ones I like and scratch off the one I don't.
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  #7  
Old 06-20-2015, 04:04 PM
clark49660 clark49660 is offline
Supercharged 540i
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You need this 540 http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-s...01137723&Log=0
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  #8  
Old 06-20-2015, 04:15 PM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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Ha, thats a purdy car their, Clark. Bit outside what I'm willing to spend on a 14 year old car.
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  #9  
Old 06-20-2015, 04:37 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
Location: Under the lift arms
 
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Mein Auto: E39 540, E36 328is, E83x3
There is no think, there is only do

matt thats the same as mine..

Its a good car.. its no different then the rest.. its a tu..

figure 15k in to it over the duration of the ownership and you will see 350,000 miles..

very nice car
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Last edited by Burning2nd; 06-20-2015 at 04:40 PM.
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  #10  
Old 06-20-2015, 06:42 PM
aggieshan aggieshan is offline
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Mein Auto: 540i M sport
It is not an M sport. Wheels do not look like OEM.
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  #11  
Old 06-20-2015, 08:40 PM
surveyor911 surveyor911 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540i
I'm not convinced that the timing chain guides are as big a failure rate as it might seem. I think it's a little over blown. Maybe I'm just lucky but I have 170k on the clock and have intermittent noise at start up. I have no noise at all when at idle. I do have a good record of oil changes and have replaced the external chain guide tensioner. I believe the first owner drove all highway miles and conservatively.
That being said its no a cheap car to maintain but should be good for some high mileage.
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  #12  
Old 06-21-2015, 01:35 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
Under the lift arms
Location: Under the lift arms
 
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Mein Auto: E39 540, E36 328is, E83x3
i have start up noise on brand new chains and guides...
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"Burning 2nd is a lot like vitamin tonic. Overly harsh, tastes like crap, but somewhere in all that there's good intent......just have to learn to read between the lines, actually you have to squint really hard to see the good, but its there somewhere"

15486372<-----
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  #13  
Old 06-21-2015, 10:29 AM
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Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is online now
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You're looking at a 14 year old car with a bunch of mods. Tread carefully. As transportation, the decision makes no sense at all.

This car would be a hobby. If you want a new one, go for it.

This guy has lost his mind. Pre-facelift to boot! Plus I'll bet with that mileage not a single preventative procedure has been performed. Bad enough when EAG does stuff like this, now every joker with a low mile car wants to try? Good for entertainment value.
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  #14  
Old 06-21-2015, 10:30 PM
BavarianDDR17 BavarianDDR17 is offline
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Location: Cupertino, CA
 
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Mein Auto: e39, e60
Don't know if the seller is listing it that way, but the M-Sport package for the E39 was only available (in the US at least) in 2003. There are some M-inspired items on previous E39 sport packages but the easiest way to tell is that the one from 2003 has a factory aero kit that mimics the M5, in addition to other things.

I'm sure it's a great car either way, just want to make sure the seller isn't misrepresenting.
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  #15  
Old 06-26-2015, 12:33 PM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 Lexus GS300
So I met the seller earlier this week and test drove the car. I didn't have a lot of time as I was on my way out of town for work. But it rode really well. Went up and down the highway and service road. both interior & exterior were in great shape. There were a few body panels that looked a bit worn, like they were starting to give way. May have bumped into something, etc, but no "real" damage (IE no cracks, or major scratch marks). I ran a mycarfax report which turned up the following list of items. Looks like the coolant system was done, but that's about it. The center console wood trim had 3 cracks in it, but figure that is not difficult to source or replace and the shift boot had a small hole in it as well. Again no big deal. I didn't hear any rattles, but don't really know what sound I should be looking for anyway. All windows went up and down and auto up/down where they should. Sunroof opened all the way and the tilt mechanism worked. Really couldn't complain about the condition of the car, which makes this an even harder choose. The only negative I can say is I'm not totally thrilled with the basic silver. I think silver cars look so blah. I've looked at the M5 pictures and I like the black trim that wraps the car, is that a fairly easy mod to pull off? Anyway, anybody feel like chiming in? If I decide to move forward, I will certainly get a PPI

Last edited by matt21484; 06-26-2015 at 12:35 PM.
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  #16  
Old 06-26-2015, 01:03 PM
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Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is online now
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Radiator does not equal cooling system. But is good to know it was done.

Owner should be able to get for you from any dealer a full list of work done while car was under warranty. That was a long time ago, but still good to know.

I agree re Titanium, but it does grow on you and looks clean longer than other colors. I previously had 01 530 sport in the color.

FYI the size of the pasted CF graphic makes post hard to read, you should make smaller if you can.
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  #17  
Old 06-26-2015, 05:20 PM
clark49660 clark49660 is offline
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Location: Michigan
 
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Mein Auto: 1999 S/C 540i sedan
The black trim that wraps the car is an easy diy. Titanium silver is a sweet color. Maybe I'm bias
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  #18  
Old 06-26-2015, 05:26 PM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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haha clark, I like your mods, tastefully done. and I think the black trim is what does it . Is there any way to get a build sheet easily? I have the VIN and have gone to realoem, but that just shows the available parts, not what it left the factory with. Thanks everyone for chiming in, good or bad.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:38 PM
clark49660 clark49660 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt21484 View Post
haha clark, I like your mods, tastefully done. and I think the black trim is what does it . Is there any way to get a build sheet easily? I have the VIN and have gone to realoem, but that just shows the available parts, not what it left the factory with. Thanks everyone for chiming in, good or bad.
Matt, Thank you. I think there is a site for decoding your vin#, But I can't remember which one. Maybe someone here will chime in with the info.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:43 PM
clark49660 clark49660 is offline
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Matt, try this site. http://www.bmwarchive.org/vin/bmw-vin-decoder.html
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  #21  
Old 06-26-2015, 06:53 PM
matt21484 matt21484 is offline
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Thanks Clark, that did it. So now that the options are known, does anything look out of place or can be used as bargaining chip? I see the dreaded DSP, but everything else looks normal. I like that it had the M Sport suspension, but it currently has the Koni coilers on it now.

Data for vehicle identification number: WBADN53421GC97358
***65532;Model description
Market
Type
E-Code
Chassis Steering
Doors
Engine
Drive Transmission Body color Upholstery Production date Assembled in
540I
USA DN53
E39 Limousine links
4
M62/TU - 4,40l (210kW) Heckantrieb
manuell
Titansilber Metallic (354) Standardleder/schwarz (N6SW) 12.03.2001
Dingolfing
***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65 532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;* **65532;***65532;Code Serienausstattung
S210A Dynamische-Stabilitäts-Control
S249A Multifunktion für Lenkrad
S302A Alarmanlage
S354A Frontscheibe grün Grünkeil
S431A Innenspiegel automatisch abblendend S438A Edelholzausführung
S441A Raucherpaket
S473A Armlehne vorne
S520A Nebelscheinwerfer
S534A Klimaautomatik
S555A Bordcomputer V mit Fernbedienung S645A BMW US Radio
S845A Akustische Gurtwarnung S850A Zusätzl. Tankfüllung Export S853A Sprachversion englisch S876A Funkfrequenz 315 MHz
Standard Equipment
Dynamic stability control
Multifunction f steering wheel
Alarm system
Green windscreen, green shade band Interior mirror with automatic-dip
Fine wood trim
Smoker package
Armrest front
Fog lights
Automatic air conditioning
On-board computer V with remote control BMW US Radio
Acoustic belt warning
Additional Export tank filling
Language version English
Radio frequency 315 MHz
***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65 532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;* **65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***655 32;created on: www.bmwarchiv.org
***65532;Data for vehicle identification number: WBADN53421GC97358
***65532;Code Serienausstattung
S992A Steuerung Kennzeichenbefestigung
Code Sonderausstattung
S319A Integrierte Universal-Fernbedienung
S403A Glasdach elektrisch
S456A Komfortsitz mit Memory
S465A Durchladesystem
S494A Sitzheizung Fahrer/Beifahrer
S500A Scheinw.Rein.Anl./Intensivreinig. S521A Regensensor
S522A Xenon-Licht
S609A Navigationssystem Professional S640A Vorbereitung Telefoneinbau universal S677A HiFi System Professional DSP
S694A Vorbereitung BMW 6 CD Wechsler S704A M Sportfahrwerk
S710A M Lederlenkrad
S760A Hochglanz Shadow-Line
S785A Blinkleuchten weiss
S788A BMW LM Rad Individual
S818A Batteriehauptschalter
S925A Versandschutzpaket
Code Serienausstattung
S459A Sitzverstellung elektrisch mit Memory
S464A Skisack
S488A Lordosenstütze Fahrer u. Beifahrer S602A Bordmonitor mit TV
Standard Equipment
Control of number-plate attachment
Optional Equipment
Integrated universal remote control
Glass roof, electrical
Comfort seat with memory Through-loading system
Seat heating driver/passenger Headlight wipe/wash/Intensive cleaning Rain sensor
Xenon Light
Navigation system Professional Preparation f tel.installation universal HiFi System Professional DSP Provisions for BMW 6 CD changer
M Sports suspension
M leather steering wheel
High gloss shadow line
White direction indicator lights
BMW LA wheel, Individual
Battery master switch
Transport protection package
Standard Equipment
Seat adjuster, electric, with memory
Ski bag
Lumbar support, driver and passenger On-board monitor with TV
***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65 532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;* **65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***655 32;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;** *65532;***65532;***65532;***65532;

Last edited by matt21484; 06-26-2015 at 07:07 PM.
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  #22  
Old 06-27-2015, 07:58 AM
Edgy36-39's Avatar
Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is online now
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VIN decode useful, but not what I was talking about. A service report of all work done by BMW while car was under new warranty.

See attached for report on my M5. Even though many years have passed, it would be good to confirm what was done and when. And learn funny little facts.

Like that the original owner of my car must have been huge, since he broke the driver seat twice!
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  #23  
Old 06-27-2015, 02:52 PM
Spencercat Spencercat is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 540i/6
I don't think that's anywhere near a $9k car, more like a deal at $6k, but I might be willing to pay $7k if I really liked it. If it were an '03 540i, then maybe, but not with the run of the mill body. Mileage is low, but where did those comfort seats come from? Were they offered on the Sport models? There are usually quite a few 540i/6's available, if you are in a major metropolitan area.

If you do buy it, know that you will likely enjoy it more than anything else (until it breaks down). Very balanced car. Very quiet, plenty of power, nice interior. Biggest failings (apart from maintenance issues) are the headlights and the now-outdated radio.

My first was a joy to drive, esp. after redoing the suspension (which it sounds like this one has already had done). But then the timing chain guides went, I had to replace the clutch/flywheel (at 150k miles), the PS pump bracket broke, the radiator exploded, etc. All over the course of 5 years. What did I replace that '99 with? An '03 (in silver).

As to 8 vs. 6, the torque makes the difference. The BMW 6 is a legendary engine (I've had a few), but it needs to be wound out to make anything like the torque of the V8. 2000 RPM at 70 mph in sixth gear... with enough power to pass.

Last edited by Spencercat; 06-27-2015 at 03:08 PM.
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  #24  
Old 06-27-2015, 03:07 PM
Spencercat Spencercat is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 540i/6
For example:

http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...-6-SPEED-SPORT
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