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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 04-26-2015, 03:36 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 with a sweet six
When to move on from E39?

When do you stop fixing all the stuff that wears out/breaks on the E39?


I have enjoyed my 530 for the last 8 years and have 350,000 KM (217,000 miles) on it.
Today I decided that once I use up the parts I have (new and used) that I will stop fixing it and sell it or crush it when it needs MORE parts. The last winter was very hard on it, and a lot of rust is now showing.

In May I will replace the driveshaft (used) , both rear CV shafts (used) , rear ball joints (again), rear wish bones, rear upper control arms and rear sway bar end links. I already replaced the rad, thermostat, water pump, rad hoses, and both front thrust arms.


I am simply running out of energy to keep it in near perfect condition.

What is your criteria to decide when to move on?
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2015, 04:13 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Mein Auto: 12- 2002 530i Auto,
When your repair recipts add up to more than its original MSRP.. I belive mine sold for 47,000 I'd have to dig out the original window sticker again..
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2015, 05:03 PM
Steve535 Steve535 is offline
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Good question, I had to replace my A Clutch about 4 months ago, and since then have not had too many issues, I'm sitting on 420,000 KM's and currently replacing the CCV and Valley Pan etc. I think if i had another major repair bill like the transmission I'd call it quits, but the body of mine is still in great condition, and I could go out and buy a lower K's E39 but it would probably have the same amount of repair bills come up as the one i currently have!! So it's a hard call.
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2015, 05:20 PM
edjack edjack is online now
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The Tin Worm is probably a good limiter. I'd say, when the jack pads collapse on the jack, it's time.
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  #5  
Old 04-26-2015, 06:30 PM
rcatank rcatank is offline
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NEVER!!!!!


actually pretty close - for me its more has a sentimental value to it - so for me I will keep as long as I can, plus I have been very much blessed with a non-lemon. After doing routine maintenance for 8 years (from ownership), I find absolutely nothing wrong with the car. After replacing parts with good aftermarket value after passing 90k, I enjoy it a lot more than before.

Most common big ticket items were:
- Full suspension replacement - all 20 lemforder suspension parts, swaped for H&R sway bars, new KW2 coilover suspension, wheel hubs, 19" wheels and Continental DW summer tires
- Full cooling overhaul, all hoses, new BEHR radiator, and Stewar water pump, tanks.
- Brakes - upgraded to Brembo's

Though, since I knew I was going to end up keeping the car "forever", and I went up on the budget for a lot of things - I see no reason to go buy me a new car as a daily driver. The only reason I would buy a new car, would be to buy as a toy or weekend car or part time business car.
IF you or others have not realized, the forums here on the E39 section are still going after 12 years of last production. That to me is amazing - I have not seen soo many people help out technically on forums before with pictures and illustrations to help out.

To me, this was the best car I'd want to own. (E46 as 2nd close if I had a choice to buy that, but I'm a tall guy so....)
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  #6  
Old 04-26-2015, 07:05 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcatank View Post
After replacing parts with good aftermarket value after passing 90k, I enjoy it a lot more than before.
You may have a different opinion when you have an additional 127,000 miles of wear and tear.
After a while you will tire of changing the entire cooling system every 4 years, replacing sway bar tie rod ends every 2 years (or sooner), and the list goes on...

I love my 530 and love driving it, but I do look forward less DIY and more driving.
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  #7  
Old 04-26-2015, 08:13 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
I am at 150K and am thinking about possible future replacement.
The problem is: there is none that comes to close to a used E39 in terms of:
- reliability
- the amount of DIYs available
- the ease of servicing (who wants to change a battery in an E60 that requires resetting some computer thingy?).
- the nice solid ride on the highway
- nice "classic" look
- fewest electrical gremlins
- the cost of maintenance is relatively low.

If perfection is 10, the E39 is 9.5. It is hard to find a car that has so many qualities like the E39

PS: Mercedes has its own problems and lack Man Trans, Audi...not my cup of tea, Honda...No!, Subaru...No! BMW...Yes but the newer models turn me off.
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  #8  
Old 04-26-2015, 08:23 PM
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matt540 matt540 is offline
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Festers must take the e39 into the 1,000,000 mile club.
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  #9  
Old 04-26-2015, 08:57 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am at 150K and am thinking about possible future replacement.
The problem is: there is none that comes to close to a used E39 in terms of:
- reliability
- the amount of DIYs available
- the ease of servicing (who wants to change a battery in an E60 that requires resetting some computer thingy?).
- the nice solid ride on the highway
- nice "classic" look
- fewest electrical gremlins
- the cost of maintenance is relatively low.

If perfection is 10, the E39 is 9.5. It is hard to find a car that has so many qualities like the E39

PS: Mercedes has its own problems and lack Man Trans, Audi...not my cup of tea, Honda...No!, Subaru...No! BMW...Yes but the newer models turn me off.
I agree on the perfection of the E39.

My replacement short list is either a EcoBoost Mustang or WRX. AWD is very, very nice and great reliability.
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2015, 09:42 PM
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Zerodynamic Zerodynamic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am at 150K and am thinking about possible future replacement.
The problem is: there is none that comes to close to a used E39 in terms of:
- reliability
- the amount of DIYs available
- the ease of servicing (who wants to change a battery in an E60 that requires resetting some computer thingy?).
- the nice solid ride on the highway
- nice "classic" look
- fewest electrical gremlins
- the cost of maintenance is relatively low.

If perfection is 10, the E39 is 9.5. It is hard to find a car that has so many qualities like the E39

PS: Mercedes has its own problems and lack Man Trans, Audi...not my cup of tea, Honda...No!, Subaru...No! BMW...Yes but the newer models turn me off.
I completely agree with you! I love my e39, and it would be very hard for me to give it up. With the exception of a couple of ignition coils, a radiator, and a fuel pump, my 540 has been pretty good to me. Between the PO of my car and myself, we've tackled almost every wear part or part prone to failure within 100k. I don't see myself getting rid of my 540 until 250k, even then I may be compelled to rebuild everything all over again.

I did contemplate trading my 540 for an Acura TSX or a TL-S. Before I get flamed, I obviously didn't do it because I still own the car, however I did consider because I get a new (better paying) job, but my commute is now 40 miles round trip (20 miles in traffic) compared to 15 miles round trip, no traffic. As much as I love my 540, clutch, brake, clutch, clutch, brake gets really old on CA-24 every morning. I didn't go through with it because while both cars are very well equipped for the money.... they felt cheap and flimsy, but also fwd and torque steer like you wouldn't believe! My new plan is to get an e30 beater and use that to commute while the 540 stays at home.

I also hate new BMW's! The e38, e39, and e46 were the last real bimmers, imho. The e90 is the prettiest Honda BMW has ever made.

I would only get rid my 540 if a) an e39 m5 showed up on my doorstep, b) I'm in my mid 40's, my house is paid off, and I have my dream 911 in the garage.
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  #11  
Old 04-27-2015, 02:21 AM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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I've always heard the rule of thumb was that when any major repair (engine, tranny, suspension, etc.) equaled 1/2 the cars value, it's time to let it go. We had an e38 with 285k on the clock and when the tranny bit the dust we sent it to the salvage yard because it didn't make sense to put $2.5k into a car that's only worth $3k. That being said, my wife would love to still have that car because it's not every day you see a purple 7 series with purple interior. (okay, it was Navarro Violet, but you get the picture).
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  #12  
Old 04-27-2015, 08:03 AM
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AnotherGeezer AnotherGeezer is offline
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Until I find a better car, the 530i gets fixed.
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  #13  
Old 04-27-2015, 09:09 AM
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eparayno eparayno is online now
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Mein Auto: 2001 530i
I've "retired" my 530i to daily and baby hauling duties. It has been trouble free for the past two years of daily duties though. Very forgiving car to work on plus being modern enough. I will sell her soon though because I need something bigger.

My new toy is an old rwd k-jet Volvo now. Extremely easy and cheap to maintain and it quells my modifying itch perfectly as it sits in the garage
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  #14  
Old 04-27-2015, 09:21 AM
Jicafold Jicafold is offline
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Kudos to the Volvo turbo. I had a 1999 V70 T5 I sold to buy my e39. I drove that for 2 years and made money on the sale. Volvo has very healthy DIY support and depending on the model, you can pick rear, front, or all wheel drive. I'd get a newer volvo V70 R if I could find a nice one and I had the money. Then I wouldn't have to strap a bike rack to the trunk of my e39.
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  #15  
Old 04-27-2015, 09:56 AM
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TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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When I find a suitable replacement, i.e. never
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  #16  
Old 04-27-2015, 10:15 AM
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Dking078 Dking078 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHockeytowner View Post
When I find a suitable replacement, i.e. never
That about sums it up
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For Sale! PM for info
1 set of E39 OEM Technical Graphite "Cubic" Interior Trim $290 Shipped
1 Set of BMW E39 OEM Individual Gray Leather Interior Trim $260 Shipped
1 Set of E38 OEM Illuminated Interior Door Handles $72 Shipped
E39 OEM Euro Dash kit (Black vinyl) SoCal pickup ONLY $385

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  #17  
Old 04-27-2015, 10:26 AM
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chefterry chefterry is online now
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I plan on driving my 540 until it dies....Then I'm going to store it and start rebuilding it from the ground up. My plan is to give it to my son when he turns 18. That's 17 more years lol. Then he'll have a classic e39
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  #18  
Old 04-27-2015, 10:32 AM
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bmdubya1198 bmdubya1198 is offline
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Whenever my car completely falls apart... that's when I'll move on... to another E39. cn90 summed it up pretty well...
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am at 150K and am thinking about possible future replacement.
The problem is: there is none that comes to close to a used E39 in terms of:
- reliability
- the amount of DIYs available
- the ease of servicing (who wants to change a battery in an E60 that requires resetting some computer thingy?).
- the nice solid ride on the highway
- nice "classic" look
- fewest electrical gremlins
- the cost of maintenance is relatively low.

If perfection is 10, the E39 is 9.5. It is hard to find a car that has so many qualities like the E39

PS: Mercedes has its own problems and lack Man Trans, Audi...not my cup of tea, Honda...No!, Subaru...No! BMW...Yes but the newer models turn me off.
I agree completely. I can't do the Japanese cars... just don't like them. Mercedes is a bit worse than BMW as far as repairs and Audi doesn't offer RWD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt540 View Post
Festers must take the e39 into the 1,000,000 mile club.
Someone's gotta do it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jicafold View Post
Kudos to the Volvo turbo. I had a 1999 V70 T5 I sold to buy my e39. I drove that for 2 years and made money on the sale. Volvo has very healthy DIY support and depending on the model, you can pick rear, front, or all wheel drive. I'd get a newer volvo V70 R if I could find a nice one and I had the money. Then I wouldn't have to strap a bike rack to the trunk of my e39.
+1... Volvos are great cars. Lots of options, and plenty of DIY guides.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
When your repair recipts add up to more than its original MSRP.. I belive mine sold for 47,000 I'd have to dig out the original window sticker again..
I'll go by yours. I calculated that mine was around $60,000 new (don't have a window sticker), which was around $85,000 at the time I calculated it. I can't see how my car cost that much 16 years ago, all I can say is depreciation can be a wonderful thing!
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  #19  
Old 04-27-2015, 10:38 AM
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TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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A million-mile E39? Put me down for that challenge! 214k and counting. I've always wanted to rebuild an engine...

But something tells me that the M54 is not exactly the best engine to cut one's teeth on
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  #20  
Old 04-27-2015, 12:39 PM
plmadding01e39 plmadding01e39 is offline
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I'll be driving the 540 for the foreseeable future, but eventually I'd love to move to Jaguar. An XF or maybe XJ. Both are stunningly beautiful cars.

More likely though, is that my next vehicle will be a five year old Lincoln Navigator.
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  #21  
Old 04-27-2015, 12:52 PM
Steve535 Steve535 is offline
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The only other car I'd really want is an audi sport quattro, considering only 200 were ever made, i don't think that will be happening. I think years down the line I might convert a UR quattro to a sport, but that's a pipe dream, until then 422,000 k's and counting on the e39.
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  #22  
Old 04-27-2015, 01:39 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve535 View Post
The only other car I'd really want is an audi sport quattro, considering only 200 were ever made, i don't think that will be happening. I think years down the line I might convert a UR quattro to a sport, but that's a pipe dream, until then 422,000 k's and counting on the e39.
Original driveshaft and half shafts?
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  #23  
Old 04-27-2015, 02:00 PM
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aa240sx aa240sx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am at 150K and am thinking about possible future replacement.
The problem is: there is none that comes to close to a used E39 in terms of:
- reliability
- the amount of DIYs available
- the ease of servicing (who wants to change a battery in an E60 that requires resetting some computer thingy?).
- the nice solid ride on the highway
- nice "classic" look
- fewest electrical gremlins
- the cost of maintenance is relatively low.

If perfection is 10, the E39 is 9.5. It is hard to find a car that has so many qualities like the E39

PS: Mercedes has its own problems and lack Man Trans, Audi...not my cup of tea, Honda...No!, Subaru...No! BMW...Yes but the newer models turn me off.
didn't think I would see that day CN90 - boy if you ever do leave this community it certainly will never be the same.

As to the OP's thoughts, for me, I'm not sure you can 'walk away' from your E39. Suffice it to say the E39 is a great car and if you're tired of working on your particular ride, sell it and buy another one and start the journey all over again.
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  #24  
Old 04-27-2015, 06:33 PM
Steve535 Steve535 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
Original driveshaft and half shafts?
I believe so, I only know the history of the car from 215,000 k's, old owner has done transmission and so have I, so that seems to have been the biggest expense for me and him.

Is there anyway to look to see?
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