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E34 (1989 - 1995)

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  #1  
Old 10-09-2013, 09:40 AM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

Hello All, I used to own a 1989 Nissan Maxima that I really loved. Now I drive a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis, but it's definitely not a sports sedan. It does fit the whole family, but that is what the minivan is for. I am seriously considering selling it and buying a 1995 525i5 or a 1999 528i or 528iT and swap to manual if I have to. Which one would be best for the fun factor and comfort as well as power upgrades and longevity? I like the look of the E34 better but it is older and may be more work and money to get it right. I have found a few E34s for around $1500 to $3500, some obviously needing more work than others, and the E39s I see are from around $3500-$6500. I hope to sell my pristine 34k mile MGM for around $6900, we shall see ;-)

So, sorry about the long paragraph, and let the opinions fly!
Thanks, Mark

BTW, I'm pretty good at DIY stuff. I just don't always want to or have the time. Plus I don't have a garage. And, FYI, I really like the look of Navy Blue or Avus Blue over Lotus White or Dove Grey, Maybe Natur/Tan, of course with the sport interior and manual trans...
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2013, 01:32 PM
air_cooled air_cooled is offline
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Greetings. Welcome to the forums.
Having both I will give you my opinion.
I actually find my E34 540 more comfortable to drive however I will recommend the E39, specifically the 528 as a better buy of the two. There is plenty of forum support for the E39 and it is really not all that complicated a car to maintain.
Good luck in your search.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2013, 03:45 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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It depends on purpose, mode of driving, and what your looking for.

Honestly Any BMW you decide to get into will require some type of up keep.
So I can't use that as a factor. (no one stated it... I just threw that out there)
It's all about your wants in a car.

However if maintenance is your main concern. Go as new as your credit and wallet allows.
Meaning get a BMW with a warranty.
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2013, 07:07 PM
sse34 sse34 is offline
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Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

e34s are by far easier to work on, look decent, ride nice when Repaired properly, power when it's wanted (my small 530 still impresses me at highway speeds when people want to have a little drag race) and a all around great car. Absolutely enjoy driving it more then my girlfriends e46 or my chevy 3500 diesel (only at highway speeds haha)

E39s are the year they started introducing more electronics. I personally would stay far away from a e39. To add I think they look horrendous.



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  #5  
Old 10-09-2013, 07:09 PM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MySatinDoll View Post
However if maintenance is your main concern. Go as new as your credit and wallet allows.
Meaning get a BMW with a warranty.
Nope, not at all. I can do most if not all my own maintenance. I just don't know these cars yet not having owned one and don't know if there are major repairs needed on one or the other that would be out of my scope of ability, considering said limitations of no garage, no lift, no specialized BMW tools or equipment, knowledge...

I've pulled engines and trannys, done brakes, suspension, steering, a/c, interiors, timing, cooling system, etc...

And, there is a reason I am doing cash. I want to spend around $4k and have a couple extra grand to mod or customize it to my taste and/or buy some clunkers to fix and swap for a profit. That's why I said I am selling my current car.

Yes, E39s are newer, but in what ways are they actually better than an E34 525i or iT? FYI, the reason I am sticking with 525s and 528s is primarily the gas mileage and wanting to steer away from the costly future repairs of the M60 motors. But then again, do these cars all use premium gas?

Last edited by mrkanda; 10-09-2013 at 08:14 PM.
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  #6  
Old 10-09-2013, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sse34 View Post
e34s are by far easier to work on, look decent, ride nice when Repaired properly, power when it's wanted (my small 530 still impresses me at highway speeds when people want to have a little drag race) and a all around great car. Absolutely enjoy driving it more then my girlfriends e46 or my chevy 3500 diesel (only at highway speeds haha)

E39s are the year they started introducing more electronics. I personally would stay far away from a e39. To add I think they look horrendous.
^^^ Agree 99% (I don't think the E39 looks horrendous, just my .02)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
Nope, not at all. I can do most if not all my own maintenance. I just don't know these cars yet not having owned one and don't know if there are major repairs needed on one or the other that would be out of my scope of ability, considering said limitations of no garage, no lift, no specialized BMW tools or equipment, knowledge...

I've pulled engines and trannys, done brakes, suspension, steering, a/c, interiors, timing, cooling system, etc...

And, there is a reason I am doing cash. I want to spend around $4k and have a couple extra grand to mod or customize it to my taste and/or buy some clunkers to fix and swap for a profit. That's why I said I am selling my current car.

Yes, E39s are newer, but in what ways are they actually better than an E34 525i or iT?
I've owned both and to me, the E34 wins hands down for the reasons listed by sse34. I will say that the E39 is more refined and rides more luxuriously, but they are known to have quite a few electrical gremlins (much more than the E34).

Good luck with whatever you buy. I agree that it is best to focus on bringing the maintenance up to date, but that's not necessarily the priority for everyone.
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  #7  
Old 10-09-2013, 08:56 PM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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OK, somebody show me some awesome E34 iT pictures.
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  #8  
Old 10-09-2013, 09:05 PM
salesman salesman is offline
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i loved my E34 and thought it was a great entry into the BMW world. i love my E39 even more. more power, more comfort (awesome seats, i have the comfort seats), better handling, and the electronics haven't given me any issues at all. the cooling system is a different story though. i do miss the simplicity of my E34 and i think the rear looks better than the E39. and some of the engine parts seem to be built to last longer in the E34
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2013, 09:25 PM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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If I was going the 540i route I think the E39 would be the way to go, but I think I need better around town fuel economy and am thus looking at the 525i or 528i. For power I don't mind adding a turbo in the future, or in the meantime doing some intake/exhaust upgrades, plus brakes, suspension, etc.

The M5 front end does look really good on the E39. I'm just not sold on the whole rounder more bulbous look. I like my muscular angles and straighter lines of the E34. We shall see.

Also, can anyone tell me if both cars take only premium gas?
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  #10  
Old 10-09-2013, 10:42 PM
Drew's525i Drew's525i is offline
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No, both cars will run on low octane, they have knock sensors.

If you got an E34 540i, I really don't think you'd regret it. The M50 and M52 really don't get the best fuel economy anyway.
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2013, 10:47 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
Nope, not at all. I can do most if not all my own maintenance. I just don't know these cars yet not having owned one and don't know if there are major repairs needed on one or the other that would be out of my scope of ability, considering said limitations of no garage, no lift, no specialized BMW tools or equipment, knowledge...

I've pulled engines and trannys, done brakes, suspension, steering, a/c, interiors, timing, cooling system, etc...

And, there is a reason I am doing cash. I want to spend around $4k and have a couple extra grand to mod or customize it to my taste and/or buy some clunkers to fix and swap for a profit. That's why I said I am selling my current car.

Yes, E39s are newer, but in what ways are they actually better than an E34 525i or iT? FYI, the reason I am sticking with 525s and 528s is primarily the gas mileage and wanting to steer away from the costly future repairs of the M60 motors. But then again, do these cars all use premium gas?
Oh ok I understand where your coming from now. On threads like this I try to be neutral and really let the OP dig into his reasons.

Honestly you can't compare the 2.
I've owned quite a few cars. New and old. My e34 is the only car I literally find myself stuck staring at for more than 20 minutes for no reason whatsoever. (I know I'm not alone on that.)

The e39 doesn't do that for me except for the m5 (but that's because I've contemplated doing a s62 swap while stuck gazing at my e34)

The e39 was designed for the non sport orientated driver. For it took most of it's design ideas from the e32 and e38 just made them all smaller.
So in essense the e39 is a e38 short short sport.

But I wish you luck OP. Hope you find the car your looking for.

BTW the e39 525 is heavier than the e34 525. Or at least feels that way.
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  #12  
Old 10-09-2013, 10:57 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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E39 even better handling,
I don't really agree with this statement. But it's cool that you had this experience.
Again to me the e39 feels heavy. I can throw my e34 into a turn and come out without breaking a sweat.
Then again my suspension is different than stock.
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  #13  
Old 10-09-2013, 11:17 PM
salesman salesman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MySatinDoll View Post
I don't really agree with this statement. But it's cool that you had this experience.
Again to me the e39 feels heavy. I can throw my e34 into a turn and come out without breaking a sweat.
Then again my suspension is different than stock.
the E34 definitely feels lighter. but i can enter, drive through, and exit turns at much higher speeds and with more stability in my E39. also the chassis feels a lot stiffer. i have a sport package car with eibach pro kit springs though. i'm sure a base E39 525i wouldn't feel anywhere close to as good. but apples to apples the E39 is a stiffer chassis with more modern suspension tuning. and even though i don't have the rack and pinion, the steering is 10x better than my E34. i think i would like to experience an E34 M5 some day though. you guys are making me browse craigslist for E34s again
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  #14  
Old 10-10-2013, 03:55 AM
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E34ZombieHunter E34ZombieHunter is online now
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OP, depends on what you want a grocery getter, or a toy. You said you want good mpg, so i guess more grocery getter. I have driven both, and have the 540i. I drove both and different models of both. I like the look of the e34, and it fits me more. But the E39 did fell heavy but that did not affect how i drove it, i just held onto the "oh $#!^" bar on the door more. I think the E39 is much more family oriented than the E34. And yes like said before the best E39 is the M5, E34 i would not care much, just rather have my 540i to have more fun in it. You need to figure out exactly what you want and choose from there i think E34 is more of a drivers car, but e39 can be too it depends on you.
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  #15  
Old 10-10-2013, 04:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
OK, somebody show me some awesome E34 iT pictures.
Google images my friend.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noego View Post
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  #16  
Old 10-10-2013, 05:32 AM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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What type of real world MPG do people get, anyway?

If I get a 525i I would consider going turbo later on to make up for HP difference.
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  #17  
Old 10-10-2013, 06:04 AM
sse34 sse34 is offline
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Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BMR_LVR View Post
^^^ Agree 99% (I don't think the E39 looks horrendous, just my .02)


Fine I will retract my statement, only, and only because of rave34s wagon build with the lsx swap.. That thing is pure sex

If I feather my e34 and hang behind a freight liners butt I can get 34mpg in my 530 vagon .. If not behind a trailer it's then 26 while feathering and 20 if I'm cruising (I drive a lot of highway)

Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman View Post
the E34 definitely feels lighter. but i can enter, drive through, and exit turns at much higher speeds and with more stability in my E39. also the chassis feels a lot stiffer. i have a sport package car with eibach pro kit springs though. i'm sure a base E39 525i wouldn't feel anywhere close to as good. but apples to apples the E39 is a stiffer chassis with more modern suspension tuning. and even though i don't have the rack and pinion, the steering is 10x better than my E34. i think i would like to experience an E34 M5 some day though. you guys are making me browse craigslist for E34s again
I disagree too a point. Have you driven a e34 that actually had there suspension completely rebuild (and I mean everything steering box included?) my e34s steering is impressive to say the least comparing it again to my girlfriends e46. I replaced mine last year and its one hell of a difference from before

You car handles better because a its new so had somewhat better/new suspension components and it has a lower point of gravity, your eibach springs. The two are hardly comparable.

I believe if we had two brand new from the factory examples of a e34 and e39 STOCK. I have a feeling the e34 would be a all around better car

The age has gotten the better of the car I feel

To add I like metal between me and another car

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  #18  
Old 10-10-2013, 09:59 AM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Originally Posted by sse34 View Post

I believe if we had two brand new from the factory examples of a e34 and e39 STOCK. The comparision would be more precise.
I added the end statement for I think it is the real answer to the OP's query and search.

We can't in all honesty compare the e39 and e34 models. I know we've all seen these threads and they will likely continue to be created.
Our experiences can be used as opinions of worth but that's really about it.

The fact is the e39 is a newer vehicle and are pretty much still in circulation in the commercial market. E34s are not.
Anyone that has a e34 has either built it back up or getting rid of it due to inability to keep up with 20 year old maintenance.

That said it depends on what the OP's idea or plan will be for either car if both were presented in cherry condition.

Being he stated he's no stranger to getting his hands dirty and looking for a clean reliable car.
I'd say buy a e34 and keep something on the side to kick around.

However if your looking for less maintenance from the start.
You can still purchase a unmolested e39 for a little more but have less wear at your local used car dealership and probably get an extended warranty.

Now emotionally we all are going to side with the e34. I know I do.
I like the classic look, the upgrades I've done, how it all works in perfect harmony, and lastly the plans which I have for it will take it to the next level.


But I probably wouldn't continue to use it as a family car/DD. I'd rather purchase a e38 for those daily duties.

All said OP, do what you feel is best and suits your needs. And again good luck
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  #19  
Old 10-10-2013, 10:27 AM
salesman salesman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MySatinDoll View Post
However if your looking for less maintenance from the start.
You can still purchase a unmolested e39 for a little more but have less wear at your local used car dealership and probably get an extended warranty.
Most E39s on the market, unless you want to pay thousands above the average price, are going to need a cooling system overhaul and some suspension freshening. Not to mention you have to keep an eye out for things like timing chain rattle on the 540i, non-op windows and moonroof, etc. When I had my E34 all I had to do was replaced the fan clutch and a heater hose and I drove it for 40k miles before selling it with no problems except for a window regulator. And I'm pretty sure it had the original radiator, water pump, etc. On my E39 in the last 30k I've had to replace the fan clutch, various heater hoses, radiator, expansion tank (which blew out at the top of mt. hamilton. those of you who know anything about the high pressure cooling system on the M62 know how bad this is), outer tie rods, center drag link, valve cover gaskets (NOT easy or simple on a 540i), spark plugs (nothing out of the ordinary but still...), window regulator, and a few other little things. My car was in extremely nice shape when I bought it and drove 100%. No squeaks or rattles. The suspension bushings were all fresh and the cooling system was overhauled like 40k miles before I bought it. An E39 WILL require more maintenance in the beginning and over the life of the car. Bot my E34 and E39 actually had the same mileage when I bought them and obviously the E34 was older
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Old 10-10-2013, 11:38 AM
sse34 sse34 is offline
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Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

Any car you buy is going to need some maintenance. I'm just saying that yes a e34 might need a little more but when it does, they are just simple fixes and nothing a normal person with a decent knowledge of mechanics can't handle.

Idk that my 2 cents


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  #21  
Old 10-10-2013, 01:11 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman View Post
Most E39s on the market, unless you want to pay thousands above the average price, are going to need a cooling system overhaul and some suspension freshening. Not to mention you have to keep an eye out for things like timing chain rattle on the 540i, non-op windows and moonroof, etc. When I had my E34 all I had to do was replaced the fan clutch and a heater hose and I drove it for 40k miles before selling it with no problems except for a window regulator. And I'm pretty sure it had the original radiator, water pump, etc. On my E39 in the last 30k I've had to replace the fan clutch, various heater hoses, radiator, expansion tank (which blew out at the top of mt. hamilton. those of you who know anything about the high pressure cooling system on the M62 know how bad this is), outer tie rods, center drag link, valve cover gaskets (NOT easy or simple on a 540i), spark plugs (nothing out of the ordinary but still...), window regulator, and a few other little things. My car was in extremely nice shape when I bought it and drove 100%. No squeaks or rattles. The suspension bushings were all fresh and the cooling system was overhauled like 40k miles before I bought it. An E39 WILL require more maintenance in the beginning and over the life of the car. Bot my E34 and E39 actually had the same mileage when I bought them and obviously the E34 was older
Understood but that's not the argument here. Really it isn't a argument at all.

The OP wants to buy either a e34 or a e39. The odds that he'll find a e34 that has already been sorted out is just not there anymore unless he's going to pay over 5k.
Anything less than that will need work.

As for maintenance costs. You're not only preaching to the choir on e34 maintenance.
You're sitting in the pews of the super-duper mega E34 AME church of Christ in rural Alabama.

Now as for e39 maintenance sure I've heard the horror stories. But the likelihood of finding a e39 with normal wear and a pretty decent maintenance record is high.

So though your points are very valid. And I agree with them.
It doesn't sway that single fact.

Again it's up to the OP. Not us. I'm sure he appreciates the debate.
But I think it's pointless. You can't compare the 2 chassis without having clean examples.
You're not going to get clear info. Just opinions from experiences in which each case is different.
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Old 10-10-2013, 03:07 PM
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To the OP,

This question is always interesting on the forums, and I love to read the responses, not to mention, offer my own.

E34:
I have owned a 94 525, and currently own a 90 535.
Great cars.
Easy to maintain. CHEAP too.
Timeless beauty.
I would recommend the manual trans, (34 & 39) not just for drivability, but for longevity.
Sure, somebody is going to say they have 300k on their auto, but it’s not that common.

E39:
I own a 540 manual sport, and an M5.
To the dude who thinks they look “horrendous”, you have zero credibility.
Best looking BMW ever built.
HANDS DOWN.
As far as handling, there is no comparison.
It could be because of the sport suspension, but when you say the 34 handles better, you’re totally negating on going technology.
That’s like saying the E39 M5 handles better than a new M5.
Sure.
Maintenance?
Uh…a little more involved.
But I have found the ride and handling, not to mention HP, MORE than worth it.

I honestly feel that the E34 was completely in the hands of the engineers, and with the E39, there was a tug-o-war between the accounts and the engineers.
Eventually, the engineers lost.
Which is why, when my E39’s wear out, I’ll be driving Toyotas…

In closing, I love both cars, but if I had to choose one or the other, I would pick the E39.
Specifically, I would try to find a 03 540 M Sport, 6 speed.
But I would settle for a nicely maintained 97 528.

Your next hornet’s nest to kick?
Ask which oil to use…

Good luck with your search.
Tom
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  #23  
Old 12-24-2013, 09:55 PM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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Re: Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

Well, thanks to all who responded and read this topic back when. There was a lot of good information shared and welcomed opinions. A Merry early Christmas and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate also!

The debate is finally at a close. It's not all said and done yet, but I put a deposit down on a beautifully maintained, uniquely equipped, and lovingly kept 1992 BMW 535i 5 spd with 190k chassis/82k engine. It is a gorgeous Lazurblau over Silver-Dove Gray with wood trim everything, including the sport steering wheel and shifter. I am buying it from a wonderful gentleman up in MD who has great care of it over the years and added many Euro-only special features.

I looked at a 1999 540i M-Sport locally for about the same price (~$5000), but it was black over tan and I wasn't convinced that I would be happy with the color, body style, and V8 engine. I just like the 6 cylinder E34s better.

Anyway, my birthday is Jan 1st, so this is the best gift so far, and for the family will be the road trip to go pick it up in MD from FL. I will post pics soon and probably make a new thread.

One issue with it is that the front jack points are rusted and collapsed. They definitely need to be cut out, welded, and refinished. They don't affect the interior or structural integrity of the car and the rest of the undercarriage seems decent with only some surface rust here and there. The only other thing needed (as per a professional inspection) is to have the moonroof sunshade recovered. I just wonder how easy and affordable it will be to have the jack points repaired well here in N Central FL.

Well, Happy New Year to you all and I look forward to finally sharing in the BMW experience!



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  #24  
Old 12-24-2013, 10:41 PM
MySatinDoll MySatinDoll is offline
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Location: Next door bring tools and beer.
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 e34 S52b32/5
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrkanda View Post
One issue with it is that the front jack points are rusted and collapsed. They definitely need to be cut out, welded, and refinished. They don't affect the interior or structural integrity of the car and the rest of the undercarriage seems decent with only some surface rust here and there. The only other thing needed (as per a professional inspection) is to have the moonroof sunshade recovered. I just wonder how easy and affordable it will be to have the jack points repaired well here in N Central FL.

Well, Happy New Year to you all and I look forward to finally sharing in the BMW experience!



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Had the same issue with my jack points. It depends on how far gone they are.
I know that sounds like a stupid answer but it isn't.
The jack points are initially two pieces.
The metal bracket and the support.
The support allow you to jack the car up without shooting your widow maker (the OEM Jack) through the rocker panel.

If your able to pull the metal bracket and the support under it is ok.
Then yes you can replace them.
If the rust is through and through. (bracket and support)
Best to cut it out, weld a new piece of metal in to cover the hole
and get a light weight floor jack to carry around when needed.
For you can jack the car up in different locations to achieve the same result.

Unfortunately my car is too low so I learned how to lift the car from the rear on each side.
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  #25  
Old 12-25-2013, 01:11 AM
mrkanda mrkanda is offline
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Location: Gainesville, FL
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 19
Mein Auto: 1992 E34 535i 5spd
Re: Which is better 1st BMW, E34 or E39?

Thank you for the helpful reply. I will take note of all that when I get the car next weekend and get to see it for myself.

I got just got done with wrapping gifts at 4am so I should probably get some sleep before the kids wake us up in a few hours! Merry Christmas...

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