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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 03-14-2017, 12:42 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Should I pull the trigger for this low mileage 02 E39 530i ?

I'm eyeing a 02 E39 530i with only 49K miles, garage-kept, mint body and very clean interior. The colors combo is stunning and it comes with all options such as heated seats, sunroof, xenons etc. The owner is asking $6K and can probably negotiate $5K.

The thing is the owner didn't dealt with the common issues from this model such as the cooling system, suspension bushes, water pump etc. Only the brake discs and battery were changed. So I'm wondering if this is a safe bet or should I expect to be hit with major repairs within the next months or a year. I don't mind of having to get things replaced from time to time but I just don't want to deal with major repairs soon after owning the car. I currently own a 12 F30 320i and I just hate it, so looking to have it replaced with this one. What do you think?




Last edited by Canuckbmw; 03-14-2017 at 12:45 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-14-2017, 01:08 PM
NarenTeQ NarenTeQ is offline
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Wow what a rare find. Looks beautiful. Are you planning to do most of the maintenance yourself? I think 6,000 is a great price. For such this car. Let's see if the seller thinks so.

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  #3  
Old 03-14-2017, 01:19 PM
rufryder rufryder is offline
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That's a very nice color! I went through most of those issues when I got mine at 52k; they were very new to me since I didn't have much experience. Having said that, I mayyy pull the trigger for 5k for that many miles. It's not a steal but considering the condition, I would buy it.
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  #4  
Old 03-14-2017, 01:20 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NarenTeQ View Post
Wow what a rare find. Looks beautiful. Are you planning to do most of the maintenance yourself? I think 6,000 is a great price. For such this car. Let's see if the seller thinks so.

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Nope, maintenance would be done at a reputable indy shop which charge a fair rate ($60/hr). All parts would be ordered online by myself. This is the best compromise I could come to as I just don't have the time to spend on maintaining these cars myself.
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  #5  
Old 03-14-2017, 01:52 PM
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TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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I wouldn't, but only because it's an automatic

Looks great!
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  #6  
Old 03-14-2017, 01:59 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Haha, I can hear you, my F30 is manual and have always drove manual (mostly in Europe) but manual in North of America is very boring (city driving).
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  #7  
Old 03-14-2017, 02:58 PM
Jrdude5 Jrdude5 is offline
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Honestly at that price and sure could negotiate like you mentioned I would jump all over it.
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  #8  
Old 03-14-2017, 03:34 PM
528iAut 528iAut is offline
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I think, if you dont buy it you will regret it, I know I would....
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  #9  
Old 03-14-2017, 03:57 PM
oldmangrimes oldmangrimes is offline
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Buy it! I really wanted to buy that color combo last year, but I never found a Topaz Blue / tan combo 530i auto near me. I regret not waiting to find one, or having one shipped to me, I think it's the most beautiful color combo for the E39. You're going to need to spend money on maintenance on whatever E39 you buy, it's easy to fix a broken part but really expensive to change color and impossible to lower the miles. Please take care of the car after you buy it, and keep all the records, because I may buy it from you in a few years.
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  #10  
Old 03-14-2017, 04:03 PM
E38SkunkWerks E38SkunkWerks is offline
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Looks sharp. If you plan on driving it daily you'll see issues soon enough. Personally, I wouldn't spend that much on a non-sport.


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  #11  
Old 03-14-2017, 04:14 PM
Solo12 Solo12 is offline
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Just curious, is that 49,000 miles or kilometers on that car?

If you want another BMW and understand it is a BMW and not a Honda then I say pending a PPI get the car. Personally I would pass, bu that is due to the lack of a manual transmission and lack of a sport sport package (steering wheel, seats, suspension, shadowline trim).

PPI
Sounds like you already have a good local indy shop first thing you need to do is get that car over there and have them do a pre purchase inspection (PPI). It will give you a better idea of what if anything needs to be addressed. And depending on the result you may be able to use what you find to bargain. At the very least the PPI should answer your questions about suspension bushings and other linkage components. I would also ask him if he can give you and indication of the condition of the various rubber hoses under the hood.

Cooling System
As far as the cooling systems goes the standard preventative maintenance schedule for the M54 I6 is the water pump and plastic thermostat housing should be replaced at 60,000 miles. At 90,000 miles the radiator, expansion tank, fan and fan clutch should be replaced. It is also recommended to replace the coolant every two years. Depending on who you talk to you may get different lists or mileage numbers.

The question with this car is whether the 90,000 mile items will last until 90,000 miles or whether they might fail earlier due to aging of the materials vs mileage. If I bought that car I would have the coolant changed unless I had proof it was done in the last two years. Then I would stick to the 60,000/90,000 mile schedule provided the rubber and plastic bits checked out as being in good shape.

Other Items
Some people say the OEM shocks can wear out quickly. Your mechanic can probably give you a better indication of the condition of yours. But whether you will get another 10,000 miles out of them or 50,000 miles who knows. Personally I am over 80,0000 miles on my OEM shocks and they are a little tires, but not shot yet.

Check the car's LCD screens for missing pixels, a common e39 problem. One is the lcd screen on the instrument cluster where the odometer is and the section below the odometer than can display various information. The other is the lcd screen on the MID/aka radio display unless this car has the Nav screen (I don't know if the Nav suffers from pixel issues, but check). While the pixel issues are not going to leave you stranded they can be very annoying/ make the information on those displays impossible to read. Also depending on where you send them to get them fixed it can cost $100-$500 per unit for the fix.

Cost
I am not sure what your budget is and/or the condition of your F30, but I would think you could sell it and have enough money to buy the e39 plus have a bunch of money left over. You could start and maintenance fund for the e39 and/or do some preventative maintenance right away.

Gas
Also keep in mind your F30 probably gets a little better gas mileage than the 530. I don't think it is a huge difference, but it may be something to consider if money is tight.

Xenons
One tip I have for you is pop the hood and double check that the car has xenons. All facelift e39s lights look the same from the exterior. The xenons will have a ballast on the back of each headlight (small silver colored box). I mention this because I did not realize that when I first got my car. My car is a 2003 and has the sport package, premium package, cold weather package and almost every other option, but not xenon lights.
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E28 1987 535is: Manual, Bilstein HDs, 16" Style 5v2 (from e38)[Sold]
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  #12  
Old 03-14-2017, 04:25 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Buy it quick or it will be gone and you will be sad .

Jim

Last edited by MKJS; 03-14-2017 at 04:34 PM.
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  #13  
Old 03-14-2017, 05:31 PM
Barracuz Barracuz is offline
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That is a pretty good price for a garage kept low mileage e39. Even if its not a manual or sport. A high mile 540 manual in good condition or a 530 with manual and sport will both cost around the same.

But If you do jump on it, the car was rarely driven and little maintence was done on it. Cooling system parts, suspension busshings, and gaskets on the engine age and wear regardles of mileage, though since it was garage kept you might get lucky. But just keep in mind that you may be dumping some money on it.
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  #14  
Old 03-14-2017, 06:10 PM
E39Hoon E39Hoon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barracuz View Post
That is a pretty good price for a garage kept low mileage e39. Even if its not a manual or sport. A high mile 540 manual in good condition or a 530 with manual and sport will both cost around the same.

But If you do jump on it, the car was rarely driven and little maintence was done on it. Cooling system parts, suspension busshings, and gaskets on the engine age and wear regardles of mileage, though since it was garage kept you might get lucky. But just keep in mind that you may be dumping some money on it.
+1

As long as you have some money set aside for maintenance then do it.
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  #15  
Old 03-14-2017, 06:11 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solo12 View Post
Just curious, is that 49,000 miles or kilometers on that car?

If you want another BMW and understand it is a BMW and not a Honda then I say pending a PPI get the car. Personally I would pass, bu that is due to the lack of a manual transmission and lack of a sport sport package (steering wheel, seats, suspension, shadowline trim).

PPI
Sounds like you already have a good local indy shop first thing you need to do is get that car over there and have them do a pre purchase inspection (PPI). It will give you a better idea of what if anything needs to be addressed. And depending on the result you may be able to use what you find to bargain. At the very least the PPI should answer your questions about suspension bushings and other linkage components. I would also ask him if he can give you and indication of the condition of the various rubber hoses under the hood.

Cooling System
As far as the cooling systems goes the standard preventative maintenance schedule for the M54 I6 is the water pump and plastic thermostat housing should be replaced at 60,000 miles. At 90,000 miles the radiator, expansion tank, fan and fan clutch should be replaced. It is also recommended to replace the coolant every two years. Depending on who you talk to you may get different lists or mileage numbers.

The question with this car is whether the 90,000 mile items will last until 90,000 miles or whether they might fail earlier due to aging of the materials vs mileage. If I bought that car I would have the coolant changed unless I had proof it was done in the last two years. Then I would stick to the 60,000/90,000 mile schedule provided the rubber and plastic bits checked out as being in good shape.

Other Items
Some people say the OEM shocks can wear out quickly. Your mechanic can probably give you a better indication of the condition of yours. But whether you will get another 10,000 miles out of them or 50,000 miles who knows. Personally I am over 80,0000 miles on my OEM shocks and they are a little tires, but not shot yet.

Check the car's LCD screens for missing pixels, a common e39 problem. One is the lcd screen on the instrument cluster where the odometer is and the section below the odometer than can display various information. The other is the lcd screen on the MID/aka radio display unless this car has the Nav screen (I don't know if the Nav suffers from pixel issues, but check). While the pixel issues are not going to leave you stranded they can be very annoying/ make the information on those displays impossible to read. Also depending on where you send them to get them fixed it can cost $100-$500 per unit for the fix.

Cost
I am not sure what your budget is and/or the condition of your F30, but I would think you could sell it and have enough money to buy the e39 plus have a bunch of money left over. You could start and maintenance fund for the e39 and/or do some preventative maintenance right away.

Gas
Also keep in mind your F30 probably gets a little better gas mileage than the 530. I don't think it is a huge difference, but it may be something to consider if money is tight.

Xenons
One tip I have for you is pop the hood and double check that the car has xenons. All facelift e39s lights look the same from the exterior. The xenons will have a ballast on the back of each headlight (small silver colored box). I mention this because I did not realize that when I first got my car. My car is a 2003 and has the sport package, premium package, cold weather package and almost every other option, but not xenon lights.
Seriously, thanks a lot for the time you have taken to write such a comprehensive answer. I will go ahead with a PPI and will make sure all those points are addressed.
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  #16  
Old 03-14-2017, 06:29 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Should I pull the trigger for this low mileage 02 E39 530i ?

How much should I expect to have the cooling system + suspension bushings + gaskets replaced?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solo12 View Post
.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barracuz View Post
.

Quote:
Originally Posted by E39Hoon View Post
.

Last edited by Canuckbmw; 03-15-2017 at 04:20 AM.
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  #17  
Old 03-15-2017, 05:26 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Any e39 is subject to an unexpected expensive repair. But a well kept e39 is typically very reliable. Rubber or plastic parts are subject to degradation and failure in a 15 year old car, especially one that used a lot of recycled materials. Hence, these parts should be replaced.

A complete cooling system rebuild is the primary service you should consider as it will give you peace of mind. The aluminum engine is not forgiving when overheated. The cooling system is typically $650-$750 USD in parts. About 4-6 hrs in labor. Use a dealer-sourced expansion tank only.

The critical suspension bushing that leaks fluid is the thrust arm bushing. Replace with solid rubber bushing (Meyle HD) to avoid a repeat failure. If there is no leakage, you can defer this until later. The symptom for leaking bushings is shimmy at speed or under braking. Inspect the others for cracking. At just 49K, the ball joints and shocks should be fine.

Which gaskets? Valve cover should only need replacing if it leaks. ~1-2 hrs labor. Door gaskets should be fine and are a DIY.

Some may disagree, but replacing your Vanos seals can solve some minor running issues and will unlock the full potential of your engine. Parts are about $100 (including VC gasket) but about 4-6 hrs labor.

All in all, this looks like a great example of a well kept, low mileage e39. Definitely worth considering, if this is the car you want.
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  #18  
Old 03-15-2017, 06:33 AM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
Any e39 is subject to an unexpected expensive repair. But a well kept e39 is typically very reliable. Rubber or plastic parts are subject to degradation and failure in a 15 year old car, especially one that used a lot of recycled materials. Hence, these parts should be replaced.



A complete cooling system rebuild is the primary service you should consider as it will give you peace of mind. The aluminum engine is not forgiving when overheated. The cooling system is typically $650-$750 USD in parts. About 4-6 hrs in labor. Use a dealer-sourced expansion tank only.



The critical suspension bushing that leaks fluid is the thrust arm bushing. Replace with solid rubber bushing (Meyle HD) to avoid a repeat failure. If there is no leakage, you can defer this until later. The symptom for leaking bushings is shimmy at speed or under braking. Inspect the others for cracking. At just 49K, the ball joints and shocks should be fine.



Which gaskets? Valve cover should only need replacing if it leaks. ~1-2 hrs labor. Door gaskets should be fine and are a DIY.



Some may disagree, but replacing your Vanos seals can solve some minor running issues and will unlock the full potential of your engine. Parts are about $100 (including VC gasket) but about 4-6 hrs labor.



All in all, this looks like a great example of a well kept, low mileage e39. Definitely worth considering, if this is the car you want.


Do you think $2K max per year in maintenance/repair should be enough?

Here's the dilemma:
I'm currently between a 08 Acura TL Type-S or this E39. The Acura is $5K more. If the price difference can be allocated for maintenance/repairs for the next three years on the E39 then I think I will go for the E39. Do you think this is realistic?


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  #19  
Old 03-15-2017, 10:14 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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The e39 is hands down the right choice if the mileage is accurate and $5K is plenty for maintenance. If your labor is really only $60/hr, this is a great deal.
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  #20  
Old 03-15-2017, 04:04 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
The e39 is hands down the right choice if the mileage is accurate and $5K is plenty for maintenance. If your labor is really only $60/hr, this is a great deal.


I think now it's pretty clear. I will go ahead and buy the E39 if the PPI prove to be clean.

Thanks everyone for your help. It's always good to know what you are getting into


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  #21  
Old 03-15-2017, 05:08 PM
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cdawg246 cdawg246 is offline
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Take the 5k and get a 540i m-sport preferably a manual-night and day difference

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  #22  
Old 03-15-2017, 06:05 PM
Canuckbmw Canuckbmw is offline
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I can live with the 530i, it's good enough for my need.
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  #23  
Old 03-15-2017, 06:36 PM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canuckbmw View Post
I can live with the 530i, it's good enough for my need.
The 530 is a little more nimble than the 540 due to a bit lighter motor and rack and pinion steering, but the 8 has bit more low end torque.

Jim
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  #24  
Old 03-15-2017, 07:14 PM
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Kamdog Kamdog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdawg246 View Post
Take the 5k and get a 540i m-sport preferably a manual-night and day difference

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My indie, who can drive whatever he likes, has a 540i as his DD.

Then again he can fix anything that might go wrong... But that E39 is the quintessential and legendary executive sports sedan.
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  #25  
Old 03-15-2017, 11:55 PM
E38SkunkWerks E38SkunkWerks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdawg246 View Post
Take the 5k and get a 540i m-sport preferably a manual-night and day difference

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THIS^^^^ 100x the car a non sport auto 6cyl could ever wish to be


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