Recommendation Needed - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

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

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-26-2012, 05:26 AM
koga57 koga57 is offline
Registered User
Location: Mansfield
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 11
Mein Auto: 2010 BMW 328I
Recommendation Needed

I am considering two vehicles for purchase described below. Any recommendations from experienced BMW owners.

2001 530I, Manual transmission with 65750 miles, good service history at BMW dealer that will run about $10,900.00 out the door

2003 530I, Automatic transmission with about 64975 miles, good service history at BMW dealer that will run about $13,150.00 out the door.

Neither vehicle has had front suspension bushing replacement. Neither vehicle has had radiator/expansion tank / water pump replacement. The 2003 has "some" pixels not illuminating but I don't know how critical that is. Is it something that needs addressing immediately or can wait till later?

The '03 is a Sport Model / Premium / beautiful interior.

the '01 has the Premium Package only.

Both have better than average tires.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 06:35 AM
tmvE39/E53/Z32's Avatar
tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Seattle --> Atlanta
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,033
Mein Auto: Dinan //M5, Dinan 4.8iS,
I would go with the 03. The sport pkg worth it IMO, and beautiful interior is a plus. AT is fine for me as a DD.
Pixel-out can wait. You can contact BMW NA for their "good will" too

2000 Dinan S1 //M5 (my DD), 06 DINAN E53 4.8iS (wife's DD), 90 Straman Z32TT (my pride & joy ride)
Gone, but not forgotten: 01 E53 3.0i, 01 525i Sport, 03 DINAN 540i MSport, 01 //M5 and 91 Z32TT
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 06:36 AM
Buddly Buddly is offline
Registered User
Location: Northwood, OH
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 27
Mein Auto: 1999 528, 2001 530
I have 2 E39s, a 1999 528i with the sport pkg., and a 2001 530i without it. I definitely prefer the ride/handling of the one with the sport pkg. $2250.00 isnít much more for a car thatís 2 years newer. Iíd go for the 2003.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 07:09 AM
Solo12 Solo12 is online now
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: NYC
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 582
Mein Auto: e39 530i e28 535is(Sold)
My first thought is those cars are both seem overpriced. Are these at BMW dealers or private party? Are they certified pre owned or something (if BMW would do that for cars that age)? The mileage is low, but the e39 market has really dropped in the past year or two I think those sound more like 540 prices. Perhaps I am wrong. But I paid on the high end of the 530 market for my car two years ago, the market has really dropped since then and my car was only a couple grand more than that 2003 and had similar mileage. Also are there other differences besides the sport package and year cause the price difference seems a little steep between the two.

My second thought is do not buy either car without getting a PPI (pre purchase inspection). A BMW dealer or reputable independent BMW specialist can do the inspection. It will give you a much better idea of any problems areas of either car. You can of course use that information in your bargaining too.

Tough call. Ideal would be if the manual transmission car was a sport package car. Personally that 4 spoke steering wheel and non sport seats along with the non sport springs higher ride height are deal breakers for me. I also prefer the shadow line trim (black vs chrome around the exterior windows) of the sport package. But the slushbox on the other car is also a deal breaker. Are any of these deal breakers for you? You could swap seats and steering wheels after purchase its very doable, but of course will cost you a little in parts. Also if you plan on doing coilovers or lowering springs anyway the suspension issue no longer matters.

Do you plan on keeping the car a long time? In theory the slushbox will not last as long/give you more problems. But if you start changing the transmission fluid it may not be an issue.

As far as the pixels go this is very common on the e39. Both the MID (radio area if the car does not have NAV) display and the instrument cluster display suffer from this problem. It will probably only get worse over time and eventually need to be addressed as it will be hard to read the display or become really annoying. This is one of the more reputable places for repair. They charge $279 for the cluster and $195 for the MID. You may still be able to get a goodwill repair from BMW NA, but I believe even if they cover the full cost of parts they still charge you for install.

Make sure you check both areas well on both cars scroll through the BC in both locations and play around with the radio to get an idea of how many pixels are out. I think it you search this forum you will also find a pixel test procedure that will illuminate all the pixels at once so you can see which are working and which are not.

Also in narrowing them down are there any other feature differences that might sway the purchase for you one way or another. Xenon lights, split folding rear seats, sunshades, wood vs other trim options.

Xenon lights are nice to have from the factory so you don't have to deal with conversions. Easiest way to tell if you are not familiar with them is to pop the hood and look for two silver boxes (one on each side of the car) attached to the back of the headlights. Don't just assume since is has premium package or cause of the year it has xenon. You can have a 2003 530 with premium package and halogen lights from the factory (mine did). Also check both cars headlight adjusters as broken adjusters are quite common. They can be fixed much more easily on the 2001 than the 2003 as the 2003's lights will definitely have the permanent epoxy that makes opening the light next to impossible whereas the 2001's lights should be easy to open with a little heat.

While you are at it check to make sure neither car had cheap aftermarket lights installed in place of the factory lights. Given the years and the low miles those should be oem lights, but previous owners sometimes do weird things.You don't want to be stuck with some crappy ebay knock offs cause the previous owner kept the nice lights or was too cheap the use quality replacements after an accident or stone chip.
E39 2003 530i: SP, CWP, PP, Manual, Sunshades, Split folding rear seats, 17" Style 42s
E28 1987 535is: Manual, Bilstein HDs, 16" Style 5v2 (from e38)[Sold]

Last edited by Solo12; 09-26-2012 at 07:18 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 07:17 AM
Fudman's Avatar
Fudman Fudman is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Sudbury, MA
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,823
Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
+1 to the above. However, the bigger questions are: Do you want a manual or do you prefer and auto? And then, how long do you plan to keep the car? Many on this forum regard the e39 as the best blend of affordable and maintainable performance and luxury made by BMW. It is one of the last few cars that you can work on (DIY) and the wealth of online assistance is amazing. If you are in it for the long haul and don't mind the manual, get the manual gear box. For the $2200 savings, put it towards maintenance or suspension improvements. Both are over priced but the auto is way over priced. I paid $13K for mine (02 sport auto) 4 years ago!
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 07:22 AM
koga57 koga57 is offline
Registered User
Location: Mansfield
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 11
Mein Auto: 2010 BMW 328I
Great information.

Both vehicles are at dealerships; one a Lexus dealership and the other at a BMW dealership. It is hard to determine price range and KBB, NADAGUIDES, and Edmunds are so far apart it isn't even funny. KBB will say the '03, at a dealership is worth $14,300 or so. If you go to EBAY and look at actual "completed sales", there are VERY few listings that actually get sold; very few.

Might definitely be worth a wait. Neither vehicle is CPO due to age. Also, the '03 has the Xenon Headlights and the front left is "loose". This came from the PPI at the servicing BMW dealership. I really think that if they frontline a car for RETAIL pricing, that they should fix the instrument panel cluster and the front headlight. What is your opinion about that? I don't think they will due to non safety issues.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 07:57 AM
Fudman's Avatar
Fudman Fudman is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Sudbury, MA
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,823
Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
I would agree completely. At that price, the car needs to be immaculate with NO issues or problems. I highly doubt that this 9 year old car will sell quickly. Wait them out.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 10:07 AM
bimmer56 bimmer56 is offline
Registered User
Location: Space Coast FL
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15
Mein Auto: 99 540iA
If you have to go for 530 go with 01, save some money for repairs or upgrades. Bargain the asking price, you can do better, dealers make more money from a used car than a new one. Most important check the car, repairs can cost you. I own a 540i and love the power, not that the 530 is a bad car, but keep in mind the weight. Good luck
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2012, 10:32 AM
Jason5driver's Avatar
Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Middle of a corn field
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,673
Mein Auto: E39 hamster w/ pin-wheel
Out of the 2 E39 530i's mentioned above, I would get the one with the Manual Transmission, without a doubt...!
Manual transmission 530i's are rare IMO, and has been thought of "The" best E39 to buy/ own.

All of the above posts above have awesome information...!
And, I totally agree with them...!

I too would note the needed work that needs to be done these cars at the car's age, and use that information (cost of repairs) as a bargaining tool to lower the price.
1. Cooling - total cost to bring the car up to par...
2. Suspension - total cost " " " "
3. Whatever else...

See if the dealer has a log of any of the Service History done to the vehicle.
Find out who the previous owner was...
Contact the local BMW dealer and see if they have a log of any Service History done to the vehicle.

Make sure the car has its glove box manual book, and ALL of the keys the car should come with.

Getting the car with a manual transmission will:
1. Save you money later, because you will not need to purchase a whole new Automatic Transmission, and pay for the labor to have the old one removed, and the new one installed.
2. Give you that fun to drive factor - car is much more engaging...
3. Better mileage.
4. Allow you to do any maintenance YOURSELF if anything goes wrong with the clutch, etc. ...
5. Better performance, handling, braking, etc. ...

I would print out, or read thoroughly the E39 problems:
Common E39 Problems:


Last edited by Jason5driver; 09-26-2012 at 10:37 AM.
Reply With Quote

See More Related BMW Stories

Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:08 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2015 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms