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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 10-18-2012, 06:23 AM
wes27915 wes27915 is offline
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E39 - What is best year , engine to buy

I am particularly interested in the sport model with a manual transmission. I would love the V8 but am told that the I6 is a much more reliable engine. There are many used to choose from all seem to have 100k plus miles. I plan on only buying one that has been regularly maintained. From what I read, I would want to make sure the cooling issues have been addressed and the clutch has been replaced.
Is there a certain year I6 that is best?
Is the V8 valley pan gasket issue a big deal?
I would love your feedback. I am not cencerned about MPG
Thanks
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  #2  
Old 10-18-2012, 06:56 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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There are certain yrs I6 that have high power delivery, and there are certain yrs that are
more reliable. Which is more important? And you can't have both.
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  #3  
Old 10-18-2012, 06:59 AM
wes27915 wes27915 is offline
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Thank you for the response. I would prefer reliability. I like your e39 - color combo etc
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  #4  
Old 10-18-2012, 07:05 AM
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Nline6 Nline6 is offline
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I have had both the V8 and single and double vanos I6 motors, the V8 was a metric ton of fun. However I prefer the I6, its a great powerplant and makes decent power with respectable fuel economy.
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  #5  
Old 10-18-2012, 07:16 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I am biased, I like 1998 528i 5sp, M52 engine without double vanos thingy and DISA junk.
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  #6  
Old 10-18-2012, 07:20 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wes27915 View Post
I would prefer reliability.
CN's right for reliability....the 1998 yr is by far the most reliable for the following reasons:

1) steel engine block vs. alum on '99-'03
2) single vanos vs. dual vanos : less complicated
3) conventional cooling system vs. electronically(more problematic) controlled cooling system
4) no DISA valve - completely unnecessary, and when they break, they take out the valvetrain.
5) simple air cooled alternator vs. liquid cooled alternator

'98 is the 1st yr w/ I6 sport pkg, & it comes w/ style 5 wheels, one of the most desirable wheels BMW has ever made.
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  #7  
Old 10-18-2012, 07:55 AM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
i am biased, i like 1998 528i 5sp, m52 engine without double vanos thingy and disa junk.
+1000000
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2012, 08:03 AM
wes27915 wes27915 is offline
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Thank you DHOANG. That is exactly the information I wanted
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2012, 08:24 AM
wes27915 wes27915 is offline
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Should I stay away from the 540 manual transmission? Is the V8 much more problematic? What would the best vintage v8 be?
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2012, 09:14 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHoang View Post
CN's right for reliability....the 1998 yr is by far the most reliable for the following reasons:

1) steel engine block vs. alum on '99-'03
2) single vanos vs. dual vanos : less complicated
3) conventional cooling system vs. electronically(more problematic) controlled cooling system
4) no DISA valve - completely unnecessary, and when they break, they take out the valvetrain.
5) simple air cooled alternator vs. liquid cooled alternator

'98 is the 1st yr w/ I6 sport pkg, & it comes w/ style 5 wheels, one of the most desirable wheels BMW has ever made.
Correction, the I6 alternator is air cooled, not water cooled. The V8 alternator is water cooled.

And while double Vanos are more complex, it is easier to work on than the single Vanos and results in greater engine output (the M52 is rated at 190 hp/210 ft-lb and the M54 is rated at 228 hp/220 ft lb).

While the iron block is an advantage if you overheat, it is deadweight during everyday driving. If you take preventative maintenance seriously, you will not need an iron block.

And yes, the DISA adds little and has serious consequences if it fails.

Bottom line, they are just different variants of the same recipe. The e39 is a rare blend of high performance, luxury and appearance. Reliability, when properly cared for, is on par with most vehicles. However, unless you DIY, the cost of proper maintenance can become prohibitive.

And get the sport package. it is worth it!
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2012, 09:38 AM
wes27915 wes27915 is offline
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More great information...thank you
Is there any difference between the 528, 525, 530? Are the all basically the same engine but different years? Which is best.
I am a DIY'er, so not worried about some of the routnie stuff, but always buy my cars based on the engine and what has proven to be bullerproof. I am new to BMW's - so I REALLY appreciate evryone's help here.
Thank you!
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  #12  
Old 10-18-2012, 09:48 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
...And yes, the DISA adds little and has serious consequences if it fails...
Hey Fudman, DHoang,

I don't have DISA so not familiar with it.
What is the exact cause of Valvetrain problems?

Is this what you guys referred to?

http://germanautosolutions.com/DISA_...epair_Kit.html

Last edited by cn90; 10-18-2012 at 09:50 AM.
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  #13  
Old 10-18-2012, 09:52 AM
mbell666 mbell666 is offline
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The M62 engine is reliable, will easily go to 300k+ with reasonable care. Generally i think they have less smaller issues that the i6 engines. I recommend a full cooling system overhaul (pump, rad, expansion tank, pipes, thermostat) every 60k interval. That is the main failure point. The other major concern is the timing chain guide rails, they are made of plastic and will wear out somewhere between 120k and 200k. It's about a 20+ hour job + $500 in parts, so you need to be good with the spanner or have deep pocket.

In term so fuel I get somewhere between 18 and 26mpg depending on driving. The v8 is a lot of fun to drive and it really goes like stink, but it is so fast it hard to find somewhere you can stretch its legs for more than 5 seconds...

My personal choice would have been a 530i manual with sport package but I was under time pressure when i bought mine so didn't have time to find one out. Main reason was enough power, steering rack rather than steering box and less weight in the front (smaller engine and al subframe).
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  #14  
Old 10-18-2012, 10:29 AM
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  #15  
Old 10-18-2012, 11:42 AM
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If you are not concerned about MPG and can spend a bit ( ? ) more time fixing it get 540i
and the best year is the last E39 production year which is 2003
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Last edited by champaign777; 10-18-2012 at 11:45 AM.
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  #16  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:10 PM
FiveDriver FiveDriver is offline
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Re : the 530i --

That is a substantial difference in hp....190 vs 230hp. Did they achieve that strictly with the double VANOS ?? Did they change the Bore or the Stroke to increase the displacement ??
Is the power curve any different in the M52 vs the M54 ?? My 528 really doesn't start to breathe until about 3K RPM.....does the 530 open up a little earlier ??

It sounds like the Fuel Economy is the same. Believe me, I looked long and hard for a decent 530 but mostly found cars that were abused by the 22" rim crowd.

Last edited by FiveDriver; 10-18-2012 at 12:18 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #17  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:11 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wes27915 View Post
More great information...thank you
Is there any difference between the 528, 525, 530? Are the all basically the same engine but different years? Which is best.
I am a DIY'er, so not worried about some of the routnie stuff, but always buy my cars based on the engine and what has proven to be bullerproof. I am new to BMW's - so I REALLY appreciate evryone's help here.
Thank you!
In short:
528 2.8l engine, single vanos. 193 Hp & 210 ft-lb torque. M52 engine

525 2.5l engine, dual vanos. 192 Hp & 181 ft-lb torque. M54 B25 engine

530 3l engine, dual vanos. 231 Hp & 220 ft-lb torque. M54 B30 engine
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  #18  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:51 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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The pre-VANOS V8s ('97-'98) are less problematic than the later ones, since they are simpler: no secondary air pump, no VANOS, and cats are available in the aftermarket. They are also purported to be underrated in the horsepower department. Unfortunately, these cars are 16+ years old, and finding a good solid one is very difficult. Sorry, my 135k example is not available.

The Getrag 6-speed is bulletproof, but only if properly maintained, which means 60k lube change intervals; ditto the diff.

The model is scarce because those who have them tend to hold onto them; also, I suspect that many have ended up at the breaker's.

Be diligent in your search, and you may be rewarded. You will probably need to travel to evaluate a given specimen.

Check this out: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=652571
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Last edited by edjack; 10-18-2012 at 12:58 PM.
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  #19  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveDriver View Post
Re : the 530i --

That is a substantial difference in hp....190 vs 230hp. Did they achieve that strictly with the double VANOS ?? Did they change the Bore or the Stroke to increase the displacement ??
Is the power curve any different in the M52 vs the M54 ?? My 528 really doesn't start to breathe until about 3K RPM.....does the 530 open up a little earlier ??

It sounds like the Fuel Economy is the same.

The M54B30 has a few more things going for it than the M52B28 but it still feels much like the 528i, moreso with the advent of the TU variant. According to EPA estimates, the 530i is the mpg champ of the E39 stable.

All BMW inlines need to be on the tach before you get that magic little rush they provide when hitting their respective sweet spots.
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