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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 01-05-2015, 06:57 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Is the m62 (540i) easier to maintain than the m54 (530i/525i)?

almost every procedure i see for the m54 seems to be more involved or tricky or complicated than anything on the 540i

in fact the only real maintenance achilles heel for the 540i is the timing chain guides, and not one part of that looks difficult, it just takes a while.

i currently own an e91 and the valve cover gasket job was a pain in the ass, way too little room to work so i was banging up against all kinds of stuff
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  #2  
Old 01-05-2015, 08:03 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Mein Auto: 540/6, S60 Volvo, Tribeca
I've wrenched on my 540 for 14 years, a few friends 540's, some I6's and a Z3. As far as I'm concerned the 540 is much easier.
The timing chain guides aren't anywhere as bad a job as some make it out to be, it just take time to do it properly.
Lots of local help available here in MA if you need it.
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  #3  
Old 01-05-2015, 08:13 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
I've wrenched on my 540 for 14 years, a few friends 540's, some I6's and a Z3. As far as I'm concerned the 540 is much easier.
The timing chain guides aren't anywhere as bad a job as some make it out to be, it just take time to do it properly.
Lots of local help available here in MA if you need it.
heh, local help i'd need would be to find an 01-03 540i 6speed in good condition for under 7 grand, doesnt even need to be sport package tbh

or a 540i wagon
the only 540i wagon in the entire state is at this place over south of boston, not sport package, not even heated steering wheel or anything really, dealer wants $8.5k for it and they dont have a lick of service records
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  #4  
Old 01-05-2015, 09:08 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Where south of Boston? I'm south of Beantown.
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  #5  
Old 01-05-2015, 10:17 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
Where south of Boston? I'm south of Beantown.
heh, now i'm hesitant to reveal it in case someone else snatches it
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  #6  
Old 01-06-2015, 02:32 AM
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525isport 525isport is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 e39 525i sport (uk)
ive worked on my E39 (m54) doing vanos seals/valve cover gasket ,oil filter housing gasket ,cooling system and light suspension work and other things too . and ive worked on my dads E38 (m62) doing valve cover gaskets ,timing chain and guides, vanos seals , changed Transmission ,A LOT of suspension / steering work and other stuff ....... and the M54 is easier to work on
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2015, 05:04 AM
mrblahh mrblahh is offline
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very very similar, the I6 has 1 less vanos and the seals on it are far easier to do at least on the single vanos, I've not done a dual yet
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  #8  
Old 01-07-2015, 08:39 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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hah, still getting mixed signals

i'll tell you this much, needing to drop the subframe to do the oil valley pan on an i6 is dumb
although the technique of cutting the gasket to get it in place and use rtv sealant on the cut area apparently is far faster and easier and as long as you do it right, rarely leaks again for the life of the gasket

Last edited by joekitch; 01-07-2015 at 08:54 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-07-2015, 08:55 AM
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mjalloul11 mjalloul11 is offline
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One is a v8 the other an l6 you do the math. You need 2 less plugs and coils, one valve seal and on and on, pluse you get all that room to work around.
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  #10  
Old 01-07-2015, 09:09 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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You must first decide which engine you want. Deciding on maintenance issues is only secondary to the decision.

Each engine has its own set of foibles. They've both been designed by a bunch of German engineers, after all.
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Last edited by edjack; 01-07-2015 at 09:11 AM.
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  #11  
Old 01-07-2015, 10:36 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
As far as I'm concerned the 540 is much easier.
Do you mean "fewer issues" or do you mean "easier R&R"?

As for major differences in issues, from the anecdotal record, do these seem to be sum of the major differences in issues?
  1. V8 timing chain guides
  2. V8 valley pan gaskets
  3. V8 power steering pump bracket bolts & cracks
  4. I6 oil pan gasket (Mudbone/Cn90 method notwithstanding)
  5. V8 may run hotter (or it just might read at a hotter cooling system temperature) which has implications for the cooling system
  6. V8 and I6 CCV systems are different (isn't the V8 system more complex?) but both stink so this may be a wash
  7. Minor problems with I6 hollow oil-pan bolts shearing off when too much torque is applied (ask me how I know)
  8. ? anything else ?
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 01-07-2015 at 10:38 AM.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2015, 11:33 AM
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mng mng is offline
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my wife has an N52 (07 X3)... because its an inline 6 and therefore 2 cylinders longer than the m62, I have found it more cramped to work in.

I say the M62 is easier (cost not withstanding since i cant speak to that of the m52, just ease of maneuverability)
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  #13  
Old 01-07-2015, 03:21 PM
mrblahh mrblahh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Do you mean "fewer issues" or do you mean "easier R&R"?

As for major differences in issues, from the anecdotal record, do these seem to be sum of the major differences in issues?
  1. V8 timing chain guides
  2. V8 valley pan gaskets
  3. V8 power steering pump bracket bolts & cracks
  4. I6 oil pan gasket (Mudbone/Cn90 method notwithstanding)
  5. V8 may run hotter (or it just might read at a hotter cooling system temperature) which has implications for the cooling system
  6. V8 and I6 CCV systems are different (isn't the V8 system more complex?) but both stink so this may be a wash
  7. Minor problems with I6 hollow oil-pan bolts shearing off when too much torque is applied (ask me how I know)
  8. ? anything else ?
yaeh double the number of vanos units, and the v8 seals are nothing like doing the i6 seals with a simple pick
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2015, 04:38 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Do you mean "fewer issues" or do you mean "easier R&R"?

As for major differences in issues, from the anecdotal record, do these seem to be sum of the major differences in issues?
  1. V8 timing chain guides They are rarely done on most V8, the only ones you hear about are from the people that try and usually mess it up. There are plenty of V8's with 200+K that are still on the original guides, same for the vanos.
  2. V8 valley pan gaskets Very easy $100 repair.
  3. V8 power steering pump bracket bolts & cracks. Not a big failure item.
  4. I6 oil pan gasket (Mudbone/Cn90 method notwithstanding)
  5. V8 may run hotter (or it just might read at a hotter cooling system temperature) which has implications for the cooling system. I6's cooling system failures are about the same.


  6. V8 and I6 CCV systems are different (isn't the V8 system more complex?) but both stink so this may be a wash. Actually the V8 is less complicated and easier to change, it's not buried under the intake manifold.


  7. Minor problems with I6 hollow oil-pan bolts shearing off when too much torque is applied (ask me how I know)
  8. ? anything else ?
See above in red. This is like a "which oil is best" for the most part I6 and V8 owners won't agree.

Last edited by JimLev; 01-07-2015 at 04:40 PM.
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2015, 06:24 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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i agree with JIm.. im In the same boat...

owning both.. The v8 is easier
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  #16  
Old 01-07-2015, 06:31 PM
Cabover1000 Cabover1000 is online now
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Mein Auto: 1998 bmw 540i
I think there both pretty easy to work on. i REALLY hate working on American vehicles compared to the bmw's.
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  #17  
Old 01-07-2015, 08:45 PM
jordon jordon is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 M5, E60 530i
Having owned both an e39 with m62, and an e60 with the m54, i gotta agree. M62 is fairly simple (as is the s62 for that matter).
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  #18  
Old 01-07-2015, 08:58 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Thanks JimLev for the details.
This is good information, that we want to be able to access (and improve over time) in the future.

To that end, I just added the following keyword-rich reference to the bestlinks ...
- What are the differences in maintenance between the BMW E39 V8 M62 engine and I6 M54 engines (1) & what parts should you periodically clean (1) & a 150K mile maintenance checklist (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #19  
Old 01-09-2015, 03:09 AM
brc5 brc5 is offline
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I have one of each.

The I6 is worse because of the oil pan gasket replacement nightmare.

And the v8 sounds way better.
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  #20  
Old 01-09-2015, 08:54 AM
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golferjohnm golferjohnm is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 540i 6sp '01 X5 4.4
[QUOTE=joekitch;8813368]heh, local help i'd need would be to find an 01-03 540i 6speed in good condition for under 7 grand, doesnt even need to be sport package tbh

BTW, all the 6 speed 540's came with the sport package if I recall
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  #21  
Old 01-09-2015, 10:26 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golferjohnm View Post

BTW, all the 6 speed 540's came with the sport package if I recall
sport package yes, Msport no
msport is the visual stuff, sport is the suspension and seats and steering wheel
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  #22  
Old 01-09-2015, 10:40 AM
rixter88 rixter88 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joekitch View Post
sport package yes, Msport no
msport is the visual stuff, sport is the suspension and seats and steering wheel
I think the M-Sport models had a different suspension setup than the sport models. Sport models have an M shift knob too.
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  #23  
Old 01-09-2015, 10:42 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rixter88 View Post
I think the M-Sport models had a different suspension setup than the sport models. Sport models have an M shift knob too.
- Meaningful (i.e., performance) differences between E39 base, sport, and M packages (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #24  
Old 01-09-2015, 12:20 PM
mrblahh mrblahh is offline
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some confusion even in the FAQ thread

should clarify with the actual option numbers, easy to look that up with vin last 6

my 2000 540/6 has these options, you'll notice it says M SPORT SUSPENSION but this is not the infamous msport from 2003 that's a different option package and I've seen the alingment specs showing something like msport II for the 2003 "msport" package set, and I think that option in 2003 combined things unlike my 2000 which lists them separate

704 M SPORT SUSPENSION
710 M LEATHER STEERING WHEEL
481 SPORT SEATS F DRIVER/FRONT PASSENGER
299 LT/ALY WHEELS W MIXED TYRES
339 SATIN CHROME
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  #25  
Old 01-25-2015, 10:17 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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reviving this topic to ask;
i'm seeing a great deal of sentiment that the 540i is far more difficult and expensive to maintain than the 528/525/530 (seeing leaks mentioned a lot), but it seems like they're about the same with the 540i simply having the timing chain guides

what causes this sentiment, do you think? just perception by m54 owners?
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