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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 11-09-2012, 10:08 PM
Nfs021 Nfs021 is offline
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Location: Oregon, USA
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 286
Mein Auto: 2002 540i
Question Should I Buy This?

Hey guys what's up. I'm new to the board, and want to ask you guys something. I've always been a fan of the E39 5 series, but for the longest time wasn't able to afford one. But now things have changed and started looking around. I obviously want a M5, but it's impossible to find one in all black and in good condition. So I eventually went to look at the 540i. While browsing the local ads I found a 2000 540i going for $9995 and has just over 80,000 miles. Even though it's not all black, I like the color combo of the green and tan...plus it's a six speed manual Now the thing is though, I'm not a mechanic and don't know much about the E39 540i reliability. I know I could have the vehicle checked out by a BMW tech, but I wanna get an idea from everyone on here who has or still does own one.

So if anyone has any input, I'll greatly appreciate it. Sorry if this was long. So don't be afraid to give me a few pointers as well. Hope to hear back from ya, thanks.

Last edited by Nfs021; 11-21-2012 at 04:23 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:31 PM
pockomoth pockomoth is offline
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Location: California
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Mein Auto: 635csi
I'd be interested too. I have an e39 530I 2003 and was warned off it by my mechanic but I bought it anyway and it's been great! Had to get a major service and my coolant tank went at 100,000 miles but that's normal for the e39. Do do yourself a favor and pull the coolant tank before it leaves you stranded.

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  #3  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:45 PM
Solo12 Solo12 is offline
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Location: NYC
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 457
Mein Auto: e39 530i e28 535is(Sold)
If you have the cash to buy and nice example and keep up with the maintenance and fuel bills wait for an M5. Expand your search area you will be able to find one.

If you perform some searches you will find tons info on e39 trouble spots. I'll give you a hint on one, around 80k is time for a full cooling system overhaul on a 540 e39. Its expensive so unless they just did it you need to factor that into your purchase price

Do not buy a car without getting a ppi (pre purchase inspection) by a bmw dealer or independent bmw specialist. If the previous owner neglected the car or just put off a bunch of stuff you can spend a lot of money on maintenance real quick to address those overlooked areas. I am talking thousands not hundreds. You wanna know what you are getting into.
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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]
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:47 PM
Solo12 Solo12 is offline
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Mein Auto: e39 530i e28 535is(Sold)
Quote:
Originally Posted by pockomoth View Post
I'd be interested too. I have an e39 530I 2003 and was warned off it by my mechanic but I bought it anyway and it's been great! Had to get a major service and my coolant tank went at 100,000 miles but that's normal for the e39. Do do yourself a favor and pull the coolant tank before it leaves you stranded.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Bimmer App
I hope you replaced more than the coolant tank (do you mean radiator or expansion tank) unless somoene else had already done all the other items
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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]
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  #5  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:50 PM
pockomoth pockomoth is offline
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Location: California
 
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agreed

I agree about the pre purchase inspection. But an M? The major service is twice the price of a regular 5 Series. I can't do my own service, so an M would really hurt me.
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  #6  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:53 PM
pockomoth pockomoth is offline
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yeah, my mechanic was all over that. We replaced the entire system. you can't short cut this 1
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  #7  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:35 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
 
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
The E39 is a very rewarding car to drive. The newest examples are 10 years old. Maintenance is costly if you cannot DIY. Do what you gotta do.
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  #8  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:42 PM
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MikesE39 MikesE39 is offline
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Location: Houston
 
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Posts: 874
Mein Auto: 03 530i Loaded
Hold on so whats stoping you from the M5 is the color. LOL the e39 has so many sexy color combinations i wouldnt know which to chose. honestly, black would be my last.
1. alpine white with tan interior.
2. sterling grey with black interior.
3. lemans blue
4. imola red
These 4 will all look stunning. I have 4 black cars in my house... i hate every single last one of them. my stering grey.... lets just say nothing looks sexier when cleaned...
I cant even imagine the white, imola, or lemans. Trust me wait on the M5.
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2012, 06:59 AM
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Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is offline
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Location: Northern Virginia
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Mein Auto: 1999 M3, 2002 M5
Good Luck!

Read through the stickies on this forum. Do a search for "buyer's guide", sections from Bimmer Magazine dedicated to buying specific body styles.

BMW V8 becomes maintenance intensive with age. Don't just assume you can't do anything. Simply following instructions can enable you to do some simple things and save big $$ on maintenance.

That said, don't buy car if you don't already have an independent mechanic identified to do the larger jobs.
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Le Mans 2002 M5, Black/Titanium, Rogue SSK, Dinan exhaust, PSS9 coilovers, Euro rotors, iPod integration. MRegistry listing here.

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  #10  
Old 12-07-2012, 06:20 PM
aspensilver540 aspensilver540 is offline
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Location: Oakland, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 540i
Maintenance is expensive if you want the car to run like it should. Many, including me, have learned to DIY as a result. You'll need to spend $1000-1500 yearly to keep going, more if you want it running really nicely. Much of that is labor, hence the DIYing. Now that I know about Valve cover gaskets the $425 I paid someone to do it seems like a lot now when the gaskets are roughtly $25.

Then there is the gas...if you bought it to drive it hard (like you should with the V8) you'll stay well under 20mpg; compare that to your current vehicles' cost. If your old car was cheap to maintain and got 30mpg, this may cost you say 2K+ more a year to own. I don't know what you have now just trying to help.Best of luck! After a few years you realize the purchase price is just entry to the club, then you get to pay more in dues!

Last edited by aspensilver540; 12-07-2012 at 06:21 PM.
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  #11  
Old 12-08-2012, 02:03 AM
pockomoth pockomoth is offline
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Location: California
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aspensilver540 View Post
Maintenance is expensive if you want the car to run like it should. Many, including me, have learned to DIY as a result. You'll need to spend $1000-1500 yearly to keep going, more if you want it running really nicely. Much of that is labor, hence the DIYing. Now that I know about Valve cover gaskets the $425 I paid someone to do it seems like a lot now when the gaskets are roughtly $25.

Then there is the gas...if you bought it to drive it hard (like you should with the V8) you'll stay well under 20mpg; compare that to your current vehicles' cost. If your old car was cheap to maintain and got 30mpg, this may cost you say 2K+ more a year to own. I don't know what you have now just trying to help.Best of luck! After a few years you realize the purchase price is just entry to the club, then you get to pay more in dues!
Well said. I was a Beemer bike guy for years, still am, and that's what we all used to say. But with the cars, it's like moving from the Minors to the Big Leagues. I recently bought an '85 635 I thought I could refurbish for just a few thousand: how wrong I was. And it only gets 11 miles to the gallon around town. Thirsty ****. but my '03 530i is fine with maintenance, just the gas isn't as good as advertised. Still happy with both the cars, but want to trade up the 530 to the 540, a V8 is on my bucket list since my 74 Ford Torino when I was a kid.
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  #12  
Old 12-08-2012, 09:08 AM
fricchione fricchione is offline
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Location: Vermont
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 4
Mein Auto: BMW 540i
I bought a year 2000 blue six speed 540i sport package in November of 1999. Since then I've put about 95,000 miles on it and only had to do the brakes twice, the clutch once (this year) and replace a couple of radiator hoses. The engine still growls nicely and the handling is really nice. Not a rattle in the car yet. My only complaint is that the stock bimmer wheels had this sort of cheap silver paint on them that flaked off after a while. I had to get new wheels.

I'm looking to do an upgrade to the computer, nav system and radio (Dynavin?) this year as well as replacing the center armrest. Chips are *SLIGHTLY* faster now than they were 13 years ago. :-)

Rick
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