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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

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  #1  
Old 11-18-2012, 11:26 PM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Question E39 530i advice..please

Hello-
My firt post, Exciting. I have decide to purchase a 2002/2003 530i agter driving many others cars I just keep coming back.
Here's are my deliberations in a nut shell:

I found a clean 2003 Topaz Blue( sweet color) & Grey Interior 530i w/ premium package Nav. 103K.
Asking $7995 -
I took to a mechanic & they found the following:
Tilt steering not going up/down
Cabin filter dirty
Coolant level sensor broken
Lower radiator hoe leaking at O ring
Power steering hoses leaking
Valve cover gasket leaking
Need new tires
Front wheel alignment Oil filter housing seal leaking.

Easily $2000 + in repairs. Most things seem pretty typical. Other car is Very clean. Car fax clean bur 4 previous owners and 2/3 auctions.
I hesitated and someone came in 2 days later and purchased. I a little sad as Ive driven many and this was the best and a reasonable price.

I've now come across a pristine clean One California Owner 2002 530i with Sport package. 93K - Asking price is $10.995. Haven't taken to a mechanic & I will but they assure me all has been looked at and its pristine - they encourage me to still have it looked at independently.
Vet nice darker blue - not as sharp as the topaz but in perfect condition.

HERE'S MY QUESTIONS:
Is the Sport package in addition to the Luxury package? Ie: The Luxury plus the suspension upgrade, tires, nicer seats, bigger Nav screen... or a whole separate package?

If it truly needs little to nothing is 10,995 a good price for a clean 1 owner CA car & should I be jumping all over this!

Any advice, input is really appreciated.

Cheers, Colin
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2012, 11:34 PM
edjack edjack is online now
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Check KBB, Edmunds, and NADA for price guides.

Get the VIN and go here for the options: http://www.rubmw.ru/vincode/eng/
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  #3  
Old 11-19-2012, 12:03 AM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Ed,

Thank you - the Vin Package check is great - I just compared the Sport model Vin to a Luxury Vin model and there is quite a difference: Sport has all the Luxury features plus an addition 9 other items. Awesome - Thank you...

I'll be back with a BMW soon....

Cheers, Colin
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  #4  
Old 11-19-2012, 01:52 AM
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fullthrottle540 fullthrottle540 is offline
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The leaks are all pretty much standard (all E39's leak).

The two things that I don't like on your list are the busted tilt steering and bald tires. That's $1000 right there. Everything else on there is simple labor.
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  #5  
Old 11-19-2012, 07:57 AM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Thank you -- steering box was a concern

Fullthrottle540-

Thanks for the input. I wash't concerned with the leaks, as you and others mention its pretty standard. I was prepared to invest 2K. However, my hesitation was the steering column;no one could give an estimate. Beautiful looking car, nice ride, but with all those first glance issues it really makes one wonder what the history w/ 4 previous owners.

Thanks for making the time to reply.

Cheers, Colin
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  #6  
Old 11-19-2012, 11:32 AM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Hi,

As the owner of a non electric steering column, i've not run out into the street each day on my knees looking up at the sky screaming 'why why' !

Would you really reject a car based on the fact the electric steering column isn't working? Don't get me wrong, I know there's plenty of owners who want absolutely everything working and you may well be one of those guys! It could be something relatively simple as to why it isn't working, and I think it's 'related' to the side view mirror dip on reverse gear selection - from vague recollection of similar posts. It could be relatively pricey if the little motors have packed up etc, so until it can be looked at no one will really know how much to quote for it.

Number of owners logically has very little bearing on a car - it's all psychological, with the tendency being that the more owners it's had the 'assumption' its a bad car. The truth is, the car should be looked at in it's present condition and assessed on that, rather than number of previous owners - I've seen one owner cars you probably wouldn't want to get into being potential death traps, and other 6 owner cars which look like they've recently rolled off the production line!

It sounds like a good car, most of the stuff is easily fixable etc, tyres you need to change on any car really as a consumable item, and you can always look into the steering adjustment issue later if you *really* need it so much !

Topaz, slightly lowered and on some nice 19's and well detailed will look stunning

Cheers, Dennis!
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  #7  
Old 11-19-2012, 06:05 PM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Thumbs up Steering & # of Owners...

Dennis-

Thanks for the reply. I agree with you completely. The up down function didn't really matter to me. The rest of the items listed where typical maintenance items - the car was priced fairly and the numbers of owners doesn't really matter - it's just a snap shot, like the carFax, and how clean the engine looks.
I hesitated, 2 days later I go back and its gone. I loved the color but resist making a buying based largely on the color.

I drove an immaculate 2002 530i w/Premium/sport/winter/navigation package. Looks, smells and drives new. Non negotiable asking price of $10,990. ( One CA owner complete with Manuals and original sticker price of 52K) - My mechanic will go over tomorrow - but I doubt he will find much - I'm just a cautious guy.
It's a Toledo blue with light gray interior - very sharp. The cost of this car is essentially what I would have needed to put into the other car...

FYI: the steering column works - I will probably use it once or twice and never move it again....

Its listed near top dollar but if its the Cherry it appears to be I think its worth it.

I wil post a picture when the deal is delivered.

Cheers- Colin
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  #8  
Old 11-25-2012, 10:58 AM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Smile 2002 525i Sport - questions

Hello -

My search continues for a nice 02'/03 5 series. I passed on two for various reasons and have learned a lot reading the threads her.

I've found a nice private sale 02 525i Sport package. Just hit 100K Good maintenance records. In the last 15 months they have: replace the oil gasket housing, coolant system including radiator/water pump, coolant flush, new tires, brakes ( new rotors up front) sensors, oil change and other maintenance items. I taking to a mechanic this week to give a look over.

Here are a few question:

I have read occasionally the automatic transmission can be a problems around 100K, Id prefer a manual but in LA its almost impossible to find one. Any comments on the auto trans? I've also heard if their maintained they are pretty mom proof.

Minor issue: Sun screen/shade in back seat on is torn and needs replacing - is this a reasonable DIY project? I imagine it just requires taking the door panel off for access. Any advice/ experience is appreciated.

SPORT RIDE - is this M suspension prone to problems and at 100K is it at the end of its life?
Its a bit stiffer then the no sport models ad the owner said he does not like the ride as much as he used too including the sport seats - he said he doesn't find it comfortable on long rides. Would love to hear some opinions on this.

VALUE: does a sport package hold more re-value over a premium?

Their asking $7800 firm which seems like a pretty competitive price especially with the service records and recent upgrades.

Now the silly part - it s in a nice Stahblau with Gray interior but I really like the TopazBlau w/ gray. It's the only item that makes me hesitate - LOL. But my pragmatic side realizes it hard to find a clean/well maintained & the exact color. Has anyone else struggled with this, comprimised one way or the other and regretted it?

Ultimately a solid car at a good price is a smart buy - but that Topaz is sweet!

Best - Colin
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  #9  
Old 11-25-2012, 04:16 PM
Bigset3102 Bigset3102 is offline
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My steering column has been broken since I bought my car had a friend that does work on bmw's manually move the position to where I needed it
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  #10  
Old 11-25-2012, 06:52 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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The sport version is definitely worth the added cost, if you value the ultimate driving experience. At 100K, your suspension is worn but serviceable. A true afficienado would replace the entire front end. At $1,200+ for parts alone, it's pricey but will restore the original ride and handling. I replaced my entire front end at 75K.
The auto is fine depending upon your luck. Some last and some don't. The only maintenance needed is an ATF and filter change.
Ignore the color. Focus on the mechanical aspects of the car when buying a used car. Better to have a car that drives well in an ugly color than one that doesn't drive in a nice color.
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  #11  
Old 11-25-2012, 07:15 PM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Thumbs up

Fudman,

Thanks for the reply. I agree about the color choice especially when looking at 10+ year old cars - the mechanical is obviously more important; that's how I've been looking but its easy to caught up in a nice looking car. This 02' 525i Sport looks sharp in Steel Blue too and seems to be well maintained. I will have to review the stack of service records when the mechanic is checking it over but I think the ATF was done last winter - which is good.

I will have the suspension looked at - I might have a few years left on the suspension as the car has been driven by a house wife avg. of 8300 yrly. Its also a 1 CA owner.

I see you have the same year in a 530 sport. How do you find the seats on long rides? They felt great to me on the test drives. Hard to predict a long ride. Good news is I only drive 7-9K a year.

Sudbury huh? I grew up in Frankin, MA - all my family is on the Cape now - I still own my home out in Northampton, MA - just been in LA for 4 yrs. now. Did some wrestling tournaments in Sudbury back in High School.

After a nice road bike ride I was clear on the decision - then I got your post which is great reinforcement.

Much appreciated - Colin
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  #12  
Old 11-25-2012, 07:36 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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My 2 cents.

Spend some time and find the car you really want. It took me 6 months to find mine. I bought a 2002 530i with sport package in July of 2011 that had less than 52,000 miles. Previous owner took good care of the car. In my opinion I wouldn't want one without the sport package.

Look for a while and don't buy the first one. When you find the right one you will be ready to pull the trigger without as much apprehension.
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2012, 07:39 PM
Bigset3102 Bigset3102 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post
My 2 cents.

Spend some time and find the car you really want. It took me 6 months to find mine. I bought a 2002 530i with sport package in July of 2011 that had less than 52,000 miles. Previous owner took good care of the car. In my opinion I wouldn't want one without the sport package.

Look for a while and don't buy the first one. When you find the right one you will be ready to pull the trigger without as much apprehension.
I agree don't jump on one look for a while and find your best deal. I searched for a few months and found mine for a great deal
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  #14  
Old 11-25-2012, 08:06 PM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Thanks Bigset & Crazy4Trains - I have been looking and have taken a few to mechanics and then backed out. The latest one is a nice car, appears to be well maintained nice 02' 525i Sport - they have a lot of service records. My only hesitation has been its not the ideal color but still a color I like. As one reply mentioned: "When looking for a used car focus on a mechanically sound car & not to worry about the color."
I mentioned to my GF that the color wouldn't be so nice if it in the shop all the time. I think the key is when shopping for a used car color is harder to match with everything else which is more important.

So, it's the strange meeting of: a mechanically sound car, the style, miles, color & of course the cost to purchase.

Thanks again! Colin
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2012, 06:56 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Another NE boy who has found paradise! It's gonna snow tomm'w so you're not missing anything!

The seats are adequate for a long ride. The primary deficiency is a lack of adjustable lumbar support. I use a custom made pillow to compensate for this issue. I have driven up to 7 hrs straight and my back feels fine afterwards. However, I would not characterize the ride as plush. On the flip side, the sport seat bottom is pretty firm and it really transmits feel for the road.

A low mileage car, with one female owner, that was well maintained with records is rare. This one could be a keeper. Good luck!




Quote:
Originally Posted by NordicWolf View Post
Fudman,

Thanks for the reply. I agree about the color choice especially when looking at 10+ year old cars - the mechanical is obviously more important; that's how I've been looking but its easy to caught up in a nice looking car. This 02' 525i Sport looks sharp in Steel Blue too and seems to be well maintained. I will have to review the stack of service records when the mechanic is checking it over but I think the ATF was done last winter - which is good.

I will have the suspension looked at - I might have a few years left on the suspension as the car has been driven by a house wife avg. of 8300 yrly. Its also a 1 CA owner.

I see you have the same year in a 530 sport. How do you find the seats on long rides? They felt great to me on the test drives. Hard to predict a long ride. Good news is I only drive 7-9K a year.

Sudbury huh? I grew up in Frankin, MA - all my family is on the Cape now - I still own my home out in Northampton, MA - just been in LA for 4 yrs. now. Did some wrestling tournaments in Sudbury back in High School.

After a nice road bike ride I was clear on the decision - then I got your post which is great reinforcement.

Much appreciated - Colin
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  #16  
Old 11-26-2012, 12:14 PM
fortunateson fortunateson is online now
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Sounds like the LA car should be great. I have an '02 Premium package bu tno sport package. However, it does have a standard tranny. I could have got a 530 with autragic but went with a 525 because of the stick. BMW does have some really cool colours, especially in the blue pallete. So with everyone having black or silver step up to indivuality and get the steel blue. I have that colour and I get a lot of compliments because it isn't the same old black/silver. I suppose you could get a repaint in Topaz if you REALLY wanted to.
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  #17  
Old 11-26-2012, 06:29 PM
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fullthrottle540 fullthrottle540 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
A low mileage car, with one female owner, that was well maintained with records is rare. This one could be a keeper. Good luck!
Female driven could be a good thing, but it could just as easily be horrible (even with records). Nordic is doing the right thing by checking the suspension out. Also check the car over three times. With an E39, imagine if the housewife were to, say, spring a coolant leak... How long do you think she would drive for before she noticed the needle in the red?

Last edited by fullthrottle540; 11-26-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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  #18  
Old 11-26-2012, 09:18 PM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Fudman, Fortunateson, Fullthrittle -

Thanks for the replies. Yes a NE dyed in the wool enjoying LA.Different world but its pretty amazing - and finding a clean A car is possible.

All points taken - thank you. I think the good news about the 02' 525i Sport I'm looking is that it's is a family car. The husband said it was his car for 2 years and then his wife took over and he sent it in for all the required maintenance - now she wants a Lexus for a softer ride and more room for the expanding family.

I do like the the Steel Gay a lot. The blues out here in CA really catch my eye - just seems to go the lifestyle.

Funny thing when I looked at the car it had crumbs on the floor, and a few little toys in the door pockets - certainly wasn't detailed and it still looked very nice - rode great but I still want a mechanic to give at a look. Owner was agreeable.
If it all goes well friday I expect to pay cash and drive home.

I'll want to detail the car inside and out so any tips on cleaning the leather seats, engine compartment, and shinning up the car are welcome.

I've heard it not a great idea to clean the engine up too much....?

ENjoy the snow - I do miss it this time of year...

Best - Colin
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  #19  
Old 11-27-2012, 04:09 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Colin:

This is what you will need to do for preventative maintenance, in priority order:

1. Replace your expansion tank and thermostat. Also consider belts and hoses. The cooling system is the one critical system to engine survival. Some part WILL fail at 100K+. Best to change them all but you've already got the WP and radiator covered.

2. Replace your Vanos seals. On the 2.5, you need every bit of torque available. This will restore your engine's variable timing back to spec. This is the single best improvement to engine performance available. Do it yourself for $100.

3. Learn to DIY. An e39 is relatively inexpensive to buy but can be expensive to maintain. Sending the car out for service can get VERY EXPENSIVE. This forum has procedures for virtually everything that can go wrong with an e39. DIY will cut your maintenance bill by 2/3. It will allow you to buy the tools you need and do the maintenance you would like to do (e.g. suspension) but can't afford to do.

4. Read this forum. There is a wealth of knowledge and exerience available to eliminate surprises and fix problems on your e39. Learn to search the forum for specific issues. And pay it forward by posting your issues and resolutions.

Enjoy the new wheels!
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  #20  
Old 11-27-2012, 07:22 AM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Fudman,

Thanks for the heads up on the Vanos seals. I will dble check but I think the whole cooling system, has been take car of - Radiator, hoses, thermostat, water pump, in addition to power steering hoses. I'll just need to confirm the expansion tank. Most of that was just done this past month in addition to new tires 8k ago - new front rotors, pads and sensors all around also all replaced this month.

I will look into the Vanos seals and do them myself as well as what ever I can. I've maintained my 84' Mercedes 240D - but its a piece of cake to work on and never breaks down. Tough part is I don't have a garage and driveway in LA. Back home a massive driveway and 4 car garage!

What manual do you use - Bentley?

I'll find out friday and post pics if I end up going thru with the sale.

LA is in a panic we might have a few days of rain and 50 degree weather - its a hoot!


Cheers- Colin
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  #21  
Old 11-27-2012, 07:59 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Bentley is OK as a reference. The TIS is also a good reference to have for things like torque values. However, Bentleys and the TIS assume you have all the proper tools and you know exactly what you are doing, which is not always the case. Much of their guidance is truncated: "remove X". How? With what tool? This can get frustrating. But the DIYs on this forum and those published by reputable vendors (Beisan) are the best. They give you the details of the process, often include great photos and identify the potential obstacles. The best thing is the small tips, like putting antiseize on your fan clutch before reinstalling. Those save you time and effort later. The DIYs are written by weekend warriors, not the pros, who share the same problems and limitations. Do a search and you can find almost anything here.
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  #22  
Old 11-28-2012, 09:41 AM
adam98540 adam98540 is offline
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Another NE native now in CA and looking for a 530! A few thoughts on this search:
  • Sport Package and Premium Package are two separate option packages. Sport Package does not include everything in the Premium Package. It's the suspension, wheels, shadowline trim, and three-spoke steering wheel. On 530s, I think the sport package makes the sport seat a no cost option, but not mandatory. I've seen plenty of sport package 530s with standard seats. All this said, it is kinda rare to find a 530 without the premium package. I'm not sure exactly what's in the premium package, but I believe it is a bunch of crap most people would expect to find in a 5 series anyway (real leather rather than leatherette, power passenger seat, the powered tilt/telescope wheel).
  • A manual 530i is pretty rare, and you are going to have to be patient. I agree that keeping repair cost down is more important than color, but if you can wait you might get a clean car in a color you like. These cars are a pain to find though, and exterior color is probably the first thing I would compromise on too. Fortunately BMW doesnt have too many truly ugly colors, except for the occasional beige. My hangup is I really want a black interior. I would like tan if the upper dash and door cards were black instead of tan like on an E46, but that isn't the case :-(.
  • What happened with the 530 at $10995? For that price the car had better be showroom. Sadly, it doesn't seem out of line with what others are asking. There is a 530i5 sport in SF asking $11000 right now. I'm tempted to check it out, but silver isn't my top choice and the asking price is so high I have doubts I can get it down anywhere near what I would want to pay. I think KBB excellent for that car is $9500, so I'm not sure where sellers get these prices from. The worst part is I think they are getting these prices. Some examples:
2002 330i5, sport and premium with only 45k miles likely sold for $11500. I never got as far as the PPI but I know the sunroof shade clips were broken
2001 530i5 with no options (no sport, no premium) w/68k miles likely sold for $9000. I didn't get to the PPI stage, but this car was really clean. I thought about it and then changing the suspension, but thought I would have too much into it at that point.
530i5 premium, non-sport. I forget miles. Likely sold for $6k. I didn't get to the PPI with this one either, but I thought it was a mess. Lots of dents and scratches, chewed up wheels, leaking oil pan gasket, and 5th gear locking pin was sticking causing the transmission to rest under 5th. Rattled on the test drive and trunk smelled like cat pee.
Sorry for the wall of text. I think what I am trying to say is it is a really tough market right now.
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  #23  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:12 AM
adam98540 adam98540 is offline
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This rather frustrating search for a 530i (or maybe even a 330i) has me reconsidering getting another 540i. It's not my intent to turn this thread into yet another I6 vs V8 thread, but it's worth mentioning that the I6 isn't exactly a maintenance-free penny pinching engine either.

I6 weaknesses
  • Fixing an oil pan gasket leak on the I6 requires dropping the front subframe and supporting the engine from above. A Sacramento area shop quoted around $600 for this, and I think they might be on the less expensive end.
  • The $8 oil filter housing gasket that always leaks requires a few hours of labor to get to.
  • The 5-speed manuals have an issue where the shift lever rests under 5th (selector shaft locking pin sticks in its bushing). My understanding is this can be fixed and parts cost is cheap, but the transmission has to come down.
  • VANOS issues are common
  • DISA fails. Easy fix for even novice DIY, but a $200 part.
  • Valve cover gasket leaks

V8 weaknesses
  • Valve cover gaskets leak
  • Valley pan gasket leaks
  • Upper timing cover gasket can leak (less common than the other leaks?)
  • Timing chain guide rail can disintegrate!

As someone who would ask an indy mechanic to take care of these issues, I think most of it is a wash. The V8's timing chain guide rails are a painful problem, though it is hard to tell just how common it is. That's the big thing that the I6 seems to have (or not have) over the V8.

Now consider that 540i6s are practically common and available for thousands less than 530i5s. If your driving is primarily highway, the difference in gas mileage shrinks. I manage 24 mpg in my 540 now. What would a 530i get on the same commute? 28?

Food for thought...
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  #24  
Old 11-30-2012, 11:26 AM
NordicWolf NordicWolf is offline
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Adam & Fudman -


Thanks for the posts. I was to have a mechanic look at the 02' 525i Sport today but its been bumped till tomorrow.

Adam - the 530i at $10,995 - was super clean. Took to mechanic - recommended a few items: - Oxygen sensor replacement, fuel filter, also mentioned it would be due for a 100K maintenance of plugs and a few items. What killed it for mw was the dealer dais it had all new blames. What they did was put new pads on the old rotors w/o turning them not a good thing. Mechanic said the front rotors likely needed to be replaced & the rear just needed to be turned.
Dealer thru a fit and tried to deny this and said the mechanic was just trying to drum up business. He said he's change the fuel filter & power steering line which was leaking a bit. It was clear however the rotors needed to be turned - I could see and feel the lip.
I walked - my sense was at that price & his attitude i was better off. He lied couldn't trust him after that.
The good news I found the private sale 525i a few days later and will, as mentioned, have it looked at tomorrow.

Adam - FYI STELLAR Automotive in Studio city has a Manual: 02' 525i Sport - listed at $9,900. Can find it on their website.

Fudman - we are in day two of rain here in LA - this is about as bad as it gets - LOL its such easy living out here.

Tomorrow I may be driving back w/ my first BMW - kinda exciting....

Cheers- Colin
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