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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 02-17-2013, 07:48 PM
CA540 CA540 is offline
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Location: CA
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 60
Mein Auto: BMW 540i
2002 540i 6MT 80,000 miles, what's ahead?

Trying to decide whether to move to an F10 but hate to pull the trigger and leave my old E39 behind. I'd like to have an idea of what repairs and surprises are between now and 100,000 miles. How much trouble ahead?

Thanks to the forum.
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2013, 08:46 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Location: San Jose, CA
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 8,905
Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
Are you a DIYer, or at the mercy of mechanics? If the latter, move on. In any event, search this site for more info.

A whole bunch of stuff will need replacement in the next 40k or so.
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Ed in San Jose '97 540i 6 speed aspensilber over aubergine leather. Build date 3/97. Golden Gate Chapter BMW CCA Nr 62319.
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2013, 08:46 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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Location: Austin, Texas
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 985
Mein Auto: '98 528i, '82 323i
Here's my story when my '98 started losing power and performance right at 85k miles. First it was a bad cam position sensor that I couldn't diagnose. So it went to my indy and he got it back on the road again for me. But it never really ran as crisp and strong as before. It felt sluggish from light to light, not the way I remembered my car being when I first drove it off the showroom back in '97. I diagnosed much of my discontent to the vanos seal going out, in conjunction w/ the front suspension going bad as well. These two issues dropped the fun factor out of driving my car so much, that when my car hit 90k miles, I contemplated driving it to the nearest dealer and just trading it in. But I didn't do that, and at 97k miles, I decided to make a sizable investment and fix it up to be stone cold reliable and to last another decade (plan was to pass this car to my son when he turned 16). I put my car up on jack stands for 4 months, and proceeded to replace all parts that needed replacing, and while I was there, do preventive maintenance and replace stuff that will eventually fail. In 3 months, i spent ~$5500 on new maintenance parts. I DIY everything, put in about 140 hrs labor. Then once the car was back on the road, I bought a new hood, front bumper, headlights, fog lights, new wheels and tires. That added another $3500 to the bill, totaling ~$9000. That was 2 yrs ago, my 528 was @ 98k miles.
Today, it's @ 116k miles, and the only thing I've had to do to it (other than 2 oil and filter changes) was to replace a set of sunroof rails (that I had broken back in '09 when I tried to DIY). Mechanically speaking, practically 90% of everything under my hood consists of all new parts since 2 yrs ago. As such, I don't expect to need to do or maintain anything under the hood for another 3 yrs. It was pretty painful seeing my CC bill rack up $9k on a car that's only worth $4k, but the pain was short and quick. The payback, however, proved to be worth it. I have another 3 yrs ahead of me where I feel very confident that nothing will need to be attended to before insp 2.
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  #4  
Old 02-18-2013, 10:45 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,534
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Are you a DIYer, or at the mercy of mechanics? If the latter, move on.
I love that sentence above! It's apropos!

Things to watch out for?

Hmmm....

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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will 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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  #5  
Old 02-18-2013, 02:35 PM
BM109R's Avatar
BM109R BM109R is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: MD
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 148
Mein Auto: BMW E39
Great! Now can I please take it for say $5000

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHoang View Post
Here's my story when my '98 started losing power and performance right at 85k miles. First it was a bad cam position sensor that I couldn't diagnose. So it went to my indy and he got it back on the road again for me. But it never really ran as crisp and strong as before. It felt sluggish from light to light, not the way I remembered my car being when I first drove it off the showroom back in '97. I diagnosed much of my discontent to the vanos seal going out, in conjunction w/ the front suspension going bad as well. These two issues dropped the fun factor out of driving my car so much, that when my car hit 90k miles, I contemplated driving it to the nearest dealer and just trading it in. But I didn't do that, and at 97k miles, I decided to make a sizable investment and fix it up to be stone cold reliable and to last another decade (plan was to pass this car to my son when he turned 16). I put my car up on jack stands for 4 months, and proceeded to replace all parts that needed replacing, and while I was there, do preventive maintenance and replace stuff that will eventually fail. In 3 months, i spent ~$5500 on new maintenance parts. I DIY everything, put in about 140 hrs labor. Then once the car was back on the road, I bought a new hood, front bumper, headlights, fog lights, new wheels and tires. That added another $3500 to the bill, totaling ~$9000. That was 2 yrs ago, my 528 was @ 98k miles.
Today, it's @ 116k miles, and the only thing I've had to do to it (other than 2 oil and filter changes) was to replace a set of sunroof rails (that I had broken back in '09 when I tried to DIY). Mechanically speaking, practically 90% of everything under my hood consists of all new parts since 2 yrs ago. As such, I don't expect to need to do or maintain anything under the hood for another 3 yrs. It was pretty painful seeing my CC bill rack up $9k on a car that's only worth $4k, but the pain was short and quick. The payback, however, proved to be worth it. I have another 3 yrs ahead of me where I feel very confident that nothing will need to be attended to before insp 2.

Sent from my PC36100 using Bimmer App

Last edited by BM109R; 02-18-2013 at 02:38 PM.
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