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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 03-18-2013, 08:01 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 528iT
New member and soon a new E39!!

Good morning all!!
I'm on the hunt for an E39 with an I6 and a stick.
The wife's even psyched about it too!!

I've been doing my homework and I have to say.....this has to be the best site by far!!!
Definitely all because of you guys!!!

I've got my budget.....around $5000 with another $1000 off to the side for possible repairs.
I've read thru just about every DIY here and I'm comfortable with all of it.
I'm not in a big hurry. I've a few repairs on the stang (94GT convertible,101,000 miles) detail it and get it sold first.

There's one BMW in my family. My mom has a 2001 x5. She's the original owner, approx 170,000 miles on it. She loves it!! I don't think she'll ever sell it. I've driven it off and on and I always have a big smile when I'm done!!

I haven't driven an E39 yet......trying to find a dealer who has one just to kick the tires and take it for a test drive.

Any comments, questions or advice feel free to reply.

I'll keep this thread updated.
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  #2  
Old 03-18-2013, 08:19 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i Sport 5 Spd
If you like how BMW's SUV drives, you'll love a proper 4-door Sedan. Or Touring if that's your thing. Good choice on the I6 and stick. The first thing you'll want to do is the CDV delete. It drove me crazy when I first bought it.
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2002 530i Sport Package 5-speed
Style 42s for summer
Style 29s for winter
CDV delete
Skibag retrofit
G.A.S. DISA Valve Repair Kit
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  #3  
Old 03-18-2013, 08:20 AM
NOLA5Series NOLA5Series is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 525i
You should be able to find, at least, a decent E39 for $5000 but it may take a lot of searching for a good buy.

Be prepared to replace a few items when you do get it. For example the cooling system (my 1st needed replacement) and a lot of members will tell you to pay attention to the VANOS seals. I'm replacing my CCV, and hoses, now and moving on to replacing/maintenance on the entire braking system (no issues it just needs the attention)

In any case good luck with the search and welcome to the BIMMER nerd nation!
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  #4  
Old 03-18-2013, 09:37 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 528iT
Thanks for all the advice so far!!!

The pickings for manuals is slim. I'm searching CL, AutoTrader and Cars.com.

The wife thinks the wagons are cool!!! As do I.
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  #5  
Old 03-18-2013, 09:55 AM
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tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
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Welcome aboard.
E39 manual is hard to find, even harder for a Touring.
GL with your search.
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http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=791509
2000 Dinan S1 //M5 (my DD) 06 DINAN E53 4.8iS (wife's DD), 90 Straman Z32TT (my pride & joy ride)

Gone, but not forgotten: 01 E53 3.0i, 01 525i Sport, 03 DINAN 540i MSport and 91 Z32TwinTurbo
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  #6  
Old 03-18-2013, 09:55 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i Sport 5 Spd
If my car existed in a wagon form, I would've bought one. Sadly, though, only 525iT and 540iT exist on this side of the pond. No 530iT.
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2002 530i Sport Package 5-speed
Style 42s for summer
Style 29s for winter
CDV delete
Skibag retrofit
G.A.S. DISA Valve Repair Kit
G.A.S. 1.2 Bar Expansion Tank Cap
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  #7  
Old 03-18-2013, 10:03 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 528iT
Based on longevity.....autos ok?

I mostly want a manual for the "fun" factor.

Talked to this guy a few minutes ago.

http://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/cto/3688815901.html
(A wagon....automatic)

180,000 miles

Just had cooling system overhauled
ABS module replaced.

Admitted to some suspension noise.
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  #8  
Old 03-18-2013, 11:00 AM
jygesq jygesq is online now
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Mein Auto: 2000 528 MT
a lot of miles!!

unless evidence of maintenance & repairs done I would pass,
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  #9  
Old 03-18-2013, 02:16 PM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jygesq View Post
unless evidence of maintenance & repairs done I would pass,
Something I've learned after lots of reading here!!

Any advice on my auto trans longevity question?
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  #10  
Old 03-18-2013, 06:24 PM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 528i
Two BMWs on family. Both '97s . Both 528i , one manual ( 120k) , one automatic ( 180k) .

Both have been reliable . This forum helps trouble shoot issues on the spot.

Personally I would hold out for a manual. I paid $6000 in 2011 for the manual with 106k , one owner, all records. The Automatic was $2700 with 170k and no records. Bought it in Spring of 2012.

The automatic has been flawless so far ... Fingers crossed.
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  #11  
Old 03-18-2013, 06:57 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
Autos last until they don't. It's a crap shoot and maintenance does not appear to be a factor (since BMW does not recommend any). It's more the luck of the draw. While most autos seem problem free, if you do have a problem, it is very expensive to fix.
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  #12  
Old 03-18-2013, 08:30 PM
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IndiansFan IndiansFan is offline
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Keep looking till you find the manual. It's worth the wait.
Drive as many as possible, so you know what a good car vs bad car "feels" like. Give yourself several months to find the right one.
My preference would be finding an E39 with the sport package vs one with out the package.

My DD is the 528iT manual. The other two I bought for my wife and for my mother.

Tourings were offered from 1999-2003.
1999-2000 528iT Auto and Manual
2001-2003 525iT Auto and Manual
1999-2003 540iT only available in Automatic
Look for signs of rust around the rear hatch, side rocker panels, and bottom edge of the doors.

You might be better off in the long run if you raise your initial spending and repair limit. Look for $6-7K listing and then negotiate the price down to the $5-6K range.
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2001 530iA STEEL BLUE/Sand - Sport/Premium/Cold Package
1999 528iA JET BLACK/Black - Sport/Premium/Heated Seats
1999 528iT CASHMERE BEIGE/Sand - Sport/Premium Package - 5 speed
1982 Fiat 2000 Spider - BLUE METALLIC/Blue
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  #13  
Old 03-19-2013, 03:27 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiansFan View Post
Keep looking till you find the manual. It's worth the wait.
Drive as many as possible, so you know what a good car vs bad car "feels" like. Give yourself several months to find the right one.
My preference would be finding an E39 with the sport package vs one with out the package.

My DD is the 528iT manual. The other two I bought for my wife and for my mother.

Tourings were offered from 1999-2003.
1999-2000 528iT Auto and Manual
2001-2003 525iT Auto and Manual
1999-2003 540iT only available in Automatic
Look for signs of rust around the rear hatch, side rocker panels, and bottom edge of the doors.

You might be better off in the long run if you raise your initial spending and repair limit. Look for $6-7K listing and then negotiate the price down to the $5-6K range.

Thank you for this info Indiansfan.
I've got some time to shop.....bit cold still to unload my convertible!!
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  #14  
Old 03-19-2013, 04:34 AM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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Indiansfan is

Right, find precisely the car you want. Color, trans, interior, everything because at the end of the day either you'll be swapping stuff out to make it the car you want or you'll always wonder what if? For years there was a big push for the maintenance records, IMHO the car did not make it till 2013 without a close eye. The fact the cooling system was done, and the abs module changed is a sign that whoever had that car took decent care of it. Our cooling systems are the 'weak link' and anyone that has had their car for 4 or 5 years will tell you they changed theirs out...just the nature of the beast. For safety's sake I'd take it to an indy for a compression and leakdown test...if the numbers are favorable and it's what you want...go for it
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  #15  
Old 03-20-2013, 12:47 PM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Good afternoon all.

The search still continues.

Interesting thing happened a bit ago.......

Scrolling thru the numerous car search sites for about 20 minutes. Some on the PC, some on my phone (IPhone 4s using an App). My phone rings from a dealership who's website I must've visited!!!

I don't think I put any info into any of those "put your info here" boxes.

Anyone ever have that happen to them?
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  #16  
Old 03-21-2013, 11:52 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 528iT
We are going out his afternoon to look at a couple cars.

The wagon from above is still available. (Wife really likes the looks of it)

A 99 528i sedan with about 120,000 on it at a small dealership ($4995).

Both autos.....
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  #17  
Old 03-21-2013, 07:22 PM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Update on today's "shopping".....

White, 99.....had to be jumped to start, rust on the body, all mismatched tires, trim on both front seats where the power switches mount broke from seat. I never made it out of the lot!!!

Wagon....beautiful body, interior really nice, paperwork for cooling system overhaul, newer matching tires, all accessories work fog lights, power/heat on seats, steering titl/telescope, 21.5 avg lifetime fuel mileage on dash display.

The "bad".....squeaky idler pulley, "-40" on external temp readout, passenger air bag light on dash, front suspension squeaky over bumps, some rock chips on front end, 188,000 miles.

99 528 auto, $3990 (small car lot) most lights on dash "on", both back windows/sunroof broke, mismatched tires, cracked front bumper, broken misc exterior trim pieces, lots of cracked interior trim pieces. Overall not a "nice car.


Neither sedans were very nice at all!!!

The wagon.....wife loved it!!! She even said she would drive it AND enjoy it!!
She's on the net book now searching for more wagons......

My brain is thinking worst case on the wagon.....
Some research shows a used transmission is about $1100 and a used motor about $2400.

Thinking of offering $3500. His asking price is $4200 and its been on CL for awhile now.
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  #18  
Old 03-21-2013, 07:23 PM
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We even strapped the car seat with the baby and our 7yr old in the back for the test drive!!
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  #19  
Old 03-21-2013, 11:51 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Is the wagon an automatic ? If so, $1100 for a tranny is not realistic in my opinion. More like 3-4k unless you have a garage who will do all the work for free.

188K is a **lot** of miles really ... It may require a complete suspension overhaul along with new various bearings, joints, fluid lines, etc. How is the ventilation system, any fanny "smell" when turned on ? Have you checked for oil leaks ? At that millage it won't be unheard of for the rear seal to require replacing. I would be skeptic even of the of the condition of the oil pan gasket. And the list can grow. Fixing these will require lots of $$$$, lots ...

Regardless of the mileage, I would take it to a dealer and for 300 bucks ask for a pre-purchase inspection.

Good luck !
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  #20  
Old 03-22-2013, 04:06 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Thanks for the insight bmw4te!

The trams is from Bavarian Auto Recyclers. I am mechanically inclined and a trans or motor swap doesn't seem to scary.
I've already researched the suspension DIY and have money set aside for refreshing of that stuff.
No smell in car during our 20 minute test drive. The ground under the car where it normally parks had a couple small drops and a visual inspection under the hood and under the car looked good. His driveway overall was "clean". My mustang has a bit of a leak and there's a few spots on my driveway......

He also has an M3 and an X5 in the garage.

The search still continues.....
Called about a couple others last night. One with a manual!! (Not a wagon though)

Last edited by Doorman; 03-22-2013 at 04:09 AM. Reason: More info
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  #21  
Old 03-22-2013, 03:25 PM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Good Friday afternoon all!!!

We went to look at and drove a 2000 528it sport (auto) with 118,000 miles on it today.....what a beautiful car!!!!
Grey exterior/black interior.


2nd owner since 80,000, the whole cars at least an 8.5/10.
New rear air suspension, new drivers seat bottom, drilled rotors and upgraded pads.
He had some 16" winter tires/rims on the car at the time. Was willing to sell the 17" rims and tires also.

He has only performed necessary maintainence since his onwed the car.

Asking price $6400. We offered $5500 and he declined.


Later tonite we are going to look at a 2002 525i with M parallels. 107,000 miles

A snippet from his add

There's no immediate care or repair needed however I would like to disclose a few things/reason you're getting a great deal:
1. Front seats are misaligned as seen in picture
2. Check engine light is on and has been for the past year. Doesn't affect the functionality of anything

Will update later.

Last edited by Doorman; 03-22-2013 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Added info
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  #22  
Old 03-22-2013, 07:49 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doorman View Post
2. Check engine light is on and has been for the past year. Doesn't affect the functionality of anything
Do you have a mandatory state inspection over there ? Will it pass with CEL glowing ?

By the way, my personal rule of thumb is if the bimmer is over 85k miles, it must be a manual.
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  #23  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:09 PM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Do you have a mandatory state inspection over there ? Will it pass with CEL glowing ?

By the way, my personal rule of thumb is if the bimmer is over 85k miles, it must be a manual.
So.......
Just walked in from checking the last one out.
Pros.....none really!!

No plates, one key (valet key with a yellow dealer tag on it!), hadn't driven it in a month he says, car took a few times to start and keep running, bad pixels on radio, rust on driver rear quarter, big scratch passenger side, lots of curb rash on rims, passenger backrest all crooked, rear rotors gouged, service engine light on, brake light on......

Car was a mess.
Asking price....$5300

Found a 97 528 manual. Lined up a look tomorrow afternoon.
135,000 miles, asking 4995.

Good question about the CEL light bmw4te!!!!
We do have emissions inspections in Illinois but no safety inspections.
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  #24  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:54 PM
plmadding01e39 plmadding01e39 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 BMW 540i/6
A couple weeks ago I bought a 2001 530i auto with 136,000 miles on it for $7,000. The seller had owned the car since '04 and had fantastic records of the repairs and maintenance. Everything works on the car. Zero issues, new Michelin tires, he even had brake fluid flushes done every year and 4 wheel alignments done twice a year. He already had replaced the whole cooling system, rebuilt VANOS, head gasket, oil pan seal, etc. I say this to say that you can find a great car! Just keep looking and don't settle.

Good Luck!!
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  #25  
Old 03-23-2013, 04:28 AM
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Doorman Doorman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plmadding01e39 View Post
A couple weeks ago I bought a 2001 530i auto with 136,000 miles on it for $7,000. The seller had owned the car since '04 and had fantastic records of the repairs and maintenance. Everything works on the car. Zero issues, new Michelin tires, he even had brake fluid flushes done every year and 4 wheel alignments done twice a year. He already had replaced the whole cooling system, rebuilt VANOS, head gasket, oil pan seal, etc. I say this to say that you can find a great car! Just keep looking and don't settle.

Good Luck!!
Good find plmadding01e39!
Last night before we went to bed the wife said "maybe we should up our offer on the wagon we drove today.....

Gotta love a woman who wants a car as bad as a man!!!
The search continues though for now.
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