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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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Old 04-19-2016, 11:17 PM
bigjppop bigjppop is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 530i 95K Miles
Sell the e39, fix her, or buy something else?

I've been absent from the forum for awhile, deployed in AFG and my car is sitting at home, but you've all given me some good advice in the past and I was hoping for some more.

Here's my situation. I get home this summer and am moving to Germany (Yay!!!) and now I need to decide what to do with my vehicle. I've got a 2003 530i that I've owned for 2.5 years. I bought it at 88K miles and I'm at about 115K right now. I've loved the car, it's been a lot of fun, and now the question is, do I sell it or take it with me to Germany. My work will pay to ship one vehicle and that will likely be an X3 that my wife wants to trade her current vehicle towards. That will be our primary vehicle in Germany, she will do the majority of driving (two young kids) and I'll be taking the subway to work everyday.

Now, if I take my e39 to Germany I'll pay the shipping costs (I've heard it's around 1K but I don't know yet) and if I do, I think I'll need to get some work done before I go. First issue is the torque convertor. I've had the torque convertor code for nearly two years (can't remember the number of the top of my head) and I took it in to RRT in Virginia for an inspection. They said it could be the convertor but just to keep driving if it wasn't giving me any problems; 20K miles later, still driving, still have the code, no real issues (20 mpg mixed driving and around 25 mpg if all highway on a long trip). I'm wondering if I should have that fixed before I leave (repair costs are normally a lot higher in Germany).

I've also not had the cooling system overhauled; I was planning on doing that myself but time got the best of me before I deployed. I'm at 115K miles and no signs of any issues, but I should probably have that done. I also need the oil filter housing gasket replaced, probably have them do that while they've got the cooling system all torn apart.

Lastly, the front passenger side window no longer goes up/down.

So, advice time. Time will be VERY limited from the time I get home until we need to move; only a couple weeks. So, if I decide to keep the car, it will likely go to RRT to have them fix it. I hate paying a shop, but they are great and I just don't have the time. Any guesses on what it should cost to have my work done? Torque convertor replaced, cooling system overhauled (with OFHG changed), and window fixed? I figure at least with the torque convertor I'll get my tranny fluid drained and swapped (was going to do that anyway) so there's a little savings.

I've got a decent amount already invested in the car: new tires, both regular and snow tires, just did all the breaks and rotors, other than transmission the fluids are all fresh, new spark plugs, etc. My rims are SHOT and need to be replaced; they can be winter rims, I just need to find some new summer rims.

This car will be a weekend/road trip car in Germany, not a daily driver.

Now, after all that, I'm also thinking of just selling it and trading towards a used Porsche Cayman and taking that instead. I've seen several nice models in the 20-25K range that are 2008 (ish) models with 30-60K miles on them. That might be the ultimate weekend car! I'd be able to put 10K down and have a pretty easy payment but that would be two car payments (will have to pay for the wife's X3 as well) and I've grown pretty used to having no car payments...

Anyway, what would you do? How much do you think it would cost to get my e39 sorted out? Worth the cost, keep it for the three years I'm in Germany, and then see what happens after that? Just bite the bullet and get the Cayman? How often do you get to live/drive in Germany for three years???

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:17 AM
Burning2nd's Avatar
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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Mein Auto: e39, e60, f25
dont let your wife send a X3 to germany...

ship your 530 witch has more family time on it.. and buy here something when you get there

the porche will be cheaper to maintain in germany then the x3 lol
Specializing In Breaking Things Professionally


Last edited by Burning2nd; 04-20-2016 at 02:18 AM.
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:23 AM
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GrannyApple GrannyApple is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 525i 5 spd
Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy a car over there and ship it back home when you come back? It seems you're really set on taking a German car to Germany and it doesn't make sense.

I bet that that the porshes and bmws are dirt cheap over there. Plus you'll you should be able to get better packages,engines and features over there as well.

I think you should research and check if you can buy car over there (don't know if you're legal status over there will let you) and figure out costs on shipping it back.
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:27 AM
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crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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If you do take the 530 to Germany, I suggest you wait for the tranny work. I have read on one of the boards (not sure which one) that ZF has shops over there that you can take your car to and get a tranny overhaul for not much money. Do your own research to be sure but it's just a thought.
2002 530i
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:27 AM
JKRIT JKRIT is offline
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Assess the body rust situation on your 530i before considering taking it to Germany. It's a 13 year old car. Check current rules in Germany, but I believe that their safety inspectors will yank the car off the road for what we would consider minimal body rust in the U.S.
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Last edited by JKRIT; 04-20-2016 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:50 AM
BavarianE31 BavarianE31 is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 BMW 530i Sport Auto
I'd probably sell it and buy an E39 in Germany if you still love the platform. I believe they are a lot cheaper there and those Euro E39s also have many more options, so shipping one there will actually devalue yours greatly.
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:07 AM
bigjppop bigjppop is offline
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Location: Washington DC
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Mein Auto: 2003 530i 95K Miles
Thanks for your thoughts. After typing it all out and reading what everyone had to say, I think my smartest move is get my wife her car (probably 2013 ish x35i with low miles) and stick to the subway myself. Keep my powder dry and think about my next car in a few years. I'll be sad to see my e39 go, it's been a great car.
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:25 AM
edjack edjack is online now
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Mein Auto: '97 540i 6 speed
If you do buy a car there, be sure and research the Federalizing issues when bringing the car home. There are still differences between American and German versions.

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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Old 04-20-2016, 11:52 AM
javarithms javarithms is offline
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Mein Auto: '13 E92 M3, '03 530i
Sell the 530i and buy an e39 M5 over there should have good selection to choose from. It would make for a great weekend car and you (should) can bring it back when you come home.

A clean e39 M5 is a great investment in my opinion
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:56 AM
Reefin' Dude Reefin' Dude is offline
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sell the 530i and get yourself a 540 touring manual while over there and then ship it back. more room for the family and the 540 manual touring was never sold over here.

e61LCI-Sport, Nav, Logic7, Lane Departure, Stop/Go Cruise, Vented seats, F/R heated seats, heated steering wheel, Night vision, HUD, E64 rear sway bar, E65 Front Brakes, H&R springs, Boost gauge, MHD 1+ tune, ER Charge Pipe, CSR Rear Spoiler, Backup camera, trailer hitch/wiring, CIC retrofit, SAT retrofit, Mishimoto catch can.
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Old 04-21-2016, 09:17 PM
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540 Hammer 540 Hammer is offline
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You could always do an LS3 engine swap, with a manual 6spd in your car, lol.. Blasphemy, I know, just an idea no one has mentioned yet. A couple of tweaks and you have a naturally aspirated, 500HP e39. Just a thought that crossed my mind and I know it's been done. Here's an E30, just for fun:
Good luck with whatever you choose to do!
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:40 PM
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thumper600 thumper600 is offline
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Just checked a few German websites thinking you could sell your car and purchase one there but looking at the market the cars seem quite a bit more expensive then they are stateside. If this is a route you wish to pursue let me know and I'd be more then happy to research availability and translate for you

Last edited by thumper600; 04-21-2016 at 11:01 PM. Reason: acting on Dudes suggestion
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