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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 05-21-2019, 03:16 PM
Valorum Valorum is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 540iT Sport
What to do with my 2000 540i Wagon

Hi all

I'm the proud owner of a 2000 540 Wagon with the sports package. I bought this car used 7 years ago almost to the day, and it's been a blast to drive! It's also been fun meeting folks every now and then who ask me if that's a 540 wagon, and when I confirm, their eyes light up and they smile, knowing this is a bit of a special beast

We're now looking to move to Europe in the coming months, and I'm trying to decide what to do with the car. Part of me would love to take it with me, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost and hassle. Another option is to sell it

The car has over 210K miles on it, and it still runs great, as I've spent my money mostly on the functional vs the cosmetic: The car has been maintained by the same independent BMW shop all this time. The owner of the shop has a 540 wagon himself, so my car has been taken care of by a person who knows the model well. We took care of all the big-ticket items (e.g. replaced the chain & took care of surrounding things at the same time, replaced the VANOS (with OEM), replaced various parts in the cooling system, replaced bushings and steering link, etc). I have all the maintenance records (and I don't want to look too closely, I probably spent more than the car is worth!) Cosmetics-wise, it could use a good detailing, polishing, waxing, maybe a few paint touch-ups, etc, but overall I think it's in good shape, especially considering its age. (Seems BMW put a high-quality paint job on this thing!)

I haven't really been in the community loop all this time, as I've simply enjoyed driving the car. I'm trying to gauge what the interest for a car like mine is nowadays. If I do sell it, I would like it to go to somebody who appreciates the vehicle and who will enjoy it as I have. Is there still interest in vehicles like this one? I assume that it's still true that for a car like this, the KBB value is not really representative. Is that correct?

Also, if anybody here happens to have experience shipping a vehicle like this overseas, I'd love to hear about it.

Just wanted to float this out there and would love to get some feedback from you folks.

Here's my car getting a bath a few weeks ago

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  #2  
Old 05-21-2019, 03:42 PM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Hi,

Where in Europe are you moving to?

If the UK, it's relatively straightforward to import a LHD vehicle from the USA, there's many American cars/trucks here - I imported a 2003 Harley Davidson Anniversary Edition F150 back in Spring 2004 for instance. Other Euro countries are harder to import to, so it depends where you'll be moving to. Do a quick round of searches on Google for 'Importing a vehicle from the USA to xxxx country' and there'll be plenty of results. Try to look at the country official government department guidelines and any reputable specialist importers websites where they already have knowledge and experience.

Cost of shipping and any local taxes, inspection costs and then road legal modifications needed costs will add up to a significant amount, so it depends on how much you love this car ! Many many Americans in the UK do this, but I suspect mainly it's military and very well paid ones who do it. The Military guys get free vehicle shipping I believe as part of their relocation costs/packages.

If you find the costs do add up or, the country you are moving to makes it very hard to import in a vehicle, I'd say sell it prior to leaving or, sell to a friend who will sell it back to you if/when you return back to the USA!

Cheers, Dennis!
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Old 05-21-2019, 05:19 PM
540fan 540fan is offline
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Shipping to Germany probably isn't worth it. You will have to make EU mods like rear fog light etc... plus you are taxed on engine displacement and at 4 plus liters, you're going to pay big time. Let the car go or store it with a trusted source if you're only over there for a limited time.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:51 PM
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supradupe supradupe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valorum View Post
Hi all

I'm the proud owner of a 2000 540 Wagon with the sports package. I bought this car used 7 years ago almost to the day, and it's been a blast to drive! It's also been fun meeting folks every now and then who ask me if that's a 540 wagon, and when I confirm, their eyes light up and they smile, knowing this is a bit of a special beast

We're now looking to move to Europe in the coming months, and I'm trying to decide what to do with the car. Part of me would love to take it with me, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost and hassle. Another option is to sell it

The car has over 210K miles on it, and it still runs great, as I've spent my money mostly on the functional vs the cosmetic: The car has been maintained by the same independent BMW shop all this time. The owner of the shop has a 540 wagon himself, so my car has been taken care of by a person who knows the model well. We took care of all the big-ticket items (e.g. replaced the chain & took care of surrounding things at the same time, replaced the VANOS (with OEM), replaced various parts in the cooling system, replaced bushings and steering link, etc). I have all the maintenance records (and I don't want to look too closely, I probably spent more than the car is worth!) Cosmetics-wise, it could use a good detailing, polishing, waxing, maybe a few paint touch-ups, etc, but overall I think it's in good shape, especially considering its age. (Seems BMW put a high-quality paint job on this thing!)

I haven't really been in the community loop all this time, as I've simply enjoyed driving the car. I'm trying to gauge what the interest for a car like mine is nowadays. If I do sell it, I would like it to go to somebody who appreciates the vehicle and who will enjoy it as I have. Is there still interest in vehicles like this one? I assume that it's still true that for a car like this, the KBB value is not really representative. Is that correct?

Also, if anybody here happens to have experience shipping a vehicle like this overseas, I'd love to hear about it.

Just wanted to float this out there and would love to get some feedback from you folks.
I have shipped my 2003 E39 to Switzerland 7 years ago, it cost me around 2800 door to door from Chicago to Basel. I got my car registered in the Swiss MFK all by myself. It takes time to understand the requirements, but it is doable. I used EH Harms which ships BMWs from the factory to the States.

In your case, you need to factor in repair cost, which will be significantly higher in the EU. Also the US spec cars in Europe are ****, no body buys, you will end up giving it away when you leave. I shipped my car back along with my household goods inside the same 40 ft container when we repatriated in 2014.

If I were you, I will find it a good home here. Car is too old and not worth the effort shipping it. You will find plenty sport wagon in EU, notably the M3 and M5 sport wagons that are the forbidden fruits in the USA. Enjoy the experience. I will definitely move back to Switzerland in a heartbeat.
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Last edited by supradupe; 05-21-2019 at 09:53 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-22-2019, 12:35 PM
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davekara3 davekara3 is offline
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I have an 02 525i that I love more than girlfriend (joke of course lol), and its my wet dream to own a 540i, and an even wetter one to have a wagon version of any big body German car! If you sell it I'd definitely be interested. But best of luck. Over on the other side of the pond they got the DIESEL E39s. I'd honestly take a nice 530D over an M5 to be completely honest. I love diesels.


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Old 05-22-2019, 01:10 PM
DONROD DONROD is offline
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I am interested in it if you want to sell it, and you can pick up one in the EU with the mtech kit on it for cheap, I see them all the time in the UK Autotrtader.
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  #7  
Old 05-22-2019, 05:14 PM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iT Sportwagon
I like the headlamps..


Actually, BringATrailer.com might be a good out for that wagon. Also, a local add as Road Atlanta is close by.

Last edited by 4thBMW; 05-22-2019 at 05:24 PM. Reason: add
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:42 AM
Valorum Valorum is offline
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Location: Canton, GA
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 540iT Sport
Thanks for the feedback!

I'll be moving to the Netherlands. The costs of shipping, import fees, whatever needs to be changed on the car, plus the taxes on it, look to be several thousands of dollars total. So I'll be looking to sell it mid/late July probably.

supradupe: I forgot about the M5 wagons there! That'd be pretty sweet

davekara3 & DONROD: I'll let you know when I get closer to doing the deed.

4thBMW: I only just recently learned about BringATrailer.com. Not sure my car is nice/special enough for it, but worth investigating further.
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Old 05-26-2019, 03:26 AM
Mister Drexciya Mister Drexciya is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 2002 525iT
Importing your car to the Netherlands may be less complex/expensive than you think, depending on the details of your relocation.

There are two Dutch entities you will have to deal with when it comes to import:
RDW (the Dutch DMV)
Belastingdienst (the Dutch IRS)

You'll want to import your car as a personal good as part of relocating if that were to apply. The car will then be exempt of Dutch import taxes under the condition that:

- you haven't been a resident in the Netherlands within the last 12 months prior to your upcoming relocation
- the car has been registered in your name in the US at least 6 months prior to your relocation date
- you don't sell the car in the Netherlands within a year after relocating
- you will drive it for personal use

A nice bonus for a personal good is that the car will then have to be compliant with the Dutch Annual Technical Inspection requirements only (aka "APK") and won't have to undergo a much more expensive homologation process. For APK compliance you won't have to replace e.g. US DOT headlights with E headlights. The rear red turn signals can also stay in place.

However, a rear fog light is mandatory for the Netherlands; this requires some re-wiring (by paralleling the two backup lights in the trunk lid ,using the free wire for the rear fog light, repositioning the free wire to the unused rear fog light output at the LCM and replacing the existing front fog light switch in the dash with one also have the rear fog position). See here:



Not all EU countries have the same legislation. E.g. Germany is much tougher on import of a car when it comers to technical compliance; it won't matter whether you are a relocating foreign citizen or a German citizen importing a car from abroad.

More info here:

https://www.rdw.nl/over-rdw/informat...english/import

https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/w...rland_invoeren

I'd advise to have a shipping company help you with the paperwork. Unless you don't mind the challenge ;-) It's still a bit of red tape you will have to go though with some key information published only in the Dutch language.

BTW: there are no official E39 M5 Tourings for sale in Europe. That was a one-off:
https://www.carscoops.com/2009/10/bm...off-prototype/
http://www.speedhunters.com/2019/02/...t-get-to-keep/

Stay away from the E39 diesels. The E39 diesel technology isn't exactly reliable at their current age (sorry UK Dennis). And an increasing amount of EU cities are already banning or planning to ban them due to elevated fine particle and NOx emissions. Driving a diesel in the Netherlands is expensive, about 120 euro/month is due as road tax. And add another 30 ... 50 euro for monhly liability-only insurance.

And the last thing you will have to ask yourself: will you ever return to the US with this car? I'm not sure how hard of a time the IRS and DOT will you give if you were to re-import an exported US spec car.

Good luck with your moving!

Last edited by Mister Drexciya; 05-26-2019 at 03:36 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2019, 06:51 PM
Valorum Valorum is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 540iT Sport
Mister Drexciya - Thanks for the thorough reply! Sounds like it may be a viable option for me to do it as a personal good. I watched that video, and that's more than I want to bite off myself. I'll check with my indie to see what he thinks about doing the mod.
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2019, 05:33 AM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Drexciya View Post

Stay away from the E39 diesels. The E39 diesel technology isn't exactly reliable at their current age (sorry UK Dennis). And an increasing amount of EU cities are already banning or planning to ban them due to elevated fine particle and NOx emissions. Driving a diesel in the Netherlands is expensive, about 120 euro/month is due as road tax. And add another 30 ... 50 euro for monhly liability-only insurance.
This isn't quite the case. The later E39 Diesels 525d and 530d are very reliable units provided, like any engine they're well maintained and looked after. There's alot of information about these as well and I'd say now all gremlins with these engines is known about and fixes/resolutions readily available and reasonably striaghtforward to resolve. Everyone went on about the Swirl Flaps which are made of plastic and when they break, can be ingested into the engine and finishing it. Blank aluminium plugs were then made and lots of people fitted them as a preventative measure. My car, being Ex Police had covered 150K miles in the first 3 years of it's life and since I've had it, it's now at 285K and it's only in the last year or so I put those blanks in. Another aspect I did long ago was the metal specific EGR bypass delete. I've also fitted the E60 Vortex type oil breather. In this regard, my engine has been utterly reliable and it feels strong and pulls extremely well, I've had a ECU remap on for a long time as well. Expanding this to the many many Diesel owners in the UK and of course over Europe, these engine just seem to go on and on. It's that pesky gearbox issue that sends most E39's to the scapper when it gives up. The reconditioning price puts many owners off and they end up selling the car for parts. A good proportion will and do overhaul it though. I went through 2 rebuilds 2007 and 2015 and then bit the bullet and put in a 5 speed manual.

There is legislation becing proposed to reduce/Ban diesel cars but it's looking like these will happen, if go ahead given over the next 5-10 years. Some specific cities may introduce some legislation sooner and that'll most likely be within specific areas of congestion in certain cities. There won't be a 'country wide' ban of Diesels anytime soon.

Once new Diesel sales and 2nd hand values begin to reduce significantly as more legislation over the years becomes real, it'll be Petrol engines that will be more demonized.

Valorum - Check with the Dutch authorities. When my best friend lived in Amsterdam for 9 years, it was the case that used cars still had a yearly 'charge' based on the value of when the car was new. I can't quite remember exactly what the tax is called but it was in place. Hopefully it's been scrapped or amended for a fairer calculation - just something for you to check and know about prior to making the decision to import it into the country.

Cheers, Dennis!
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:11 PM
dadonB246 dadonB246 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 540i
2003 540i with 94k mi going on auction Chicago area

My 2003 540i E39 was just totaled by the the other guys insurance. I bought 3 yrs. ago and have sunk $4500+ into repairs/maintenance into it over that time. The rear ending blew the explosive battery cable apart - repair kit $647 from BMW. Bent the rear bumper and one support member - slightly, also bumper cover small damage. Look for VIN WABDN63423GN88898. Had I known about the exploding battery cable I would have driven it home. I have repaired about 20 problems on this car over the last 3 years, and now know way too much about the E39. I am tired of fixing this car and let it go. If somebody picks this car up for less than $3k, I have all the repair records for the last three years. I am pretty sure this car had benign neglect prior to my ownership. Repairs done: 2 injectors replaced, alternator rebuilt, xenon headlight modules replaced, glove box door replaced, repaired intermittent door locks, replaced 1 downstream Cat converter, 2 downstream O2 sensors, repaired leaking coolant system, repaired hood latch, replaced battery 2x, 4 pretty new Z rated tires Cooper CS5 tires - 72% left.
Left to be done: Aux air pump and Check valve, repair passenger front seat - back tilt twists, driver seat - vertical cocks to one side. One upstream Cat converter has nothing in it - P0430 code. 2 small rust spots on 2 bottom door edges, 1 small rust spot in front passenger rear wheel. I and the car are in the Chicago metro area, check the local auctions for this car if you are interested in a mostly fixed E39.
I also have the Bentley service manuals, the ETK 2.02.95 software with the latest rev. - this is the parts list, parts layout/location/blowups, and wiring diagrams - the same stuff the dealerships use. Runs as a virtual XP machine on later MS Windows systems. I also have 3-4 boxes of pars for the 540i E39, some new, some refurbed ie. the starter. Everything listed in this last paragraph is for sale. Make a reasonable offer if you are interested. I am in the NW suburbs of Chicago, IL
Don Bitters. cp 224-406-4059
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