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hi everyone,

i am interested in buying an 01 525i automatic w/ 85k miles on it. it is listed for $7k and it's gorgeous. any advice? i've never driven a bmw, but i've always wanted one and i like the older 5 series body styles. it is too risky? i hear just as many horror stories as i do people raving about them, so i am a little confused.

i currently drive a 2002 honda civic w/ 100k miles on it. i've put 50k miles on it as the second owner, and i've never had a single mechanical problem with it whatsoever. just an oil change every few months and i'm good to go. as much as i love bmw's, i don't want to be in the shop every other month if i buy one.

please help :) thanks!
 

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The E39 is not in the same league as your Honda with respect to reliability. Japanese cars are bulletproof, and they don't leak fluids.

German cars require TLC during their lifetime. If you can DIY, it will be less painful; if not, it will be expensive. We on this forum believe it's worth it for the absolute thrill and satisfaction these cars deliver.

Drive an E39, and decide if you really want a high-maintenance mistress.
 

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+1, really no comparison to a Honda (I have both). The Honda is "fill it and drive it". Totally relaible and functional, super economical but about as exciting as melba toast. The BMW 5-series is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of a high performance luxury automobile ever made. It has classic looks, an engine that combines outstanding performance with excellent economy, and a chassis with an unbelievable ride quality but can run with many sports cars. And it can carry four adults comfortably for extended distances (with their golf clubs!). But as edjack says, maintenance can be costly if you rely on an indy or the dealer :yikes:. Many on this forum DIY which greatly decreases the cost of ownership. They are experienced and can walk you through almost all routine maintenance. If you are willing to dirty your hands and bust a couple of knuckles occasionally, ownership of a BMW can be a wonderul experience. However, if you expect Honda reliability, forget it. And if you think this is an affordable car, think again. Because if you get behind the wheel, you may get seduced by the great looks, ride and handling. And if you don't have a big bank account or are not willing to get dirty, it can be a painful experience. Turn and walk away NOW. Or be prepared to own and drive the "ultimate driving machine".
 

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the bimmer might look perfect but you are really gambling. go get a pre-purchase inspection. civic vs e39, you are going to the completely opposite side in cars.
 

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1+ what Fudman says.

To own a used bmw, and if you want to save $ on repair for most parts, your mechanical level should be a 3 out of 5.
1: air filter change, air check
2: oil change, spark plugs change
3: brake work, trans flush.
4: suspension works.
5: engine rebuild

For the most parts, if you can handle level 3 of difficulty you are good to go.
If your level is 1, stick with Civic and drools over BMW.
 

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Really no comparison between a Civic and a BMW, that being said here are some common problems.

http://edgemotorworks.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=55m

Don't let these common problems scare you, all cars need maintenance.

You can save yourself a boat load of dough by doing your own maintenance, lots of info online that will help you through.
The people who visit these various forums 9 out of 10 times know more about these cars than the dealers.

I own a 1997 Acura 2.5TL and my radiator cracked at around 100k miles, with the extensive use of plastics in modern cars you have to expect these issues in any brand.

My first BMW was a '01 525i, that got me hooked on them. As I learned more about them I began looking for the BBD (bigger, better, deal). I got a 530i sport with all the options except PDC. IMHO get a car with all the options if you can, Xenons being a priority, you will be happier in the long run. Clearly money is a key factor here, but if you can get yourself a '03 with the works, go for it.

The 5 series is an awesome car, there is no explaining it, trust me you will find excuses to drive it. My old Acura gets the job done but it feels like a tin can compared to the 530.

2003 530iA Sport - Titangrau Metallic/Schwarz Montana
Born on date: 09/02, Dingolfing, Deutschland

NAV | PP | CWP | Xenons | Style 42s | Rear Shades | OEM Bluetooth | Euro Armrest |

2001 525iA Sold
 

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Freude am Fahren
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BMWs are, imho, pretty reliable. You need to do a fair bit of preventative maintenance, though. Around every 100,000 miles it's expensive... and they're a huge pain in the ass if you don't do the preventative maintenance.
 

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Thebizzy.com
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That's a good price, but at 85k miles it's going to need a lot of repairs and parts replacements coming up. I hope you have a big piggy bank set aside after you drop the $7k for purchase. I bought mine at 80k and have probably sunk around $5k worth of parts and labor into it since. Though (knock on wood) I don't' plan on putting another dime into it until 200k!
 

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned to find out the history of the vehicle. Get a carfax on it and maybe try to sweet talk the dealer into giving you the dealer maintenance history (if any). For instance, my car was leased for 3 years then sold as a certified pre-owned BMW from the dealer. It had 3 pages of dealer maintenance including a radiator change. I would look for a well maintained 530 with the options you want and not jump on the first one I see. Your area should have many available. I also see you're in Cali so I would definitely ensure the emissions is also 100% good, not borderline. Good luck-
 

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Thebizzy.com
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I'll have to agree with ALL of the above. I think many of us just assumed you'd both get a pre-qual inspection and a Carfax history before purchase. But I'd definitely look for a 530 over a 525 ;)
 

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I'll have to agree with ALL of the above. I think many of us just assumed you'd both get a pre-qual inspection and a Carfax history before purchase. But I'd definitely look for a 530 over a 525 ;)
The reason I went with my 525 was the maintenance history and the lack of choice on Oahu. People here luv them some Lexuses.

On the plus side my daily commute is 7 miles round trip on mostly 25 mph potholes with some pavement thrown in here and there. When I want to speed I jump on my motorcycle :D
 

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Go for it mate. E39 is a classic. It will always remain a legend even if it leaves you to the side of the highway. If you are a petrol head, get in it and drive off. That's all there's to it.
 

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I have owned 3 Honda Civics ('85 CRX, '98 Hatchback, '00 EX coupe), as well as a '96 Maxima 5-speed and an '08 WRX.
I bought my first BMW....a Certified Pre-Owned '03 525i (Automatic), with 70,000mi from a BMW dealership about 18 months ago. The car was initially Leased in GA, and had a clean history and 4 months left on the BMW warranty.
I paid $15,000, and the car was basically flawless (very minor road rash on the lower front spoiler, all original paint, like-new interior, new tires and brakes, 4 green bars and all maintenance up to date).

According to the CarFAX and records, no major repairs had ever been done, and I had the driver's side power seat transmission replaced right after purchase because of "seat twist" (wouldn't lower completely on one side).

The car currently has 84,2XX mi on it, and I mostly drive short distances (5mi commute daily, few local road trips).

In 18 months and about 14,000 mi, I have had to pay for the following items / repairs:
-RR tail light assembly (water leak destroyed wiring harness and connections, causing a total failure): $600;
-RF turn signal wiring harness: $90;
-Water pump / thermostat (failure): $1000;
-LR door water vapor failure (minor water leak into car): $260;
-General maintenance (oilservice, brake system flush, inspections, etc): $300;
-Front sway bar end link replacement (both sides): $75 (parts from EACTuning - DIY job).

The car is flawless except for some (20-30%) missing pixels from the CD head unit / radio (started after BMW warranty expired).

The first year, I was terrified about cost of repairs and ultimately purchased a 3rd party warranty US Fidelis / Tier One)
I'm quicky learning that this is unnecessary, because DIYs are fairly straightforward (especially with the help of fellow 'Festers here).

In comparing this car to any Japanese car I've owned, I'll say that you'll be shocked at how fragile the electrical and cooling system components are, and how poorly designed seals and water barriers are.
The reward is what you get back from the way they drive, handle, and look. If you buy a car that has no major issues, and you're willing to learn how to DIY, go for it! For that price, I don't think you're doing too badly.

Just my 2 cents....
 

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Freude am Fahren
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BethsaidaE39 has spent more money than entirely necessary at the dealer. That should be obvious from the $1000 bill to repair a water pump :).
 

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If it were me, I'd pay more up front for a car with lower mileage. at 85k, you WILL be paying for repairs (if only preventive) or else spending a lot of time on here learning how to fix things yourself. Now, if you got the vehicle history and saw that lots of the stuff that needs to be done (belts/hoses/cooling system/thrust arm bushings/seals/gaskets/brakes and on and on) was done, then you might be OK with a car at that mileage. But I wouldn't count on it.

Also I think you'll be happier with the 3 liter motor. This is a heavy car and the difference is noticeable.

Also keep in mind that one this (and all forums) people typically post when they have problems, not when all's well, so it can give you a jaundiced view of how problematic these cars are. Having said that, expect to spend say $500-$1000 per year in upkeep. If I have a year with no $300+ problem, I consider that a very good year. I've had my car from 25k miles to 61k mi (from late 03 till today) and have replaced driveshaft due to too much play, (under CPO warranty), headlight assembly (poor design, also under warranty) brakes, water pump and thermostat, various bushings and I think control arms (can't remember), valve cover gasket, oil separator, and a bunch of belts.
 

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Thebizzy.com
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I agree with much of the above however in buying a low mileage E39 you can then guarantee yourself that you will be treated to every and all maintenance issues that the car will surely offer up. Whereas if you purchase one that has already had much of the work done for you you'll save some time and money. Though you are taking a risk assuming the previous owner had those maintenance activities done in quickly and correctly. A bit of a gamble for sure especially with the cooling system failures. It would suck to get an E39 where some bonehead ran the car hot for too long before getting the cooling system fixed up.
 
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