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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off I'd like to say hello to everyone on the forum. I'm new here, and I am very interested in getting an e60 550i something around 06-08 probably, newer if I find a good deal. In any case I'm a college student, and I was wondering how reliable these cars are, especially once they start reaching 100k miles 120k. The cars I'm looking at are around 90k, I will jump on less mileage if I get the chance, but will there be major issues? If so how much would I need to set aside for repairs in the even of a problem. They are beautiful cars, but of course I would like to be prepared for any extra costs to the car. Please let me know. Thanks :)
 

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In all honesty, as a college student, there are probably many other more suitable and affordable cars for you to consider. Keep in mind that the purchase price might only be a small component of the overall ownership experience. Please read the sticky "So You Just Bought an E60" at the top of the page for some ideas on what you might be expected to pay for some of the common maintenance and repair items. If you are somewhat skilled mechanically, the ownership experience could be considerably lighter on your wallet. If you plan to use a BMW dealer for maintenance and repair, I assume your parents are doing a superb job at supporting you during your college career. If not, at the very least, find a trustworthy independent BMW service shop and save quite a bit.

Some of the "normal" repairs on higher mileage 550i's include replacing the coolant transfer tube and replacing valve guide seals. Both of these, even at an "indy", can be eye-wateringly expensive. They are terrific cars....I absolutely love mine....but in the back of my mind is a constant worry that an unexpected big-ticket repair might be lurking around the corner.
 

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First off I'd like to say hello to everyone on the forum. I'm new here, and I am very interested in getting an e60 550i something around 06-08 probably, newer if I find a good deal. In any case I'm a college student, and I was wondering how reliable these cars are, especially once they start reaching 100k miles 120k. The cars I'm looking at are around 90k, I will jump on less mileage if I get the chance, but will there be major issues? If so how much would I need to set aside for repairs in the even of a problem. They are beautiful cars, but of course I would like to be prepared for any extra costs to the car. Please let me know. Thanks :)
In my humble opinion a college kid should not be driving a high mile 550. Your concerns should be on acing exams and meeting people and not stressing over a 2k repair. These cars though great are expensive to maintain. I dont know anything about you so dont be offended. These cars avg about 1.5k to 2.5k to maintain a year with you knowing how to do simple things like a brake job and spark plugs. A brake job on this car is about $600 at a independent bmw shop. So if you have the funds to afford this beast then go for it but dont go into this car thinking you'll not have to spend some coin to keep her purring. Like the member above me wrote please read the stickie so you just brought a E60. Tons of hours have gone into this document to make our lives easier and to educate us on these cars.
 

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Can you afford to fix and maintain it?

Assume you'll burn $4K per year if someone does all the work. At 90K mi, could include battery, shocks, thrust arm bushings, transmission mechatronics, tires, TPM modules, rotors and pads.

Figure 1500-2000 in parts for DIY, another $2000-3000 in labor for pro work. Could be all or only some needed.

If your car needs valve guide seals, add $2500-4000 for the job.

It's all about money. If you have it without stress from some easy source, fine.

If you don't have the bucks above, buy something else.
 

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College student -- buy a Toyota or Mazda or Subaru and drive it maintenance free through college without having to sink money and *time* into it.
 

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A 550 can be reliable, but it will have needed routine maintenance from day 1 and you will need to continue the routine maintenance. Unfortunately, there are items that will need to be replaced even if routine maintenance was performed. These are things like the valve cover gaskets, alternator bracket gasket, cooling system (radiator, expansion tank, water pump, coolant transfer pipe, etc.) and valve stem seals. Routine maintenance will delay when these items will need to be replace but not prevent it. And there is always the possibility something unexpected will happen and the repair can be very expensive. This could be something as simple as water leaking into the trunk and shorting out the electronics in the bottom of the tire well.

I have owned 3 different BMWs over the last 14 years. First was a 2000 e39 540 I purchased with 38K miles and a CPO warranty. It had no records and I do not believe it had routine maintenance. In the following 3 years, 50K miles, the radiator, expansion tank, water pump, heater core, valley pan gasket and valve cover gaskets were replaced under the CPO warranty. The second BMW was a 2001 e39 540 with 88K miles. It had records showing the routine maintenance. The water pump and radiator were still original. I replaced the valve cover gaskets around 100K and the valley pan gasket around 110K. The current BMW is a 2010 550 I purchased with 62K miles. It had been serviced according to BMW's schedule. In 2 years and 22K miles I have needed to replace the water pump, alternator bracket gasket and valve stem seals. I'm able to do the repair work myself and that is the only reason I purchased this car. Also, there are costs that are not associated with reliability. Gas, insurance, wearable parts like tires, brakes, belts, etc. These all increase the cost of ownership.

Another thing to think about is time. This would not matter if you have someone else work on the car for you, but it does matter if you repair things yourself. I have a second car and it is easy for me to take my time and not rush work on the BMW. It would be more challenging if it was my only car and I had to fix it in a day or a weekend.

If I was looking for a 550 with around 100k miles, first I would take it to a reputable shop for a pre-purchase inspection. I would create a budget of what the PPI shows and what I think would need to be repaired in the next year and start setting money aside. I would also plan on the coolant transfer pipe and valve stem seals needing to be replaced soon and have that money available now. I believe it would be around $1K in parts and maybe $3K in labor from an Indy mechanic. You may be able to find one with routine maintenance and these things may not be need for several years. There are a few forum members who have over 120k-130k miles and have not needed to replace these items yet because they have done their routine maintenance.
 

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Why don't u get yourself a 525? Get a non turbo, might be a bit less fun to drive but it sure as hell is cheaper to maintain and fix when something goes wrong.
 

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Older daughter had a 2001 Corolla all through high school and college until it got totaled in 2010. Never was in the shop even once for a repair. Not one time. Sure, I did the brakes once or twice she got new tires once or twice. Never a repair.
Older daughter now has a 2010 Rav 4. A few recalls. Never was in the shop even once for a repair.
Younger daughter has a 2007 Mazda. One recall that affected the power steering, even if we didn't have the problem. One electrical repair on the mechatronics connector I did on it. Brakes, tires. Nothing else.
I love my BMW, but I'd would never have had one for my kids in college. Not even a new one. Too much time when that time should be spent on studying and partying when not studying :)
 

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I'd get a RWD N52 car. A 3 or a 5. The N52 is a fairly robust engine, and it has the (reliability) advantage of port injection over the turbo ones.

You'll probably have to replace this hose that runs atop the rad. It's an easy job.
 

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Don't get suckered into buying an inexpensive BMW. My rule of thumb for BMW and Audi is that they are at least $20k vehicles; if you buy one for less, you'll spend the difference in repairs.

The best thing I did, vehicle-wise, when I was in school, was to buy the least expensive new car I could find. That was a 1992 Dodge Shadow, for about $8k. The monthly payment was about $130. Yes, I gave up my 1984 Camaro to do that, but I was spending more than $130/month in repairs on that Camaro, and it only had 60k miles on it.

I drove that Shadow for a few years. It was reliable, clean, economical and practical, and when I finished school and started earning money then I traded it to buy better cars. Well ok I didn't laid much, but that's not the car's fault.
 

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As an E60/61 owner having gone to college for 10 years, I just want to say: do NOT get an E60. No matter the mileage. Great car? Oh yeah. $4000 transmission rebuild in your future? Definitely. Maintaining these cars is a labor of love. Something you absolutely do not have time or money for in college. I never thought I'd say this, but you're better off spending it on beer. Get one when you get your first job. And get a job that's close enough to bike to. Trust me.


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Allow me to put this into perspective:

My 2010 535ix, with 50k miles on it, has been in the shop more often and cost more in repairs than repairs on my other vehicles:

- 2005 Subaru Outback XT with 160,000 miles on it, and
- 2001 Honda Prelude with 162,000 miles on it, and
- 2006 Yamaha FJR1300 with 110,000 miles on it (it even got a new engine), and
- 2000 Honda VFR800 with 104,000 miles on it ....
- 2001 Suzuki SV650 with 45,000 miles on it ....
- 1998 Honda Civic with 145,000 mile on it ....
- a slew of lower mileage vehicles (2x Integra's, another Prelude, Plymouth Laser Turbo, Mustang GT, Camaro, Dodge Shadow)

... combined.

(note that I left out the two Audi's I owned. Those would have tipped the scale to the BMW's favor).

At this point in my life (mid-40's) I'm in a position to drop a few thousand bucks on new turbo's if needed. I also have a well-equipped garage to do most of the work on the car that doesn't require a lift. But when I was in school, and even the lean years while I was scrimping to pay off my loans, a $1200 water pump would have made me financially anxious.

Making good financial decisions when young will pay you back in multiples later.
Making poor financial decisions when young will be difficult to rectify later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the replies

First off thank you everyone for the replies, I will definitely check out the stickied thread so you just bought an e60. I'm just going to start by saying that I currently own a Nissan Altima coupe 2013, while not a horrible car, it's no 550i. I know that getting one of these cheap does not necessarily mean that it will be cheap when you factor into labor. Probably worth noting, although I'm a college student, I run a business on the side fixing cell phones, and usually make 2500-3000 per month, some months better, some worse. I'll definitely do lots of research before making a purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Older daughter had a 2001 Corolla all through high school and college until it got totaled in 2010. Never was in the shop even once for a repair. Not one time. Sure, I did the brakes once or twice she got new tires once or twice. Never a repair.
Older daughter now has a 2010 Rav 4. A few recalls. Never was in the shop even once for a repair.
Younger daughter has a 2007 Mazda. One recall that affected the power steering, even if we didn't have the problem. One electrical repair on the mechatronics connector I did on it. Brakes, tires. Nothing else.
I love my BMW, but I'd would never have had one for my kids in college. Not even a new one. Too much time when that time should be spent on studying and partying when not studying :)
I appreciate the input, I wouldn't either, while I do understand that these aren't terribly reliable vehicles, they are lovely cars. I'm trying to just get an understanding of how much I should prepare for in repairs.

I probably should have mentioned while I do live with my parents, I have a side business fixing cell phones, and it has been relatively successful earning me around 2500-3000 per month, which has mostly gone into paying off my current car, then savings.

I currently own a 2013 Nissan Altima coupe, and while it's a reliable car, A) I didn't anticipate having so many passengers, siblings, friends, etc. and B) I do want a bit more power, and a more fun experience. I'd jump on an m5 if I could afford it. Also considering a 335i, lots of factors to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Why don't u get yourself a 525? Get a non turbo, might be a bit less fun to drive but it sure as hell is cheaper to maintain and fix when something goes wrong.
As I told TWH, i'm looking for a more fun driving experience. I don't really see a 525i as an upgrade to my current Altima. I do understand that the experience costs money; which is why i'm trying to get an understanding of how much it will cost me to maintain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Allow me to put this into perspective:

My 2010 535ix, with 50k miles on it, has been in the shop more often and cost more in repairs than repairs on my other vehicles:

- 2005 Subaru Outback XT with 160,000 miles on it, and
- 2001 Honda Prelude with 162,000 miles on it, and
- 2006 Yamaha FJR1300 with 110,000 miles on it (it even got a new engine), and
- 2000 Honda VFR800 with 104,000 miles on it ....
- 2001 Suzuki SV650 with 45,000 miles on it ....
- 1998 Honda Civic with 145,000 mile on it ....
- a slew of lower mileage vehicles (2x Integra's, another Prelude, Plymouth Laser Turbo, Mustang GT, Camaro, Dodge Shadow)

... combined.

(note that I left out the two Audi's I owned. Those would have tipped the scale to the BMW's favor).

At this point in my life (mid-40's) I'm in a position to drop a few thousand bucks on new turbo's if needed. I also have a well-equipped garage to do most of the work on the car that doesn't require a lift. But when I was in school, and even the lean years while I was scrimping to pay off my loans, a $1200 water pump would have made me financially anxious.

Making good financial decisions when young will pay you back in multiples later.
Making poor financial decisions when young will be difficult to rectify later.
Thank you for the input, currently I'm living at home with my mom, as I have mentioned to others I currently own a side business repairing cell phones, I earn about 2500-3000 per month. I do help my mom out with some expenses, but most things are covered. I do pay my own insurance, and i'm not trying to blow all my money on the car, I do want to save for my future businesses, amongst other things. I drive a 2013 Altima coupe, and there are several reasons I want to change, but reliability is definitely not one of them. That all being said I do want a fun to drive car. I am trying to make good financial decisions, and while I know I could probably save more money if I stuck with the Altima, I figured I could still balance things out if I did get this car. That's why i'm trying to get a feel of what I'm getting myself into, before I jump into it.
 

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2006 530xi 6 MT
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Seems like you have money to fix and ability to use another car if/when it is in the shop. You could also keep the Altima. I have a 530xi and it is still fun to drive. I came to that from a Maxima - which I liked and was rock solid reliable. The smoothness and handling of the BMW are just fantastic. Personally, I'd bank the money toward a house or investment and leave the BMW for later in life. But, that's just me.

I only have 70K miles on my 2006 530xi 6 speed MT and don't drive it everyday...

Under Warranty:
- replaced exhaust lifters per SIB for noisy lifters (real solution is new cylinder head)
- various s/w upgrades
- replace battery
- replace SZL
- navigation module replacement
- sunroof bang repair per SIB
- door seal replacement

Out of Warranty:
- new water pump and thermostat
- new front tension struts, ball joints, wishbones
- new brakes and rotors
- new spark plugs (nothing was wrong, just replaced)
- brake fluid flush every 2 years
- oil change every year
- air filter, cabin air filters

Still Broken:
- navigation DVD drive is not working
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
In all honesty, as a college student, there are probably many other more suitable and affordable cars for you to consider. Keep in mind that the purchase price might only be a small component of the overall ownership experience. Please read the sticky "So You Just Bought an E60" at the top of the page for some ideas on what you might be expected to pay for some of the common maintenance and repair items. If you are somewhat skilled mechanically, the ownership experience could be considerably lighter on your wallet. If you plan to use a BMW dealer for maintenance and repair, I assume your parents are doing a superb job at supporting you during your college career. If not, at the very least, find a trustworthy independent BMW service shop and save quite a bit.

Some of the "normal" repairs on higher mileage 550i's include replacing the coolant transfer tube and replacing valve guide seals. Both of these, even at an "indy", can be eye-wateringly expensive. They are terrific cars....I absolutely love mine....but in the back of my mind is a constant worry that an unexpected big-ticket repair might be lurking around the corner.
I do make my own money as I have mentioned to others, and while I don't want to be dumping too much money into it, I do know that this is not a one time purchase and there that maintenance costs are more than your average car. I'll definitely check that stickie out. Depending on how simple the tasks are I will either do it myself, or take it to an indy BMW mechanic. I appreciate the input though, and still have to make a conclusion. I will definitely be doing lots of research before making a decision, and that stickie seems like a good place to start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A 550 can be reliable, but it will have needed routine maintenance from day 1 and you will need to continue the routine maintenance. Unfortunately, there are items that will need to be replaced even if routine maintenance was performed. These are things like the valve cover gaskets, alternator bracket gasket, cooling system (radiator, expansion tank, water pump, coolant transfer pipe, etc.) and valve stem seals. Routine maintenance will delay when these items will need to be replace but not prevent it. And there is always the possibility something unexpected will happen and the repair can be very expensive. This could be something as simple as water leaking into the trunk and shorting out the electronics in the bottom of the tire well.

I have owned 3 different BMWs over the last 14 years. First was a 2000 e39 540 I purchased with 38K miles and a CPO warranty. It had no records and I do not believe it had routine maintenance. In the following 3 years, 50K miles, the radiator, expansion tank, water pump, heater core, valley pan gasket and valve cover gaskets were replaced under the CPO warranty. The second BMW was a 2001 e39 540 with 88K miles. It had records showing the routine maintenance. The water pump and radiator were still original. I replaced the valve cover gaskets around 100K and the valley pan gasket around 110K. The current BMW is a 2010 550 I purchased with 62K miles. It had been serviced according to BMW's schedule. In 2 years and 22K miles I have needed to replace the water pump, alternator bracket gasket and valve stem seals. I'm able to do the repair work myself and that is the only reason I purchased this car. Also, there are costs that are not associated with reliability. Gas, insurance, wearable parts like tires, brakes, belts, etc. These all increase the cost of ownership.

Another thing to think about is time. This would not matter if you have someone else work on the car for you, but it does matter if you repair things yourself. I have a second car and it is easy for me to take my time and not rush work on the BMW. It would be more challenging if it was my only car and I had to fix it in a day or a weekend.

If I was looking for a 550 with around 100k miles, first I would take it to a reputable shop for a pre-purchase inspection. I would create a budget of what the PPI shows and what I think would need to be repaired in the next year and start setting money aside. I would also plan on the coolant transfer pipe and valve stem seals needing to be replaced soon and have that money available now. I believe it would be around $1K in parts and maybe $3K in labor from an Indy mechanic. You may be able to find one with routine maintenance and these things may not be need for several years. There are a few forum members who have over 120k-130k miles and have not needed to replace these items yet because they have done their routine maintenance.
Thank you for the insight. If I do decide to go for one I am definitely planning on doing a PPI. I know I might get lucky, but I'm not planning on it. I will probably try to do things myself if they are simple repairs, I am definitely willing to learn, and actually want to learn how to do more repairs myself. That being said if it's more complicated, or too much for me I would take it to an indy BMW mechanic. I always knew that BMWs are not cheap to own, and your input is giving me more perspective as to how much it costs to own one. I will continue to do research on the matter, and am still leaning towards yes, but I'll be patient before jumping into one.
 
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