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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 540iT just rolled past 50,000 miles this week, and it made me wonder...how long should I reasonably expect to keep this car? I haven't had any major issues besides an annoying hesitation with the A/C on (which I have tried and tried to fix but came up empty), and I have replaced the radiator and exp. tank as preventative maintenance.

I love the car, but I keep seeing posts about how expensive the V8s can be after 60k. Many posts on roadfly.com mention failing catalytic converters ($800 x 2, plus installation), more cooling issues (water pump, thermostat, etc.), valve cover gaskets (one of mine is starting to leak), head gasket failures to the tune of $1500-1800 to fix, ABS control units at $1000 a piece, auto trans. problems at higher mileage, etc.

I wonder what other owners' mentalities are as far as longevity goes. I know these cars will run forever, but will the cost of repairs get out of hand?
 

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Well, when I read the boards I try to keep in mind that people post looking for helpful advice about the problems they have, but you're not really hearing from all the people who have no problems at all and that can give you a warped perception that these problems are overly problematic, but if you go to any message board for a specific car brand you'll get the same impression after reading enough posts. It's like watching the news about the So. CA freeway shootings. It gives some people the perception that the So. CA freeways are a war zone and I've seen posts on this board about how people are afraid to drive, but the fact is that 4 million cars a day travel on the freeways here and you're probably more likely to be killed walking across the street than you are being the one car in 4 million that's shot at.

I've sold my last two BMW's at between 130K and 135K miles without any real problems until then, but that's when I've found more things start wearing out and needing to be replaced. If I'd had the problems it seems like all BMW's have from reading these boards, I'd probably stop buying them, but they've been more reliable than the Toyota I had before that and I'm more the type who gets comfortable in a car that I feel I "know" rather than the type who gets tired of cars and wants the latest model every couple of years. I also hate car payments and would rather get the car paid off ASAP and spend the money on maintenance even if something goes wrong every now and then. Even if you have a $2K in maintenance expenses per year (which I've never had yet) that's still only 3 or 4 car payments vs.12 payments with free maintenance. So I guess it's all in how you look at it. I think these boards provide a lot of great, helpful and useful information and advice, but I try to keep the problems people post about in perspective. If my luck runs out and this car starts costing me an arm and a leg beyond what I can justify, I'll probably sell it. Otherwise, I won't even think about selling it until it gets over 100K miles . . . . which gives me over 60K more miles to go of enjoying what's probably the most fun car I've ever owned. :)
 

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I have 117k+ miles on my '98 540 sport. Except for the itch to get a new convertible (Z4 3.0), I wouldn't give up my 540 for anything. I've only had to replace some minor parts like the driver's side interior door handle and a valve cover gasket during my tenure.

I have every record for the car including the original bill of sale and aside from the regular maintenance/wear & tear items, the previous owner only had the typical "prone to fail" parts replaced under warranty. Items such as the radiator, front sway bar links, and AM radio reception amplifier. I will need a new clutch at some point, but it still holds quite strongly right now.

I'd say that if you still like it, keep it! Maybe just set a little extra money aside for any incidentals that may arise.

Best of luck with your decision!
 

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I have 133k on my 99. Expect repairs, but they're less expensive than depreciation on a new car.
 

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My '00 540 (roughly 56K miles) is for sale, not because I don't enjoy the car nor because I think it will fall apart anytime soon, but because I fell in love with another car that better suits my current needs. My kids are "all growed up" and I find myself either driving solo or having one other person in my car. When we drive as a family, it is in my wife's people carrier - a 2001 Volvo wagon.

I picked up a low-miles 2003 Z4. The bummer is that I just did the inspection II and replaced rotors/pads all the way around on the 540 - someone will pick up a deal. :(

johnlew has it right, repairs are often less expensive than depreciation on a new car. If you add the fact that the E39 has an enormous and highly active DIY base, the car can be maintained relatively cheap for years.


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the great replies. I guess I've been spending too much time on message boards lately and reading too many horror stories. I do love the car...and I've invested so much in it lately that it probably makes sense to ride it out for the long haul.

B-Mer- M5 Touring sounds great! I guess the 540iT is the closest thing though, since I don't think an M5 Touring was ever produced for the E39 series...
 

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My first day checking out the "board" . . .
Just wanted to let you know that I love my '98 540i.
I too have been thinking recently about selling it - just for the mere fact of getting something new/different.
I have had no major problems with my car, nor do I anticipate any. This is my 4th BMW - just because I think they are the best!!
I have 59,000 miles on the car and hate to think that soon it will be turning 60,000 - that's like going from 59 years old to 60 - - -YIKES!!!!
Best of luck to you!!
 

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If pending problems are bothering you look into a private warranty. I just picked up an '01 540 Sport and for a little over 1.5k got a more than adequate 4yr/Unlimited that covers damn near everything with a 100 deductable, close to a CPO I've been told except for the regular maintenance... If you have the money to spend, and want to keep your car for a few more years, it's a reletively inexpensive way to buy some peace of mind.
 

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I just picked up an '01 540 Sport and for a little over 1.5k got a more than adequate 4yr/Unlimited that covers damn near everything with a 100 deductable, close to a CPO

How do you choose a good company for the private warranty? I've heard bad stories about companies going out of business or other hassles.
 

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GJR said:
My 540iT just rolled past 50,000 miles this week, and it made me wonder...how long should I reasonably expect to keep this car? I wonder what other owners' mentalities are as far as longevity goes. I know these cars will run forever, but will the cost of repairs get out of hand?
You gotta make the value judgment - are the repairs (which are fairly predictable) worth it relative to the cost buying something newer? My '98 540 recently passed 100k (CPO'd to 100k) and in the past 12 months I have had the water pump, thermostat, radiator overflow, valve cover gasket, front and rear brakes, and AC compressor fan all replaced. Sounds like a lot but some was covered under the CPO warranty and even if I had paid, the total cost was less than 8 months payments on a new 545.

Some of these were known and predictable expenses that commonly occur in E39 V8s, including:
- water pump and thermostat, recommended replacement between 80-100k
- valve/head gaskets
- radiator around 100k (not yet on min ebut I will probably do a preventative replacement soon)

(Note that the oil pump bolt failure problem on these cars may or may not be an urban legend. Both the dealer where I had warranty work done and two independent BMW mechanics I talked with said they had never seen such a problem on any E39 V8 engines. Even so, there seem to be lots of anecdotes about such a problem though no one ever seems to have actually had it happen to them.)

The brakes/rotors needed replacing were because I auto-cross the car and the AC fan just failed. My mechanic made a good point - I could pay to do all this work now and be well on the road to 200k miles, or get rid of the car and use the repair money to make the downpayment on something else. I chose the repairs because I absolutely love the car, own it, and didn't want car payments. Since I paid it off, I set aside a little money each month for a repair fund to cover unexpected expenses.

That's my take.

David
 

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Hey Garo,

My car turned 50k on the odo about a month ago. I'll keep her till 100k, cause that's when the extended service contract ends. By that time, I'll be able to pick up a low mileage 545i or E46 M3 - after the original buyer has taken the hit on depreciation. My $.02 :D

-Mark
 

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markseven said:
Hey Garo,

My car turned 50k on the odo about a month ago. I'll keep her till 100k, cause that's when the extended service contract ends. By that time, I'll be able to pick up a low mileage 545i or E46 M3 - after the original buyer has taken the hit on depreciation. My $.02 :D

-Mark
Exactly what Im thinking. Plus it will give me some time to warm up to the new design.
 

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njbimmerman said:
I just picked up an '01 540 Sport and for a little over 1.5k got a more than adequate 4yr/Unlimited that covers damn near everything with a 100 deductable, close to a CPO

How do you choose a good company for the private warranty? I've heard bad stories about companies going out of business or other hassles.
You will have to do a little research, an old friend of mine is a salesman and turned me on to a few he uses. I'll look up the name when/if I get to my parents this weekend (left my documentation there). Best bet is to look at how long they have been in business and check out the BBB as well.
 

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I will not likely replace my car until the new 550 is available with an M-tech kit like you can get in Europe and Australia. If I hit over 100k miles, and it still isn't available, I may get a used E55.

Dave
 

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when some serious mods come out for the M45.
 

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98 540i

I have 105K on mine and no major issues. Bought it at 66K and only thing I ever replaced was worn Ball joints at 104K. These guys are right, repairs cheaper than depreciation. Love mine so much I aint about to sell. Car is in immaculate condition with Eibach sways/bilstein shocks and M5 Sways. Next project is angel eyes. :rofl: :bigpimp:
 

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njbimmerman said:
I just picked up an '01 540 Sport and for a little over 1.5k got a more than adequate 4yr/Unlimited that covers damn near everything with a 100 deductable, close to a CPO

How do you choose a good company for the private warranty? I've heard bad stories about companies going out of business or other hassles.
Google search my friend.....
 
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