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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How is that for a 'loaded' topic sentence...

I am looking at acquiring a BMW and have found the site quite helpful. To begin I have never had a BMW, though I've admired them from afar for years. I have opportunity to get one for a great deal but I am looking for experienced drivers' opinions.

The car is a 1997 528i...loaded, leather, CD, etc. Car shows 158000 miles. Looks clean from the pictures I've seen and hopefully I will get an up close and personal inspection in a day or two.

The current owner bought the car about October of last year. I just emailed to ask if he knows the service history...did he get the car from the orinal owner...I'll see what he says. According to the current owner, the person he bought the car from knew of some issues and did not disclose them. The current owner feels stuck and taken advantage of.

What are the issues? Glad you asked.

First...the dash light shows a door ajar when they are closed...according to my reading here that is most likely a door striker issue...is that correct? Anything else I should look in to?

Second...he says the traction, abs lights up and when that happens the speedo ceases to work. The cruise control stops working when the speedo stops working. According to your great site and my reading this is likely the left rear speed sensor...seems to me I read somewhere on here that an issue with the CC could be the right rear speed sensor. At worst it is the ABS unit needs re-built....Am I ok so far? Anything else I should be overly concerned about?

Third... it has 158,000 miles...I see lots of high mileage BMWs on the list...should I be afraid of that kind of mileage on a 97 528? A big unknown is the service history. How big a part of the mileage, longevity, etc. should a lack of a good service history play in my decision to persue this car?

Thanks in advance. I look forward to reading and learning more about the BMW.
 

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If you are a DIY person as it seems you are it may be a project. If the price is right, which must be cheap, it may be worth it. These cars are deceiving in the price to purchase them is seemingly inexpensive at the time but the maintenance for some never ends. A $2000 car can turn into $5000 in a hurry. I think almost every BMW for the right price is fixable.
TomK
 

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I agree with Kutcht1, maintenance on these cars can be alot, even for DIY. Mine was a $5000 for a solid car which turned into atleast $3k in parts to fix the suspension, water pump and general wear. If I did it again I would find someone who owns a bmw and a DIY selfer and have him check the car I might buy. Said from that, I really love my 5 series. Im only planning to sell mine cause I want a 6 cylinder instead of this v8. Out of all the cars ive owned (30+) this is the best. Really I would rather have an X5 but there so damned heavy....ugh
 

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An e39 can be cheap to buy but very expensive to maintain. If you are not a DIYer, consider another car unless you have deep pockets. This car is not a good example of a well maintained e39. If you like to gamble, then go for it. But if you are risk adverse, find another one. There are many better examples for sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I appreciate the input...I will likely still look at the ride...but am a little more skeptical about getting into it. While I don't mind getting dirty working on my stuff....I certainly don't want to dump tons of cash into a car right after getting it home. Thanks again.
 

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sounds like you've done your homework, and as you have found, the obvious issues don't sound too bad...just gotta peel back that onion a bit. If you've lurked on this site, you will also want to know if the cooling system has been overhauled (believe it or not, there are threads here to help you determine if it has) aprox $400-$500. How does the suspension feel? DIY front suspension is about $1200 if you use OEM spec components, a little less $ to rebuild the rear. Is the check engine light on? Find out ahead of time - if it is, see if you can borrow a scanner. Didn't say if it was a manual or an auto... if a manual check to see if the clutch is slipping. As you can see from my sig, have the same year make and model. For reference, I bought it 2 years ago w/ 122k; really clean, no idiot lights. i now have ~ 154k. And since then I've done entire cooling system overhaul along with pulleys and belts, Secondary air pump and valve, rear struts, entire front suspension, cam position sensor, plugs, some misc cosmetic stuff. Approx $3500 in parts over the past two years. On deck; rear brakes, rear suspension, and me thinks I may have to replace the clutch soon.

You WILL have to replace stuff, but you DON'T have to do it all at once - I feather stuff in as the budget allows....you can do that as long as you don't drive until stuff breaks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just when you think you have a handle on stuff....I missed the cooling system things...got more reading to do. Thanks for the heads up.

As for the check engine light the guy says it is not on...I have a scanner I can take with me just in case the bulb is out.

It appears the general concensus would be to walk away. Likely what I will do after an inspection.

Thanks again,
 

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Before you buy any car that you are not familiar with, the rule of thumb is to spend a week or so to browse through the appropriate forum, whther it is Honda, Toyota, BMW etc., the same topics will keep coming back all the time. This will give you an idea of what to expect in that particular car.

Back to the 1997 528i, common topics:
- Cooling Overhaul
- Suspension (Front/Rear) Overhauls
- ABS Module
- MID Display
- OFH gasket leak
- CCV/ICV cleaning
etc.
 
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