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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I came across this site from google while trying to settle my mind on which car to get. Unfrotunately I am not impressed with what I have seen so far on the mass produced line and wanted something different.

Not being able to swing a 20k car or higher... I came across a local used car/performance dealer who happens to have some nice BMW's that are used and have decent prices.. I think..

I first drove a 98 328i with 116k miles for 10,100k. I sincerely liked the car's style and looks, had plenty of power, considering Im going from my orignal car from college, a Hyundai Accent, to this. Interior was questionable, given the leather was cracking in places, lack of care on some portions was obvious.

Getting excited about the ride, it was suggested to me that I take a 540i out. Now this model is a 97 with 110k or so miles for 15,900, the interior is nothing short of flawless except the odometer pixels being broken up (I saw the post, and the dealer told me I could contact BMW regarding the issue) Well the testdrive was amazing, plenty of power, my wife really liked the interior and the overall style.

That being said, I put a deposit on the car.

Having new/used car anxiety I went online, and researched the car a bit more. I was told that the 540 can average 26mpg regularly. Now I have seen all sort's of conflicting reports of mpg. I then got to thinking, does this car take premium fuel only??? At 3.19 a gallon to fill a 18.5gallon tank. I'll go broke in no time flat! If I could use regular unleaded I may be able to swing it.

Overall I was sincerely impressed with the vehicle and it's handling and style. Unfortunately in the back of my mind, im hearing the little voice saying, your overbuying and will go broke in no time with this luxo-barge.. The only other option on the lot, in my price range is a 1998 M3 sport sedan, a v6 that should have better gas mileage???

Anyways, thank's for listening to me. Any input you have is greately appreciated!

-Shaun
 

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I just bought a 2000 540i. Yeah, you really do want to run premium gas. Otherwise, you won't get all the power. And yeah, it does use a lot of it. You can get around 21mpg if you baby the throttle and do a lot of highway driving. Around town, you won't get anything close to 26 mpg. The 540 is a great car but it's really expensive to run. You very well may be overbuying.

I can't speak about the M3 except that it's a great car. I wouldn't assume it'll get better mileage though. Do your research carefully. These aren't economy cars.
 

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The difference in price between regular and premium is less than 10%.

The difference in MPG between taking it easy with the gas pedal and stomping on it at every opportunity is far more than 50%.

Thus I would worry less about fuel grades and more about my driving habits.

Your mileage will vary from 10mpg (running flat out) to 25+ mpg on the freeway, with many folks getting 17-18mpg in mixed driving.


Bill
 

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M Division said:
If you're worried about additional cost of using premium gas, don't buy a BMW
Agreed!

If you are worried about an extra $3.00 per tank of gas you can't afford the car, as the repair bills will certainly send you to the poor house:rofl:

Over the last year I'm averaging close to $150 per month in up keep on my 2001 and I would trade it for anything other than a 2003 M5, which I will most likely buy either next summer, or the following.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow, I guess I have been mislead or misinformed regarding BMW. I was told that there is hardly anything that goes wrong with these motors, aside from a radiator, or oil pump? Just like any other car, I would assume some repair work to be done on it. The dealer told me that 100k is nothing for these cars and I can expect it to last a long time. Don't get me wrong either, I can afford the gas, however it's a question of practicality. If prem gas is around 3.14 a gal and this rig has a 18.5gal tank im looking around 50 or so a week to fill it, roughly getting 270miles per tank total, around 200.00 a month in gas??? Im trying to justify it, and my wife, well needless to say, was all for the car when we drove it, then I got home and looked at the mpg... ugh, I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too.... im still stuck with driving a korean commuter still...
 

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kaotik78 said:
Wow, I guess I have been mislead or misinformed regarding BMW. I was told that there is hardly anything that goes wrong with these motors, aside from a radiator, or oil pump? Just like any other car, I would assume some repair work to be done on it. The dealer told me that 100k is nothing for these cars and I can expect it to last a long time. Don't get me wrong either, I can afford the gas, however it's a question of practicality. If prem gas is around 3.14 a gal and this rig has a 18.5gal tank im looking around 50 or so a week to fill it, roughly getting 270miles per tank total, around 200.00 a month in gas??? Im trying to justify it, and my wife, well needless to say, was all for the car when we drove it, then I got home and looked at the mpg... ugh, I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too.... im still stuck with driving a korean commuter still...
If you want to drive a V8, and want the power that comes with it, your going to have to settle for around 20 mpg on average. I own 3 V8's, a Chevy Silverado SS, a 4.4 X5 and a 540i and the 540 gets by far the best milage amongst the three (14 in the Chevy, 17 in the X5 and 20 in the 540). I'm actually very impressed by the effeciency of the 540 all things considered.

These cars can have lots of little quirks and problems, which can sometimes be simple DIY items, sometimes not. IF you are buying a car with 100k+ there are some things you should expect to replace soon; brakes, tires, suspension and basically anything rubber.

Alot of people will not agree with me, but i put 87 gas into both my X5 and 540 and have 0 problems not have I noticed any performance decrease from higher octanes. Everyonce in a while i'll get a tank of 89 and i throw in about 1 bottle of STP fuel treatment a month.
 

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You are playing with fire running 87 octane. High compression and elevated engine operating temps (230 deg F for the 540) demand higher octane fuel. Spark knock and preignition are not always audible in a car with the sound deadning levels of the 540i. I hope your gamble pays off.

kaotik78 - Any car with 100K + will require maintenance. Here is a list of the items you are going to need to repair in the coming miles: (Pricing assumes you do the work)

Brakes: $450
Front wheel bearings: $250
Radiator, hoses, water pump: $650
Worn suspension parts: $200 per (varies)
Cats: $650
O2 sensors: $400
MAF sensor: $???

The 540 is a great car, but it is not the most reliable vehicle on the market. Best of luck with your choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good points, considering I have a mechanical background, so wrenching on the car to some extent wouldn't be a problem. brakes, shocks, oil change, etc. However if this car is somewhat unreliable, then would it do me any justice to consider a 328i with mileage in the 100k or so? Again, I would take into consideration the cost of repairs. Also, the car is 11500 in cost with 116k miles. I only ask this because the fine print on the deposit I put down on the car already states that they do not give it back so I would like to get a car from them but in the end I can just walk away a few $$ less and learn my lesson and get another econobox.
 

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the 328 is a great car a close friend has one, but its not a 540. Its really lame imho to gamble wtit 3 dollars or so a tank just to say that you put 87 in. Spend the 3 dollars get premium and maybe dont floor the car around town all day. As far as problems go, i bought my car for christmas (to myself) with 83xxx on the odo. Well come july 6 months to the day, i have 103xxx you do the math. I have had to replace tires and a mass air sensor.

Prior to that i had a 2005 jetta gli which spent more time in the shop than my garage
befor that 1999 passat that worked about as much as the jetta
before that i had a mazda rxz which used more gas than a blown vette and suprisingly spent even more time in the shop then the jetta
before that there was a 2003 civic that decided to catch on fire while i was in a parking lot
and the list goes on and on. for me i couldnt ask for a better car. And even though i spend 600+ bucks in gas every month i would not have it any other way

Steve
 

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Here's my .02... I purchased my 99 540i in May, 2.5 months later I have spent a total of $1200($800 necessary/routine maintenance, $400 aesthetics ).
After 7000 miles the difference between what I would have paid for regular versus premium is ~$85.
The car is "cheap" to buy (used), but it's $$$ to keep. BTW, my only regret is that I waited so long to get one.
If you want a nice car, get an Accord. If you want (pardon the plug) "The Ultimate Driving Machine", get a BMW.
 

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If you get a used one with high mileage I hope your handy. I just bought my 99 528i "I know it's not a 540 but I got a better deal on the 528I. Anyways I have had it 3 days and put a new valve cover gasket, power steering lines, and new struts are going on this week. Yes, you can get them fairly inexpensive and if you can do some of the work the car is well worth the added effort. I would not trade mine for anything and I really enjoy it. I chose the 528i for the mileage since I drive alot and the 540 was a great deal that I was looking at but I went for the 528. Good luck on your decision and enjoyt which ever car you get. The M3 would be a great car as well. I get close to 26 mpg with my car.
 

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KTrostel said:
Brakes: $450
Front wheel bearings: $250
Radiator, hoses, water pump: $650
Worn suspension parts: $200 per (varies)
Cats: $650
O2 sensors: $400
MAF sensor: $???
The price of driving an ultimate driving machine.....priceless.:thumbup:
 

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I bought my 2000 540i with 70k on the clock a couple months ago and couldn't be happier. The only things on it that have failed so far are standard things that wear out on any car - the battery and the tires namely. Parts can get expensive, but I would not call the car unreliable. As long as you take good care of it and replace the standard-issue items that will need replacing on time it will never let you down.

FWIW I drive it moderately around town (not easy, but I don't floor it at every light) and I have to fill up after around 310 miles on a tank.
 

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Hmmm

Hey, how are you? 16000 seems like a bit much for a 97. Just going on values around here, of course I haven't seen the car. Anyway, I'm not going to add much to what others have already said. I will write this: be prepared for maintenance costs. There's a reason why the BMW dealer is called "the stealer" around here. Smile. Also, don't be afraid of aftermarket parts; it's a 97 after all. I put aftermarket parts on my 97 with no problem. Buy the car; you will love it. The extra 20 bucks or so a month in gas won't be a problem when you cruisin' at 3000rpms and 100mph :D Stay cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi everyone. Thank you so much for the posts and the information. Yes I am handy with regular maintence, brakes, struts, valve cover gaskets.. Here is the link to the car, and the dealer who carries the other cars I have been looking into.

http://www.concordmotorsport.com/detail.aspx?iid=1054137&anchor=/1997/BMW/5-Series/540i-Sedan/

Now my wife showed me a few 540i and 528i bmw's for private sale around 10k or so, not 15k. Same mileage.

The dealer told me they do the head gaskets, and replace the radiator, and do the brakes upon purchase so those item's will be done already.
 

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The factory specifies 89 as the recommended octane. So anything more is insurance, and not a necessity. That said, I use 91 myself, though the few times I couldn't get it and ran 89 I had no problems, no knocking, and no worse gas mileage.

I had a 97 M3 for 4 years and now own a 2000 540i6. I like the 540 better, but some of that has to do with the stage of my life. I use the backseat regularly for passengers, and the luxury level between the e36 m3 and the e39 540 is night and day. The 540 is quieter and more composed, but still has a sport suspension and big ass speed rated tires. The m3 2-door I had looked better imo, but the 540 is more classy looking than boy racer.

The speed is about the same between the two, the m3 was quicker off the line, and the 540 much faster once at speed. I do love the 6 speed tied to the V8. It's got serious torque. Passing on the freeway is a joy.

I like the 6 speed 540 gearbox better than the 5 speed M3. But that's after doing the "clutch delay valve" delete, which is an absolute necessity. The m3's have got this bad flex in the tranny along with a gearbox that will allow you to shift into any gear at any speed. This leads to the dreaded money shift, which is where you think you are going 4th-3rd but actually are in 1st and then get to rebuild your engine for $2000-7000. So if you get an m3, BE CAREFULL!

Since I got my 540 6 months ago, I've done daily city driving with the occaisional longer trip. My overall MPG average has been 19mpg. On the freeway, I average 25-30 (yes 30!) mpg with an average speed of 80 and just love passing other cars on a 2 lane. Did I mention that torquey engine with the 6 speed. Damn it's fun to pass, it's got serious pickup at 60mph.

Both cars handle great and were made to be driven on winding roads. The m3 was more tossable, and really fun to get a little wild in. The 540 is not a car I feel like trying to get the rear end loose when cornering in town. The m3 on the other hand always felt like it would get you out of any trouble you found yourself in. Motor Trend magazine said in 1997 that the m3 was the best handling car in the world at any price. It drives like it is telepathic. But the 540 sport is very good too, no complaints about the factory sport suspension. And if I want more, everyone says that aftermarket is even better.

I like the 540 better, but that also is a lifestyle choice. 540 is also more stealthy, it doesn't look as fast as the m3 did.

If you get a 540, make sure you get the sport package.

Get a prepurchase inspection by a qualified BMW mechanic before you buy a car, and then you can estimate upcoming expenses. Mine has not been a money pit at all, albeit only 6 months of ownership. www.540i6.com has a list of common things that go wrong and the repairs for it. Use that list to do a good inspection yourself.
 

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AH Get It You won't regret it!!

Hey she looks Great. With all the repairs they are doing seems like it is not too bad. How is the clutch, I would ask about the Valley Pan Gasket. If they are going to do the Valve Cover Gaskets have them check the Valley at the same time, I need mine done but I want to wait as long as I can, Both are about $1600.00 and if they are doing it ALL the better for you!

Good luck You will love to own one and they are a blast to drive. I came from Corvettes, and a 1995 Impala SS (A beast of a Barge) I enjoy driving this All the time. I never drive my wife's Acura TL-S. Fun car but....... NOT!!

P.S. I just had my fuel filter changed at 88388 miles, LONG over due but still ran great and it is even better now! Filter cost $75.00 :yikes:
 

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kaotik78 said:
Hi everyone. Thank you so much for the posts and the information. Yes I am handy with regular maintence, brakes, struts, valve cover gaskets.. Here is the link to the car, and the dealer who carries the other cars I have been looking into.

http://www.concordmotorsport.com/detail.aspx?iid=1054137&anchor=/1997/BMW/5-Series/540i-Sedan/

Now my wife showed me a few 540i and 528i bmw's for private sale around 10k or so, not 15k. Same mileage.

The dealer told me they do the head gaskets, and replace the radiator, and do the brakes upon purchase so those item's will be done already.
I think it's a bit pricey for the year and mileage. I would check www.roadfly.com. That's where I found my 98' 540i6 with 120K for $13k. Some of you might think that's a little pricey also, but not at all considering all the upgrade that it had already (see my signature).
 
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