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Which car do you recommend?

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Discussion Starter #1
Yes I know that this topic has been beaten repeatedly but for my sake please once more.... Thank you.

So I'm looking to purchase an E39... Please help me make the RIGHT choice.

My commute is about 35 miles each way. Mornings run about 45 minutes and evenings 1.5 hours. (YES LOTS of TRAFFIC).

The choices are as follows:

Car 1 - 2000 528i White 130K Sports Package - deep dish rims (black window trim). Asking about $6000

Car 2 - 2000 540i Black 130K NO Sports Package - M5 rims (chrome window trim). Asking about $5500

Car 3 - 1998 540i Green 140K NO Sports Package - "M" rims (chrome window trim). Asking about $6300

Differences that I know that the of between the 528i and the 540i for the specific cars listed above.
528i:
-inline 6
-sports package

540i:
-V8....



Differences between 528i and 540i in general that I have come to understand:

528i:
-inline 6
-nearer to 50/50 weight distribution
-rack and pinion steering

540i:
-V8
-recirculating ball steering



I have driven both a 528i and a 540i (not the ones listed above but other e39's in the past) and really liked both. Steering felt lighter on the 528i vs heavy on the 540i. I had the same feeling when it came the the accelerator.

Answers that would really help me make a decision:

1) Does having a sports package really make a noticeable difference?
2) Does Rack and Pinion steering vs Recirculating Ball really make a noticeable difference?
3) Differences in reliability between 1998 E39's vs 2000 E39's?
 

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-------------------------
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1,643 Posts
They are all around the same miles...it depends on how they were taken care off. It all were taken care off get the cheapest one.
 

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BimmerJunkie
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It's a tough choice as both cars are great IMO...the '00 540 is 500 cheaper than the '00 528 with the same miles...

...but the 528 will get you way better mileage. It is more suited to be your commute car only because you won't guzzle as much gas. I drive a '98 528i and I get about 18 city and 26 HWY miles. The 540 on the other hand is a very fun car to drive...total difference when behind the wheel then when driving a 528, but again is the extra 90 HP gonna come in handy when stuck in traffic as you said your commute is full of...

Don't get me wrong both cars are fun to drive, but if you're looking for a daily driver to and from work then go with the 528 for gas savings. However as rrcompton mentioned, research the maintenance history on the cars. If they have been well taken care of then the miles are not a bid deal since they are all so close. Also make sure that the cooling system has been overhauled. that is CRITICAL!

Sport Pkg is not a BIG deal but it does add nice touches to the car (different style steering wheel, etc...)

In my case, I have a 528i and soon (When I get that tax return lol) I'll be looking for an E39 540 or perhaps an E38 740 as a second car for the family.
 

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I'm a Mac
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if he's going rockville-tysons (or toll road) back/forth each day during rush hour, i can't imagine mileage being much difference. i'm averaging 18.6 since i purchased my '03 540iA last Nov (approx 11 mths/8k miles) in mostly suburban driving.
 

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It seems, reading on various forums, that the newer the MY, the more electronic problems.

V8s have weak cooling systems; the six is VERY sensitive to overheating, but the radiators and expansion tanks seem to hold up better than on the V8. Water pumps are a toss-up. The six has a plastic thermostat housing that can break due to age.

I assume these are all automatics. If so, the transmissions are quite possibly near the end of their lifetime, especially if they've not had the fluid changed. Just a caveat; many last over 200k, but many also fail between 80-120k.

The six will be a more economical traffic-slogging car. If you do buy one, get the VANOS seals replaced with Beisan Systems parts:

http://www.beisansystems.com/index.html
 

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livin the 'Fest
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4,280 Posts
get the 540, more power, and the gas mpg's are like 2-3 mpg difference. which with the touring (wagon) us a little heavier, so that being said go with the power. as for the sport, you get black window trim, sport susspension, and some 17' wheels, that's it. the last 540 you listed is a non sport, you know this because of the chrome window trim, it's the same for all bmw's. chrome=non sport.
also, checked to see if the cooling system has been worked over yet, don't take their word, ask for reciepts.
 

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It's pretty simple, given the mileage and price is similar. If you want or need the power, get the V8. If you are really just looking for a nice DD, get the I6. The sport suspension makes a pretty big difference, but it is all a matter of taste and desires.
 

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Search, Read, THEN Ask
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...but the 528 will get you way better mileage. It is more suited to be your commute car only because you won't guzzle as much gas. I drive a '98 528i and I get about 18 city and 26 HWY miles. The 540 on the other hand is a very fun car to drive...total difference when behind the wheel then when driving a 528, but again is the extra 90 HP gonna come in handy when stuck in traffic as you said your commute is full of...
+1 Given your daily driving habits, get the 528. Sitting in traffic with a 540 is senseless and a waste of gas. Since the 528 comes with a sports package, it will be fun enough. Just make sure it's been well cared for and try to talk it down given the other prices.
 

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Id go with the 540, car #2. I own both. The power of the V8 is awesome. The
gas milage is really close, and in my case the 540 is alot more reliable than
my 528. Take you time and find a good one. Good luck. Mike
 

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Please, call me Brian.
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I voted for number two, because I would love the extra power the 540 offers, and the prices happen to favor the quicker car :)
 

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528i - the legendary in line 6 engine, sports pkg, rack and pinion steering, and maintaining a 540i will cost more, along with more gas guzzling when you decide to do some spirited driving !
The 528i is bullet proof !
 

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528s have to be maintained as much as any other E39, E39s as a whole do very well with careful preventative maintenance. I went with my 528 because I don't have a need for a V8 daily driver. 290hp could be nice, but; there are faster cars out there no matter what you drive, I much rather let you pass than beat you to the off ramp, when my speed bug bite (and bites often :angel:) I just take my bike to the track and let it loose:angel::thumbup:
Kinda' good not to have the extra hp, keeps the tax collectors away...
528 with sports package is interesting, different seats as well I think.

They way each of these cars were/are maintained should tell you which one is the best purchase, if at all. Accessories like wheels, suspension, stereos, etc. could be good or bad. It could actually be a bargaining point since the vehicle is modified and the stock parts probably does not come with them.

As you already seen, everybody agrees on platform (E39), matter of driving style and how solid the chosen car is what's going to determine the best purchase.

Good luck and post pics when you can :thumbup::thumbup:
 

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WTB - your E39 M5
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If you really want the sport package you can add all the same stuff later. You already have the info from all the other people who posted about the maintenance on the two, the fuel economy, etc.
I say go for the car #2. Then get all the facelift sh*t too. make it look good
 

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Freude am Fahren
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Odd; could've sworn I posted here. I thought I typed up a lengthly response. My computer probably ate it.

I didn't notice that the 528 was a sport package with (I'm assuming) the deep-dish rims. I just looked at price and mileage.

The 528 will be cheaper to run, especially in traffic. It is better-balanced as well, and many maintenance items are cheaper because the engine is smaller and lighter.

The 540 has more perks, such as DSC (afaik it's not in the 528 in 2000) which is helpful if you drive in snow or rain; it also has the High dash, which is nice when it works but if/when the pixels burn out it's a problem.

The '98 is not worth it. More expensive for more miles? I think not.

I'm not aware of any difference in the number of issues with '98 vs '00.
 

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'00 528i have DSC. Showing pics could prbably help us help you. It can determine which packages were ordered with each vehicle. Again, nit-picking at this point :thumbup:
 

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*Åþråh Cådåþråh*
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Numero dos.

I would go with the 2000 540i V8. It has good power and that price you listed is not bad.

Let us know which one you picked.
 

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Technical Graphite > ALL
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Number 1 rule for me: how well was it maintained? I would pay a premium for a car that has all records and was owned by an anal owner. The 528 sports package is a great car. I love mine, but you can't go wrong with a 540 sports package either as long as its been maintained. In my buying experience, more of the 540i's were beat up and abused and showed signs of wear after 100k+ miles. I think because they are so powerful and fast they tend to get pushed harder by drivers. In any case, buy one that is well-taken care of, bottom line.
 

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Usually the v8 folks would push for the v8 and the i6 folks would push for the inline.

Ultimately it's your choice. Good maintenance records will pinpoint the winner.
As for sport package, both v8 have quite a bit of mileage, hence the struts/shocks (and other stuff) might have to go. Good oportunity to make it "sport" - the sport of the 528 at this age is misleading.

P.S. if your long commute is not in the city, the 540 might be a better choice. v8 is thirsty in stop'n'go traffic. Actually the i6 is not far behind.
 
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