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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a 2001 540i and I want to buy some suspension parts for it. I have seen some conflicting information about whether the manual cars are also sport package cars.

It has style 66 wheels, an M sport steering wheel, 6 speed, and it looks rather low. However, it still has the single exit "scuba tank" muffler with a non-exposed tailpipe.

Can anyone give me some facts? If I were to buy lowering springs and dampers, would I get them for the sport models or the non sport models?

Attached is a picture. The previous owner put an M5 bumper on the front.
Automotive parking light Tire Wheel Car Automotive side marker light
 

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You have what is called the M Sport 540i. I have the same car. I would suggest that you down load the Bimmer decoder app & enter your Vin to see all equipment installed from factory & go from there. You can also go the realoem,com & enter Vin & it will bring up your parts. Congratulations on the car. I love it but it is a maintenance hog. How many miles?
 

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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You have what is called the M Sport 540i. I have the same car. I would suggest that you down load the Bimmer decoder app & enter your Vin to see all equipment installed from factory & go from there. You can also go the realoem,com & enter Vin & it will bring up your parts. Congratulations on the car. I love it but it is a maintenance hog. How many miles?
Thanks for the link, I managed to find and confirm that my car is a 540i sport. I'll cross reference the part number on the shocks/springs just to be sure. I also found a couple vin decoders that corroborated that information. I knew a forum would be helpful!

It has 143k miles, but all the important stuff has been taken care of by the previous owner, who I am now good friends with. He did the entire coolant system, ABS module, timing chain guides, etc. I've added a couple hundred miles since I got it last weekend and it's been very nice to me so far! I love the thing.
 

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Thanks for the link, I managed to find and confirm that my car is a 540i sport. I'll cross reference the part number on the shocks/springs just to be sure. I also found a couple vin decoders that corroborated that information. I knew a forum would be helpful!

It has 143k miles, but all the important stuff has been taken care of by the previous owner, who I am now good friends with. He did the entire coolant system, ABS module, timing chain guides, etc. I've added a couple hundred miles since I got it last weekend and it's been very nice to me so far! I love the thing.
Glad that it worked out. 143k is not bad. Besides the cooling system rebuild as a common thing, so are the valve cover gaskets. Enjoy your new ride & remember it's not a mustang so don't spin wheels or drift it.
 

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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Glad that it worked out. 143k is not bad. Besides the cooling system rebuild as a common thing, so are the valve cover gaskets. Enjoy your new ride & remember it's not a mustang so don't spin wheels or drift it.
Believe it or not, I have a mustang too! I save the hooligan stuff for the mustang haha! Thanks for the recommendation for the valve cover gaskets, I'll add that to my list.
 

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Believe it or not, I have a mustang too! I save the hooligan stuff for the mustang haha! Thanks for the recommendation for the valve cover gaskets, I'll add that to my list.
Only if they are leaking....you'll smell them if they are. You should also pull the coil cover & see if oil is leaking in there. If they are, it's probably leaking into spark plug wells.
 

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'03 540, '03 M5
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Nice car!

Welcome to the "Fest".

Have you made a decision on the shocks?
My $0.02...
Either Bilstein B6 - I have those on my auto 540, and LOVE them.
Stiff ride, but incredible handling.

Koni Yellows - Soon to be on the M5.
Folks on the M5 Board seem to favor these as a stock replacement.
I'll know soon...

DO NOT USE Bilstein B4's.
They are the stock EQ, and are way too mushy.
'03 540/6
I would change them, but the rears are such a PITA, I will just suffer with them.
It does ride like a Luxury Sports Sedan...
 

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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Only if they are leaking....you'll smell them if they are. You should also pull the coil cover & see if oil is leaking in there. If they are, it's probably leaking into spark plug wells.
As of this morning, I discovered a small oil leak. It's such a small amount, but enough to raise an eyebrow. I don't smell anything while driving, which is leading me to believe its from the front crank seal. Based off of the position of the pan that I put under, it's from the front center part of the engine. I'm going to track it down on a lift this weekend most likely, but I'll check the spark plug wells just for fun. Might as well
 

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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nice car!

Welcome to the "Fest".

Have you made a decision on the shocks?
My $0.02...
Either Bilstein B6 - I have those on my auto 540, and LOVE them.
Stiff ride, but incredible handling.

Koni Yellows - Soon to be on the M5.
Folks on the M5 Board seem to favor these as a stock replacement.
I'll know soon...

DO NOT USE Bilstein B4's.
They are the stock EQ, and are way too mushy.
'03 540/6
I would change them, but the rears are such a PITA, I will just suffer with them.
It does ride like a Luxury Sports Sedan...
Thanks for the input! That's the conclusion I fell upon. I think since my car has the sport suspension, a drop from lowering springs of less than an inch won't harm the shocks. I'm looking at H&R springs.

I did stumble across a set you can buy from tirerack that is Koni STR.T dampers and Eibach shocks for less than $600. When the time comes, the Bilstein B8 will probably be my go-to, because they're designed for lowered cars.
 

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As of this morning, I discovered a small oil leak. It's such a small amount, but enough to raise an eyebrow. I don't smell anything while driving, which is leading me to believe its from the front crank seal. Based off of the position of the pan that I put under, it's from the front center part of the engine. I'm going to track it down on a lift this weekend most likely, but I'll check the spark plug wells just for fun. Might as well
Your car should have a lower plastic engine cover that would make it difficult to see where it's coming from without removing it. I would personally doubt front seal at your miles. Not knowing your location, up north or down south, if position I'd spray some simple green or other degreaser & wash it down before looking. The front fan will blow oil to some strange places. Another common leak is the power steering reservoir & high pressure hose. Happy hunting
 

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'03 540, '03 M5
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1,210 Posts
becuz,

Your BMW engine leaks...
Politicians lie...
Water is wet...

Likely culprits:
Valve covers
Power steering
Haley's Comet.

Sorry, just a bit tired.
Yes to what Rav31 sez.
My M5 doesn't leak cuz I removes all the fluids...

Forrest
 

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Brevity= the soul of wit
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To answer the OP's question, I ran KW V2 coilovers on my 2000 Supercharged 540. I even did a review around 18 years ago on this site. I sold it just last month after 21 years. When applied with corner weighting for performance, KW V2's offered me the best ride I have ever experienced in an E39. Super subtle on the road, and progressive once you're into it. I liked them so much, I put them on my 2020 M2. Totally changed the way it performs, and much more comfortable on the road.

I will likely KW's on the 2001 E38 'Sporty Shorty' that I just picked up with (get this) 31k miles. The ride is fine, but the KW's are too good to pass up.

Minor point: In the USA, the so-called M-sport was only offered in '03. Canada got it beginning '01.
Bit of a correction: Prior to 2003, the SPP was marketed as 'M Sport' or 'M Sport I'. As of the 2003 model year, SPP was marketed as 'M Sport II.' In the US, we finally got the appearance package that had been available in the rest of the world since the E39 M5 appeared in 1999.

After a great success marketing the E34 540i as an 'M Sport", for the E39, BMW went to it again albeit in a much more limited way than they did in the E34. The E34 540 had adjustable suspension, for example which no other model had- truly unique.

Now, as we all know, that was the beginning of the end for the M brand. Today, 'M' stands for 'Marketing.'

From the MotorTrend review in 1999:

With such a tantalizing assortment of Bavarian equipment from which to choose, we went for the sportiest combination when ordering our long-term test car. Wearing sultry black inside and out, our 540i was outfitted in full Sport regalia including the outstanding Getrag six-speed manual gearbox. The Sport package (now also offered with a five-speed automatic) is a must-have for any true enthusiast and delivers M-Technic tuned suspension components (20-millimeter-shorter springs, larger-diameter anti-roll bars, and tauter shock valving), as well as 235/45ZR17 Dunlop radials on stunning 17x8.0-inch seven-spoke alloys.

Also, the part numbers are a great giveaway to the nomenclature:

540i M-Sport Suspension - GC96774
Front
-Springs - 31331093866 -
-Struts - 31311096848 -
Rear
-Springs - 33531093091 -
-Shocks - 33521094467 -


540i M-Sport II Suspension - GF71477 (2003)
Front
-Springs - 31332229070 - Unique to M-Tech II
-Struts - 31312229612 - Same as M5
Rear
-Springs - 33532229176 - Same as M5
-Shocks - 33522229126 - Same as M5
 

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As of this morning, I discovered a small oil leak. It's such a small amount, but enough to raise an eyebrow. I don't smell anything while driving, which is leading me to believe its from the front crank seal. Based off of the position of the pan that I put under, it's from the front center part of the engine. I'm going to track it down on a lift this weekend most likely, but I'll check the spark plug wells just for fun. Might as well
At your mileage, the entire front of the engine likely needs resealing, as all the seals begin to leak. Vanos solenoid seals, upper timing chain covers, lower cover, and crank seal. Also oil pan gaskets and valve covers.
 

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Belated congrats and welcome. You sound like the right kind of owner, approach it as a new hobby and you'll enjoy the ride.
 
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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
At your mileage, the entire front of the engine likely needs resealing, as all the seals begin to leak. Vanos solenoid seals, upper timing chain covers, lower cover, and crank seal. Also oil pan gaskets and valve covers.
I just found a BMW Master Tech in my area that gave me a very reasonable price to reseal the whole front of the engine, so I will do that. Under $2k for labor. Might as well
 

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2001 540i M-Sport
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
To answer the OP's question, I ran KW V2 coilovers on my 2000 Supercharged 540. I even did a review around 18 years ago on this site. I sold it just last month after 21 years. When applied with corner weighting for performance, KW V2's offered me the best ride I have ever experienced in an E39. Super subtle on the road, and progressive once you're into it. I liked them so much, I put them on my 2020 M2. Totally changed the way it performs, and much more comfortable on the road.

I will likely KW's on the 2001 E38 'Sporty Shorty' that I just picked up with (get this) 31k miles. The ride is fine, but the KW's are too good to pass up.

Bit of a correction: Prior to 2003, the SPP was marketed as 'M Sport' or 'M Sport I'. As of the 2003 model year, SPP was marketed as 'M Sport II.' In the US, we finally got the appearance package that had been available in the rest of the world since the E39 M5 appeared in 1999.

After a great success marketing the E34 540i as an 'M Sport", for the E39, BMW went to it again albeit in a much more limited way than they did in the E34. The E34 540 had adjustable suspension, for example which no other model had- truly unique.

Now, as we all know, that was the beginning of the end for the M brand. Today, 'M' stands for 'Marketing.'

From the MotorTrend review in 1999:

With such a tantalizing assortment of Bavarian equipment from which to choose, we went for the sportiest combination when ordering our long-term test car. Wearing sultry black inside and out, our 540i was outfitted in full Sport regalia including the outstanding Getrag six-speed manual gearbox. The Sport package (now also offered with a five-speed automatic) is a must-have for any true enthusiast and delivers M-Technic tuned suspension components (20-millimeter-shorter springs, larger-diameter anti-roll bars, and tauter shock valving), as well as 235/45ZR17 Dunlop radials on stunning 17x8.0-inch seven-spoke alloys.

Also, the part numbers are a great giveaway to the nomenclature:

540i M-Sport Suspension - GC96774
Front
-Springs - 31331093866 -
-Struts - 31311096848 -
Rear
-Springs - 33531093091 -
-Shocks - 33521094467 -


540i M-Sport II Suspension - GF71477 (2003)
Front
-Springs - 31332229070 - Unique to M-Tech II
-Struts - 31312229612 - Same as M5
Rear
-Springs - 33532229176 - Same as M5
-Shocks - 33522229126 - Same as M5
Thank you for this wealth of information! I decided to just get some decent tires and an M5 alignment and the car feels infinitely better from when I bought it. It handles on rails. Absolute riot. I'll keep this info in mind if I decide to do any suspension stuff.

The part numbers for the 540i M-Sport II are the same as M5 parts (as you noted). Does this mean that OEM M5 struts and springs would fit onto a 540i? Would it be a big enough difference?
 

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Nice car, I have almost the same car. I bought it 4 years ago with 199k on it, it now has 233k and is my daily driver. I have had ZERO issues with it and have spent almost nothing on it. It is fun to drive.
 

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I just found a BMW Master Tech in my area that gave me a very reasonable price to reseal the whole front of the engine, so I will do that. Under $2k for labor. Might as well
I noticed you had the timing chain guides done by the previous owner? If so, and you are leaking oil this soon, definitely have the tech do some investigating and confirm everything is as claimed. He'll surely give you good advice.
 
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