1997 bmw 540i, 6spd - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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#1 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 08:49 PM
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1997 bmw 540i, 6spd

Hello. I am new to the forums. I don't know much about BMW's, but I think that I have come across a good deal. I came across a 1997 BMW 540i 6 spd. The car has 216k miles on it. The car has been well-maintained by the owner himself and the miles are mostly hi-way. There are no mech problems whatsoever. The car has a dinan stage 1 computer chip(?) i think, also a dinan intake and exhaust. Short shift kit and 02 set of black painted rims. The exterior looks good, the steering wheel is in poor shape and the left front door inside trim panel could be replaced. The price is $7500, firm. Any thoughts or insights? Good buy? What kind of things should I look out for? Is maintence really that expensive. Any responses are much appreciated. I will say that I really love this car and I have never heard anything negative about these cars.


Thanks,
Joe
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#2 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 08:56 PM
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216k miles is a shit load of miles.
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#3 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 09:20 PM
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Too many miles my friend.The engine is probably good to 300k-350k but you'll need to replace quite a few things. Maintenance can get expensive but if you do most of the work is probably ok.
This car is more of a project car and not a daily driver. I'm sorry to say it but stay away from it. Don't let the price fool you.

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#4 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 09:22 PM
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Just like what BiGGm3 said. If I buy it, I should be prepared to spend quite a bit on replacement parts and maintenance. Unless of course most parts have been replaced recently and are new. Otherwise, you could be in for a really big surprise (Well, it shouldn't really be a surprise, you should be expecting it). Worst scenario you're looking at could be a bad transmission, or the engine.

If you're really determined to buy it coz' it's a good deal that fits your budget, I'd strongly recommend you get an inspection done by a trusted mechanic.

Good Luck!

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#5 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 09:34 PM
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I don't know any foreign mechanic that well. I thought that I had heard that BMW engines are some of the most reliable made. The currnet owner uses the car as a daily. Do any of the people who responded own a 540? Are there any owners w/ mileage over 200k?

Thanks for all of the responses
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#6 (permalink) Old 06-12-2006, 10:56 PM
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I've owned 2 540i's, the first one was up till about 120k when I sold it.
The current one is at 99k

Well, yes, BMW engines are strong, in the sense that if you are considering buying a 100k used BMW you are pretty safe compared to buying a Chevy or Ford at similar mileage.

A lot also depends on how previous owners have been taking care of the car. Besides, the most scary thing is, at 216k, no one can guarantee how much more you can squeeze out of it without spending a fortune. Either the car or YOU will break down first! It's kinda at the end of its life expectancy, as far as many parts are concerned. Of course, I'm not saying if you start overhauling the engine, and replace wear and tear parts, the car will not continue to serve you. It will, but you need to be prepared to take the ri$ks. The only reason one would buy one at that mileage is the price and a tight budget. And if you're lucky, it could well be a good buy!

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#7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 08:51 AM
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I asked the current owner about any engine/tranny work that has been done. He stated that he is the 4th owner and has put about 70k of the miles on the car. He has replaced the clutch, clutch fan, and recently the brakes. He stated that the rest of the car is in "new tolerances," with the exception of a busted rear control arm.
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#8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 11:30 AM
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Mine is a '97 540ia with 80k miles

4th owner? I don't think he has all the records on that car. As Cosmos said, you're taking a risk.

Do you feel lucky?

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#9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 02:33 PM
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I personally woulnd't buy a car that has had over 2 owners and I also wouldn't want to buy a car that was owner maintained
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#10 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BiGGm3
I personally woulnd't buy a car that has had over 2 owners and I also wouldn't want to buy a car that was owner maintained
I have to disagree with a "rule" like that. If the owner has a clue and is passionate about his ride, then I'd MUCH rather buy from him than an indifferent, different-guy-works-on-it-every-time-it's-in-for-service dealer-maintained ride.

Also, I was the 4th owner of a Legend GS I bought at 101K miles and sold at 189K miles, and that thing was in at least as good of shape when I sold it as when I bought it 3-1/2 years earlier. I had all the paperwork from the first 100K miles and actually had fewer problems with it over my 88K miles than it had in its first 100K. The guy that bought my Legend still has it, and is at 250K miles and still going strong.

All THAT said, I've found out the hard way that a 540 is not a Honda/Acura, or a Datsun pickup (which I owned until 217K and was still quite sound). The 540 requires lots of care and feeding, and lots of it North of 100K miles. Unless you have excellent documentation of service/maintenance and the car is in excellent shape AND passes a pre-buy inspection, AND you plan to spin your own wrenches, I'd take a pass until he comes down on the price. Give him time (a month or two), then check in with him to see is he's changed his mind. He will.

One last bit of advice - Don't buy the 540 if his price is at your max budget and there's no other 540 you're going to find for the price. I;ve found that 540's with over 100K require about $1500 to $2000 per year for maintenance and repairs if daily-driven, IF you spin your own wrenches. So don't forget to account for that little factoid in your decision.

<span style='colorurple'>Eric S.</span>
2006 Honda Odyssey EXL-RES
2006 Honda Accord V6 EX-L Sedan
1999 BMW 540i 6-Speed (Sold to M3UOND on 9/21/06)
1991 Honda Civic Si - Occasional Beater

Last edited by Eric S.; 06-13-2006 at 07:37 PM.
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#11 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 08:28 PM
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I spk w/ the owner today. With the rear control arm busted, the owner is willing to take $5500 for it. If he fixes the control arm, he told me that he would take $6500 for it.
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#12 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mild83
I spk w/ the owner today. With the rear control arm busted, the owner is willing to take $5500 for it. If he fixes the control arm, he told me that he would take $6500 for it.
Don'tcha love "firm" pricing? :-) Cost for dealer to replace one rear control arm is probably at least $500 (about $150-$200 for the part, $200 labor, $100 alignment).

You can buy made-in-Germany arms on e-Bay for about $40-$50. No special tool is required (as is for the front control arm ball joints). So your cost, if you spin your own wrench, can be more like $150. Good trade-off to knock $1000 off the price. I'd say offer him the $5500 (Honda Civic money), pending its passing a pre-purchase inspection otherwise. Then, keep the $2000 you saved handy to pay for the next year's maintenance, repairs, and tires...

<span style='colorurple'>Eric S.</span>
2006 Honda Odyssey EXL-RES
2006 Honda Accord V6 EX-L Sedan
1999 BMW 540i 6-Speed (Sold to M3UOND on 9/21/06)
1991 Honda Civic Si - Occasional Beater

Last edited by Eric S.; 06-13-2006 at 09:21 PM.
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#13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2006, 10:40 PM
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My 525I 5spd is at about 260K right now. Keep in mind with that many miles the engine gets weaker/car gets slower. The biggest problem I had with mine is that it needed entirely new shocks all around. I would inspect it thoroughly before you buy. In fact you should probably wait and get a 3 series with way less miles.

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#14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2006, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric S.
Don'tcha love "firm" pricing? :-) Cost for dealer to replace one rear control arm is probably at least $500 (about $150-$200 for the part, $200 labor, $100 alignment).

You can buy made-in-Germany arms on e-Bay for about $40-$50. No special tool is required (as is for the front control arm ball joints). So your cost, if you spin your own wrench, can be more like $150. Good trade-off to knock $1000 off the price. I'd say offer him the $5500 (Honda Civic money), pending its passing a pre-purchase inspection otherwise. Then, keep the $2000 you saved handy to pay for the next year's maintenance, repairs, and tires...

Checked on that, cost about $900 incl labor and no alignment. Do you guys think that $5500 would be fair? Do you all think that at 216k, I'd be stuck w/ the car as a final owener? ONce again, thanks for all responses, all opinins ar GREATLY appreciated.
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#15 (permalink) Old 06-14-2006, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mild83
Checked on that, cost about $900 incl labor and no alignment. Do you guys think that $5500 would be fair? Do you all think that at 216k, I'd be stuck w/ the car as a final owener? ONce again, thanks for all responses, all opinins ar GREATLY appreciated.
It's very difficult to say any car is worth any $ amount without looking it over in person, but if the car is nice as you say it is, then it sounds like a decent deal, PROVIDED you have some dough left over to maintain the thing as I've stated above. You WILL need to maintain and repair it yourself or you will go broke - the parts aren't all that expensive but labor is, especially if your local dealer prices everything like that control arm job (and yes, you WILL need an alignment, and NO, almost no one else out there can properly align it like your dealer, unfortunately). Also, your first purchases right after buying it will need to be an E39 Bentley Service manual (Amazon, $107), and a Peake code reader/reset tool ($149), plus a good set of long metric combo wrenches and sockets.

THe key question I always ask myself when about to buy is: "If I had to turn around and sell it right after buying it, could I expect to get my purchase price back out of it within 2 weeks or so?" If not, then you are paying too much. In this case $5500 sounds good, as long as the car isn't a dog. also - make sure it doesn't need a clutch right away, because that's a $1500-$2000 job all by itself.

Here's THE acid test: Do you plan to have the dealer replace that rear control arm or will you buy the part & do it yourself? If you were planning to take it to the dealer, then a 70K+ mile 540i is not the car for you. If you were prepared to fix it yourself, then go for it.

<span style='colorurple'>Eric S.</span>
2006 Honda Odyssey EXL-RES
2006 Honda Accord V6 EX-L Sedan
1999 BMW 540i 6-Speed (Sold to M3UOND on 9/21/06)
1991 Honda Civic Si - Occasional Beater
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