e39 is this a reliable car? - 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 02-21-2006, 10:23 PM
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e39 is this a reliable car?

Im looking at buying a 97-99 528 with 100-120k miles on it. Are these cars reliable with these kinds of miles? are they relativley trouble free? I put about 12k miles a year on a car so its not getting really heavy use. I know the engines are excellent but how are the trannys? Lots of electrical problems on earlier cars? Help a BMW n00b!
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#2 (permalink) Old 02-21-2006, 11:29 PM
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It all depends on the car, and your luck!

At that stage (year and mileage), the car would have needed, OR needs many replacement parts for wear and tear. Examples are O2 sensors, brakes, MAF sensor, water pump, radiator, electronics, control arm bushings, hoses, and the list goes on.

If you are lucky, OR smart enough to buy one that has been well taken care of, where the owner has done whatever was needed, then you actually have a good reliable car with many new parts and lots of miles to go!

If on the other hand, you buy one that has been owned by a "car-abuser", you will be suffering for a while until you get everything fixed.

The E39 is a reliable car and will probably give you over 200k miles of enjoyment.

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#3 (permalink) Old 02-21-2006, 11:35 PM
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The tranny's are usually pretty good, but there are a number of electrical gremlins hiding in the early e39 models. I would highly recommend you review it's service history and if the seller is reluctant to give you the paperwork, forget about it.
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#4 (permalink) Old 02-21-2006, 11:53 PM
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what kind of electrical gremlins are we talking about here? should i stay away from 97's and look more at 98 and 99 models? Im willing to put a couple of thousand into the car to get it up to snuff (if im only paying 9 or 10k for the car in the first place). i just dont want to get a car with 100k and have to deal with tranny problems and head gasket replacements like our 96 MB S320. are water pumps and radiators generally troublesome in higher mileage e39's?
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#5 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 02:06 AM
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well with e39s radiator failure is a common problem - just somehting that you should watch out for constantly

tranny problems are unlikely but possible. i think gaskets go only in M5s which you probably won't be getting from my understanding.

mechanically bmws are very reliable, but since it packs so much electronical stuff, a lot of times electric fail. extremely common electrical problems include burnt out pixels on on board computer screen and burnt out fuses.

ohh - and cupholders SUCK! i'd recommend investing $10 to buy a nice cupholder for the car

as far as gas economy goes - i recommend manual transmition
- fun to drive and will be easier on the wallet

other than that - once you'll drive the 5-er you'll realize why it's one of the best sport sedans offered.


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#6 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 06:27 AM
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I ABSOLUTELY LOVED my 1997 528. The engine was perfect.

Things to look at replacing: water pump (put in one with a metal impeller!), coolant expansion tank, aluminum thermostat housing, new thermostat, bushings, shocks, struts, brake pads/rotors, coolant, cupholders...

Make sure transmission fluid is full. On the 528, the tranny is made my GM and has a "lifetime fill" of fluid. At the very least, make sure some of the fluid hasn't left you, and you might consider replacing the fluid, depending on what you think of the seals. Replace the fluid in the differential too.



1999 E39 540i/6-VF Stage 1 S/C, Dinan exhaust, Dinan strut+shock braces, Dinan ltwt flywheel + clutch, Dinan Brembo BBK, Dinan monoball, H&R Springs, Koni Yellows, M5 sways, Dinan forged 18" wheels, &c.

1995 E38 740i. Highly modded. Faster than you.

Sold 2-28-07: 1997 E36 M3/4, 8-30-05 RIP 1997 528i


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#7 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 10:19 AM
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I completely forgot about the radiator, that is a problem. My electrical gremlins included the nav going out, radio going out and a bunch of little problems. I solved ALL of them by replacing my ignition switch for $80.

Overall I LOVE my e39. I've owned 2, a 97 528 and still own my 97 540i. It's at almost 180,000 and definitely has a lot of life left in it.

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#8 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 10:57 AM
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matt- whatcha doing to the 5-er???
please tell me your gonna s/c it! it's time - you know it!

but yeah, jamison, while there are common problems, not all cars will experience them.
Shocks and bushings do go out every 60-80k miles, so when you look for 5-series my suggestion is to buy 1 with high miles (aroud 100k+)
the reason - all the things should have been replaced or the car would have fallen apart. Engines and al lthe other parts shoould last for 60-80k miles without maintanance.
in my opinion - out of all the german sedans offered, e39 is by far the best one, surpassing 3series, and any mb, audi and wv in the same price range


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#9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 11:10 AM
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Well, I'm not sure I need a supercharger at the moment, but the update includes springs, struts, brakes, paint, radar detection (hidden), mirrors, a speaker upgrade, M5 spoiler, shadowline, headlights, new xenon, and maybe a few secret performance projects in the works. I saw it monday with the new springs and it looks damn good. The best part, insurance is covering about 90%. Negotiation is a beautiful thing...that and "occasional lower-back pain."

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#10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 12:24 PM
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ohhh so all of it had to be replaced due to that accident?

well thats good because the ammount the insurance charges = they deserve to return some of our money back to us


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#11 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 01:41 PM
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What happened in your accident?



1999 E39 540i/6-VF Stage 1 S/C, Dinan exhaust, Dinan strut+shock braces, Dinan ltwt flywheel + clutch, Dinan Brembo BBK, Dinan monoball, H&R Springs, Koni Yellows, M5 sways, Dinan forged 18" wheels, &c.

1995 E38 740i. Highly modded. Faster than you.

Sold 2-28-07: 1997 E36 M3/4, 8-30-05 RIP 1997 528i


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#12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 01:54 PM
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m3uond dude.. how come only 1 of the dde's is working?


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#13 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 02:26 PM
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the trannys are made by GM??!!
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#14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 04:15 PM
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As funny as it sounds, yes.

As far as the accident goes, a guy from tampa (driving a rental) turned in front of me. I T-boned him going 40. Insurance put 100% blame on him so my insurance is doing cart-wheels. Headlights, bumper, fender, hood, all toast. And can you believe it, as soon as you say "lower-back pain" i end up getting a whole new paint-job. With the extra cash I have left ill be paying for my springs and mirrors...all kinds of crap. I should have the finished project in about a week or so. I'll be posting lots of pics. The check got cut to me this afternoon so I'm celebrating tonight!
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#15 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 05:31 PM
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I knew that some of the automatics in 5ers were GM, but were any of the manual transmission equally blasphemous?
Just curious.


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