I know there's a ton of us around, but why not add one more. I'm currently looking for a clean 5 series to spend some money on. I found one relatively local here that is a 97 540i Sport with 160k that I am going to go look at tomorrow. They are asking a good price for it. Is there anything in particular I should look for, check, bounce on, hit, rattle, shake, etc? I have read about checking for coolant leaks, and the cats for rattles. Anything else?
I haven't confirmed yet, but I believe it's a stick. I'd prefer an auto, but I'll take what I can get. Thanks for the input!!
The 97 engine should be the M62 4.4l V8, there is a later version of the M62 called the M62TU which features the Double Vanos enhancement. Similar power but better fuel efficiency. It came out around 98 - 99 so it may be worth doing your research on exactly when it hit the 5 series.
Look through the engine oil fill cap to see if there is any sign of the black sludge that builds up from a poor oil changing routine.
Start the engine and let the idle settle, (check echaust on startup for blue smoke), once the idle is stable, pull the dipstick and observe the idle, if it drops then recovers and you can hear a slurping noise from the dipstick tube, you'll know the OSV if faulty and will need replacing. (Not a huge job, but it is a bit of a mongrel)
If it lacks low down power when cold but seems ok up higher, it could indicate a faulty or failed Air Mass Sensor.
Check if the transmission oil has ever been changed (if its an auto), if it hasn't it is well due for a oil and filter change even though its not on the BMW maintenance schedule.
Look for oil leaks on the sump cover and around the power steering reservior/hoses.
Check for steering wheel shimmy when you accelerate hard to around 45 mph.
Check for coolant leaks on radiator end tanks, expansion tanks and around the rear hoses that run to the heater core.
Check when the spark plugs and coil packs where last changed as well as what work has been done on the front and rear suspension components.
There is an issue with oil leaks where the spark plug body ends up being flooded in oil, (rear plugs most common). but this requires a bout 10 - 15 minute to remove the top engine cover and side engine covers to check. Small flat blade screw driver (to remove small square plastic covers) & mid sized philips head screw drivers required to do this check. (Do whilst the engine is cold).
Thanks for the great info. I am making myself a list for tomorrow. I am a little wary, due to the fact that the seller is meeting me somewhere other than their home to view the car. They say they are taking it to have new tires installed, and that is the reason for the meeting place. This will be my first German car, so maybe a couple of questions for clarity...
The blue smoke on startup. Will it still happen even if the motor has been warmed up/driven? What does the blue smoke indicate? Deal breaker?
I have read about the spark plug void filling with oil. Unfortunately I won't be able to check for that because we will be meeting in a parking lot. Some sellers have an issue with you partially disassembling their car in a gas station parking lot. If they were Okay with it, I'd totally do it, though.
The car won't be driven much, but will kinda been a weekend toy.
None of these issues are deal breakers in their own right. In fact depending in how skilled you are, and how much you are paying for the car, all of them together might not be an issue. The blue smoke at start up is commonly caused by the OSV issue, and its not likely to occur if the car has been standing for less than an hour or so (from memory).
With regards to the transmission testing, look for any hard shifts down, or high rev changes in Drive. To really feel the power of these engines, shift into manual mode (Into drive, push left, then down) you should see the gear selection display go from D to S then to the gear selected. Try a launch in Drive and then in 1st, for comparison.
Get some photos of each car that you are looking at.
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