1994 BMW 5 Series 525I 2.5L Inline 6
BMW at it's best!
All of the following items of maintenance have been done during my ownership over about 22000KMs...
Headgasket at 217000KM... Was not the cars fault! The petrol attendant checked my coolant level and left the reservoir cap off which basically boiled all the coolant. Was surprised at the cost to repair considering how complicated this engine is with VANOS... cost R7100. These aluminum head on these cars can easily get cracked if the car overheats... luckily mine did not. Had to replace a shed load of things in the engine bay that were damaged by the coolant (Engine Covers, rubber hoses, plastic clips and other plastic bits including the radiator expansion bottle). Lost count of how much all these little things cost. Probably over R3000.
Front and Rear Discs+Pads replaced due to violent wobble when braking at any speed above 60KM/h. Turned out to be 3 cracks on the rear left brake disc that was causing this... Used Ferodo products... cost R1400.
Upper Control arms replaced (bushes as well) at 220000KMs...cost R1200.
Problem with ABS. Been there ever since I bought the car. Everytime I came to a stop, the ABS pump would pulse making this grinding noise. Traced it to the front right ABS sensor which has been hit by something and was bent making the ABS computer think that the wheel was slipping when it was not. Got a replacement one from a scrap yard for free! Problem was sorted out and ABS works perfectly.
Rear Right Foglight\Reverse Light cluster used to leak. Removed light and replaced the gasket... which caused it to leak even more! Turned out there was a crack in the outer lens housing. Replaced with a scrap yard one for about R300. No other leaks or water intrusion in the car!
Check Control Module failed causing the car not to report any errors with the Check Control (eg: Low oil, low coolant, brake light out...etc...). Some crazy price from the dealer to be replaced, so got one from a scrap yard... cost R300. This worked for about 3 months and then it started giving me false errors everytime I switched on the lights and applied the brakes. This still occurs! All other errors are displayed correctly though...
Rear door lock suddenly failed when my mother shut the read door. You would slam the door shut and it would just bounce straight back again. Turned out that something had broken in the actual lock mechanism. Not sure what I would have done if my dad was not there to hold the door closed while I drove home! Picked up a second hand lock from someone who was stripping their car... cost R400.
Wiper Blade arms started hitting the bonnet at 227000KMs. This was a simple adjustment which just required taking the wipers off and moving the them about two clicks anti-clockwise on the bolt. Sorted the problem out. Only cost was that I decided to replace the wiper rubber with BMW wiper refills. Problem has not come back.
Cruise Control had not worked since I got the car. Checked the motor, switch and cable. Turned out to be the Cruise Control computer that has gotten water inside it and fried the electronics. Replaced it with one from a scrap yard and it works perfectly... cost R300.
At 229000KMs, the car has started to make a loud ticking. I have checked the exhaust manifold and exhaust... which is all OK. The Hydraulic lifters were replaced with the head gasket so it is not them. My current thoughts are that the injector seals have perished and as such are transferring the tick from them to the cylinder head. Going to get them ultrasonically cleaned and seals replaced... will cost R1200.
These cars suffer from a failure of a plastic water pump and plastic thermostat housing. Get these replaced ASAP otherwise you will have trouble! Mine were replaced as part of a deal before I bought the car from the dealer!
At 229000, I have just replaced a little plastic one way valve that controls the manifold pressure to the brake booster. Broke the rubber pipes that it attached to, so had to replace that also. Pipe cost R250 and the valve cost R460. Brakes now rock solid again.
The automatic gearbox is going to need an overhaul soon. With 229000KMs on it, it does not slip, kicks down quickly and is not noisy. Only complaint is that it is very rough on the 1st to 2nd change when in Sport mode. It seems to make a funny noise when I use manual mode and force the box to change from 3rd to 2nd. No other signs that it is going to fail anytime soon. Will do the service more as preventative maintenance... will cost R3000.
Had to replace all the gas struts on the car. There are 2 on the boot and 2 on the bonnet. Got these from an independent store. Cost R350 a pair. Makes the boot and bonnet very light to lift up.
Car does appear to be quite heavy on petrol, getting about 16L/100KM or 19MPG...not sure what this is? May be the Air Mass meter on its way out???
In one word "AWESOME"...
I have had the privilege of driving quite a few cars, even though I am only 22, and this is the most fun one!!!
Considering it is an Auto and only has 2.5L displacement with 192BHP to pull a 1.6TON car, it behaves amazingly. I love taking on little boy racers in their Fiestas and Golfs! Something I have been very surprised at is that my car will beat a 2006 120I manual off the mark and to 100KM\h. They simply cannot get away from the car and look very angry when I pass them and they see that it is a 525I and not a 540I. The E46 318I and 320I also seem to battle to get away :) People assume this is an old mans car... HOW WRONG THEY ARE!!!
I cannot describe how comfortable this car is!!! There are so many positions for the seats that anyone can get comfortable! The foam in the seats does not seem to get old either and still supports you in the bends.
I searched forever to get a car that had a perfect black interior! I cam across so many grey and blue interiors that were falling to bits. My one has full leather on the seats, doorcards, steering wheel and gear shifter as well as centre console. The drivers seat on my car has 2 little marks and it a little more shiny that the passenger seat. That’s it! Nothing is falling off the dash or door cards. People comment on how good the interior is for a 12 year old car... compared too many new cars with horrible plastic interiors!!!
The car is stock and beginning to look a little dated now and as such I am considering a few updates.
I plan to put some 17" wheels on the car and I will also be buying clear indicators to replace the orange ones. Bought a second hand M-Technic boot spoiler as well that will find its way onto the car.
I got the one with all the toys like Leather, Aircon, Sunroof, Full OB computer, Cruise Control, Airbag and Remote Central Locking. Been told by many people that you simply cannot get this kind of quality fittings and toys on newer cars these days! The aircon never fails to cool me down and the power steering is light, but heavy enough to give you proper feedback at high speed. It is very easy to get the back end out when wet if you don’t have ASC. Even though, the steering and PHENOMENAL ABS brakes will get you out of the situation will little hassle.
I use it as an everyday commuter and I am very proud of the car. Considering upgrading now to a 1999 E38 740I, but I cannot bear to lose this car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st September, 2007
Fantastic review. Thank you very much for such an extensive piece of writing. I'm about to buy an early 1996 525i (essentially a 1995 model) and this kind of review really helps. Thank you. In the car I inspected, the rear sun blind's plastic wheels were slipping so it just made a terrible noise and didn't go up and down. The right rear window wouldn't open. Apart from that, it seemed fabulous.
Thanks so much, I am looking at a used one and it's hard to find detailed info on a car of this age! I am lucky the one I am looking at only has 75,000 miles and was kept in a garage.