1997 BMW 5 Series 523i 2.5 litre petrol


The complete sports saloon for the family. Good at everything


Needed a new catalytic converter.

Occasionally the battery is drained by the sat nav.

Squeaky suspension.

Rust spots starting to appear.

General Comments:

Excellent car for the price.

Built like a tank.

Surprisingly good performance for such a big car with only 2.5 litres under the bonnet.

Good ride-handling balance.

Wonderful interior - still feels new and special even 16 years on.

Air con is very good.

No interior squeaks, just a few from the rear suspension.

Looks excellent and one of the most attractive BMWs.

Overall, delighted with a bargain buy. Might buy another in the future.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th February, 2014

1997 BMW 5 Series 525 TDS SE turbo diesel


Best car I've had in 28 years of driving


Glow plugs after 2 severe winters, was still able to start with just 1 working (2011).

Rear springs due to heavy load (2010).

Battery, though after 10 years original died (2010).

Front OS bearing (2009).

Rear bearings (2008).

Front discs & pads (2007).

Rear discs (2006).

Front shockers (2005).

General Comments:

Parts can be expensive, there are cheaper alternative parts out there, but you only get what you pay for these days.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 29th March, 2011

1997 BMW 5 Series 523i SE Touring 2.5


Big, relaxed cruiser, with tricky electrics!


Drivers side air spring (at 169K), although this was due to a fault in the self leveling rear suspension pumping car up to max height, then the weakest link in the chain goes. £140 for the new part.

Rusted connection rods on passenger side self leveling sensor, causing false ride height readings.

Rusted lower lip of tailgate (a problem I've seen on a few other 5 series estates of this age)

Rust in sills. Ratchet on handbrake lever broken.

Various sensors telling me there's faults, eg ABS and ASC sensors tell the dash there's a fault every so often.

Car once would not go into 1st 2nd or 3rd gear, after about 10 minutes of playing around with gear lever problem disappeared, never to return (18 months so far!).

General Comments:

Despite a few problems with sensors etc, which are to be expected on a 12 year old car with so many sensors, the car has been absolutely great.

The 2.5 straight six may not be a firecracker, but it is very smooth and refined, gives around 35-40mpg on an easy run, low to mid 20's around town.

Not that quick off the mark, but the car weighs around 1700Kg, is very solid and picks up well over 3000rpm.

Comfortable, spacious, green leather interior with aircon etc, very relaxed motorway cruiser.

I'd love another one, great cars, just watch the rear suspension on touring models though!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th August, 2009

16th Sep 2010, 19:20

I just bought a 523i series BMW here in NZ. Has 144000 on the clock and still going well. I too have the sensor problems, but only in the wet it comes on... when the weather dries up, it goes away. Had a diagnostics test on the sensors, but nothing serious.

The brakes shutter under heavy braking, but that's about it. The mirror electrics have a mind of their own...

All in all a great luxury car... CD stacker also has a mind of its own... Hard to make out the writing on the CD screen...

A great car all the same, and very happy with it.

1997 BMW 5 Series 540i Touring 4.4 V8


A masterpiece of German Engineering


Air conditioning condenser fan failed (common problem I'm told). The condenser was an original BMW part and was showing very minor signs of leakage, so it was replaced at the same time as the fan (£300 all in).

Rear window lift motor has failed. Fortunately in the 'up' position, Not yet been quoted to repair/replace.

Both rocker cover gaskets replaced due to very minor leak (£100 all in).

General Comments:

Had the restrictive rear silencer removed and replaced with a magnaflow universal rear box.

Also had the engine management system re-mapped by a company called 'Chipped-UK'. These modifications saw the BHP rise from 282 (Still as good as the day it left the factory! That shows just how good these engines are) to 320. The fuel consumption is also better now and the car has a far smoother power curve. The difference in power is excellent and the car sounds wonderful too. According to the on board computer, on the motorway at around 70 - 80mph, It can return between 27 and 37mpg.

The car has the TV and Satnav too, so it's almost home from home in there.

Absolutely love this car. May sell one day, but likely to be only for another 540 touring or 3 series convertible with the 2.8 engine, or an M3 if I can afford one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th March, 2007