2002 BMW 5 Series Reviews from UK and Ireland

2002 BMW 5 Series SE i 2.2 petrol

Model year2002
Year of manufacture2002
First year of ownership2013
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 2.2 petrol Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired52500 miles
Most recent distance56000 miles
Previous carCitroen DS5


A timeless classic, that outshines many modern rivals


Steering wobble at speed; cured by four wheel re-balancing.

Uses a litre of oil every 4000 miles.

General Comments:

I found this E39 in virtually new condition, having been owned by an elderly couple since new.

It drives and rides significantly better than the DS5 hybrid I had as my recent company car. The engine is also quite lovely and charismatic.

I am averaging 31 MPG too, which is pretty excellent for a petrol six.

I love it so much, I am keeping it to use as my work car instead of taking a new company car. Truly one of the world's greatest ever saloon cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st October, 2013

13th Oct 2013, 09:25

Original poster here:

Did a thousand company miles last week, from motorways, across busy cities and around fast sweeping Welsh roads. This E39 is amazingly capable. Comfortable, civilized, great handling and communicative; it really does humble many brand new cars for capability. I am even learning to love the boring looks!

I do wish I had sports seats for a bit more support, but nothing at all to complain about; a great car.

6th Jan 2014, 12:05

Original poster here:

My car's oil and brake service indicators lit over the holidays, so I took her in to be fettled by my local BMW dealer. Yes, I know my car is old, but with a full service history I couldn't bring myself to use a back street garage. The mechanic came out to tell me how lovely this car is, and that it got "greens" on every single inspection.

The car has 62000 miles on now, so I have covered 10k in it.

In that time I have needed to replace two headlamp bulbs and add 1.5 litres of oil. The car runs beautifully, is swift and comfortable, and returns 32 MPG overall.

My car is still "as new" and I am absolutely loving it right now.

13th Mar 2014, 02:39

Original poster here

64000 miles and seven months now.

This old car still washes up like brand new, and still offers almost unmatched refinement. I can hardly believe how little this car is costing me to run, with 30 MPG overall, a litre of oil every 3000 miles or so, and no repairs required so far.

I am sure other folks have worse experiences of the E39, but I can barely fault it.

2002 BMW 5 Series 2.2 petrol

Model year2002
Year of manufacture2002
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 2.2 petrol Semi-Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 0 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.0 / 10
Distance when acquired120000 miles
Most recent distance123000 miles
Previous carSAAB 9-3


Cheap to buy second hand, but expensive to run, and unreliable


Engine breather valve replaced due to oil usage and white smoke from the exhaust.

New pistons rings as oil usage still evident (1 litre per 400 miles).

Complete engine rebuild, as oil usage is still a problem after the above steps.

General Comments:

Good car for long journeys.

I have owned or had access to three 5 series of this model, and they all have had engine trouble starting at 80,000 miles.

Expect valves or piston rings to go, and it's going to cost over 1500 euro to fix.

They are not the bulletproof car everyone says.

Fixing them is difficult due to the amount of extra kit BMW load them with.

Petrol consumption is an average of 23mpg.

The 2.2 litre engine is not strong enough for weight of car.

The 3.0 litre petrol is a better match for the weight of the car.

The automatic transmission in most of them is not smooth, but may be designed to feel more sporty.

You can actually drive it smoother by selecting the gears yourself.

1st gear is particularly short.

I have owned 5 automatics, and this is the worst.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 25th September, 2011

4th Dec 2011, 10:36

Sorry, but do not agree. The experience I have had, is that I get medium repairs. It is not bulletproof, but it is not an Alfa Romeo either...

And I have the 2.0 150 bhp model, and I can agree the engine is way too small.. but have not been running into the same problems as you are.

Average review marks: 7.3 / 10, based on 5 reviews