2002 BMW 5 Series SE i 2.2 petrol


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.

2002 BMW 5 Series 2.2 petrol


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.

2002 BMW 5 Series 530i Sport Touring 3.0i straight six


Very pleased


Nothing wrong yet although I have only owned the car for 2 months. There is a slight squeaking noise to the fan belt when the car is cold, but I will be reporting this to the dealer upon next service.

General Comments:

I had researched the replacement for my previous 190E Mercedes for over 2 years. Having a young family I was looking for a car that was reliable, comfortable, well specced, had some pedigree and could also lug the usual large load of paraphernalia required when having a family.

I looked long and hard at a range of cars, including the E-Class Mercedes, BMW X5, Lexus ES and even considered a Jaguar XJR & Mercedes S500.

As the Lexus and Jaguar did not come in estate versions (IS Sportcross too small / don't like the X-Type Mondeo estate) it ruled them out. The X5 has a smaller load area than the 5-Series estate and higher equivalent prices, and with no need for a 4WD in London (my opinion, having lived in rural Australia) the X5 was also ruled out. The ML Mercedes didn't even make the short list due to a woeful reliability record while Audis etc aren't to my liking.

This then slimmed the list down to the two usual contenders, W210 E-Class v E39 5-Series. I test drove numerous versions of each and found the 6-cylinder versions to have the best blend of power and economy for my right foot / wallet.

As I was very, very happy with my Mercedes 190E (and the Mercedes 450SEL before it), I fully intended to buy Mercedes again. I was however seriously scared off the E-Class by its frightful reliability record. I used to take my 190E to an independent Mercedes mechanic who warned me not to buy the W210 and absolutely avoid the current W211. From woes regarding paint chipping, MAF sensors, catalytic converters, sucking water into the engine, rust, trim levels falling apart and numerous other known faults, I simply could not bring myself to buy this car. Added to that, the driving experience of the BMW totally outclassed the E-Class, in terms of both ride and handling, with the only plus on the Mercedes side being its larger load carrying capacity.

This therefore switched me from being a lifelong Mercedes owner to being a BMW fan. Although I have only had the car a short while, I can easily say that so far I find it an absolute pleasure and make excuses to go for a drive. Although it is an estate (station wagon) it handles superbly, particularly for such a large car. And this is from someone who previously owned a modified 4WD Subaru WRX.

The power that BMW generates from such a relatively small engine is nothing short of phenomenal - good off the line and in gear acceleration, comfortably cruising at the speed limit with more than enough in reserve for overtaking.

The cabin is a great place to be with body hugging leather seats, good ergonomics and a lot less fuss than some other cars I have driven. After driving both, I would recommend the extra cash spent on the sport version over the SE, due to the suspension and interior upgrades, while the exterior styling adds a bit of colour to the normal family wagon.

The load space, while not class-leading has more than enough room to pack in both a double and single stroller plus numerous day bags and accessories for family life, while the split folding rear window and lie flat seats are also useful.

I will continue to update this posting with comments on reliability etc over the life of the car, although fingers (and manufacturers warranty) crossed it should be a good experience. I can see now why so many critics named this car one of the best ever built.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th March, 2007

14th Mar 2007, 18:29

I concur. I have owned a bmw 3 series sports wagon since 2004 and find it everything you say. Comfortable, spacious, powerfull and classy.

1st Jun 2007, 04:43

Original reviewer here.

Just had the car in to BMW service to check a few things. The squeaking noise on start up is the belt tensioner, which is fixed under warranty and they are replacing belt at same time to save me labour costs. Parking sensor not working, nor automatic headlights. Both fixed under warranty with total cost of £29 for the belt.

Car itself remains fantastic. I managed to fit a whole double bed mattress in the back with all doors closed. Awesome on the freeway - it just wants to keep going up to its speed limit. So, so comfortable to drive and for a family wagon it handles and stops amazingly well.

After 6 months and 5,000 miles of ownership I am still very glad I bought this car. Only downside is the MPG, to which I cannot better 19mpg around town (although remember London has a lot of speed humps so stop/start driving) but what do you get for a 3.0ltr six?

12th Oct 2007, 16:08

Original Reviewer again:

Two weeks ago awoke to discover the front bumper assembly had been stolen from my E39 Estate.

Spoke to BMW UK who said unofficially this was a very common occurence. The repair shop that the car was taken to said they had as many as 12 stolen bumper repairs in 1 month.

I know of a number of people who have had bumpers and mirrors stolen, particularly on newer 3 series and 5 series, as it only takes a few minutes to remove, and is then sold on ebay.

BMW is supposedly coming out with a factory fix for this problem, but in the meantime I had it suggested to spot weld over the bolts. This is not possible due to the connections on newer BMW's. Only thing I could and have done is upgrade the alarm to include a tremor sensor (400 pounds inc VAT).

Be warned!

Otherwise this is the best car in the world!!!