1985 BMW 5 Series 535i 3.5 from North America


A solid car, but not cheap


-TRX wheels and tires headache.

-Front end work.

-A ton of warn bushings and ball joints throughout the suspension.

-Power antenna.

-Front pads+rotors.

-Trans synchros are warn, sometimes the gears grind or don't engage.

-Car overheated, 2 thermostats later problem solved.

-Water pump.

-Trans seal.

-Entire exhaust.

-Adjust valves every 10k miles.

-Wipers are funky on intermittent mode.

-Fuses were all corroded and have to be replaced.

-Hood shocks.

-Oil pan gasket.

-Fuel lines.

-Clutch slave.

-Alternator bushing.

-Some vacuum leaks.

General Comments:

This car taught me that there is no such thing as a $2,000 car. Although that is what I paid for it, the bills soon started piling up and now total over $6,000 for the car and repairs. In spite of this the car is in excellent condition for its age and mileage. I have yet to find a ding on the body, and it was painted a year prior to me purchasing it, and it looks great. The biggest problems were the exhaust (it was the original system) and the tires/wheels "TRX nightmare". The exhaust was around $1500 and so where the wheels and tires. (both had to be replaced as TRX tires are $300 each). Other things have been minor and are to be expected for age/mileage. They just add up to a lot and don't expect that you can get away with letting little things slip or you'll end up with a car fire or a major repair bill.

Basically, I love the car, and I expect repair costs to drop significantly in the near future as the previous owners did not make many repairs to the car during the 3 years they owned it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th July, 2004

27th Jun 2006, 14:07

Next time you need to change tires, change everything out - it's not worth paying four times as much for tires which deliver inferior performance to modern models. A set of new rims will remedy your TRX maladies.

1985 BMW 5 Series 535i 3.5L m30 from North America


Fine piece of engineering


All service done around 200,000mi.

-Replace all belts.

-Replace water pump.

-Overheating: Replace thermostat.

-Standard Maintenance (oil, coolant, fluids, etc.)

Still needs:

-Brakes/Rotors front

-Entire Exhaust (all rusted through)

-New wheels (metrics are retarded and worn bare, hard to find wheels w/correct offset to fit)

-Gearbox worn (doesn't shift in cold, needs to be double-clutched into 2'nd and 3'rd or it grinds)

-Minor issues (door seals, trunk, windshield, and rear window gaskets leak)

-Car is unstable on highway (needs suspension rebuild (worn bushings)

General Comments:

It sounds like there is a lot wrong with this car, but really, it isn't all that much considering the car has 200k on it and is nearly 20 yrs old. I have known few American cars to reach 200k at all, let alone with any life left in them. And this car has plenty of life left. To save gas I drive conservatively, giving my 25mpg on the nose, very good considering it's a 20yr old 3.5 liter. However, it can really take off when it needs to. You hit 3500 revs and even a light touch on the throttle pushes you back in your seat. Plus the car handles like a champ, I love to take turns at speeds that would punish many lesser cars. Even with stock suspension, the car feels very stable and I have yet to push it to its limits.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with this car. It performs great when it has to, gets good fuel economy, and is incredibly inexpensive ($2,000 to purchase, plus I do repairs myself and save lots of $$). The car still looks great and gets lots of attention. Previous owners cared for it well and it shows, the engine and overall car are very solid. I would recomend this car to anyone, especially if you have some mechanical knowledge and can do repairs yourself. I have driven many American cars with far fewer miles than my bimmer that have not been half as reliable. I would never give up this car!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th March, 2004

31st Aug 2007, 02:12

The gearbox isn't worn... just replace the release bearing in the clutch and it will be good as new.

I have the same problem and am awaiting the arrival of the release bearing so I can R&R it in a few days.

I have an '85 535i, 5 speed, and love it. Bought it with 270,000k on it... it was under-serviced. It bogged down & died at will... the local BMW & Mercedes "repair specialty shop" told me it needs all new fuel injectors, both fuel pumps, plus more, & he tampered with the 10 day old airflow meter, voiding it's warranty, knowing it looked brand new! I can't say enough about their incompetence. I disagreed... tested things, read what I could, and decided it was the engine temperature sensor, against all advice. I replaced the temp sensor for $80 & solved the problems. Spent the next year fiddling with the airflow meter, trying to get it to work like it did before dough-head screwed with it, and I finally got it right.

Now it's got 340,000k on it and aside from steering components being worn out & replacing them, haven't done anything else. Began having problems shifting when cold, after lots of deduction determined it's the clutch release bearing. That's it. City driving it uses 10L/100km & highway driving it uses 5.7L/100km at 100kph, 6.2L at 110kph, & 6.7L at 120kph, confirmed over many records. And it still does 240km/h without a problem, but it begins missing there as the ignition rotor terminals are very eroded away, plus the ignition coil can't handle that quick firing. Those will be ordered within the next two weeks.

13th Sep 2008, 21:07

I have a 1985 535i with 165,000 miles. I purchased it two years ago with 135,000 miles. While I have put in a new drive shaft, guibo, antenna mast, brake pads, distributor cap, and bypassed the heat sensor for the A/C control (I live in Hawaii), there is nothing else this car needs right now.

I get 21 mpg combined mileage and I couldn't be happier with this Bimmer. Lucky for me the previous owner didn't put his foot in it and kept the body and interior immaculate. It is 100% original (OEM parts I mean) and I gave a whopping $1,000 for it. So with repairs and other minor cosmetics upgrades (knobs, roundels, etc) I have only sunk another $1500-1800 into it. The drive shaft was a bit pricey.

For me, this is a great little sporty 4-door that gives me a thrill punching it past 3,000 rpm. Full of torque, this is a rascal that I won't part with for some time.

Jay in Hawaii.