1990 BMW 5 Series 520i A 2litre 12valve from Spain


Solid, reliable, SLOW, but cool


Brake wear sensor permanently on.

Door cards and head lining have decided to leave the car on their own and are gradually succeeding.

Heater/blower motor has given up.

Drivers door lock sticks.

Rear door central locking has given up.

Boot needs to be slammed hard to close.

Slight water leak on radiator.

Drivers seat well worn due to mileage.

General Comments:

Rock solid reliable. Sometimes takes some starting, but has never let me down to date.

Nearly 19 years old and not a single spot of rust anywhere to be seen.

Hubcap model looks cheap...

Slow. And I MEAN slooooooooooooow. Used as a daily work-horse. I also have a 740 Sport and 328SE. I know these are very quick, but the 520 is sometimes embarrassingly slow. How on earth does a 518 even get going??!!

A bit noisy.

Skinny standard wheels mean if you push it round a bend too hard, the back wants to go a different way to you.

Dated but still looks good. Would rather use this for work than a sad little diesel box. And it's a BMW, whatever else you say about it!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th October, 2008

14th Nov 2008, 08:41

It's still going strong! The 328i I referred to in the review has since gone and been replaced by an M5, but the old 520i is still with me and gets me to work and back every day without fail, and now even on 5 cylinders - go baby!!

1st Sep 2009, 10:27

10 months on, and yup she is still going. Now back on 6 cylinders. It's funny how cars come and go - I mentioned in my last comment my 328i had gone. Now the 740i has been "replaced" (i.e. not sold, just gone down a peg) by an M5. And my 520i still starts, trundles off to work in the morning and back again at night. Like an old pair of shoes, fits perfect.

So whats gone wrong since my last visit - well a few things.

Heater/blower doesn't work any more.

Glove compartment catch snapped off, wedged shut with a warning triangle case, back door sometimes doesn't shut, boot needs slamming to shut.

A little tapping noise now audible from the bottom of the engine.

Door pull on inside feels as though it's coming away, and the power steering developed a small leak. But nothing you wouldn't expect in 20 year old car, used daily and driven like it should be.

Most worrying is rust started to appear just above the rubber at the door bottoms, so no doubt more behind the rubber.

Intention is to replace in January 2010 with a cheap E39 523 or 528i, as I could use the extra power when I'm late on a morning, but I have to say, it will have a lot to live up to!!

Watch this space, I'll give at least one "goodbye" update before she retires and you never know, I might just decide to keep her going!! (she's going in the driveway even when I have done, at least for a mourning period anyway!)

2nd Jan 2017, 21:04

Hey OP.

Great review and follow up. Just wondering, since 2010 is a solid 7 years ago, does it mean you still have the good ol' 520i with you?

If so, then that is a big whoa!

1990 BMW 5 Series 525i 2.5 m20 from North America


I challenge you to find a better car


Transmission... due to storage, coolant leaked into the tranny; $2,500.

Radiator... wanted to replace it just to be sure; $500.00.

Seats --- Front passenger seat quit working; $350.00.

M5 suspension upgrade; parts $500, labor $600.

Need to get new fabric on the sunroof, but considering replacing the whole thing.

General Comments:

Great lines, very dependable, excellent on gas, parts are easy to find.

Since it is a BMW, some places like to charge extra, but if you can find an honest knowledgeable mechanic, this car might be the last you buy.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th February, 2008