1991 BMW 5 Series 518i 1.8 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

A mellow executive saloon with aggressive shell

Faults:

-Noisy tappets, replaced camshaft

-Steering links needed replacement

-Fuel lines rusted

-Gear lever gets a bit loose and wobbly with age

-Throttle position switch soaked in oil prevented idling correctly

-Fan clutch failed, caused overheating

-Coolant reservoir cap failed, overheating.

General Comments:

I've done all repairs on this car myself, otherwise I couldn't afford to keep it. With insurance costs so high in this country too a 1.8 engine is even expensive to run. But If you love tinkering with real cars this is a good introduction. It hasn't missed a Monday morning yet.

To drive, it's cozy yet it rolls and handles solidly. The chassis is quite wide and you can feel this in the stability when turning, along with the anti roll bar keeping you level.

The engine is a bit small for the size, but cruises gloriously.

If you find one of these without a rattling diesel sounding engine, you're very lucky, change of camshaft and tappets sorts this out though.

When I can afford the running costs I would love to get into a 525 or 535 but I'm loving this car for now.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd May, 2003

1991 BMW 5 Series 535i Sport 3.5 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

High performance at a price

Faults:

Air conditioning broke down pretty much as soon as I bought it. Not cheap to fix at £700.

Exhaust needed replacing at last service, together with all the brakes. Again, not cheap. Service bill came in at £1500.

Someone ripped out one of my headlamp washers whilst parked outside my house one night. Another £50 or so.

Light bulbs are constantly going and as soon as I replace one another one goes. Tempted to replace all of them at once to try and stop this very annoying problem (if not expensive)!

Battery died last Christmas and couldn't jump start it. Had to get it towed to a garage. Very annoying as I no garages we open to fix it over the Christmas period so I had to catch buses and trains in the freezing cold!

General Comments:

I needed to sell my wonderful 2000 VW Golf GTi Turbo because my wife lost her job and we needed the money. I decided to buy the 535i Sport because I wanted something fast, some German (i.e. well built and reliable), and something that looked good and, most importantly, something that was cheap!

I had this car thoroughly checked out before I bought it because I knew it would be expensive to fix if something went wrong. I bought it for £3750 in the summer of 2002 and in the last 8 months of ownership I've had to spend another £2500 on fixes. Not what I'd hoped for. Together with the 17 mpg it's proving to be a bit of a false economy.

The other problem is that BMW are now stopping supply of some of the parts. I've been lucky so far in that they've just about managed to source the pieces they needed.

On the positive side, it's a great looking car and very fast. Ideal for motorway driving and long distances as well as driving around London where I live. Slip the auto box into sport mode and it turns into a beast!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th April, 2003

10th Jan 2006, 13:29

That seems very expensive for that car in 2002. I bought the same car a few months ago for £1000. While I haven't had any of those other issues, I agree the fuel economy is pathetic. although, it is a big motor, I would have expected better when I drive conservatively on the motorway.

1991 BMW 5 Series 520iSE 2.0 24v M50 engine from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Good build quality and excellent performance car

Faults:

No faults at present.

General Comments:

This car is my first BMW and is a pleasure to drive.

Performance wise, at lower speeds when pulling off from a junction it can be slightly sluggish due to the heavy weight of the car, but on the motorway it maintains itself exceptionally well and you can easily reach 100mph without realising it.

The handling is good, but care must be taken in the wet.

The interior wears well and there is only a small tear in one of the back seats which is easily repairable.

The exterior wears well with no noticeable rust spots, but stone chips on the front bumper can be a problem.

Service costs are quite high at the main dealer, but if you are not bothered about going to a BMW dealer for your service then you can get it done elsewhere at a fraction of the main dealer cost.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th August, 2002

22nd May 2004, 16:17

Great review, I think I may have just made my mind up to get a 520. I have been offered a 91 "H" reg for £800, in your opinion is this a fair price? The car APPEARS to be in good overall condition... I would be grateful for any feedback you can give.

20th Aug 2004, 15:23

I agree the 520 is an excellent car. I bought an auto 520 last year when I suffered a sports injury which left me on crutches. Just a word of warning though. My car looked excellent inside and out. I paid £900 for a J reg with 4 mths mot. When it came to the test, the car failed on corrosion to the fuel lines which were just beginning to weep. The cost of repair was extremely expensive and wrote off the car, a hard lesson to learn. One last thing, if the car has metric wheels, the tyres are very expensive (aprox £165 each) so be warned this can be an expensive drive!