1996 BMW 5 Series 528i Premium 2.8 6-cylinder petrol from Montenegro


Nice ride and a big money waster!


Secondary air pump.

Both tie rods.

LCM - twice.

Water pump.

Valve cover gasket.

Serpentine belt.

Rear ball joints.

Power steering pump.

Heated steering wheel have started to wear badly.

Vacuum leak.

Crank case ventilation.

Leak from thermostat housing.

General Comments:

This car is really fast, and drives good, but it's not reliable. It was over engineered, too many electronic toys.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th March, 2009

1996 BMW 5 Series SE 2.5 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


I like it in all respects, but for the problem that I have


Difficulty in starting when engine has been running and at optimum temperature. No problem when starting from cold. Condition has been with car since purchased, but can drain battery after several tries to start which it does the majority of times, but did not on three occasions and required jump start.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 28th January, 2007

14th Feb 2007, 16:33

The starting problems is due to old injectors. It can help a little if you pour diesel fuel injection system cleaner in the diesel tank, you can buy it at auto stores or even at petrol stations.

Also, when starting it warm, let the motor crank longer and it will start, no need trying many times, just once, but let it crank until it starts.

1996 BMW 5 Series 528iSE 2.8 litre petrol from UK and Ireland


As a driver's car it is still stunning, 10 years on from its launch


Routine friction items were needed for the annual MOT (that's the Ministry of Transport UK roadworthiness examination) which revealed themselves to cost four or five times more that the Nissan equivalent. Maybe I should have been less suprised. Other than that only a couple of minor electrical faults. The dealership, although thoroughly helpful and obliging, have in part been unable to sort these despite having practically rewired the car.

General Comments:

There's a story associated with this car. I've never earned much money, really, always having done dull office jobs, and been supporting a hefty volume of wives, kids, mortgages, and all that drudgery. But I'm a keen driver and I'd always liked my Nissan cars. I'm not looking for sympathy - my mistakes are my own.

Now a mate I was in college with 20 years ago bought this BMW in 97. It was a year old, one of the then new types - the late eighties/early nineties 5 was boxy where this is, well, gloopier. Meltier, maybe. Softer. You get my drift. It's the model that ran until, I think 02, to be replaced by the current, controversially styled 5.

This mate - let's call him Mark - went into business and made proper dosh. He earns more in a day that I earn in 4 months. Really. When we got together now and again for a pint, he'd invite me to drive the 5 and I loved it.

Beemers are everything they're cracked up to be from a driver point of view. Smooth, responsive, involving.

The balance feels different because... because the balance is different. There's as much weight behind you as there is in front of you. This gives a taut, poised feel. The in line 6 cylinder engine - big by UK standards - has all the right sounds engineered in - muffly and smooth for low speeds, tearing fabric at high ones.

They make other cars feel rather pedestrian, somehow. When I acquired the 5 I kept my likeable Primera, but it does feel odd when I get into it after driving the BMW. It feels thrashy and squirted along on understeery front wheels, and as if there's an obese mammal relaxing somehere under the bonnet.

The BMW's steering is perfectly - and I mean perfectly - weighted. And for a 96 car, it was specced up - cruise, rain sensitive wipers, decent CD player. These days much of that kit and more can be found on Mondeos now of course, but then it was standout stuff.

So Mark acquires the car in 07 with 10,000 miles on the clock. He adds 206,000 to these, spent mostly sailing up and down Britain's motorways. The 5's a great choice for this. It's thirsty around the cities, but get it on a motorway and it ticks over nicely and economically at 70. The long platform, the clever suspension, the tyres (that are not just the thin wide strips of rubber you see on more or less everything these days, grump, grump) make it the best motorway mile eater you can dream of. That and the leather seats. Slot the Darkness into the CD changer in the boot at the start of your journey, and your worries are way behind you.

Fast forward to late 04. Mark calls me. `Listen mate, the beemer? I'm getting rid. D'you want it? Yours for free.'

It was a kind offer. Even with big miles on the 5's still worth - I dunno - 4, 5 thou. Maybe more - this one's been maintained on a money no object basis by a main dealer. And the paperwork's there, neatly archived.

I need another car. When the Mrs is at work, I'm on the buses with the kids. No fun. Mark's 5 is literally like new.

I said no.

Yes I did.

It felt like scrounging.

I couldn't afford to run it, could I.

A little later I went for a pint with a different mate, let's call him Dave. I told him the story.

Before I knew it Dave had me by the lapels, was shaking me and yelling incoherently. Something about me having all the judgment of an amoeba and needing to get me to a telephone right now.

But Mark rang me before I reached a phone. He seemed unable to trade the BM in. Liked it too much. Kept having to go back to the dealer and reclaim it.

One last offer. `Come and get this car. I've bought a new Cayenne...'

Reader, I acquired it. Took the train down south and drove the car back up the A1 - a fine driving road - one beautiful evening in May 05. My 10 year old bought me a most excellent CD to delight us as we sped smoothly home - one `teenage kicks' (featuring the undertones, squeeze, splodgenessabounds and many other gifted exponents of that genre that brings a tear to the eye of Dads of a certain age.)

Ownership? Expensive. I was right, it's cripplingly dear. Work on the basis of shelling out 5 times the cost of `normal' garage bills, even though not much seems to go wrong.

At Mark's suggestion I extended the standard BM warranty, at about a grand a year. That means they'll fix most of the problems and give you a three series while they do it. This said, they can't make certain dashboard lights go out. The car's convinced that rear light bulbs are inoperative when in reality they're in rude health.

And the 5 seemingly has a design fault. The front bumper/spoiler is low. Even look at a kerb - like the one you normally `nose over' at the tesco? With no trouble?

You've got trouble and expensive trouble at that. Removing the low spoiler strip helps, but not much. Reverse out of your supermarket space and the front of the car decides it likes staying just where it is, thank you very much.

So. Overall - costly to run, but when you're looking at an enmpty road with something decent on the stereo, you'll forgive it anything.

At some point I'll updat this report as I haven't done enough miles to comment sensible, really. But by then I'll probably have had to flog the computer. And the house.

I'll advise on whether the 5 makes good living quarters...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th April, 2006

8th Apr 2006, 14:50

I'm sure I won't be the only person to say that this is a superbly written review. In fact, a superb bit of writing.

You'd made a good motoring journalist, if you are not already one.

9th Apr 2006, 04:33

I hear you loud and clear. Like you, I'm an ordinary worker in NZ. On my 5th second-hand Audi, a '95 A4 1.8, 140K km. Third year with it, had a crack in the spark plug well on the cyl head. A rare problem, cost NZ$3.5K (est GBP1.1K) to fix. Given the age and mileage of the car, may need to sell it to pay off credit card. But after 2 weeks in a Mazda courtesy car, after getting the car back, I knew why I liked it. The thought of selling the car almost made me cry. I love it still. Found out from friends & mechanics that new cars, even Mondeos and Camrys, are now also quite dear to fix for gearboxes and even servicing. Might just keep my 11-year old car. It isn't always easy living with a nice car, but only when you've had it will you really understand what makes them special.