1999 BMW 5 Series SE 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Expensive, but worth it


Not much while I have had it; looking through the history, there are bills exceeding over £1500 for some repairs. This is an expensive car to fix. It has full history - do not touch these cars unless they are cared for and the seller can prove that.

Cosmetically a little rough, but I will deal that in due time. I plan to keep it as a second car so I do not 100% rely on it; any problems I will deal with and I have a BMW independent specialist at hand to help out. I wouldn't recommend taking a car of this age to a main dealer.

General Comments:

520i - the most basic 5 series with manual transmission and cloth seats. The car still feels like luxury however, smooth ride, nice to drive, excellent amount of standard equipment (for its time), I just love it.

Planned to use it a lot more when bought in early 2020, but as you all know what happened next. Been essentially garaged and used very lightly by myself for the last 2 years, plan to get it out the rest of this summer and cruise in style with it - this is my favorite 5 series (E39) for styling, looks very sharp in black and original alloy wheels.

3000 miles I have put on it so far, so can tell you this - the 2.0 engine is not as slow as people make it out to be, but the bigger engines are definitely better. This can do between 27 - 32 mpg cruising, much less with city driving, not great nowadays but acceptable in 1999. Gear change is smooth and the clutch feels nicely weighted; the car handles very well, and does not feel its age at all. Very comfortable interior with good visibility.

Overall I just love it and I am glad I finally got round to getting one - I was only a teenager when these were new in the 1990's, and always liked executive cars from that time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th August, 2022

1999 BMW 5 Series 528i 2.8l inline 6 from Australia and New Zealand


Nice car, nasty maintenance


Air conditioning compressor at 156000km. $1400.

Shock absorbers at 156000km. $1200.

Rear break lines perished at 156000. $400.

Break pads and disks at 156000. $1000.

Mechanical thermostat (cooling system) at 160000km. $500.

Steering rack at 165000. $900.

Rear passenger side electric window motor. $400.

Radiator at 180000km. $600.

Radiator bottle at 181000km. $100.

Water pump and alternator pulleys at 185000km. $300.

Water pump failure at 190000km. $300.

General Comments:

I have had a love hate relationship with this car. The e39 BMW is such a beautiful looking car inside and out. Great styling, which is just timeless! It has a nice little 6 cylinder motor, which has plenty of top end grunt. The handling for such a large saloon car is awesome also. Even with cheap crappy Kmart tyres, it will embarrass a lot of smaller (sports) car in the bends. It is comfortable for long journeys due to the lovely leather upholstery and quiet cabin. The Tiptronic shifter is great for maintaining revs whilst cornering also.

Unfortunately it has been an absolute nightmare on maintenance. The list of things that went wrong should be a good indicator of the mechanical side of these vehicles. Whilst the engine will go forever, there are other parts of the car which they have "cut corners" with such as plastic pulleys and other nasty cheap parts that you would just not expect from a German car. I don't see this as a necessarily low mileage car, however I don't see it as a high mileage car either. I didn't expect it to be solid as a rock, but I didn't expect as many things to fail on it as have done. A Ford Falcon or even some euro cars like Mercs or Saabs wouldn't have had this many issues. Mine even had a full service history from a BMW specialist.

My previous Saab had none of these issues, even though it was older and had more miles on the speedo. The Saab was also more comfortable, cheaper to fuel and maintain, and much quicker, even though it was a low output turbo 4 cylinder.

The BMW was very expensive on fuel (12l/100km) whereas the Saab returned closer to 10l/100km.

It is unlikely that I will buy another BMW unless it is brand new with a warranty, or an investment model such as an M3 or M5, as they hold their value much better.

To conclude, they are a great car, but be prepared to spend a bit of money on them as they are pretty full on. Always get a mechanic to check it out, always make sure it has a complete log book, always check the tyres for uneven tread, and good tyres are a great indicator of how the car has been looked after. If it has nasty cheap tyres on it, it is a good indicator that it has been maintained on a budget.

Even with all this, be prepared to spend extra on parts that may fail. I was unlucky, however if a gearbox failed, it would be expensive to the point of getting a replacement car. Some quotes are around 6 grand.

Hope this has been helpful.


Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th June, 2014