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.
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