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

1999 BMW 5 Series 523i SE Touring 2.5 straight 6 petrol from UK and Ireland


Comfy old luxo barge that blew up!!


Water pump failed, resulting in failure of power steering and terminal engine heat damage.

Reverse parking sensors had lost their beep and only clicked!!

General Comments:

What a lovely car this was, and what a shame it met an early end!!

Bought off a chap who'd done mainly motorway miles in it the last 7 or 8 years, and fastidiously maintained as his company paid for maintenance; he was only getting rid of it because he'd been told by his boss he had to run a newer car!

Firstly, I was AMAZED at how well this thing drove for something with so many miles on the clock. It shows how well BMW's are built, that this had less squeaks and rattles than my wife's 18 month old Hyundai i40 company car!

We did several long journeys in it while I had it, simply because it was by far the most comfortable, refined car in the household. It was only bought to stick the dog in the back, so our newer cars didn't get messed up!!

Mine had grey leather (a bit worn), but oddly no heated seats or electric adjustment. The climate control worked brilliantly in hot weather, the stereo sounded great, all the electrics worked, it was spot on! It even had self levelling air suspension at the back!

To drive I found the engine silky smooth, although it had to be revved quite hard to get the best performance out of it, and handling wise was slightly barge like, but very accurate steering, and although it was a bit wallowy when cornering, if you really pushed it seemed to firm up and just go round, I never felt like it was going to lose grip. Got anything from 25 to 33 MPG in it, which I thought was alright for a big, heavy, petrol.

One odd thing that did happen, was on a very, very steep mountain road in North Wales, where I had to stop to give way to a Land Rover coming the other way, and the Beemer just wouldn't move again! No matter how many revs I gave it, it just sat there, until I was scared I was going to burn the clutch out. The handbrake didn't hold it either. It gives you an idea how steep the road was though, that when I rolled the car back to turn round and applied the brakes, it actually just kept going, skidding down the road!

Oh, and in common with other manual BMWs I've driven, the clutch was really uncomfortably heavy and jerky to operate.

It came with good branded tyres all round, and a set of winter tyres. So... you can imagine how gutted I was when the water pump failed, the engine temp shot up, and I drove it to my local garage to be told the engine had "probably" suffered terminal heat damage, and the only way to tell for sure was to put a £350 water pump on it. On balance, I wasn't about to spend £350 on a car I'd bought for £1000 as a run around, to find it was still knackered.

So, scrapyard in the sky for the Beemer. Real shame, I really liked it!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th October, 2013