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

1999 BMW 5 Series 528i Sport Package 2.8L inline 6 gas from North America


Enjoying the ride, but not the costs or time spent in fixing it


The radiator cracked, then blew at around 100,000 miles.

Power windows have had issues - first the front passenger window would stick, requiring dealership service, and now the rear window has broken from the motor (at least it's all the way up at the moment).

The left turn signal switch stuck in the "on" position. I bought a new part online and replaced it myself - having to take the steering wheel off and get into the column. Cheaper than a dealer.

Front bumper was replaced - it has low clearance and scraped one too many of those parking concrete slabs. Eventually, the outside temperature sensor (located under the front passenger side bumper) was knocked out. When that happened, the AC stopped working because it requires a minimum outside temperature to function.

Currently, the engine in idle seems as though something is rubbing. We'll see how that goes.

Dashboard console buttons are pretty cheap. Replaced several. You can buy these online and DIY.

I never had the master key from the time it was purchased (I'm the 3rd owner) so I couldn't use the keyless entry feature. The valet key that I had wore out. Replacement master key was $100 from dealer. At least now I'm good.

Cupholders are the worst ever created. Biggest flaw with the car.

Most other things are rather routine with cars - alignment, replacement of tie rods and such.

General Comments:

When this car is properly maintained, it is the most comfortable/sporty thing to be in. It's not a racing vehicle - you might find it sluggish since it is so heavy - but at least it doesn't say "retiree" like a Mercedes or Lexus.

Driving is precise and fun every time the weather is nice. I liked driving my Accord before having this car. I love driving the 528i in the summer.

Winter driving is another matter - it doesn't handle slick conditions very well. I haven't tried the xDrive versions that BMW has. I've slid quite a bit in this thing - maybe because I have driven FWD cars until now (my Accord seemed to handle icy or slick roads pretty well). I have feared for my life on two occasions in the 528i with RWD (including one time driving about 10 mph with chains on!)

Getting about 22 MPG with mostly city driving.

So far it seems that I've had to put an average of about $1200 per year of service into the car.

Too many replacements or repairs seem to require specialty service or dealer work. Headlights for instance - Xenon bulbs are ridiculous to replace. DIY for cheaper, but you gotta find the right place to buy them. Same thing with wiper blades. Dealer wanted $200 in parts for a change of spark plugs! DIY and tell them to stuff it.

Message boards are good online resources. So is Bavarian Autosport (online parts store). Purchased many parts from them.

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

Review Date: 14th January, 2012

15th Jan 2012, 11:54

You should've kept that Honda. BMW's been pulling some shady stuff with their cars and dealers.