1999 BMW 5 Series 540i 4L V8 from South Africa
Love at first throaty rev! Elegant, spacious, refined... yet ready to blast off anytime, anyplace
Water pump failure at 130K kms.
Boot actuator failure - manual key entry.
I've had many BMW's including two E30s (both 325i Sports with LSD), an E36 (316i) and two E39s (a 530i Sport and this 540i), and I've loved them all to bits. This 540i is a dream to own. It starts easily every time I need it, everything works and the car is extremely comfortable on both short and long journeys. I believe it was the best value for money considering what else you can get for close to 80K (Rands), and I know from experience these cars can easily cover over 300k kms. They're built to last.
The water pump failure led me to realise spare parts for the V8 in South Africa might become a problem, as BMW does not continue to carry a lot of stock for them, apparently. All belts and tensioners were replaced on the engine when the pump was replaced, and it cost quite a bit (+2k) and took a bit longer than expected.
I've had some niggly issues with the electrics, for example the steering wheel lifts when you switch off (to ease getting in and out) and sometimes it doesn't drop back down into place on ignition... unless I press the driver memory button, which adjusts the seat, wing mirrors and steering wheel to your preset setting. The ODO LED has also started playing up, but I don't see this as a big deal (can still see the readings, just have to look very closely :)
The boot actuator is a well known problem (see the roadfly / bimmer forums for advice on how to fix/replace this part).
Advice and info from Beamer enthusiasts is readily available for almost anything needing to be done on these cars, and you can save a lot of time and money going the DIY route if so inclined. I let the power steering fluid run dry at one point, but it was an easy job to flush, fix all leaks and replace, thanks to the detailed postings on the forums. I've had many other DIY tasks done quickly and easily on my other BMW's thanks to the forums.
The 540i is a timeless classic, and I personally think this is BMW's most refined shape/design. I bought the car with really nice wheels, and even now at nearly 10 years of age I think she looks absolutely stunning. The throaty V8 is extremely powerful and sounds fantastic. I can really push this car as hard as I can (which she seems to love), yet when I settle off the gas (she gets thirsty when pushed hard) and cruise around the daily commute she drives quietly, doesn't use loads of fuel (averaging 13l/100kms urban, 11l/100kms highways, and is extremely comfortable :)
Highly recommended if you like your cars, don't mind tinkering, and are prepared to look after them. The last two BMW's I've owned I've sold for more than I paid for them... and I think in this case it'll be the same. Grab one now before they get expensive ;)
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 22nd April, 2009
I currently own a 1999 BMW 540i/A which I bought second hand from my brother in-law. And I must say this is a fantastic car. The review above nails it on the head. Value for money this is really a good car, and I can't see myself getting another car in the near future. Great car, I just love it!
I've had a 99 540i 6 spd now for 3 months and I smile every time I look at it. I get emotional when I describe what its like to drive it. I realized that when I bought her that maintenance would be expensive, and that she would chug fuel but I don't care. This car is amazing!!! I look forward to the end of the work day as I know that this car is waiting for me. It's a love story. Johnny (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)