1999 BMW 5 Series 540i 4.4L from Australia and New Zealand


High performance, high maintenance. Fantastic car if you can stomach the constant repairs


Month 1:

- EGR breather valve failed - caused awful engine noise and plumes of oil smoke from the exhaust AU$373.

- Radiator / fan - radiator exploded, fan damaged AU$1,370.50.

Month 2:

- Ignition switch - engine and all electrics died while driving at night on a busy road with no stopping lane. No brake booster, no power steering, no lights, no hazard lights. Scary stuff. AU$212.10.

- Radiator hose blew, coolant poured from the driver's side of the hood, showering the car in hot coolant. AU$270.45.

Month 4:

- Air flow meter failed, causing backfires and rough running and "engine failsafe program" message AU$747.00.

Month 6:

- Alternator failed. Bizarre water cooled type, part alone AU$2300 from BMW. AU$2,568.35.

Month 8:

- Main battery harness, battery connectors, some other wiring problem: caused a host of gremlins in the cars electrics - error messages, radio behaving strangely, unusual beeping sounds, engine cutting out without warning, CD stacker changing discs spontaneously, dashboard behaving erratically $1531.00.

Month 9:

- ABS relay, dry joints in ABS relay caused ABS/traction control to malfunction. AU$380.00.

10 months and AU$7,452.40 in failures, with more to come. Transmission requires a rebuild (apparently AU$1-2k or more).

General Comments:

Performance and handling is amazing. Goes like a rocket in a straight line and handles superbly for a full sized sedan.

The constant need for non-maintenance repairs is tiresome, and repairs are rarely anything short of expensive. Part availability can be a problem, I had to wait 2.5 weeks for a radiator.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd October, 2007

1999 BMW 5 Series 540it 4.4 V8 from North America


Biggest mistake in 29 years of buying vehicles


This car has more cheap plastic parts than any other vehicle I have ever owned. Coin holders, door handles, cup holders, window shades, trunk latches, and trim pieces have all broken from normal use.

The ABS control module failed at 80,000 miles, a $700+ part.

The MAS (mass air flow) meter failed at 82,000 miles, a $500+ part.

The windshield washer fluid reservoir cracked, per the dealer, a $245 dollar part.

The intake gaskets needed to be replaced at 78,000 miles for over $800.

The theromstat needed to be replaced a hundred miles after the intake gasket, $245.

The ambient tempurature sensor failed at 65,000 miles.

The dealer also says the valve cover gaskets, front main seal, real main, and power steering lines leak.

General Comments:

This car has not had a hard life. The maintenance schedule was followed. And yet I am afraid to drive it as it seems every week another plastic part breaks off or the service engine light comes on indicating another expensive repair is needed. This is by far the worst vehicle I have ever owned.

When it is running, it is a pleasure to drive. Solid, quite, fast. But if you can't afford about $500 a month for repairs don't bother.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th October, 2007

5th Feb 2008, 04:14

The mechanical problems you described are ALL well known E39 5-series faults. However, once those are sorted, the car is a dream! Don't even bother fixing the cup holders (they were an after-thought for the N.A. market), just buy the plastic delete panel for $20 at the dealer.

20th Nov 2008, 22:17

Looks like you got ripped off by your dealer. Yhe repairs are common, the prices are not.

1999 BMW 5 Series 23i petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Ultimate Driving if not electrically wise machine


BMW build quality is top notch except for the cup holders, which are flimsy and also location of the disk stacker in the boot means it constantly malfunctions.

Also just like consumer group surveys show, Lexus has the best electronics in this class. My dad's beemer door locks have failed meaning one of the doors you can't open at all while the other can only be open from the inside.

The break pedal is a bit hard and the power plant is not really up to the ask, if you are seeking pre update petrol model go the 528i as it is really the only one that has sufficient power. Though with the 523 I there is the advantage of good fuel economy.

General Comments:

Great handling and steering and front seats are perfectly contoured. FOr the the driver it is the ultimate driving experience, though for rear passengers the the headrests really should be moved forward ever so slightly.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th September, 2007