2000 BMW 5 Series 528i 2.8 straight six from North America
Expected the Ultimate Driving Machine, got the Ultimate Headache
- Surging idle when cold. Never could fully trace, but suspected an under-intake vacuum leak.
- Oil pan gasket failed. Miserably at that - oil everywhere and was a real pain to repair.
- Coolant pressure tank, 2 water pumps, thermostat and housing failure, coolant hose screw plug/bleeder.
- Alternator whine and failure.
- Poor windshield weatherstripping.
- Headlight lenses fogged and cracked. Needed replacing.
What a miserable ownership experience for me. Owning this beautiful machine was like a toxic relationship - When it is going well, it is fun and almost euphoric. When it goes south, you question both your decision making abilities and your will to go on in life.
The E39 is an absolutely fantastic machine when functioning properly. Extremely comfortable, handles like a four door sports car even on ride-friendly tires, very well equipped, and it is, in my opinion, one of the most well done pieces of automotive design ever put into production and onto the road. However mine never functioned properly for long. The car was an absolute maintenance nightmare. This 528 had pages and pages of good dealer service history, it was well taken care of, garage kept, and had reasonable mileage, but that was not enough. It didn't go more than two or three weeks without giving me issues.
The cooling system is a particular pain point on these cars and boy did mine give me pain. In the first two months it had two water pumps, the reservoir/pressure tank, a thermostat/thermostat housing, and an upper hose bleeder all bite the dust. One water pump and the bleeder failed within three days of each other... with the latter coating the engine bay in a nice film of eventually evaporated coolant, leaving me stranded on the highway.
The oil pan gasket failed two weeks later and leaked a ton of oil. Boy, that was fun to repair (you have to raise the motor and drop the front cradle to fix it). After another 3 weeks the alternator started to fail and whine and for me that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
About 3.5 months of ownership and I had to tap out.
I don't regret owning it because, again, when it worked it was fantastic. And BMW as a whole didn't totally lose me as a potential future owner per se, I still think they make a good product albeit an unreliable one. However the unreliability of this 528 just got to be too much in the space of 12-15 weeks for me. I could see what the year was shaping up to be with it so I ran. If considering one, make sure you are proficient mechanically otherwise it will bleed you dry. If still inclined, prepare to be patient with it and devote lots of time to repairs. It gives you great returns in driving pleasure, but for me, the cost of that was just too big of a headache.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th August, 2021
29th Aug 2021, 02:35
Solid review of a complex car. While you had many issues, you did very well overall, given the fact you had European luxury car. Consider: The dreaded "Check Engine Light in a German Luxury Car" did not happen ;)
30th Aug 2021, 02:16
Thank you for your detailed review.
For the problems and parts that needed to be changed, really I'll rather say it's kind of normal for the age and mileage.
If you buy such a car to keep it long time, it's OK. But if you just buy the car to drive it 2, maybe 3 years, that's frustrating because you replace parts that are going to hold for way more time than your ownership.