2000 BMW 5 Series 528i 2.8i from North America
Nice driver, but not the poor quality I expected
The engine was replaced at 64K miles by BMW for the previous owner, due to an overheating issue, so it runs real nice except for a valve cover gasket oil leak.
The leather seat seams have let go, but I do not know how he treated this car.
The head liner and window pillar fabric is a disgrace, as it has either come unglued or it sags. I have some work to do...
Every piece of plastic under the hood cannot be touched by the human hand, as it will crack, and much of it has.
The headlamp adjusters are shot due to plastic degradation also.
The headlamps are so misted over they are worthless, and point down at the ground due to the adjusters having turned to white plastic dust.
All mainly cosmetic stuff I know, but still annoying.
Essentially, if it is made of plastic on an older model, it will need replacing, and I have many new parts on order. Luckily it totals just a few hundred $$s. I have sanded the headlamps with wet and dry down to 2000 grit, then buffed them with a rotary buff on a drill, and they have come up like new (do not use Deet based products - it seems easy and cool to do, but melts the plastic. Put in the time to do this job properly). Then wax or Rain-X the finished product to keep your handiwork lasting a little longer.
I sold my Ford Excursion, in favor of something that got more than 10 MPG. Other that that, it was a perfect vehicle in perfect condition, as long as you did not expect to travel at highway speeds. The solid Dana axles do not like 50+, and the steering wheel lets you know this when the road surface changes!
The BMW is as solid as a rock.
I bought the BMW, having had great luck with Mercedes. These are not in the same league though. I bought mine because it seems all the used cars I looked at have come from an auction, even if advertised as "by owner" or are being sold because they are just junk. My 528i had one owner and full service history from day one, and I considered that to be more important to me. He was also a smoker, but lashings of OZIUM and vacuuming have the smell almost beat. The local BMW dealer now charges $180/hr to work on BMWs. I am sure I could get a new heart for a similar price, so I am doing it all myself. I am comfortable doing anything on a bike/car, so although I swear a lot, I am not yet crying!
It rides superbly and the brakes would be hard to improve upon. It is "only" the 528i, but if you know how to handle a car, it will put many so called "quicker" cars to shame. It is extremely comfortable, and I have overcome the silly leather seat issue, by fitting full sheepskin fitted covers that match the gray interior perfectly. They adapt to temperature and hence to comfort very well.
The airbag light is on (door airbag issue), but according to BMW, the bag will still function fine. It is a module that needs replacing, and at $900 it can wait a while.
I think the E39 is the best looking BMW ever outside of the 8-series, so I have mixed feeling regarding the car. I once dated a very attractive lady who was severely bi-polar. I felt the same way about her.
It is after all 14 years old, but a 14 year old Mercedes or Jag would not have all the plastic parts cracking and falling off, so as a quality car, it ain't cutting it, but I feel once I have some of the niggly plastic parts replaced, it should be just regular preventative maintenance in my future.
It handles well, and after the V10 Excursion, is a gas-miser in my book!
It is quiet and tight, and I believe will be a good car, once sorted.
Like the bi-polar lady, it is fun to take out now and again, but I am not sure I can commit to it for any length of time.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 26th December, 2014
2nd Jan 2015, 06:56
Well after owning it for one whole week, I just spent $403 on new valve cover gasket, new serpentine belts and new lower radiator hose, because the oil leak trashed the belts and hose. After the mechanic had finished and charged me $25 for 1 gallon of antifreeze and 15 bucks for a new rubber gasket on the expansion tank cap, the expansion tank suspiciously needs replacing. It was fine when I drove it to him, but I still cannot drive it. It looks good parked though...
I cannot work on a car where I live now, as I have no garage/workshop, which is frustrating as I am used to pulling an engine if need be and doing things myself.
This thing is like a running sore. Reading the BMW forums, I do not know how BMW stay in business. I bought it because I have had older Jags and Mercedes most of my 40 years driving and have been very happy. I liked the 5-series shape and decided to buy something different, but am now feeling rather stupid and am considering fixing the little broken bits and selling it.
Somebody may get a real great car, with all the stupid things already fixed and 40K on a brand new BMW fitted engine. I could then buy another MB 300SD, or a low mileage XJ6 4.0 and sleep easy at night.
If you are considering an older one, pay careful attention to the headlamp adjusters and everything plastic under the hood, ESPECIALLY the in cabin air filter ducting. It seems BMW did little or no testing on the plastics they used.
If you read the "Bimmerfest" forum information on the E39 5-series "things to look out for", you may wonder why anybody would want one. The guys there have documented so many issues that, outside of the rubber tires made by Goodyear/Michelin etc., everything else is likely to, and will fail. My 300SD had 297,000 miles on it when I sold it, and apart from oil changes, front ball joints, one window regulator and brake pads/tires, ignition lock - my fault for hanging a heavy key ring from it (pretty normal wear and tear stuff), it was trouble free. I was the second owner.
2nd Jan 2015, 21:24
The expansion tank was not suspicious - it's a weak spot for BMWs. That's why I told my mechanic when I got my 2001 BMW 316ti serviced to check the condition of the expansion tank. Fortunately he said nope it didn't need doing yet, still in good form. The E39 5-series, well the earlier ones anyhow, also had a weak radiator, so not sure if by the year 2000 they'd rectified it.
How do BMW survive? Simple: most cars they sell around the world are not that complicated. America always gets the plushest, most luxurious and powerful models, which adds complication. But I think your car may not have been looked after.
My 316ti also has plastic headlamp covers, and I park mine outside on the street while at work, and the lenses are perfectly clear, not cloudy (isn't UV responsible for that? NZ has very high UV from the sun, hence our high skin cancer rates). An older Mercedes, sure - but an older Jag, and you have been happy? Jaguars on the average are not known to be very reliable, but if your ones have been good, then that just shows that cars can be the luck of the draw.
You're also probably frustrated by not being able to work on your cars where you are. BMW engine access is actually pretty good compared to many front wheel drive cars these days.