2001 BMW 5 Series 530i 3.0 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Good car, but needs a lot of TLC

Faults:

A lot of suspension parts needed replacing - front and rear arms, droplinks.

Brake discs kept distorting - went through four sets in 10k miles.

Cam cover gasket leaked and had to be replaced.

Driver's electric seat switch failed.

Front brake calipers failed (one completely went on the road).

Despite a full alignment and suspension check, uneven tyre wear meant premature replacement of the rears.

Exhaust was quite unrefined at medium to high revs - diagnosis was failing baffles (new exhaust required to fix this at over a grand - didn't bother).

Inlet cam sensor replaced.

New clutch and dual mass flywheel.

General Comments:

I needed an inexpensive workhorse that was comfortable and economical on long runs, so I sold my E39 M5 and got the 530i. Expectation was that running cost would be somewhat lower, but I think it would have been cheaper to have kept the M5!

The 530i was essentially a fine car, but I bought it just in time to get a lot of the usual BMW niggles at around 10 years old. This despite a good maintenance record.

If you get many of these problems, the car is expensive to run, not to mention frustrating. I got on top of most of them and the car had a lot of life left in it, but I'd just lost patience with it.

Performance is strong and is married to very good fuel economy.

If aligned just right, the chassis is very good with strong grip and comfortable ride on 17 inch wheels. Steering is excellent - possibly the car's best feature.

Low wind and road noise, but a worn exhaust meant a drone from the engine at motorway speeds - spoilt the refinement of the car. Eventually I judged the cost of restoring the car to what I wanted it to be was too great. A pity, but with old BMWs you take your chances.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th December, 2015

30th Dec 2015, 22:27

A hell of a lot of problems for such a mileage.

2001 BMW 5 Series 535i M Sport 3.5 V8 from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Best car I've ever owned... Hands down... get one!

Faults:

First year..

Had a heater hose split 150km from Darwin, tow + repair over a gorilla ($1k), the tow was $500 and the repair was $600, both criminal prices... but what can you do in the middle of nowhere?

Water pump seized without notice a few months and 15/20 thousand k's later (in Newcastle this time.. it's done some travelling), that cost me $1800 from a stealer.

Replaced small things like a perishing front badge and broken front cup holders over the next few months.

Noticed reduced top end performance and had an independent specialist diagnose (free) and replace $600 the air flow meter.

Second Year.

No show stoppers, it's got a leaky front engine seal.. common problem I'm told, should have been replaced when the water pump went as it was definitely leaking then, but the crims at the dealer opted not to mention it.. I wonder why? Will cost around $1000, mostly labor.

General Comments:

Not the fastest car I've owned... but that's the only 'best of' box it doesn't tick! It's definitely fast enough for all but boy racer occasions; don't worry, it's a pissing contest winner before you even switch it on.

The 535i M Sport is a beautiful, sporty, comfortable full size sedan that has only recently been matched (on paper) by Australian luxury equivalents.

It feels solid, sounds solid, is solid!

Its revvy 3.5L V8 uses 8.5L/100k on the highway, and about 12L/100k with mixed city/80k+ daily driving.

The particular car I purchased has been looked after its whole life, garaged, with full history to back it up... that's the difference between my car, and someone with a BMW who reckons its the most unreliable car on the face of the earth. If you get them serviced properly.. I mean all the filters, all the fluids and all the checks done properly and on time, these cars will remain brilliant for many years!

If not, they turn into the 328i I had with a 50k gap in its service history... unsatisfying money pit.

They are available for next to nothing these days, take service history over k's every day of the week and let the overall appearance of the car speak for itself if you get one.. little annoying things that you overlook at purchase WILL be expensive to fix, so shop around.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th December, 2010