1998 BMW 5 Series 540i Automatic from North America - Comments

23rd Jun 2007, 13:22

If that were true, then please explain to me why it is that so many other car suspensions last so much longer than the E39?

BOTH of my other BMW's had well over 250,000mi and did not require such suspension rebuilds.

Also the other 14 cars I've owned have all had as many or more miles than the E39 540i mentioned above and none of them had suspension failures like the E39. Even other E39 owners lament about how frequently the suspension causes grief.

Naturally things are expected to wear on a car, but the items I mentioned in my review were things that are common failure points on the E39 BEFORE even 45,000 miles or less. Which means that by the time the E39 I had most of the above items were already replaced once or twice.

22nd Jul 2007, 02:30

I have a 92 Sentra SE-R that has 130K miles on it and nearly everything are still original, only replaced the starter when it broke. I know others that have gotten 200K or 300K+ on the same car. Its very fast too, beats some V8s and sure will beat the 525.

The wife wants a 540 BMW, but after reading these horrid stories I am going to convince her otherwise. I am a decent mechanic, but no mechanic can repair a BAD design...

23rd Mar 2008, 12:45

I would like to comment about the E39 suspension, having owned an E34 in the past. The E39 suspension is made entirely from aluminum, thus meaning that it gets damaged much easier than on the previous models where these components were made from steel.

The suspension problems arise more often when the car is fitted with a sports suspension which is lowered, especially when combined with larger wheels with smaller tire wall height. This means less vibration absorption with the tire and less with the dampers, so the other suspension components have to take the stress and fail much sooner.

E39 is expensive to own and is no exception when it comes to new age car reliability.

12th May 2008, 10:35

I have never seen or heard of a cooling system that was not pressurized.

10th Dec 2008, 08:29

I love my e39 540i, this is my 5th bimmer. They all have needed similar repairs from my 318 to my two 325's and my 535i. As you can see I keep coming back, if you're a serious driver you understand... it costs to be the boss.

27th Apr 2009, 00:56

I had a 1998 540i with the 6 speed transmission.

While the drive and acceleration were nice, the car costs too much in maintenance (think $2000-$3000 every 3-6 months to keep it running).

I junked it for $2000 after the timing chain broke. Chains aren't supposed to break. Was very happy to get rid of the money pit.

13th Oct 2009, 13:16

OP here, I now have my first Lexus LS400. I've never been more satisfied with a car purchase!

I found a '94 LS400 with 121k in very good condition for a great price, so I gave it a shot and I'm glad I did. I intend to stick with the Lexus LS series from now on.

I do like how the BMW's handle, but the ride comfort of the LS is just leaps and bounds better than the E39 I had.

Thanks for keeping the comments coming!

25th Oct 2009, 16:23

I currently own a 1998 540i/6 which I purchased in May of 2008 with 186K miles on the odometer. In my case, I purchased the car from a fellow enthusiast who is also mechanical and had done 90% of the replacement/maintenance needed for these cars after 150K miles.

Like many of you, I did extensive research before purchasing my Bimmer in order to weigh all the pros and cons of ownership. Since I do all of my own mechanical work, the cost of ownership isn't that big of a deal to me considering the amount of performance and pure ability of this car in its stock form.

I currently have over 213K miles on it and I have had only one thing to actually break. The power steering pump bracket broke a few weeks back and I was able to replace the pump for $130 with one purchased from O'Reilly Auto Parts. The pump has a lifetime warranty and even if it didn't it beats paying $700+ for one at a dealership that only provides a 2yr warranty. I did replace the idler pulleys and belts as well as the thrust arms. Next week I will be replacing the water pump and o-rings since I have recently noticed a slight coolant leak down the front of the engine block.

So all in all in the past year and a half of ownership, I have spent roughly about $600 on parts but these things I anticipate will last another 50K+ miles for me. For a car that performs the way this one does, I rather enjoy the stylishness, comfort and yes reliability it provides me with $0 per month for a car payment. I would rather spend $500 - $1000 every 2years or so on this car than to have a $500 - $1000 per month car note.

I have driven Lexus and Infiniti cars and they are very nice offering a calm quiet ride. Lexus cars are very reliable and may require less maintenance, but they are what I like to say designed for a lesser driver than those who own and truly drive their performance BMWs. Not meaning to offend anyone by saying that.

2nd Apr 2010, 06:44

I have to say that this must be a fairly poor example of such an expensive car.

I myself have a 1987 Ford Telstar with 285 000 kms on the clock, and have not experienced a single problem that wasn't general maintenance, although I will be shortly rebuilding or buying a reconditioned carburettor, due to the current one having a "flat spot" or "throttle lag".

I was seriously considering buying a BMW, however now I'm not so sure.

26th May 2010, 06:22

My 97 528i has had only one break -- a water pump at 100K miles. Everything else has remained good as new. Regular inspection by a good mechanic has been all it has needed.

Perhaps your car was poorly maintained? I have an 89 325i with the same excellent service record.

23rd Jun 2010, 23:59

"Thinking" that a BMW was a good choice for our 20 year old daughter, we took the plunge. We thought that BMWs were as solid as the name. Now in hindsight about a year and a half later and 4000 dollars sunk into it we today got a bit with 1800 more dollars needed to be sunk into it. What do you do? Do you keep it because you know what is in it, or do you cut your losses and think of them as lessons learned? I cannot tell you all of the problems we have had. It now has 197000 miles on it. The motor sounds wonderful. But the steering takes a body builder to steer. The tires are wearing unevenly because of the alignment that has to be done every so many miles. We have a new ignition, we have a new alternator, we have replaced fuses time and time again and the check engine light still comes on all of the time. This car has left my daughter stranded more times than I care to count.

Is there a chance that BMW has seen the way of their errors and will fix the problems, or are they just happy to sell the car and be done with it?

We are looking at a different car, but do we trade it in or do we keep it for ourselves? They are expensive to insure, they are expensive to repair. I am supposing the engineers of these cars are making plenty, so why change the way things are? Any advice on what to do with the car would be appreciated.