1999 BMW 5 Series 540it from North America - Comments

10th May 2012, 08:41

Are they ALL really normal faults of the 5 series of these years?

I am looking into potentially buying one, switching over from a Volvo S70 T5, but I am not sure how the 5 series compares to it.

All the seals start leaking? Even when maintained? And this is ALL normal?

Can you name me the top problems that 5 series of this year will go through?

Let me know.

Thanks.

23rd Oct 2013, 19:41

If you want a lower maintenance e39, don't get a 540. Stick with the six cylinder models and a 5 speed manual. The 530i moves just fine and can be tuned easily. I can think of three issues that have occurred across various BMWs I've owned.

1. Cooling system every 80k on average: Radiator ($160), thermostat ($22), water pump ($60).

2. Front upper and lower control arms and/or bushings 60k-80k (there's 4, two on each side) roughly $350 or less in parts.

3. Electronics: There have been rare cases of ECU related issues on e39s, including the introduction of throttle by wire, which can also fail. These are no more common than higher end Japanese cars, which can also be plagued with similar issues. However those are newer and the e39 is getting older. Random error messages/codes concerning brake wear sensors and tail light bulbs... I go through two or three light bulbs a year, so I keep extras in the trunk.

The first two are most common. There is a permanent fix for the water pump and radiator by upgrading to aluminum parts, eliminating a large portion of the maintenance schedule.

That's really it from my experience. Keep in mind that typical wear and tear items will still need replacing, such as front struts, mounts and bushings as I mentioned earlier... but when you consider the fact that most all these maintenance items should be done or inspected every 80k miles on average, that's roughly 3 to 5 years of service for not too much money, you are getting a car with few rivals in terms of chassis, overall performance and handling. Find one that has been maintained recently and get it inspected so you know what you're in for, and ask yourself if it's worth it to you. There is merit in driving something a bit more boring if being sensible means ultimate reliability to you... nothing wrong with that!

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