30th Aug 2004, 19:40

I purchased a 1994 530i 5-speed with 53K miles for $9275 in May 2004. I subsequently learned of the problem with the motor. My car runs OK, now. I have been told by a BMW service professional that the motor could become defective at any time. Also, I have been told by a BMW auto broker that my car, with the original motor, is only worth $4000 because the motor has not been replaced by BMW. This is all very distressing. What can I do to get BMW to replace the motor??

27th May 2006, 16:57

Go to the dealer and demand a fix if the mileage is low enough. If you have higher miles on the car, demand some sort of compensation such as BMW cutting the bill in half. According to my research, BMW does not like for problems on their cars to go without being fixed. I own a '94 318i which had the famous faulty water pump, head gasket, and timing chain cover gasket at one time. All of these items were fixed with updated BMW parts at little or no cost to the previous owner. The head gasket and timing chain cover were updated when the car had a warranty and the water pump was a cheap upgrade. Kudos to BMW for not sweeping their little mistakes under the rug.

26th Aug 2006, 06:27

When the original author of this review stated.

"For a $50,000 car, this car is a piece of junk. Poor reliability, engine that blows up at 83,000 miles."

The author is not saying that THEY paid $50,000 for their car.

They are merely saying that the BMW 530i sold new from the dealer for around $50,000 and for that price, the quality is not up to par for that dollar amount.

13th May 2008, 14:19

Dude this car is not a piece of crap.. I think you bought one and found out how much parts are for them... I have a 94 530I and the engine blew at 210,000 miles.

21st May 2008, 12:48

I'm in the process of purchasing a '04 530i at a very reasonable price, then I stumbled on to your comments; some good, more bad. It seems to run and handle well, and it's a classic looker. I realize there's a sucker born every day; hopefully not on my birthday. Wish me luck!

8th Apr 2010, 12:38

Does this defective motor design pertain only to the 530, or also to the 525? I was considering buying a 525.

3rd Nov 2010, 10:54

I have a 94 530i.

I had an issue where the battery went dead and I couldn't unlock doors or trunk (where my jumper cables were). I had to get someone to jump me, but had no cables as they were locked in car, had to get cables, jump the car just to open doors. What were the Germans thinking of?

20th Nov 2010, 20:24

In regards to the last post: If your battery dies, there is a simple way to still unlock the car if you have a key. Go to the passenger side door, insert the key, then lift the handle as if you were opening the door, then turn the key and hold it turned, then release the handle... this should unlock that door. I also thought the German's made a simple engineering mistake... but they haven't. They have not overlooked anything on these vehicles!

20th Apr 2011, 11:17

The M50B25 is not made of Nikisil and is a very reliable motor as versions of it are still being used today in 325is and 525s. BMW had the Nikisil issue only in the M60B30 and M60B40 V8s... They've learned the error of their ways since then.

28th Apr 2011, 06:13

Ahhhh..."The Nikasil Controversy". This was quite disturbing back in the 1990s... a new motor in a $50,000 BMW that wears out after only 30,000 miles! The horror! But it is not the 1990s anymore, and the problem is really no longer a problem.

BMW used a compound called Nikasil in the cylinder liners in V8 cars from about 1992-1996. Nikasil is a nickel-aluminum-silicon mix that was chemically impregnated into the aluminum cylinder walls of BMW's 3.0 and 4.0 V8s. This process creates a very hard (but thin) surface for the pistons bear on, and eliminated the need for heavy iron or steel cylinder liners.

The problem was not with the Nikasil, but with the gasoline used in some parts of the US. Gas with a high sulfur content would eat away the Nikasil lining in the cylinders, and the engine would very quickly lose compression as the pistons and rings wore away the soft aluminum under the Nikasil coating.

This did not happen in all areas of the country, nor to all V8 BMWs of the era. Some areas of the country had fuels that were better refined and had inconsequential amounts of sulfur. Lower sulfur levels were also found in Premium grade gas, though these engines can run any grade of gas. If you lived in Georgia and were feeding your new 530i 87 octane grocery store gas in the mid-1990s, your chances of seeing "The Nikasil Problem" were pretty good. But if you were feeding your new BMW 91 octane Texaco gas in California, the chances were remote.

Most of the cars that developed this problem had their engines replaced by BMW under a special extended warranty. BUT, not all cars developed the problem... in fact, a relative few did.

As I said, the important thing to remember now is that it is NOT the mid-1990s anymore. Gasoline today is ultra-low in sulfur, and has been for awhile. Very low sulfur levels are mandated by the government. Cars with Nikasil engines that are still on the road are no longer susceptible to this issue, as the cause (sulfur) is gone. If the car had the problem, it has either had it's engine replaced or it went to the scrapper. If the car is still on the road with it's original engine and is in good running order, it never had the problem in the first place... and almost certainly never will.

If you are considering one of these cars, there are a few things to look for. First is smoke at startup. Also, the engine rocking side-to-side at startup. The engine should start fairly quickly. The engine should idle smoothly... without much lateral movement at all. Smoke on acceleration would also indicate a possible compression problem. The car should have PLENTY of power. After all, these are high-compression, high-revving, DOHC, 32-valve German V8s!

I have a '94 530i 5-speed with 203,000 miles. I am the third owner, and it has always been taken care of. It runs like a champ, has it's original Nikasil motor, and goes like a raped ape if you step on it. Best $2500 I ever spent. Don't be afraid of these cars. Find a nice, well-maintained one, know what to look for, and you will be happy.

13th May 2011, 08:24

Nice review and comment on the Nikasil issue with the car. I'm also contemplating a 530i with 5 speed. Any suggestions on what to buy? I live in Los Angeles.

Much obliged!

25th Oct 2011, 22:23

Can anyone tell me why my car BMW 530i 3.0 (1994) is consuming too much gasoline?

19th Nov 2011, 00:08

Probably you need to change out the ECU.

15th Jan 2015, 16:07

I have a 530i that I purchased in NC that (allegedly) had the engine replaced. I want to verify this... who would I call? Does BMW keep these records? Is there a VIN to engine matching process I could use? Other?? Thanks in advance for educating me.

10th Feb 2016, 04:35

2006, bought a BMW 530i 1994 model. A nice car to drive, had 12000km on it. When it reached 200000km, the oil turned a light tan colour and was coming out the rear seal. Removed the engine and pulled down the engine; found three bolts in the pan; one was out of the oil pump mount; the other two were out of the oil pump. Five other ones were finger tight; the other two were barely tight. Then found a broken head bolt too, which caused the antifreeze to get into the oil. Has anyone else had the same problems? Thanks.