I owned a 740il in Germany and I drove it like I stole it. Now that I have logged over 190.000 kms the car still runs great! I am now in the U.S. and bought a 98 740il with 1005.000 miles. Just don't run as good as my German model. Thought id run her full out for a few hundred miles, Forget it! Too many cops. Developing rear main leak now and ruff idle. The Euro model runs a lot better. Why I don't know. Emissions? Slugging around at speed limits? Fuel we use? Theres too many questions. Can I pour auto transmission fluid down the intake to burn the carbon out like the good ol days?
I purchased my 96 740il from a dealer, making sure I had ALL service records and an E38 knowledge base. My research paid off as well, I was able to fully budget all of the expected service. In the 1st month alone I spent 2k on preventative maintenance, but I have a beautiful car that runs like a champ and very real expectations of what to expect in the future. My advice:
Buy a used 7 series! Just understand what you are getting your self into! For all of it's advanced engineering, the radiator is crap and will undoubtedly need replacement if it's original. DO NOT buy, use, or maintain aftermarket parts... especially for a E38. Small problems trickle-down quickly into large problems. DEALERS ARE EXPENSIVE! Find a trust worthy and KNOWLEDGEABLE indie or suck it up and pay the dealer.
Bottom line is you can own this car used on almost any budget, but just because you paid cash doesn't mean there is no associated cost. Budget 250 monthly, because maintenance and repairs are around 3k a year. Sound rough? Would you rather pay that much for a car payment for a new KIA? Be my guest.
I had a 94 S500... Great car, but the amount of stupid simple things that broke just drove me crazy. Always wanted a 740I Sport, but did not want to be a slave to a car. Got me a 98 Lexus LS 400 and have never looked back.
I laugh at those German turds being thrown away and neglected cause no one cares for them enough to fix them. You cannot respect a car that cost 90K new that breaks down now more than a 70's Chrysler!
Currently own a 98 740il, which is not nearly the car that my previous 88 735il was. Or the previous 86 528, or previous 86 325e.
Surprisingly the most reliable and trouble free was the old 3 series. Sadly it was a total loss with 389,000 on the clock.
This 7 has been a major PIA. Bought used with 58,000 on the clock, books & records. I can't keep up with the required maintenance.
1. Security glass failed (90,000). $1200.00 with a BMWNA 50% discount. And one window failed under warranty, while another is beginning to de-laminate.
2. Control arm bushings ALL bad (82,000).
3. Drive shaft failure (72,000).
4. Rotors replaced (75,000).
5. Radiator (125,000).
6. Power steering hoses (99,000 & 120,000).
7. Window regulator (100,000 & 130,000).
8. PS airbag (88,000).
That's just the major stuff I can remember. and of course there was a ton of other things along the way.
130.000 miles isn't high mileage for such an expensive car, providing it has full service history. Usually some things break down by that mileage, but not the whole car. That is the problem with these cars. Too many parts break down. Not only the normal maintenance parts, but a lot of other stuff as well. We're not talking about just any car. It's a luxury car, and it has to meet higher quality standards to meet peoples expectations. A lot of people experience more than normal wear and tear with these cars. Things that SHOULD have been made reliable breaks down after only a few years. The reason people buy these cars is the comfort in combination with the sporty feel. And they are great if that is the only criteria. I think it is easy as a BMW-owner to get blinded by the way the car drives and feels. In fact, if people didn't get blinded like this, BMW would have to start making better cars.
I just purchased a 1998 740IL. The car is in immaculate shape with the exception of a couple of small sheet metal dings. I would have to point them out to you, unless you looked closely.
The car came with the original manuals and paperwork showing that the previous owner had religiously maintained the car.
The car had 113,000 miles on it at purchase. A week later it has 115,000 miles. Yes, I drive a lot. I took it on a 350 mile road trip to see how well it performs.
Considering how much I paid for it, I am extremely satisfied. Of course I have owned several other BMW models both new and used so I feel I have done my homework on this purchase.
I expect to put some maintenance into the car and I am familiar with costs. As with any vehicle, if you maintain it properly it can last a long time. A luxury vehicle such as the 740 is no exception. I expect to drive this car another 80,000 to 100,000 miles. The road trip was great and the car performed flawlessly.
I will see how this goes over the next 6 months and post my considerations for this car again. As a backup I have a BMW Z4 that is still under warranty. Doesn't drive as smooth as the 740 but it is a blast in the mountains.
I have a 98 740IL with 58,000 miles on it, I got it in 2000 when it had 11,000 miles. This car has been the best car I have ever owned period!
I've driven and owned quite a few, my wife says that I could fill a car lot with all of them, these included several MB's 450 & 560 SEL's,500 & 600 SL's, multiple BMW's M3 & M5, 325is, X3, Jaguars, XKE, 3.8S, XJ 6, XJ8. This list goes on.
I would recommend a 740 to anyone, the only thing that I've had to replace which really falls under maintenance is the battery.
I'm not sure why one of the posters included brake rotors as a complaint, since 75,000 miles on brake rotors is way beyond what you would expect from them. I'd say that they were most likely warped and caused the control arm bushings to fail prematurely due to excessive vibration. IMHO.
All in all, these cars provide a safe, smooth, comfortable ride beyond what you might find in other cars claiming, or wanting to compete with BMW at this level. This car gets a "10".
I just got a 98 740iL with 122k on it. As expected, it needed a bunch of the suspension bits and front struts replaced, along with all 3 power steering return lines. There also appears to be a leak at the front engine main. (still slight) At the end of the day, I spent $4000 for the car, $695 for parts, and a weekend to make the repairs. A 4 wheel alignment finished it off and I have a really nice cruiser for driving vacations. I also have a 92 525i that has a performance suspension kit. Comparing the two, the 525 is more fun on a winding road, but the 740 takes all the bumps out and really knows how to move when you want it to. I can't see spending another $24k on a hybrid (I have a Prius too) and feel like I could be flattened like an aluminum can at any minute, when I can have a safe comfortable performer instead. I can buy a lot of gas with the difference.