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BMW 5-Series Sedans

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  • a10drivera10driver Posts: 8
    Shipo, others

    Thank you for your replies. I have someone who is very willing to drive my car while I am gone. He plans to buy one (5 series) late this summer so he gets an extended test drive. I'll read ya when I get back (As opposed to seeing ya when I get back)

    A-10 Driver
  • tbrown12tbrown12 Posts: 18
    I have 27k to spend. Like the 528i sport- can find them in that $$$range. I drove a 2000 2.7 turbo Audi which wasn't as nice a feel or as solid as the BMW but it was very fast and close second based on drive. The 530i or 540i with low miles are out of my budget so they aren't options. I have heard that 2000 Audi Turbos and Audi's in general can have all kinds of maintance issues too much more than most like a Volvo.

    It's seems the safer and better handling BMW might be a better choice although Audi's performance is impressive for the price.

    What's you take>
  • I am considering buying a 528 IA, automatic, a 97 to 2000 model, hopefully in the 40,000-60,000 mile range. Can anyone tell me what kind of life I can expect from these cars. 150k? 200k? Thanks.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    dodger2233.. Not sure how you define your terms. Keys to long-term ownership include (1) not abusing an automobile and (2) proper maintenance on all items.

    Roundel (BMW CCA) and Bimmer magazines routinely discuss what owners should do to properly maintain their cars for long life. Within past couple weeks, I posted what Bimmer's Tech Q&A editor said about long-term 540i maintenance. See post #6603 above.

    Besides doing normal Oil Service, Schedule 1, and Schedule 2 maintenance intervals, you'll also need to change brake fluid every 2 years and coolant every 3 years. Think oxygen sensor replaced at 100K. Many recommend changing differential fluid every 30K. Lots of advice out there on water pumps, belts, hoses, etc. Use of synthetic fluids important.

    Unfortunately, BMW's ATs have high failure rates in the 80-120,000 range. Doesn't appear to be much owners can do. Even aggressive maintenance in this area doesn't seem to help too much. (If you want to keep a BMW up for a long time, manual transmission normally less expensive, assuming you don't abuse the clutch.)
  • Riez.....thanks for your reply. To clairify, I do take care of the maintenance diligently. Your information was very helpful. I have owned a 5 and a 7 series (1999) but sold them both before warranty ran out. I was wanting to get one and drive for a long time, but after your post, I may need to rethink that. I love the cars, but for a drivermobile, I probably should go with a non German model. I don't like the Infinity (pre 2003) or Lexus, but at least I don't have to buy a tranny at 80k miles.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    dodger2233... Not all BMW ATs fail in that range. A probability concern, though it is an issue. I don't know much about non-BMW AT reliability. Can't say I know any Infiniti or Lexus owners who keep their cars for more than 100,000 miles. Or how their ATs hold up for years. The average Inf or Lex owner I've met wasn't concerned about keeping the car too long.

    Do keep in mind that lots of BMW owners keep their cars for a long time. Lots of owners in my local BMW CCA chapter have cars that are 10-20 years old. Hundreds of thousands of miles. Two other keys I forgot for BMW include whether there is a good independent garage that specializes in BMWs near you and the BMW club system. You can meet some truly knowledeable people in BMW CCA who can help you properly maintain your car.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I'm on a very active E39 mailing list; there are several 5ers with mileages in excess of 100K miles(my 528iA has 86K). To my knowledge there isn't a car on the list which has needed a new autobox. One of the highest mileage cars has over 120K and the slushbox is still running on the original ATF. There's a lot of talk about failed ATs but I frankly haven't seen that many failures due to high mileage-at least with respect to the GM four speeds.
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    Forgive my ignorance, but why do rear wheel drive cars handle better than front wheel drive? My new BMW 540i makes my Volvo 850 feel like a truck, but I am not quite sure on why that is. Is it impossible for a front wheel to handle as well as a rear wheel?
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    For what it is worth, I had a BMW service guy tell me that the engine *and* transmission should be good for 200,000 miles....
  • bmwgurubmwguru Posts: 51
    Diver, a rear wheel drive handles better primarily because of better weight distribution. It will always be impossible for a front wheel drive to handle as well as a good RWD car because of that. FWD cars have improved, but you can't change the laws of physics. There is just too much being asked of the front wheels.

    The newer BMWs haven't had many problems with AT's in my experience. The older cars, E30 3 series, E32 7 series, E34 5 series had a lot of tranny problems. The GM transmissions BMW used were/are very troublesome and were replaced quite often. Having worked in both BMW and GM dealerships, I know just how often GM transmissions get replaced compared to BMW. I'm not a huge AT fan, but I wouldn't worry as much about a high milage BMW AT tranny than other makes.
  • joatmonjoatmon Posts: 315
    We just sold our 86 528e that gave us 197k trouble free miles. We used the dealer for most service (I did oil changes and other minor fixes/repairs) and followed the Inspection I and II schedule faithfully for 17 years.

    Now, something that is often overlooked: By keeping it properly maintained, it was always a safe and fun car to drive. I never drove it and thought, "Gee, I want a new(er) car". So, a BMW is a car you may actually want to drive for 200k. BTW, it still got 25 MPG around town at the end of its stay.

    Why did we sell it? Wife carries a 2 year old and 6 year old all over town, and the X5 does that job well.

    Happy Motoring,

    Jack

    PS: Still smiling after a "spirited" drive early in the AM in the 530i, PP, SP, 5 speed.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    When talking about the transmissions in current and recent BMWs, we really should specify the manufacturer, type, and model. BMW doesn't build transmissions. They buy their's from various sources: GM, ZF, Getrag, etc. Even within manufacturer, there can be different models (e.g., multiple models of 4- or 5-speed manuals).

    Even in manual transmissions, there is a lot of discussion about long-term reliability. Seems like many sources prefer Getrags. BMW used to use a lot of Getrag manuals. Now use more ZF manuals. Here is what Mike Miller wrote in his article titled "Buyer's Guide: BMW E34 5 Series", European Car, August 2003:

    Talking about changes in 1994: "Sadder still, and often glanced over, was the demise of the superdurable Getrag manual gearboxes, which passed with the E34 535i. BMW now uses less-hardy ZF manual gearboxes in all but the bigger V8s."
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    My BMW will be under warranty until October. Until then, I will use the dealer for service. What do people think after that, dealer or nondealer? Any good ways of finding a good nondealer mechanic? Is there really that much cost savings to the latter?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    diver110... There is an group of BMW independent mechanics that advertise together in Roundel (BMW CCA) and Bimmer magazines. Listed by state. Thinking they might have a web site. Forget their full name or acronym, but they have members in a lot of states. You might check them out.
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    Thanks riez. I found a web site: http://www.bimmerzone.com/bmw-mechanics.htm. At this point there is only a handful of mechanics on it and none in my area (Baltimore).
  • striker5striker5 Posts: 8
    Just took delivery of a new 530 over the weekend and would really like to upgrade the standard stereo system that came with the car. Previously I had an S80 Volvo with a wonderful stereo...only thing I really miss about that car.

    Can anyone tell me the details of their upgrade...components used, cost, amount of improvement, if in fact you have gone through any kind of an upgrade? Also, how did you determine who to let do the upgrade? The first stereo shop I visited flatly stated they would not work on a BMW due to the complexity of the car. Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    diver110... International Association of Independent BMW Service Professionals.

    www.iaibmwsp.org

    Found their ad in the latest issues of Roundel/BMW CCA (p. 101) and Bimmer magazines (p. 48). Nearest ones in VA and PA.

    Roundel ad groups shops in western (17 shops), eastern (16 shops), and central (20 shops) USA. Three in Virginia and three in Pennsylvania.

    Bimmer ad lists 46 sites in 18 states. Two are listed in Virginia and 2 in Pennsylvania.

    You should also check out the other ads in both publications. Each lists other independent BMW service shops, ones not in the IAIBMWSP listings.
  • dinangerdinanger Posts: 8
    Hello, all. I found the question on dealer vs. non-dealer very interesting. FWIW, I'll share my perspective. The non-dealer is great for a variety of things, and I haven't heard anyone complain. My 1999 528 sport would not start a couple of weeks ago...wouldn't even attempt to turn over. I took it to non-dealer repair guy. He had it for a couple of days and said it needs a new EWS module (controls the key-lock system), but since he doesn't yet have the equipment to work with it, I had to take my car to the dealer. Not my top choice ("why" is another chat topic altogether!), but it's my only one in this instance. I thought this would be a quick fix. The dealer has had my car for a week, and after installing a new EWS module the car still will not start. The dealer thinks the solution may be with a new key. We'll find out soon. Bottom line? I prefer to work with non-dealer. And even when you have to/choose to work with a dealer, you may not receive what you think you should. By the way, has anyone else experienced the EWS module/key issue?
  • ajvdhajvdh Posts: 223
    I wouldn't worry too much if a chop isn't in IAIBMWSP's web site. They're missing Curry's in Virginia, who have a great reputation. They also don't list Bimmerhaus in Colorado, the only shop I take my Bimmers to. Also MIA is Koala in Ohio, and Brett Anderson, the owner, is one of the technical advice columnists for Roundel.
  • bmwgurubmwguru Posts: 51
    Not to say one is better than the other, but there are some things that only the dealer can do. Like dinanger's EWS module. Only a dealer can obtain and install it. And given the amount of electronics that are used in these cars, non dealers will be out of the loop because they aren't licensed to work with them. Think Microsoft with closed code software. Non dealers also face the problem of being up to date on the latest software and training. Time for non dealers is critical, and most don't have the time or money to properly train their' technicians. I work in a dealership, and I understand the desire to save money. I know plenty of good shops and a lot of bad ones. Good shops usually have techs that were trained by a dealership. If you can save money on Inspections and routine maintainance, I say more power to you. But given the cost of the car, I want the most experienced tech working on it.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    Good topic!

    I've had my '03 530i for only 3 months so with free maintenance I've got a while before I have to start paying or doing things myself.

    My previous car was a Passat and during the free maintenance period I had some experience with dealership work and things are not as clear cut as bmwguru suggests. Some of the dealership work is good, some is just ok and some is pretty bad. I had an oil overfill and had to drain it myself. On another oil change the filter wasn't changed (got a free oil change out of that one though). On a tie rod recall, the alignment wasn't done properly which needed a re-visit.

    Once the free maintenance period was up, I asked around for a good independent. I was pointed to a small shop (4 techs) that works only on Porsche, Audi & VW. It is owned by a guy who was a VW service manager and then ran the VW/Audi Canada motorsports division. I made 3 visits to this shop while I had the Passat and each time the work was superior. An example: my wipers stopped working and they tracked the problem to a seized pivot. The VW tech literature says that the wiper mechanism is non-serviceable and has to be replaced. The guys at the shop took the whole mechanism apart, cleaned and lubed the pivots and they let me watch while they did the work. The job took 2 hrs but they charged me book which was 1 hr to replace the mechanism.

    A dealership would never have given this level of service. They would have simply replaced the part according to the book and I would have paid a small fortune instead of 1 hr labour.

    Bottom line IMO:
    1) You are not guaranteed expert service at a dealership but you are guaranteed to pay top dollar.
    2) You probably run a risk if you just go to any general independent or franchised chain. There are some cowboys out there.
    3) Any time that you spend looking for a top notch independent who works exclusively on your make of car will pay off. Once you find a good one, stick with them like glue.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    I'm fortunate to have had a good mechanic for about 16 years and will share my experience in finding him for what it's worth. I had a new 85 Volvo and had to bring it in under warranty more often than I care to remember. I always made it a point to chit chat with the mechanics and get a read on their abilities. Then I would ask if they freelanced during off hours. My guy finally wound up quitting Volvo and opened up his own foreign car repair shop. Not only is he one talented man, his prices are unbelievable. The downside is location; it's a bit of a trek getting to him. The key is to network, screen out the dogs/BS artists and find the ones with the golden hands WHO LOVE THEIR WORK! It's a big effort but is well worth it over the long term. Good Luck.
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I have to say, I am at a crossroads with this very questions as we speak. The problem I am having is that there are really two dealers that are close, but they are the same dealership, Erhard. Their service has been good so far, I have taken my 98 528i in for two oil services so far. My problem is that the last time they said I needed some things that I felt weren't warranted but one was. They said I needed my brake fluid flushed because they didn't show that I had it done there. They said I needed a fuel injection cleaning, once again, because it wasn't done before. And then they said I needed my serpentine belts replaced because they started cracking. Out of the three things, I am having the serpentine belts done at my mechanics shop. They specialize in European Autos and the head mechanic is from Germany and is certified in several german cars. There are only three mechanics in the shop. He is very knowledgeable and when I told him about the fuel injection cleaning he laughed and asked me if the car was sluggish or wouldn't start on the first crank. I said no, and he said then don't mess things up trying to clean them just use good gas. Bottom line, the dealers are up to date with training, and software upgrades, but sometimes they can be questionable when it comes to ethics. I think my dealers attitude is, that if you can afford a BMW, then you should be able to afford the prices we can charge you because there are no other close dealers around. The hourly rate is $100 at the dealership, they have other costs to cover. A good mechanic doesn't and has the luxury of charging less. Just check them out first, get references if needed. Ask to see some of their work, chat with him and pick his brain, see if what he says makes sense or if he is just blowing smoke.
  • ctorrey2ctorrey2 Posts: 17
    Prior to 1998 all of my cars were purchased used out of warranty. Between 1990 and 1998, I owned an '87 BMW 325e and then a '91 535i. Both vehicles spent time at dealers and private mechanics. I had great success in both instances, but these cars were relatively unsophisticated (i.e., tried and true 12v in-line sixes and limited onboard electrical gimmics).

    That said, my last two cars have been brand new Audis ('98 A4 2.8q & '01 A6 4.2) and, obviously, both have seen nothing but dealer service as they are/were under full warranty including scheduled service. These cars are relatively sophisticated with 5v/cylinder, all-wheel drive, and traction control technology. I can't see how independent shops can afford (or able) to keep up with the technology employed by today's cars. I have been in my Audi dealership when the bad news is delivered to out-of-warranty customers regarding $3-$5K repairs! How about a $10k transmission?!?! Who in their right mind would buy a vehicles like the new 745i or M3 out-of-warranty? Would you want your independent messing around with BMW's new I-drive when dealers struggle with it? Yikes!

    As the old saying goes (and this is applicable to BMW too), it takes a rich man to buy a Mercedes-Benz and a richer man to buy a used one.
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I agree, there are always going to be some things that are dealership only repairs. But for regular maintenance there is no reason to pay, in my case, $1200 for an inspection II when a fully qualified BMW mechanic from Germany will do it for $500. And he only charges $125 for an inspection I while the dealership wanted $325. Does the dealership have better parts? Maybe, maybe not. Does the dealership have better trained mechanics, in some areas maybe. But because my car is 5 yrs old and the technology is mild, compared to i-drive, he is probably more experienced to work on the car than the mechanics at the Dealership. Now, you must realize that my dealership is teh only experience that I have, and from what they have done so far, I am truly not impressed. My Cruise control stopped working and when I asked them to fix it, they just reported to me that it worked and asked if I knew how to work the cruise and did I need a demonstration. Well, no, I know how to use it, but the problem is sporatic. It will work for say 15 min then just stop. They failed to take that into consideration even though they had the car all day from 7:30 am until 5 pm. The only thing they did was an oil change and fix the trunk actuator.
  • beemer4mebeemer4me Posts: 42
    But yikes, it came with pirelli P6's ! Wonder when the infamous sidewall bubbles will appear...
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    I actually started this thead, but after reading the replies my suspicion is that for new vehicles one is better of with the dealer. They may just be too high tech for nondealers. My own experience with nondealers is mixed. I used to take my Volve to a nondealer, who I think did good work, but had dubious ethics (once telling me to replace an oil filer I had just changed because it was not the Volvo brand) and charged just as much. I have also used nondealers that were terrific.
  • diver110diver110 Posts: 67
    I bought my 2000 BMW 540i wagon from a private party who apparently lost the cargo cover. A new one is a mind boggling $550. I thought I would try to find one from a salvage yard. Can anyone on the list recommend one? If location is relevant, I live in Baltimore, MD, though I asssume salvage yards now operate nationally.
  • roxrepsroxreps Posts: 35
    I'm new to this forum and have a question that might ultimately affect my decision in chosing my next car.

    I live in Westchester, NY, and I'm concerned with the BMW and its handling in snow. Last winter was pretty bad (by NY standards) and even with a dedicated set of snows on a 525iA (sports package incl.), am I asking for trouble? I've been driving FWD cars (Saab) for the last four years (also dedicated snows) and I'm sure this would not be an issue with the Audi Allroad, which I'm also considering (2 young kids+stuff+ wife= wagon). I come to you because the BMW is just more fun to drive than the Audi.

    Your view on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

    All My Best,
    JB
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I just moved from the NYC metro area last August to New Hampshire, where we had a winter that was at least as fun as the one y'all had down in Westchester. ;-) Back in February, I posted a fairly detailed message regarding my experience with my 530i SP, with and without winter tires. If you want to read that post, you can use the "Go To Msg #" feature on this page (at the top of the posts, and again at the bottom of them) and go to message number 5475.

    I hope this helps.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
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