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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • 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,
  • 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,
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I live in Metro Detroit and we have had some pretty bad winters over the years and hands down, my 528i is the best handling car I have ever driven in the snow aside from my 99 Grand Cherokee Laredo and the only advantage that had over the 5er is the sheer size of the tires based on the amount of snow that we got. That being said, the GCL had a tendancy to collect snow and ice on the wheels causing a servere shimmy on the tires while driving.

  • ctorrey2ctorrey2 Posts: 17
    While I haven't owned a BMW since unloading my 535i in 98, I can say that my '01 Audi A6 4.2 quattro is virtually unstoppable in snow (especially with ESP on). Even with summer tires, it easily handled the MA/NH winter of '02/'03. In fact, there were a few instances that I was able to get through snow that a friend's Jeep GC couldn't, not to mention my father's 4WD Tundra. With the adjustable ground clearance and winter tires, I can only imagine how well the allroad would handle adverse driving conditions.

    I have heard that BMW 5 series' equipped with DSC and winter tires are pretty good in the snow relative to the older cars (my '91 535i was a nightmare in the snow and only needed about 2" to render it undrivable). Hard to say for sure, but you can't miss with the new allroad 4.2. The Audi V8's are amazing!
  • beemer4mebeemer4me Posts: 42
    my only complaint about my new 530. With ashtrays in the center console and both rear doors,BMW sure has favored the smoker over the sipper.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    I can attest that there are many more smokers than sippers.

    Those who shun Audis & BMWs because they lack cupholders probably ought to be driving something else in the first place.

    Many other manufacturers generate vehicles with cupholders-aplenty. If that's the deciding factor. . .
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Ahhh. The old cupholders debate. My last vehicle had 17. I'm now down to 4. I almost didn't buy the Bimmer, unless I got more cupholders. :)
  • sirtigersirtiger Posts: 38
    oh no... not the cupholders issue... A oldie but a goodie complaint..... :(
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    In Germany, one actually has to pay for those ashtrays. It would have been nice to be able to delete that thing. BMW NA really needs to work on getting their options and ordering process straightened out.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    One needs to realize that several European countries, like Sweden, prohibit drinking and driving or any type. Therefore, you are not likely to find a lot of cupholders in many European cars.

  • ii31ii31 Posts: 24
    Hello All,

    Does anyone know how to disable factor
    alarm in a 2000 BMW 540?

    Dealer fixed false alarm problem 2 weeks
    ago by replacing a faulty sensor. It's
    going off again (2am last night *URGH*).

    Is there anyway to just lock the doors
    WITHOUT any alarm? Thanks

  • I am looking at a new 530. Just saw the Slate Green which I kind of like but have some concerns that when it comes time to resell, it may not be that desirable. The other option is Orient Blue. The darker car probably looks classier but having Oxford Green now I know they show every nick, scratch, etc. The salesman suggested I would be better off for resale with the Orient Blue but I wasn't sure if that was because he has 3 of those versus one of the Slate Green.
    Anyone care to offer me any advice on these color options? Help would be most appreciated
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