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Reader's Rides Redux

andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,382
One of the casualties of the disappearance of Inside Line was the loss of the Reader's Rides section. I got tired of waiting for Edmund's to realize their mistake so I figured we could just do it ourselves. Presenting Reader's Rides Redux, where you show show us your rides old and new. I'll kick off with some thoughts about my BMW 528i but don't be shy, let's see what you're drivin'.
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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,382
    There are two very conflicting schools of thought about German cars. The predominant one says that you don’t want to keep one past the end of the factory warranty, lest you be buried in a pile of expensive mechanical work. The other feeds off the majority who believe this to be true. This minority reasons that the depreciation curve is quite steep on these cars because of that widespread belief causing BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Porsches and even VWs to be good values once outside their warranty period.

    I spent a good part of my adulthood admiring BMWs but coming up with reasons why they were too pricey but a couple of things happened that changed my mind. The first was the introduction of the E39 5 Series followed by the E46 3ers, cars which acquired good reputations for build quality and reliability. The other was the happenstance of working a few blocks away from one of New England’s leading resellers of BMWs. If you’re a Car Guy and there’s a bunch of nice cars around the corner from your office you’re going to pay a visit from time to time. After a while I became familiar with the stock and the asking prices and heard around that this dealer had a good reputation

    After the turn of the 21st Century, and towards the end of E39 production, these started appearing on his lot and I couldn’t help but notice because I had liked their style from the beginning. No one ever called BMW cars bargains but I began to realize that second-hand E39 Fivers were a lot of car for the money. Since my A4 Avant was getting on miles I decided to take a test drive. The first thing I noticed was the steering. I had forgotten the clean, pure feeling of steering front wheels with nothing to do but steer and I hadn’t driven anything with such balance since I sold my last two-seater in the late 70s. The price was around that of a loaded new Camry or Accord and to me it was a whole lot more car. So it was that I bought my “Blue Max”, a Steel Blue 2000 528ia with 44,000 miles in Sept. 2004.

    Nine years later I have nearly 150,000 miles on it and it still runs very well and all of the car’s components function perfectly. You can definitely count me among the school that says you’ll never know how good these are until you’ve flipped the nines on the odometer. Now I’ve owned a variety of cars that had differing reputations for dependability. Some were considered pretty bad (Triumph TR-4, Fiat 124, several Saabs) and some had pretty good reps (VW Beetle, Honda Accord & Prelude) , most lived up to their reputations but of the dozen or so cars I’ve owned this ’00 528i is the most reliable I’ve ever had.

    To be sure there have been some issues, the most serious ($$-wise) being a failed VANOS drive, but not that many. Routine maintenance can be expensive (avg. $500-$800/yr.) but when things are fixed they tend to stay fixed and repair costs are offset by very low insurance rates and registration fees because of the car’s age. Finding a good independent BMW shop and doing preventive maintenance is the key to enjoying these cars with minimal fuss.

    In a recent Top Gear broadcast, host Jeremy Clarkson, not always kind to BMWs, praised the E39 declaring them the “last of the mechanical Five Series”. I think he meant that those were the last Fivers in which the driving characteristics reflected the technical layout of the car rather than being disguised by the intervention of various electronic aids. I’m sure that there are many who would prefer newer, fresher designs but if you’re like me there’s a certain magic in the combination of rear-wheel drive, superb balance, a turbine smooth straight six and high build quality. The supply of worthwhile survivors from this generation of BMWs is diminishing by the day. I’m glad I got in when I did.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,015
    edited July 2013
    I've owned BMWs since 1983 and the E39 5er was most definitely the high water mark for the 5 Series. In fact, virtually all of the new BMWs leave me cold. The only new Bimmers I would consider would be the 135i M Sport and the M3. The F10 5er feels like an old man's car with it's numb steering and excessive bulk.The F30 3er is better, but not by much; my son's 2004 X3 is more engaging to drive.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    BMW changed the sex of their cars! I just don't relate much anymore.

    I have owned, in the past:

    (2) BMW 2002s

    (1) BMW 7 series M30 engine (GREAT car!)

    (3) BMW motorcycles

    (1) BMW 320i (not so great)

    Yes, ancient history, I know I know....

    I've driven quite a few friends BMWs and my favorite was also the mid/late 90s 5 Series.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,382
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    Not sure I want this thread to focus solely on BMW's, so I'll put in a quick review of "Steve", my '06 Saturn ION.

    Steve was bought new in June of '06, as my daughter graduated HS and needed a reliable car to get her back and forth from college (approx. 100 miles away).

    This was the 3rd Saturn we had bought - previous purchases included an '03 L300 and an '05 VUE with the Honda V6. Why Saturn? Predominantly for the buying experience - and the plastic panels that were unique in the GM family. The ION is a "2" trim level with the addition of ABS and a sunroof.

    All was well for the first 3 years, then my daughter reported a small problem - the ION would simply stop running for no apparent reason. Took it to the dealer after the first occurrence; dealer couldn't find anything wrong.

    The second time this happened was the straw that broke the camel's back for my wife. My L300 was traded in for a MINI for the daughter and I inherited the ION with 34K miles on it.

    In the past 4+ years, I've put on almost 60K on the car, primarily for pizza delivery duty and in-town errand running. Mechanically, it runs great - not once have I experienced the problem that my daughter reported. It's had a couple of needs - a new ignition switch and shocks/struts all around. Cosmetically, it's getting a little ragged, but with 93K on it I can't complain too much.

    It gets a pretty consistent 24-26 MPG is almost exclusive city driving. I suspect I'll be driving it for a few more years; not much reason to get a new or newer car for what I'm using it for currently.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,382
    Thanks Michaell, I certainly didn't want to focus only on BMWs. The more who contribute the merrier IMO.

    You didn't say how many miles are on your Saturn.
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    The ION has just over 93K on it. New front struts/shocks a couple of weeks ago and new tires this past Tuesday.

    I'm happy that it has a timing chain so don't need to worry about changing it soon.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,584
    My 2000 Park Ave has about 93,000 miles on it as well. I think old age is starting to get to it, though.

    Even though that Ion has a timing chain, do they still need to check it occasionally, make sure the guides and such aren't getting worn, and so on? I've always wondered...is there any way to easily check a timing chain, or do you just wait until the car starts getting hard to tune up? I've heard that chains don't fail catastrophically for the most part, but gradually start to stretch out and get sloppy.
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    Those are good questions, Andre. When I take the car in for its next oil change in a few months I'll ask the shop about that.

    You know, for an appliance, I could have done much worse. Still on the original battery, brakes lasted more than 80K miles, A/C still blows cold and its never left me stranded due to mechanical issues. The ignition switch was a problem as I couldn't get the key out of the ignition, but I figured out how to get around that before I took it to the dealer for replacement.

    It does have a propensity to eat tires. I'm now on my 3rd set in 60K miles. I suspect I wear them out with all the slipping and sliding I do on ice in the winter time. Even with traction control turned on, there is a fair amount of wheelspin when I'm doing pizza delivery duty.

    And, I probably don't spend as much as I should for quality - my latest set were less than $300 installed!
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