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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • I was considering picking up an 08 535i off lease vehcile. But after seeing all of these problems, no way!
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Hi all. Had both PS hoses and fittings replaced on my '03 530i in July 2008. Bought the car new, so it took 5+ years for any leaks to appear.

    Had a total cooling system overhaul with all components replaced. Radiator, fan, shroud, expansion tank, water pump, thermostat, etc. all replaced. SInce I had this done in Nov 2010, I have noticed a pretty good leak from the PS hose from the lower fitting.

    Question is whether or not the PS hoses must be disconnected in order to perform the cooling system replacement. Given the nature of this current leak, the techs at my indie BMW shop would HAVE to have noticed something in November. I noticed the PS fluid on the floor in mid December. Fluid dripped onto the under engine "tray" for some period before it was of sufficient quantity to make it to the floor of my garage.

    Taking it into the indie shop tomorrow, as the dealer that performed the original work while under CPO Warranty wnated to charge me $159 just to put it on the rack to look at it. At least my guys did not charge me to find the problem and even topped of the ATF fluid. Don't want to "accuse" them of not sufficiently tightening the pressure clamps on the hose (if that is the prob), but if these hoses needed to be disconnected to do the cooling overhaul, then I want them to do the right thinkg by me.

    Any thoughts as a sanity check before I take the car in tomorrow will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
  • ...This is exactly what happened to rained and all of a sudden the car smelled like stagnant it was submerged in a swamp...It was driving me nuts . I checked the floorboards and the front passenger as well as the rear compartment carpet was soaking wet. I took my car to a local shop specializing in bmws and they drained a bucket of water out of the front passenger area ( I didn't see exactly from where ). They told me that some drainage channels were clogged with debris and it caused the water to overflow into the interior of the car , pretty much. So, to the tune of about $120, they drained some water out of the car that should not have been there in the first place . I know that german engineering can do better than this... I mean if some debris causes this kind of problems...ummm...i'm going back to a civic. :mad:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Probably a clogged drain in the fresh air vent system---pretty typical. Leaves or other organic matter get past the screen in the cowl vent (under your windshield wipers) and eventually form a "goop" that plugs the vent drain---and then you have a fishtank in there, which will eventually spill through the firewall (which is not meant to be a fishtank) into the passenger or driver area.

    it's really not the fault of the car. It's more of a maintenance issue and where you park and live.


  • Is there a simple way to check for risk of clogging before we find water in the carpet?
    How do we unclog the vents? I'm guessing we remove the screen cover and try to drag the debris out of the vent cavity?...
    Is there a simple way to access the drain?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    I'm not sure exactlyl where the drain exits on your car---probably down low in the middle of the firewall, in the engine bay---and perhaps you can run a wire up that drain and unclog it.

    otherwise, you have to pop the cowl vent off and peer down in there.


  • You're the man. Thanks :)
  • Good news, as it turns out that the pressure clamp on the PS hose had loosened somehow... most likely during the cooling system overhaul. No leaks and and all appears well (knock on wood!)

    8 years/84000 miles and the 530 runs and drives just beautifully. Sport Pkg still allows for crisp handling and no suspension issues to deal with yet. Imagine some bushings and shocks may need attention soon, however.
  • I have a 1998 528i and the other day I started to hear a strange ticking sound. It kind of sounds like cards going throught the spokes of a bicycle.

    Any ideas on what this might be?

  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Hello there!

    I am thinking into buying a bmw 530i. So far I have found two of them. Both of them are from 2003 model. One has 155,000 mi on it which costs $7995 and the other has 111,798 mi which costs $10,990.

    I have been reading a lot of consumer reviews about the reliability of the 5 series and nearly half of them state no problems while others had reliability issues with high maintenance costs. I haven't test drove these vehicles yet, but I have test drove a 2001 525i the other day. However, judging the reviews even on edmunds I would like to know your opinion.

    This is first I am looking into a european car. I have another car in mind - 1998 mercedes e300 turbo diesel and I have test drove it with 193,000 mi on it and it drives fantastically.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    It's really hard to say without the repair records and being there to observe the actual condition of the vehicle. No car will last a long time without careful maintenance. With it, it could last 500K miles or more. Most people don't or won't perform the required maintenance, but if you find one that has had it, it could be a quite reliable vehicle.

    One thing to consider, though, is that while they may work fine, one recommendation is to replace all of the airbags at 10-years. This could be more cost than the vehicle! While they may work, and you hope you never need them, they may not. Then, most, if not all, rubber components may be toast at that age. Plus, electronics may last a long time, there may not be replacements available depending on how long those parts were made, and when they stopped. A modern engine without a computer module is a boat anchor - and an expensive one at that.

    So, buying old is a risky proposition. Often, except for common repair parts, you may have to wait a long time to find those rare parts that die. If you can accept that it may be out of service for awhile, then it can be a fun, maybe inexpensive (but probably not!) purchase.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    On a used BMW out of warranty, it's wise to "buy mileage" and go for the lowest miled car...presuming it has really good service records.

    As for the Benz, that high mileage is nearing the end of the car's statistical lifespan. I wouldn't pay more than $3500--$4000 for it tops.


  • I bot an '03 540i last April. It had 92k on it. I replaced my '98 540i that had 135k on it and was working pretty well when someone hit me from behind and totaled it. The '03 is very nice and everything still works on it with the exception of intermittent poor readout of the on-board computer console messages. The colder it is, the more led lights fail. I had the same problem with the '98 model. I am replacing a blown upper radiator hose this week for $42 (a strictly dealer item). It has plastic quick disconnects permanently banded to the hose (whose bright idea was this?). One of them deteriorated and allowed the hose to blow off on my way to the airport. Without quick reaction to this type situation, you can warp the cylinder heads due to overheating (of any engine).

    I test-drove a 530i (6 cylinder) before purchasing another 540i (8 cylinder) and love the very noticeable power difference.

    The '98 developed the following problems during my 50k ownership:
    1. Sun roof retraction system began to fail (didn't even want to know how much that would cost). Used hand pressure to aid the weak mechanism.
    2. Door handles are pot metal and we broke two off during an exceptionally cold winter where the door seals froze to the body. Found two used handles for $75 each
    3. Driver door latch cable broke ($35 from dealer). Rebuilt my old one.
    4. Rear axel excentric bolt that adjusts the tow-in for rear tire wear broke and had to be replaced ($12) along with a new alignment ($95).
    5. Developed a typical water leak that deposited 1/2 gallon of water in the passenger side rear floor board during heavy rains (read old edmunds thread on this issue).
    6. Replaced a missing second key ($160)

    The M62 (V-8) engine (as well as the 6) is a beautiful piece of machinery as long as you maintain it. I have the Bentley Repair Manuals (2 volumes @ $135 from and can see the effort required to tension the cam chains, replace the water cooled alternator, the starter, exhaust system, etc. These can be prohibitive costs as the value of the car declines if you have to pay BMW or others to perform these repairs for you. You might want to price out parts that typically fail on many cars with over 100k miles them before you buy any car. In addition, I believe consumer reports indicated concerns over some model year transmissions (you might ask Mr. Shiftright about that).

    All of this being said, I did buy my second 5 series and thoroughly enjoy driving it! If you have good mechanic skills, you will probably survive the repair costs for quite a while. If not, ???
  • woodywwwoodyww Posts: 1,797
    I saw your post in another forum about: "My family and I are thinking of buying a new car probably such as the focus, corolla, camry, civic, and altima perhaps (all from 2011 models). I have been looking in for a diesel for quite a while now and am prepared to have one."

    Nothing wrong with being all over the map like that, but it would be helpful if on a bmw or m-b forum you'd say your other option is a new corolla or civic. If you have no experience maintaining a 100K+ bmw or m-b, I'd say buy the new economy car.

    Or buy a diesel, or a Mack truck, or a Model T, but maybe try to focus? Or maybe this is a send-up......
  • I am at 47,500 miles and my warranty will be ended in a few months. Does anyone has a good independent BMW mechanic located in the San Fernando Valley area that you can recommend? Please give the shop name, and anyone in particular to ask for. I appreciate it.
  • kendall8kendall8 Posts: 28
    My 2004 541i auto/ with 99k. Was 2 q short, on oil. Never burned any, had car since 30k. Now I can hear ticking, from motor,, And leaking antifreeze, had one hose fixed, still leaking.... TY,,,
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Thank you for your concern(s) and advice(s).

    It has been long time since I last typed a message here on this forum. However, I would like to make a announcement that I have actually bought the 2003 BMW 530i with 111,000 mi. We did look at other vehicles like economy class ('07 Camry with 27,000 mi, '05 Focus with 85,000 mi, '08 Dodge Avenger) before the purchase. We test drove all of them. They were in the range of 10~18 grand, however, we could not get a good deal especially for the camry. Any ways, I am happy with the purchase and the car is running excellent. I changed the rear brakes and the alternator all by myself. Changed the spark plugs and put a new K&N filter as well as did synthetic oil change. Topped up the tyre pressure as per the specs. Initially in the first week I was averaging about 18~19 mpg, but now with the tune-up I am getting about 22~23 mpg in city driving. How about that!!

    Thought I'll just update you guys. That's it for me to say now.
    Take care.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited June 2011
    I highly recommend you pull that K&N and put a standard paper filter back in; you're fuel economy and performance will be just as good and you won't run into any airflow-sensor issues. As for your engine oil, did you use an oil that is BMW LL-01 certified? If you didn't then I suggest you change it again with something like Mobil 1 0W-40.

    Enjoy your car. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    I would agree...ditch the K&N asap. It's not helping you.


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