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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    LOL!!! There's no question that Accords are nice cars, but to consider them in the same league as a 5er? Come on! Truth be told, if I could justify a two seater I'd look long and hard at an S2000 or a used NSX.
  • We all know the 5er is a nice vehicle to drive. I would consider buying one but we are talking about problems and solutions on this thread. I am simply stating that there are more headaches for the 5er than the Japanese make. All in all, you gotta have a stack of cash to keep the 5er up and running compare to the more reliable Japanese makes which in my experience only requires oil changes periodically. I have never have to worry about the Accord breaking down electronically or mechanically. Wake up in the morning, start the car and go. Even though it does not perform like a 5er, it does okay in performance, and exceptional in realibility and maintenance costs.
  • Had 4 Accords over the years. Loved them. Totally reliable (tho, to be fair, the last one in '98 was far more cheaply made than the first one in '83).

    Now have three BMW's and love them all. Different car, different economics, and I have more money to support the difference in the economics. Life goes on.

    Both great, great cars for what they do and are built for.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "All in all, you gotta have a stack of cash to keep the 5er up and running compare to the more reliable Japanese makes which in my experience only requires oil changes periodically."

    Ummm, I realize that I am only one guy, however, my last 5 years and 70K miles have been spent in BMWs, and to date, I have a total out of pocket for unscheduled maintenance of $1.00 (two burned out taillights), which would have been covered under warranty had I bothered to take the car in instead of doing it myself.

    As for maintenance items that are "consumables" (such as brakes, tires oil, filters and wiperblades), my bet is that only the tires cost more per mile than a typical Accord. From where I sit, my 5er seems extremely economical to maintain.

    Best Regards,
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Let's see, a non-BMW owner enters a discussion in a BMW topic proclaiming the superiority of a 13 year old FWD family/grocery hauler, then gets in a bit of a snit over a few well deserved barbs? I feel for you, friend. Actually, I usually recommend Accords(or Camrys) to my non-enthusiast friends. They are tough to beat if you want a benign driving experience coupled with excellent reliability. That said, I concur with the philosophy of fellow countryman DED Jr., who once said: "Life is too short to drive boring cars." In my 20+ years of BMW ownership-two 3ers, two 5ers, one E3, and one 6er-I've been stranded exactly one time-when a poor fitting non-BMW coolant hose split on my Bavaria 3.0 in 1983. I've driven them all over the US as well as to the shores of the Arctic Ocean-in February-and I've never had to make an unscheduled stop. I've hammered dead stock BMWs around Memphis Motorsport Park, Mid-Ohio, NHIS, Putnam, Sears Point, and Watkins Glen for hours with no breakdowns. Now, I'll admit that M6 I bought in 1992 was a bit expensive to run-@$6000 in service and repairs-but three years later I sold it for $500 less than I paid for it. I guess I should have bought a 1992 Accord, saved $5300 in maintenance costs, then re-upped for a 1995 model(after taking a $5000+ depreciation hit). Of course, I would have missed out on the glorious full throttle sound of the S38 DOHC as I entered Turn 1 at NHIS, the thrill of drafting a 930 Turbo down the front straight at Memphis, and the pleasure of owning a car that made you look for some reason-ANY reason- to take a long drive(a characteristic of EVERY BMW I've ever driven). Of course, none of that is important. Better to have taken the Accord. It's cheap to run. It's reliable. And it's a nice practical FWD sedan. That's what REALLY matters, right?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Careful, there; you are arguing with a true believer. Just repeat after me:
    HONNNDAAAA...OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM-they are cheap to run
    HONNNDAAAA...OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM-all other cars are inferior
    HONNNDAAAA...OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM-nothing else compares
    There now, don't you feel better? And honestly, deep down inside, don't you really, REALLY, want to trade your 140 mph Nurburgring tuned 5er for a nice, sensible, FWD sedan? No? Well, let's try again-deep breaths, now:
    HONNNDAAAA...OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM-they are reliable.......
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I thought that only the Mazda rotary went "OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM". Oh yeah, that's "HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM". ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • Guys, figure since this is the problems/solutions page I'd put one in.

    The yellow air bag light in the overhead (a useless piece of government mandated nonsense if there ever was one, and very distracting at night) can be eliminated by:

    -- popping out the light module with your fingers
    -- unplugging it
    -- opening the module with a small screwdriver (insert the screwdriver gently into the four clip holes you'll see around the module) and
    -- taping over the LED's with electrical tape (you can't tape over the inside of the lens);
    -- Then put it all back.

    Takes about 10 minutes.

    Problem is, unplugging the module is detected by the system as a fault, which doesn't automaticly reset.

    Two questions:

    1. I unplugged the module with the car running, with triggered the fault indicator. Dumb, but live and learn. Has anyone done it with the car off, and if so, did unplugging the module trigger the fault with the key off?


    2. Is there a way to reset the fault indications without taking the car to BMW? Don't mind doing it, but would have to leave the car there for the day.

    Any experience or ideas with this?

    Thanks --
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Disconnecting any part of the SRS while the ignition is on will be interpreted as a fault by the SRS diagnostic protocols. I see this happen frequently when owners/shops remove seats or steering wheels to replace switches, carpet, etc. While I'm not 100% certain about the E60, I believe that removing the light module with the ignition off will not trigger a fault code. Once a code is thrown you have two options:
    1. Take the car to a dealer or independent shop that has the correct reset tool
    2. Buy or borrow one of these:
    It wouldn't hurt to check out your most recent CCA chapter newsletter(or their web site) and see if your chapter has one available to borrow.
  • I'm looking to buy a 2003 530iA or 540iA in Philadelphia PA area. I am looking for brand new or very low miles (like a demo car) Was interested in peoples opinions about the relative benefits/drawbacks between the two engines, relative to gas mileage, acceleration, etc.

    Also, any opinions or advice on pricing. Drove an 03 540iA w/ sport and premium packages with 6k miles priced at $52,000.00. Seems high to me but the dealer doesn't seem willing to deal, thoughts?
  • I'm looking to buy a 2003 530iA or 540iA in Philadelphia PA area. I am looking for brand new or very low miles (like a demo car) Was interested in peoples opinions about the relative benefits/drawbacks between the two engines, relative to gas mileage, acceleration, etc.

    Also, any opinions or advice on pricing. Drove an 03 540iA w/ sport and premium packages with 6k miles priced at $52,000.00. Seems high to me but the dealer doesn't seem willing to deal, thoughts?
  • I'm looking to buy a 2003 530iA or 540iA in Philadelphia PA area. I am looking for brand new or very low miles (like a demo car) Was interested in peoples opinions about the relative benefits/drawbacks between the two engines, relative to gas mileage, acceleration, etc.

    Also, any opinions or advice on pricing. Drove an 03 540iA w/ sport and premium packages with 6k miles priced at $52,000.00. Seems high to me but the dealer doesn't seem willing to deal, thoughts?
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    I think we've all seen your post now, on all the boards.
  • You saw my post, but don't care to offer your opinion? I see that you list a 2003 5 as the car you own, so your opinion would be especially valuable.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    I don't know how I can help you choose between a 530 and 540. Drive both, weigh the performance differences as you perceive them vs. the cost difference, and choose. I did that and concluded that while the 540 is a blast for acceleration, the extra cost couldn't be justified for my mostly around-town driving. Conventional wisdom also has it that the E39 530 handles a bit better than the 540 due to lower front-end weight and a different steering mechanism, but I couldn't tell the difference.

    I have no information about current market prices of used 540's.

    Good luck.
  • With respect, your post doesn't show that you've done your research enough to convince the folks here to comment. Your question is very preliminary. The 530 @ $52K item is not much different that saying "what's a red car worth?". Glad to provide thoughts, but check the many resources on the net and filter your conclusions with a lot of your own developed knowledge for us -- and we'll be glad to offer our thoughts to add to them and help you make your final decision.

    Best, and good luck --
  • Well, as I was walking out to get in my '01 530 the other day I noticed that the BMW logo ornament on the hood had mysteriously changed to just a silver circle. I had only been parking the car at work (reasonably secure parking lot), and home (off-street but in a driveway).

    My first thought was vandalism, except: 1) why would somebody go to the effort to carefully peel the emblem off of the metal backing and not just pry the whole thing off (presumably, as a souveneir), and 2) there is absolutely no sign of any scratches, etc. from a prying tool.

    In looking at it, it looks more like the adhesive may have failed. Has anybody heard of anything like this happening? I'd rather make a warranty claim than an insurance claim!

    Thanks... Tom
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I'd give the dealer a try-it can't hurt to ask. If that fails, replace it yourself. The part number is: 51 14 8 132 375. It lists for $11.90, which means you should be able to purchase one at your dealer for no more than $10 with your CCA discount. And by the way, "roundel" is the proper name for that emblem.
  • vizviz Posts: 50
    Recently leased this vehicle for 3 years. I would appreciate if some one can help me choose Winter tires. Is it mandatory to have new rims too ? They seem to be expensive. Please advise.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Do you have the Sport Package? If not, do you live in an area with lots of snow?

    If you answered "No" to both of those questions, you might do just fine with the standard all-season tires that came on your car.

    If you deem snow tires a necessity, I think that you'll find that any the more popular snow tires are more than acceptable.

    In my own personal experience, the Blizzaks seem to have the best grip by a slight margin over the Dunlops and Michelins while the Michelins are considerably quieter than the other two on dry pavement. I am currently running Michelin Arctic-Alpin tires on my 2002 530i (with Sport Package), and I am completely satisfied with them.

    Regarding the wheels, that is up to you. In the long run, it is much cheaper to buy a set of wheels with your winter tires simply because after a couple of years, the cost of mounting and balancing twice a year will easily eat up the cost of the new wheels.

    Once again, in my case, I went to and ordered a complete tire and wheel package, with Michelin Arctic-Alpin tires and Borbet Type H wheels (which totaled to something like $1,007.00, with shipping).

    Best Regards,
  • sykusyku Posts: 7
    Can someone tell me what is CCA?

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The BMW Car Club of America:
  • glakerglaker Posts: 49
    I installed 4 Dunlop Winter Sport M2's on Fox wheels purchased thru tirerack. I live in upstate NY and we've had snow falls of 32", 15" and a few of 8" or less. I haven't taken the car out in major snowfall (I may be crazy to live in upstate NY, but I'm not stupid), but have had it in 3-4" of snow and it performed well, even getting out of my uphill driveway from a complete stop. The Dunlops are almost as quiet as the OEM Conti Tourings and seem to handle almost as well. I'd recommend them in the snow.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    My wife's 3er came with Conti Tourings; we switched to Michelin Arctic Alpins for the winter and the car handled better. I haven't had any experience with the Conti performance tires, but the Tourings are barely one step up from rim protectors.
  • glakerglaker Posts: 49
    It still bothers me to know that BMW can put $90 tires ($360 for all four)on a $50k car. As someone on one of the boards remarked, it is truly foolish for a manufacturer to scrimp on tires. I'm just not ready to scrap the Contis with only 4500 miles on them..... but even if I were ready, it's almost impossible to choose an alternate tire despite how much you read and research. There are as many opinions out there on what is the "best" tire as there are rocks on the moon. Oh well.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    glaker... Last year I bought a set of ContiTouringContact tires for my '00 323ia. Cost about $65 per tire installed! BMW buys them by the tens of thousands. Bet they pay less than half that.

    Getting someone to pay $30,000 or $50,000 for a car with a set of tires that cost $150 is one way to be hugely profitable. Too bad so few BMW owners are serious about driving or driving the ultimate machine. If they were, all BMWs would come with Sport Pkg!!! Too many people want to own a BMW or be seen driving one. They never even worry about driving it hard. Their loss. And ours since dealers tend to order inventory for this herd.

    Now you understand why BMW is the most profitable "major" car manufacturer in the world? Only Porsche beats them on a per vehicle basis. And look at the option sheet for a Porsche--$90,000 base MSRP can quickly turn into $110,000 or more.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I am one of the guilty that has had a BMW equipped without the Sport Package. :-/ I ordered my 1999 328i without the SP simply because I was more than a little gun shy after replacing five BBS wheels and seven tires in 80K miles (most of which were driven in and around NYC) on my previous car. Unfortunately, Brave1heart (of 3-Series fame) and I swapped cars for a day a couple of years ago, and while my 328i had gobs more torque than his 325i, his was equipped with the SP, and as such, could run rings around mine in the twisties. Needless to say, I was sold. My 530i has the SP, and I LOVE it. ;-)

    Regarding the Porsche price list, just for kicks and grins, I went over there and priced out a Boxter S. The base car lists at $51,600, and by the time I finished optioning it out in its most expensive incarnation (I think), including the (ugh!) automatic transmission for $3,210, it came out to a whopping $98,265! That works out to a 90.4% premium over the base cost.

    Memo to the Porsche folks: "I am in awe of your ability to make money by adding extra goodies to your cars. I am humbled in your presence."

    Best Regards,
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    My current 3er has the SP, but my wife's 528i doesn't-and I honestly don't miss it. She never pushes the envelope so the SP is of no real advantage. Tires are cheaper and, as you noted, bent wheels are few and far between. Since I have a dedicated set of winter wheels/tires for the 5er I will be able to fit more aggressive performance oriented tires. When I replace the shocks in a few thousand miles I'll fit Bilsteins HDs or Tourings to firm up the ride just a bit. At 100,000 miles the big sled will once again be ready to mix it up on winding two-lanes and on ramps. The thing is, the handling limits of most any BMW-SP or not-are unable to be exploited by the vast majority of owners. I'll get om my soapbox once again and state that attending several Drivers Schools will do more to improve your car's capability than most any modification you can make. Don't get me wrong, any BMW I'd buy would either be an M or have the SP, but a properly driven non-SP BMW will-when the road turns twisty- run and hide from 98% of the cars/drivers out there.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The good news is that you are "Preaching to the Choir" on this one. ;-) I am totally sold on the need to attend a Drivers School, especially when you consider that I haven't attended one since something like 1977, and my skills have most likely atrophied to a considerable degree. That said, I am still rather gimpy from my broken right leg and severely dislocated foot from a year ago (last Friday was my anniversary :-/), and as such, my driving is FAR more conservative these days. Maybe I will be healed enough to consider it sometime this summer.

    Best Regards,
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Leftover 03 Boxster Ss are now going for roughly $43K to $48K. All of those options you allude to are mainly creature comforts and cosmetics. No one extorts better than Porsche. But you don't need goodies with it. The $42K I paid for my leftover 02 has more than I need or want... cruise, heated seats. I'm not even sure I need the juke box as I find myself listening more to the sweet music that comes from the engine and exhaust.

    With regard to the sport package on the 530. After driving over a week now with the S, my 530 w/o SP feels like a DeVille and I know SP would have made no difference. Furthermore, one of the best car decisions I ever made in my life was not buying the M5 I was considering last month.

    I am well aware of the satisfaction BMW owners get from our sport sedans and how they fill the all-around family/business needs, but if anyone is really into the thrill of driving there is only one answer... sports car. As we know, they are not practical, but if you have that driver's lust and can swing it as a second or third car... this is the promised land, sport-sedans are a compromise in my opinion. Works wonders in the family environment also. My wife is crazy about the 530 and she basically has it to herself now.

    BTW, are you sure you were at the P dealer only for "kicks and grins"? ;-)
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