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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • russerusse Posts: 7
    Is there an owners' club for the 740i somewhere on this web site?
  • russerusse Posts: 7
    My 1994 740i presently has about 118,000 miles on it. Over the 6 years that I have owned it, it has been in for repairs at least 20 times which has cost me more than $20,000 (including 2 transmission replacements)

    Have any of you other 5 or 7 series drivers ever had bad luck such as this or is my car just a total lemon?
  • russerusse Posts: 7
    As a follow up to my previous post, other problems that I have had with my 740i include:

    Transmission replaced (1st time at 64000 miles)
    Transmission replaced (2nd time at 114,000 miles)
    Tranny fluid replaced twice ($250 each time)
    Air conditioning condenser replaced
    Air conditioning evaporator replaced
    Air conditioning line replaced
    A/C coolant replaced 3 times and topped up twice
    Radiator repaired several times
    Radiator replaced
    Radiator coolant replaced numerous times
    Wiper motor replaced
    Both front stabilizer rods and vanes replaced
    Both valve cover gaskets replaced
    Main Water pump replaced
    All four brake rotors and pads (at least 4 times)
    Tie rod end replaced
    Both front body strut bars and bushings replaced
    Wheel alignment (done twice)
    Stereo repaired
    Drive shaft centre bearing replaced
    Drivers power seat motor and switches repaired
    Electric auxilliary water pump replaced
    Several heater hoses replaced
    Transmission oil cooler replaced
    Coolant hose to trans oil cooler replaced
    Upper and lower rad hoses replaced
    Oil filter bracket repaired (severe oil leak)
    Thermostat housing replaced
    Thermostat replaced twice
    Both fuel filters replaced
    Spark plugs replaced
    Steering wheel locking mechanism replaced
    Shifter linkage needed realignment
    Windshield replaced
    Extensive body work and painting done due to rust
    Battery replaced
    Air filter replaced twice
    Microfilter replaced twice
    Have bought 3 sets of new tires for car
    Numerous problems with windshield wipers
    Almost every light on car replaced at least once
    Fuel gauge light doesn't work - not fixed yet
    Hood latch always sticks so hood hard to open
    Trunk lock sticks constantly - not fixed yet
    Rear door handles don't retract in cold weather
    Glove box opens by itself on bumps - not fixed
    Exhaust system leak - not fixed yet
    Centre link shot - not fixed yet
    One ball joint needs replacing - not fixed yet
    Drivers power seat broken again - not fixed yet
    Air bag light on all the time - not fixed yet
    Power lumbar supports on both seats broken
    Rear seat fold down console hinges broken
    Drivers seat armrest mechanism broken
    Power steering wheel adj. works intermittently

    Looking at the above litany of problems you might think that I am hard on the car and/or don't maintain it properly. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am 51 years old, the car is not driven hard, and every required BMW inspection and oil change has been performed at the required times since the car was new. The car has full documentation to verify this.

    I also own an old 533i (that has had its share of problems too) but I really will think twice before ever buying another BMW (that's if I want to stay married!). They are terrific cars to drive but I'm starting to wonder whether the superiority of so-called "German engineering" is really just an often repeated myth! Have any of you other 5 or 7 series drivers ever had problems such as I have experienced or is my car just a total lemon? I await your thoughts on this.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Well, remember that you are dealing with a complex ten year old car that cost over $60K new. It also sounds like you use a dealer for service-your costs would likely be 40%-50% less if you used a good independent shop. As for your repair record, only a few things strike me as abnormal-the two A/T failures seem premature(they will usually go at least 100K miles), as does the A/C work, and the trans cooler. Most of the other work you listed I would consider normal for most any car of that age and mileage-brakes, exhaust, hoses, filters, suspension parts, and T-stats. Why did the windscreen need to be replaced? How long do you expect a battery to last? Spark plugs? Light bulbs? My Club Sport track rat is going on it's fourth set of tires at 84K, while my wife's 98K E39 is still rolling on the OEM Michelins(and BTW, it takes new pads every 25K and rotors every 50K. Sticking latches and door handles? Just tonight I set aside 10 minutes and lubed them myself. Loose glove box door? Adjust the latch, for gosh sakes. I also think that your dealer may be throwing parts at some problems rather than analyzing the actual cause of the failure or problem. The service/repair costs for my Club Sport have averaged less than $500/year over eight years, while the E39 costs are @$1000/year over the past three years. 7er costs will be a bit more, but certainly not over $2000/year. Hint: Find a good independent, buy the Bentley manual- - t=4 -and fix the fiddly minor problems yourself.
  • This seems to be typical for German vehicles. Some of these problems you are having still exists today in the new vehicles. I was really interested in purchacing the 2004 530i but may decide on a Japanese vehicle instead. I guess I have to give up the performance for reliablity. I guess if I am paying that kind of money to maintain a vehicle, I would most definitely look at Japanese cars. My 13 year old Accord has an approximate total of $3000 ($230/yr) in maintenance/major repair costs.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I stuck a wrong number into my 5er's maintenance spreadsheet; the annual service cost for the E39 is $793-deduct the cost of my dedicated winter tire/wheel package and the annual cost is $580.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Let's see, I can drive/track/maintain my Club Sport for 1.37/day
    I can drive/maintain a 13 year old FWD family sedan and pocket the princely sum of:
    I hope you're sitting down....


    And as for my 5er? I REALLY feel silly; for the past three years I've been driving the finest sedan in the world(according to Automobile, Autocar, Car, Car and Driver, and Road&Track) when I could have been tootling about in a 1991 Honda! And I would have saved enough money to buy a Happy Meal almost EVERY DAY! Boy, am I depressed.
  • The annual cost to operate my Honda includes tires (4 sets of tires), oil change, tire rotation, 2 timing belt changes, etc. It includes EVERYTHING! So with your cost of 793/yr. You can now supersize your happy meal while you are waiting for your car being serviced.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    You've got me! I am absolutely green with envy. I can't fight it any longer-I'm putting the 5er up for sale tonight! I can only hope and pray that somehow, somewhere, there's a clean 1991 Accord out there waiting for me...
  • ny540i6ny540i6 Posts: 518
    OK, I have seen the light. Out goes the 5. No sale necessary. I am actually gonna leave it out on bulk garbage pick up day... irony is that I DID once own an Accord coupe, 5 speed... nice car, but if I only had known!
  • 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?
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