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Buying a used 5 Series

bmvmanbmvman Posts: 2
I have an opportunity to buy a 1993 535i Saloon, and it is in terrific condition inside and out. Seems like a great price at $4,500 with 120,000 miles. The owner is an associate of mine and I'm certain the mileage is orignal - no new engines along the way etc.

The car has a rough idle problem - suddenly, says the current owner after installing a used cold air or mass air flow sensor. He thinks it might simply be a vacuum leak in the system, but I'm wondering if this is a typical problem for this 2.5L V6? Also, with good care, how many miles can you get out of this engine? Thanks in advance.



  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    First off, let's get one thing straight- a 535i has a 3.5 liter inline six. There are a number of faults that can cause a bad idle inthese cars, and most of the fixes are fairly simple and inexpensive. That said, the only way to know for sure is to have an experienced BMW tech examine the car. I'd suggest a pre-purchase inspection prior to buying the car. As for engine longevity, BMW's M30 family is extremely durable. With regular maintenance you should get at least 300,000 miles out of that engine.
  • bmvmanbmvman Posts: 2
    Thanks for the correction. The car is a 525i. I had the right engine, but the wrong model number.
    This car rides and drives great, but a lumpy idle. The original owner says he was trying to fix a vacuum leak. Replaced a hose, and then the idle problem. Thanks again for your help.

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The 2.5 is a sweet engine as well, and it requires less maintenance than the 3.5. I'd still want the idle problem sorted before Ipurchased it.
  • fos41fos41 Posts: 1
    i have an older 535 i and was wondering if anyone has ever used a reman. drive shaft/ i know new shaft will workout fine. the price difference of or a reman. shaft is more attractive ,but have had problems with some products that are reman. anyone have any feed back on this thanks donnie
  • 525lover525lover Posts: 1
    I recently bought a 95 525i and for the first 2 months it drove well.within the last month and a half though,whenever i turn to the right at speeds of 20-25mph there is really bad vibration.could this be ball joint failure or something else?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I'd look at the ball joints, control arm bushings, and tie rod ends.
  • djjaydjjay Posts: 1
    I am looking at 3 different older 5 Series cars to purchase and would like some wisdom to narrow it down (& negotiating info). Mileage is approx. & price is asking.

    1988 535iT, $3,500, 80k on new eng/trans
    1990 535i, $2,500, 207k
    1991 525i, $4,500, 120k plus

    The 88 & 91 both come from an auto shop specializing in BMW repairs/restoration and so will be thoroughly tuned in and out with a 6 month warranty.

    On the other hand, the 90 is a cash as is sale. The only problems I've noticed in a brief inspection are power lock issues (looks like the trunk lock was broken into at some point causing a lock/unlock action or just staying locked, the rear pass lock isn't activated by power it seems) and the cabin heat/cool fan doesn't engage. One more thing, when I opened the coolant resvoir it looked like there was some "glitter" in the fluid, is this anything to be concerned over?

    Any wisdom is greatly appreciated. Having owned old 5 Series' (86, 87, & 88 525e) I know they are dependable joys to drive so just want to get a car to last 3 to 5 years with little maintenance at a good price.

  • bigbiz1bigbiz1 Posts: 2
    I am thinking of purchasing 1996-1999 528. I have no previous experience with these cars so I am wondering if anyone who owns one can give me some info.....reliability, problems, etc. Thanks
    Frank G
  • I owned a '99 for 4 years and 72K miles. Only out-of-pocket expenses were front brakes at 60K miles for $750.
  • Thanks........just looking at finances as I heard these cars can be quite expensive
  • Get a car that has reasonable or is under mileage for its age - but more importantly has been nurtured by a "car guy" :)
  • pearlpearl Posts: 336
    I have one of the first E39s (528)delivered in the U.S. (June 96 as a 1997 model). The car has premium pkg and manual transmission and has just crossed 150K miles. I get about 24mpg in town and nearly 30 in highway cruising and the car has never burned a drop of oil. Other than "normal" replacement items (belts, hoses, brake pads, coolant, oil, filters, tune-up items, etc), the only trouble I have had with the car is a leaking power steering hose/fittings, a broken fan-belt tensioner, a leaking transmission seal, and a bad front strut (replaced both front struts). The clutch is a little weak at this stage and my remote key fob won't lock the doors any more (but will open them). I have taken good care of this car and would say this is the best car I have ever owned. In early 06 I had the new car bug and drove many LPS models (GS, RL, M, new E60, STS, etc) but did not find any of them that made me want to trade my E39 - for example, none were as quiet as mine and only the E60 handled as well. No doubt others have had similar experiences with this model BMW as me, and no doubt others have had worse. I think you need to see if you can get the history on the cars you are looking at, but overall, I have loved my car and wish you success if you buy one.
  • If anyone would care to share their thoughts with me, I'd be grateful. I have an opportunity to buy a 1998 528i with 2200 miles on it. It's showroom new, been sitting for years in a heated, secure garage. Recently, all the fluids were replaced, I'm not sure about the hoses and belts, and the battery needs a charge, but it's new also.
    Blue Book trade-in value is $13,000, private party trade value is $15K, and dealership retail is $17,000.
    It's out of warranty, of course, but it's literally a new car, and I've known the owner long before she bought it new in 1998.
    Does anyone have any thoughts as to what might be a fair offer for such a car? Even though it's out of warranty, it seems like a great opportunity, however, I've never owned a BMW and have heard countless horror stories about the cost of maintenance and repairs.
    If anyone wanted to go to the trouble of sharing helpful comments, I'd welcome them. Sincere thanks.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Recently, all the fluids were replaced

    I'm assuming that includes brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, and final drive oil- using BMW approved fluids/lubricants?

    Blue Book trade-in value is $13,000, private party trade value is $15K, and dealership retail is $17,000.

    I wouldn't pay over $15K; why pay silly money for very low miles on a car you are going to drive? It's not like an E39 528i is collectable.

    I've never owned a BMW and have heard countless horror stories about the cost of maintenance and repairs.

    Mostly false and passed on second or third hand by the misinformed, the jealous, or just plain fools. I ran a 1997 5er to over 130K and the maintenance/repair costs averaged @$80/month. The upkeep costs on my 1995 3er track rat average @$40/month. Join BMW CCA, find a good independent BMW tech(or better yet, buy the Bentley E39 Manual and learn to do the simple maintenance yourself), and you'll be fine.
  • I have an 87 528e. All the instrumentation on the gauge cluster doesn't work, nor does the power seats. No tach, speedometer, fuel gauge, heat temp, or SI level, but the cluster gear selector for the automatic trans. lights up. It doesn't look like these items were touched or disassembled, but the car is so original that it still has the original factory crappy plastic mini-fuses in the car's fuse box. Would all of these items work if the fuses were changed out with new metal ones? Can anyone tell me the most common problems with this model BMW?

    Also, I am looking for several body parts, exterior parts, and interior parts for this car.

    If anyone has an e28 parts car available and can give me a good deal on these parts, can they email me with prices for these parts:

    * Both fog lights and front yellow turn signals
    * Lower front metal valence for 528e and/or front spoiler for 533i or 535i or M5.
    * Driver's side front seat, black leather in excellent condition and rear magazine holding net.
    * fully functioning overhead BMW lights diagnostic computer with "check" button that doesn't fall out.
    * black leather automatic gear shifter
    * excellent condition black body trim and brackets mounted on body by rear driver side passenger door
    * black dashboard trim grill holding cigarette lighter and other accesssories in excellent condition.
    * headlight/ foglight switch mounting trim
    * original 528e BMW car phone with mounting brackets and connecting phone cable running to trunk, in excellent condition.
    * black trim surrounding radio on dashboard in excellent condition.
    * black trim holding e-brake and seat switches, in excellent condition.
    * floor mats with "BMW" etched on them in black, excellent condition.

    Also, i have an 86 325es. When the fan belt slips, does that affect the timing for the valves, essentially damaging the engine and making it burn oil?
  • Hi, I'm currently in research mode, however I plan to buy one soon. A few questions:

    Sports package: I'm a mellow driver and looking more for comfort than race car performance. I heard the seats, and even the suspension is fairly ridgid with the sports package? Accurate?

    Premium package; still not sure what you get with this. Can anyone shed some light on this for me.

    Blue exterior; I have been cruising web sites and do not recall seeing this color. Does it exist in the 525 or 30?

    Are 16 in wheels standard?

    Roof rack; I will be carrying around surfboards periodically. Has anyone used the 725 tower from Thule with these? Secure fit?

    Regards, Bill in So-Cal
  • I recently fell in love with the 530i during a test drive. I am looking to purchase a 2004 model with about 41,000 miles. It is pre-certified from a BMW dealership, so the limited extended warranty will last on this car for 3 more years from its original date of service. Price out the door will be about $36,500. I am currently a Buick Regal owner. I'm very worried that the cost of maintenance will be quite expensive. I drive about 12,000 miles per year. The dealership has a policy for purchase ($1,400) to pay for all scheduled maintenance costs for 2 years after the original warrant ends. Is it worth it? Can someone calm me down or am I right to be nervous? :confuse:
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Can someone calm me down or am I right to be nervous?

    As I've repeated umpteen times on these boards:

    Relax! Most of the "horribly expensive" BMW maintenance/repair stories are spread by people who heard that his best friend's sister's college roommate knew a guy who had a dentist whose broker told him that it cost his second cousin $3000 to change the oil on his 318i. Yes there ARE some dealers and independents who grossly overcharge their customers. Having said all that, there are good dealers and independents out there who charge fair prices and offer a BMW Car Club discount.
    Finally, I ran a 1997 528iA to over 130K miles and my service and repair costs averaged $90 per month. I only sold it was because my wife wanted an X3. I needed to keep my US built Wrangler for political reasons- otherwise I would have claimed the 5er for my commuter sled. The current owner now has 145K on the car and she still loves it. Right now I'm thinking about buying a 2001 M5, and its CPO warranty runs out in April. No way am I going to buy any "added protection".
  • Thank you for the BMW "therapy" session response. I would greatly appreciate if you will indulge me for one more session. I've noticed that on BMWs and Volvos, there appears to be an accumulation of black brake dust on the wheels. I've never experienced that on my Buick or on any other American car I've owned. Why does it happen, how quickly does it accumulate, and is it easy to remove?

    Thank you so much again for your advice.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I would greatly appreciate if you will indulge me for one more session.

    No problem! I'm glad to help.

    I've noticed that on BMWs and Volvos, there appears to be an accumulation of black brake dust on the wheels. I've never experienced that on my Buick or on any other American car I've owned

    If you continue to use the original equipment pads you will find that brake dust accumulations will be pretty much unavoidable. There are dust shields available that fit between the wheels and the brakes, but they can interfere with brake cooling. As a result, I don't reccommend them- and neither does BMW. The best solution to the problem is to fit Axxis Deluxe Plus pads. More information can be found here.

    Thank you so much again for your advice.

    You're welcome. Let me know if you have any other questions. BMWs have been my hobby for over 25 years, and I always enjoy talking about them.
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