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Buying a used 5 Series



  • I'm glad you enjoy talking about BMWs. I tend to research any purchase in great detail. This will be the most expensive car I've ever considered and I appreciate your willingness to share your expertise.

    As you can surmise, I am a little hesitant, not so much because the 5 series isn't a wonderful car, but partly because it seems so spartan in comparison with other cars in the same price range. Even the radio in my Buick sounds better. (Well, it does.)(My frame of reference is about $36,000 out the door price for a used 530i with 42,000 miles).

    On another note, what do you think of the "dreaded" I Drive control?

    Please let me know when I'm getting on your nerves with all these questions. I especially do not want to spoil the holiday season for you!

    Still a bit nervous (now that I know I have to clean my rims of black break dust.)
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I tend to research any purchase in great detail.

    So do I ;)

    As you can surmise, I am a little hesitant, not so much because the 5 series isn't a wonderful car, but partly because it seems so spartan in comparison with other cars in the same price range.

    I think you will find that BMW places a great deal of emphasis on the overall driving experience; a BMW embodies a lot of impressive engineering- but most of it is under the skin.

    Even the radio in my Buick sounds better.

    I've never been too impressed with the sound systems in the newer BMWs. As a matter of fact, very few of them sound as good as the OEM system in my 1995 318ti track rat. Go figure. Does the 5er you are considering have the Logic7 upgrade? It supposedly sounds pretty decent.

    On another note, what do you think of the "dreaded" I Drive control?

    I drove a 645Ci with iDrive for a couple of weeks last summer, and after a few days I became pretty adept at using it. Some people love it, others hate it. I think it is a flawed interface, but it wouldn't keep me from buying a BMW I really liked.

    Going back to your original post, there is some things that I think you should know about how BMW are serviced. In most cases, the best way to keep maintenance costs reasonable is to find a GOOD independent BMW tech; you will save 25%-50% on service compared to the dealer. That said, there are some excellent dealers that offer excellent service at reasonable prices. All modern BMWs use a Service Interval Indicator to inform the driver when routine maintenance is required. On a 2004 5er an Oil Service will be called for at @15,000 miles. To be honest, I don't like to run oil that long, so I perform an oil change at 7,500 miles. I also use Mobil 1 0W-40 synthetic, which I prefer to the BMW-branded Castrol synthetic. It's a VERY easy DIY procedure and it costs me less than $45. The minor service(Inspection I) will come up at 30,000 miles and the major service(Inspection II) at 60,000 miles. An Oil Service will cost $60-$150, an Inspection I $150-$300, and an Inspection II $450-$800. Coolant must be changed every three years(using BMW Coolant ONLY), while the DOT4 brake fluid gets flushed every two years. BMW also calls for changing the ATF at 100,000 miles, although I would have the procedure performed every 50,000 miles- and I'd have the differential oil changed at the same time.
    Finally, join the BMW Car Club of America. Many dealers and independent shops offer CCA members 10%-25% discounts on parts and/or labor.

    Please let me know when I'm getting on your nerves with all these questions. I especially do not want to spoil the holiday season for you!

    Ask away! It is not a problem!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Ok Bimerfiles, looking at purchasing a 540i 2001-2003 with the sport package and 6MT. Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions also anything to look for on these cars?

    Debating between an 05/06 GTO and an 01/03 540i

  • Hi, I'm also perusing this site to find out about the reality/myths of how well BMWs hold up - particularly post-2000 3 & 5-series'. Your comment, "Finally, I ran a 1997 528iA to over 130K miles and my service and repair costs averaged $90 per month" doesn't sound too encouraging to me. $90/month = $1,080/year.

    Please comment :confuse:
  • Is it bad form to reply to my own post? :blush: I reread your post to make usre I understood it correctly, and I guess $90/mo is fine considering it's an older car with (presumably) no finance payments being made. Still, $1,000/yr on repairs is pretty significant.
  • dbcafydbcafy Posts: 8
    Comparing a 540 against GTO (Pontiac?) is like comparing Apples and Oranges.

    BMW - The ultimate driving machine, will put a smile on your face everytime you sit behind the steering wheel.

    The GTO - a kid's car.

    Assuming you get a Bimmer in good condition, this car will have a higher resale value and will last longer than the GTO.

    Then again, I might be biased. I do own a 2003 540 with the Sports Package.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Actually the GTO demographic is 28-45.

    Heck the BMW 540i 2001-2003 is more expensive used than a new GTO. Biggest thing I'm worried about is out-warranty repairs, I hear on BMWs they can be quite costly.

  • tdb99tdb99 Posts: 5
    Wanted to know if anyone can share their ownership experiences with this vehicle, am considering to purchase. Thks. :D
  • I just bought a 2003 540I M sport with steptronic. It's the most amazing car I have ever driven, Black on Black with everthing from PDC to NAV and DSP stereo. I researched it intensley and I found BMW keeps great records.

    First I suggest CAFFAXing it, its $25 for a month long membership to run VINs, then contact BMW USA customer service, # is on the website. They will give you the selling dealership and you can confirm options on the vehicle to make sure nothing was altered. Then call the service dept of the original dealer, explain you are going to buy a used vehicle and BMW gave you the info, anytime the vehicle was serviced at any dealership a code is entered. The service tech ran through every code with me to make sure the vehicle was clean. I even found out it had the CPO & maintaince till 100K.
  • Just to add...... the most expensive service on the 01-03 5 series will be the SL2 60K mile service about $400 for the V6, $700 V8 you can shop around for BMW dealer specials and before 100K, you'll need a brake job, between $600 and $1200, depending your sport package options, size, etc. But if you get the maintaince done as scheduled, the driving experience outweighs the cost.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Last time I checked, BMW has never built a V6 engine. :blush: V8s? Yes, absolutely. I6s? Yes, and have for MANY years. V6s? Not yet, and hopefully never will. :shades:

    Regarding the other items of maintenance that you listed, the E39 530i and 540i have the same brakes, and so I can tell you first hand that they are a piece of cake to do yourself. I did mine with new pads, rotors and sensors, and the whole thing cost me just over $260 for all four wheels. Said another way, these brakes are so easy to do that I can do the job quicker in my driveway than the time it would take to drive to my dealership and back. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • I've only had the older 7's V8, so my experience with the 6 is limited. You are correct, I apologize. If you can do the brake job in your driveway then you should. More power to you. I would never buy a used car from someone that didn't have the service records. When making any kind of investment dealership service offers some safeguards, and at least a papertrail in your research, sometimes even a warranty.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, I guess we see things a bit differently. For required maintenance (i.e. oil and filter changes, brake and cooling system flushes and the first 30K scheduled service), I have no problem using the dealer. That said, even though brake jobs are effectively part of the "free maintenance" component of new BMWs, I would never use the dealer for those parts. Why? Because parts that offer superior performance (i.e. lower dust or better stopping power/fade resistance or even a little of both) are available in the aftermarket, parts that your dealer would never use.

    With the above said, once the warranty period is over, I would never buy an extended warranty or an extended maintenance plan. I would instead use a high quality independent shop for the messy bits, and do the rest myself. Oh, and of course keeping the necessary records all along, regardless of who performed the work.

    FWIW, following that policy with my 2002 530i, I changed my own oil at 7,500, 22,500 and 37,500 (mid-term oil changes) with Mobil 1 0W-40 and of course used a factory filter. I also changed out my brake pads with PBR/Axxis Deluxe Plus pads that generate virtually no dust and were able to keep my beautiful factory Style 42 two-piece wheels nice and squeaky clean. When lease turn-in time came, several folks here at Edmunds were actually interested in getting to my car before BMW-FS did. Why? Because of the work that I had personally performed on the car. Go figure.

    Best Regards,
  • That's cool bud. Did you add anything to it Dinan? AC Schnitzer?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Nope, I don't like modded cars. Hmmm, maybe not quite correct. I suppose if I was to keep a car to say, over 100,000 miles, I might be tempted to breathe on it a bit, however, that really isn't my style. Pretty much bone stock or I don't want it.

    Just as my 530i was heading back to BMW at lease end, my annual driving profile changed dramatically. I went from an annual average of about 14,000 miles per year, an average that I sustained for twenty years, to more than 30,000 miles per year. Being very unsure of how long I could sustain that kind of mileage and what might come next, I opted to not replace my wonderful 5er, and instead opted to drive our spare car, an old Home Depot hack in the form of a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. :P

    Fifty thousand miles in twenty months later, it looks like this current situation is workable, however, come this September my annual mileage rate is going to get bumped again to more than 40,000. Needless to say, racking up that kind of mileage in a new BMW is simply unreasonable. Looking at my options, I'm finding low mileage (60K-80K) pristine 2000 vintage 528is (that's plural not an "is" model), with PP, SP, "M" Seats and a 5-Speed for between $15,000 and $17,000 (asking price). I'm thinking that such a car would be good for another 200,000 miles with just reasonable maintenance.

    Hmmm, buy a new 535i for say $60,000 and drive it 160,000 miles in four years. Resale value? Not pretty. Buy a seven year old 528i for $16,000 and take it up to say 230,000 miles. Resale value? Who cares. ;-)

    So, I told you that so that I could tell you this. I've looked at quite a few cars since I started this shopping process, and when I see a car that has been modified even a little, I move on to the next car. My threshold for modifications? Upgraded brakes and clutch? Yup, bring them on. Wheels and tires? Unless they are the factory size, pass. Body panels? Not a chance. Engine mods? Can't run away fast enough.

    Best Regards,
  • Dude, I already have an 03 540, I just asked if there were mods on your 530 b/c you said you did brakes in your driveway??? Its a 530, there's alot around I don't care about your driving habits, this is a forum about someone buying a used BMW, not you.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Lose the attitude dude. You asked a question and I answered it in a complete manner.

    FWIW, I am in the market for a used 5-Series, one that is bone stock.

    Best Regards,
  • I am looking at some 2001 5 spoke X5 wheels. I believe they are 17" x 7.5" 5 lug...

    Will they have the correct offset / close enough offset?

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I could be wrong, however, I don't believe that the X5 uses the same offset and such as does the E39 5-Series.

    Best Regards,
  • wbb56wbb56 Posts: 38
    I've narrowed my new car choices to three: 2005 CPO BMW 525i; '07 Toyota Avalon Touring; '07 Lincoln MKZ AWD.

    I like them all but have always been partial to BMWs. My concerns: The '05 525i has 45k+ miles (Seems like a lot in only 2 years.)-and in comparison to the other two, seems underpowered.
    The car is well equipped-Premium package, Navigation, Parking sensors, etc.. but the dealer is asking fairly high price-$39,995.

    Questions: Any advice about buying the '05 w/45k miles? It is CPO--with the warranty extended to 100,000 miles. I think $35k is about right for the 525i-is that reasonable? (The MKZ and Avalon are both 35K fuly loaded). Is there a big enough difference in the 530i to pay the higher price?
    I've owned (3) previous BMWs--but it's been 15+ years since my last 3-series. So I'm not sure about service, warranties, etc..

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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