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BMW 7-Series 2006 and earlier



  • ghomazghomaz Posts: 68
    Hello all. I have decided to go in for a Certified Pre-Owned BMW. My budget is $30K. I now have to decide which "series" to buy. Personally, I like the 5 series but is there a significant difference in maintenance and ownership costs between the 3, 5 and 7 series? This is going to be a second car so interior space, trunk volume, etc. are not decision factors. Thanks for your help
  • gearmangearman Posts: 30
    The 5 series is a nice compromise between vehicle size and cost, Since the 5 series or 3 series small dimensions are not factor in your decision, then, other factors being equal, you are likely to find a lower mileage / better conditioned three series than the more expensive when new 5 or 7 series cars. If you're going with an automatic, you'll also get the benefit of having the GM produced box in the 3 and 5 series, rather than having to deal with the ZF box (subject of NHTSA recalls and premature failures; see various posts on that topic, here and elsewhere). Another reliablity advantage of the 3 and 5 series is that you'll be able to enjoy the subline smoothness of the renowned BMW inline 6 cylinder engines (iron block or sleeve depending on the year) and avoid the higher-mileage maintainence & wear issues that have plagued many owners of the V-8 and V-12 aluminum block engined cars.

    As you can probably tell, I'd recommend the 5 series. It's a great car.
  • blumrlnblumrln Posts: 11
    Gearman, Where can I find more info on the ZF box
    I currently own a 1997 740i with 60k and am experincing trans trouble.
  • ghomazghomaz Posts: 68
    Thanks for your advice gearman.
  • blumrlnblumrln Posts: 11
    Anyway, Gearman can you supply me with more ZF trans info.
    bimmer roadfly is just another bs chat room
  • force98force98 Posts: 81
    You have obviously never participated there. I have owned an E38 for over 4 years and have had better luck at times getting technical questions answered there than from my dealership technicians. They also have a certified ZF technician on the board who answers trans related questions. He even provides his phone number so you can call him for assistance. Here's a sample:
  • harry0harry0 Posts: 42
    I have a 6 yr,100,000 warranity on my 98 740il.(currently 30,600 miles on my car).
    I just had a service 2 done on 10/8/02...Not under warranity. Here is what mine cost.
    5.9 hours labor at 80. per....472.00
    Parts ........................370.00
    8 sparkplugs @15.62 ea........124.96
    1 air filter insert...........22.16
    1 Filter element..............12.30
    1 Fuel Filter.................25.20
    2 Filter @63.18...............126.36
    1 Seal Ring...................0.14
    1 Lt Diff Oil.................18.07
    8 Oil 5w30 [email protected]
    2 [email protected]
    1 washer solvent..............1.66
    I also had coolant flush done..80.00 labor-16.47 antifreeze..96.47
    I had brake flush done also 0.60 hrs...48.00 labor-3.84 brake fluid-4.08 cleaner. 55.92 total
    Haz waste fee 6.50
    Also had rear window lifter replaced..1.5 hrs labor..N/C warranty
    I hope this gives you a good idea what to expect.
  • bobl6bobl6 Posts: 2
    #693--For cup holders, you might like to try "" Include the hyphen.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    For those who may not have noticed, the Edmunds editors are conducting a long term road test on the 2002 745Li.

    You'll find a link to the series in the "Helpful Links" box on the left side of the page. There is a link within that article to the most recent update.

  • I am new to the site so please direct me to the proper forum if this is not the place to post these remarks.

    I purchased the New 745 Li in June.

    I had leased a 740 iL and drove it for the three year lease period. I loved the car. I did not have a single maintinence or repair issue in the 50K miles I drove the car.

    The 745 Li is a wonderful driving car and I believe it is actually superior to the 740 in handling, braking and power. However, the dealer has had the car in it's shop for almost a month (total elapsed time) since I received the car in June. I have never had these problems before with any of the 7 series car I have driven and I am curious if anyone else has experienced any of these problems:

    The Computer freezes at times and requires several re-starts of the engine to unfreeze. BMW has re-programmed the car twice.

    The radio goes off and on at random times.

    The motor occasionally idles rough at start up.

    The rear sun screens do not always work.

    The head restraint on both front seats go all the way to the top of their settings automatically if you move the seat fore or aft. BMW claims this is normal. this never was a "normal" feature on any other BMW I have driven.

    The cruise control does not function as the manual describes. Many of the adjustment features do not work.

    The back of the gear shift enclosure fell off and had to be replaced.

    There is a vibration in the steering wheel that is noticeable but BMW does not have a fix for at the present time.

    Many of the features on the Cell Phone Computer display are not working and some of the call lists etc..are frozen and can not be changed or deleted.

    Anyone else have these problems???

    Steve Ludwig
    St Simon's Island, Ga.
  • sysadbsysadb Posts: 83
    Steve, I haven't bought one yet (and won't for at least another year). The service mgr. at my dealership admitted that they have been plagued by software problems. Other than the apparent defects with the gearshift and the steering vibration, the problems you describe are likely directly related to that issue. The headrest explanation is plausible - there are sensors that adjust them during crashes, so the positional movement may trigger that.

    I think this car is vastly superior to the competion in many ways, but I won't touch one until they sort out the computer software issues. The 745, unfortunately, is a sober reminder of how first-year models can test your patience, especially a model like this that is so radically re-designed (especially the technology aspects).

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
    A top U.S. daily needs drivers of the BMW series 7 to share their experiences and be named in the story. If you are an avid Series 7 driver and would love to talk about your car, please email me at [email protected] Deadline is by Monday October 28 at 5:00p.m. EST


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • Just wanted to share my experience with my June build 2002 745Li purchased one month ago. I have had zero problems with the car. No software bugs whatsoever. Drives beautifully, leaves one with a tremendous sense of control and confidence. The most comfortable car I've ever owned. Overall, a delight!
  • sltools,
    feel lucky. in addition to all the minor things you mentioned my 02 745i has had the engine replaced (yes the entire engine) and now a horrible sound is coming from the steering column during some turns. this latest problem the dealer has reproduced and does not know what to do.

    i live in a small town with only one other 02 745i and his engine completely quit working and had to be replaced as well.

    i can understand a few defects with a new model gets introduced, but this is ridiculous for 70K. we got at lexus gs 400 its first year of production and 0 problems. i got a honda s2000 its first year of production and 0 problems. i got the new bmw 01 M3 convert. and it had many problems. i now have a 03 M3 coupe and all the problems have been solved except for horrible radio reception (the 745i radio reception sucks too).
  • jimdojimdo Posts: 2
    I have 37,000 miles on my 2000 740iL and had to replace a cracked radiator. Does anyone have any experience with this problem on this car?
  • sosaksosak Posts: 5
    I have 98,500 on my 7 series and my engine light has come on and BMW has told me that I need "2" new catalytic convertor on my car. I problem is that each one cost $840 ($1680 for two) plus a few parts needed which totals $2,071.00 for this repair. I recently bought this vehical a few months back with no problems for $16,800 and have not put any large amount of money into it. Catalytic Convertor warranty is 8 yrs/80,000.

    Does anyone have any idea if this is reasonable and if I should look into selling this car? If I add this repair my actual cost of the car would be 18,871.

    Can I go somewhere else and possible get a lower cost?

    I just can't see myself putting this amount of money into this vehical and something else major happening to it like Transmisson, etc.

    Any ideas? Is it worth it? Are there more problem to come about with a '97 740 iL?

    Thank you!
  • I pick up my new 745Li tomorrow morning. Like several of you, I order a 745Li last year. I didn't like the look, and I let the negative press drive me away. I didn't take delivery when it arrived. My dealer sold it, and I got my deposit back. I had a 95 740iL that was having it's own set of problems, so I bought an LS430. While it is a very nice car, it is boring. So, after driving the new S500, which is also nice, but is too similar to the LS430 (which I realize is actually the other way around), I retreated to the BMW dealer to pick another 745Li out of the incoming delivery. I pray that I am as lucky as jhegarty. The new 7 doesn't appeal to everyone, and I certainly would have made a few changes to the look. But, it has to be one of the most fun cars I have ever driven.
  • Cracked radiators is a known and recurring problem with the E38. The neck is made of plastic, which cracks. I've heard some say BMW will blame the owner and technicians, saying they lean on the neck and cause the problem. I take it yours was repaired under warranty, since the car has only 37K miles on it?

    As far as catalytic converters, contact [email protected] (

    You can also find them at for less than $400 each.

  • jimdojimdo Posts: 2

    Thanks for the info, you are right on the mark. The neck cracked, and yes, it was repaired under warranty.
  • sosaksosak Posts: 5
    Does anyone know where I can get used parts for a '97 740iL. I am looking for Left Fog Light Lens or unit and an arm rest, on the driver side that my snap broke, to open and close. Any sites that I can look up? (USED) Thanks....
  • Anyone know where rebuilt or used BMW motors can be found? looking for a 93-94 4.4l v-8
  • Well, I bought it -- and it's fabulous.

    After two months of wavering while my 1998 740i lease ticked to the end, I started the process of buying the 740 from BMW because of my misgivings about the 745. This tread was a huge source of info on this.

    When BMW offered very favorable financing terms to move out the 2002s, the cost of getting the 745 became fairly close to buying the non-warrantied '98 740. So I made the decision to get the 745 -- without ever having driven it. Can't really explain why.

    My conclusions so far:

    ** The iDrive complexity issue is vastly overstated. It took very little time to get familiar with the base functions. The system's logic is fairly transparent, so I did not even consult the owner's manual on the iDrive until I wanted to do some more advanced tasks, like programming in voice commands for the built-in telephone. The "this car makes me feel like an idiot" folks should buy Cadillacs and shut up.

    ** The 745 is about 30% more fun to drive than the 740, which was already a near-perfect driving experience. The extra power in the engine is evident, making it just a tick smoother in highway driving. The sensation is slightly up-higher and more knife-like, more like the 5-series, instead of the lower sedan-like 740 feel.

    ** Once you drive it, the "looks" issue becomes less of a problem for those, like me, who consider the 740 a classic. The 740 is still the better looking car, but the feel of the 745 is in synch with the body changes, the rearward location of the cabin, the accent on the wheels, the more rounded corners. (It's cute that the video BMW gives you with the car includes a Chris Bangle segment explaining that the raised trunk design is tied to the roof aerodynamics -- they clearly are defensive on this point.)

    ** There are a couple of really silly quirks that are beyond explanation. Why would any engineer design a headrest to automatically rise when the seat is adjusted?

    ** Of course, if the car ends up spending 2 weeks in the shop because of software snafus, I'll have a completely different view. But I've heard the mantra "those problems have been fixed and all the campaigns have been performed on the late-build vehicles" enough to believe it, for now.
  • Does anyone know of a good/reliable website where I can buy parts and accessories for my 2000 740il?
  • harry0harry0 Posts: 42
    I have bought a few items from this company with no problems.
  • HarryO - thanks for the information. I'll check out their site.
  • jboxjbox Posts: 2
    Been driving 745i since Feb'02. I was very excited upon arrival. The car is an engineering marvel! Well, except the one I leased? Let me explain. Had accelerator/throttle/handling problems that took BMW 2-weeks to pin down. Sent a guy out from the tech-ranch to figure out. Ran out of fuel 3 times on Hiway w/wife, tank was always ¼-½ full. This put the car out of service at BMW for 1-week. Driving control recently diminished that the rear axle was virtually replaced, including both rear tires. This took 9-days at my friendly BMW dealer. My wife things it’s a death trap and won’t ride again in the vehicle. I left it with the dealer because I don’t want the car on account the above. BMWNA knows about and have offered nothing but to pay for the total of 10-days off-lease based on the records. Any suggestions?
  • Get an attorney. Tony
  • Try posting on the following link. Lots of people are having problems and solutions are offered along with bmwna deals.

  • l943973l943973 Posts: 197
    "** There are a couple of really silly quirks that are beyond explanation. Why would any engineer design a headrest to automatically rise when the seat is adjusted? "

    I think its a great idea. When the seat goes up, your in a more upright position so your head in higher. I'm assuming that it rises only when the seat moves to a more upright position.

    Now if it rises when the seat is moving back away from the steering wheel, then it doesn't make sense.
  • jstylejstyle Posts: 129
    I think BMW should focus on building more reliable 7 series models before focusing on luxury yet I can't seem to stop drooling over this interior from BMW Individual division.

  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Take it to your dealer and get your software upgraded to Rev 4.2 for the car.

    A friend with a new one got his done and it now works.

    He loves being a Beta tester for $75K products that are still a year or so away from being finished and ready for sale.

    Good luck!
  • sysadbsysadb Posts: 83
    I'm curious to know how the dealer explained the problem with the rear end, or suspension, or whatever caused your handling and tire problem. Was the gas tank dented? It almost sounds like the car was damaged in-transit, or did you run over something?

  • jboxjbox Posts: 2
    I have not retrieved the car from the dealer. I thought it was the front-end pulling to the left. The first time I hit rain the front went left and the rear went right. The fuel tank problem was two fold. Improper assembly and one failed sending unit, from what I understand there are two. The hose was misplaced cutting supply. No damage reported in transit or after purchase.
  • I have read many questions from folks about what to expect for reliability and maintenance on the BMW 740IL. I thought that my car might be a relative pioneer with its high mileage. Here is a summary of the problems that I have incurred since 1998 whe I purchased it at 60 K miles.

    Overall, the integrety of the car at 150 K miles is fantastic. It rides, looks, and feels just as good as new. The major costs & complaints that I have had lie in "component failure"... If you spend the money and replace the failed part... the car is as good as new again. These component failures on my car are more frequent and costly than on a Lexus. I had a 93 Lexus ES300 that I ran up to 175,000 miles. I had far fewer problems with component failure on the Lexus.

    Component Failures:

    Intermittent Brake Light Bulbs replaced
    Water Pump Failure: 80 K Miles
    Radio Display & In-Dash Digital Readout failure: 90 K Miles (Replaced radio & dash displays)

    Driver Pwr Seat Adjustment Failure: 90 K Miles
    New Radiator: 100 K Miles (Neck Broke)
    Vacuum Plate in Engine (Blue Smoke): 110 K Miles
    Catalytic Converter Right Side: 110 K Miles
    (Ck Engine Light intermittent errors today)
    Transmission Shifting Problems: (130 K Miles)

    Note: The transmission was drained and refilled at dealer. Transmission now shifts as smooth as the day I got it!).

    I had a 100 K warranty with this much of the expense was taken care of by BMW. The after 100 K "unexpected" stuff has set me back about $ 4,000 over the past 24 months.

    If you own or plan to buy this car, it is a great car, but just make sure that you budget about $2 K - $3 K per year for expensive maintenance and component replacements.

    Note, however, that you can pick up a higher mileage BMW 740IL (late 90s) in the low 20s to mid 20s. I would much prefer to drive the 7 with 100 K miles than a brand new Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Just make sure that you budget the maintenace and don't complain when you have to spend the extra money.

    The only item that I did not get fixed by the dealer was the Catalytic Converter. (OEM)... and the new Catalytic Converter is not working well with the BMW onboard computer (lots of errors, etc.)... For the most part, spend the money and work with a dealer or highly qualified mechanic. I would tend to stick with the BMW parts as well.

    I have a great relationship with my local BMW dealer service department. They tend to take care of the "small stuff" gratis. (But they tend to nail me on the big ticket items). Overall, they take care of me and keep the car running very well.

    Also note, that once you take this car up above $100 K miles... you are trapped in it. The resale prices are very low relative to original purchase price and it is very difficult to rationalize replacing it with anything else (without spending $40 - $50 K more).

    I hope this post helps.
  • I just purchased a cert-pre-owned 2000 740il, and learned after reading the micro-print on the door area, that it is actually a "740ial." Does anyone know what this means?

    Also, does anyone know whether rear passenger air bags, incl. head curtains are standard in these cars? Mine doesn't seem to have them...
  • sergeymsergeym Posts: 274
    as long as ALL 7-series in US are autos ou have nothing to worry about. Rear air-bags should be optional. People with small children usually do not want them.
  • Thanks, Sergey. I was perplexed why I couldn't find more information on a "740ial."

    Re radiator, interestingly and sadly, I just got my 740 on the 16th of this month and had to put it in for servicing already because the radiator itself (not the hose) sprung a leak. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come...
  • jordsjords Posts: 1
    My 745li has been in for service a total of two weeks--it only has 5,000 miles! In one instance, it had to be towed 60 miles to the nearest dealer, leaving me stranded as the car had completely shut down. Other problems have been "chip replacements" and sound system and telephone going haywire plus the heat running full blast unable to be controlled Is anyone else experiencing these problems, or do I just have a lemon? This is my fourth BMW, but I never would have bought this car if I knew it would be like this. Am currently in a fight with BMW to replace or take back the car. Any advice?
  • harry0harry0 Posts: 42
    I really enjoy driving my BMW. I actually look forward to my monthly 7 hour drive to New York. The cup holders are the one thing I feel need some improvement. I stumbled across this website the other day and ordered a couple of cup holders. I spent less than 5 mins. installing them and they work great. I highly recommend them.
  • don't need an $80k headache. after 1 month of research it appears that the 745 is a wonderful car if you're lucky enough to get a good one. gotta wonder if all the consumers posting on message boards that the car is a 10+++ aren't dealers touting its greatness to offset the problems reported by others? so my question i buy one or not????? has bmw corrected all the 02 issues in the 03 models? dealerships in Illinois have a lot of used 02s with 4,5,6000 miles on them....manufacturer buy backs??????
    who would turn in a car in that price range with so few miles????
  • mike331, I bought a 2003 745Li in November and have only had one minor problem - the NAV disk got stuck in the player and the player had to be replaced. No, I'm not a dealer. I still would redesign the car if I had my druthers, but I will say that the car is phenomenal to drive. I've been a BMW, MB and, for 7 months, a Lexus driver. Now, you're going to have a few valets who can't figure out how to get it into gear, but you won't pass yourself to and from the office and everywhere else along the way like those who drive Lexus or MB. I heard that everyone was having issues with the 2002's, and I passed up my slot to take delivery on a 2002. I bought a LS430 instead, and I hated it. Boring doesn't even begin to describe that car. iDrive is as easy as working the mouse on your computer. A monkey can do it. I love the magazine guys who complain about it. Did those guys even finish high school? I bought, love it and have no regrets.
  • The dust seems to really coat the front wheels on these makes. I wonder if the pads are defective or this is common to other cars, but I just don`t see it. It looks like every car has beed driven in a marathon. Tony
  • I have an old 89 735iL and am contemplating get a more recent, used 7-series. The v12 has my interest, but I am also a bit afraid of it, maintenance-wise. I can do all the little 7-series stuff (corroded relays, etc.) It's that silicon impregnated, all aluminum engine that I fear.

    Does anyone have a view of the useful life on the engine? My 735, 6 cylinder is basically indestructible... not so the transmission however, but that is a different story. I bought the 735 from the original owner with 77,000 miles on it, and now, many years later, have about 130,000. I fully expect the engine to outlast 200,000.

    I have been looking at 750s with miles between 70,000 and 90,000. Can I expect the same life out of the v12? Or when do they tend to go out to pasture?
  • I'm no expert, but I understand that excessive brake dust is common to BMW and Mercedes due to the softness of the brake pads and it is intended to be this way. My E320 has terrible brake dust problems on the front wheels. I had heard this was common to German cars, but my wife's A6 doesn't seem to have the problem; could be something to do with the shape of the wheels.
  • I am considering the purchase of a 2000 740iL with about 70k miles on it through ebaymotors.

    Does anyone have insight into what I may want to consider with this model/year? Any particular issues I should be looking for? Concerns I should anticipate around the corner?

    I'd expect to hold on to this car for 3 to 5 years.

    Also, what about purchasing on ebaymotors? Never quite sure about buying through this channel, but very intrigued by the prices I'm seeing.

    Thanks for the help.
  • sysadbsysadb Posts: 83
    Buying the car you're referring to is more of a crapshoot because it's out of factory warranty. If the dealer (assuming it's a dealer) is including an aftermarket warranty then you have a little more protection. If the dealer is advertising his own warranty then you have to consider how distant he may be. "As-Is" will probably mean no warranty.

    In any case you should view the carfax record for that car (usually provided free by seller on the item page) to look for a salvage title or frequent title changes, which might indicate a problem. Dealers generally do not sell salvage vehicles, but the laws vary by state.

    Generally I would say not to buy unless you can travel to the site and inspect it. Sometimes an overriding factor is the fact that you may not be able to find a specific car locally, but the car you're looking at is fairly ubiquitous right now (3-year olds off lease).

    One suggestion: if you see some cars you like and it's inconvenient to inspect them before the auction ends, you may still be able to acquire one if the car does not meet it's reserve. Just contact the seller after the auction and make arrangements to see the car first. You can even negotiate the price of the car before you travel, "pending inspection".

    Buyers are acquiring a lot of vehicles on Ebay these days, and I have no doubt most of them are satisfied, so it really comes down to how much risk you wish to assume.

  • rds4eyesrds4eyes Posts: 1
    Had a lot of software problems with my 2002 740i. They were corrected but the 2003 supposedly has fixed these. Only 4000 miles on it. The crux of the situation is to have a great cooperative dealer, attentive mechanic and BMW to back you up. I am very satisfied with Preston BMW in Niles,Ohio as they and BMW have been nothing but great to help me out. If your dealer isn't interested in keeping you as a customer,find someone else. The 2002 in my opinion was not road tested enough. Otherwise a magnificent car in stlye and performance. R D Shapiro,MD [email protected]
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