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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • I had a similar problem (I think) to yours on my '01 530. The climate control system became "possessed", with the unit functioning randomly no matter where I set the controls. The dealer knew what the problem was just from my description: there was a bad resistor somewhere in there causing the computer to get varying feedback about what to do with fan speed, etc.

    The dealer replaced the part and all has been well since then.

    Regarding the break-in and how new cars are treated: Another little plug for Euro delivery. You get your car at the factory with less than a mile on the clock. (Of course, it's torture to follow the break-in rules yourself when you have those wonderful autobahns...)
  • sergeymsergeym Posts: 267
    Nothing is wrong with 530 except it is somewhat short in the power department when compared to the newcomers from Infiniti (G35) and Acura (TL-S).
  • ksqrdksqrd Posts: 21
    My wife and I just had triplets. While we have an Acura MDX which will serve well as our primary people mover, we're in the market for a second car that I would use for commuting. We would like to purchase a second car that could also be used, if needed, to transport the triplets. Thus, we'd need three car seats to fit in the back. Has anyone tried this in a recent 5-series?

    While a used 740i (or iL) would probably be ideal, I'm a little wary of the extra cost now and potential for added expenses down the road. A new or lo mi CPO 530i would probably be my ideal commute car and fit our budget, so I'm hoping that the back seats would accomodate this need, even if it's a bit snug.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    The 530ia is fine, including in the power area. It's down right quick when equiped with a 5-speed manual, but the automatic is still potent and a noticable improvement over the 528ia. I too have decided that I would opt for the 530i (5-speed) over the 540i (6-speed). The cost savings, better fuel economy, and likely lower maintenance and repair costs make the 530i a better choice for me. If I hit the big one and was hungry for more power, I'd go all the way with an M5.

    Regarding the comparison to the Infinity G35 and Acura TLS, I think the 530ia stands above both. The G35, with it's purported 270 hp, is at most only marginally more powerful. For whatever reasons, Infiniti horsepower is simply not equivalent to BMW horsepower in terms of real world performance. As for the 260 hp Acura TL-S, IMO it's not even in the same league as the BMW. Better compared to an Accord. It's reasonably quick, but it's handling is, at best, average for a FWD sedan. A business associate has a 2001 model and my 1995 Maxima SE (5-speed) is quicker, corners flatter and feels more nimble than his TL-S. The 530i, on the other hand, is IMO the pinnacle of handling in its class.

    The 530ia is a fine choice. I suspect the new 5-series will add more power to the "545i" or whatever they call it. But for now, I think the 530i is a prudent choice over the 540i unless you absolutely must drag race at stop lights and can't afford an M5.


    Congratulations on your triplets!

    Unfortunately, I think you'll find the 5-series nearly impossible to get three car seats in the back. The 5-series is about 1" narrower than our (1995) Maxima and it can only accomodate two car seats. Any attempt to squeeze a third seat in the middle would cause the outboard ones not to sit flat. I don't know if car seats come in different widths, ours are not particularly "streamlined". But I suspect the best you are going to do is 2 seats in the 5-series.

    The good news is that I've noticed very good prices on used 740i's in our area (DC) often less than what a 540i of similar vintage goes for. Also, not to steer you to Mercedes, but the E-class may be just enough wider to accomodate your needs. I think the 1996-2002 generation was about 1" wider than our Maxima in rear seat hip / shoulder width.

    It's a nice problem that you have, accomodating triplets.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    ksqrd... Congrats. Finding the "right" vehicle is probably down on the list of things most important right now. But... Seems like there are a ton of nice 1999, 2000, and 2001 CPO 7 Series out there. Prices reasonable. Wonder if a CPO X5 might work for you? X5 3.0 is nice. Not sure if it is any wider in back. Can't say I remember if the 5 Series wagon has a 3rd seat or not.
  • brauebraue Posts: 1
    I am in the process of buying a 98 528i. The dealer is offering to upgrade the wheels of the car from the original 15 inch ones to the 17in wheels normally found on the 540i. Of course, the dealer wants to increase the cost by $1400 if I go for the bigger wheels. Any thoughts on the increase in performance of the bigger wheels?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    braue... Only use a size proper to your specific car.

    I'd look into buying from an aftermarket source. Places like Tire Rack, etc. You'll likely get cheaper and you can keep what is already on it as winter tires or just for spares for when you sell.

    You might consider getting whatever combination came with the '98 528i Sport Package. Stick with the size and type from that specific Sport Package. Forget if that is staggered as is with my '98 540i6.

    There is always a trade off when it comes to using different and bigger tires/wheels. What you might gain in handling might be offset in ride quality or steering response. That is why I say stick with sizes and tires used by BMW. They tend to be "right" for the platform. But that doesn't mean there aren't a ton of other sizes and tires that might be equally "right".
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    In my opinion you'd be MUCH better off using the $1400 to take the stock 5er to several BMW CCA drivers schools. My wife drives a 1997 528iA with 15" wheels and I'd bet the farm that less than 5% of US drivers can drive that car at anywhere near the handling limits of the E39 non-sport suspension. You should also be aware that BMW calibrates the stock suspension to work with 60 series aspect ratio tires. Spring rates, damping, and roll stiffness will no doubt have to be modified in order to extract the maximum performance from a Plus One or Plus Two tire package.
  • mumikemumike Posts: 4
    I am in the market for a 5 series, and because I LOVE the current style, I am not going to wait for the new model (judging by the pictures I've seen, it reinforces my decision).

    So, from what I gather, the end of ordering 2003 5 series will probably be March or April, correct?

    My wife and I just had a baby so I would like to avoid paying in excess of $45,000. Therefore, I am deciding between the 525 and 530.

    But here is the real reason I am posting. Is it stupid/wrong/irrational to want to buy the 525 sport package just because of the way the wheels look? Please don't laugh, but I just can't get over the looks of the standard 525 or 530 wheels, they look ugly to me. And with the 530 sport, I don't like the blackout or shadow effect around the windows, I prefer the chrome.

    My choice, then, is between the 525 sport and the 530 non-sport (with different wheels). Both would be in 5 speed, no automatic for me. I know the 530 has significantly more power (from what I have read) so it sure would be nice if I could put the 525 sport wheels on the 530 non-sport, but from what I understand BMW frowns on this?

    I looked at a site someone referenced ( to look at different wheel options, but none of those appealed to me either.

    I know, it sounds weird but I guess I just have my little peculiarities that I prefer.

    Anyone have any suggestions? Or recommendations on a shrink?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Hey, it's your money, so don't let anyone else tell you what to do. To get a 530i at rock-bottom pricing, look into the Euro Delivery option, which can save a couple thousand.

    The chrome/matte finish around the windows is noticeable only if you look at it, otherwise it just blends away, IMO. In other words, it makes almost no difference.

    As for wheels, visit the wheel & tire forum on and you'll realize you're not the only one concerned about how wheels look. It's a subjective call. But, I suggest you drive both the sport and non-sport models to see the handling and peripheral (e.g. better steering wheel and seats) benefits. You can worry about the wheels last.

    I'm sure many dealers would be willing (perhaps for a small charge) to swap out a 525's wheels with a 530's. Or, you could probably arrange the swap through the classifieds. I don't think BMW really frowns on the practice; only true BMW enthusiasts would notice the anachronistic wheels.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    but I do think you should reconsider some of your "peculiarities" just to make sure you get the right car in the long run. A 530i 5-speed sport DRIVES a hell of a lot different than either a non sport 530i or 525i of any kind.

    Personally, I like the sport package's shadowline trim more than chrome. IMO it looks cleaner and sportier and doesn't clash the way chrome does with some of my color preferences. But I would still never make a decision between the 530i sport or non-sport based upon window trim. You are already fortunate enough to have married right (i.e. wife who drives a stick). Don't give up the opportunity to have a world class handling sedan, because of a chrome fetish. Sorry, that was harsh, but the 530i sport package is not just "looks" it's serious substance.

    I respectfully suggest you drive a 530i sport and non-sport back to back through some curves before you make up your mind. Remember, you wont see the shadowline trim from the inside of the car, but if you are like me, you'll definitely feel the handling difference.

    P.S. For the record, I have not driven the 525i. I had previously planned on getting a 540i 6-speed. But with the added power of the 530i over the previous 528i, I convinced myself the 530i was sufficient. I don't think I could drop down to the 525i and feel the same way, but that's just me.

    Good luck and congrats on the baby.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    mumike... Nothing wrong with this. Great car. Fun to drive. Practical and efficient. Order it with exactly what you want and can afford. Most buyers also want Premium Package. There is a Sport-Premium Package that combines both. Avoid options you don't want or need. The MY 2003 comes standard with 4 yr/50k free maintenance, sunroof, and rear head airbags. Plus the Premium Package includes a couple additional items (e.g., auto headlights and rain sensing windshield wipers).
  • mumikemumike Posts: 4
    I sincerely appreciate the (almost instantaneous) feedback. And thank you for going easy on me. :-)

    snagiel, thank you for the advice on the wheels, I will definitely research

    habitat, I am lucky to have my wife for more reasons that that! LOL But you are correct, she encourages getting the manual because it's more fun to drive (her words!). But to the 525/530 comparison, is the upgrade in power that noticeable? Obviously I will need to test drive both, but it always helps to hear others' experiences. (And for some reason - I know, it's stupid and it shouldn't control my decision- but I really prefer the chrome finish. Perhaps when I get behind the wheel I could be easily swayed.)

    riez, the premium package is a definite must and I have already factored that into the decision. One question, does "MY" stand for mid-year? I am guessing that means anything I order will definitely be MY at this stage of the game. Also, it sounds like you think I would not be disappointed in getting the 525 sport, is that a personal choice for you as well?

    Thanks again everyone!
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    MY is model year, and I think Riez's choice is the 540i6, but he's graciously doling out his acceptance for the 525 as well.

    As for the power, it's a hotly-contested debate, but it too is a subjective one. If you're used to driving a Civic, you'll love the 525. But if you've got a supercharged Grand Am or something you'll probably love the luxury and handling but find the 525's power disappointing. Indeed, with a stick, all of the models--even the 540--really seem much more eager and capable. So while a 525iA may be modest, its manual counterpart is certainly entertaining. The 530i has an added jolt of thrust, and the 540 in turn a slightly bigger step above the 530.

    Alas, drive them and decide for yourself. Good luck.
  • mumikemumike Posts: 4
    snagiel, my wife drives an S60 Volvo (I think it's a 1.8, base model engine). I can only assume that the 525 manual will feel much more powerful than that?

    I drive a Ford Explorer I bought brand new in '93, so anything at this point will feel MUCH better. I'm looking forward to getting out of the SUV and into a 5'er.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    mumike... As usual, snagiel is correct. MY stands for model year. As opposed to CY, which stands for calendar year. I drive a MY '98 540i6. My wife has a MY '00 323ia. Love 'em both.

    My local dealer has brand new black on black 525i Sport manual. Believe it also has PP (Premium Pkg) and CWP (Cold Weather Pkg). I've been half tempted to trade my 540i6 in on it.

    But I've grown to love having 6 speeds. (Ever see the movie "This Is Spinal Tap"? But it goes to eleven!) I like having an overdrive 6th gear along with the direct drive 5th. Thinking the 525i and 530i manuals are non-overdrive with direct drive 5ths. (But I may be mistaken.) My 540i6 gets 26 mpg at 74 mph cruising. She turns over only about 2,100 rpms at that speed in 6th. I do a lot of highway crusing.
  • ksqrdksqrd Posts: 21
    Thanks for the kind words of congratulation. Given that the chance of identical triplets is around 1:160,000, this is a pretty amazing event, and we definitely feel very lucky. We do find ourselves faced with lots of unique challenges, though, including the logistics of transporting three babies.

    Sorry to hear that it's unlikely that three seats will fit in back of a 5-series. We will haul them in and check, to be sure, and will also look at CPO 7s. Regarding the latter, I'm just wary that once the car is past the CPO warranty period, we might have to drop $1K here and there, and I'm nervous about that prospect (vs. other obvious financial needs).

    If anyone else can relate their experiences with trying to put 3 car seats in the back of a BMW (or any other sedan), I'd be pleased to hear your suggestions. They do fit nicely in the back seat of our MDX, but our second car is an old Integra GS-R that handles beatifully, but is completely impractical given our new situation.
  • mumikemumike Posts: 4
    While I'm still undecided on the 525/530 choice, I think I've narrowed down the color options (black sapphire or titanium gray or sterling gray).

    Has anyone seen the black sapphire metallic versus the jet black? Or how about the titanium gray versus the sterling gray?

    You always hear "don't get black because it looks dirty." I don't know if that's true or not, maybe someone has an opinion.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Once I went black, I will NEVER do that again. My current 540i6 is the first (jet) black car I've ever had (out of about 21 cars over 25 years). Won't do that again. Looks dirty before, during, and after you wash. Only looks good at night. Can't wait to get a different color. I envy my wife's titanium silver metallic. (I love black interior. Just don't want another black exterior.)
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I've owned a 540i 6-speed, currently drive an M5 and just went out shopping with my niece for a new car and we tried out a 525i 5-speed (sport) among several other cars.

    From my perspective, it would be difficult to call the 525i quick, even with a 5-speed. It seems slightly slower than the old 528i. On the positive side it felt very tight and seemed to handle better than the 528i. There is no doubt that a 525i 5-speed sport will run circles around a FWD Volvo S60 in the handling department.

    The 530i 5-speed sport is my favorite recommendation for those who can afford it. It just seems like a great engine / chassis combination for someone who likes great handling and good, if not exceptional, power. It's only a few pounds heavier than the 525i, so the increase in horsepower and torque is immediately evident. In terms of it's position in the 5-series line-up, I believe it offers the most bang for the buck.

    I also suggest you test drive all of the cars. If lack of chrome is a deal killer for the 530i sport, you have a very tough decision between the 525i sport and 530i non-sport. The 540i 6-speed and M5 only come with shadowline trim, so you better not plan on trading up!

    P.S. riez: I managed 25.2 at an average speed of 80 mph on a recent 280 mile highway trip. So far, I've averaged 20.5 mpg over 15k miles, which is only 1 mpg less than my former 540i and about 6 mpg more than our SUV (which actually does get driven off road, for the record). I'm tempted to petition the EPA for a refund of my $2,100 gas guzzler tax.
  • seivwrigseivwrig Posts: 388
    What, you don't like the dirty look of jet black? 8-) I have got used to it and would still buy another jet black car. If an individual is addicted to washing their car, jet black is the colour.

    A consideration that you might want to consider is that the 525 and 530 are close in price unlike the 325 and 330. The 530 makes more sense. I figure that your dealer would do a wheel swap. I actually believe that the chrome trim can be purchased, but I would have to check that. If you go with black, the chrome would be a nice contrast especially with the chrome on the grill.
  • Congrats to you and your spouse. I am able to put 3 carseats in my '02 540iA (2 child seats, outboard position, for my 2 year old twins and 1 booster, in the middle for my 6 year old). It is not easy for the 6 year old to buckle the seatbelt because of the tight clearance, but it does fit.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,056
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Never again. I had two black cars, my last one had a black interior as well. Absolutely uncomfortable during the hot weather and the black only looks good for 30 seconds after you wash her.

    My current color is the grey-green metallic with the tan interior. The only dirt it really shows is road salt. Yuch! While in the summer any car gets hot after sitting in the sun all day baking. I now work at a location, where I can leave the windows cracked open without worrying.

    While getting into the car in the summer is never fun after it's been in the sun for a while, it was never like my former black exterior with black interior. Black interiors take forever to cool off even with the A/C on turbo intercooled siricco mode.
  • dzubadzuba Posts: 159
    Interesting "negative comments" on a black interior. I was actually planning on opting for the black interior - but some good points have been made.

    Anyone else against a black interior, or for?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    dzuba... I have two kids. They tend to spill and make messes. Can't say my wife is that much better as she always has to have coffee or soda pop in the car. Her black leather interior looks a lot cleaner than the beige one she had in her last car. You can see every spill on the floor in a light car. Every strand of dark hair. Every speck of dirt. So, sure the car is a bit hotter inside during the summer. But it looks cleaner year round.

    Having said that, we have been tempted to find a car with a grey interior. Not as dark as black but darker than beige/tan/light brown. Been a while since we had one. Thinking that might be the best of both worlds. Looks clean and stays cooler in summer.
  • joatmonjoatmon Posts: 315
    Toledo Blue with the tan interior is a very striking color combination on a 5 series. They don't stay on the lot very long.

    Happy Hunting,

  • seivwrigseivwrig Posts: 388
    I find that the black interior is earier to clean because shows the dirt. Grey interior tends to mask dirt. As far as the heat is concerned, I have lived in TX and FL for the last 18 years. I have got burned on grey interior. Tint on the windows does help. But it really does not make much of a difference. hot is hot. I would avoid a black exterior before a black interior. Silver is nice for any german car and you don't have to wash it every week but Black still looks better.
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I have a black on black 528i, and this is my second black car. I can tell you from experience black exterior require more cleaning obviously, but nothing looks better than a clean black car. I am happy to wash my car once or twice a week without a problem. I think detailing twice a year is very important as well, especially for black cars. Helps them look clean even with just a mild rinsing or wash. As for black interiors, it doesn't matter as much as the outside of a car. A black car with tan interior will still be very hot inside if the sun is beating down on it. The thing to do is make sure that the car is vented out first, use the feature to open all the windows and sunroof if you have to. Park in the shade, and if all else fails, just open the door and let all the windows down before you start driving. It is not like we live in the Mohave desert or something.
  • spyderredspyderred Posts: 137
    I like to keep my cars pretty clean. I am not as crazy as some of the guys I have seen on Roadfly that also clean the underside, yes the underside of their cars regularly. But if you are picky like me, but not nuts, about your car appearance then I would avoid a black car at all costs. An hour after you wash a black car you will see all the dust on it. This would drive me nuts. I have an arctic silver/grey leather and a Royal red/ Sand leather E39's. The one that looks the best when it is clean, of course, is the royal red/sand beautiful color contrast. The silver looks good with minimal maintenance almost all the time. I am in Southern California, and neither one get really that hot. Personally I would avoid black, and would recommend the sterling silver, rich color nut not too dark. If you want minimal maintenance then titanium should be your first choice.

    Arctic Silver

    Arctic Silver

    Royal Red

    Royal Red
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