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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • cmr530icmr530i Posts: 278
    I want to drive from SoCal to San Francisco this summer to take in the sights on the way (Big Sur etc.)as well as to visit the city and was wondering if the city is 530i friendly or would it be wise to rent a car for the week. I just don't want to come home with dings/dents if the traffic or parking is hectic. I want to stay in the city and plan on walking almost everywhere to sight-see. Would you have reservations taking your 530 in the city? Thank you for your opinion.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,315
    Pen101: Definitely don't roll over, make sure you talk not only to your service advisor, but to the service manager as well (might not hurt to slip the guy some cash for his or her troubles). If you don't get anywhere with the service manager, then call (and write) BMWNA and complain. There is no way you should have to fork over the dough to replace the clutch on a $45K car after only 14K miles. DON'T GIVE UP!

    Again, I'm back from a long TH hiatus so please excuse me if this point has been made. The fact that a 6 year old design only placed 1 point behind a brand new model is a credit to BMW in and of itself. The 530iA mostly got dogged for things being "old" or "dated." The E320 was put down some for the artificial brake feel, steering response, and accelerator and feeling too "computery." The New E is a gorgeous car, but if the cash (or lease payments for that matter) were mine, I'd go for the 530i (minus the A of course.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • dabimmerdabimmer Posts: 165
    I take my 530iA into the City quite often and drive ,sightsee,stop to view and park and have never had any problems with traffic or parking.Just be sure that where you stay you have a parking spot off street. I have no reservations about going in to SF at all.You are wise to walk or take public transportation, you see a lot more that way. By the way, coming up Highway 1 to Santa Barbara and Big Sur and into San Francisco is the way to go, certainly much more scenic than the 5. We
    never take 5, always go 101 or 1 just to enjoy the trip, we never go to So Cal in any hurry. Hope this helps.
  • Katie -

    San Francisco is not particularly car friendly and parking is generally brutal. Maybe even get lucky and get a ding in it.

    So I would DEFINITELY bring the 530.

    Impossible for me to imagine that a 530 owner would pass on the chance to drive the CA coastline. Road that was made to be driven in a fun car. It's what your car dreams about every day while stuck going 25 on the 405. The only way in the world I'd pass on that would be if you could find a friend to loan you the M3 convertible for the drive.

    So, release the hounds, drive like the wind...and use the hotel's overnight valet.

    Enjoy Ess Eff.
  • carnaughtcarnaught 'zonaPosts: 2,338
    I would think that if you bull-dogged it with the BMW dealer you are using for service, they would give you a loaner, even if you didn't buy the car from them. BTW, why didn't you bring it to the same dealer you bought from? Anyway, I'd remind your present servicing dealer that usually all prestige marques (i.e., MB, Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac, and even Lincoln) will give loaners for overnight service. It is a matter of standing behind their brand and it's not like they are not going to be compensated for this service (either from the factory or owner). If they continue to provide the service amenities of a Chevy dealer to you in purchasing one of their $50k+ cars, I'd let them know you will convey that to your friends and colleagues regarding their substandard practices. I would also mention that their practices would not endear them to your buying from them in the future.

    (Now, whether they should pay for the service is the additional issue.)
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 8,018
    It's not an engine building contest. If Lincoln can offer a V8 for $8K less then why should they test a V6? The M45 had a 345 hp V8 but it's in the same price range as the other vehicles so it's a valid comparison. If the 530 cost even close to the same as a V6 LS then that would be a fair comparison, but it doesn't.

    BTW - do you guys think a V8 LS sport could hang with a base 540iA (w/o the sport package)?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The 540iA will stil do 0-60 in about 6, top speed 128. Add the sport package, top speed 155. Just for reference the 330i with the performance package will do 0-60 in 6 seconds top speed 155. Can the Lincoln hang with that? :0>
  • pen101pen101 Posts: 238
    nyccarguy, carnaught, thank you for your replies. I purchased the car at a dealer that was 60 miles away. The dealer that has my car now is 3 miles away. There are two other dealers within 20 miles of my house, but this is the most convenient dealer and I cannot change now because the car is not driveable and to tow it to another dealer may be more of a hassle than it is worth.

    I did not make a big stink of the fact that they would not give me a loaner (they did offer a courtesy ride home) because I wanted to save my fight for the bigger issue, that being the cost of the clutch.

    I may have to give then the go ahead whether they agree to pay for it or not and then work out the issue of who is responsible later, because I must have the car back as soon as possible since starting tomorrow I will have to rent a car.

    Any additional responses to the questions I posted on my earlier post from this evening would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    That definitely doesn't sound right. I've heard guys who occasionally track their cars (528's and 540's) and otherwise drive hard, yet still get 80k miles easy out of their clutches. If this were your first manual ever and you lived on a steep hill with lots of stop signs, I could understand a 14k mile clutch life. But otherwise this sounds like some sort of defect. How easily you'll be able to convince the dealer of the fact, I'm not sure. But I'd definitely put up a fight; be respectful and calm, by all means, but don't give in easy.

    The strongest argument for a defect might be in your description of what happened: a clutch doesn't just abruptly burn out and leave you stranded. When a clutch starts to go, it's a gradual process that lasts for several thousand miles. You notice it first when accelerating hard, and you feel it taking progressively longer to engage. Good luck, and keep us informed.
  • mschukarmschukar Posts: 351
    We put a layer of kitchen cabinet liner under our car seat. I haven't checked for indentations, but it helps hold the seat stationary with it's grippy surface.

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The difference in acceleration times is largely academic, as almost every LS I see is piloted by a middle aged or older female. And there ain't no grandma that can pull a holeshot on me!!! Well, there WAS a grandma who brought her M Roadster to the CCA O'fest'98 safety school-I taught her how to turn off the ASC and she soon became the burnout queen...:)
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I have a 1995 Nissan Maxima still going strong with 136k miles on the original clutch and was told by the BMW service manager at the same dealership (VOB BMW, Rockville, MD) that 5-series clutches should last just as long. Especially the 530i. Even the 540i and M5 clutches are expected to last into the 100k+ territory. From the sounds of it, I drive like you - not abusive, but occasionally spirited.

    I also agree with snagiel, the clutch wear should have been noticable. Hell, if you were burning it up in only 14k miles, you should have smelled something. I would absolutely stay on this one until you get a free replacement from BMW, and an accurate explanation of what happened.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    pen101... Too bad about your situation. As Roundel (BMW CCA), Bimmer and other BMW-related publications have pointed out, BMW's manual transmissions are normally pretty bulletproof. Having a clutch go out like yours did is far outside the norm. Make sure you understand exactly what the dealer claims is the problem. Make sure when they dig into it that they check everything that might have caused the problem.

    As for loaner cars, many BMW dealers have similar policies: you only get a loaner if you buy the car from them. My local dealer is like that and since we didn't buy either of our BMWs from him, we don't get loaners. Only once has my wife gotten our local dealer to provide her a loaner, but that was on an issue that they didn't fix right the first time. I personally think this loaner policy is a huge oversight on BMW NA's part in this market segment. Infiniti, Lexus, and others have been providing loaners for years. Doesn't BMW know people move? It is something I always bring up, politely, whenever I'm contacted for a post-service survey. If more people (everyone?) did, maybe BMW would change?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Would've been interesting if C&D had used a base (no option) 540i6 in their comparison.

    Here are some published 0-60 mph figures:

    540i6 (2.81:1 final drive):

    Car & Driver, Aug 1998: 5.5 seconds
    Car & Driver, April 1998: 5.4 at 40,000 miles & 5.5 when new
    Car & Driver, March 1997: 5.4
    Motor Trend, May 1999: 5.6
    Motor Trend, March 1998: 5.5
    Motor Trend, Feb 1997: 5.6

    540ia Sport (3.15:1 final drive):

    Car & Driver, Sep 2001: 5.7 seconds
    Car & Driver, Nov 1998: 6.1
    Road & Track, Dec 1999: 6.6 (high altitude)

    540ia non-Sport (2.81:1 final drive):

    Car & Driver, Dec 1996: 6.3 seconds
    Motor Trend, Feb 1997: 6.2
    Road & Track, Feb 1998: 5.9
    Road & Track, Sep 1996: 6.7
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    While thinking about possibly purchasing an M5, I read through posts on, where many M5 owners hang out. Many reported problem with premature clutch failure, which in many cases were diagnosed by dealers as "abusive driving". However, some of the owners kept pressuring their dealers and it turned out that either the pressure plate or some other part was defective and caused a sudden failure. Most dealers would simply tell the owners that due to the high torque output of the car, full power cannot be applied unless clutch is fully engaged.

    Even if you have to agree to pay to get the repair done, have them look at all the parts (make sure they just didn't throw away the used parts). Apparently certain wear pattern can be seen on an abused clutch that is different from the failure caused by defective parts. Search for "clutch" on and you will find hundreds of posts on this. Good luck.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 8,018
    I don't have all the details yet but the new Lincoln LS commercial says the LS V8 sport beat the 540iA base in an independently verified test. Not sure in which areas exactly (test results are on the way and I'll post them) but I'm sure handling would be the major one. Adding the sport package to the 540iA would obviously give it the advantage but that also puts the cost over $60K while the LS is still closer to $40K. The base 540iA with similar equipment (minus the sport package) still has to be at least $55K.

    I just think Lincoln deserves a lot of credit for the performance of the new LS and I think it's very competitive with the current 5 series offerings in the under $45K price range. If Lincoln does come out with the rumoured 400 hp LS then it should get even more interesting. And yes, I know more hp is on the way for the 5 series but at what price?

    It will never win any car comparison tests no matter how it performs - too much press bias. But I dare any current or potential 5 series owner to take a test drive. It's a lot better than you think.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Obviously a 540i6 would've blown the doors off all the others, but I'm not sure it would have helped much in the ratings. C&D disappointingly seems to moderate its praise on the 530's driving dynamics, bad-mouths its dash, and is otherwise wowed with the Mercedes select-a-firm shock settings. Since the 540 shares the same "dated" dash and rides no better than the 530, it may not have achieved any better. Then again, you never know how all that extra torque might sway even those spoiled editors.
  • ksqrdksqrd Posts: 21
    My experience living in the Marina district in SF for five years: One stolen car, one attempted carjacking at knifepoint (drove away), one mirror sheared in traffic by a commercial van, two significant door dings and one outright denting (the latter three while parked).

    That said, I wouldn't give up the chance to drive in the Bay area either. Drive across the GG bridge, and then drive to Muir Woods National Monument to see the redwoods and drive a winding stretch of coast road straight out of a commercial. Indeed, many of the commercials you'll see are filmed on Marin county roads skirting Mount Tamalpais. I'm living in Texas now, and I miss those drives almost more than the city itself.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I drove an LS V8 before I ordered my 530i PP, SP, Xenon and Premium Audio, and for what its worth, I was impressed that an American manufacturer had done so well, however, I didn’t feel that the "Look" of the car and the quality of the materials and workmanship were up to the level of the 5-Series.

    As a point of comparison, the LS V8 Premium Sport has a very similar content level to the car that I ultimately ordered, however, being that I am one of those weird three pedal bigots, I was forced to compare the LS V8 Auto to a 530i 5-Speed, one big mark against the LS in my book. Then there was the performance issue, and according to my "Butt Dyno", IF the LS was faster, it was JUST faster, barely. Even though the LS does in fact have more power and torque, it also has a slushbox to deal with, and it is ~250 pounds heavier. Finally, there is the price to consider, I picked up my car for somewhere in the neighborhood of $42,000 (Euro Delivery) taxes and title included, which is about $4,000 less than the LS V8 Premium Sport. So, from my perspective, which car is the better value? Easy, the 530i.

    Best Regards,
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 8,018
    I assume you were looking at a pre-2003 LS? The 2003 has significant improvements, especially in engine power and interior. The interior quality was significantly upgraded for 2003. Not saying it's better than the BMW (and nowhere near as nice as the Mercedes) but it's a lot closer than the original 00-02s. Real wood trim, satin nickel instead of black plastic, better leather, etc. Take another look and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    If you want a stick then BMW wins - no contest. Without a European market Lincoln can't cost justify a manual. Although there's still a slight possibility for the 400 hp LS to get a stick - but it's very slight since the 6-spd ZF automatic is available off the shelf and will handle the torque.
    Assuming the bean counters don't cancel it altogether.

    Unless your 530i had every option box checked (including navigation) then the comparable LS street price would have been closer to $40K. Did the $42K include the cost of the trip and shipping back to the US? If it does then I agree that's a good deal.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Did you ever notice that BMW owners rarely(if ever) feel the need to jump into the LS discussions to tout the superiority of their cars. I guess they just don't need to convince themselves that they made the right choice. FWIW, my uncle leases a V6 LS every couple of years. They aren't bad cars, but there is a reason why they always finish mid-pack(or worse) in comparos. I plan to instruct at the BMW CCA Bluegrass Chapter Drivers School in June. Wonder if I'll see an LS on the track?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Like I posted earlier, I opted for the Premium Package, Sport Package, Premium Audio and Xenon lights, MSRP $48,095. The ED program covers one month of insurance and registration and the transportation of the car back to the USA. Yes, I did have to cover my own airfare, however, given that my wife and I would have been there anyway, and that we would have had to rent a car as well, it could be considered that the car cost even less than the $42K.

    All of this said, extra power in the LS would still not be enough to entice me to buy it.

    Best Regards,
  • pen101pen101 Posts: 238
    Thank you riez, snagiel, habitat1 and jb_shin for your thoughts on this. The service advisor said he would call me today to let me know if they would cover it. I'll keep you informed. Hopefully this does not become a bad soap opera.

    Kind of interesting, there was a discussion on this board about 2 weeks ago about clutches and modifying the CDV. I was tempted, but now I'm glad I did not. If the dealer would find out about the modification, you know want they would immediately conclude regarding the premature clutch wear.

    Coincidentally, I have two vehicle surveys on my desk that I had intended to fill out, one by J.D. Power about vehicle satisfaction after a year and the other about service satisfaction. If I had sent them out last week, I would have rated both very high. Now, the jury is still out. I know that the dealer is very concerned about its satisfaction ratings and possibly BMWNA also. I think I'll wait and use the surveys as extra leverage (not that one survey out of thousands is really going to make a difference). I just hope that this situation does not tarnish my so far great BMW experience.
  • pen101pen101 Posts: 238
    Just got off the phone with the service advisor. Of course he says that it was from overheating and not from a defect, therefore it is not covered.

    I called the BMW 800 number. The rep explained that if the dealer determined that it was from abuse, then there is nothing they could do. I asked for them to talk to the dealer and maybe send a rep out to look at the parts. It does not look good at this point. To me, a clutch should not burn out after just 14K mostly freeway miles, especially since I have been driving stick for so long and having clutches last over 100K easy.

    The question is, where do I go from here?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    That sucks, big time. I suppose I would try to point out that, assuming the rest of your car is in good shape, your brakes and tires are wearing out a "normal" rate and therefore the clutch is wearing out disproportionately. Also, point out that it abruptly died, and that (presumably from your account) it was fine up until that point. It's an uphill battle, for sure, but it's worth a shot.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    You might want to point out that BMW engineered in the CDV assumedly to prevent JUST this kind of problem. It is a little hard to "Abuse" a 5-Series clutch (assuming factory CDV) unless of course you go around all day with the pedal half pressed forcing the clutch to slip.

    Best Regards,
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 8,018
    Let's compare a $48K 530iA sport with a $40K LS V8 Sport (objectively).
    What justifies the $8K price difference?

    Size? No, the LS has more interior room.
    Acceleration? Nope. The LS is quicker.
    Handling? Wrong again. The LS is better on the skidpad and slalom and emergency lane change.
    Ride comfort? Possibly. I've heard mixed reports on this one.
    Amenities? No.
    Braking? Yes. Advantage BMW on this one although $75 worth of Porterfield pads would make it a dead heat.
    Maintenance? slight advantage to BMW (4 yrs vs. 3 yrs)
    Reliability? No. The latest JD Power survey on long term reliability has Lincoln way ahead of BMW.

    You can't justify it based on objective criteria. You'd have to spend $61K on a 540iA sport to outperform it. Remember we're talking about auto equipped sport sedans. If you want a high performance stick then I agree it's no contest - there is no competition (yet).

    Let's look at it a different way - for $44K (street price) I can get a fully loaded LS V8 Premium Sport. For the same price I can get a not quite fully loaded 525iA sport (no navigation).
    If someone can justify the 525iA on anything other than "perceived prestige" or styling preferences then let's hear it.

    Please note I'm not trying to say it's a better car - only that the 2003 model is finally a worthy competitor for a lot less money and I was hoping someone would be objective enough to agree.

    As for the Grandma comment, I could put a name tag on the kind of people that I think drive BMWs but I won't stoop to that level.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Shipo paid $42K for his 530i so let's start from there. The 5 series has been rated the best sports sedan ever. Not the Ford didn't do a good job, but the 5 series has taken top honors for a while. So if you were to get a 530i to $42K or an LS for $40K does it justify the $2K price difference. To me yes, maybe to you no.

    BMW doesn't go around winning every item on every comparo. They are not all first in acceleration, skidpad, slalom etc. However when you take the total package in account they cannot be beat. They offer a range of performance and luxury options for you the consumer.

    So is the LS a competitor, yes? To say the 5 series has no competition is not really the way it is. In fact they are all competitors vying for your dollars.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    The current E39 5 Series came out in CY 1996 as a MY 1997. That is an eternity ago in the automotive world. But it is still at the top of its class. G35, CTS, LS, etc. all trying to compete. The LS came out in CY 1999 as a MY 2000. The 2003 LS is reportedly a significant upgrade (though not a completely new platform) to the 2000 LS. Too bad the manual transmission availability with the LS V-6 was eliminated. Both the 2000 and 2003 LS came out AFTER the E39. What is the saying, If at first you don't succeed....

    Can't wait to see what is in store with the next generation E60 5 Series. Not sure about the saying. If at first you hit a home run....
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