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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • jgatis, I too am in the Triangle and shopping for a BMW. Are the local dealers (Leith and Performance) quoting you $2000 over invoice? Leith first offered to take off 4-500 $ off MSRP and my wife and I just laughed. I am ready to buy soon, but a I'm not willing to pay their showroom lease for a month.... Look forward to your response.
  • slugger4, Leith was offering $2200 over invoice until I passed along an email quote from Performance for $2000. I have not made another move yet. One strategy I'm considering is presenting Leith a final offer (say, $1700 over invoice) in exchange for my promise not to escalate the bidding war with Performance. I don't know if this approach has merit, but I understand $1700 over invoice is about as low as anyone has gotten nationwide (based on my research). Given that there is no hold-back on these cars, my offer corresponds to about 3.5% profit for my configuration. As a matter of interest, Leith's first offer was $1500 off MSRP. I think it depends on the model - I'm told they're not dealing at all on 3 series.
  • I am a new owner of a '97 540iA. The problem I have is when the vehicle speed is over 40 MPH, I detect a low frequency "rumbling" which I believe is related to the wind velocity. It will do it at a lower MPH if it's windy outside. It's not an air leak around the doors or windows, but I was thinking more like from around the mirrors, wiper blades, or front air deflectors. Has anyone experienced something similar on the 5 series?
  • flhtci1 -- I test drive a '97 528 and noticed the same noise...the salesman told me it was the windshield wiper. I ended up buying a 2000 model and I haven't noticed it. I wonder if they changed the doesn't seem be as obtrusive as I recall the 97 to be, but I'm not sure.

  • Hello BMW folks!
    I'm currently in a 1995 M-B C280 (195 hp) and everything about it is putting me to sleep. From the "stately" (read "numbing") handling to the absolute dog of a standard Bose stereo (previous owner probably Armor-All'ed the speakers) to the leatherette surfaces I have to peel myself out of in the Washington, DC summers. Sure, the C280 is solid, tight and heavy feeling, and more responsive than most other U.S. cars, but it's not a real "performer" by any means. e.g. If I take a long, somewhat sharp turn, (such as a 180 degree exit ramp) at more than 40 mph it feels like a TaeBo workout. Somebody check my spelling on that.

    Anyway, I'm trying to store away a couple extra bucks to get a new car. One that is exciting to drive. I'm too poor for the E320, I don't want another C class and I'm not so enamored by M-B in general. So I'm thinking BMW 5 series. The price is still high, but with some financial discipline I should be alright to hit the show room next spring. Now here are the questions:

    1. 525iA or 530iA ($4K difference) is it absolutely worth it? 184 vs. 225 horses, is that the only difference? It seems like a lot of difference in power.

    Now let's talk options!

    2. Is the 10 speaker basic audio $1K better than the 10 speaker premium audio? I'm sure anything is better than the wax paper filtered system I'm listening to currently - but I want to get a real spacious sounding, responsive system.

    3. Is the Montana leather $1K better than the leather-ette? I hate that word... why don't they just say RUBBER?

    4. Is the moonroof worth the extra bucks?

    5. In dash CD for $170 or the very expensive six pack in the trunk?

    Social status questions (optional to answer)
    a. Do 530 and 540 owners think 525 owners are weanies?

    b. Do BMW owners give a "knowing wave" or do the "two fingers off the top of the steering wheel" thing when they pass eachother? (You know, like the Corvette guys do.)

    c. When a 540 and 525 come in visual contact of eachother, does the 525 have to initiate the "knowing wave" because he is lower in social status?

    Okay, I'm done. Can you tell I'm not a BMW owner yet?
  • rjsenrjsen Posts: 30
    Since the price of the 5-series seems to be a stretch for you, why not look at a 3-series? You'll get better performance from the same engine, better handling, and pay a good bit less. Unless back-seat space is an issue, I'd definitely recommend the 3 over the 5. You can get a decently optioned 325i for around $30k, and a 330i for around $35k.
  • awooawoo Posts: 1

    A quick response would be GREATLY appreciated, in
    fact, if you could e-mail me at [email protected],
    it would be even better.

    I have been shopping for a 525 for years 1993-1995
    or so. I've taken a few out.. and I never noticed until the last two I tried ('93 and '95),
    that when I have the heater on FULL FAN and FULL HEAT on the front, the rear passenger vents, still only give cool air. Is the rear passenger vents SUPPOSED to give hot air when the front is hot, or just fresh air? When I looked through the owner's manual. It was not very clear. I think it said the back vents flowed 'fresh' air, but it never mentioned about the temperature.

    Also... even with the fan on FULL (level 4. These were all manual dialed climate controls that I saw), the fan was not super strong. Is this normal ?

    Thanks a bunch for all your help, in advance!!!

    [email protected]
  • I would double check your transmissions. I don't THINK the 99 has a "steptronic" transmission. I don't think it was available until 2000. The info I have found states a 5 speed auto trans in the 99 but not a steptronic specifically. There IS a difference.

    Otherwise, do you need a V8???
  • You may be correct about the steptronic in the 540it. I have yet to see the car. Do I need a V8? No. I will be putting 25-30K miles on the car. Would there be any other reason the buy the 540iT?

    Would anyone know if $43,500 is a good price for the 528iT with premium pkg, steptronics, heated seats. The MSRP is $47,800.
  • Get the 530..the weight of the car requires the power. Get the premium pkg and you get the leather and moonroof. Regarding the CD, the car is pre-wired for the CD changer in the trunk. I bought an Alpine 6-disc changer at Circiut city for half the price of the factory, installed. I installed it myself even. Good luck.
  • Having spent some seat time in both, from my experience this is an easy choice...get the new 528. There are two key reasons:

    1) The GM autobox in the 528 is far superior to the unfortunate ZF unit in the 540. The former is manufactured by GM in France and is similar to the excellent 4 speed unit used in the Opel Omega / Cadillac Catera / Vauxhall Omega. The ZF has been famously subject to recall; friends with that unit in their 740s know the trans service techs at the local Bimmer store by first name. Stick with the manual boxes in the v-engined cars; in contrast, the GM autobox is a delight to use, whether in its 5 speed BMW-application form or in its 4 speed Opel Omega form.

    2) BMW's inline six cylinder engines sold in the US have superior materials applications as compared to the V configured engines. Unlike the inline sixes, BMW saved manufacturing costs on the v engines by deleting the steel liners from the cylinder bores in favor of various metalographic band-aids applied to mask the basis softness of aluminum v. steel. These band aids came in various forms (alumisil, nikasil, this-a-sil, that-a-sil,...) but none have proven to be satisfactory in long term usage, particularly if the vehicle is driven in conditions of high heat and mechanical stress for extended periods of time. In addition, the v engines other failing is their being quite subject to various interal corrosions when higher sulphur level fuel is used (as is often found in the SE part of the US). BWM has been suffering from manifold warranty disputes on that last point. Finally, on the topic of 530 v 540, I find the sixes to have more than adequate power for urban and highway use, and their silky feel and sonorous sounds are wonderful.

    On a related note, have any readers of this thread discovered whether there is any truth to the unfortuneate rumor that BMW may be about to follow DaimlerChrysler's move a few years ago to dump the in line sixes in favor of V-6s? Hopefully that is not the case.
  • I got a week 47 build, and the car should be here Dec. 20th. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. I live in New York City and got a really good deal, which I'm happy to share with other potential bimmer owners.

    I just leased a 530iA for $355 over invoice. Here's the breakdown:

    Invoice: $41,315
    Adv. Fee: $ 200
    Lease Fee: $ 525
    Delivery: $ 570

    Total was $42,965.

    It has sport/premium, steptronic, xenon, and fold down rear seats. Sticker is $46,520.

    It's a 3yr/12k lease, 62% depreciation. $651 payment w/o sales tax.

    I had to bid among 35 dealers to get it. I highly recommend I wouldn't have had a clue without it, and the guy who runs it is very cool. You can talk to him on the phone and he'll help you get the best deal.

    Anyway, happy shopping/driving.
  • I had a '97 528i, and I live 20 miles outside of NYC, and we do get snow in the winter. I didn't have to do anything to the car in winter b/c it has a flawless traction control system as well as stability control system. They really help the car keep on track, and they seemed just as good if not better than front wheel drive. I didn't need it so I reccomend you wait until it snows... and see what you think.
  • Gearman:

    My understading of the ZF tranny is that, besdies a much higher torque handling capacity than the GM, it has a stronger cae, better quality materials (especially wiring/electronics) and tighter tolerances. One of the primary benefits of the GM tranny is that it is less expensive to fix when it fails but the GM unit fails at
    a higher rate (almost 3x the rate of the ZF).

    As far as the engine, my understanding is that BMW has abandoned the nikasil it used in its V-8 in favor of alusil (also used in V-12s), and has not had the problems resurface.

    Just my $.02, would like to get others' thoughts.

  • abh1abh1 Posts: 1
    I live in the SF bay area/san jose and am looking to buy a 525iA or 530iA. Has anyone heard of a really good deal where there was a discount to the MSRP? The Edmund's site doesn't show a discount to the MSRP. Can anyone suggest a good dealer around here?

    Also, does anyone have any strong opinions on the 525 vs the 530? Is it worth the price difference?

  • Your Southern California pricing experience on the 530 matches mine. It does seem that the NYC area pricing mentioned by other posters is slightly more favorable. Comments from industry friends suggest that it's a classic supply/demand situation relative to regional/dealer allocations.

    What color combo did you order? I was considering the white ext. / beige int. prior to deciding to purchase a competing / slightly larger vehicle.
  • You may wish to delve a little further into these two issues.

    Aluminum is metallographicaly less dense that steel; its relative softness is the reason most engine manufactures take the expensive step of engineering and installing steel liners into aluminum engine blocks, no matter of they're made of nikasil, alusil, this-a-sil, or that-a-sil. Alloys and spraying surface treatments provides a band-aid, but not a solution to the basic physical characteritics of the two materials. The use of those band-aids typically postpones significant engine problems until beyond most mechanical warranty tenors if highest-stress useage (i.e. trailer towing) is prohibited or restricted to light loads, as is the case with BMW. A senior colleague of my firm currently has his 750il for sale with 35k miles, its second engine, third zf transmission, and fourth set of brake rotors all replaced under warranty. He's tired of the hassle. He's likely to purchase a Mercedes 500S, Cadillac Seville STS, or Audi 8 with the W12 engine as a replacement, since the 530 (which I favor)is too small for his requirements. I've recommended avoiding the Audi for now.

    Here in So. Cal, we're fortunate to not have experienced the internal engine corrosion problems (that have been the basis for other recalls) as have S.E. U.S owners since the pollution regulations have long forced the gas companies to market lower sulphur fuel in this area. Various manufacturers, Including DaimlerChrysler, have tried this engine construction method ever since Alcoa and GM foisted liner-less engines on Vega owners almost 3 decades ago. Both firms had negative warranty experience and, both have switched back to installing steel cylinder liners.

    Regarding the transmission, your observations are the opposite experience of the NHSTA and BMW, as noted by the recall activity on the ZFs and not on the GM units (whether installed in 3 or 5 series BMWs or in the Opel Omegas (europe) Chevrolet Omegas (Brazil), Holden Omegas (Austrailia), Cadillac Cateras (U.S.), or Vauxhall Omegas (England). Car magazine in the U.K ran an interesting comparison a couple of years ago of various used (3yrs) "Luxury Executive Saloons" (Volvo, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E Class, Vauxhall Omega, Audi A6, as I recall) that provided useful comment on this topic.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 33,282
    It may just be the engine, etc. cooling down. There are lots of metal pieces (heat shields for the exhaust for one) that expand, and often make noise when the are cooling off.

    2019 Acura TLX A-spec 4 cyl. (mine), and 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's)

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The upcoming Porsche Carrera GT supercar will feature a 5.5-liter V10 utilizing Nikasil cylinder bores. This inferior process has almost certainly been chosen to keep the price under $400,000.
  • My 97 528i got totalled (& I didn't have a scratch ), so I'm off to buy a 530 to replace it. Problem is the seats. I'm 5'2". When I bought the 528, I bought the comfort seat, since the regular seat felt too squishy. But the comfort seat wasn't much better. Would the seats in the Sports Premium package be better? Also, since I do 70 miles/day on highways, would the sports package take away some of the "luxury" feel of the the regular model? (Frankly my rental Mazda 626 has more comfortable seats than the 528, & I'd hate to have to buy something other than a BMW in order to feel comfortable, especially on long drives.)
  • Hello. We use to have a 528i, it was a 97. I know they have given a minimum refreshing to the 2001's, but I have herd about the brand new model for 02/03. I have never been to a web page that clearly showed a large side view picture of the car. I currently have a 740isport.fully loaded. At the end of this lease in April 2003 I will most likely not get another 7 series. Even though it is the best car I have ever owned, I no longer have the need for a very large sedan. I am way a head of my self, but hey I have nothing better to do.
    P.S. I am also considering the 2003 M5, i asume that is going to have the same basic redisign? Also please email me at [email protected] with a responce, just because I sometimes lose track of what confrence I posted in. Make the email subject :BMW 5 series, and M5. THANK YOU SO MUCH.
  • your good observation deserves a good response.

    In this high-performance sports car application (the wonderful Porsche Carerra GT supercar), the issue behind the non-use of steel cylinder liners is different: weight rather than durability. At BWM, it's operating margin.

    While there are some engineering & manufacturing cost advantages to the use of the all-alloy block without inserted steel liners, in this application the primary driver behind Porsche's decision is the slight improvement in block weight. Cylinder wall longevity (over 200k kilometers) is largely irrelevant in this application, especially since the most thermally-stressful application (trailer towing) will not be attempted by Carerra GT owners (unless they've had way to much Schnapps). As you correctly noted, a proportionally small manufacturing cost savings is also largely irrelvant at the Carerra's very high price point.

    Instead, Porsche felt that saving the weight of 10 steel cylinders, particularly weight located a bit above the vehicle's roll center and the center of gravity, will provide two key benefits:

    1) Improved accleration (better power / weight ratio). Please note that Porsche placed a very high priority on weight reduction. The use modern materials rather than traditional steel stampings for the body structure in a street car reflects a long overdue epiphany among Porsche's engineers; they would not have made this internal-culturally significant change if it were not for their aggressive focus on weight reduction for this high-performance sports car application; and

    2) Reduced longitudinal roll polar moment of inertia for improved transient behaviour during periods of yaw acceleration and damping. Having 10 heavy steel cylinders located above the center of gravity (and probably above the vehicle's longitudinal roll axis) would hinder cornering performance for vehicle having this terrific performance potential.

    In a simple, low-tech, low manufacturing cost, high center of gravity sedan (like the 5 series BMW or other similar sedan) minimizing the longitudinal roll polar moment of inertia is irrelevant; drivetrain durability, on the other hand, is somewhat noticed by sports sedan consumers (but to a far lesser degree than consumers of heavy duty sports tow vehicles like the Surburban, Navigator, Tahoe, etc.).

    Tall, tippy, high center of gravity sedans(like the 5 series and especially like the narrower-track 3 series and other cars having similar dimensions) have higher centers of mass and narrower tracks than do many higher performance sports cars (Ferrari 360 Modena, GM Corvette, Honda NSX, etc). This basic physical characteristic and configuration of sedans results in comparatively (to low sports cars) large amounts of lateral weight transfer during yaw acceleration (the initial phase of cornering), and unless band-aided by very high spring and anti-roll bar rates, comparatively large amounts of body roll. Very basic physics.

    The point remains: the use of treatment-coated aluminum cylinder liners in a sedan, particularly one as heavy and tippy as the 5 series, is due to manufacturing cost savings and operating margin enhancement, not reducing the longitudinal roll polar moment of inertia or other vehicle handling nuances. The 6 cylinder 5 series remains one of the world's best sedans; advertising slogans aside, and recognizing the dynamic limitations imposed by its tall narrow sedan configuration, it is a truly an excellent passenger car.

    However, it certainly suffers the burden of a high sales price due to efforts to repair the financial damage caused by the Rover disaster.

    The financial disaster at BMW during the last few years (multi-billions of dollars of losses in the Rover fiasco) has placed BMW mgmt on the defensive to improve profitablity, repair the firm's seriously eroded retained earnings, and attempt to stave off being sold by the Quandt family to GM or Toyota once the death tax laws in Germany change in a couple of years. Recent interviews in the business press with BMW senior mgmt. all circle around this issue. Every effort is being made to price BMW products at very, very high operating margin levels relative to product cost(levels that some speculate would even embarass Ford's Navigator margins or Toyotas LS430 margins) so as to rebuild the company's financial fortunes as a means to prevent or postpone being sold to a larger manufacturer. BMW's superb brand management & marketing skills have enabled them to pursue this correct course of action. Unfortunately, most auto industry securities analysts are betting against BMW remaining independent past 2005 due to the inexorable pull of economies of scale and share holder value. They expect to see only 5 auto manufacturers by 2010. As a result, some stock analysts are recommending purchases of BMW's shares at this time in anticipation of the expected value appreciation that often occurs in stocks of firms considered takeover candidates. Check out the European business press articles on this point. GM is considered the most likely candidatem, with some marketing analysts specu, lating that GM would first dissolve the Oldsmobile brand and replace it with BWM at that product point in their brand matrix if such a transaction were to occur (copying Ford's deletion of Mercury and replacement by Volvo within their brand matrix). The first will be announced very shortly, the second is very speculative, and in my view, not likely.

    BTW: have you tried an M5? extraordinary, even without cylinder liners, but who cares?
  • al42al42 Posts: 1
    Resonse to abh1 -
    Just ordered a 530iA from Concord BMW, here in the Bay Area. Got a price quoted over the phone from Laurie. Got approx. 1900 off the MSRP. Nice lady too.

    Good Luck -
  • Picked it up last week. 5 speed, con pkg, cd, cold weather pkg, premium pkg. This is my first German car, and I am extremely impressed. Looks, quality, style, engine, everything. Handful of little things that bug me.... but overall I am happy. 1. No center consol for storage ( BMW uses that for a rear heating / AC unit). 2. Poor cup holder. Not real sturdy, in the middle in the way of the shift, climate control and radio. 3. No good place for a cell phone to sit if you don't buy BMW's. Lastly, and I think this is just the dealer, but the memory key isn't working perfectly yet of moving the seats to mine and my wife preferences based on which key is used. It is easy to find faults like this, but I would still rate this car a 9.5 on a scale of 1-10. If there is any real flaw, I haven't found it yet.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I'm trying to decide if you're joking or not.

    The aluminum BMW engine is considered to be very reliable and durable. Yes, there were some issues with the nikasil liners, because the sulphur content of the U.S. gasoline is sometimes much higher than the germans realized ( due to south american/mexian gas ). But those cars has the engine warranty extended to 100K miles, and they'll be replaced if any real problems shows up.

    As for the aluminum engine being a cost-cutting effort, that is absurd. Casting, cutting, and purchasing aluminum is much more expensive than the same with iron. And the alusil treatment is a metalurgical treatment that i expect costs as least as much as it would cost to simply use larger bores and to slide iron sleeves in. And it's easy to find hard-run BMW engine over 200,000 miles still working well and holding compression. Talk to any mechanic who regulary works on BMW, and you'll hear that a properly cared for BMW motor is good got 200+ miles before serious work is needed ( aside from a bad batch, like the nikasil engines). If BMW wanted to save money on the engine, they'd move to a more common V engine, or use an iron block, and drop silly extravagances like the variable valve timing.

    As for the 3 and 5-series being tall,tippy, and poor handling, i am sure you are joking now. The m3(3-series) was named the best handling car avaialble for any price by car and driver. The 5-series routinely wins the handling component of comparisons with other cars in it's class, and every single review of the 5-series compliments the handling, extending to drooling. Doesn't sound muck like a tall top-heavy tippy car to me, frankly.

    You also say the car is cheap to manufacture? Excuse me? Every review compliments it's very high build quality, and it's long list of sophisicated luxury features. Look inside the dash or in the engine compartment and you see thick metal and long welds. Even the base 3-series has a 10 speaker sterio, full sized spare, and stronger brakes and thicker rotors than you really need.

    The prices are being jacked way up? Are you aware the the 525 is the cheapest 5-series since '92 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) and has many new features, such as heat retention, the best DSC around, side air bags, etc?

    Please, i know you are not a BMW fan, but i think we can insert a little reality into our posts?

  • Greetings

    My recent purchase ('97 528i) is a joy but I have noticed an inconsistency in the speedometer readings. Consistently the dash dial indicator reads ~4 mph higher than the digital readout from the computer.

    Any thoughts?

    Tom Burke
  • mtl3mtl3 Posts: 22
    That was the post I was unable to compose.
  • westuwestu Posts: 2
    I get terrible gasoline mileage on my '97 528i; 16 mpg with 80% town driving. My '88 528e got 20 mpg under same conditions. Is this typical?
  • westuwestu Posts: 2
    I have all kinds of inconsistencies with my computer read outs, particularly the miles left. I only get 280 miles to a tank of gas. After I fill up, it shows I start out with 380 miles available, then RISES to over 400 during the first quarter tank. Once I hit the last quarter tank, it says I have 100 miles one minute, then 15 the next. Drives me crazy. I would rather not have the feature.
  • Hi Folks,

    I'm new to this board. I'm very seriously considering purchasing a '94 BMW 530i from a private party. The car has around 67K on it and is in immaculate shape on the interior and exterior. I took it our on a pretty extensive test drive both city and highway and again, the ride is incredible. The asking price is "fair" at a bit over $18K.

    Can someone please advise me of what their experiences have been with this type of car and the 5 series in general? I'm curious as to the reliability and stability of these cars.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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