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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I have a poster of "The World According to Ronald Reagan" that shows all of eastern Canada comprising the country of Acid Rainia. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, not funny for you folks up in Canada, or even here in New England for that matter.

    I have heard that Acid Rain can in fact ruin the paint on cars. While I don't think I've ever been shown an "Acid Rain" car, I would imagine that the horizontal surfaces, the hood, trunk and roof, would be the first to go after prolonged exposure.

    Regarding having a bad week of repairs, yeah, I hear you. When it rains (there's that word again), it pours. :-/

    So, other than your paint and this last week or so of repairs, how is your car holding up?

    Best Regards,
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    nobmw... shipo's comments are about as perfect as can be.

    Cars are a finite, depreciating asset. They, too, suffer the laws of entropy. Time, wear, weather, neglect, use, etc. all take their toll. This means maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. And it assumes you have taken care of your car. Neglect, abuse and misuse are the worse things that a car can suffer.

    How often was the car washed? Was it properly washed (e.g., no scratching, use of aggressive automatic car washes, etc.)? How often waxed? How well waxed? Did you use good wax? Did you park the car in a garage? Keep it out sun? Wash bird droppings off it?

    Sounds like you would be better off trading in the 525i and buying a new car with full warranty. What you buy depends on what you can afford. But based on what you might get in trade or sale, you should at least be able to afford a new car like a Hyundai Elantra, Kia Sephia, Honda Civic, Scion Xa or Xb, Ford Focus, etc.
  • muddogmuddog Posts: 26
    I'm sure to draw disparaging comments from purists who can't imagine having an automatic transmission ("It's your slushbox -- what'd you expect?!"), but that's what I have.

    About 900 miles into my 2004 545i experience, and the only thing that's bugging me is the transmission transition (try saying that several times fast), especially from first. Does not matter if the car is cold or warm -- not always, but too often for me, the engine revs to 3500-4000 rpm in first gear before shifting; if I let off the gas, it "brakes" the car as if I had down-shifted into first. This did NOT happen ever with my 2001 E430, which I traded for this "best in class V-8." I'm used to a smooth, powerful gear to gear transition.

    Is this something that needs attention, or time, or neither (i.e., I'm stuck with it)?


  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, that doesn't sound too kosher. I'd go back to your dealer and ask to take a test drive in another 545iA to see if it does the same thing. If not, then you have a problem and they should fix it, no questions asked.

    Best Regards,
  • muddogmuddog Posts: 26
    I'm sure to draw disparaging comments from purists who can't imagine having an automatic transmission ("It's your slushbox -- what'd you expect?!"), but that's what I have.

    About 900 miles into my 2004 545i experience, and the only thing that's bugging me is the transmission transition (try saying that several times fast), especially from first. Does not matter if the car is cold or warm -- not always, but too often for me, the engine revs to 3500-4000 rpm in first gear before shifting; if I let off the gas, it "brakes" the car as if I had down-shifted into first. This did NOT happen ever with my 2001 E430, which I traded for this "best in class V-8." I'm used to a smooth, powerful gear to gear transition.

    Is this something that needs attention, or time, or neither (i.e., I'm stuck with it)?


  • lar1lar1 Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 2004 545I WITH A NAVIGATION SYSTEM THAT DOES NOT WORK PROPERLY. The voice directions are missing words and are unintelligble. The dealer claims it will be a 1 to 2 month wait for a software fix. I bought this car on Friday May 14,2004 brought it back to the dealer on Monday May 17th and I refuse to pick it up until the $1800 nav system works properly. Does anyone else have this problem. Lar1
  • bc52bc52 Posts: 1
    I have 03' 525ia with 8000mi. Few days ago, it developed intermittent burn smell.
    When I get into my garage at home, it was evident it was from my car. I looked under the hood. However, I can’t pin point where it is coming from.

    Do you have any idea?
  • cassidymcassidym Posts: 108
    lar1, I don't have a 5-Series but my wife has a Mini with navigation and I think they are made by the same GPS/Nav company. Anyway, she's had problems with hers although it doesn't miss words or pronounce them unintelligibly. Occasionally, it'll give her bum directions like tell her suddenly to do a U-turn when she is, in fact, going in the proper direction.

    The voice does not pronounce street names but can manage Interstates and numbered Routes although it takes some experience getting use to the machine-like quality of the voice which, at times, sounds British but at other times sounds like a female Darth Vadar.

    Do you also have satellite radio? I've heard that the two interfere with each other on the 5-Series and that BMW has stopped shipping the two options together until their engineers can work it out.

    I'm contemplating a new 5-Series myself but will most likely wait till the 05's come out and hopefully BMW has solved a lot of these problems.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    If the smell is intermittent a possible cause would be oil or coolant dripping onto a hot part. Check for leaks.

    Good luck
  • blueox2blueox2 Posts: 19
    Does anyone know if there is any benefit (in terms of extending the life of one's tires) to routinely checking the alignment on, say, an annual basis? I own a 2003 530i with sport package. The steering is not pulling and I haven't hit any major potholes. I'm just wondering if a little preventive maintenance can extend the life of the low profile tires. (Michelin Pilot Primacy tires came factory-installed on the 2003.) The cost of checking the alignment would be about $140 at the dealer. Thanks.
  • ny540i6ny540i6 Posts: 518
    Check it. At least annually. More if you are on the NE coast. If you don't, not only do you run the risk of ruining tires and/or suspension parts, but Riez and Shipo will come to your house. Seriously, BMWs tend to be very sensitive in this area. Not sure why, but they are. I'd look for a full four wheel alignment check.
  • dstompkinsdstompkins Posts: 4
    I have a 2/04 built 545 w/navigation. I don't have the problem you have. When I picked up the car in April, it didn't have the current software loaded...5 days later I had the then current software. Assuming you have the same version software I have (10.x?), then it would appear you have some other problem. BTW, do you get the sense that every problem will be a "software" problem. "My air conditioning is not working...oh, that's a software problem, it should be fixed in the next update."
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "If you don't, not only do you run the risk of ruining tires and/or suspension parts, but Riez and Shipo will come to your house."

    Nope! I've got New England, Riez has the entire area bounded to the north by Bismark, ND, to the south by Oklahoma City, OK, to the west by Cheyenne, WY and to the east by Des Moines, IA. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • rickbufrickbuf Posts: 3
    If you're asking this question because your tires are "feathering" on the inside, it's not an alignment issue. Most BMW's with sport suspensions have this problem and it's a result of the way the suspension was set up. I'm currently working with my dealer as my new 525 (w. sport) have rendered the tire worthless at 8,000 miles. It's a trait of these cars ... and my research to date indicates BMW doesn't have a fix.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    It's not so much that BMW doesn't have a fix as it is that they deliberately set their suspensions up that way, at least on cars ordered with SP. My previous BMW came with the standard suspension and All-Season tires, and when I turned the car in at lease end, there was an easy 10-20K miles left on the OEM tires which had already clocked 40K miles. My current BMW (a 530i) has the SP and I think that I'll be lucky to get 20K miles on the summer set of tires. I can live with that, and actually expected it before I bought my car.

    Regarding your car, 8K miles and the tires are gone? Wow, I think that I'd have a bit of a problem with that too. Is it just the rear tires or are the fronts shot as well? FWIW, even though BMW does not recommend tire rotation, I did mine anyway at about 14K miles (I don't actually know because I run winter tires for part of the year), and they are definitely running MUCH quieter than they were last fall when I took them off.

    Best Regards,
  • mtjohnmtjohn Posts: 34
    There has been some conjecture (I have no hard data) that the SP is set up to accept frequent hard cornering forces. Typical driving (commuting, etc.) does not include hard cornering force to the outside of the tires. If the SP suspension was set up for perfect even wear under normal (American) driving conditions then there would be a tradeoff under hard cornering--less stiffness on the outer edge and perhaps a little more "plow". No question that I want the outer edge of my tires to hold tight in the twisties. Again--just an opinion.
  • muddogmuddog Posts: 26
    Update to my prior post.

    Software problem (something tells me that I'll be hearing that a few times during my ownership of this new model). Mysterious that a brand new car can be programmed incorrectly on something as basic as the shift from first to second gear, but that did the trick.

    BTW - I drove a 2004 330 auto during the warranty work, and w/o the active steering of the 545 sport, I thought I was driving a boat. I told my wife that it had to be more than the comparison, and that THIS 330 must not be working right. It was a remarkable difference.

  • rickbufrickbuf Posts: 3
    I stated the tires are gone after 8,000 because they've feathered so badly, the resulting noise is driving me nuts. Anyone who rides with me notices it as it sounds like I'm driving a truck with knobby tires. I understand the setup situation, I just don't think the handling aspects of the car warrant tire replacement once ayear. If I got 20K, I'd be estatic. Had I know about this "sport suspension" tendancy and resultant tire issues, I would have bought the
    A6 2.7. I love car except for this. Thanks for your feedback.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I truly believe that there is something wrong with your car as I have basically the same suspension setup, albeit with lighter wheels and heavier brakes. By 14,000 (give or take a thousand or two) my tires were also noisy due to the cupping (or feathering as you called it), which was so slight that it could not be seen with the naked eye. Interestingly enough by simply rotating them from front to back; I have eliminated virtually all noise from the tires except a very slight hint of the wah-wah-wah on certain crowned roads and only in a very narrow speed range at that. I suggest that you try a rotation and a 4-wheel alignment, you might like the results.

    Another reason that I suspect a problem with your car is that while I have heard many folks who drive 5ers with SP complain about noisy tires, I don't think that I've ever heard anyone complain as early as 8K miles. That said, I've also heard that not all tires are created equal, and while my Michelin Pilot-Primacy tires are not known for their quietness, the word on the street is that they are quieter than several models of Continental tires. What do you have on your 525i?

    Regarding the A6 2.7, they have not been known to be kind to their tires either, and from the many accounts that I've read about their braking problems, it seems that 5K to 8K miles is about average on a set of brake rotors. I read where one individual had something like NINE sets of rotors in something like 30K miles! At least they were paid for by Audi.

    So, in the end, it seems like these are some of the foibles that those of us who drive higher performance cars just have to deal with.

    Back to the tires, I've also heard that if you replace your sticky summer rubber with the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires (or other similar high performance All-Season tires) that they wear much longer and as such are much quieter for a longer period of time.

    I hope some of this helps. Sorry about the disjointed structure of this post, it's late, and I'm tired. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Tires are a maintenance item and a part of owning a car. They don't last forever. Tires are one of the most important things you can do for your car. (With RWD BMWs, people in snow belt should be driving summer and winter tires.)

    I'm constantly amazed at the comments on so many premium marque boards about the cost of tires. People spend $40-60,000 for a great car and then complain about spending hundreds of dollars on tires? Go figure.

    Wish people would keep in mind that depreciation and insurance are the two most expensive components of owning a car. Both dwarf tires as an expense. Just look at how expensive it is to fill up your tank on premium fuel.

    Just wait till you pay for your Schedule II maintenance service at around 60k.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,575
    Since I'm considering buying an E39, I'd be curious as to the cost ofr the 60k service on a 528iA ('98-or '99). I'm no stranger to the high cost of maintaining German cars but would it be signicantly more
    than the Grand I coughed up at 60k on my A4 2.8? Can someone give me
    a ballpark?

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Figure @$800 for an Inspection II from the dealer; a good independent will run 25%-50% less.
  • rickbufrickbuf Posts: 3
    More good information shipo. Didn't know about the A6 tire issues, but I didn't know about BMW's either. I'm gotten more and better information from you than BMW Service or BMW USA combined. My feathered friends (my tires) are Continentals, but I've see as many internet compaints on Michelin's. Appears that a lot of folks have had better luck with Dunlop Sports, but lose some handling. I'm still waiting for my local BMW service group to give me an answer on what they plan to do about my situation. I'm now waiting on the regional BMW rep. who physically wants to see the tires. Trouble is, BMW service has no idea when this person is coming back in. I plan to provide detail feedback via this forum when my issue is resolved .. or completely discounted.
  • I own a 2004 530i purchased in march. This
    is my first BMW and actually my first
    really nice car and I was surprised
    to learn the specified oil change occurs after
    10K miles. This goes against all that training
    from 30 years ago
    my Dad instilled in me about changing the oil
    frequently in your car to make it last. Yes,
    I know this is synthetic oil (the benefits of
    which I know little about). Is there a benefit
    to my changing it at (say) 5K. I will have to pay for it, but would do so if it makes sense.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Unless I'm mistaken, your E60 530i has the same oil change schedule as my E39 530i, which is not 10,000 miles but 15,000.

    Regarding whether the standard interval is acceptable, consider the following re-post of a post I made some time back:

    I have posted my views on the oil change schedule on BMW’s latest batch of engines here a few times over the last five years or so, however, I feel it may be worth repeating.

    When I started turning wrenches on cars back in the 1970s, 3000 miles was a good time to do an oil change. What with inefficient carburetors, leaded fuel and by today’s standards VERY low-tech dino-juice in the crankcase, a car of that era could easily expect to see the far side of 100K miles. In my case, my 1966 Valiant with the 225 Slant-Six went 211K on the original motor before I rebuilt it (it burned oil) and my 1970 Dodge Challenger with the venerable 340 made it to 187K when it was stolen.

    Fast forward 30 years and we now have very clean burning fuel, electronic systems to manage the fuel injection and ignition timing to make the combustion process even cleaner (ie. less particulate matter to suspend in the oil) and even good old dino-juice has been beefed up to last longer and protect better.

    Now consider the current crop of BMW engines:

    These engines are efficient enough to be certificated as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV), which reduces the combustion byproducts and as a result reduces the particulate matter that the oil must hold in suspension, yielding a longer oil change interval.

    BMW is using synthetic oil right from the factory; said oil has far greater abilities to keep contaminates in suspension with no appreciable loss in lubricity. Couple that with the ability of Synthetic oil to shrug off the effects of water (older Dino Juice used to react with water and form acids) without any loss in lubricity, and you have an oil that can withstand longer oil change intervals without ANY additional engine wear.

    BMW has also seen fit to nearly double the amount of oil the engine holds in its sump when compared to other comparably sized engines. Twice the oil means twice the already prodigious capacity of synthetic oil to hold particulate matter in suspension, lower oil temperatures (spends more time in the sump cooling), fewer passes through the oil galleries getting the #$*^%~!@ beat out of it, and a much greater margin of error for low oil. Yet again, longer oil change intervals are the result.

    Modern engine oil (once again, specifically Synthetic) is far more stable in extreme environments (high engine temps, high RPMs and extreme cold) than conventional oil, as such, it breaks down at a FAR slower rate when compared to the old stuff. Once again, this will reduce the necessity of frequent oil changes.

    If all of this is not enough, when I was working for MBUSA in the mid 1990s, MB was testing a number of cars with Synthetic oil. A few of those cars only had the oil changed when the chemical analysis of the oil indicated that it was starting to degrade below acceptable minimums. Do you know what the average mileage was between changes on those cars turned out to be? Glad you asked, 25,000 miles.

    Based upon the above items, I would not be surprised if the oil in our ULEV certified BMW engines could last 30,000 miles under normal driving conditions. Having said that, I will not be the first to raise my hand to try and find out, 15,000 miles is just fine by me.

    Best Regards,
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    duracellguy... You'll never go wrong changing your oil and filter more frequently than BMW recommends. You can always pay to change at say 7,500 miles. Or whatever you like. [Do keep in mind that for low mileage cars, BMW does recommend changing the oil at least annually, regardless of how few miles were driven.]

    Is interesting to see what happened to maintenance intervals after BMW started "paying" for "free" maintenance. Now they mysteriously have "lifetime" transmission and differential fluid. And Roundel (BMW CCA) and Bimmer magazines routinely discuss transmission problems occurring in the 80-120K mile range. [Many experts recommend you change these fluids at least every 30K.]

    It is amazing how little maintenance is recommended or actually done on today's BMWs during the first 50K or even 100K. Will be interesting to see how many of today's cars will still be on the road in 20-30 years.

    You should join BMW CCA, even if just for their magazine (if not also for parts and purchase discounts), as well as read Bimmer magazine. Neither subscribes to the 15K interval regiment.

    And whatever else you do, you absolutely must religiously change your brake fluid (2 years) and coolant (3 years).
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Good post-it's refreshing to hear the opinion of someone who actually has experience with regards to the subject matter being discussed.
  • rugby65rugby65 Posts: 81
    My grand daughter has a 1993 525 and the radio stop powering up. We have checked the fuse and it's not blown we can't remove the radio because the dealer says it takes a special tool, It looks like an ordinary allen screw but so far we can't find one that fits. The dealer won't sell us the tool, It seems that they want to make the money them self by pulling the radio.
    Does any one out there have any ideas on how to get the radio out?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Div2, thanks! ;-)

    Rugby65, I'd try a different dealer for the tool, or I would go to your friendly neighborhood tool dealer and see if you can find a driver head that will match up to the screw.

    Best Regards,
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    div2... You're absolutely right: "it's refreshing to hear the opinion of someone who actually has experience with regards to the subject matter being discussed." Always best to stick with the experts.

    I enjoy reading Mike Miller's responses to the plethora of routine maintenance questions he is asked as Technical Editor of both Roundel (BMW CCA) and Bimmer magazines. Some recent samples:

    Roundel, 1/04: "Oil-change intervals need to be appropriate to the product used...the otherwise absurd 15,000-mile BMW factory interval. I'd drain Mobil 1 every 5,000 miles. Always change the filter with the oil." and "I think 5,000 miles is an excessive tire-rotation interval. I do it once a year when I switch from summer tires to snow tires."

    Roundel, 4/04: "Unfortunately, since the advent of free scheduled maintenance and extended service intervals, 'dealer maintained' means that very little was done to the car beyond a list of checks and adjustments. If you're lucky, this car [a '97 E39 528i with 66K miles] has had four engine-oil changes, one air filter, one coolant change and three brake-fluid changes--but it's more than likely that it just had the engine-oil changes and the air filter."

    Roundel, 6/04: "Change your gearbox and differential oil every 30,000 miles."

    Bimmer, 8/04: "my best advice is to maintain the car. Change gearbox and differential oil no matter how loudly the dealer whines about 'lifetime fill' oil. Tell them you will trust lifetime oil when they give you a lifetime warranty."

    He is one of the best reasons to read Roundel and Bimmer!
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