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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    As many of us are now well aware of, all cars with added electronics come with an added risk. All German cars, NONE excluded, are becoming notorious. Some of us take our chances and hope our number doesn't come up. If this happened to me I'd be right on a buyback course of action. A dealer attempting to fix is one thing, but his assertion that he doesn't know how to fix it is unacceptable especially with a car that is brand spanking new. Too bad a lot of red tape is involved but unfortunately that's the way it is.


    I hope you keep us informed. An owner of a new Porsche 911 (among others) is going through the same thing and unfortunately it took him 7 visits to service and 3 months before Porsche offered to buy the car back. However they wanted to deduct for usage. He didn't accept this and told them he would be keeping the car and taking his story to the press and web forums. His thread in one of the forums has garnered 40K hits to highly-targeted Porsche owners, many of whom stated that they cancelled impending orders based on his story. Porsche finally agreed to buy it back at full price so, as they say, the squeaky wheel gets greased.


    It has been said that BMW bought back a certain number of 7-series due to electronic failures. Seems to me your car qualifies. I hope BMWNA agrees and makes this as painless as possible for you, either that or fixes it pronto. In the meantime, I hope you have a comparable loaner.


    By the way, it was reported that the problem with the 911 was a faulty central electronic control unit, similar to the motherboard on a computer and that Porsche was having a hard time supplying the parts bins. Amazing that this could not be anticipated and diagnosed quickly. It wouldn't surprise me if it is the same type of situation with your car. I guess they have to start staffing IT people if they want to pursue this kind of design. Seems the IT pros have no problem putting things in working order. The auto manufacturers seek them out in the design phase, now they have to follow up with them in the maintenance phase. One word to the car manufacturers… duh.


    I'd like to know more about the details of the 7-series buybacks, especially the root of the problems but it has been reported that one of BMW's terms was that the owners sign a non-disclosure waiver. Hopefully these customers got a total refund, fees and taxes included, as opposed to the lemon-law provisions which allow a deduction for usage.

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    BMW is reaping the whirlwind for cramming their new models with flashy gadgetry aimed at attracting status seeking technogeeks who want to wear-not drive-their "Ultimate Posing Machine". I'd bet that a majority of new 5er owners-"drivers" is probably too generous a term-think "lateral Gs" and "weight transfer" are exercise routines. And they believe that "lift-throttle oversteer" is a band from Seattle.

    That's OK; my next BMW is going to have a fiberglass body and an M88 engine...:)
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129


    Giugiaro was criticized for being "heavy-handed" with this mid-engine baby. Imagine that--Now "heavy-handed" is in style. Yep, buying an M1 is one rational solution to today's problems. I'll take this, an 89 M6 or E39 M5.
  • pranchpranch Posts: 4
    I have a 2000 Corvette that I drive. I wanted something that would somewhat blend, sport and comfort. I always heard that Vette's where notorious for problems but so far I have had more problems from the BMW in 3 weeks than I have with the Vette in 4 years.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I owned a 1988 M6 for three years. It was a fabulous car(especially after the catalyst accidentally fell off one day and the ECU got a new chip). The M6s have also held their value quite well. That said, if you want an equivalent driving experience for less money, you may want to consider an E28 M5. Granted, the angular and upright styling of the E28 can't hold a candle to the svelte curves of the M6, but the all-around performance is identical. I have a friend that has offered me his very clean Dinan-suspended 300 hp M5 for under $12K. Tempting.

    As for my future M Eine, it HAS to be Henna Red-that's simply not negotiable.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    It sounds like a new Impala would be right up your alley. Perhaps it's trade in time?
  • pranchpranch Posts: 4
    Perhaps your right Mr. Andretti
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    The only problem I have with an M1 is that it is a collectible. Drive it and you'll pay. More than a new 911 which is what I think it's comparably priced with? I don't know. I guess you more than anyone around here would tend to know nearly every M1 and it's situation. In the end I guess passion and desire rules. I wound up turning my back on the Ms for deal on Boxster S. Full warranty was a big factor. I figured if the honeymoon didn't last I could get out as easy as possible. However I was very close to getting an 89 M6 and 01 M5. Boxsters have taken a hit so there was no advantage there. However it has turned out to be worth it for me. I never get sick of driving it. But no matter which cars I get I know I will always want others. What happened to your M6?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    As you know, the 6ers have heavily contoured rear seats that look as if they were lifted straight from a Gemini Command Module. Our first-and only-child came along and it was a royal hassle to try and fit a rear-facing child seat into the back seat. I decided to find an E28 M5 and put the M6 up for sale. It sold two days after the ad in the chapter newsletter came out. The buyer later sold it to an originality freak who reinstalled the horrible TRX tire/wheel package and(I think)reinstalled the cat and removed the Dinan chip, thereby losing almost 50 bhp. While all this was going on I was having a devil of a time finding a decent M5. I was still looking when a friend of mine at Fields BMW in Chicago told me that she had a production spot for a 318ti Club Sport. I was able to order one to my exact specifications(limited slip, Premium Sound, no sunroof), and the rest is history. Like your Boxster S, I never get tired of driving the Club Sport. It may not have retina-detaching acceleration but I find I can burn down a twisting two lane at a very brisk rate. It also doesn't hurt that service and repair costs have averaged less than $30/month for the nearly ten years I've owned the little bobtail. That said, I have always planned to get another M car- now I've about decided that that I'm going to assemble a collection of pre-1990 Motorsport cars- E12 M535i(Euro), M1, E28 M535i(Euro), E28 M5, M635i/M6, and an E30 M3. The reason I love the M1 is that it is a true exotic with a legitimate competition pedigree. And, after talking with other M1 owners, I've found that servicing and repair costs are not much more than those of a 930-and MUCH less than a Ferrari or Lambo(I almost bought an Espada once-luckily I dodged THAT bullet).
  • pranchpranch Posts: 4
    The dealership still says they can't get their service rep. to return their call. I guess they must have taken off for the holiday. Tomorrow I go to the dealership and do not leave till I talk to the owner. Either I get my car fixed or my money back. This car parked in front of the dealership with a poster of a big lemon on it ought to be real cute.
  • jasjas Posts: 115
    I have found the I-Drive system fairly easy to use and beneficial, despite all of the bad reviews. The only thing I was thinking of the other day is that it powers up with the annoying warning page (liability issue I am sure), when it occurred to me that it would be really nice if you could configure the default power-up page. Or if it powered up with the last active page it would save me 5 seconds of button pushes each time I fire up the car to get to the radio.


    Of course BMW does not have this feature built in, but I thought if enough people raised hell, they may improve on it and release a s/w upgrade (long shot)


    All I-drive customers, email BMW at
  • I don't mind the deafault page. It's there on almost every brand, by the way. I'm sure it is a liability issue, but it's a relatively weak one. It wouldn't hold up in a court, though there are other arguments they could use that would hold much more water.


    Anyway, it doesn't bother me, and I love the I-drive. I might feel differently if I didn't have NAV and voice activation, but I will never know.


    By the way, the voice activation on the E60 530 is superior to almost every other vehicle I've driven- including Acura TL's and RL's, who are known for their "tech superiority" these days.
  • Hello


    I am from the UK and would be grateful if you could let me know if you have solved the problem with your car. I have had the same problems as you. First of all got a new battery, then changed the battery as thought that could be faulty, was told by mechanic that it was my alternator, have had this done and my car is still unable to start of a morning due to the battery being drained.
  • Interesting- is your automobile a 2005 5 series? I am still continuing to take mine into the dealership for time #5 now to try and correct this high battery drain. They have replaced the battery, the alternator, worked with PUMA (the engineering group) and nothing has worked and no one has an idea what is causing it. Have started to escalate the issue to the corporate level(BMW North America) in hopes that possibly there is a replacement car in my future if the 5th service visit does not yield any favorable results or that some other poor BMW owner has experienced the same problems, but someone found a resolution. I guess I am lucky in that my car has started even when the error message is on and the message always goes away when I start it up later in the day.
  • jasjas Posts: 115
    Just a questions to ask your service people, although I would think this would be an obvious area to look at. In the early days of computers on vehicles, the residual drain of the computer, although small, would add up over time and drain the battery. Back in the 80's, the shelf life of Cadillac's was 1-2 weeks.


    With more and more computer systems, they started adding smart relay systems so that after a time period, the battery is disconnected from most of the drain.


    Maybe worth asking the question as this would seem an obvious area of concern for a high battery drain condition (kind of like when your trunk light would stay on in the old days).
  • bartalk2bartalk2 Posts: 326
    This has probably been answered before, but on the 5 series, can you adjust the radio & CD and adjust heat/vent/ac without going through idrive?
  • jasjas Posts: 115


    Not sure if any of you V-8 6-speed manual owners have noticed the difficulty with getting smooth shifts at times or smooth clutch releases in parking situations. This is not the first manual I have owned, but I have noticed at low speed stops and if driving with the other people in the car, that it is sometimes an effort to achieve smooth clutch transitions.


    From a past posting regarding brakes, someone turned me on to Zeckhausen Racing


    He has discovered this annomoly on certain BMW's which is caused by the Clutch Lock Valve or what he calls a Clutch Delay Valve (CDV). This is a valve that delays the release of the clutch and is only on certain BMW's. So, everytime you release the clutch, it actually causes it to slip and makes it more difficult to get a precise clutch release. I guess the reason behind it is to avoid drivetrain shock should you pop the clutch without enouph power to break the wheels free. It is on the 540/545 but is not on the E39 M5 - go figure.


    He sells a modified CDV (approx. $35.00) which has the valving removed. You really need a hoist to install it, but it is only a 1/2-1 hour job. If your car is under warranty, don't take it to BMW directly, find a good independent BMW mechanic.


    I just had one put in and the feel is great. I was scared of doing it myself on a brand new car. I think all the adverse effects are positive (smoother shifts and better clutch life). The only downside is if you regularly pop the clutch without enouph power you are going to put more strain on your drivetrain.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,727
    This is a popular modification with 330 ZHP owners... Haven't heard of anyone having problems afterward, but not sure of the effect on your warranty, if you were to have transmission/clutch problems later...


    They all report being very happy with the mod.


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    FWIW, the E39 M5s lack a CDV altogether.
  • nkwazi2nkwazi2 Posts: 17
    I have a 2003 525i with premium pkg and steptronic. I wanted to installl a tire pressure monitoring system. but the local dealer said that it cannot be done.

    Is that true?


    They also quoted me a price of $600 + 1.5 hrs of labor for bluetooth install.
  • jasjas Posts: 115
    Not sure about the tire pressue. Since it has to integrate with one of the on-board computers it probably would fairly major.


    The bluetooth: Is that a BMW system that will shutdown the radio and play through the speakers. That is one of the very nice features of the E60 bluetooth systems, but $600+ is alot.


    Although I did not realize how convenient the integrated bluetooth was until I got it.


    There are some good aftermarket systems coming out now that may be worth checking into.
  • jasjas Posts: 115
    Absolutely correct on the warranty issue. The mod puts in the same valve, just modified. So unless they pull it off, you would never know.


    However, I do have the original, so if I ever had a concern, I could switch it back.
  • jasjas Posts: 115
    Correct. I guess they figure that M5 owners would not put up with the valve.
  • I have a MY '05 530i with satellite prep. Took it to the dealer on Thursday for Sirius install, unable to complete. Said "software issues". Took it back today. Again, no install.


    Am I dealing with an incompetent service department, or has anybody experienced this type of failure? I am baffled with the lack of professionalism I have encountered with my first BMW in a decade.
  • I'm looking at purchasing a 99 528i auto with the standard suspension. The car has 48,000 miles and appears to be in excellent condition, all fluids appear clean and the only thing that looks like that needs to be done is to replace the tires. I normally do all of my own work on automobiles. I was wondering if this would be a reliable car, and also how difficult would this vehicle be to work on. Also is it possible to reset the service indicator lights simply by disconecting the battery or do I need a specialized tool. thank you.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,656
    I bought the same car this fall, it's a 2000 528iA

    with just shy of 45k when I got it.


    7,000 miles later I've had no problems and it strikes me as a very sturdy, long lasting car as well as being great to look at and a blast to drive.


    AFAIK you need a special tool to reset the service lights and there is one available from and other sources.





    I don't do my own work but the straight six layout makes it look as if it'd be as easy to service as any modern car. Good luck.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The 1998 528iAs are reliable and relatively cheap to run. Go to for information on the reset tools. I bought the $149 R5/FCX that also reads engine fault codes. I do the @9K mile oil changes myself-@$40 using Mobil 1 0W-40 and a BMW filter. The minor(@18K mile) service(Inspection I) will run $250-$300 at a dealer; figure about 40% less at a good BMW indie shop. Every 36K miles or so the Inspection II is due and will cost @$650 at a dealer and $400 from an independent. I have the dealer change the ATF and final drive oil every 75K-100K for $110. I let the dealer change the brake fluid every two years and the coolant(BMW Coolant only!)every three. The cost for both is $140. Learn to do the brakes yourself. It's easy and you will save a TON of money. Use BMW rotors and Axxis Deluxe plus pads; see: The front pads last @20K miles while the rotors will go 40K miles. The rears last about twice as long. Get the Bentley two volume service manual and you'll be fine.
  • hihomikehihomike Posts: 111
    You can change stations on the radio without going into I-Drive, but you cannot change HVAC settings, which I find to be a nuisance.
  • hihomikehihomike Posts: 111
    I have sirius which was installed at my dealer. The only problems I have are with reception - every so often I lose the signal. I am told this is a Sirius issue, not BMW. Is that correct?
  • Well, my install was completed and the problems fleshed out. Service was apologetic and helpful at the end. I can handle a delay- it is the lack of communication that really gets me.

  first 24 hours have seen no signal issues. I can even get it in my garage- not that I am going to run the engine in there, but I thought I would at least lose the signal pulling in. Didn't happen.


    First free year makes a little dent in the exhorbitant install cost.
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