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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Hmm...interesting. Unless this is some intentional volume-adjusting function the head-unit is performing, have you tried adjusting the balance and fader controls to ensure that it's happening on the right-hand speakers only? If so, it's got to be either the head-unit, the speakers, or the wiring in between. I wasn't aware the base system has a separate amplifier; I thought only the "premium" system did, and that the base relied on an internal amp within the head-unit. Perhaps try with another dealer? Otherwise, post up at; the audience there is larger, and there's a fair number of folks (especially in the A/V board) who're obsessed with all-things audio.
  • spyderredspyderred Posts: 137
    DRL's don't use the zenon lights, they use the highbeams at 60% illumination. You will not have the zenon lights on at all. So there is no worry. I debated this myself and finally decided on having the dealer activate the DRL's. It is a good safety feature, you become more visible for other driver's on the road.

  • sergeymsergeym Posts: 267
    Now I am confused. From the day one I turned my fog lights switch to the ON position. That's how I had them on my previous car. I assumed that this means that when my lights are turned on (I keep them in the Auto mode, but that should not matter) the fog lights will turn on too. I also noticed that I have my lights on all the time so I assumed that I have DRLs feature activated. Am I wrong?
  • srfastsrfast Posts: 138
    1. The fog lamps will only come on only if the park lamps or/& headlamps are ON. So if you want your fogs on all the time, leave them on the "ON" position and whenever your headlamps come on, the fogs will also.
    2. DRLs are only the highbeam lamps illuminated at low power - the lowbeam lamps/park lamps are off.
    3. If your your lamps are always on and you are in AUTO MODE, you might have a problem with the auto mode sensor resulting in your lights being on all the time situation. Have the system checked.

    Hope this helps....JL
  • mrnsrmrnsr Posts: 2
    The other day I noticed a very visible gouge / scratch - 3-4 inches long - in the rear bumper of my titanium silver '01 540i/6. Looks like while I was parallel parked somewhere somebody did a park by braille job behind me. :( Of course I didn't notice it until it was in my garage at home. The bumper appears to be plastic. Any suggestions on how to repair it?

  • Pap5, I took the car to the dealer for the third time about 2 months ago. They didn't find out anything wrong with the tranny again. And of course, I couldn't duplicate the problem for the dealer (not to the extend that we can call it a problem). I believe the problem is that the car does not downshift to the 1st gear when you slow down. It remains in the 2nd gear. As such, when you speed up again it shifts to 1st gear. I'd like to hear from others if they have similar problems and have found a solution. I told the dealer about the trottle module. He did not want to change it and frankly I wasn't in the mood to argue that day. The problem doesn't bother me as much now.
  • The original factory warranty on my '99 540i run out about a week ago. I've been debating if I should get an extended one. A couple of dealers tell me that the only one they would honor is Warrantech (spelling??) Repair Masters. Does anybody have any experience with them (good or bad)? Also, does anybody know of a different or better company that I can use?
  • I bought a 5year/100,000 mile warranty, zero ded. diamond plan for $1800 for '98 528ia when the car had 35,000 miles. So far they paid for $900 in repairs without hesitation at a southern California BMW dealer. Even the dealer was impressed on how easy it was to work with 1source. Read the language carefully of Warrantech. I considered them but I think it states in their contract that they don't cover electronic transmitting/receiving devices. I tried to get clarification from Warrantech what that meant, but no luck.

    Good luck with your decision and let us know who you went with and your experience,

  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    spyderred... What you paid for your extended warranty is probably about what a BMW CPO buyer might expect versus buying the same car thru a non-BMW dealership. Might actually be a bit more if you know how to negotiate hard and well with a BMW dealer on a CPO car.

    Think the BMW CPO warranty is superior in time (6/100), roadside assistance, financial backing, ease & speed of use at all BMW dealerships (since they all honor it immediately). Your plan doesn't have a deductible, but I wonder if the coverage is as complete as BMW CPO. What sorts of limitations and exceptions lurk in the fine print? And how reputable and long-term is the company? 3rd party warranty only as good as the company and the contract. BMW CPO is backed by BMW and honored by BMW everywhere inside BMW.
  • Can anyone recommend a source where I can find a clear colored lens to replace the amber colored turn light lens in front headlight assembly of 2003 530i? My dealer told me each headlight assembly would have to be replaced at cost of $400 each as it is all one piece. I am unwilling to pay that price and was just wondering if there is an alternative. Thanks.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    I don't know the best source, but I can confirm that you need to replace the whole headlight unit. If you have the xenons, you're probably looking at around $1200-1500 for the pair; for the non-xenons, probably $700-800 or so. You might try discount parts dealers like or
  • Thanks, snagiel. I appreciate the referrals. Those amber lenses are okay for now. Hopefully a less costly replacement will come available in the future. I also am learning a lot based on your responses to others. Thanks for sharing.
  • I bought my '98 528ia with only 24,000 miles and at that time it was 3 1/2 years old. I would like to keep it for 5 years and I put about 15,000 miles /year. The CPO program is excellent because it is backed by BMW, however, it is not as comprehensive (e.g. CPO doesn't cover the stereo). Also if it was a CPO (6 years/100K mi start from when the car was first put in service), my warranty would have expired in only 2 1/2 years from the date I purchased my car from a private individual. I researched long and hard and I made my decision to go with 1Source, so far they have been excellent. They paid for my trunk latch, water pump and thermostat including all labor, etc. at a BMW dealer in Southern Calfornia. 1Source does also provide for rental car reimbursement, towing service, etc.

    I hope that if I have to use 1Source again they will come through for me just as well, but only time will tell.

  • I am leasing a 2002 530 since May of 2002, and until two weeks ago
    I had no problems with the car. But then, I started to have problems with
    my audio, it would turn off by itself,and then turn on.. The sound was also
    having some distorted sounds, thus I was unable to listen to music in high volumes.
    I took the car to a BMW service and they did not find anything. Then two days
    ago while I was driving, I showed a left signal, the blinking on my car console
    did not show up at all, then I tried to turn on the high-beam light, and that symbol
    would not show up as on the console as well, but I can see the light in front of me.
    I stopped, restarted the car, and then it seemed to work.
    The next day, while I was at work, alarm went off on my car, three times in a row
    (my neighbors told me), no one has touched the car, it was in a driveway, and then
    the alarm stopped by itself.

    When I came back from work, I noticed my car was completely dead, I took it to a shop
    by calling BMW roadside assistance help, the service guys looked at it, and called me
    at work, saying that I had 6 inches of water in my trunk, and that it has created
    electrical problems for the whole car, and that is why it is dead now....

    BMW is saying that they will put the car in the extensive car wash, and try to find
    the leak in trunk. But if they don't find it, they will make me pay for it, because
    they would assume that I left the trunk open. But I know for sure that I did not, as
    I kept a lot of stuff there, so if I did leave it open, it would get all wet, therefore
    it must have came from sided of trunk or somewhere. Did anyone have the same problem?
    Is there a way for me to prove that it is the leak, even if they don't find it?
    We had showers for some days in the last three weeks, they would never be able to reproduce
    20 hours of rain in their car wash!!!
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    I love how some dealers assume people can be so dumb.

    Sorry to hear of your problems, but you might want to look at a couple of "water in trunk" posts in another forum:


    Synopsis: the rear lights may have leaky seal.
  • snagiel...thank you very much for the links, without your helpful reply, I don't know what could have came out of the "6 inches of water in the trunk deal". I haved called BMW service guys, told them about leak coming from the back light, and they have founded it right away, gave me a free rent car, Chevy Impala 2003 (of course, nothing compared to my Bimmer). Anyway, they said, that will fix it, and Monday Dec. 1st, I can pick it up....

    To all other BMW owners, I would recommend checking the place where spare wheel is located in the trunk, to see if there is any water there...
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I have a 98 528i CPO that has roughly 2 years and 20k miles left on the warranty. I was wondering if there is a company that I could purchase an additional warranty from that would go beyond my 100k mile warranty now?
  • Riez/Spyderred,

    The Warrantech is not considered CPO by the dealers as I understand. Warrantech does not CERTIFY the vehicle. According to my BMW dealer, not all BMW dealers honor Warrantech, although they all honor CPO warranties. The only way you can get CPO on your used BMW is to purchase your car from a BMW dealer as a CPO car. For me and people like me whose warranties are expiring, you cannot get CPO's. You have to stick with Warrantech, 1Source and other. Is that your understanding as well?
    Spyderred, are you sure that 1Source is honored by all BMW dealers? Also, did you compare the items that either company warranties (or doesn't for that matter). Did you find 1Source to be better in term of items that they cover (not just price)? How can I get more info on them? I know that our cars are prune to having the tiny bulbs in the instrument or stereo clusters burnt. It can be very expensive to replace them if your warranty doesn't cover these items.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    darkblue... Keep in mind that extended warranties are warranties that cover beyond the initial period offered by the original manufacturer's new car bumper-to-bumper warranty. Yes, there are two kinds. One by the original manufacturer (see all the CPO programs from BMW, Lexus, MB, Ford, GM, etc.) and others by 3rd parties not affiliated with the manufacturer. The warranties differ on coverage periods and coverage details. They are essentially insurance policies. Some original manufacturers will let you buy an extended warranty at the same time you buy the new car or within say about 12 months or 12,000 miles of taking original ownership (e.g., Infiniti & Lincoln). Unfortunately, BMW doesn't.

    Only way to get BMW's CPO warranty is to buy a used BMW from a BMW dealer who has had the car certified. The CPO warranty extends beyond the original 4/50 b-to-b BMW factory warranty. You can't buy a new BMW and then later buy a CPO warranty on the same car, unless you sold it back to dealer first and s/he resells you your own car back as CPO. (Haven't heard of anyone ever doing this but there is always a first time for anything.)

    Not sure there are any companies, new or 3rd party, that offer coverage after 100,000 miles. If they do, costs start to rise dramatically--as actuarially the likelihood of problems starts to rise dramatically. Not aware of any BMW warranty program that extends beyond 100,000 miles, though every now and then there might be rare exceptions for specific components on particular vehicles (thought I read somewhere about special extentions just to the Nikelsil (sp?) V-8 engines in the mid-1990s, but those might only have gone to 6/100).

    I'm not a fan of 3rd party warranties. Too many horror stories from buyers. Too many failed companies that went bankrupt and left policy holders high and dry. And often their coverages are filled with exceptions. Can be a hassle to get the 3rd party to pay the claim and sometimes a dealer will have problems getting it paid, so many often require you to pay up front.

    If you want to ensure you get every BMW dealer in the USA to cover your car and use BMW parts, then BMW CPO is the only way I know. It has its flaws and isn't perfect, but is about as good as it gets for BMWs. I only wish BMW let you buy an extended warranty they honored at time of new car purchase. I did that once with an Infiniti product. Really gives you peace of mind and I could finance it at time of sale and roll into monthly payments.
  • My 530 (love it) recently developed a clunk in the front suspension. It has only 8000 miles on it. Have been told by dealer that I need to have ball joints replaced. Is this something other 530 owners are experiencing? Anybody know the cause of this happening so soon? Having just come out of an Acura Legend that didn't require anything for at least the first 60,000 miles this is a bit disconcerting. Thanks.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    bmwluver... The latest issue of Roundel, BMW CCA's monthly publication, has a wonderful technical section titled "Tech Talk". Check out the latest issue, November 2002, p. 107. Item titled "BMW Ball Joints: A Continuing Problem". As their tech expert, Mike Miller, writes, "BMW has had huge problems with the ball-joint wear on the E34, E36, E38, and now the E46. There has been no official explanation." He believes it is just due to "substandard parts". Or sometimes due to "incorrect alignment settings from the factory". He recommends having your ball joints checked annually. And you might have a full 4-wheel alignment, ensuring everyting is in spec.

    If you haven't joined BMW CCA, you really should.

    Bimmer magazine also has some wonderful technical information. I'd recommend subscribing.
  • mb22mb22 Posts: 1
    i'd like to buy a 5 series sedan of, ideally, the 1995/96 vintage, but have been told to stay clear of them due to the nikelsel (spelling?) block problem. i've also read that this problem relates only to the v8's, not the straight 6s, of the era. does anyone know the facts on this? are the 6s free from the cylinder block issue? any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    mb22... Roundel and Bimmer magazines both have had extensive discussions about the Nikasil Engine Debacle. Issue is tied to premature cylinder bore wear.

    In USA it afflicted E34 530i V8s, E34 540i V8s, E32 740i/740iL V8s, and E31 840i V8s. These are the M60 V8s used from MYs 1992-1996: 3.0L (2997cc) and 4.0L (3982cc) engines. {Rest of world also had Replaced in MY 1996 by the M62 V8s, of which USA gets the 4.4L (4398cc). [For rest of world there is also an M62 3.5L (3498cc).] See James Taylor's book "Driving Machines, The BMW Story", 2000, for discussion about all the various engines and their applications.

    I pulled out a couple back issues of each. April 2002 issue of Bimmer has a Tech Q&A question on the subject. Response opines that most Nikasil V8s were replaced under warranty, though some still remain. You have to ensure the engine block is Alusil, not Nikasil. You need to check out the block casting number. Says a good source of information can be found at

    Click on the "What's wrong with the V8 engines?" FAQ. You might check that site out.

    September 2002 Roundel has a Tech Talk article titled "Aging Nikasil 740? Sell!" Letter writer has a '94 740i with 86,000 miles now experiencing rough idle and periodic loss of power. Writer states his block casting number is 1 742 998, a Nikasil block. Roundel's tech guru, Mike Miller, says that rough idle is a "harbinger of the low-compression situation that signals the Nikasil debacle." Cylinder-wear problem. He points out that BMW extended engine warranties of the Nikasil blocks to 6yrs/100,000 miles. That was on the V8s made BEFORE 3/95 (automatics) and 5/95 (manuals). Miller thnks most Nikasil's were replaced under warranty.

    The August 2002 Roundel has a sad letter to the editor titled "I Want a 250,000-Mile Warranty." Writer has a 1994 740i with 98,000 miles. Tries to sell the car thinking it is worth about $12,000-15,000 but when he goes to trade it in on a new X5 he is only offered $5,600 from BMW dealer. Low figure due to his car still having the original Nikasil block. So far he hasn't experienced the problem.

    See at least three options: find a nice Nikasil-block car and buy it cheap (realizing you'll likely have an expensive engine replacement down the road); be careful and ensure the engine has been replaced, verifying that carefully; or avoid the issue altogether by buying an E39 5 Series, the current generation.
  • My 2002 530 is beginning to sound pretty clunky in the left front suspension as well. The car goes in this coming Thursday for a check. I'll report back once we know the cause. How was your problem finally resolved?
  • teejet: Here's the solution for the front end clunk on my BMW 530 with 8,000 miles on it. They started off by replacing the ball joints. When the clunk continued they investigated further and decided it was something else. The eventual fix states "Replaced both control arms. Replaced both thrust rods for front stabilizer. Replaced right front tension strut and bushing." The sound, they concluded, was coming from right thrust rod, both control arms and sway bar links.
    There was an interesting glitch when I picked up the car at night and discovered the dim lights were now pointed only about 8 feet in front of the car. When I returned the car, the dealer said they did not understand this since "they had not touched the lights." With my rudimentary knowledge of cars, I knew BMW used an automatic leveling system to adjust the height of the lights relative to the chassis. Sure enough, a technician fixed the problem in about 1 minute. My guess is there was an electrical connection that he had forgotten to reattach. All returned to normal. Hopefully, your dealer will be a bit more conscientious. All in all, however, although I was not keen on a repair with so few miles, BMW did a good job of fixing the problem. Good news is that the car now steers and handles better than it did when I took delivery in Munich. And I had the use of a 528 for the 4 days it took to fix the problem. Bad news is that I found the handling, steering and "sounds" preferable on the 528 to my new 530. The 530 does ride better and the brakes are superior to the 528 I used. I'll be interested in hearing how they fix your car. And if they hook your lights back up!
  • I really love the the feel and the telepathy of Bimmers. This would be the first European vehicle for me. I have a couple of questions.

    1.) I have heard mixed things about the 5-Series in snow. Is it driveble without sport suspension and snow tires?

    2.) What is the "a" in 528ia mean?
  • srfastsrfast Posts: 138
    1. "Driveable" is relative. How extreme are the conditions.
    2. "a" = Automatic (transmission)

    Hope this helps....JL
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    srfast is correct, but just to add, "528ia" is common shorthand in message boards and the like, but not a real model. All of them are 528i, some with manuals, some with automatic transmissions. In other words, you won't see a "528ia" badge on any trunklids.
  • Is very difficult for me to make a decision to buy a used 2000-528ia or new 2003 honda accord V6 coupe. The price is almost the same. The only different is the 100%new and 28K used. I'm not very rich to buy a expensive car. My only concern is the average maintance costs between honda & BMW. My friend told me BMW need to fix a lot of problems when it's getting older. Is anyone can give me a good advice.
  • rtboonrtboon Posts: 21
    Light just came on on my 97 528i with 72,000 miles and was wondering what the more common problems are that cause this?

    97 528i
    99 328i
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