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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • I was considering picking up an 08 535i off lease vehcile. But after seeing all of these problems, no way!
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Hi all. Had both PS hoses and fittings replaced on my '03 530i in July 2008. Bought the car new, so it took 5+ years for any leaks to appear.

    Had a total cooling system overhaul with all components replaced. Radiator, fan, shroud, expansion tank, water pump, thermostat, etc. all replaced. SInce I had this done in Nov 2010, I have noticed a pretty good leak from the PS hose from the lower fitting.

    Question is whether or not the PS hoses must be disconnected in order to perform the cooling system replacement. Given the nature of this current leak, the techs at my indie BMW shop would HAVE to have noticed something in November. I noticed the PS fluid on the floor in mid December. Fluid dripped onto the under engine "tray" for some period before it was of sufficient quantity to make it to the floor of my garage.

    Taking it into the indie shop tomorrow, as the dealer that performed the original work while under CPO Warranty wnated to charge me $159 just to put it on the rack to look at it. At least my guys did not charge me to find the problem and even topped of the ATF fluid. Don't want to "accuse" them of not sufficiently tightening the pressure clamps on the hose (if that is the prob), but if these hoses needed to be disconnected to do the cooling overhaul, then I want them to do the right thinkg by me.

    Any thoughts as a sanity check before I take the car in tomorrow will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
  • ...This is exactly what happened to rained and all of a sudden the car smelled like stagnant it was submerged in a swamp...It was driving me nuts . I checked the floorboards and the front passenger as well as the rear compartment carpet was soaking wet. I took my car to a local shop specializing in bmws and they drained a bucket of water out of the front passenger area ( I didn't see exactly from where ). They told me that some drainage channels were clogged with debris and it caused the water to overflow into the interior of the car , pretty much. So, to the tune of about $120, they drained some water out of the car that should not have been there in the first place . I know that german engineering can do better than this... I mean if some debris causes this kind of problems...ummm...i'm going back to a civic. :mad:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Probably a clogged drain in the fresh air vent system---pretty typical. Leaves or other organic matter get past the screen in the cowl vent (under your windshield wipers) and eventually form a "goop" that plugs the vent drain---and then you have a fishtank in there, which will eventually spill through the firewall (which is not meant to be a fishtank) into the passenger or driver area.

    it's really not the fault of the car. It's more of a maintenance issue and where you park and live.

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  • Is there a simple way to check for risk of clogging before we find water in the carpet?
    How do we unclog the vents? I'm guessing we remove the screen cover and try to drag the debris out of the vent cavity?...
    Is there a simple way to access the drain?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I'm not sure exactlyl where the drain exits on your car---probably down low in the middle of the firewall, in the engine bay---and perhaps you can run a wire up that drain and unclog it.

    otherwise, you have to pop the cowl vent off and peer down in there.

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  • You're the man. Thanks :)
  • Good news, as it turns out that the pressure clamp on the PS hose had loosened somehow... most likely during the cooling system overhaul. No leaks and and all appears well (knock on wood!)

    8 years/84000 miles and the 530 runs and drives just beautifully. Sport Pkg still allows for crisp handling and no suspension issues to deal with yet. Imagine some bushings and shocks may need attention soon, however.
  • I have a 1998 528i and the other day I started to hear a strange ticking sound. It kind of sounds like cards going throught the spokes of a bicycle.

    Any ideas on what this might be?

  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Hello there!

    I am thinking into buying a bmw 530i. So far I have found two of them. Both of them are from 2003 model. One has 155,000 mi on it which costs $7995 and the other has 111,798 mi which costs $10,990.

    I have been reading a lot of consumer reviews about the reliability of the 5 series and nearly half of them state no problems while others had reliability issues with high maintenance costs. I haven't test drove these vehicles yet, but I have test drove a 2001 525i the other day. However, judging the reviews even on edmunds I would like to know your opinion.

    This is first I am looking into a european car. I have another car in mind - 1998 mercedes e300 turbo diesel and I have test drove it with 193,000 mi on it and it drives fantastically.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    It's really hard to say without the repair records and being there to observe the actual condition of the vehicle. No car will last a long time without careful maintenance. With it, it could last 500K miles or more. Most people don't or won't perform the required maintenance, but if you find one that has had it, it could be a quite reliable vehicle.

    One thing to consider, though, is that while they may work fine, one recommendation is to replace all of the airbags at 10-years. This could be more cost than the vehicle! While they may work, and you hope you never need them, they may not. Then, most, if not all, rubber components may be toast at that age. Plus, electronics may last a long time, there may not be replacements available depending on how long those parts were made, and when they stopped. A modern engine without a computer module is a boat anchor - and an expensive one at that.

    So, buying old is a risky proposition. Often, except for common repair parts, you may have to wait a long time to find those rare parts that die. If you can accept that it may be out of service for awhile, then it can be a fun, maybe inexpensive (but probably not!) purchase.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    On a used BMW out of warranty, it's wise to "buy mileage" and go for the lowest miled car...presuming it has really good service records.

    As for the Benz, that high mileage is nearing the end of the car's statistical lifespan. I wouldn't pay more than $3500--$4000 for it tops.

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  • I bot an '03 540i last April. It had 92k on it. I replaced my '98 540i that had 135k on it and was working pretty well when someone hit me from behind and totaled it. The '03 is very nice and everything still works on it with the exception of intermittent poor readout of the on-board computer console messages. The colder it is, the more led lights fail. I had the same problem with the '98 model. I am replacing a blown upper radiator hose this week for $42 (a strictly dealer item). It has plastic quick disconnects permanently banded to the hose (whose bright idea was this?). One of them deteriorated and allowed the hose to blow off on my way to the airport. Without quick reaction to this type situation, you can warp the cylinder heads due to overheating (of any engine).

    I test-drove a 530i (6 cylinder) before purchasing another 540i (8 cylinder) and love the very noticeable power difference.

    The '98 developed the following problems during my 50k ownership:
    1. Sun roof retraction system began to fail (didn't even want to know how much that would cost). Used hand pressure to aid the weak mechanism.
    2. Door handles are pot metal and we broke two off during an exceptionally cold winter where the door seals froze to the body. Found two used handles for $75 each
    3. Driver door latch cable broke ($35 from dealer). Rebuilt my old one.
    4. Rear axel excentric bolt that adjusts the tow-in for rear tire wear broke and had to be replaced ($12) along with a new alignment ($95).
    5. Developed a typical water leak that deposited 1/2 gallon of water in the passenger side rear floor board during heavy rains (read old edmunds thread on this issue).
    6. Replaced a missing second key ($160)

    The M62 (V-8) engine (as well as the 6) is a beautiful piece of machinery as long as you maintain it. I have the Bentley Repair Manuals (2 volumes @ $135 from and can see the effort required to tension the cam chains, replace the water cooled alternator, the starter, exhaust system, etc. These can be prohibitive costs as the value of the car declines if you have to pay BMW or others to perform these repairs for you. You might want to price out parts that typically fail on many cars with over 100k miles them before you buy any car. In addition, I believe consumer reports indicated concerns over some model year transmissions (you might ask Mr. Shiftright about that).

    All of this being said, I did buy my second 5 series and thoroughly enjoy driving it! If you have good mechanic skills, you will probably survive the repair costs for quite a while. If not, ???
  • woodywwwoodyww Posts: 1,801
    I saw your post in another forum about: "My family and I are thinking of buying a new car probably such as the focus, corolla, camry, civic, and altima perhaps (all from 2011 models). I have been looking in for a diesel for quite a while now and am prepared to have one."

    Nothing wrong with being all over the map like that, but it would be helpful if on a bmw or m-b forum you'd say your other option is a new corolla or civic. If you have no experience maintaining a 100K+ bmw or m-b, I'd say buy the new economy car.

    Or buy a diesel, or a Mack truck, or a Model T, but maybe try to focus? Or maybe this is a send-up......
  • I am at 47,500 miles and my warranty will be ended in a few months. Does anyone has a good independent BMW mechanic located in the San Fernando Valley area that you can recommend? Please give the shop name, and anyone in particular to ask for. I appreciate it.
  • kendall8kendall8 Posts: 28
    My 2004 541i auto/ with 99k. Was 2 q short, on oil. Never burned any, had car since 30k. Now I can hear ticking, from motor,, And leaking antifreeze, had one hose fixed, still leaking.... TY,,,
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Thank you for your concern(s) and advice(s).

    It has been long time since I last typed a message here on this forum. However, I would like to make a announcement that I have actually bought the 2003 BMW 530i with 111,000 mi. We did look at other vehicles like economy class ('07 Camry with 27,000 mi, '05 Focus with 85,000 mi, '08 Dodge Avenger) before the purchase. We test drove all of them. They were in the range of 10~18 grand, however, we could not get a good deal especially for the camry. Any ways, I am happy with the purchase and the car is running excellent. I changed the rear brakes and the alternator all by myself. Changed the spark plugs and put a new K&N filter as well as did synthetic oil change. Topped up the tyre pressure as per the specs. Initially in the first week I was averaging about 18~19 mpg, but now with the tune-up I am getting about 22~23 mpg in city driving. How about that!!

    Thought I'll just update you guys. That's it for me to say now.
    Take care.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited June 2011
    I highly recommend you pull that K&N and put a standard paper filter back in; you're fuel economy and performance will be just as good and you won't run into any airflow-sensor issues. As for your engine oil, did you use an oil that is BMW LL-01 certified? If you didn't then I suggest you change it again with something like Mobil 1 0W-40.

    Enjoy your car. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I would agree...ditch the K&N asap. It's not helping you.

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  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    I used the Mobile 1 oil 5W30 as per the spec given in the book. The K&N filter is the same size as the standard filter. I am aware of such tune-ups where one removes the whole air box and the airflow sensor and being replaced by aftermarket air intake system which runs all the way to the throttle body. However, this is not the case with mine. I am not one of those typical tuner where I seek power or anything. I have used K&N filter before in other cars and I have seen some difference (namely improvement in performance). However, I am not going to ignore your advice as I shall observe the performance for over a period of time. If I think it is not giving me any improvement/advantage but instead problems, then I shall replace it with the standard filter.

    I appreciate your concern very much.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I used the Mobile 1 oil 5W30 as per the spec given in the book."

    You need to read it again; unless you're using the Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30 then your oil is incorrect and insufficient for use in your car. The only two Mobil 1 oils sold in North America that are BMW LL-01 certified are Mobil 1 0W-40 and Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30 (which is an expensive low SAPS oil meeting the VW 504.00 and 507.00 oil standards as well).
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    I couldn't find an LL-01 certification on the Mobil 1 oils. The last letter I saw showed them as an alternative for a top off IF you couldn't find one of the LL-01 oils. Now, not sure it they would actually meet the spec, as they'd probably have to pay for it and may not care to. So, as I read it (and I could be wrong), they should not be used during a full oil change. Probably won't hurt, but possibly could.
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Do you mean this?....

    On the website I put my vehicle's information to find the right oil grade and it tells to use the following:

    Do you think I should redo oil change with the right spec?
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    I do not know what the difference between LL-04 and LL-01 is, but Mobil lists the former and not the latter in it's specifications, which is what they now specify. I'm new to BMW, and have no experience. I won't get mine back from the European delivery until the end of the month, so it'll be a long time before I have to pay for an oil change, but I've been looking to see what's around (not much, and hard to find).

    What you might want to do is send some oil out for analysis after maybe 3K miles, and see what it's doing. SHort enough where it probably won't do much, but early enough to see if it is lacking. But, at the cost of the analysis, I'm not sure...this isn't my area, just going on what I read.
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    Same thing here. I do not just buy things blindly without doing some research. Even though I have worked as a mechanic for about one and half years I do not have much experience on european vehicles. I have mainly worked on japanese and some american ones. So I need more time to know about my car, and general BMW(s) information and maintenance records.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited June 2011
    BMW Long-Life 2001 (aka. LL-01) is BMW's required oil specification for ALL late model BMWs with a gasoline engine (except "M" series cars).
    BMW Long-Life 2004 (aka. LL-04) is BMW's required oil specification for ALL late model BMWs with a diesel engine.

    Mobil 1 oils which meet LL-01:
    -- Mobil 1 0W-40
    -- Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30

    Mobil 1 oils which meet LL-04:
    -- Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30

    Simple as that. :)
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    Couldn't find LL01 for the Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30 (only the LL04 rating), but LL01 is listed for the 0W-40. The 40W is probably not going to be the most fuel efficient weight for your BMW, but it is approved. If the vehicle can maintain the rated oil pressure when fully hot with a 30W oil, a 40W oil will add drag. If you regularly run it on a track, then the 40W might end up protecting more, but as long as the oil pressure is maintained, the lightest oil that can do that will create the least drag and improve efficiency while keeping wear in line. ALL oils are too thick at cold start, so a synthectic with a lower number is better - NO car needs more than that 0W, but some will need a higher second number, depending on design and use.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Please don't let the grade specification get in your way; there will be absolutely zero difference in power or fuel economy between a 5W-30 and Mobil's 0W-40 (which if you read the Virgin Oil Analysis reports is at the very light end of the xW-40 spectrum). As I understand it, any oil which meets LL-04 by default meets LL-01 (in the same way that all LL-01 oils by default meet the previous LL-98 standard); I'll confirm that and report back.

    Long story short, in this era of published oil specifications by the various vehicle manufacturers, it is Oil Spec first and grade second. Said another way, if your two choices are a 5W-30 which is not LL-01 certified versus a 0W-40 which is certified, the 0W-40 is the oil you should pick.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    edited June 2011
    BMW LL04 spec'ed oils appear to have a lower starting TBN than the LL01 oils and the sulphur in the US fuels depletes the TBN, exposing the engine to corrosion once the TBN is depleted. This is especially detrimental on the long oil change intervals BMW specifies - you'd have less margin of safety with LL04 oils. So, with this in mind, and BMW's apparant recommendations, you should NOT use an LL04 oil in a gasoline engined vehicle in the USA, only an LL01 variety. It appears that the EU fuel specs are much more stringent, and there, they may be interchangable, but not here.

    Given more than one LL01 oil, though, I'd opt for the lower 30W over a 40W unless I was exposing the engine to extremely high temperatures caused by continued high RPM or heavy loads that might be experienced during racing or autocrossing. Don't think many people actually pull a trailer with their BMW's, but if they do, then that may point towards the higher weight. As long as the pressure is maintained at speed, the lowest weight oil will flow better with the least restrictions while maintaining protection. A thicker oil will flow less, and may heat up more since it won't go through the cooler as often with the slower flow. As long as pressure is maintained, you get no additional wear protection with the heavier oil. Your driving style, the environment, and engine may dictate a particular weight, so no one oil is best for everyone.

    AutoZone appears to carry the Castrol European formula 0W-30, at least at some stores for $8.49/qt. Might be a good source, especially if you can find it on sale. About what BMW sells it for, I think.
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