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BMW 5-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    FWIW, the last oil I purchased from my local BMW & MINI dealer was $6.50/qt, cheaper than what I can buy synthetic oil from WalMart.
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    I found this website from BMWusa so I guess I follow this recommendation next time.
  • garojangarojan Posts: 1
    I just got 03 530I and it has the same problem.Passenger seat`s left side does not go up or down,only right side.Driver`s seat seems having that problem on and off.
  • I have an '03 540i with the driver's seat failing. The outside moves up and down and the outside back tilt also works but the inside of each action does not. I stopped by the dealer last Friday and the service adviser said it sounded like a drive mechanism was disconnected. The Bentley shop manual shows five motors in my seat, one for each type of motion. Without better photos I can only conjecture that each motor drive must be connected to both sides of the seat by some form of rod, gear, cable or combination. The manual describes/shows removal of the seat but does not explain how the mechanism works or specify troubleshooting steps. Any first hand experience would be greatly appreciated.
  • I found a great response to the problem at the above post by searching on the word 'seat'. Cudos to Winfred and Peter K!
  • rar5rar5 Posts: 2
    Were you able to solve the issue addressed above? I have the same issue with my seats on my 03 530i
  • rar5rar5 Posts: 2
    garojan, did you correct this issue? I have the same problem and am looking to see if is something I can correct myself or need to find a pro. thanks,
  • mhutchinsonmhutchinson Posts: 17
    edited July 2011
    See post #2112 for the full repair explanation with photos.
    There are alternative solutions.

    The post refers to Winfred @ E34 forums.
    also try Search on E34 Seat Cables Fix
  • robwaltonrobwalton Posts: 1
    just found this forum. I just reset my oil service lites using the above instructions. worked like a charm. now i help my neighbors also.

    rob walton
  • Hello , my name is Ilya Igdalev. I had a problem with a BMW . An electric sensor was acting up and shutting down the car.
  • krajalakrajala Posts: 1
    I am interested in buying a 1999 BMW 5 Series 528IA 4dr Sdn with about 57K miles on it. Is this a good buy? I have never owned a BMW and I am not sure if they are good reliable cars, how they handle in the snow, rain, and ice, how costly they are to repair and what I can expect possibly in repairs in the future. It is in great condition (just a visual inspection) and I will take it to a mechanic before I purchase. They are asking around 9K for it. Just wondering if this was something I should proceed with or look for something else.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A few comments:
    -- The 1999 528i is a wonderful car (although I prefer it with a 5-Speed)
    -- This car has proven to be rather reliable and affordable assuming you either do the work yourself or find a good independent mechanic.
    -- I had a 2002 530i, and with the factory Sport Package tires, the car was all but undrivable with even an eighth of an inch of white stuff on the roads.
    -- Once I purchased a set of winter wheels and tires (for all four corners), my 5er was all but unstoppable in snow so deep the car was starting to play snow plow.
    -- Nine thousand dollars sounds pretty pricy, even if the car is in excellent condition.
  • I own my second 5 series (2003). My first was a 1998. Both are pretty reliable and great driving machines. If you can perform the repairs, you might find the costs tollerable.
    If not... Issues:
    1998: computer display losses clarity (some LED dots quit lighting up) but still readable). Both of my cars experienced this problem.
    AC compressor failed at 120k - expensive part and labor is at a premium at the dealerships.
    Just call a dealer for an estimate on a few things to get an idea of typical repair costs, like the 60k check-up.
    headlight adjusters disintegrated inside one headlight but I was able to buy the parts cheap from a BMW forum online.
    Driver side door handle s both broke off during a freezing rain. They are cast from cheap pot metal. $125 each and then have to be painted! Instal is a pain.
    The drivers side door lever (inside) broke loose from its cable. Part was about $40 from the dealer. Install took about 2 hours.
    Electronic trunk latch failed at 80k. Part cost $100. Labor=1 hour.
    2003: upper water hose quick connector rotted at 105k. Part is only available from BMW and cot $100! It wasn't"t in stock. Easy to replace in about 1.5 hours (the first time).
    Thermostat costs $250! (aftermarke). Fortunately mine was not bad & I returned the part.
    The electric seat controls have speedomteter like cables connecting the left and right side mechanical adjusters. These cables shrink over time and must be repaired. Follow my thread to learn more.
    The instrument panel computer display has about 12 different items it.can display one at a time. Mine only displays the second MPG average in all 12 positions. Irritating, but the main computer screen still shows all messages correctly.
    It is very important to keep the wheels properly aligned to avoid accelerated wear on the rear tires. Just paid $115 at NTB and they did not follow the procedures prescribed by BMW for loading the seats with weights (150# for driver seat, etc.) before service.
    Great driving machines. Reliable engines. Costly to maintain. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,456
    They are great cars to drive and can be quite reliable; however, on the minus side the price of $9,000 is way too high, even with low miles, and these cars are expensive to repair should something major go wrong.

    You could buy a 2002 5-series for that kind of money.

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  • sb55sb55 On an Island in VermontPosts: 337
    edited July 2011
    I am looking at a 2008 535xit with 6 speed manual. Is the HPFP issue resolved now? This car was a BMW lemon law buyback (for the HPFP), but is still under the original warranty. Am I crazy to consider it?

    2007 Miata PRHT, 2014 BMW 535d X-drive, 2017 Chevy Silverado LTZ Ext. cab with 6.2 V-8

  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    I bought mine back in April 2011 which is a 2003 530i (automatic) and with 111,000mi. I have now done about 118,000+ mi already and this machine still drives wonderfully. Couple of things that I have worked on it is replaced spark plugs, rear brake pads+rotors, air filter, and alternator (the battery light came on) all by myself. Since then, I am absolutely happy and satisfied with this car as it is my first ever BMW.

    The BMW E39 series are known to be actually quite reliable supposedly as long as you take good care of it. The maintenance costs can be high but tolerable. As everyone has said in the forum that if you can afford the expenses and if you know a very good mechanic with BMW experience then you should be alright. These machines are wonderful to drive. I have been taking very good care of my car since I have the experience of a mechanic.

    The price that you mentioned is absolutely bargain (although other's opinions may differ, not at least in my view). I am doing the monthly payments but the total cost of my car is actually $11k. Did you take it for a thorough test drive (city/highway driving)? Because that would be the first thing to do, check the exterior/interior lightings, check every buttons and switches, and how good are the brakes and the tyres? Check for any fluid leaks in the engine compartment. It is widely known with these engines that water leaks presumably from the ends of the hoses. I am probably asking too much for you to perform these tasks but If you are willing to purchase it then you should do it, as how I did it with mine.

    I wish the best for your car purchase (and be it a BMW!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,456
    Not quite understanding your point of view here. If your 2003 cost $11,000, and her 1999 is for sale for $9,000, how is that a bargain for her?

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  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    The lower mileage I found the price were more than ten grand. The higher mileage I found the price were in the range of seven grand to nine grand regardless of the year and the model of the 5 series.

    That 1999 BMW with only 57k mi and only for 9 grand is very surprising and much more cheaper than any BMW I have seen. I suppose this is my reason.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,456
    Well okay, fair enough..... I guess it's a question of what one thinks the low miles are worth. I found a couple of clean '99s for around $7000 with about 70,000--75,000 miles, so it's a matter of whether or not a used car is worth $1 for each low mile it has.

    I think $9000 is full dealer retail for the car and while no harm in paying that, I think it is overpriced by about $1000. I would certainly negotiate it, as well as have it thoroughly checked out prior to purchase.

    Low miles is not always a good thing. Also years are age not only by miles but by time. And once you start using the car at the "normal" 12,000 miles a year, the premium you paid for low miles is instantly lost in depreciation.

    So I'd base my offer on what the car *needs*, not just on assuming that because the miles are low, the car is perfect.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I agree with your assessment. Plastic and rubber deteriorate pretty much at the same rate, whether the car is in motion or just sitting at the curb.

    Personally, I would never pay a premium for a preowned vehicle unless I had direct information warranting the premium, such as always garaged, expertly maintained, etc.

    Years ago, I found a 1959 Chevrolet Belair that matched those parameters. This was in 1984 and the owner was a neighbor of my parents. The car had 13,000 miles and looked as it was driven straight from the showroom. I wish I still had that car today.

    Even then, I paid somewhere between loan valuation and retail.

    There's just too many cars available for one to pay a premium price, unless there's something really rare or unique to the specific car.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    There are some things that nobody really knows how well they age. I had a Saab a long time ago, and the manual said to replace all of the airbags and seat belt actuators (they had an explosive charge to tighten them in an accident) after 10-years. Now, would they have worked? Probably, but maybe not a good idea to find out they were no longer operational. As mentioned, rubber and plastic components can do some strange things as they age, depending on the weather, UV exposure, fatigue. While an older car can work fine, it can also be a constant money drain. Then, you always have the uncertainty of what is going to go next.
  • sb55sb55 On an Island in VermontPosts: 337
    I am looking at a 2008 535xit with 6 speed manual. Is the High Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP) issue resolved now? This car was a BMW lemon law buyback (for the HPFP), but is still under the original warranty. Am I crazy to consider it? Has there been a "permanent" fix?

    2007 Miata PRHT, 2014 BMW 535d X-drive, 2017 Chevy Silverado LTZ Ext. cab with 6.2 V-8

  • grios1grios1 Posts: 22
    edited July 2011

    I have a 2009 535i. While changing out the both cabin filters, I noticed that inside the compartment is what appears to be another filter. There is one on each side. It looks like it can only be accessed from under the dash board but I did not remove anything to find out. Can anyone advise if in fact is a filter and how can it be changed.

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,042
    If you own a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class but thinking about an Audi A6 for your next car, email with your daytime contact information no later than Friday, August 12, 2011 to be interviewed by a reporter on the subject.


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  • kendall8kendall8 Posts: 28
    My 2004 545 w/ 99k. Keeps on over heating, any sugestions. It is using a lot of radiator fulid
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,456
    edited August 2011
    Have the cooling system pressure tested first off, to check for leaks and head gasket issues. If it's the original water pump, that might be a less likely culprit. Also a sticking thermostat can cause this type of problem, as can a clogged radiator.

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  • My front right turn signal doesn't occasionally work. Initially I thought it is the bulb but then I tried my hazard lights and the bulb is fine and works consistently ok. However, when I turn my right signal on occasionally the right front light won't go off. Then, mysteriously starts working again. Before I bring it to the mechanics I thought I would try this forum. Any ideas? Thank you!
  • I am looking at two 2010 528ix's - both were dealer service loaners. Both about 24K miles, in service dates of Aug 09 and Dec 09 respectively. One is paltinum gray / gray interior, the other jet black/black. Both very clean. Both offered at 38,900, neither is certified. I am thinking of having the one I choose certified to get the extra warranty and inspection. Likely I will get that included in the price. Is this a good price? Any comments on reliability / service? I have an older A6 now (99) that has been pretty good, but man when something does break it is expensive!
  • Couldn't find the replacement schedule for AT fluid -- fluid is original and it's now over 8 years and 51K miles.
    Does it take "normal" fluid and some special formulation ?
    Thank you.
  • auaqauaq Posts: 12
    The approved fluid is the following:

    ESSO LT71141

    I have checked this from Alldata (a popular web source for vehicle repair and maintenance used by technicians). You can get it from and I believe that if you were to flush the fluid completely then you should get the 20 litre bottle of this fluid. You have to flush not once but few/several times to completely remove the old fluid.

    I think you can get this from a VW dealer cause it is cheap.
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