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Buying a used 5 Series



  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Last time I checked, BMW has never built a V6 engine. :blush: V8s? Yes, absolutely. I6s? Yes, and have for MANY years. V6s? Not yet, and hopefully never will. :shades:

    Regarding the other items of maintenance that you listed, the E39 530i and 540i have the same brakes, and so I can tell you first hand that they are a piece of cake to do yourself. I did mine with new pads, rotors and sensors, and the whole thing cost me just over $260 for all four wheels. Said another way, these brakes are so easy to do that I can do the job quicker in my driveway than the time it would take to drive to my dealership and back. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • I've only had the older 7's V8, so my experience with the 6 is limited. You are correct, I apologize. If you can do the brake job in your driveway then you should. More power to you. I would never buy a used car from someone that didn't have the service records. When making any kind of investment dealership service offers some safeguards, and at least a papertrail in your research, sometimes even a warranty.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, I guess we see things a bit differently. For required maintenance (i.e. oil and filter changes, brake and cooling system flushes and the first 30K scheduled service), I have no problem using the dealer. That said, even though brake jobs are effectively part of the "free maintenance" component of new BMWs, I would never use the dealer for those parts. Why? Because parts that offer superior performance (i.e. lower dust or better stopping power/fade resistance or even a little of both) are available in the aftermarket, parts that your dealer would never use.

    With the above said, once the warranty period is over, I would never buy an extended warranty or an extended maintenance plan. I would instead use a high quality independent shop for the messy bits, and do the rest myself. Oh, and of course keeping the necessary records all along, regardless of who performed the work.

    FWIW, following that policy with my 2002 530i, I changed my own oil at 7,500, 22,500 and 37,500 (mid-term oil changes) with Mobil 1 0W-40 and of course used a factory filter. I also changed out my brake pads with PBR/Axxis Deluxe Plus pads that generate virtually no dust and were able to keep my beautiful factory Style 42 two-piece wheels nice and squeaky clean. When lease turn-in time came, several folks here at Edmunds were actually interested in getting to my car before BMW-FS did. Why? Because of the work that I had personally performed on the car. Go figure.

    Best Regards,
  • That's cool bud. Did you add anything to it Dinan? AC Schnitzer?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Nope, I don't like modded cars. Hmmm, maybe not quite correct. I suppose if I was to keep a car to say, over 100,000 miles, I might be tempted to breathe on it a bit, however, that really isn't my style. Pretty much bone stock or I don't want it.

    Just as my 530i was heading back to BMW at lease end, my annual driving profile changed dramatically. I went from an annual average of about 14,000 miles per year, an average that I sustained for twenty years, to more than 30,000 miles per year. Being very unsure of how long I could sustain that kind of mileage and what might come next, I opted to not replace my wonderful 5er, and instead opted to drive our spare car, an old Home Depot hack in the form of a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. :P

    Fifty thousand miles in twenty months later, it looks like this current situation is workable, however, come this September my annual mileage rate is going to get bumped again to more than 40,000. Needless to say, racking up that kind of mileage in a new BMW is simply unreasonable. Looking at my options, I'm finding low mileage (60K-80K) pristine 2000 vintage 528is (that's plural not an "is" model), with PP, SP, "M" Seats and a 5-Speed for between $15,000 and $17,000 (asking price). I'm thinking that such a car would be good for another 200,000 miles with just reasonable maintenance.

    Hmmm, buy a new 535i for say $60,000 and drive it 160,000 miles in four years. Resale value? Not pretty. Buy a seven year old 528i for $16,000 and take it up to say 230,000 miles. Resale value? Who cares. ;-)

    So, I told you that so that I could tell you this. I've looked at quite a few cars since I started this shopping process, and when I see a car that has been modified even a little, I move on to the next car. My threshold for modifications? Upgraded brakes and clutch? Yup, bring them on. Wheels and tires? Unless they are the factory size, pass. Body panels? Not a chance. Engine mods? Can't run away fast enough.

    Best Regards,
  • Dude, I already have an 03 540, I just asked if there were mods on your 530 b/c you said you did brakes in your driveway??? Its a 530, there's alot around I don't care about your driving habits, this is a forum about someone buying a used BMW, not you.

    Best Regards,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Lose the attitude dude. You asked a question and I answered it in a complete manner.

    FWIW, I am in the market for a used 5-Series, one that is bone stock.

    Best Regards,
  • I am looking at some 2001 5 spoke X5 wheels. I believe they are 17" x 7.5" 5 lug...

    Will they have the correct offset / close enough offset?

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I could be wrong, however, I don't believe that the X5 uses the same offset and such as does the E39 5-Series.

    Best Regards,
  • wbb56wbb56 Posts: 38
    I've narrowed my new car choices to three: 2005 CPO BMW 525i; '07 Toyota Avalon Touring; '07 Lincoln MKZ AWD.

    I like them all but have always been partial to BMWs. My concerns: The '05 525i has 45k+ miles (Seems like a lot in only 2 years.)-and in comparison to the other two, seems underpowered.
    The car is well equipped-Premium package, Navigation, Parking sensors, etc.. but the dealer is asking fairly high price-$39,995.

    Questions: Any advice about buying the '05 w/45k miles? It is CPO--with the warranty extended to 100,000 miles. I think $35k is about right for the 525i-is that reasonable? (The MKZ and Avalon are both 35K fuly loaded). Is there a big enough difference in the 530i to pay the higher price?
    I've owned (3) previous BMWs--but it's been 15+ years since my last 3-series. So I'm not sure about service, warranties, etc..

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  • Boy do I have advice. Simply said, move on. You would be paying for a "newer" car with high miles. Cars depreciate by age & mileage. Go look for a 3 1/2 -->4 year old lower milaeage 5xx. My son just acquired a 2003? 530 with 44K miles and the remaining warranty. Quite loaded - sport & comfort? groups. He paid $24,000 + T & L here in Phoenix. He spent about 45 days looking around. He is a "frugal" engineer. AZDINO
  • woodywwwoodyww Posts: 1,803
    Paying $35-$39K for an '05 525i with 45k miles sounds nuts to me. You can buy or lease some really nice brand new cars for that much, or less.

    I'd say, either just buy or lease a new bmw, or go back a few model years and save a ton of $$. You're not "saving" enough (if anything) to make it worthwhile to buy a miled-up '05, IMO.

    PS: Is the avalon new? If you like it equally, I assume it will treat you much more kindly with depreciation, & would be nice to have Brand New "everything".....
  • Hi,

    I wanted some of the opinions of the very experienced forum members here. I'm currently leasing a 2004 BMW 530i and my lease is up this summer. I've barely used it (total of $12K miles so far). Apart from some idrive glitches (to be expected i imagine!), the car has given me no problems.

    The residual value on the lease is about $35K. It's loaded with SP, PP, Xenon, Auto (original MSRP was $55k).

    Question is: should I buy this car knowing that i only plan on driving 5-6K miles per year max? If I keep it for 5 years, how much do you think it will be worth 5 years from now, assuming I drive 5K miles/yr?

    Finally, i've seen different responses, but it seems most people on this forum don't think its worth paying for extended maintenance. Would you agree?

    Thanks for all your help.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,622
    I guess the kid's age bracket changed. The biggest difference is the resale value. That's where you'll loose. CPO can limit these costs.

  • ttb69ttb69 Posts: 1
    I am thinking of purchasing a 2001 530i with 50,000 miles. I have never owned a BMW before. Anything that I should take into consideration such as engine, suspension or electronics quirks?
  • kamdogkamdog Posts: 28
    My daughter is in the business, and one of the dealerships in her network is BMW. I can get a 2006 CPO 530i with steptronic, cold weather, sound, and luxury packages, and nav for about 41000. Im sure this is a good deal financially, but is there something I should look for? I have always wanted a BMW, but racked up over 20K a year commuting into the ghetto, so never could buy one. I am now retired, and this will be my keeper car. What should I look for?
  • carjaxcarjax Posts: 2
    I am in the market for a used (but not too used) 530 or 545. Like everyone else, I'm looking for the most bang for the buck, but I am also thinking ahead to re-sale value (I have a bad habit of not keeping cars more than 3 years). My budget is about $30k - $35k. I'd prefer not to go older than a 2004 model (forgive me, but I actually like the Bangle style). I have my eye on a 2004 545i (51k mi., PP, SP, CP, prem. audio; asking $34k) and a 2005 530i (31k mi., no options; asking $34k). My heart (and right foot) are telling me to go for the 545, with 325 hp and lots of extras. My conscience is telling me I don't need the "extras" or the bigger engine and to just get the 1-year "newer" vehicle with 20k less miles. Who do I listen to?

  • carguy70carguy70 Posts: 10
    The 530 will give you plenty of bang for the buck over the OUT OF WARRANTY 545. The 3.0 I6 is very smooth and has plenty of torque. These cars are very particular when it comes to maintenance and you will save a fortune and have a lot more peace of mind driving a car with some warranty left. You can call a dealer ahead of time with the VIN# to confirm how much warranty is truly left.
  • carjaxcarjax Posts: 2
    Good advice. Thanks!
  • joyrider147joyrider147 Posts: 69

    I was looking at several cars available; a 1993 325is Stick Shift Coupe, a 1995 740i or a 1990 750iL witha v12 and low mileage, and a nice 1994 530i or 540i with an automatic.

    First, I was looking for a BMW with good condition and at a low price but runs great because soo I'm looking to strip the car and rebuild it with some high performance parts. As for my driving needs, I need a car which might have a manual transmission that would react better in a city environment as opposed to an automatic. Don't get me wrong, I can take an automatic as well, but it must shift nicely in stop and go traffic. Also, I need a car which has nice horsepower and get up and go, like a v8 or v12. But, since the car's being used in city driving, I need overall fuel efficiency in a car.

    Let's look at the 325is. It is stick shift, which I might like since I don't like automatics. But overall, what would be good for city and highway driving, as well as Motorsport driving? Auto or stick? Stick has 5 gears which can be selected rapidly at lower RPMs for increased acceleration where as autos have 4 and are slower at shifting with power reduction. The problem is this car has a inline 6 which might have nice power, but may have struggling against cars with 8s or 12s and it might not catch up to an M3. Also, the car is small and agile, which is great for cornering and grip and reduced weight for faster acceleration, but it is only a small 2 door car. And, it weighs just as much as a 5 series or a 7 series and is only limited to a 6.

    Next, the 1994 530i. It has a 3.0 V8 which is a peppy, fuel efficient v8, it is a 4 door sedan with a pretty roomy trunk, and is reminiscent of an M5. The downside is it is an automatic, it is a bit heavier than a 3 series which may reduce acceleration, grip, and cornering. Also, I don't know how good a mini-v8 performs it Motorsporting.

    A 540i stick shift is a M5 knock off, but is very rare, pretty high in price, and are more available in auto than it is in manual.

    Third car is a 1995 740i. Newer model car, but may cost more in parts and probably spend more in replacement parts than high performance upgrades. Heavier car, bigger car for even more reduced acceleration, grip, and cornering. And its an automatic.

    Lastly, a 1990 750iL. Again, v12 excellent for high speed, acceleration is no problem for a v12, extremely roomy interior and trunk, but it is an automatic and a v12 will cost astoundingly more than its 740 counterpart and may still need more parts even after repairs.

    I'm leaning towards the 530i since it has less drawbacks, but should I go for it since 530i stick shifts are rare? Or should I do a tranny swap out and end up with all advantages and no drawbacks? Or should I enjoy it as is?
  • taxesquiretaxesquire Posts: 681
    WOW! I don't feel comfortable giving a full response to all your questions b/c your post is a little over my head (OK - alot over my head :blush: ).

    A car that's not too small, but good for city driving, stick shift, v8, and can race. That's a lot to ask.

    I'd forget about the 7-series - I think it's too big to drive in the city.

    I would think the 3 would suit your needs if you're single or just don't use the back seat much. Otherwise, a 5-er is the way to go.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,633
    1. Beemers= BMW Motorcycles
    Bimmers= BMW Automobiles

    2.I'm leaning towards the 530i since it has less drawbacks, but should I go for it since 530i stick shifts are rare?

    Read this before you look at any early M60 powered BMWs.

    3. Or should I do a tranny swap out and end up with all advantages and no drawbacks?

    Converting a post-1990 BMW to a manual transmission is often MUCH more trouble than it is worth. It can be done, but it can be a very expensive and time consuming procedure.

    4. I would strongly recommend that you attend several high performance driver schools-such as the ones offered by BMW CCA- BEFORE you modify your chosen Bimmer. I say this because 99% of BMW drivers are woefully unable to drive a stock-never mind modified-Bimmer at anywhere near its true potential.

    5. If I wanted an inexpensive BMW that can be modified easily and somewhat cheaply, I'd find a nice E36 325i or 328i. There are tons of engine and suspension parts available.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Like a lot of people, I have considered a BMW for many years but have yet to buy one. I want my first purchasing experience to be a positive one.

    I am looking for a family friendly but sporty and upscale car for me. My wife has a van and we have 2 kids under age 3 (ie 2 car seats). My last 3 cars have been non-luxury Japanese cars - Outback wagon and 2 Accords. I am looking for something a little more sporty and have always admired BMWs.

    I am considering a used 2002 540i 6 MT wi 57000 miles. Its certified used from a dealer for asking price of $24900. What sort of issues should I look for when evaluating such a car? What sort of maintenance and service costs are typical for such a car?

    The dealer provided a carfax which indicates 2 owners. It also indicated a battery and catalytic converter being replaced in 2004. It was in a minor accident and the front bumper was repainted in 2005.

    Aside from the particulars of this car, is there anything in general that I should look out for on this kind of car?

    Is this the BMW to start with?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    It sounds like a great car that if you don't jump on I might. Geez, I've seen the 530i from that year up in that price range, so a 540i 6-Speed is a bargain if its in good shape.

    Things to look for:
    1) Oil changes at least every 15,000 miles (using BMW LL-01 certified oil)
    2) Brake fluid changed every two calendar years (using DOT 4 brake fluid)
    3) Engine coolant changed every three to four calendar years
    4) That "Service A" was performed at around the 30,000 mile mark
    5) Inquire with the dealer what the cost will be for "Service B" (due in 3,000 miles)

    Other things to consider:
    - What kind of tires are on the car? I ask because the OEM summer performance rubber have long since worn out.
    - The brakes are probably going to be ready for replacement within the next 15,000 miles or so. They are a fairly easy DIY job and oddly enough less expensive to do than the ones on our Minivans (go figure), however, dealerships seem to like to charge top dollar for the job. Check around for pricing (hint: find a good independent BMW shop).
    - If you live where it snows, you will NEED a set of winter tires. You can either buy a complete set of wheels and rubber from TireRack for a little over $1,000, or you can poke around on the second hand market. Wheels from any E39 (the generation of 5-Series you are looking at) 540i or 530i SP will fit over your brakes.

    Good luck and keep us posted. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Thanks Shipo - great advice. The carfax does indicate oil changes and services aprox every 15000 miles. Should I be concerned that the catalytic converter was replaced in 2004?

    I hope to see the car in person this afternoon.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    That's a little odd but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Could have been something simple like a piece of road junk mashing the converter or something.

    Best Regards,
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Okay all - I test drove the 540i 6MT.

    Here is the good news
    - BMW certified warranty on all major systems till 10/2008 - not '07 like I thought
    -tires are new dunlops
    - paint looks good
    - car drove incredibly smoothly
    - tons of power
    - very relaxed and smooth but very powerful when you get on it
    - steering was amazing
    - driver seat is very comfy with lower leg extender for tall guys
    - back seat was big enough
    - next service is an oil change
    - interior was clean
    - last driver was non smoker, no kids or pets and serviced it well

    Now the bad
    - paint is good but not perfect
    - headliner had some stains by the drivers door
    - would need winter tires and rims ($1000)

    Dealer called to say they would sell for $23400. Thoughts?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The only fly in the ointment that I see is the "Next Service". I'm 99.9% positive that at 60,000 miles there is supposed to be another "full service" which I believe is called "Service B". I don't have my manual at hand at the moment, I'll look it up in the morning and report back.

    Other than that, it sounds like a steal. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Thanks for looking that up, Shipo. Now the morning after I am starting to have second thoughts.

    I guess the real issue is do I want to trade a pristine, but relatively sedate, highly reliable 2 year old car plus $5000+ for an expensive to maintain. in good but not perfect condition 6 year old car with a lot of style and cachet?

    I am starting to think the 540i car might be a little too much for me. That motor under the hood seemed as big as a mini cooper and I am sure it would be expensive to work in that tight space. . .

    It's just a tough call. . .

    Just to be clear we are talking about going from a 2005 Accord Hybrid to the 2002 540i 6 MT.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    On all non-M 5-Series E39 models there is what's referred to as "Service II" that is to be performed around the 60,000 mile mark.

    Another option to consider would be a 2002 or 2003 530i 5-Speed. It'll still give you lots of performance (especially compared to the Accord), considerably better mileage than the 540i and generally lower maintenance costs. On my 530i 5-Speed (a 2002 with the Sport Package, Premium Package, Premium Audio and Xenon headlights) I was able to consistently get just over 30 mpg at speeds between 70 and 75, and about 23 in combined driving.

    There are a couple of other advantages that the 530i has over that generation of the 540i 6-Speed.
    - The 530i has even more responsive steering (Rack & Pinion) than the already good steering of the 540i (Recirculating Ball)
    - The 530i SP has the same size tires front and back which allows for tire rotations (which will extend the life of the tires) as opposed to the staggered setup of the 540i 6-Speed.
    - The 5-Speed 530i SP is generally more plentiful when compared to the 540i 6-Speed (which includes the SP suspension setup), so you should be more easily able to find the color and option combination that suites you.

    As for deciding between your Accord and the 5er, well, I'm biased to say the least so I'm probably a very bad person to ask for an opinion. :P FWIW, I am not a fan of Hybrids for many reasons so of course I'd suggest you go for a 5er. ;-)

    Best Regards,
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