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Old 11-13-2009, 03:06 PM   #1
beeEM
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1997 E39 540i Reliability?

Hello, can anyone comment on the 1997 E39 540i reliablilty? Any personal experiences with this car? Any common issues related to this model and year?

The reason Im asking is because I may be interested in purhasing one with 170K on the engine all original. Let me know your thoughts. From what ive read they seem to be ok but just want to double check with my fellow Maxers. Much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 11-13-2009, 03:21 PM   #2
Euro
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Common problems include seals and gaskets, rad, window regulators. The 540 isn't as reliable as the 528. Your cats might go. Forget about buying OEM replacements. Buy aftermarket for a hell of a lot less. Ball joints and wheel bearings may go at some point in your ownership. O2 sensors (it has four of them). Your headlight lenses will pit and dull after a lot of highway use. I went through a bunch of cracked fog lights. If you have the style 5 rims, the clearcoat may pit and peel. That's a lot of torque for that tranny. My auto tranny went through a rebuild.

If you get it properly checked out and it's good, pick it up. Expect to spend a little money keeping it in good shape though.

Last edited by Euro; 11-13-2009 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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^ What he said. I got one semi recently (a '98 540) and have had to chase down some electrical issues as well.
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:24 PM   #4
MaxVQ
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So far this year I have spent $3,700 on PARTS for my 2001 530.
Items changed are aux fan, shocks and struts, guibo, center bearing, control arms, tie rods, plugs, o2 sensors, rear sway bar mounts, front rotors & pads, rear rotor and pads.

Plan on spending $1,000 -$2,000 per year on maintenance.
"It is the ultimate driving machine, not the ultimate reliability machine"

Last edited by MaxVQ; 11-13-2009 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:41 PM   #5
318compact
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MaxVQ, what is the mileage on your 530i? My brother is looking at an '01 525 manual with 175k, he sure would not be too happy if he had to shell out another $4k in parts soon. The car seems to drive very well, however there is no records as to what has already been changed on it. Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:11 AM   #6
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My car just passed 200,000 KM and I will be changing my clutch & flywheel in the spring for another $1500 in parts.

I hope (expect?) this should carry me for a few years. All of the wear items have been replaced.
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:54 PM   #7
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The 97 is now 12 years old. You should be able to pick up a late model for not much more money. With the F10 coming in 6 months, expect some bargain 01+. Are you getting that 97 for free?
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:51 AM   #8
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it's very unrealiable, i know a shitload of guys who own these cars, and their wallets get skinny very quick. You have to keep the car in tip-f@cking-top shape to make it reliable, and to do that you need to have spare cash. 2003 540i is abit better, they've improved on some issues so it is definately more reliable than a 97. But like other guys said, get couple of sets of valve cover gaskets for the next year, they usually last 4-5 months before they leak.
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Old 11-24-2009, 03:11 AM   #9
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BMW = Bring More Wallet

When they run well, they are tops.
When they don't, they cost.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:29 AM   #10
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IMHO , THAN it is cheaper to pay more and go after certifed series. Sell it again upon warranty expiry and get another one. over 5 years it will depreciate less than what you pay now for it in parts + headache + time wasted with mechanics.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxVQ View Post
So far this year I have spent $3,700 on PARTS for my 2001 530.
Items changed are aux fan, shocks and struts, guibo, center bearing, control arms, tie rods, plugs, o2 sensors, rear sway bar mounts, front rotors & pads, rear rotor and pads.

Plan on spending $1,000 -$2,000 per year on maintenance.
"It is the ultimate driving machine, not the ultimate reliability machine"
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:01 AM   #11
Euro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvan View Post
IMHO , THAN it is cheaper to pay more and go after certifed series. Sell it again upon warranty expiry and get another one. over 5 years it will depreciate less than what you pay now for it in parts + headache + time wasted with mechanics.
Amen
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:40 PM   #12
europrince
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BMW = Bring More Wallet

When they run well, they are tops.
When they don't, they cost.
Ain't that the truth!
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:26 AM   #13
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BMW = Bring More Wallet
... = Break My Wallet
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