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Old 01-24-2009, 11:25 AM   #1
dgmorr
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Lookinf for 540i - input?

Hey guys,

I've been looking for a 540i-6 but people keep saying to avoid it because of rads blowing up, problems, yada yada. I'm looking for a summer daily driver and long trip car.

How reliable are these cars? I'm not looking for something to last with no maintenance, but I also don't want to be fixing it on weekends so I can drive it on weekdays.

I've read about most of the common problems....how common are they? Thrust arm bushings, cooling system, some head gasket problems.

Anyone have any input?

PS - I've seen some nicely priced 528i's, any reason not to get a 528 and go for the 540? (other than power)
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:59 PM   #2
Dado 540
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Head gaskets - check
Thrust arms - check
Lower control arms - check
Radiator - check
Water pump - Check
Door handles - check
Vapour bariers - check
Auto tranny - check

By the time youre done, you'll be an expert on E39s

But at the end of the day, when you sit in it and you let it rip, it pays off BIG TIME

E39 540i
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:37 PM   #3
dgmorr
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Don't think I mentioned it, but I am referring to an E39.

Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:28 PM   #4
parm
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Check coolant make sure it's running oem coolant. 9 out 10 e39's I have seen with coolant issues the owners were to cheap or lazy to put oem coolant in their systems. Just putting any universal coolant in a bmw is looking for trouble I think.
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:21 AM   #5
DINAN 3
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Arrow All the aformentioned issues are very real.

Though since you're aware of them, you can perform some preventative maintenance and you'll be fine.
Not to downplay it, but many of these horror stories are associated with ill maintained cars or negligent owners.
Get a good mechanic.....know thy car...don't skimp on maintenance and you'll be in car heaven, rollin in your 540.
Lastly, be patient in buying that perfect car (took me a year to find mine).
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:36 PM   #6
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The E39 is a high maintenance car!!

Every 100,000 miles you should replace the rad, water pump, thermostat & hoses.
Suspension arms (thrust arms) last 2-3 years. (depending in potholes)
Secondary air issues are common and you will fail e-test.. (the sec air fan is $400 just for the part)
The inline 6s are a little better than the v-8 (they have the same size rad!!)
Power window regulators break often
The crank case vent (like PCV) can freeze in cold weather, filling your intake & cylinder with oil -> bending/breaking the connecting rod. An updated CCV is available.
The final stage of the blower motor often shorts out, leaving you with a dead battery. Again, and updated part is available.

Overall, Don't expect Japanese reliability, BUT you can expect a fun car to drive that does EVERYTHING right!
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:37 PM   #7
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Ohhhh, BTW: The E39 is easy to work on and you can save money doing the repairs yourself.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:44 PM   #8
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You basically have everything right and the others guys advice is good. I just got my 540 a few months ago. I love the way it drives and love the torque. Sometimes I'll just go out and take it for a spin. Put's a smile on my face everytime! This is my first V8 and I dont think I am going back to a V6, well as long as I can afford the gas. I made sure my 540 had many of the cooling system issues looked after. However any E39 is at least 5 years old so you will have some maintainance to do but I believe these are a classic car. The only drawback is you are missing the newer things like BT and Ipod. These can be retrofitted. The OEM for BT is approx $700 USD..that's alot of beer!

Good Luck!
M.

PS I wouldnt for for the 528, but that's me.
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
The E39 is a high maintenance car!!

Every 100,000 miles you should replace the rad, water pump, thermostat & hoses.
Suspension arms (thrust arms) last 2-3 years. (depending in potholes)
Secondary air issues are common and you will fail e-test.. (the sec air fan is $400 just for the part)
The inline 6s are a little better than the v-8 (they have the same size rad!!)
Power window regulators break often
The crank case vent (like PCV) can freeze in cold weather, filling your intake & cylinder with oil -> bending/breaking the connecting rod. An updated CCV is available.
The final stage of the blower motor often shorts out, leaving you with a dead battery. Again, and updated part is available.

Overall, Don't expect Japanese reliability, BUT you can expect a fun car to drive that does EVERYTHING right!
What?

I agree with some of your comments. However don't expect Japanese reliability! Give me a brake. I have had over 8 BMW's in my life, all of them when sold had over 250,000Km and never had I had any problems at all. The only problems were caused by me.

The 95 M3 cylinder head blew because I made the valve seats to large, pushing 600Hp resulted in a cracked head. My M3 has over 260,000Km the last 200,000km under FI with the same engine, rear end, transmission. The only components I replaced suspension, rad, clutch and starter that's not to bad since I put well over 15,000Km on track days alone. That's an operating cost of 0.0023 cents/km

My 97 540i had over 200,000Km I replaced the rad and my rear window fell, it cost me $5 to fix. My 540i motor was damaged because I screwed up. Operating expense per kilometer for my 540i not including oil, brakes and fluid changes worked out to .00125 cents/ km


The secret of any car is preventive maintenance. This is what I do to make my cars last. Keep in mind I don't baby any of my vehicles.

1) Change all fluids every other year.

2) Rust check your vehicle every year. Make sure they get all of the metal including calipers and shocks.

3) Do not wash your engine before winter, the more dirt on the engine the better protection from salt.

4) Every spring clean your engine so that it can stay cooler in hot summer days.

5) In the winter people wash the body only of their car, wash the underneath don't forget underneath behind the muffler, get the suspension components, wash the rad from a distance.

6) If it's -10 or colder don't wash your car, -10 or warmer wash it if you have to every day.

7) Lubricate every week all of your locks and hinges.

8) Twice a year before changing your oil change add a liter of transmission fluid to your oil. This will clean your engine internally. Do not drive more then 50km with transmission fluid in your engine.

9) Ad Lucas motor oil treatment to your engine trust me it helps on those cold starts.

10) Ad Lucas fuel treatment to every tank.

11) Wax your car twice a year, once before winter and in spring.

12) If your vehicle has a problem fix it right away don't wait. Waiting could stress other components causing premature failure.

13) If you park a car in a heated garage during the winter months make sure it's washed every day. Warm garages and salt will accelerate your problems 10 times faster.

14) Wait 5 min before shutting down your car in hot weather. Give it a chance to cool down. The best way is turn your air on so that you can engage your secondary fan.

15) Most important. It's a car drive the thing. When I see a car for sale and it states "Woman Driven" I wont buy it.
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:25 PM   #10
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What?

I agree with some of your comments. However don't expect Japanese reliability! Give me a brake. I have had over 8 BMW's in my life, all of them when sold had over 250,000Km and never had I had any problems at all.
I am guessing that you are not talking about the newer (2000+) BMWs. The cooling systems on the E39s don't last. The older BMW were better built than the newer (~2000+) ones. IMO

We all have different experiences. I am sharing my experience of my 95 Maxima / 99 Altima / 91 NX-2000 to my 530. On those cars I never:

-Changed a rad / water pump / thermostat
-Changed ANY front end part

My 95 Maxima had 400,000 KM when I sold it, to a buddy in Ottawa. It now has 412,000 KM. The only parts replaced were clutch, brakes, tires, all the normal wear items. It even has the original CV joints and cats!!
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:35 AM   #11
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I am guessing that you are not talking about the newer (2000+) BMWs. The cooling systems on the E39s don't last. The older BMW were better built than the newer (~2000+) ones. IMO

We all have different experiences. I am sharing my experience of my 95 Maxima / 99 Altima / 91 NX-2000 to my 530. On those cars I never:

-Changed a rad / water pump / thermostat
-Changed ANY front end part

My 95 Maxima had 400,000 KM when I sold it, to a buddy in Ottawa. It now has 412,000 KM. The only parts replaced were clutch, brakes, tires, all the normal wear items. It even has the original CV joints and cats!!
those Maxima's are just bulletproof. Unreal cars by Nissan.
And whoever says 540i's are reliable like Japanese cars/big sedans is on drugs. They don't even come close. You pay to play.
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:22 PM   #12
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The E39s are maintenance intensive more than other used cars of the same age. As someone already said they are easy to work on, besides the price of parts I can't understand why BMW shops charge so much to work on them.
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:40 PM   #13
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12) If your vehicle has a problem fix it right away don't wait. Waiting could stress other components causing premature failure.

That shimmy can't wait until spring
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:02 PM   #14
mazdaRXwhat
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I just picked up a 2003 540i Sport 6mt about 2 weeks ago and LOVE it. This is what every car should be, and wants to be. I say go for it man!
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Old 02-05-2009, 12:24 PM   #15
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You guys mention they are easy to work on - in which way? Easy access with lots of space? Or were things designed to be taken off without pulling everything else out?

Just went to test drive one last night, and was thoroughly impressed.
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