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Old 02-03-2015, 12:13 AM   #1
wc123wc
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E60 vs E39



I am looking to buy a used BMW. My budget is $15,000. I've owned E39 525i and 530i in the past. I am wondering if I should stick with the E39 or make the jump to the E60!

Here is what I am thinking.

E39:
-Handles amazing.
-Most engines burn oil.
-Come with good options.
-Finding a car without rust is tough!

E60:
-Not a fan of its handling (everything is too soft in comparison to the E39).
-Modern look.
-I can easily find one with no dents or rust.
-For some reason most of them don't even have the PDC option!

I am torn between two cars:

2002 E39 540i sedan with 140k, M-trim ($9,000). No rust, no scratches, (one little dent that's barely visible, I can live with that). AMAZING steering feel! Not as communicative as the 525i & 530i I've owned but very direct and tight (not heavy, just beautifully weighed)! And I want the V8 engine! But I've heard bad reports about the V8 engine having many problems. Of course, I will take it for inspection before I buy it.

2006 E60 530xi wagon with 175k, FULLY loaded ($11,000). Body in perfect condition. And it has all the options you can get in a 5-Series, and I like the wagon (don't judge me! haha! But it will be the only family car so a wagon will be very useful.) The X-drive will make it safer; I love the E39 but I had a couple of close calls with mine. (Slightly cheaper insurance than the 540i above). The problem: 175k and the place is in Hamilton so if I buy it I probably won't bother bring it to my mechanic for inspection. So it's kind of risky.

What are your thoughts? Cons vs pros of the E39 and E60 from especially E60 owners is much appreciated!
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:14 AM   #2
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Oh, if you are asking what my heart wants then I want the E39 540i! But only if I know the V8 engine won't kill me with repair costs! I am willing to spend money but I don't want a lemon!
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:31 AM   #3
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Both cars have problems, the E60 is just more expensive to fix....
Yes, the E39 V8 needs attention, but when you put in comparison to the N52, AND AWD, not sure i'd go that way! Lots of transfer case problems, CV axles (common on all AWD cars, but still $1100 each at BMW) expensive cooling system that NEEDS to be done, almost certain audio system problems (amps or radio) and so on....
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:28 AM   #4
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Thank you Bimmer Heaven! You always take the time to reply and you always have informative feedback!

What kind of attention does the V8 engine need? How much in costs are we talking about (an estimate is good enough). Do you know at what mileage do the engine problems appear? The car I am looking at has 140k on it.

Thanks.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:50 AM   #5
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The m62 will eventually need timing chain guides, cooling overhaul and gasket replacement (vc, valley pan, oil pan). Aside from that, they are pretty reliable. Cost for those three jobs is around $2500, $600 and $900 respectively including parts and labour. Even if you did those three jobs right away, you're still under budget if you buy the e39. Seems like a no-brainer to me! the window regulators and headlight adjusters will eventually break too, but that is no major headache.
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:36 AM   #6
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Thank you! The one thing I can't get over is how GOOD that steering feels! Why does it feel so different than the 525i/530i? Did they use a different steering mechanism?
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by wc123wc View Post
Thank you! The one thing I can't get over is how GOOD that steering feels! Why does it feel so different than the 525i/530i? Did they use a different steering mechanism?
the 540i is a steering box like the M5(just different ratio and no ability to stiffen it), not a rack like the i6's.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:08 PM   #8
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I miss the rack and pinion feel from my 530.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:23 PM   #9
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You lost me at handles amazing....lol while decent, they are still big and heavy, no 3-series.

Personally I'd choose a low mileage M-tech 530i with a 6 speed if I had to choose between a non-m e39 or e60.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:27 PM   #10
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So is it a rule of thumb that all E39 with V8 will need engine repair? I read the early V8's had issues. Is 2002 considered an "early" year for the V8's? At what mileage are we talking about in regard to these engine issues appearing?
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:32 PM   #11
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So is it a rule of thumb that all E39 with V8 will need engine repair? I read the early V8's had issues. Is 2002 considered an "early" year for the V8's? At what mileage are we talking about in regard to these engine issues appearing?
It all depends on the maintenance done for you. I on my X5 (same V8) i had to do the cooling system, valley pan gasket, and valve cover gaskets all between 118K and 125K. For the timing chain/guides, it all depends on oil changes, and tensioner replacement. If those two have not been changed frequently, i would say anything over 170K. The good thing is that it gives you a lot of warning (noise at cold start).
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Old 02-03-2015, 03:15 PM   #12
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I just got a call from my insurance and my car is totaled.

I don't know what to do. I wasn't prepared to buy another car any time soon.

I think I will go with a 2008 528i that has 110k on it, even though I really want the 540i.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by wc123wc View Post
I just got a call from my insurance and my car is totaled.

I don't know what to do. I wasn't prepared to buy another car any time soon.

I think I will go with a 2008 528i that has 110k on it, even though I really want the 540i.
If you want the 540, buy the 540! the enthusiast community and DIY knowledge base is much bigger, and it's a better car.

You'll thank me in the long run.
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:08 PM   #14
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I found a black 2003 530i sport trim that I just fell in love with right away! I won't give you more information now because I want to make sure I am buying it before I get every one excited! Haha!

I am calling my mechanic tomorrow to book an pre-purchase inspection appointment. I can only hope he can give me a quick appointment because his shop is always busy. But I know I can always count on his knowledge.
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Old 02-04-2015, 09:14 PM   #15
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We did not come to an agreement. He said he is asking $7k because even though he knows the market value is $5k he is sure his car is spotless.

Thank God my mechanic gave me an appointment today and even though the car is in a an amazing shape (outside and inside), it needs about $1,500 in mechanical repairs (sway bar, tie rod, control arm, radiator), but the seller insisted on a high price so we did not agree.
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