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Old 12-09-2011, 11:18 AM   #1
jmack
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getting back in a 540 - touring this time

You might recall a couple years ago I bought a Topaz Blue Metallic 540i/6 with M package, which was nice but had it's issues. I sold it to a friend after having it for six months as my circumstances changed and I needed a 4x4, and the 540 was just sitting in a garage in TO not being used.

I learned a lot with that car, but also realized it was somewhat of an impulse buy and NOT a perfect example by any means. It had accident history and a so-so job of fixing it, engine issues which were ultimately solved by redoing most of the engine gaskets with exception of the head gasket and oil pan gaskets, and overall some minor issues that annoyed me, so I wasn't heartbroken to let it go.

Anyways, onwards and upwards. I've been driving a '98 Pathfinder 5 speed since then, and while it's great for utility stuff it sucks at driving experience and mileage, and was still dreaming of having another BMW. I've wanted to get back in a 540, but with a first child on the way it made more sense to looking at wagons. Only problem is, there aren't too many and this time I am going to be picky, and not settle for any old car with a spotty maintenance history, accidents, and a laundry list of repairs.

Enter this Touring I found for sale in Eastern Ontario. Initially the high mileage turned me off but we all know that it's not necessarily a bad thing given the proper maintenance routine and a little bit of TLC. It also seems likely it wasn't driven a couple kilometers a day, never allowing things to properly warm up and condensation to cause issues.

Given that it's been owned by the same guy for 9 years, he didn't seem like the typical owner who dumps it after warranty expires because they can't stand the thought of the bills or just want something 'new'. Most cars with 285k have gone through several owners by now if not 4-5. So, that is good. 1 owner car always a plus.

This will also be the first automatic car I will have owned if I buy it, and I'm not thrilled about that, but because it's possible to swap a 6 speed in that gives me some hope

Some details:

2002 540iT
Toledo Blue Metallic (must be a theme..)
Sport Package
Style 32's
Set of Winter Wheels with 1 winter on them
Hifi System Professional

Lots of options, only one I am missing is the rear sunshades, but it looks like the rear windows and hatch are tinted.

Basic Maintenance History - I haven't seen the file but will ask to review it during the test drive..

- oil separator replaced last spring
- valve cover gaskets replaced last spring
- cooling system pump in the last 12 months
- radiator replaced 3 years ago
- transmission fluid 24 months ago
- windshield replaced 18 months ago from a stone chip
- all 4 shocks replaced with Bilsteins last year
- front brakes replaced for safety last month
- front left control arm replaced for safety last month
- alternator replaced recently

So a lot of big items done, but a couple I would have like to see like rear subframe bushings and more front end suspension stuff replaced. Things will be coming due and I expect that some work would have to be done but I am comfortable with that, there are less unknowns when you have a solid maintenance history to start with.

The only 'issue' currently with the car is that when the alternator died it screwed up the rear SLS airbags. So he says the car is riding a little low, and his alignment shop can't do an alignment until it gets fixed, so he has to take it to BMW. He was getting it aligned due to the front control arm replacement. I'm kinda new on the SLS stuff so I am trying to get as many details from him as possible, are the bags completely deflated, is it a minor sag, etc.

I am hopefully seeing the wagon on Saturday, here are the pics. The interior is pretty mint for the mileage, the comfort seats look really good. The car isn't really that clean exterior wise so needs a better inspection to see what shape the paint is in.








Where are the dead pixels????!









Carproof checks out clean, no accidents, no stories.

VIN Decode:

Type code DR63
Type 540I (USA)
Dev. series E39 (2)
Line 5
Body type TOUR
Steering LL
Door count 5
Engine M62/TU
Cubical capacity 4.40
Power 210
Transmision HECK
Gearbox AUT
Colour TOLEDOBLAU METALLIC (482)
Upholstery STANDARDLEDER/BEIGE E36 SANDBEIGE E (N6SN)
Prod. date 2001-10-11

Order options
No. Description
204 DRIVE VERSION EXPORT
227 SP/SUSPENSION W SELF-LEVELING SUSPENSION
257 SIDE AIRBAG F RR PASSENGERS,DEACTIVATION
261 SIDE AIRBAG FOR REAR PASSENGERS
319 INTEGRATED UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROL
363 LT/ALY WHEELS/RADIAL SPOKE 32
386 ROOF RAIL
403 GLAS ROOF, ELECTRIC
456 COMFORT SEATS, ELECTRIC. ADJUSTABLE
464 SKIBAG
494 SEAT HEATING F DRIVER/FRONT PASSENGER
500 HEADLIGHT WASHER SYS/INTENSIVE CLEANING
508 PARK DISTANCE CONTROL (PDC)
521 RAIN SENSOR
522 XENON LIGHT
548 SPEEDOMETER WITH KILOMETER READING
640 CAR TELEPHONE PREPARATION
650 CD PLAYER
677 HIFI SYSTEM PROFESSIONAL
694 PREPARATION FOR CD CHANGER
710 M LEATHER STEERING WHEEL
760 INDIVIDUAL HIGH-GLOSS SATIN CHROME
785 WHITE DIRECTION INDICATOR LIGHTS
818 MAIN BATTERY SWITCH
838 CANADIAN VERSION
896 DAYTIME LIGHTS FUNCTION
925 SHIPPING PROTECTION PACKAGE

Series options
No. Description
202 STEPTRONIC
210 DYNAMIC STABILITY CONTROL (DSC)
249 MULTI-FUNCTION FOR STEERING WHEEL
302 ALARM SYSTEM
354 GREEN STRIPE WINDSCREEN
431 INTERIOR RR VW MIRROR W AUT ANTI-D
438 WOOD TRIM
441 SMOKERS PACKAGE
470 CHILD SEAT ISOFIX ATTACHMENT
473 ARMREST, FRONT
520 FOGLIGHTS
534 AUTOMATIC AIR CONDITIONING
555 ON-BOARD COMPUTER
645 RADIO CONTROL US
661 RADIO BMW BUSINESS
845 ACOUSTIC BELT WARNING
850 ADD FUEL TANK FILLING FOR EXPORT
853 LANGUAGE VERSION ENGLISH
876 RADIO FREQUENCY 315 MHZ
992 NUMBER PLATE ATTACHEMENT MANAGEMENT

Information
No. Description
220 SELF-LEVELING SUSPENSION
459 SEAT ADJUSTM., ELECTR. W. MEMORY
488 LUMBAR SUPPORT DRIVER/FRONT PASSENGER
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:39 PM   #2
MLue1
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hey jmack, I like the color! My T is a '99 and has about the same milage, it seems like things run better when you use her every day. The suspension could be sagging because the subframe bushings are gone on one side or the SLS. At that milage the chain tensioner could be due, listen at startup. Since this is your first auto you should check to see how long it takes to shift into reverse, even with tranny fluid change the valve body could be clogged.

If you buy the car we could do a Touring Subframe Bushing R&R party.

Good Luck!

EDIT: The pixels on the MID are all working so the car must be reliable, sorry inside joke I couldn't resist.
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Last edited by MLue1; 12-09-2011 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:29 PM   #3
jmack
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LOL, yeah I found it bizarre that there were no dead pixels in the photo. Maybe my lucky day.

I read up a bit on the subframe bushing service and it looks like it would definitely go quicker with two people. I recall in another thread the lack of tool available for rent, did you see the BF.c threads on how to make a DIY one? I might go that route if nothing else pans out. I haven't researched enough to know where one might acquire the tool for rental locally or nationally...
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:48 PM   #4
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No Touring bushing tool in Canada, EAC has the best prices for the bushings, they have two different manufacturers.
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Old 12-10-2011, 03:53 PM   #5
radi0activem
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Cool car. I posted that in the Ottawa section, I saw it on Kijiji. I've always liked the E39 touring.

How much did you ending up getting it for?
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:45 AM   #6
jmack
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I paid the asking price which after considering the service history, test drive and physical inspection I thought was fair. After seeing the amount of work done and the bills I thought it would be somewhat insulting to haggle when there was really nothing to haggle over. The owner has put $10k into maintenance (labour included though) in the last two years alone. He is not a DIY'er so obviously that number isn't the greatest due to half or more being labour, the labor charges (particular diagnostic time on BMW dealer's part) make me cringe, as do all the parts charges from both the indy and dealer.

In short, the car is very well maintained, and no work was ever deferred. The owner wasn't afraid to open his wallet to keep things in top condition. A very large sum of money (more than I would pay but everyone's car ownership ideals are different) was put into the car in just the last two years. A long and extensive list of parts were replaced. There is a difference between a bad-luck car that has things constantly breaking down and one that is kept up assuming things will fail at some point, or the classic 'if you are in there might as well do x,y,z'. A lot of big ticket items are up to spec, including cooling system, subframe bushings, engine gaskets and suspension components. From what I know, the only actual break down he had was when the alternator died, and drained the battery, at which the car went into failsafe mode. A new alternator was installed in June of this year.

Test Drive. Everything worked as it should. No strange noises, no issues. No clattering noises on startup. Suspension was very tight and we were on the back roads for about 45 minutes which did include some rough pavement. Acceleration was smooth, powerful, no bogging or weird idle issues. Always came back down to 500. I kind of enjoyed driving the auto, at least with the V8 grunt it's a lot more fun than an underpowered engine. Shifted into reverse without issue. Braking was as expected, however after doing some hard braking from 140-80 there was a 'burnt' brake type of smell in the car. After worrying for a couple minutes we realized it was likely due to the new front rotors which were not completely bedded in. But all in all very good test drive. All electronic switches, motors, relays, etc seemed to be working. Sunroof/windows are working. No CEL present during the time I was in the car.

Exterior. Paint was in excellent shape as from what I could see. Unbelievable shape actually considering the cars age and mileage. The owner had a 7 year rust protection warranty that covered some work on the rear hatch and paid for a new hood a couple years ago. There is a small spot of rust below the RR taillight towards the hatch which is only visible when the hatch is open. The hatch glass frame is rusting at the bottom. The underside of the car was very clean, and everything looked to be in place including the jack pads which are sometimes missing (my last 540 had none in place) The car has new headlights as well so things are very clean up front. It probably needs a good wax/detail on the outside to really make it shine. No rust on any door seams that I could see. Couldn't see any liquid with my flashlight on the bottom pan, or any oil leaking on the engine.

Interior. Same as the rest of the car, some dust/dirt here and there but should clean up nicely. Steering wheel in really good shape, no fading or cracking of the leather. There is minor wear on the drivers seat but nothing I would consider bad considering age/mileage once again. The comfort seats seem to age better than the sport seats, perhaps because the side bolster isn't as prominent. Some scuff marks on the headliner. Can't wait to get in there and clean up. Needs a black headliner :-)

Issues. PDC sensor is faulty, not a big deal for me. There are 2 side LEDs on the rear lights that are burnt out/dead on the RR side. Throws a warning when you turn the car off. 2 LEDS... I can live with that. Um... He ripped out the BMW phone so the wire is sort of hanging there. There might be a burnt pixel on the OBC part of the display but I didn't see it. The MID is perfect. There wasn't really anything else to note. Tool kit/full size spare was in place and complete.

So I am not doing a PPI either... Bad move? Possibly, but I don't see what the PPI could show given the history of the car. I'm probably a bit blinded here, but this experience is completely different from the last 540 I bought - spotty history, issues, lots of questions and uncertainty once I started driving it. Which a PPI only uncovered a lot of cosmetic stuff anyways.

All things considered I think I got a really good car here, I can't believe the shape it's in. Now the hard part is waiting until Friday when I drive it home, which will be a good run at 250km from Ottawa to my place.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:04 AM   #7
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Congrats on the purchase.
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:02 PM   #8
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How do you go about finding the purchase/sale options that came on the car?

Congrats, that's a monster of a car! 6-speed swap.
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just letting this furom [*forum] know
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:30 PM   #9
jmack
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Provided you have the VIN, or last 7 digits of it, pony up $10 to these guys:

http://www.bmw-vin.com/
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:30 PM   #10
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Congrats, Sound like you got a good one.

Subframes bushings done eh, I guess no bushing party, I'll have to look for someone else.
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:20 PM   #11
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6spd conversion!
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:24 PM   #12
jmack
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6spd conversion!
Yup, the thought has crossed my mind... won't happen immediately though. I've read a couple threads on BF.c about it overall seems completely doable, just need the goods on the computer related stuff. It's great being close to the GTA though for parts... seems like it's not difficult to locate the trans and whatever else is needed.

This is also my first automatic car, dammit.. Had a Miata, Pathfinder 5 speed, and then the 540i/6. Ah well, time to join the rest of the world - for now.
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Old 12-13-2011, 03:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmack View Post
Yup, the thought has crossed my mind... won't happen immediately though. I've read a couple threads on BF.c about it overall seems completely doable, just need the goods on the computer related stuff. It's great being close to the GTA though for parts... seems like it's not difficult to locate the trans and whatever else is needed.

This is also my first automatic car, dammit.. Had a Miata, Pathfinder 5 speed, and then the 540i/6. Ah well, time to join the rest of the world - for now.
PM stancefactory, Mike did my 6spd swap, mine started out as an auto and the torque converter needed a rebuilt since it began to slip, now it drives as if it was a factory 6spd.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:35 PM   #14
jmack
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Picked up the car today, been a long day since we had to drive to Ottawa to get it, been up since 6AM and didn't sleep well night before

Had a nice ride home, around 300km, car is great! Pulls like a train, stops on a dime and is QUIET. It's just filthy on the inside though, the seller didn't make an effort to clean, so it needs to be completely gone over. Engine bay is filthy too but dry, not full of oil or major dirt, just dusty.

Found a couple more small rust spots which need to take care of, very minor drivers seam side, and underneath the hatch hinges at the roof. As mentioned before the hatch glass is kinda rusty, not sure if it can be totally saved/restored. Excited to do a proper wash and wax and THEN I can post some more detailed pictures, the color is pretty nice, with all windows tinted.

What else, flashlight is missing, couple tools missing, blah blah. The winter wheels are mismatched, 2 types of classic OEM BMW 16" rims, fronts missing covers. I don't have anything to complain about really. The Style 32's look to be in pretty good shape. I am thinking about putting on Style 66 staggered, I had this on my last 540i and I really like them. The natural choice would be M-Pars but I would be more than happy rocking the Style 66s.

It has a K&N reusable air filter, should I just throw this in the garbage? I'm not big on the cleanable ones, although I will admit I have never used one.
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:39 PM   #15
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if you are going to throw you kn filter out, I will gladly take it off your hands.
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