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Thread: All I need to know/help buying 5 series

  1. #1

    Default All I need to know/help buying 5 series

    Hello,

    I am new to the forum. I am in the market for a mint (properly maintained with service records) 5 series. I have between $6K - $8K to spend and I need help with deciding on the best deal for my money.

    I have been reading some old posts and I thought I saw a parked post on "All you need to know before buying a 5 series" but I can't find it anymore.

    My mechanic mentioned that BMW's are known for putting a hole in your pocket. Is this true? I do not have a lot of disposable income to sink into repairs after buying the car.

    What kind of maintenance am I looking at on a 8-10 year old bmw?

    Which model years are less problematic within my price range? I am open to either the E34 or E39. I've read a bit on the different type engines and issues. Now I'm even more confused due to differing opinions. Which engines/year models are the ones to avoid? How will I know if a car has the engine to avoid?

    Apart from the radiator and water pump replacement, what else should I be looking for in previous service records?

    If there is already a post that has answered all my questions, please point me to it, and I apologise for the re-post.

    Thank you for all your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    NW GA
    Posts
    261

    Default

    Study everything at this site, especially the "What Will Break" in the "Troubleshooting" section:

    http://www.bmwe34.net/

    My buying tips:

    1) If you're into driving, hold out for a 5 speed.
    2) The m30 3.5 "big six" is bullet-proof with the exception of head gasket problems when allowed to overheat.
    3) Try to buy from an enthusist who has personally taken care of the car, rather than from a dealer.
    4) Neglect will kill these cars faster than anything. I've had mine for almost 5 years, and other than normal maintenance I've spent only about $200 to replace a leaking radiator, but I know others on this board have spent more on repairs than they did initially for the car.
    5) Shop (especially dealer) repair rates are high. I don't know how many times when I owned my 325i Cabrio, back when I didn't have time for DIY I heard a shop guy say, "Well it's a BMW, you can afford to pay that rate.". If you're not a DIY person, I'd stay clear of e34's.
    6) Don't make an emotionally driven purchase. There's plenty of e34's available in the price range you have in mind, wait for the right car.

    Where are you located?
    Last edited by Mitch90535im; 02-25-2006 at 10:52 AM.
    1990 535i 5-sp., except for 16" M-Contours, cd deck, and clear corners, completely stock. 226k and running strong

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Austin
    Posts
    1,087

    Default

    yes there are two paths you can go by but in the long run....

    buy one with all maintenance issues taken care of for more $$$

    or one with unknowns for cheap and go thru the what will go wrong list and make your repairs.

    For $6k you should be able to find a pretty trouble free e34.

    models I like:

    95 525
    all the 535's in e34
    530iTourings.

    shift or not to shift makes no difference in my choices.

    FWIW, I will have an excellent cond 535ia 1992 for sale in a couple months, 2nd owner, every single maintenance record from new.....but it is the wife's car (and was a wife's car before that) and there are dime sized dings all over it. Swirled trunk paint from paper grocery sacks, swirled paint from crappy drive thru car washes...that kind of stupidity. Black with grey int.

    So if you are ready to repaint the whole car and re-dye the driver's seat, it's a great deal. 118k miles on the best motor ever made. The car has never left Houston or Austin, definetely not Texas, and never seen the coast. Or dont' paint it and have a fun to drive daily driver that you are not going to lose sleep over where you park it.

    ~6 speed~ Rear Fogs ~ Shadowline ~ Tow Package ~ OEMMM///S38B38

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    648

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 530iTouring
    yes there are two paths you can go by but in the long run....

    buy one with all maintenance issues taken care of for more $$$

    or one with unknowns for cheap and go thru the what will go wrong list and make your repairs.

    For $6k you should be able to find a pretty trouble free e34.

    models I like:

    95 525
    all the 535's in e34
    530iTourings.

    shift or not to shift makes no difference in my choices.

    FWIW, I will have an excellent cond 535ia 1992 for sale in a couple months, 2nd owner, every single maintenance record from new.....but it is the wife's car (and was a wife's car before that) and there are dime sized dings all over it. Swirled trunk paint from paper grocery sacks, swirled paint from crappy drive thru car washes...that kind of stupidity. Black with grey int.

    So if you are ready to repaint the whole car and re-dye the driver's seat, it's a great deal. 118k miles on the best motor ever made. The car has never left Houston or Austin, definetely not Texas, and never seen the coast. Or dont' paint it and have a fun to drive daily driver that you are not going to lose sleep over where you park it.
    hell, you got me interested as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    3,395

    Default

    As evidenced in some of the recent new owner threads on the forum, it's important that any candidate be put through a prepurchase inspection by a competent mechanic. Most who claim to specialize in european cars really don't know what they're talking about, so do careful research.

    I would own an E34 over an E39. That opinion is based on the quantity and scope of work that I do on the former versus the latter. Although both are electronically sophisticated, the E39 adds numerous body modules that seem to die over time. Diagnosis and replacement of those modules generally requires specific equipment that non-BMW specifc garages aren't apt to have. The M52/M54 cars, as with most E36/E46s with the motors, are intolerant of radiator and water pump failure, which can lead to head/complete engine failure in little time. This leads (smart) owners to do preventative ~60k replacements of the entire cooling system. The E39's rear Z axle also adds complexity and cost. Finally, and this is a matter of personal opinion, the E39 is much more of a boat than an E34 in stock form. Drive an E34 M5 and an E39 M5, stock from the factory. Sure, the E39 has more go-fast, but the E34 still goes through the turns better.

    www.bmw4life.com has a nice buyer's guide.

    best, whit

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Wellington,New Zealand
    Posts
    3,868

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    many will say the 535 is the best value as the engine is bulletproof.....the other side of the coin is any 535 is likely to be a 14 yr old car....BMW's can last forever but they probably require more input than other makes either time or money.However there a a few cars on this forum that are about 300,000 miles.The body and interior can look almost as good as new,which is often not the case with others.Part of the reason for this is the original two owners would have treated the cars extremely well and the materials are good quality
    Gone but not forgotten

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Eastern Tennessee USi
    Posts
    14,706

    Default

    if you dont do your own work buy something else. read the links posted and definetly have the car inspected. You dont need to buy a problematic car.
    95 E34 530I V2.34
    ===========
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

    John F. Kennedy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,027

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    your budget is good for a nice E34... an E39 is newer and more expensive.

    As you can see from all of us who own E34 models, there is a ton of info available here to ease your repair/maintenance worries.
    1994 540ia|Oxford Green Metallic|Lemforder|KYB in H&R|18" OE Staggered M-Parallel with Pirelli P-Zero

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