Buying Advice BMW 5 Series (E39) 1995 – 2003 Common Issues Engines Inspection

Categories :

Hi everyone,

You are looking at another classic car review, this time we take a look at probably one of the best cars of the 90’s. The BMW 5-series E39. Another modern classic  that was ahead of its time.

In this video we will take a look at its strong points and its weaker points. I will try to answer the question that most of you out there probably have: is this a good car to buy 15 years after the last E39 rolled off the production line ?

This generation went in production in 1995 and underwent its first facelift in September 2000.

This model was built until 2003. The face lifted models are easy to recognize by the new light units on the front and back of the car. Also the bumpers are in the same colour as the colour of the body. The car come to the market in two variants, the sedan and the touring.

Also all of these 5-series had rear-wheel drive. The car was famous for its sportive driving experience.

Its one of the last classic BMW’s, after the E39 BMW changed the overall design of the car. With the introduction of the E60, BMW also introduced iDrive as a vehicle control system. Basically this was the beginning of the end for cars with few electronic gadgets, iDrive marked the beginning of the trend of cars that had many electronical gadgets.

Another reason why this E39 is considered a pure BMW and why it is so popular.

These cars can be bought cheap for around a 1000 euros, but do not expect the cream of the crop. You will get a headache with a BMW badge on it instead.

Prices in Europe start around 8000 euro until 18000 euros for very nice examples with low milage. That is quite some money for these classics, but understand that these cars are still quite popular nowadays. And there is a reason for that.

Are these cars reliable ?

Well the engine seems to be very reliable especially the inline 6 engines produced by BMW themselves. This car is very popular with people that like classic BMW’s and offcource young timer enthusiasts, in my own opinion probably the most beautiful 5-series build so far. The stiffness of the suspension was a characteristic that created a hype around this car, and it made people BMW fans instantly.

If you like a sportive sedan look no further, if you want more comfort go to a Mercedes E-class or French alternative instead. Most of the engines available where six cylinder inline units and even a few v8 engines where available. There was also a four cylinder diesel, the 520D. Performance ranged from 150 until 286 horsepower for the petrol units, the diesels where available from 115 until 184 horsepower.

The BMW M5 has a performance of 400 horsepower, which for its time was huge.

Reasons to buy a 5-series:

Timeless design

Refined engines

Very good handling

It was rated high by motor journalists all over the world

It was reliable

Unfortunately there are always things you should look out for.

Apart for the logical parts that need replacement due to time and usage, like door rubbers, occasional rust, brake discs, shock absorbers the list of issues is not that big. Its temptive to go for the eight cylinder engines, but the six cylinder engines are actually more reliable. the inline 6 engines are among the best German engines, good performance, nice sound and quite reliable. Of Course you need to check oil levels regularly and always give to engine time to warm up before blasting down the highway.

Check the rear tires, and see how they are worn out. If they are not worn out equally, this could be an issue with the suspension rubbers. Sometimes the air mass sensor fails, new sensors have to be programmed again with the ECU. Diesels can have problems with the injectors, this can cause misfires.

Swirl Flaps that break off and are sucked into the engine, just make sure you remove these flaps as a precaution. Early 530’s had problems with the turbos, the ECU allowed for too much boost, causing the turbo to break. Sometimes owners needed a new turbo and they had to have the ECU reprogrammed, this was expensive. Also it seems the 528i seems to have more problems related to the ECU.

There are reports of the water pump not being very reliable inside the v8 engine, same thing goes for the in lead manifold, these parts can break causing the level of coolant to drop and this will cause serious engine damage, overheating of the engine is never a good idea. The brake line are rust sensitive, especially around the fuel tank. Check these every year, especially during winter.

LCD screens in the car can break, especially in cars that are now 20 years or older. These screens are expensive to repair. Automatic gearboxes are sealed for life, but it doesn’t hurt to flush them every 100.000 KM. And last but not least, it seems to be quite easy to reset the service light off the 5-series, this requires you to always ask for a service history.

So ask for recent bills of maintenance since this is the only proof that maintenance has actually been done to the car. That all for today folks, if you find these videos useful subscribe to my channel. See all of you in the next video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *