Buying Advice BMW 5-series (E34) 1988–1996 Common Issues Engines Inspection

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Hi all, welcome to the new year, this is one of my last BMW reviews, after this one I will take requests from you from specific models that I did not cover yet. In my opinion I have covered all desirable models of BMW, this being an iconic 5 series that was launched in the late 80’s and which was a great leap forward for the brand. Compared to Mercedes, BMW’s best selling car is the 3-series and for Mercedes the E-Class. The 5 series is the car for people that drive quite a lot but still want some driving fun and not comfort all the way. The E34 is by modern standards a very old fashioned car. It has built up quite a cult following, the M5 is almost impossible to find and afford, there are however a few engines that are quite desirable like the classic inline 6 engines, in today’s video we will check the most disirable engines and some of their weaknesses, this car is very well documented, it being a classic. Ready? Lets go.

The Achilles heel of the E34 is its cooling system, this could have quite an impact on repair costs. First of all, some people replace the cooling system every 100.000 KM. In the meantime it is vital to keep inspecting coolant levels, parts that need regular replacement are the radiator, belts, hoses, pulleys, water pump, thermostat, thermostat housing, fan clutch, fan, radiator cap and bleed screw.

Small detail but huge impact, make sure the temperature sensor is working correctly.

I cannot stress enough how important this is, an overheated engine will lead to a potential write off of the whole car. Some parts of the cooling system are made of plastic, so over time and the car is quite old by now, these parts will fail on you. Luckily there are very good DIY video’s and tutorials online that are not that difficult even for people without much mechanical experience.

Timing belts seem to be another part that needs regular attention, sometimes it is even best to replace them every 60.000 miles or about 96000 km.

Than some advice I give to almost everyone that is working on cars or has a project car, buy yourself an OBD reader to read all error codes from the ECU of the car, this gives you great insight into the health of the engine and the electrical system.

Another point to look out for is the fuel system, this is also a weaker part of the E34. If the fuel filter has not been replaced in a long while, then you should replace it. BMW recommends that it be replaced every 30K miles.

Now some general advice, the paint is on a water basis from 1993 until the end of production, so if you go for and early to mid nineties model, check for rust. BMW did this to cut some costs, the same as Mercedes around that time. Also suspension parts need attention, for a number of reasons, they are a bit on the weak side, the are potentially old and especially the 6 inline and v8 engines are heavy in the nose of the car, this wears suspension out faster, even more so with a sportive driving style.

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