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cib24

Hi! New 2003 BMW 530i SE Auto owner

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Hello everyone,

Yesterday I just purchased my first ever BMW and after doing a lot of research I thought it made sense to try out the infamous E39 530i. The reason for the purchase was to have a second car that my wife and I could collectively use to get around locally but more importantly use for longer journeys and trips around the UK and into continental Europe. Historically, I am a Japanese car guy but since I don't need this second car as a daily I wanted something interesting and a Honda Accord or Subaru Legacy just weren't cutting it for me after the test drives.

 

Now, we both don't need a daily driver since we commute via train to London for work Monday-Friday but the only car we have is my 1999 Mazda RX-7 Type RS which is awesome and has been extremely reliable as I have been very meticulous with my mods and maintenance. I use that car for car shows, Santa Pod, track days and car club events and we have tried to use it on trips to Snowdonia and Cornwall for hiking, and while it kind of works you can't put a suitcase in it as there is no room, it's cramped inside, rides hard and has pretty loud wind noise and road noise given the lack of sound deadening they put into the RS models.

 

I searched quite a bit for the right BMW E39 or E38 to buy and this 530i seemed like the right one for the money. It's not perfect but it is basically a one owner car where the original owner in his 70s purchased it in April 2003 and owned it until January 2017. It has a full service history and overall it's running well and all of the electrics work perfectly. Paint is pretty good with some scuffs and stone chips and a bit of surface rust starting in a couple places that I need to tackle this winter before they get worse.

 

The issues or potential issues I have identified on this 124,000 mile example include:

 

  1. Original cooling system (hoses have 2002 and 2003 stamps on them).
  2. Original automatic gearbox and differential fluid.
  3. Brake shimmy when braking from 50-70mph.
  4. Wetness near the oil filter housing gasket but no drips onto the floor.
  5. Brake fluid is about 7,000 miles overdue.
  6. Rust on the bootlid.
  7. A little rust bubble on the passenger side rear sill just in front of the rear tyre.

 

Otherwise, it seems good to go and I spent nearly two hours looking the car over but will have to get it up on jack stands and get under there for a good look and to check the front bushings. The car idles very smooth, transmission seems to shift fine, no ticking on idle and pulls hard to redline, drives straight, no knocking or weird noises (no rattles inside), and on my 5 hour drive home I got an indicated 32.7 mpg (not sure how optimistic the trip computer is?) so it seems to be running right.

 

Any tips or advice for replacement parts and what else I need to look out for and consider replacing over Christmas?

 

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Welcome to the forum,looks a nice tidy example you,ve got yourself,your to do list seems spot on,we,ve had our 530i sport tourer for around 4yrs now and its been brilliant,

There are plenty of folks on here that will be able to guide you in the right direction regards maintenance.

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Welcome, nice looking SE ;) 

 

Plenty of info and help available on the E39 tech section further down the home page too :)

 

My tuppenceworth on your aforementioned issues:

 

  1. Original cooling system (hoses have 2002 and 2003 stamps on them). - Change the rad, water pump, stat, top & bottom hoses as soon as you're able too - All can be sourced via C3BMW or bmwmotormec via eBay; use www.realoem.com for the correct part numbers by using the drop-down boxes to identify your car :)
  2. Original automatic gearbox and differential fluid - should be fine, if there are no issues now then it's probably doing ok. Some people do get the fluid and filter changed, some don't. Some have gearboxes running into 200k plus mileages, others haven't been so lucky. Budget around £200 + for a specialist to do the job
  3. Brake shimmy when braking from 50-70mph - rear upper arm bushes are failing, may as well get the arms changed for new Meyle/Lemforder ones ASAP (again, bmwmotormec via eBay offer the best prices IMO, Meyle ones are more than sufficient)
  4. Wetness near the oil filter housing gasket but no drips onto the floor - oil filter housing gasket and probably power steering bottle/pipes need changing, look them all over after you've given the area a good, deep clean and see if one/both are leaking. Inexpensive, but a bit fiddly and definitely a DIY job with some simple tools, time/patience and a few brews ;) 
  5. Brake fluid is about 7,000 miles overdue - get it done, but have brakes checked over first as if pads/discs/rear brake shoes and/or calipers need a refresh, may as well get them all done at same time
  6. Rust on the bootlid - very common. Up to you whether you get it sorted or leave it...
  7. A little rust bubble on the passenger side rear sill just in front of the rear tyre - as above

 

 

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Thank you very much!

 

So, with the radiator, water pump, etc. What should I be replacing it all with? Hella brand from Euro Car Parts? EIS? Some other brand?

 

How can people claim that any fluid or oil can withstand even 60,000 miles? I can't believe whatever is in my car is still doing anything useful but wearing out the gears inside. My plan is to drain and fill. Not take off the pan and change the filter or anything like that. A drain and fill and do that maybe twice in a year and see how that goes.

 

For the bushings you say it is the rear bushings? I thought it might be the front arms or thrust arm bushings on the front suspension...There is a £2000 invoice for rear suspension work but I don't know what was carried out.

 

Brake discs in the front and rear are relatively fresh. Pads are new on the rear. The previous owner told me doing the brake fluid was not so straight forward as you needed to reset something in the ECU? Surely that's not correct?

 

I can't just leave the rust. I can take care of it on my own and seal it off.

 

I plan on tackling the cooling system, transmission fluid and brake fluid on my own. I'm used to doing work on my car's and all of this stuff is pretty straight forward. I will be sure to keep receipts and even take photos as part of the service history docs.

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9 hours ago, cib24 said:

Thank you very much!

 

So, with the radiator, water pump, etc. What should I be replacing it all with? Hella brand from Euro Car Parts? EIS? Some other brand? - Stick with Meyle, Lemforder, Behr etc... There are quite a few recent related threads to this in the E39 tech section further down the home page, have a look in there as all the links are there also

 

How can people claim that any fluid or oil can withstand even 60,000 miles? I can't believe whatever is in my car is still doing anything useful but wearing out the gears inside. My plan is to drain and fill. Not take off the pan and change the filter or anything like that. A drain and fill and do that maybe twice in a year and see how that goes. - BMW states sealed for life, c80-100k miles etc... The fluid has to be done by a specific procedure and at temperature IIRC, so you're best doing the research before looking to do this job yourself. IMO, why put new fluid in but not a filter, all you're going to do its circulate dirty oil again

 

For the bushings you say it is the rear bushings? I thought it might be the front arms or thrust arm bushings on the front suspension...There is a £2000 invoice for rear suspension work but I don't know what was carried out - rear arms, see RealOEM for the part numbers. Replace the whole arms that have the bushes in already, too much faff to just try and do the bushes. They need to be torqued down when under load as well; if this isn't done, they'll fail prematurely! 

 

Brake discs in the front and rear are relatively fresh. Pads are new on the rear. The previous owner told me doing the brake fluid was not so straight forward as you needed to reset something in the ECU? Surely that's not correct? - Nah, just flush as you would do normally! Some people fear the ABS system having a fit, never had any issues on any of the bMWs I've owned going back over the last 7 years!

 

I can't just leave the rust. I can take care of it on my own and seal it off.

 

I plan on tackling the cooling system, transmission fluid and brake fluid on my own. I'm used to doing work on my car's and all of this stuff is pretty straight forward. I will be sure to keep receipts and even take photos as part of the service history docs.

 

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Dropping the gearbox pan is not difficult.  A good clean of the magnetic pad and a new filter would be well worth doing. New gasket and bolts. Refill, run it through the gears while on stands for a couple of minutes, drain and refill again. Job done.

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Thanks for the tips about the radiator, etc. I'm surprised there isn't a recommended aftermarket alternative with aluminium or steel end tanks?

 

Is there a clear expansion tank alternative so you can see the fluid level?

 

How linear is the factory water temp gauge? I see it rise to the middle and it never leaves the middle, but how hot do things need to get before the temp gauge starts to move to the right?

 

When I looked over the radiator and cooling pipes it all looks good to go. No leaks or anything and honestly the pipes look pretty fresh despite 2002-2003 stamps on them. I know it is original but is it more the case of it it isn't broke, don't fix it? When the cooling system fails somewhere how do these things usually go? Dramatically whereby you blow the engine or a leak starts somewhere and you can pull over and manage it until you make it home and fix it over a weekend?

 


As for the transmission, as long as dropping the pan and removing the filter and o rings aren't going to cause me issues with sealing or whatever else then I'm happy to do it. I just read a few threads and it seems like dropping the pan can make it more trouble than it's worth and lead to issues for some reason.

 

 

Glad to hear the brake fluid change isn't going to cause some type of retarded problem with the ABS. I couldn't figure out why it would do that but a few threads mentioned it.

 

Sounds like the suspension bushings could be fun in terms of trying to find out which bushings are the issue both front and rear.

 

How about running high mileage oil? Right now there is 0w-30 Castrol Edge synthetic in there but that seems like pretty thin stuff. Perhaps a Valvoline High Mileage 5w-30 or 10w-40 blend is a nice transition at the next oil change?

Edited by cib24

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@cib24

 

You need to ask all this in the relevant E39 tech section pal; it'll get much better coverage in there

 

Feel free to start a thread :mrgreen:

 

Re the rads; no, stick with Behr or Nissens. No one does an alternative. No to the header tank either, it's not hard to check though (top of straw level needs to be level with the open neck of the bottle when its cold). The E39 cooling systems are renowned for being made of chocolate, it's a preemptive strike to repair/replace first really.

 

Re rear bushes, just replace the arms as a whole, they'll have the bushes in and it's much easier/straight forward. Meyle arms via bmwmotormec on eBay is your best bet ;) 

 

Ad for oil, mines done 110k and I use 5w40 TripleQX oil from ECP and use a Mann filter too

 

All your other questions can be answered by using the search facility, or ask in the E39 section :) 

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14 hours ago, cib24 said:

 

 

How linear is the factory water temp gauge? I see it rise to the middle and it never leaves the middle, but how hot do things need to get before the temp gauge starts to move to the right?

 

Firstly, welcome to the forum and the world of 5 Series ownership!

 

I've owned my E39 for nearly nine years and in all that time the temp needle has never strayed from dead centre  - even when sat in prolonged stationary or slow moving traffic on a hot day.  

 

 

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23 hours ago, cib24 said:

How linear is the factory water temp gauge? I see it rise to the middle and it never leaves the middle, but how hot do things need to get before the temp gauge starts to move to the right?

 

It's heavily damped. Not certain of the low range but I'm thinking it's about 75-80c when it gets to the middle and it doesn't leave the middle till over 105c. But, it should never get that far, no more than 100 or so before the viscous kicks in. BMWs usually need a viscous coupling changing in their lives.

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Thanks everyone. I am pretty excited about the car and looking forward to using it quite a bit in the next year. I will start a new thread in the tech section to seek out a bit more advice on top of what you have helped me with so far. 

 

Regards.

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Well, so far no issues with the car other than the brake shimmy is annoying and I sometimes wonder if a wheel is a little out of balance due to a little shaking at random times when driving. The good thing is that hopefully most of this can be looked into and sorted out soon as I have my MOT coming up. Not expecting any advisories but the shop is also a trusted mechanic of mine that I have been using for a while and we are going to get the car up on the lift and have my first look at the underbody condition and all of the bushings. Hopefully with a close inspection we can identify things that are tired. 

 

In the meantime I am having a single stage paint enhancement detail done on the car to being the paint back to life, touch in the stone chips, and give it some protection. 

 

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In the meantime, I am planning to use this car for a trip to the Scottish Highlands at the end of March and we will end up covering about 2,000 miles over 10 days. 

 

I need some tunes and this car came with a 6 disc CD player in the boot which is no longer there, and in the centre dash is a cassette player. I have seen online how to add a aux cable if you have a single CD player in the centre dash but is the process the same for one with a cassette player? Using the same kind of cable and modification to the pins?

 

I know you can get cheaper versions of this:

 

https://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/GENUINE-BMW-E39-E53-Auxiliary-Audio-Connection-Retrofit-Kit-Cable-65120153502/252844266504?hash=item3adeb15408:g:My8AAOSwhQhY46~-

 

 

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The car passed it's MOT today. It failed initially due to needing the anti-roll bar drop links replaced. Luckily, those are super cheap so we fixed it within the hour. Otherwise, no advisories, bushings all in good shape and no signs of corrosion.

 

We also figured out my brake shudder issue and it was not any thrust arm or any other control arm or suspension piece. It was simply the front brake discs. Warped and grooved on the inside where you can't see. Ordered a new set of discs (Eicher so probably crap) and front pads (Pagid). Car drives very nice now with the new drop links and braking is so smooth all the way to a stop.

 

Awesome. Car seems to be good to go for many miles. Looking forward to my 2,000 miles Scottish road trip in two weeks! We'll see if this trip makes me fall for this car.

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That'a a tidy 530, love the contour seats. I bet that was an expensive option when new. It's gettng the attention it deserves.

 

Funnily enough I picked up a Subaru Legacy 3.0 r spec b today. There seem to be a lot of people that straddle between legacys and 5 series.

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