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Sphinx

E39 Buying Guide

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Honest John has a nice piece about the E39 in his 'Future Classic Friday' section

 

https://classics.honestjohn.co.uk/news/comment/2017-10/future-classic-friday-bmw-5-series-e39/

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Still miss mine, would love to know whether it's still around (I suspect not)

 

A 530i SE (RX52NXE) which was traded in for a F30 328i. Better on paper in pretty much every respect but does it have that solid E39 'feel' ? Not a chance

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20 minutes ago, pt530i said:

A 530i SE (RX52NXE) which was traded in for a F30 328i. Better on paper in pretty much every respect but does it have that solid E39 'feel' ? Not a chance

Not been taxed since October last year according to the Vehicle Check app :(

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4 hours ago, Eddy555 said:

Not been taxed since October last year according to the Vehicle Check app :(

Yeah, reckon it's been scrapped

 

It had plenty wrong with it although was still perfectly driveable. Would love to have kept it somewhere but no space and no time to work on it meant I needed something dependable so decided to let it go.

Although I was perfectly happy with the spec (a base SE,)it actually had everything I needed but was pretty worthless as it seems only sport models have a following,

Dont get me wrong, a F30 328i is a very capable car, far better technology wise than the E39 but just feels flimsy compared with the E39. I suspect a F10 5-series would be a better comparison though

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On 4/26/2008 at 3:46 PM, Sphinx said:

* Flat spots of and lack of power or M47 and M57 diesels due to a known problem with the wire mesh air mass sensor. When replaced, must reprogramme ECU to match new meter. Lack of power also caused by cracked inlet manifolds.

 

I've never needed to re-code any modules after replacing them on  e39's except for the EWS module and the Bosch ABS pump on cars with DSC. I've replaced the ABS pump (ASC pump / Bosch ending in 001) and the MAF on various NFL and FL cars - all worked fine after replacing the part - no recoding needed.  The only one I did need to reprogram was a 530i from 2001 witch came equipped with DSC (ABS pump with DSC, made by bosch, last 3 digits 005) and it's pretty easy to do with PA Soft's BWM Scanner or INPA. 

 

On 4/26/2008 at 3:46 PM, Sphinx said:

* Old 2.5 litre diesel not significantly more economical than petrol, so best avoided.

I don't agree. If you're getting poor mileage on your M51D25 525tds, your either driving like a maniac, or there's something wrong with your engine. If kept under 2000rpm, the M51D25TU are very economical engines, and there is a significant difference in fuel consumption between them and the M52TU equipped 523 and 528i cars. I've owned a 523i for about half a year, and it would do 12-16l / 100km in the city (12 with little traffic, and 16 - even higher with stop and go rush hour traffic) and about 7.5 to 10l/100km outside (7l/100km @ 80kph and 10l/100km @ 140kph). Compared to this, a 525tds gets 8-10l/100km in the city and 5 to 6.5L/100km outside - 6.5L / 100km @ 140kph on the highway. Both cars had 16" style 33 wheels with 225/55 R16 tires. The diesel is significantly more economical IF you don't drive aggressively. Right now I own a 323i sedan, a 328i convertible and a 525tds - the 5er gets significantly better milage then both cars. Worst offender is the 'vert due to it's shier weight (1.72 metric tons weighed with half a tank of petrol) and short final drive (3.45 ratio). The 323i sedan uses anywhere from 20 to 50% more fuel at any given time. I can get it to do 6.5L/100km on the highway, but that means driving behind a truck or van @ 90-100kph - not fun. The 525tds gets the same milage but at 140-150kph. 

 

I've had 525tds cars (not mine, I either bought and resold them or had them in to fix various issues) that did show high fuel consumption - but they all had some fault or another. Most common fault is the Bosch fuel distribution pump / injection pump - as it ages, various bits inside the pump wear down, letting more fuel then needed into the engine. The engine will compensate at first, then throw a check engine light related to misfires on some or all cylinders. If left alone, the pump fails completely and the car will fail to start (either no fuel, or flooded the engine after cranking). Another very common fault causing poor mileage on these cars is bad hoses / o-rings / seals somewhere along the high pressure fuel system - from fuel injector gaskets (can cause diesel black death if left unfixed) or various o-rings / metal gaskets form the many pipes and hoses used in the high pressure fuel system. These are sometimes hard to spot since diesel does evaporate over time, leaving only a greasy residue, and most go un-diagnosed. 

 

Now, over the years of owning, repairing and trading in various BMW's, here are some faults to look at before buying an e39 - some not mentioned here in this thread:

 

- ABS pump failure - the ABS pump is right on top of the exhaust manifold. Inside the pump you can find delicate electronics connected to the plug via a series of very thin un-insulated wires. The heat from the exhaust can melt the solder causing these wires to come off the pump's computer, and the pump to fail. An ASC pump (last digits 001) is easy to replace and does NOT require recoding. A DSC pump (last digits 005) does require reprogramming. When the pump fails, you'll lose the speedometer, fuel consumption gauge, ABS, traction control and the board computer's functions. 

- Rear ABS wheel sensor failure - the sensor on the rear-left side of the car is more prone to faliure.

- Gear shifter linkage - those can and will go bad on manual 5-speed cars. The linkage uses poor quality plastic bushings that erode over time, causing shifting to be extremely vague. On some cars it's hard to find 3rd, on others it's hard to find 1st (car goes into 3rd or worse, reverse).

- Headlights - 1 - On both facelift and non-facelift cars, the plastic bits that push and pull the headlight lenses harden and crack over time, causing the headlights to dip and rattle inside their casings, and also makes adjusting the headlights impossible. This is easy and cheap to fix.

- Headlights - 2 - On some cars the bulb sockets get deformed from the heat, or even crack, making it impossible to secure a bulb into the unit.

- Headlights - 3 - On most EU 5 series the headlight glass (plastic actually) gets mated and blurry, especially on non-facelift cars. A set of these costs as much as a set of aftermarket Depo headlights, so don't bother replacing them. They can be restored using sandpaper and polish, then applying a layer of clear-coat or clear plastic foil. Some shops will do this for you. 

- Cup holders - these things have failed on all e39's I've had. The front ones go first.

- Wood trim - on some cars, the acrylic layer protecting the wood trim will crack.

- A, B and C pillar covers "peeling off". The textile material covering the plastic pillars on the inside of the car had a thin layer of sponge like material, or possibly foam. Over time, this material turns into dust, causing the textile lining to peel off the covers. For some reason this affects cars with gray and black roof / pillar covers most, and cars with beige covers least.  

- Seats - regular leather seats are prone to sagging. The foam on the driver's seat will flatten and erode over time, making the seat hard and saggy, not to mention unpleasant to look at. All 5 series use thicker leather then 3 series, so instead of tearing like on say a e46, the leather usually stretches and sags. After that happens, the foam under the leather will start to get eaten away by the friction. 

- Electric seat issues - on some cars the electric seat motors can fail causing the seat to "twist" when reclining. 

- Manual seat issues - on some cars the cables that allow the seat to move back and forth can snap making the seat stuck in one position.

- Brake booster - this is a common issue with both the e46 and e39 cars. The diaphragm slowly fails, causing the brake pedal to be very hard to press. Sometimes the issue is on and off. 

- Kidney grills - the clips on the kidney grills get hard and snap over time.

- Trunk boot separator - the piece of upolstred cartboard/plastic on top of the spare tire will sag and get damaged over time

- Exhaust rattle - on most petrol cars some of the various metal  brackets and rings holding the exhaust can fail, causing the it to hit the floor of the car when driving on a bad road.  If left alone, part of the exhaust will bend and even break off.

- Rear parking sensors are prone to failing - especially the one above the muffler.

 

Edited by kanecvr

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