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AlexGSi2000 - e39 M5

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Welcome to my project thread!


After 3 years of fantastic ownership of an e39 530d, I decided - after much thought, to buy one of my dream cars.

I had thought on and off over the period of two years about purchasing an M5, it was a reoccurring monthly ponder.

Around a month ago I decided enough was enough and started looking seriously.


I viewed a few cars, the market was difficult to gauge, as there were sellers wanting top money for below-par cars, cars that had been extensively modified.etc

I had a budget in mind for a purchase, also baring in mind I would more than likely need to spend a few quid in the first few months of ownership to rectify any issues.


I went to view an M5 in the south last week, on paper the car sounded good, the seller seemed genuine - listing all faults with the car.etc

This ended up being the car I purchased, it was in the spec I wanted = facelift, relatively original and clean.


The car at the moment is in pretty much standard condition, with the exception of different exhaust backboxes (no idea on brand at the moment) a paddle clutch and BC coilovers.


Cosmetically the car has had the usual areas of corrosion addressed in the past to a good standard, jacking points are all solid. There is some further correction work to be done, but this can wait until next year.


I have owned the car a week and driven around 300 miles, all of which have been flawless. I have the luxury of another car for the daily commute to work so I can minimize the fuel bills!


The car is currently on 145,000 miles, for the price I paid, I think I was pretty much dead on the money for today's market.


My plan for the car is to address the current issues and keep the car maintained to a good standard - I plan long term ownership of the car and don't plan any modifications as of yet.




Diving straight in are the headlight adjusters :rolleyes: - I did this job a few years ago, so should be fairly au fait with the job.


Next weekend, the awful paddle clutch will be coming out and replaced with a standard LUK item, along with Redline gearbox oil & Millers diff oil.

I have a load of replacement bushes for the gearbox linkages which I will be changing at the same time - I am quite keen on the e60 short-shift kit but will hold off until the immediate bits are done.



A few quick photos to begin with - I will upload some better shots once I have the headlights back in.







Edited by AlexGSi2000

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Hi Alex, don't get so bogged down in mods that you don't have time to enjoy driving it, if ever a car was made to be driven. I also like to keep mine relatively OE, as such one of the first changes I did was to swap the back boxes for OE items, I  got them off a bmw5 member, they are very well made the M5 ones, and much quieter, helps to make the car a real sleeper.

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I am now at 1000 miles into ownership and was able to give the car a good shakedown yesterday after I had addressed the crucial bits.


Work carried out so far;

  • Paddle clutch replaced for standard
  • Brake pads replaced (OEM Bosch & ATE Typ200 fluid)
  • Front snapped suspension spring replaced
  • Gearbox & Diff oils changed
  • Engine oil replaced
  • Headlight adjusters repaired
  • Replacement exhaust gaskets - old exhaust studs removed.
  • Tint film over the clear parts of rear lights - may not be to everyone's taste.


I have also swapped a few parts over from my old 530d to help tidy the car up; door seals, phone cradle removed, working cup-holders.etc


The verdict so far is that the car has some way to go until it gets to a level where I deem it to be good, the beauty of it is that its a working car and can be driven - I bought the car as a long term purchase, I will be forming a list of work over the next week or so and will tackle it over the next few years.


From working on the car its obvious that the car has suffered the ill fate of rogue mechanics at some-point, examples being;

  • Self tapping screws used to secure the O2/Lambda sensor covers - right through the floor pan into the interior.
  • Rubber mounts had broken on the oil filter housing - again, secured by a self tapping screw - this had caused the oil & power steering pipework to chafe.

The engine appears strong, although ever so slightly noisy - supposedly the VANOS had been rebuilt and timing chain guides replaced in the past - I will more than likely do the rod bearings in the next 12-months.


The car seems to push on well, not best suited to the tight roads - feels like the ratios could be a little shorter in that respect, but for the more open B roads the car is well suited.


When the car is warm I get a constant smell of gearbox oil, I did notice when I pulled the box off that the input shaft seal could do with replacing - it also appears to be weeping slightly from where the bell-housing meets the gearbox casing.

Shifts have become better with the Redline MTL gearbox oil, but still not as quick as I would like them to be - so in the coming months I will take the box off again, replace the seals and replace the shift pin / detents - potentially go for a short-shift kit too.


Sills will need addressing within the next 24-months, they are OK at the moment, still solid - along with the jacking points, however they are definitely on the way out - unfortunately bodywork isn't something I have done before so will leave this to the professionals.


Verdict so far - I'm on the fence B) - I did buy from the cheaper end of the market with the anticipation of doing some work, however when somethings not perfect it grinds away at me! - I need to learn to take my time with this one.

Its a great car and the V8 is lovely. Once the car is sorted I'm sure it will pay dividends.







Edited by AlexGSi2000

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It's a cracking motor @AlexGSi2000 - hell of a project you're undertaking too. However, like you said, it's a long term plan and keep at it, the car will only pay you back in dividends, you'll do nothing but retain value in it and increase it too. They're becoming more & more sought after now!


1k miles since ownership; how the hell do you manage that? That's 1/3 my annual coverage :lol: 

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July 2019 update.


The cars been with me for just over 4 months now, as I'm getting used to the car and its quirks, I'm enjoying it a lot more.

Still cant believe I own one of my dream cars, every time I walk past it or start the engine I need to pinch myself :D.


Not a huge amount of work has been done since my last update, a few smaller bits here and there;


  • Swapped the tatty gear knob with the later 6-speed, courtesy of Darren. Makes such a difference. (Original parts safely stored!)
  • Wiper arms aligned - don't think they were set correctly after a previous windscreen replacement.
  • Spark plugs replaced.
  • Both MAF sensors replaced.
  • Polish & Wax
  • Interior leather cleaned with LRC - Back to a nice matt finish.

The MAF sensor replacement was a funny one which left me scratching my head for a few days. When I replaced the spark plugs, I cleared adaptations with INPA - figured that after time it may benefit if the engine calibrated (if thats the right word) again.

After doing this reset, I lost a shedload of power - felt like 150bhp at best. No obvious signs, misfires.etc.

After reading values with INPA the left lambda reading was too high - hitting maximum enrichment values. I did initially question the MAFs, but as the car has a shared intake, I thought it would affect both sides, so would expect to see both lambda sensors showing similar figures.

I ended up replacing both MAFs which cured the issue and seemed to release more power from the engine - may have been placebo, but dont think the engine would have been showing its true potential with the older worn MAFs in place.


Still a couple of bits to do over the next few months; not really had the time due to other projects on at the moment, but don't use the M5 on a daily basis, so happy to sit on the parts for a while;


  • New flywheel - courtesy of a forum member who sold to me for a song.
  • Gearbox input shaft seals, bell-housing to re-seal.
  • Replace the rest of the gearbox linkage bushings


For the time being - a few recent photos;













Edited by AlexGSi2000

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Brilliant work here Alex, the car looks great all polished up.  Will have to have a mini meet as mentioned above B)

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Autumn update;


The car has been stored for almost a month, the end of the summer ran away and became colder before I knew it.

The unit can be slightly damp at times, but I'm glad its off the roads and away from all the salt and grit.


I have a list of jobs to do before the car surfaces again in the spring - I need to get cracking as I'm sure the warmer weather will be back around again before we know it.


I had aimed to replace the flywheel during the summer, but didn't get the chance due to other commitments.


The car hasn't been much trouble over the past few months - I did encounter a fairly sizeable oil leak, which turned out to be the vanos solenoid seals, a replacement kit from MrVanos and a few hours sorted this.


On the list for the next few months;

  • Audio
  • Flyweel Replacement
  • Gearbox bushings & e60 short shifter
  • Replace coilover springs (current springs are too soft, the suspension blows through the travel too easily)
  • Polybush as much as I can - the rear subframe mounts are shot at, so these are first on the list.


I have already made a start on the work by tackling the easy bit first - audio.

Don't get me wrong, I love the period look of the OEM sat-nav, I have tried living with it as best I could - however, despite being advanced back in the day, I don't need sub-par audio quality, outdated sat-nav, or a terrestrial TV for that matter, so have decided to go function over form.


I decided to fit my single-DIN Alpine unit I had in my previous e39. This unit will provide much better audio quality, bluetooth phone / media - I can also load up a USB stick with MP3, much better than faffing about burning CDs for the standard changer.

After test-fitting my Alpine unit, I was impressed with the standard speakers due to the OEM amplifier, but there was still a lack of bass, so decided to add a small subwoofer.


I decided to do this under the requirement the setup would be easily reversible, non destructive and without sacrificing any boot space.


I found an 8" subwoofer enclosure on ebay that replaces the rear armrest - so decided to give it a go. I appreciate it may look terrible to some, but it really does make a huge difference - again, its easily reversible and the armrest can be slotted back into place in a matter of seconds. Its a Hertz sub, driven by an Alpine amp I fitted in place of the OEM headunit in the boot.


All the standard kit was carefully removed and is now stored safely. There certainly was a lot going on in the boot - seemed I was removing a never ending number of modules, very impressive for the day. 


All in all - very happy with the audio quality now. Will be starting with the oily bits in a couple of weeks.














Edited by AlexGSi2000

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Another month gone, quite happy with the progress at the moment - at this rate its looking like I will have my winter list completed by mid-Jan early Feb.


After the audio install, I set the car up on the ramp and proceeded with the removal of the gearbox, this had an oil leak from the input shaft - so this was cleaned up and replaced whilst the flywheel was off.

I took the opportunity to replace all the gear linkage bushings and add a shorter shift lever from the e60 - the gear selections feel much tighter and positive.







Next on the list was the rear-end, the car always felt a little vague and loose from the rear - turns out the subframe bushings as suspected were completely shot at.

The inners on the front bushings quite literally fell out when the mounts / bolts were removed.

I also replaced the lower arm bushings for powerflex items, replaced the top control arm and anti-roll bar droplinks.


Whilst the subframe was out, I took the opportunity to take a look at some of the surface corrosion under the car.

The surface corrosion was cleaned and degreased, then treated with Bilt Hamber Hydrate 80 then coated with Dynax S50 - Im hoping it will keep the underside protected for a few years to come.


The coilovers were stripped and cleaned, springs replaced for stiffer 8'ks as I felt the springs that came with the BC kit were a little too soft.










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Hi Alex,


Great to the see the updates on the M5 ! Sometimes I do wish I knew what a spanner is so I could work on my car! saying that, now that we've converted the garage into a bedroom with En Suite for my mum, I've got nowhere warm to begin to attempt to pick a spanner up !


I bet the car feels much better and responsive with the suspension upgrades and I'm sure over time, you'll complete/resolve more issues there and other aspects to the car as well making it one of the better/properly maintained/fixed examples :)


The audio upgrade path you've done is a good step up in performance and quality, I've looked at the armrest enclosure location before and way back in the day (circa 1998), did this exact same concept in my then E30 327i! A year or so later, I swapped the twin 18 inch subwoofers enclosure from my Bro's E30 when he sold it, into mine ! There's a variant on the armrest enclosure whereby the face of it sits a bit further back into the aperture and I'm looking into seeing if the armrest itself can fit back in the upright position when parked/passengers need the rear seat.Currently, I don't think it will, but some 'tweaking' of the enclosure and using some of the smaller 6 and 8 inch subwoofers with shallow mounting depths might just mean this idea will work/fit and would mean perhaps a 2 or 3 inch protrusion into the boot area only ! Talking to some manufacturers about suitable enclosure design here :) once you upgrade the cabin speakers, the audio setup should sound/perform even better !


Any more specific plans for the car ?! 


Lastly, thank you very much for the recent transaction ! Everything is now all fully fitted and functional and I'm very impressed with it ! (will message you back via PM!)


Cheers, Dennis!



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2 hours ago, AlexGSi2000 said:


If I ever finish this one :D.

Haha. You will. 

And I will be envious as mine will be much the same as it is now!

A list of jobs and none have been looked at. I have a few months before the spring so all to play for. 


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Winter Update;


The works on the car have now pretty much drawn to a close for this winter (unless anything breaks!).

The past couple of months have been busy, but the car is now in a much better state and feeling a lot better.

My insurance switches over mid-March, which should hopefully give enough time for the weather to warm up slightly and get all the salt off the roads.


Only final things to do are to replace the butyl vapor barrier tape (I'm doing this as preventative item, as you usually find out they have failed when you have a soaked carpet! ) and give the car a good clean up / detail.


Since the December update, I have done the following;

  • Replaced the front suspension arm bushes for Powerflex items
  • Alternator regulator replaced (14v)
  • Replaced 2x leaking power steering fluid pipes.
  • Rocker cover gaskets
  • Oil sump gasket
  • Replaced the steering center drag-link
  • Rebuilt the front calipers with new pistons and seals.
  • Brake fluid flush with ATE Typ200.
  • Replaced the front tyres - Pilot sport 4s
  • Spaced the wheels out (15mm front, 10mm rear)

A few other smaller items have been done too.


A back-box delete was also done - the car previously had a set of Russ Fellows back-boxes fitted, which were of very high quality - whilst the car was going back together, I ran the car without them fitted.

A set of pipes were then made, with slash cut tips - which I think suits the car a little better.

If the noise gets annoying, I can quickly swap back to the Russ Fellows boxes.


Drove the car around the industrial estate yesterday, despite only getting to around 30mph, it feels so much better - cant wait to get the car back out onto the roads.


Since the suspension and steering components have been off, I'm going to book in for a full alignment - then I'm off to Europe in April for my stag trip (will be covering around 2700 miles), so hopefully the car performs after all the work!


Plans for the car going forward are to continue replacing items that have worn, I'm planning on doing the rod bearings next year as a preventative item, whilst also saving to get the bodywork done and the sills replaced, but for now they are still solid and will probably be fine for the next couple of years - but would like to get them seen to within the next 24 months.

A brake upgrade is also on the cards - the standard brakes have always looked a little sub-par for an M car.


Again, photos are lacking, and the ones from my phone aren't great due to lack of lighting - will add a few more once I have detailed the car in a few weeks.


Alternator regulator;



One front arm bushing;




Front brake caliper, before & after (they did get painted after the photo was taken);





Exhaust tips;



Back on all 4 wheels;





Edited by AlexGSi2000

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