530i vs. 540i

I'm having a hard time deciding. I'm looking at 2000-2001's w/about 100K miles for $10-12K. Probably a Sport Pkg w/Steptronic.
I have a Z3 and my BMW-only mechanic says go w/the 530i, but my heart
says V8. Maintenance/nightmare diffs? What about MPG diffs. I'd be interested in hearing the pros/cons of both.
Thanks in advance.
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Are you in the US? If so, there was no 530i in 2000. They started arriving here as a 2001 model year.
As for the 530i vs 540i... well, you already have a fun to drive car (Z3), and I don't think either of these e39 models will be as fun. The 530i is slightly lighter/nimble and has a more responsive steering (R&P vs. the recirculating ball on the 540i). The 540i will obviously be quicker though. As for mpg, if you take it easy on the hwy, both will deliver about the same fuel economy. Around town, the 540i will be worse though.
In terms of maintenance, the 540i will be slightly more expensive to maintain - more sparkplugs to replace for example, more engine oil, etc. But the difference is not big enough to base your purchase decision on it. The cooling system on the 540i is more prone to failure, but again, the 530i isn't immune from such failures either and should be replaced every 60-80k miles regardless.
Pete
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wrote:

Yes, you're right. Sorry. 528i's are in the running, also. How are they compared to the 3.0? Much difference? There are lots more 2.8's available at my price point.

I'll keep the Z3 for the fun factor, dump my gas-sucking Hemi Grand Cherokee, and get a 5-series for the rest.

Good point, thanks. I think I'm leaning toward the 6 banger, all considered.

I've heard that before. What exactly fails? Radiator core, water pump? Thanks for your input.
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wrote in message

yesterday I chopped in my 528i touring for a 540i touring ...
the 528 had 140k mile on it. Interestingly the cooling system failed due to a cracked (plastic) thermostat housing (10 to replace) the 540 has 80k miles on it and the alternator expired on the way home (185 to replace ...)
The I6 cyl 2.8 is a beautifully smoooooth engine and sounds lovely for its 195 bhp The V8 cyl 4.4 is also a beautifully smooth engine and sounds even lovelier for its 275 bhp (and 410Nm !!!!!!)
no contest for me I'm afraid ... the 2.8 will leave you wanting more ... the 4.4 will leave most things standing ;-)
Dr D
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Well get a 535i V8 then (if it was sold in the USA).

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"R. Mark Clayton" wrote

It wasn't.
Pete
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Which is slower and more thirsty than the 530.
--
*A dog's not just for Christmas, it's alright on a Friday night too*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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London SW

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And more weight.

That's why it's no longer made.
--
*Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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530, and 540 e39? Good question... 2 entirely different animals. The 540 is definitely a beast, thought does not have the beautifully precise steering as the Rack-and-Pinion setup 530.
I have owned a '99 528iA, and currently an '03 model 530iA. Again, the 530 drives excellent, and has excellent body composure through different driving conditions.
I will say this though, I have driven many 540, both auto. trans., and my friend's 2 different 540i 6-speed manual, and the difference for me at least, is somewhat difficult to describe even. You must test drive, it's the only way!
I have also drive a manual 530 w/ Sport package, brand new at the dealer, and it was definitely what I thought to be one of the best all-round cars ever built.
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Performance. The 540 has significantly more grunt (1/4 mile around 14.0 versus 15.2, 0-60 in 6 seconds vice 7). Do you exercise your right foot often? Doesn't make much sense if you spend most days in urban gridlock. The 530 is the more nimble of the two, the 540 is a couple hundred pounds heavier (guess where the weight is concentrated).
Cost of ownership. The V-8 tends to go through its "consumables" a bit faster. More early cooling system failures (the I-6 is not immune), extra weight will require brake work a bit more frequently. Fuel costs will vary. The V-8 gets surprisingly good mileage in freeway cruising ... figure 28-30 mpg in either car at "10 over" which is about it if you want to avoid a collection of speeding tickets (Virginia is particularly draconian in their pursuit of revenue at the expense of those of us who prefer pace and mobility over PC). Around town, the V-8 is mid-teens vice mid-twenties.
Just finished a 2,000 mile road trip in my 530i SP/5sp. Almost exactly 30mpg on freeways, 27mpg in urban/suburban/gridlock environment of Washington DC. Never encountered a driving situation that inspired V-8 envy; though when I was moving down I-95 at a stop/roll/stop crawl, I had a bit of auto trans envy.
Drive 'em both. Blue books are similar. In a seven-year-old car, I'd be more interested in its maintenance history. I'd look for an enthusiast's car that was maintained in excess of the BMW schedule (in which maintenance schedules were doubled to minimize the cost of "free" maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles on the 2001's. 4/50K for 2002/3). A recent, preventative radiator/thermostat R&R would be a plus. A recent Inspection 1 or 2 would be a plus (expensive unless you DIY). New brakes a plus ($400+ for parts, labor at prevailing rate). Fluid changes a plus (particularly the auto trans ... it was called "lifetime" in 2001, now 100K change interval, should be 50K).
Have fun!
R / John
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wrote:

You guys are awesome. I'm getting up to speed quickly w/all your input. Thanks mucho. Found a loaded, one owner 530i from a Mill Valley (think high end SF North Bay Area) retired doctor for sale on craigslist's yesterday, but POOF it was sold. The good ones go quickly.
I've have decided; however, if I'm crazy enough to go w/a 540i, it's gonna be a stick. If I'm gonna get 14MPG around town, I want it to go sideways when I pop second gear.
- greg
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"John Carrier" wrote

Yup, that's what my 530i manual gets on the hwy as well. But in town, driving short distances, I usually get worse than 20 mpg.
Pete
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Maybe I just don't enjoy true urban sprawl. I still usually see 24-25, but I have to admit I've never had to endure city life for an entire tankfull :-).
R / John
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