e39 2002, should I keep it?

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hello, I have a question regarding reliability. I've learned from experience that certain parts in BMW cars just aren't as reliable as japanese or even some american cars.
My car has about 65k miles and it's gotten the radiator replaced (after research I saw this is a common problem with these cars), new alternator and pulleys that go with it (also same as radiator), new suspension bushings front and rear (also same as radiator), and a set of new tires. Compared to japanese cars, the tires (and brakes) would be an acceptable item to be replaced but not the rest! So, it seems I need to invest about $5-6k every 50k miles (which is A LOT! compared to other cars - like japanese or american). So, since my extended warranty ends at 100k, would it be considered insane to keep this thing? I'm thinking to sell it ASAP because I know those repairs are coming and the electrical system hasn't given trouble - YET! This is something else ALL german cars are now famous for!
Has anyone else seen these things and is anyone else disappointed by the poor quality of these cars now? My independent mechanic says they don't build them like they used to. Mercedes are even worse.
I'm thinking of a Honda/Toyota or Lexus. BMW should seriously consider that RELIABILITY is also a luxury!!
Thanks,
Oskar
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I drove an E36 for close to 250k miles and it was fine. I replaced it with another E36 that currently shows 130k miles, and it is fine. My kid drives an E46 with more miles than my car, and it is fine.
Bring that piece of crap to my house and dump it off, I'll take care of it for you.

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That statement is simply not true. IME, US-built (well, Canada, but that's another discussion) have been far less reliable than my BMWs. Our Toyota cars (and truck) cost just as much to maintain as our BMWs.

Our '91 525i was just retired due to a wreck, at 200K miles. Original engine still getting 30+ mpg, original CLUTCH - try that on an American car. My '01 330xi has had it's cooling system replaced (as you note, they're weak) and has 125K miles on it. Nothing else has gone wrong.
FloydR
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Oskar,
That sounds like an excellent idea. And next time I talk to BMW I'll remind them that they lost you to the used Japanese market. I bet that will get their knickers in a bunch.
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in article snipped-for-privacy@79g2000hsk.googlegroups.com, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com at snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote on 6/30/08 7:50 PM:

My 2000 528i has 176K on it ... and I had to change the water pump about a year ago ... it only lasted 6 months for the next oil change ... and I got a warrenty change out of it ... had to pay for the labor.
If you look at the VIN number and download the history of the car (as it has only had BMW trained mechanics working on it as my bark yard mechanic days are over with this machine) ... there were two items that had to be replaced out of the factory within 50K miles or so. The other stuff is just fine, even the fuel pump (electric) is working great to my ears and experience.
I have recently had a Computer gremlin show up with transient electrical faults ... and the car science says that it has to be the ignition switch that is going out .. or my car was sabotaged in the wire loom by the last mechanice who worked the car ... as I have a big mouth about illegal aleins geting their Ramon Salcido on and doing a Selena to people here in the USA.
As for the Japanese ... go over to Japan, they all drive Mercedes and BMWs for durability and gas mileage.
I say get an electric car like a ZAP ... and use that short hauls around town and the home .. use the gas for long trips.
Plan two ... get bio-diesel ... the Europeans again are the best in regards to autos.
When I fill up my Ford 3/4 ton ... it is $100 for the biodiesel .. but ALL that money stays in the USA. So far Bubble Boy our Idiot in Charge has not sold off the biodiesel to the Grand Poohbah of DuBuy. Also 1 acre of algee ... will make 170,000 miles of biodiesel fuel or so I hear.
sumbuddie on da watchtower
:)
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In article

Radiator failure is common on the V-8s, not on the 6 cylinder models. Alternator failure isn't common on either. The suspension bush live depends on many things. Idler pulley life the same.

Well, I've pointed out that not all BMWs are the same and it's doubly so with Japanese cars. They certainly aren't all perfect.

You could extend the warranty?

There you go again...

And your mechanic knows everything about every car?

Get yourself a nice Honda. You and all those blue rinses can't be wrong.
--
*I was once a millionaire but my mom gave away my baseball cards

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Radiator failure in the 60-90K range is not uncommon on the V-8's. Much less so on the I-6's. The water pump is a weakness and probably should be replaced as a preventive measure prior to 90K (Mike Miller would say 60).
Never heard of an alternator going bad so early.
Pulley failures are rare below 100K.
The E39's have their issues. The cooling system (radiator, water pump) are a weakness, particularly in the V-8's. The instrument cluster and radio MID can loose pixels. The sunroof tilt arms are weak. And of course, there are those darn cupholders.
The preventive maintenance on these cars is fairly expensive, especially if you ignore factory recommendations (lifetime fill on differential, manual trans, power steering ... 100K on auto trans) and maintain it like it was going to last 250,000 miles.
Other occasional issues arise in the door vapor seals (if the sealant that holds them to the door panel loses its grip, you've got damp footwells). The leather is surface dyed and shows wear prematurely. The I-6's had a rash of bad coils that were replaced under recall/warranty.
By comparison, you can buy a Japanese transportation appliance from Toyota/Honda (or their upscale Lexus/Acura) and do little but change fluids and various filters for over 100K.
Brakes and tires last, or don't last, as a function of driving style. You can run through a set of PS2's in about 15K in a Corolla, too.
If you enjoy driving, the E39 is about the finest all-round sedan you can own. Great vehicle dynamics, comfort and luxury. If you're stuck in gridlock on the 91 Freeway, an Accord with a good sound system might make more sense.
R / John
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Hi John, Since you seem to be the only one who didn't get all emotional with a knee-jerk response saying bmw is the best I think you're the most reasonable person here! I agree with you regarding the part about enjoying driving. In that regard the bmw is much better than the others. I'm just surprised at how much higher the costs are to maintain the joy! I guess these are cars are a lot like some women I'm sure we've all dealt with, their just high maintenance! (some guys like high maintenance women, some enjoy them until they complain too much and move on.)
I like to stick to facts. http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability-ratings-by-brand http://www.consumerreports.org - I'm a member here so I can see the reports, I can't paste here since they use graphics. But if you look at luxury cars, 8 of the top 10 most reliable luxury cars are Japanese! Audi and Lincoln are the other 2. Mercedes and BMW are in the poor catagory! These FACTS along with my experience with the e39 is how I'm coming up with the items I'm discussing. I'm not being emotional and zealous.
I just want to see what everyone else thinks in regards to this. I forgot to mention the door seals also went bad (dealer wanted $300 per door to fix the seals!). Things like door seals should NOT be an item you need to change every 60k miles! Neither should radiators, alternators, pulleys and suspension bushings! At 100k I'll accept it if the car was driven hard or it's in harsh climate (cold, snow, salt, etc).
That's all I'm saying. Please don't get emotional - use facts :)
Oskar
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Hi John, Since you seem to be the only one who didn't get all emotional with a knee-jerk response saying bmw is the best I think you're the most reasonable person here! I agree with you regarding the part about enjoying driving. In that regard the bmw is much better than the others. I'm just surprised at how much higher the costs are to maintain the joy! I guess these are cars are a lot like some women I'm sure we've all dealt with, their just high maintenance! (some guys like high maintenance women, some enjoy them until they complain too much and move on.)
<JS> I put 150k miles on a '94 3 Series that I bought in '00 with 100k on the clock.
The car was totalled against the side of some sort of Buick that turned in front of me entering the Old Folks Neighborhood in my town. I replaced that car with another '94 3 Series convertible, but do not pile on the miles anymore. So, for the sake of discussion, in 8 years I have logged approximately 200k miles combined on two different cars. I have spent about $2000 on normal repairs, clutch, brakes, and odds-n-ends. On the first car, I did a bonehead move that caused an expensive repair, but that was only $2500 or so. So, $4500 in 200k miles is $0.0225 per mile, or about $565.00 per year, or under $50 per month. Take out the repair from the bonehead move on my part, and the car paid me to drive it. I have never in 45 years of driving had a car that cost less to own. And I bought my BMWs as a Used Car, and have no clue what happened to them before I bought them.
Go buy a Honda if you want, but don't do it because your BMW costs to much.
</JS>
I like to stick to facts. http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability-ratings-by-brand http://www.consumerreports.org - I'm a member here so I can see the reports, I can't paste here since they use graphics. But if you look at luxury cars, 8 of the top 10 most reliable luxury cars are Japanese! Audi and Lincoln are the other 2. Mercedes and BMW are in the poor catagory! These FACTS along with my experience with the e39 is how I'm coming up with the items I'm discussing. I'm not being emotional and zealous.
I just want to see what everyone else thinks in regards to this. I forgot to mention the door seals also went bad (dealer wanted $300 per door to fix the seals!). Things like door seals should NOT be an item you need to change every 60k miles! Neither should radiators, alternators, pulleys and suspension bushings! At 100k I'll accept it if the car was driven hard or it's in harsh climate (cold, snow, salt, etc).
That's all I'm saying. Please don't get emotional - use facts :)
Oskar
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There are a couple of things wrong with these statements. First, you say: "I've learned from experience..." That's not a FACT, nor is it valid to draw any conclusions from it. It is anecdotal evidence and immediately suspect (as are all the anecdotes related by we other posters.) You can't have it both ways: you say you believe in facts, but then try to elevate non-evidence to that status. Can't do it.
The other problems are your citations. Let's take the jdpower first. The study in that citation is for problems AT THE END OF THREE YEARS. Because correlation and causation aren't the same things, you *CANNOT* say that BMWs are worse *OVER THE LIFE OF THE CAR* than the other manufacturers'. It's probably true that the cars with fewer defects over three years may be better built, but that says almost *NOTHING* about what will happen in the future.
There have been many discussions about consumer reports and their rankings. I'm not going to repeat them other to say: Google for them, and to note that the major argument about their validity is that they don't *COMPLETELY* report *ALL* problems, since CR doesn't actually go out and poll *ALL* owners, only the owners that subscribe to CR. Because of that singular fact, their statistics are immediately suspect.
FloydR
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Hi Floyd, Please correct me if I'm wrong but your logic is as follows: car has poor reliability for 1st 3 years of ownership, this DOESN'T mean that car will continue to be unreliable. Is this correct? That makes absolutely no sense!! Who in their right mind buys anything that gets all sorts of problems in the 1st 3 years of ownership and then tells themself, it's only the 1st 3 years of ownership - the future will be better!
Older bmw's were built better, newer ones are the problem. Also, FYI the consumer reports reliability reports go back 10 years!! Is 10 years of data enough to draw a conclusion on whether or not the model car you're looking at is reliable? This is where bmw's and most german cars show their ugly side - lots of problems.
Also, JD Powers reports go back about 12 years. Lexus is #1 for 12 years in a row if I recall correctly.
Oskar
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wrote

it.
Hi Floyd, Please correct me if I'm wrong but your logic is as follows: car has poor reliability for 1st 3 years of ownership, this DOESN'T mean that car will continue to be unreliable. Is this correct? That makes absolutely no sense!! Who in their right mind buys anything that gets all sorts of problems in the 1st 3 years of ownership and then tells themself, it's only the 1st 3 years of ownership - the future will be better!
Older bmw's were built better, newer ones are the problem. Also, FYI the consumer reports reliability reports go back 10 years!! Is 10 years of data enough to draw a conclusion on whether or not the model car you're looking at is reliable? This is where bmw's and most german cars show their ugly side - lots of problems.
Also, JD Powers reports go back about 12 years. Lexus is #1 for 12 years in a row if I recall correctly.
Oskar
Sorry for being off topic. I noticed that some call their cars "E39", etc. In the US, I haven't seen this. Is there some info or a chart that shows how the European and US model names/numbers relate? Many thanks in advance.
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"Florida NRA SW" wrote

The nomenclature is used in the US as well Here's your chart:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bmw
Go to the bottom of the page and expand the "BMW road car timelines" (click on [show] on the right).
Cheers, Pete
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AFAIK the E number is the same for both US and european cars. Basically it's BMW's model designation for different body designs and series. The numbers following also usually refer to the series and engine size. Ie, all E39's are 5 series, and if followed by 5xx, the 5 is the series and the xx refers to the size of it's engine, which may not be it's actual size. The 523i actually has a 2.5 litre engine. Mike. (UK)
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The 'E' numbers aren't country specific. Here's where to find out what cars they refer to :-
http://www.unixnerd.demon.co.uk/bmw.html
--
*I started out with nothing... and I still have most of it.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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If you look at the actual breakdown of problems, you'll find that most of the reported problems with the newer cars are relatively minor, and the vast majority of them have to do with insufficiently-debugged electronic systems.
While I am personally very annoyed at BMW for throwing all kinds of useless electronic gewgaws into every model now, and making it impossible to order them (in the US) without all this stuff, I don't think that should necessarily be the most important think you look at when you buy a car. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Only thing I don't like on my fully loaded E39 is the rain sensing wipers - because they don't work well. But then neither does any delay wipe system I've had. Dunno if later cars have better sensing.
--
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

Dave
The ones on my 730d SE (2007) are pretty good but the trick is to run the wipers first then switch to auto they will than adjust their speed accordingly with the amount of rain.
they work by diffusion similar to the way cameras auto focus. the daylight is diffused by the rain drops and the amount and quantity determines the frequency of the wipe from manic to .5Hz
Hugh
PS the auto dipping feature is dammed good too.............. Sir Hugh of Bognor
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Hugh Gundersen
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One more thing I forgot about CR & JDPower; because they don't differentiate between "bugs" and "features", they have lumped complaints about the usability of iDrive into "electrical" or other problems, which skews things considerably.
Yeah, it sucks, but it's not broken.
FloydR
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It will be after the owner runs the car into a tree while paging through menus trying to figure out how to change the volume on the radio.... --scott
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