Re: E39 six cylinder car question



Yes
Close. mid range grunt is superior in the 3.0 liter.

A few well-documented annoyances. (Display pixels, door seal creaks, seat back clicks). The only six reliability issue would be the early 530's aux fan relay ... make sure it's been replaced. Sometimes individual ignition coils fail ... easy to replace, but a bit expensive for a stinking coil.
Later cars are more apt to have the high-OBC (more computer functions and "check display" versus graphics ... you pay more and you get "door ajar" instead of a graphic description of which door it actually is!) ... not sure its worth it, just more pixels to fail.
Don't pay a premium for the DSP radio. It wasn't a significant improve over standard for $1200 increase in sticker price.
Xenon low beams are very desirable.
I'd recommend the sport package unless you live in pothole central.
There are four seat options: standard, standard with lumbar, sport seats (lumbar not available, but perhaps DIY installable), and comfort seats. Sport seats are a love 'em or hate 'em proposition ... they either fit your body or they don't. Comfort seats (fairly rare) never get complaints.
I'd try and find a car in which the owner went above and beyond standard maintenance. A 525/530 can go over 17,000 miles before the oil service light comes on. That's too long IMO. I'd also steer clear of a high mileage car that never had the trans fluid changed (particularly an automatic). "Lifetime fill" my ass! I've read several tech articles that note that BMW service requirements suddenly doubled after "free" maintenance programs were initiated. I think an owner that adheres to the stricter, pre-free-maintenance schedule for maintenance and fluid changes might be selling a superior car. Certainly one that has the deck stacked in the favor of a long service life.
R / John
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IMHO, the aux fan is far more likely to be faulty. Check by switching on the AC - unless the outside temp is so low the AC won't cut in, the fan should run all the time.

No pixels on that graphic.

Seats without lumbar support I find most uncomfortable - and inexcusable on a car of this type.

So you know more than the makers? It might also indicate an oil change at 7000 miles. Is that better? Oh - and do you know of any E39 with a worn out engine through sticking to the maker's oil change intervals? And what was the mileage?

I'd love to see your evidence. As there's no free maintenance in other countries.
By all means waste your money on changing fluids as often as you feel. But let's have hard facts here, rather than religion.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

Thanks for everyone advice. However, I too agree that fluids should be changed on a "regular" basis. I think it was the Roundel's "tech talk" section (Mike Miller?) that stated "BMW service requirements suddenly doubled after "free" maintenance programs were initiated"
Think of it this way, BMW use to recommend tranny and differential fluid be changed every 30,000 miles, coolant every 2 years and brake fluid every two years; unless you tracked the car, then its every year. With its new "free" maintenance program, its either double or lifetime. The funny thing is the fluids are the SAME both before and after the institution of the "free" maintenance program. That tells me, the change was to save money for BMW, not the consumer. Let's face it, BMW wants its car to be good up to 100,000 miles, then after that, they want you to buy a new one. For cheap guys, like me, 100,000 miles is just *breaking-in*. Additional maintenance, if you want to call the old service intervals that, is good insurance, especially for those of us who keep our cars longer than the 100,000 mile mark....
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They still need coolant and brake fluid changes.
But the oils - both engine and transmission - are new types.

Evidence of this? I dunno about the time the US got free maintenance, but in the UK where it wasn't, the engine oil change intervals near doubled with the change to fully synthetic oil. As you'd expect if you read lab reports about how it lasts.

In the UK, most BMW new buyers change their cars *well* before 100,000 miles. Here, you'll never see a secondhand car at a main dealer with anything near that mileage. 50,000 is more like the maximum. High mileage trade ins go either to auction or to a local 'specialist' dealer - no matter how good they are condition wise.
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Dave states:

fluid
They still need coolant and brake fluid changes.
But the oils - both engine and transmission - are new types>
Agree. The problem is the since implementing the "free scheduled maintenance" program, they basically doubled the time to change thing. Before, BMW recommended changing coolant and brake fluid ever 2 years. Now, its doubled. Same brake fluid and coolant, just double the time to replace.
With regard to engine oil, the service intervals are something like every 15,000 miles. Today, all BMW use synthetic oil. This in and of itself extends the life of the oil and allows a longer interval between changes. Still, 15,000 is a long time and changing oil becomes predicated on type of use, e.g., city, stop and go type traffic is "harder" on an engine and would call for more frequent oil changes than longer, freeway type driving.
As for transmission and differential changes, I think Mike Miller in the latest Roundel summed it up best when he said it doesn't make sense to mess around with risking the breakdown of a $6,000 tranmission, when $30 worth of oil (synthetic) every 30,000 would help prevent that.
<In the UK, most BMW new buyers change their cars *well* before 100,000 miles. Here, you'll never see a secondhand car at a main dealer with anything near that mileage. 50,000 is more like the maximum. High mileage trade ins go either to auction or to a local 'specialist' dealer - no matter how good they are condition wise. >
Point taken. The same can be said about cars in Japan. I guess with the strong British Pound and "weak" US dollar, you see more used cars in the US....
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Some snipping

But pixels on the trip mileage, outside air temp, etc.

I offered an opinion. Yours may differ. I doubt extended interval changes matter at all at 50-100,000 miles. It's the car that's kept for over ten years and is closing in on 200,000 that I think will. Folks are finding a nice accumulation of sludge in their oil pans (primarily 540's when the oil pump bolts are checked and tightened) when using the service interval.
Car makers are interested in making their machines less costly to support (in the case of free maintenance) or more appealing in terms of support costs (to their customers). Long term ownership issues are not high on their list of priorities. BMW isn't particularly sensitive to reliability issues (M3 engines, 540 radiators).

So be it.
R / John
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But are you saying this didn't happen with the shorter service intervals? And sludge formation also depends on the sort of use the car has had - and possibly the make/type of oil.
IMHO, it's all too easy to jump to conclusions.

And dealers simply put up their service prices to cover any shortfall?

I'd say they are rather sensitive to the M3 (and Nikasil etc) engine problems, given the costs to them of warranty repairs.
The rads are another issue. I've never been sure why they use a mixture of plastic and copper, or whatever. Weight saving? Can't see the cost can really be an issue.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

Perhaps. Certainly synthetic oil is vastly superior to its dino counterpart in terms of lubricity and shear strength, particular in regards to retaining those qualities over time and heat cycles. OTOH, there's only so much improvement you can put into an additive package and oil filter. If you operate you engine under less than ideal conditions, it's likely the oil might be less pristine after many miles than if you accumulated those miles primarily on the freeway (motorway).
I admit I'm old school and conservative about fluid changes. Relatively cheap insurance and gets me under the hood and under the car to really look at what's going on there. For those less mechanically inclined, it might not be so cheap or so rewarding.
As to engine warrantee repairs, BMW went kicking and screaming to the trough. They argued for a long time that M3 owners were overreving their engines (what, no rev limiter?) before they agreed there was a bearing problem. As desirable a machine as the M3 is, I suspect that post warrantee cars are not going to command a very high price.
BMW continues to use extensive plastic in their cooling system despite numerous cases of early demise ... I don't think a few pounds of weight saving is driving the issue, it's manufacturing cost. (The 540 failures seem to show up around 70,000 miles ... SAFE!!! no warrantee!)
My impression of BMW is that they care less about post sale customers, its the next NEW customer they're looking for. Well, that's certainly understandable to a degree. But Lexus and Acura (and maybe now ... Cadillac?) seem to have a different perspective. If I ever get rid of my 5er (I hope to own it for a LONG time), I wonder if I'll consider another "ultimate driving machine." Or will I succumb to the bland excellence of a Japanese car to which the manufacturer and dealer will offer considerably more support?
R / John
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Some manufacturers do seem to care about long-term ownership, e.g. Merc.
In general, guarantees and certificates depend on testing. I might give a one-year (or 10 000-mile interval) guarantee on a car, but double that may be ok.
However, until I have tested it I won't warrant it. However, in the meatime I might be running long-term testing so that I can issue a new longer-lasting warranty. When I am satisfied it's doable I'll issue it. Maybe link it with something else.
Especially with oil changes/service, the intervals have been rising for years. I would not think that a 'sudden' doubling is a big deal. If BMW thinks it's ok, I would not worry about it.
DAS
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