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General BMW Model Discussion
All non E46 BMW model questions in here. Look below for E36, E90 and F30 specific forum. For additional model specific forums check out bimmerfest.com!

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Old 12-04-2012, 02:39 PM   #1
trj
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e39 owners chime in

I know its not a place to post this topic, but couldnt find any other place to fit it.
I have noticed here that many fellows here own an e39 along with their e46.
Checked the bimmerfest e39 pages, but couldnt get important facts out of there.

I am considering a late model (01-03) 530i with around 100-130k miles.
I have seen a couple of ads here in local craigslist for around 6-8k.

http://denver.craigslist.org/cto/3455194075.html

http://denver.craigslist.org/cto/3448033740.html

http://denver.craigslist.org/ctd/3429088827.html


This is going to be primarily driven by my fiance, so auto is a must.
She likes sedans better than coupes and having two e46's doesnt make sense to me. Also, e46's are more expensive than e39 and doesnt offer luxury the 5 offers. Initially I was looking for an e46 xi or a4 quattro but I convinced her for an RWD and mid size sedan comfort.
Plus, I would rather have a darker color e39.
Since I am just starting to look for them, I am not in a hurry.

I know its the same engine and all, so I am leaning to get into e39 as my 4 door car rather than get into something completely different and learn everything from scratch. Also I like the look of e39 rather than e60s.


Are there any significant weakness of these cars other than cooling system and window regulators? Unlike the sub frame issues in our early e46's. I should take it to PPI if I find one in the color combo I like, but if not I would want to go and check the above cars to get a feel for comparison. May be I will buy one of those

Whats the ideal price to pay for one of these with good maintenance history? If no maintenance history, what are the specific areas to look for in an e39?

I believe it needs the same maintenance as e46s, so its not going to be a problem for me to DIY.

Overall, I am asking for a review on the buying and ownership experience of a e39 from an e46 owner's point of view.

Thanks
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
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This is going to be primarily driven by my fiance, so auto is a must.

My fiance hated manual until her autotragic crapped out and she started driving my E46. Now she loves it and refuses to go back.


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Are there any significant weakness of these cars other than cooling system and window regulators?
Not that I'm acutely aware of. Headlight adjusters break a lot, resulting in headlights aimed 10' in front of the car. Replacement ones are $25 for a set, but you have to bake open the headlights. Oh, and if it's a 2002 or newer, you have to cut them open or get new headlights. I'm doing a quad bixenon retrofit while I'm in there.


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Whats the ideal price to pay for one of these with good maintenance history? If no maintenance history, what are the specific areas to look for in an e39?
I got mine, a topaz blue '01 530i M-Sport 5spd for $4900 at 180k miles with a nearly brand new clutch. Only problem was a leaky CCV. Look for the same issues as the E46, plus headlight adjusters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trj View Post
I believe it needs the same maintenance as e46s, so its not going to be a problem for me to DIY.
Yep. Engine bay is larger too, so less of a pain to work in. I did the CCV in <6 hours, and that was taking an hour or more just to clean out the dipstick and distribution piece that were full of oil sludge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trj View Post
Overall, I am asking for a review on the buying and ownership experience of a e39 from an e46 owner's point of view.
Really nice cars. Not huge like E60's, just a little larger than the E46, but way more comfortable. Hell of a road trip car. I did 1300 miles in one day bringing it home and it was still comfortable enough to sleep in at the end of that day. The M-Sport version still handles extremely well, comparable to my E46 actually.

To be perfectly honest, between the Z4 and E39, I don't see a point for the E46 anymore, as it doesn't do anything overly well compared to the other two. My fiance loves it though, so she'll likely be taking it to 300k miles and beyond.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:39 PM   #3
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Thanks for the replies on my questions man.
I will try to persuade her towards a manual transmission, which I highly doubt she will agree on.
But everything else seems like better than e46.
May be I will give her my e46 and buy a manual e39(they are hard to come by clean though).
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:09 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies on my questions man.
I will try to persuade her towards a manual transmission, which I highly doubt she will agree on.

Worth a try. I just "gave" my fiance my E46 as she didn't have the money for another car. To me, the cost of the E46 is well worth the outcome it produced. She's already asking about M cars, so it looks like I'll have no issue with buying more BMWs later, or even better, never buying an automatic. Ever.


But everything else seems like better than e46.

Everything but weight and size I'd say. The latter can be better depending on amount of road trips you take and people you haul though. Longer wheel base and ride height will help in snow if you live in those godforsaken areas like I do.

May be I will give her my e46 and buy a manual e39(they are hard to come by clean though).

That's what I did. No regrets.

..
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:57 PM   #5
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I have an E39 as well as an E46.

One problem, I am a bit biased as my E39 has a bit more power than my E46. See my profile.

I can say that the E39 is a NICE car. They have their issues, but much nicer to drive on log trips and they hold a lot more than the E46.

Many of the same problems, headlight adjusters do break, you DO NOT need to cut open the later models to replace the adjusters, BUT it is not easy. Ask me how I know!

Rear door vapor barriers, dash pixels, seat adjuster cables, windshield trim are a few problem areas.

I would definitely go for a 530, slight tint on the windows, sort the headlights and polish the headlight lens, put a fuel pump in it, check the cooling system over well and sort the vacuum leaks, you will have a good car.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:01 PM   #6
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We have both in the fmaily.

The E39 is hands down more quieter, refined, smoother, and a better highway DD.

The e46 is great, but I also like the power of our E39 as well (530i/5) vs my 323iT/5

It has pretty much the same e46 quirks, so you know what to look out for.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:02 PM   #7
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Everything for the E46 applies except a little more complex and expensive. Nothing crazy, though. Expect to replace the entire suspension, cooling system, etc etc. Everything in my sig. Add thrust arms to the mix and definitely rear balljoints.

At least you won't have to deal with rear subframe mounting areas.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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I might add that on my E39 the dash and radio had missing pixels on the led read outs. I was fortunate that BMWNA replaced the instrument cluster. The radio, I purchased a ribbon from somewhere in Europe (Ebay) and installed it myself. Also the seat adjuster cables twisted up and had to shorten the cable housings. Both of those operations were very tedious to complete.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:19 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the tips people.
I will definitely keep a look out for a nice one to show up with manual transmission. For now, all I see are automatics. Not that I would mind an auto for my daily commute of 80 miles. But I am looking to move near my work so the distance will be reduced a lot, hence driving a manual shouldnt irritate me.

Yes I do live in snow belt. Colorado. But I have managed to go to Aspen to ski in December in my e46. So, snow is less of an issue or I care less about.
Definitely looking for a 530, driving a 325 I would like a little more power on a bigger heavier car. V8 is something I would leave for roadster, thinking of an xk8 for later

I love the ride of e39. A friend had a 525i and I like the quite and comfortable no-drama ride. However, I am not sure if he had the sports package. Didnt really take a note of the steering wheel or the seats.

Do you guys recommend getting a sports package or normal? Yah I do need heated seats though(winter package or not).
How much should I expect pay for an 01-03 530i less than 120k miles? I know it depends on the condition of the car, but I'd rather hear it from the owners.

I read more about the dead pixels and cooling system over at bimmerfest. I am pretty sure I can handle most of the stuff DIY. I was more worried about something bigger like the subframe issues early e46 had, which seems to be not the case with e39.

Again, thank you guys. I will keep on posting when I find the ones I like. I might go and test drive a few before the holidays to get a feel.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:43 PM   #10
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E39 is a brick ****house.

Suggest you read this Wiki if you have not checked it out - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_5_Series_%28E39%29

I have heard is was one of he first CAD designed BMW's and the engineers were not 100% sure they could trust CAD, so they went a bit over board to some extent.

I am unaware of any type of subframe issues or metal related problems.

The E39 is also a nice looking design, not dated looking even by today's standards.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:58 PM   #11
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E39 is a brick ****house.

Suggest you read this Wiki if you have not checked it out - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_5_Series_%28E39%29

I have heard is was one of he first CAD designed BMW's and the engineers were not 100% sure they could trust CAD, so they went a bit over board to some extent.

I am unaware of any type of subframe issues or metal related problems.

The E39 is also a nice looking design, not dated looking even by today's standards.
Yup, I read up on the wiki.
I love e39 design, flows really nice. I am not a big fan of e60 either. I'd rather have an e90 than e60.

I was torn between Acura TL and e39 530i if I were to buy a used car and hyundai veloster or jetta if I was buying a new one. I think I'm more inclined towards e39 now because I know e46 more than any of the above mentioned cars.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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Hyundai? Really!!
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:47 AM   #13
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E39 FTMFW! I'm still looking for a good example 530i with an enticing price, until then I'm open to offers on my ZHP... I like my car, but I haven't thoroughly enjoyed it like I did my E36's but I really can't give up the improved comfort, so I might as well go all the way and get something really cozy Or not if I can't get a good offer or find a good 530i... lol.

You should definitely go E39 though, they're considered by just about anyone who knows BMW as one of they're best chasis of all time.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:58 AM   #14
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E39 is a brick ****house.

Suggest you read this Wiki if you have not checked it out - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_5_Series_%28E39%29

I have heard is was one of he first CAD designed BMW's and the engineers were not 100% sure they could trust CAD, so they went a bit over board to some extent.

I am unaware of any type of subframe issues or metal related problems.

The E39 is also a nice looking design, not dated looking even by today's standards.
Except for the regulators, door panels, exterior window moldings, exterior door handles, ignition switch, air filter housings, and oil leaks on the M62 :-p

Superb car but don't mislead anyone into thinking they won't experience any problems.

As far as the subframe goes, it's a much wider subframe so inherently it doesn't subject the body to the kinds of twisting forces the E46 might:

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Old 12-12-2012, 05:11 AM   #15
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I have not mislead anyone that they will not experience any problems, they are a big brother to the E46.

I mentioned window moldings & vapor barriers, I cannot recall or list everything.

I think the window regulators are a bit more hefty than the E46?? At least I do not know anyone who has had issues.

Ignition switch is probably no different than the E46 as far as issues?

Forgot to mention same or worse power steering hose problems.

But at least I do not have any oil leak or air filter housing issues as I have an S62! I think the S62 makes up for any short comings that the E39 may have!

My point the chassis is a very tight, well designed and safe chassis.

But it is still a BMW so expect the nit picky problems.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:49 AM   #16
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Many of the same problems, headlight adjusters do break, you DO NOT need to cut open the later models to replace the adjusters, BUT it is not easy. Ask me how I know!
Other than zip tie mod, how?


For a 530i/5 M-Sport <120k miles, I'm betting north of $9-10k. A friend bought a '03 matching that description with 70k miles for $12k or so the same week I got mine. I still maintain I got the better deal, but well maintained high mileage M54's don't concern me.


IMHO, the E39 is a grown up, proper E46. Everything you love about the E46, with a bit more, but without the newer car suck. Or the expensive luxury car suck. Mine even averages damn near the same mileage as my 323i when I drive it nice. (upper 20s, low 30's mpg) It's even ~3600lbs, as opposed to nearly 4000lbs or more with the E60 and above. And where else are you going to find a luxury car of the level of an E39 with a third pedal and a sporty attitude?
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:32 AM   #17
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Other than zip tie mod, how?
A lot of patients, slim fingers and a long thin screwdriver. No cutting or drilling. You need a piece of scrap carpet or some towels to put on a table or the floor while you flip the housing in every conceivable position, curse a lot and use your legs or have a helper to hold things. Once you get one side figured out, the other side can be done in 1/2 the time!

You end up accessing the adjusters from the rear housing opening. You need to take apart everything from the rear of the housing. It is tricky as one adjust is installed in the blind, one adjuster is pretty easy to replace.

You MUST also wet sand and polish the lens as well. The clear coat crap Hella put on the E39 headlights did not hold up more than about 5 years. I never reclear coat my lens, just wax often and if needed will rebuff if they start to cloud. I did mine about 2 years ago and no issues as of yet.

If you replace the adjusters, properly adjust the headlights, wet sand and polish the headlight lens you will actually be able to see at night!
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:56 AM   #18
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Hyundai? Really!!
Yah, it was and still one my considerations. Hyundai has come a long way and I want something reliable and cheap if my fiance is going to be driving around. Not to mention the warranty it should come with. And for a daily driver I am not going to spend a lot.

Quote:
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I have not mislead anyone that they will not experience any problems, they are a big brother to the E46.

I mentioned window moldings & vapor barriers, I cannot recall or list everything.

I think the window regulators are a bit more hefty than the E46?? At least I do not know anyone who has had issues.

Ignition switch is probably no different than the E46 as far as issues?

Forgot to mention same or worse power steering hose problems.

But at least I do not have any oil leak or air filter housing issues as I have an S62! I think the S62 makes up for any short comings that the E39 may have!

My point the chassis is a very tight, well designed and safe chassis.

But it is still a BMW so expect the nit picky problems.
I have learnt to live/deal with all the quirks on e46 and e39 just seems to be a bigger brother. So, I am pretty sure I will be able to handle those situations where something small breaks.

I am/was more concerned with the major issues that I cant take care of myself.I like e39s and being able to DIY adds more inclination towards it. To me car is a car, a machine designed to serve our needs. A machine is destined to break down, but with e39 I shall be ready for such cases. I do not treat car as a trophy or novelty. I want something that will give me safety, comfort and I will able to work on it if required.

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Other than zip tie mod, how?


For a 530i/5 M-Sport <120k miles, I'm betting north of $9-10k. A friend bought a '03 matching that description with 70k miles for $12k or so the same week I got mine. I still maintain I got the better deal, but well maintained high mileage M54's don't concern me.


IMHO, the E39 is a grown up, proper E46. Everything you love about the E46, with a bit more, but without the newer car suck. Or the expensive luxury car suck. Mine even averages damn near the same mileage as my 323i when I drive it nice. (upper 20s, low 30's mpg) It's even ~3600lbs, as opposed to nearly 4000lbs or more with the E60 and above. And where else are you going to find a luxury car of the level of an E39 with a third pedal and a sporty attitude?
Thats what I guessed for a price point on a well maintained e39. I will keep on looking for a good one to show up.

Thank you guys, you have been a great help.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:49 AM   #19
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I have not mislead anyone that they will not experience any problems, they are a big brother to the E46.

I mentioned window moldings & vapor barriers, I cannot recall or list everything.

I think the window regulators are a bit more hefty than the E46?? At least I do not know anyone who has had issues.

Ignition switch is probably no different than the E46 as far as issues?

Forgot to mention same or worse power steering hose problems.

But at least I do not have any oil leak or air filter housing issues as I have an S62! I think the S62 makes up for any short comings that the E39 may have!

My point the chassis is a very tight, well designed and safe chassis.

But it is still a BMW so expect the nit picky problems.
My E39 ignition switch crapped out. I've actually NEVER SEEN OR HEARD OF an E46 ignition switch problem. Makes me think the problem doesn't exist on E46?? E39 forums are littered with ignition switch problem threads. Beats me.

Of course, the E39 is brilliant and probably one of the best cars human beings have ever created. Along with the E46 and E38. And that's about it.

The air filter housings on my E39 would always pop off. No matter what I did they never closed correctly (warped???) the E46 design is so simple and easy.

The E39 door panels. Just like the E36--terribly constructed. They do repair nicer than the E36 ones did though IIRC.

Actually the car I was trying to purchase before my E46 was a 2002 530i 5-speed manual w/ sport package. It was jet black with black interior. It sold within minutes of the ad going up... but then so did the car I'm driving now
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:07 AM   #20
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I love the E39's. One of the most timeless cars ever built.
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