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1999 BMW 540i Touring... should i buy??

Discussion in 'Member Introductions' started by dbarnobmws, Aug 2, 2012.

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    dbarnobmws

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    I am an experienced BMW enthusiast since 1972 (2002tii, a great car). Presently have a great '88 BMW 535i E28 in great condition which is my wife's daily driver. Also a nice 05 BMW 325i that is a good trip car.

    I have a chance to buy a 1999 540i Touring wagon in really excellent condition. A Florida car with no winters and 149,090 miles, mostly highway. In going through the complete service records, I was really struck by how much big $$$ the owners have put into the car. Partly explained by the fact that they took the car to the closest dealer and said, "Do whatever it needs!" and they DID!! It has every option and looks and drives about like a 20,000 mile car. I sent Mike Miller (Tech Talk) an email for verification that this car does have the VANOS engine.

    My question is whether this, is this a relatively durable and trouble-free model? I probably can't do as much of my own work as I can on the '88 535i. There are more electronics and electro-mechanical systems than any car I have ever seen. Can probably get it for $4,750- $5,000. Want to avoid a money pit. Can anyone shed light on the service history of this model? Advice & comments gratefully hoped for. Standing by to hear from you.

    Thanks,

    Doug
    Granville, OH
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    MGarrison

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    So that has the M62 - if the car's been very well maintained, I wouldn't _expect_ it to be a money pit. If the service history has included valve cover gaskets, the OSV, valley pan gasket, possibly coil packs by that mileage/age, radiator, expansion tank, water-pump, fan blade, probably most if not all coolant hoses by that time, and, if it's an automatic, regular transmission service if not outright replacement, plus, the front suspension bits that are likely similar to your E28's, and anything else fiddly that's come up, and the a/c's in good shape... you may be good to go. Wheel bearings might be coming up at that mileage. Mike Miller really should have some much more informed info for you.

    I _think_ it's possible that at least some of the issues that seemed common for earlier M62's may have been addressed in part by '99, but I don't know if there's anything to back that up from owner experience or documented in internet forums. If you search through bimmerforums.com, you find enough info about tackling some of the above issues that it can be off-putting, but it's all serviceable enough, you just have to change your expectations from what you're used to with your E28 - it's going to be more complicated, more of a hassle, and take longer; but, it's do-able, with patience, time, and effort. But, some of what I mention above is why you easily see nearly $90k-when-new late-90's 740i's on craigslist and elsewhere for $5k, $4k, or less. For instance, my mom's '97 740il transmission went out a little over 100k, was about a $5k replacement job - transmission cost I think was about $2.7k or so, the rest was labor. Thus, my mention of transmission service; and Mike Miller has a clearer picture on a/t lifespan, but I think he wrote up something some while back about a/t fluid changing and such maintenance extending the usable lifespan for auto trannies. Full replacement seems likely less typical for manual transmissions - if reasonably maintained, then you should get by with needing clutches every so often instead of worrying about the transmission going out.

    However, a well maintained clean car that looks and runs good now? Heck, you'd probably get $5k use out of it driving it the next 50k miles even if you didn't bother fixing anything that wasn't making the car inherently unsafe. You're certainly not into it for much, relatively speaking, at $5k, unless something major were to go wrong within a short time after assuming ownership. But, if you can get your use out of it, particularly with no major expense, then, easy-in and easy-out.

    At 100k seems (sorta, kinda, maybe, ymmv) like a demarcation pt. Haven't replaced your water pump by 80-100k? Better hop to it... similarly with radiator and expansion tank... transmission fluid hasn't been flushed every 30-50k? (and then there's the issue of what's best to do if not...) Well, then.... and so on - fwiw, my mom's water pump didn't let go catastrophically, it started knocking and hung in there for a little while until it got changed (lucky, thankfully).

    And, there's the one-owner, full maintenance history aspect - it's valuable knowledge having the complete service history, you don't come across that with that many used cars. I'm not particularly familiar with the E39 chassis, so search bimmerforums.com or bimmerfest.com and see what you come up with.
    dbarnobmws likes this.
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    dbarnobmws

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    dbarnobmws

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    Boy, what a GREAT reply. Many thanks. You obviously know your way around this car. I am hoping to hear back from Mike Miller today. Will also check both bimmerforms.com and bimmerfest.com to see if I can dredge up anything else. Will try to make a decide whether to submit an offer today or Saturday. I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks again, Doug

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