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Buying E39

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by Touring525i4dawgs, Feb 1, 2012.

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    Touring525i4dawgs '02 525it M sport

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    Looking for any helpful information on problems should be looking for in this model range.Searching for info on wagons only.
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    eblue540 Fourth Gen Bimmers

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    These cars are beautiful and reliable with proper maintenance. As the youngest ones out there are almost 10 years old, it would be better for you if you enjoy doing some of your own maintenance. Look for a car with maintenance records and look for the following work done on any car over 50k miles (which will be most of the ones you find):

    -Prophylactic replacement of the cooling system elements, including radiator, expansion tank, hoses and thermostat. These parts are plastic and must be replaced to avoid roadside stranding when they let go some time before 100k miles. Replace coolant every 2 years WITHOUT FAIL.

    -Engine fan replacement. Another weak design which should be preventatively replaced to avoid funny looking dents in your hood and another roadside adventure.

    -Valley pan replacement if it is a V8. Haven't done this one on mine yet, but at some point the intake manifold and some other stuff will need to come off the engine and this bead of silicone goo replaced to address water dripping "from the engine". Not a road side adventure, more of a slowly progressing failure, as I understand it.

    There are other issues which seem to crop up as well on these cars, others may chime in on those. Don't be alarmed, these cars are very satisfying to drive and now very afordable. If the car is fundamentally sound and you plan to keep it a while, these issues (if not done by PO) are do-it-yourself possible if you are handy and have some mechanical confidence (YouTube also helps - A BUNCH!).

    There are fewer on the road now, so in a few years it will just be us diehards that will still drive and maintain these old e39's.

    Your last challenge: find one in a color that is not Black, Silver or some shade in between, especially a wagon :)

    Good luck!
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    Touring525i4dawgs '02 525it M sport

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    Hey Chris thanx for the great info! I look forward to posting pics of it.The car is dark blue 2002 525i touring M sport.It is in great conditon! Thanx again for the help

    drummerfc guest

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    More info for you if you're game (affects the whole model not just the wagons)...

    - Be on the lookout for an HVAC system that acts like it's actually alive. A part called the "final stage resistor" will go, resulting in the system changing fan speeds without user input. Eventually the thing will actually run when off or worse, when the entire car is off and parked...resulting in a dead battery.

    - Be on the lookout for water leaks after a big downpour or when you wash it. You will notice wet carpet in the footwells in the rear. It's an easy/inexpensive fix but just FYI.

    - The radio/computer/clock/etc. display will start to "pixelize" (I think that's the proper word to describe the phenomenon LOL :p!). What happens is, your station, say "102.9" will look like partial numbers, as parts of the digits will not display. Not really worth the money (for me anyway - $1000 for the part alone from BMW) to fix but supposedly there are companies out there (check the ads in Roundel or ask around here)...supposedly you can get a rebuilt display fairly reasonably.

    - I can't say this enough so I'm going to shout it: FIND A RELIABLE INDEPENDENT MECHANIC...DO NOT GO TO THE DEALERSHIP FOR SERVICE!!!! ;) I don't care HOW far away the guy might be...it's worth it. The dealerships will kill you - bank on it.

    I echo what Chris said above - it's a beautiful and really fun to drive car! It is a heavy car but I'm still amazed how well it handles and moves for all that weight! IMHO, the E39 is one of the last models from the BMW marque that lives up to the current "Joy" marketing campaign. This car had it's era prior to all of the "nanny" systems and bells and whistles you would now get in a new 5 series, and it was built prior to the "Bangle butt" era 5-ers. Mine still turns heads and still gets compliments, 10 years and 150,000 miles later! I am going to drive this car until it falls apart around me.
    Hope this helps...and good luck to ya!
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    brucembergeron

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    Couldn't agree more with your comments. I've had a few E39's and loved each one. It's kinda funny but almost every repair/maintenance issue mentioned I've had to do to all my E39's. But most are DIY jobs, even for someone like me with little experience. Bavarian Auto and I are very familiar with one another. My 525iT sport, with manual transmission has been upgraded with most of the available Dinan tweaks. It's a blast to take to the track and surprise the hell out the "little" cars.
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    Raypf1

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    - Be on the lookout for water leaks after a big downpour or when you wash it. You will notice wet carpet in the footwells in the rear. It's an easy/inexpensive fix but just FYI.

    quick question... what is the issue with the water, and, what is the fix?

    thanks in advance.
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    eblue540 Fourth Gen Bimmers

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    I experienced this issue with my e46. Between the interior trim panel of your door (the interior part that you see) and the interior cavity of the door where the window lift mechanisms live, there is a water tight diaphragm. In my car this is made of formed semi rigid material that looks like some kind of foam. This diaphragm is supposed to be glued completely to the painted metal of the door shell and provides a water tight seal against the ingress of water which gets into the inside of the door shell, and it certainly leaves the factory in that condition.

    Since the window lift mechanism had failed on a number of these cars over time, and repairers or prior owners have opened up the doors to get in and fix them (a reasonably easy DIY job), the resealing of the diaphragm after that repair has not always been 100%. So, then, when it rains heavily, the water gets into the interior of the car. I also believe that in some cases the factory seal fails due to age. At any rate, the fix is to take off the door trim and reglue the diaphragm in all the way around.

    There might be other water ingress mechanisms that others will report, but that is the one I am familiar with.
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    Raypf1

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    thanks very much for the information.

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