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Buying Used E39 528i What to Look Out For...

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by JDiazAmador, Jan 17, 2010.

    • Member

    JDiazAmador

    Post Count: 91
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    After lengthy searching for my first BMW, I have found a 2000 528i 5 Spd with the Sport Package. I'm assuming its a rare find (first one like this I've seen). Probably not a common configuration.

    I got a chance to check out and test drive the car yesterday. Unfortunately I got to the (private) sellers location at sunset, so I was not able to really check the car in bright light. In the dim light it looked good. The interior is in quite good shape. Leather shows slight wear on drivers and even slighter on passenger, and rear seats look great.

    An extensive test drive at speeds up to around 80 mph did not reveal any problems. No vibrations / steering wobble / brakes OK. The engine is capable of pulling at 1200 rpm in 5th gear without shaking. I just didn't notice anything negative at all.

    The price is right, I have the cash, I need a car, so I'm thinking this might be a good deal. Carfax records are good, and the current owner knew the previous owner personally. Unfortunately the service records don't seem to be complete. It seems that records are only available from the 2nd and 3rd owners (starting around 46 k miles)

    I do know that the radiator and hoses were replaced. I was able to verify that the radiator looks new (BEHR decals are still clean). Carfax states that the water pump was replaced at 51k miles. There is no record of the clutch being changed (car has 145k miles). Can a 528 clutch last that long? Should I be expecting a clutch change in the near future if I buy? The clutch seemed to work fine during the test drive.

    I didn't notice the VIN number decals on the doors/fenders etc. Where are they located? I did notice the red triangle reflective decals on the inside of the front doors. I'd be surprised if they were repainted.

    What should I be paying attention to here to make sure that I am getting a good buy? I'd like to move forward with this as quickly as practically possible. I'm currently paying the equivalent of an $800/mo car payment driving a rental car.

    I don't need perfection, just a decent deal, a fun car to drive, and if I have to replace a few items in the future that will be OK. That's the price you pay for not having a car payment.

    Also, I'm still looking for recommendations of an independent BMW repair shop in Hollywood / North Hollywood / Burbank / Glendale CA.

    I greatly appreciate any help you provide and look forward to "joining the club"

    -Jorge
    Hollywood, CA

    M3Driver guest

    Post Count: 619
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    Email Mike Miller at 'techtalk@roundel.org' and he can send you a few pointers. He's quick to respond to email.

    cheers...
    • Member

    az3579

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    So far it sounds like a good buy, and you're well informed about what to look for and what to expect if you bought it. Depending on how much he's asking for, I'd say go for it.
    • Member

    JDiazAmador

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    I've determined that the price is fair and the configuration is not common. I noticed a lot of E39's on ebaymotors that claimed "Sport Package" but did not have the three-spoke steering wheel.

    I just have to do my due diligence so I can make sure I don't get hit with a big repair bill straight away. I also have to check the body out in bright light - I had to see at night yesterday.

    Where are the VIN number stickers on the body panels and doors located?
    • Member

    connorb850

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    I don't think the E39's have VIN tags on the panels/doors like the older BMWs. At least I never found them on the E39 525i I used to own, or on my parents E39 540i.
    • Member

    Steven Otto

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    Here's my $0.02.

    At 145K, it's probably ready for a clutch, if not now, probably within the next 20K. Need to know when the last inspection was performed. Tranny fluid ought to be changed as well as the differential fluid. (Hint...if the owner cannot tell you when the last time they were changed, then it needs it). It's overdue for another water pump. To be safe they need to be changed every 60k. Might also see when the last time the brake fluid was changed also. If it was more than 2 years ago it needs it.

    The advice to email Mike Miller was sound. He'll have a laundry list of stuff for you to check.

    Autohaus guest

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    My 01 E39 is approaching 145K miles and thus far I have done a full tune-up, replaced the water pump and thermostat once (previous owner did it at 70K), coolant hoses, radiator, expansion tank, coil boots (all six), pulleys, battery and alternator. I had the diff and manual trans fluid replaced twice since I took ownership at 79,994 miles. If the car felt smooth at 80mph, then the front end was probably recently replaced. At 80mph I have a mild vibration as I need some front end work. The 528i sport is a great buy. See the car again in broad daylight and try to have a indy perform a PPI. However, from what you've told us so far, it looks like a good deal.
    • Member

    JDiazAmador

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    The water pump was replaced at 51.5k miles (according to Carfax), this was done just after purchase by the second owner. I'll have to see if that pump was replaced again, otherwise it's getting close to 100k so it will be first on the list.

    The last smog test was almost two years ago, and 26k miles ago. The current owner is going to get it smogged today. Hopefully it will pass. Mike Miller said it was unlikely to pass unless the plugs, air & fuel filter, and at least 2 of the 4 O2 sensors were changed. Hopefully these items are still good from the last tune-up.

    I found out that Avus Autosport, an independent BMW shop and Dinan dealer, is located close by in Glendale, CA. Does anyone have experience with them?
    • Member

    JDiazAmador

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    I was surprised not to see them, as my 1997 Toyota 4Runner had them on every body panel / door. But Mike Miller told me that the auto manufacturers lobbied (greased) a few congressmen and got that law changed.
    • Member

    JDiazAmador

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    Got the car!

    Drove close to 100 miles yesterday and all was smooth. But after sitting overnight in cold weather it would not start this morning. Turns out the battery is shot. Will be replacing that today.

    My original key seems to need a new battery. Does anyone know how to go about getting that taken care of?

    -Jorge
    • Member

    dms540i

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    Easy. Pop the back off the key fob and go to CVS and look for the same battery. I'm getting woozy with all these issues.
    • Member

    JDiazAmador

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    I read a bunch of posts about that on other forums. Its seems to never work out. Either the car won't start, or it is OK at first, but the key is "dead" within a month.

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