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E39 5 Series background

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by Bill Howard, Dec 7, 2007.

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What year was best for the E39 5 Series

1997 E39 2 vote(s) 2.5%
1998 E39 3 vote(s) 3.7%
1999 E39 5 vote(s) 6.2%
2000 E39 8 vote(s) 9.9%
2001 E39 9 vote(s) 11.1%
2002 E39 16 vote(s) 19.8%
2003 E39 38 vote(s) 46.9%
    • Member

    Bill Howard

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    For many, the E39 5 Series represents one of the best-balanced of BMW models, holding fast to BMW tradition while dabbling in the electronics technology that has come on full force in the most current models. The 2002 5 Series was the best car ever tested, Consumer Reports declared. It's the fourth of five generations of the 5 Series: E12 (1972-1981 (production dates), E28 (1982-1988), E34 (1988-1996), E39 (1996-2004), and E60/E61 (2004-present). And it's the most-honored: Car and Driver magazine put the E39 on its TenBest list for six years, 1997-2002, while Consumer Reports declared it was (at the time) the quietest car it ever tested, as well as the best.

    Models, engines. Sold in the U.S. 1997-2003, the first model was the 528i, with a 2.8-liter, 193-hp inline six, followed by small/big six versions, the 2001-2003 525i with a 2.5-liter 184-hp engine and the 2001-2003 530i with a 3.0-liter 225-hp engine. The V8 540i arrived in 1998 with a 4.4-liter, 282-hp engine, which crept up to 286 and 290 hp by 2003. The M5 was offered 2000-2003 with a 4.9-liter, 394-hp engine. The six-cylinder BMWs were relatively trouble-free while the V8s suffered in comparion. In Europe, BMW offered inline sixes as small as 2.0 liters, and from 1998 on, diesel versions.

    Features, options. The first E39 BMWs came to the U.S. in late 1996. BMW bulked up safety offerings in 1998 with the head protection system and optional rear side airbags. The station wagon (Touring) arrived in 1999. For 1999, BMW also kicked up the technology offerings with park distance control, self-leveling rear suspensions (wagons), and dynamic stability control (standard V8, optional V6). For 2000, the automatic transmission got a fifth gear (9/99 production onward), DSC became standard on the sixes, while xenon headlamps and rain-sensing wipers followed the previous year's path (standard V8, option I6). For 2001, BMW changed around the lighting: corona rings or angel eyes in front, LEDS for rear taillights and markers, clear not yellow rear turn signals. The navigation system got a wider screen but still no CD-player ability. For 2002, CD became standard across the line (except on navi cars) and automatic climate control became standard on the entry 525i. For the E39 farewell tour year, 2003, the cars got more chrome trim and the optional navigation system was changed from eight CDs for the U.S. to one DVD. The wagon continued on through calendar 2004.

    Please use this forum (BMW CCA > Model Discussions > 5-Series > E39 4th generation (1997-2003)) to post questions and comments about the car. Tell us what year was best for the E39, or share a favorite repair, um, experience. (Hello, V8 owners.) If you've got pictures of your favorite E39 BMW, post them in the Gallery. - Bill

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    • Member

    Louis

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    V8 variants were the initial 540i through 1998 with a 4.4-liter, 282-hp engine, and the 1998-2003 540i with a 4.4-liter engine and 282 hp.
    engines the same for the two periods???

    The M5 was offered 2003-2003
    2003-2003??? (S/B 2000-2003)
    • Member

    Louis

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    Already asked, but why do I have to "Please click one of the Quick Reply icons in the posts above to activate Quick Reply when I want to post a reply?
    • Member

    Bill Howard

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    Noted. You're right - there should be a quick reply button not click here to activate quick reply. You can just hit Quote and wipe out the quote part, but that's a time sink, too.

    GregS_WI guest

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    It has to be the 2003 540 6 speed

    With the suspension parts borrowed from the M5, it has be the king of the heap.

    (But since money is an object at my house, I'm very happy with my 530 5spd sport...)

    mvision7m guest

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    Hey guys, I own a 2002 540i with the sport package and I must say that it has given me far less trouble than my previous car which was a 1998 740iL. With the 7 if it wasn't one thing it was another and a lot of that had to do with the motor. I'm not even talking about water pump failure or thermostat but sensors, the radiator, a hose burst on me once and the hoses at the back of the engine leaked and needed to be replaced as well as both catalytic converters. As much as I loved that car every time I drove it I was always worried about what would be next. The 740 was the first car I had ever owned that left me stranded on the side of the road because of a failure of one kind or another and that happened more than once. The 540 did shut down on me once where it needed to be towed because of a fuel sensor if I'm remembering correctly but other than that one instance it has performed wonderfully. My 5er has treated me very well in all respects though I'm still bothered with the notion that a BMW should never leave you stuck roadside. I've owned Acura's, Hondas, Mitsubishi's and a (gulp) Dodge and none of them ever threatened to make me suffer the same indignity. A few friends found it pretty funny that they had to come and pick me up on the side of the road in their cheap car because my $65,000 (new) car broke down (again). I still miss the 7, maybe because it was my first BMW I don't know but in spite of the heartache it gave me I loved it and was sad to see it go. I love the 540 also and given the fact that it has been relatively trouble free to own over the almost two years that I've had it makes it all the sweeter.
    • Member

    eblue540 Fourth Gen Bimmers

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    Partial to My 1998...

    Of course I vote for the year I know best! Seriously, for a 10 year old car, it still turns my head backward every time I walk away from it...

    dilaar guest

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    It would have to be the 2003 540i sport 6 speed

    I was lucky enough to land on one with 36K and the car is unbelievable. I went with the 2003 540i instead of a 2001 M5 because it presented the right value for the money. And if I am going to own an M5 I am going to have to move somewhere with real highways (not the pot holed and rutted paths we call highways around here in the Boston area)

    Matt
    • Member

    330indy1

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    good point! for a ten year old car it is stunning.

    I have a 2001 530i step and it has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. It never ceases to impress with gutsy power, decent mileage, superb driver position, handling, and smooth ride, especially on the highway at triple digits...

    And there's a long history of many cars: Hondas, Acura, Mitsubishi, VW, and three other Bimmers: e36, e46, e85. Can't complain about the other bimmers however, as they have been very reliable as well. The e39 is the highest mileage so it gets more credit!

    M3Driver guest

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    2000 528i here. It's got 104,500 miles on it and still runs and looks great. I've used the "Old School" maintenance on it (Thanks to Mike M. from Tech Talk) and it's paid off. Averages around 24 mpg too.
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    ja540i6

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    2003 540i Mtec 6 Speed Sterling Gray

    My name is Dwight and this is my first drink. (post) I got car September 2006 with 58000 miles after searching for about five months. I desired 03 M5 but rationalized lower maintenance with 540i. I specifically wanted 03 because I figured BMW would have corrected most problems associated with E39 model by then.Car is still stock at 81000 miles and I am still satisfied with it. Driving with low profile MPars in NYC is a pain. I have had to repair bent or cracked rims a few times and of course I replaced cracked radiator at 71000 miles and the steering rack sometimes make car feel like it has no power steering at high RPM. In spite of this the power, torque and handling at triple digit speed makes me want to keep car for a long time. The car feels like its tuned to cruise at 90 - 100MPH all day.

    waynelee guest

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    2000 528 sport wagon

    I'm new to the 5s and I feel lucky to find a black/black 5 speed with only 60k
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    az3579

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    Are you sure it arrived in '98? My brother just sold his 540i, which was a '97. I don't know what year it was manufactured, but it had to be either early '97 or late '96 to qualify has a '97 model, unless I'm mistaken...


    Loved that car to bits though. Nothing was really ever wrong with it other than the check engine light being on after the car was sitting for 2 years.

    e396spd guest

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    2001 cosmetic upgrades were great

    I say this as a '99 (2 540s) owner, but the 2001 finally gave the car modern-looking headlights and tails, and it makes a huge difference in initial impression. No offense to '97 owners, but '98 might be one of the great years because it avoids the complications of VANOS, but also deletes the cruise control button on the dash, which drives me nuts in my '95 e38. It's a small thing, but man it sucks to get used to the updated cruise and then hop back in one without it.

    Personally I like having the VANOS engine, if only because it is so much cleaner around the throttle body.

    The auto headlights in 2002 were a great upgrade, finally giving functionality Buick has had since the early '80s.

    2003 looks great with M5 styling, but I agree with the other poster who said 18 inch wheels may be too big on bad roads. I have tried 18s on my cars, but I am much happier with the stock (for my 6 speed car) 17 inch wheels for a balance between handling and ride quality.
    • Member

    suss1173

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    I think the 540 sport is the best balance of a sport/ luxury 4 door available for the money.

    All of the v8 five series I have driven have been great, but I like the newer ones with the vanos, I think it makes a noticeable difference IMO.
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    Paul the German

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    paul 325319

    i vote for the 2000 e39
    • Member

    330indy1

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    really? want to tell us why?

    kbuicker guest

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    My 01 540 still catches my eye as if it were new. I love the lines on the car.. hard to believe it's 7 years old.

    Autohaus guest

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    The E39, in my opinion and maybe others, is by far the best overall BMW ever made. The only flaw in the interior are those flimsy cup holders. The wrap-around interior gives you the feeling of a million bucks. The first time I sat in an E39 was way back in the summer of 1996. I knew back then that I needed to get one of these. The current E60 is a great automobile, though the styling both inside and out doesn't capture me as much as the E39. My 2001 525i has 110K on the ticker and going strong. Yes it is a poor mans E39, but I would rather have a poor mans E39 than a rice rocket honda civic!

    Chris
    Beacon, NY

    87 528e
    01 525i
    03 325xi
    • Member

    az3579

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    This is exactly what makes the E46 so appealing to me. The E39 set the standard!

    Amen brotha.




    Georgeous E39 BTW, kbuicker.

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