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E39 Safety?

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by jeleccion, Mar 11, 2017.

    • Member

    jeleccion

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    Hello all,

    I am wondering if anyone has any knowledge on how safe the e39 is compared to today's standards. I am aware that it is known as a very safe car, but I am wondering exactly how it stacks up to other cars these days. Ideally, I would love it if the e39 was ranked as a Top Safety Pick today, but I doubt that would happen.
    On IIHS, it has a "Good" rating, but for some reason, only the moderate overlap front was tested. I find it a bit disconcerting that nothing else was tested in the car, and I would be interested in knowing the safety ratings for the other safety systems in the car.
    Basically, I am concerned if I am as safe in this car as I would be in a new car with a Top Safety Pick rating.
    I am also wondering how time affects the integrity of the safety systems in the car. I am currently driving a 2000 528i with about 117,000 mi on it.
    Finally, as my car is pre-facelift, is the 2001-2003 facelift e39 safer than mine? And if so, what safety additions were made to the car?

    Thanks everyone!
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    There are probably some E39-specific forums (google search BMW E39, also see what's on bimmerforums, bimmerfest, etc.)

    I'd say look into the takata airbag recall and if that goes back into your car - depending on where the car's spent the bulk of it's life, apparently, affects the likelihood of the shrapnelling airbag igniter - I think hot, humid locales were noted to be the most problematic areas? Anyway, if there's something particularly to throw some worry at, I'd put most of it to that. I think the facelift is really just that, an update to the looks of the car & maybe some features, but I don't think anything structural. I could see a transition period in some cars adding side, seat, or door-frame head airbags, possibly, if there was a transition period where such features were made standard across the line, but I wouldn't know if such specifics apply to E39's. Each new model & or generation is an advancement in some regard or another. The evolution of each generation's unibody seems to be ever stiffer, which, not being a structural engineer, I can only guess, but I'd think would mean more specifically engineered deformation areas in the event of hard crashes, with potentially less deformation of passenger areas. However, BMW, I think, places a lot of emphasis on safety engineering for its cars, it's probably safe to say except for the airbag issue, there are lots of 15 yr-old bimmers that are safer than new cars. I saw a offset-frontal-crash test video a couple years ago of a Mazda cx3 or cx5, and the slo-mo of the way that thing crumpled... eek. I think I'd rather be in an E39 (w/ a replaced airbag) any time rather than one of those Mazdas, new.

    If a new BMW has a higher safety rating than the E39 did at the time, I would guess there's no doubt the newer car is safer, but that also doesn't mean an E39 is unsafe. Hopefully somebody can pipe-up with more specifics for you.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    charlson89

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    Comparing a new car to a old one really isn't the best. Since mainly the technology changes over time and so does what they test for in a crash test. A crash test done by today standards is far more intensive than one 10 years ago. So if you compare the new 5 series to a e39 with todays crash test the G30 will most likely get a higher score. Due to the technology used to channel force of a accident around the passenger compartment instead of through it. The e39 has this as well and can be seen in crash videos but obviously a newer vehicle will reform this design in a better way. The e39 does use door catches that hold during a impact and after the force is gone can be opened. In all the accidents I've seen with BMW's the door was never stuck closed I could always open it. The e39 also had side impact airbags in the doors and the head protection system for side impacts. Both driver and passenger airbags are dual stage meaning they adjust there inflation compared to how hard the impact is. The engine has break away design so the motor in a front collision will go under the passenger cabin and not through it. The drive shaft and steering column are collapsible in a accident. Also when a accident occurs a device called a BST goes off killing electrical power to the vehicle to prevent fires. These features in new vehicles are pretty standard now but back then not many has these safety features. The luxury vehicles always develop these new high tech safety features and other technology and it trickles down into other vehicle makes and models. Also another thing to keep in mind is newer vehicles have to become more and more fuel and emission efficient so that means the best way to do this is to save weight on the vehicle. Means different metals and plastics compared to your solid steel e39. As for the age of the vehicle and the safety devices this really does not have a effect on them since they don't really have any components that can wear out they just sit until they are needed. Of course get your recalls fixed and make sure you don't have a airbag warning light on and your in one safe car for sure.

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