Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

New from Richmond VA

Discussion in 'South Central Region' started by JillianRVA, May 30, 2018.

    • Member

    JillianRVA

    Post Count: 2
    Likes Received:0
    Hi, my dad has been a long time BMW owner. He recently passed away and I now have his car. It is a 1997 528i in mint condition and only 19k miles. When I recently took it to a dealer to be serviced, I found out how special the car is. We were planning to sell it but have decided to keep it. I am new to BMW and looking forward to learn more about the car and the brand.
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 3,697
    Likes Received:224
    Wow, very low miles - sorry to hear about your dad, my condolences to your & your family. Such low mileage of course, wouldn't expect any of the usual stuff one hears about to be an issue yet. However, there's still aging from passage of time. Tires for instance - no way the original tires would have been worn out at such a low mileage, but tires simply age-out; if the tires on the car have never been replaced or were but are now 10-11 yrs. old again, it would be highly advisable to put some new tires on the car, & the spare too would be a good idea.

    There's a code molded into the sidewall, use this as a guide to figure out how old the tires are (use a flashlight to help scope out the sidewalls - easier to see with some additional light):
    https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=11

    I'll relay my story with old tires - the Tire Rack had a tire I liked on closeout, bought 8 of them, stuck 4 on the car & the other 4 in the basement. Was dailying that car but not long after those tires got another daily-driver, so it took years to wear out the other tires; never gave much thought to tires aging-out just due to passage of time. Something like 8 years later, finally swapped the other 4 onto the car after the first four were shot. it was fall, so weather was variably cool &/or rainy. Found the tires were okay in dry conditions, mechanical grip was down when it was wet. Nearby is a highway exit ramp that's something like a 270° upwards-sloping loop before it straightens to merge into the next roadway. One day it's been a light rain, roads were just a little wet, car felt fine on the wet highway... I take this exit and am starting the turn around the ramp (at a sedate speed too) and the car snaps sideways with no warning at all of being near any kind of traction limit. Just, boom, and here I am sliding completely sideways up and around this looped ramp - fortunately I was able to catch the skid and no harm done, but I immediately realized the tires had aged & cured to where what little mechanical grip they had left was only there when it was dry. So, those tires got replaced as fast as I possibly could, & experienced 1st-hand that tires can have no wear & look perfectly fine, but be completely shot anyway. So now, after 6 years, maybe 7, regardless of wear, it's tire-replacement time. If you want to help ensure your dad's 5er stays as pristine as it is without suffering such an unexpected mishap, confirming the tires age & replacing if they're too old would be a good idea.

    Your model is an E39, BMW's chassis/bodystyles are designated (mostly) by various 'E', 'F', or 'G' codes. If you want to explore specific issues with yours, google up "BMW E39" and peruse the sections for your car in the other BMW-specific message forums & so-on.

    Here's the wiki page for some basic info:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_5_Series_(E39)

    You essentially have a time capsule of a vehicle there that has a number of things that can't be had in any BMW since before 2005-06. Regular tires, not "run-flats"... a spare tire in the trunk... a battery that you can replace yourself without requiring a service "registration" procedure... a normally-aspirated, non-turbo, inline straight-6 engine, possibly even a limited-slip differential if you're lucky, only to be found on the "M" models now. One thing 5ers of any era have excelled at is long-haul highway cruising comfort - without the extra weight of runflat tires compromising ride quality, you have a BMW that arguably does a better job at soaking up roadway imperfections and delivering ride quality than many BMW's ever since they dumped spares and went to runflats. The regular tires with the typical higher sidewalls also mean less chance of suffering a blowout or bent rim, all-too-common an issue on later bimmers with low-profile rft's. Maintenance is important, so staying on top of that will help keep things reliable.

    However, nothing is ever perfect with any BMW either - for whatever reason, German plastics in many applications in the cars just fails for no other apparent reason than a bit of age. You should research which engine you have in your car (you can use this vin decoder for reference: http://bimmer.work/) - your engine may possibly have a plastic-impeller water-pump for instance. There's no reason the water pump would have been replaced due to mileage, but the instances where the plastic impeller fails is a problem and you end up with much of the cooling system needing to be replaced. Plastic expansion tanks and plastic radiator necks on some of the era's engines are notoriously prone to failure and need to be monitored. Cupholder design was fussy & less than optimal - it might be worthwhile to forego using the stock cupholders, or, at least with advance notice, not be surprised if they break on you. If it has a sunroof, it may be that yours has the failure-prone plastic sunroof "cassette" tray, which keeps the sunroof cables in position; if yours has that and it breaks, I think you're looking at a parts & labor fix of something like $1k or more, the part running something like $800; so, that's worth researching if that's an issue. Easy-enough to not use the sunroof or unplug its switch to avoid the risk of an expensive repair. After a certain amount of usage or age, having window-motor regulators fail wouldn't be a surprise. The pixels in the dash displays can fail & drop out, although I believe there are shops in the aftermarket to fix such issues. Although the E39 would be complicated-enough in it's own right, it's still simpler than following years of bimmers, and there's plenty you can work on if you're inclined - Bentley manuals are very good, and they also have one for the E39: http://www.bentleypublishers.com/bm...bmw-5-series-e39-1997-2003-repair-manual.html

    realoem.com is a handy reference site for looking up parts, parts locations, and variably, the diagrams showing assembly order of parts, etc.

    Welcome aboard!
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 3,697
    Likes Received:224
    Forgot to mention to consider the difference in the driving dynamics, or at least potential, in a rear-wheel-drive car vs. front-wheel-drive. Front-wheel drivers tend to inherently understeer, with it being a rarer scenario of getting into an oversteer situation (which would require catching an oversteer skid or skids if such situation were to happen). BMW's typically are setup in street driving to understeer heavily, but, being rear-wheel drive, can transition into oversteer, where the back end of the car slides out. An infrequent occurrence in most everyday driving to be sure, but still possible. I've heard many say BMW's just aren't winter cars and don't get through snowy road conditions well. Much of that depends on whether the car has a limited-slip differential, and is on snow tires. Rear-wheel drive vehicles can be just fine in winter conditions with a lsd & snows, but without those you can end up doing a lot of sliding around and tire spinning. Not that it's likely you'll expose your dad's pristine example to the ravages of winter, but that's worth considering if you do.
    • Member

    JillianRVA

    Post Count: 2
    Likes Received:0
    undefined Thank you for such a wealth of info. This is exactly the kind of info I am looking for. As for the tires, they do need to be changed out and I have been concerned about those for awhile just knowing what old tires in general can do.

    Thank you also for letting me know about the E39 forum. I am still learning the speak, and that is one I need to know. I will check into the water pump as well. As for the drink holders... no food or drink are allowed in the car lol.

    You have definitely given me a lot to chew on here.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    charlson89

    Post Count: 2,166
    Likes Received:119
    Sorry for such poor circumstances to get such a nice low mileage car. Welcome to the club and forums!

Share This Page