M5 - Worth $80K+? The good and the ugly...
Just thought I would give my perspective on almost 7 years with my 2002 M5. It has over 100K miles now… I picked up the car brand new in October 2001 (after almost a year on one waiting list, then getting on another). The car had less than 25 miles on it when I picked it up! This was my dream car. The price tag came to just over $80,000 when sales taxes, gas guzzler and luxury taxes were added. So the question many people ask me are: 1.) Was it worth the $80K you paid? 2.) Would you buy another BMW, M5 or M series again? Here is my take:
• Never lacking power. Even to this day, I still get goose bumps when I push down the gas hard. It’s the 1st car I ever have had where the acceleration that seemed fast didn’t wear off over time.
• Head-turning styling. I still get comments today on the looks of the car. Never goes out of style.
• Technology and features still solid. The navigation, sensors, seat controls, etc. are still just as good as most cars today. In 2001 these were way ahead, and now are still on-par.
• Solid Feel – The car still has that solid BMW feel, handling and road-presence.
• Electrical quirks. I have had the looming problems that I see most mention on this board – The Radio cuts out every 3 months for a day, Power Seat Controls Fuses Blow, Final Stage Resistors Blow, random AC issues, etc. Nothing earth-shattering, but definitely some engineering issues on the electronics.
• Power Steering Fluid leaks. Have had a lot of this even after the first couple of years. Ongoing work to keep up with this.
• Horrible Dealer in Maryland – VOB. Took my car to VOB in Rockville during warranty. I had 10 visits there to fix issues and on 8 of those visits, their work was sub-standard and I had to return 1,2 or even 4 times! I had to take one problem back there 4 times (simply replacing a seat cover). First they forgot to bolt the seat back into the floor!, Then to hook up the power seat controls on and on. On another visit they replaced the rear-differential seals, and forgot to tighten up the bolts on the cross-bar brace. I had an oil change where they didn’t tighten the drain nut, and I had oil all over my floor. Simple stuff – but a sign of lack of quality and attention. Really horrible customer experience there. Most recently I called VOB and 2 other dealers in the DC area to ask about where the fuse was for the Climate control. All 3 couldn’t tell me even after putting techs on the phone! Really disappointing.
So to summarize – I love this car and have enjoyed it. I think if BMW could fix (and hopefully they have in new models) some of these simple things, it would be huge. I also urge them to audit their dealerships and particularly VOB. My experience over the years was really embarrassing and I have heard similar. I’m surprised nobody from BMW corporate has called me on this….
I’m on the fence about getting another M5, M3 or BMW. I still love the cars, but question the attention to details and service. I intend to write some larger articles in publications this summer on these issues and hopefully will get some insights from BMW corporate.
Appreciate to hear your thoughts?
Great post!! Informative for an E39 540 owner
I always toy with getting a low mileage M5 to replace my 78K mile 540 6-speed- the 540 has been very good (I've owned it since 21K miles and over 6 1/2 years) but I just love the body style and the M5 is the king of the e39. The new M5 does nothing for me (I know it's fast and I'm sure it drives great, but the styling inside and outside is nasty).
Great Info - thoughts on VANOS?
Chris - thanks for the great post. Have you ever had any issues with the VANOS on your E39? I've been looking at the 2002-2003 M5 as my next car and the only things holding me back are the horror stories I've heard about VANOS - specifically, that its design is inherently biased toward self-destruction.
I've had my 1994 540i for 170k miles and it has been super reliable. If I buy an E39 M5, based on your experience, could its engine/power train make it that long if properly maintained? Or is the VANOS just destined to fail?
The dealer situation is truly sad. It appears...
that BMW NA hides behind the mantle of "dealers are independent businesspeople", and claims to have no sway over them.
NA originally appointed them - why can't they take the franchise away from them, and sell it to someone else, in the face of increasing criticism?
How would a local letter-writing campaign work, I wonder, Where a group of owners describe the poor service activities of a given local dealer?
My regional CheckBook publication periodically rates local auto repair shops, via a questionaire sent to members. BMW dealers, to a man, get, at best, a mediocre rating for service, while several local indies get praise.
Ed in San Jose. BMW CCA member since 1980 (Nr. 62319). Golden Gate Chapter
'97 540i 6 speed. Build Date 3/97. Aspensilber over Aubergine leather.
Re: Great Info - thoughts on VANOS?
I haven't had any engine issues at all and the performance has stayed constant over time. I have made sure to keep ahead of the oil changes and other routine stuff.
At 135K miles now and no signs of any engine/performance concerns.
Re: The dealer situation is truly sad. It appears...
I agree, it is very sad and ruins an otherwise great product.
I would love to spend an hour with somebody at BMW Corporate to describe what I have gone through at VOB BMW in Rockville, MD over the 4 years of warranty work on my M5. It's hard to beleive that the serious types of issues I experienced could occur over and over.
Even service dept. employees at VOB BMW (my main contact has since left and gone to a better dealer) admit the quality is not good. The have told me off the record that VOB gets away with it because of the volume they do.
I guess BMW NA looks the other way as long as the numbers are good.