Would you buy a 1998 540i??
Any advice on the 1998 540i(automatic)? I am looking at buying a '98 540 and would like any feedback on any problems that I need to look out for before buying. I realize some items need to be fixed as normal maintenance, but what about the Vanos? transmission ok in the '98?
No vanos on 98, how many miles?
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Re: No vanos on 98, how many miles?
Jim...Thanks for the quick post.
140k miles on car. Showroom condition. Taken very good care of.
Haven't had a chance to drive it yet, but hopefully this weekend.
Just wanting to know if there are 'quirks' associated with the '98.
Sorry, I thought the '98 had vanos, thanks for the correction.
ALL the E39s have "quirks". If you want a >>
reliable car, buy a Honda or Toyota.
However, having said that, the early cars seem to have fewer problems than the newer ones, just my observation.
No matter what, do not make an offer until you get a report of an extensive mechanical inspection from a BMW indie. If the seller has a service history, so much the better.
Ed in San Jose. BMW CCA member since 1987 (Nr. 62319). Golden Gate Chapter. '97 540i 6 speed. Build Date 3/97. Aspensilber over Aubergine leather.
Re: ALL the E39s have quirks. If you want a >>
I just bought a 97 540/6 w/ 144k miles ($4,600). Well kept w/ all service records (over $14k spent at various dealers and indies since 2001). Valley pan/intake gaskets/valve cover gaskets/alternator/cam shaft speed sensor/water pump/radiator and all hoses--all replaced within last 2.5 years/23k miles. Sadly, as soon as i pulled it into my garage i noticed coolant leak and then noticed valve cover gaskets leaking again. Having owned this same car back in 2002 I was aware of the "quirks". It just seems that these common issues crop up every 2-3 years (or the last guy to do the gaskets was in a rush). My plan is to DIY when i can (I'm a non-mechanical guy but I want to learn)---i plan to drive this vehicle to 250k+ out of pure spite (oh, and because it's fun to drive). Good luck.
I'd be more concerned about the tranny (m)
shifting properly than anything else. Any way you can get the repair history to verify if the fluid and filter has ever been changed?
Indie evaluation and smart inspection are key.
Note the price Gabe paid, too. Your price should be similar no matter how great the condition. My '98 had 100k when I bought it, has 217k now, has cost ~$0.132 per mile to maintain.
If the seller stands by the car then after it warms up ask them to take the revs up to 5500 and hold it for half a minute. If they don't sweat and shake then they have confidence in what they are selling. Then go for a drive and find a stretch where you can floor it in Sport mode to see how well it shifts. It should feel like a well-executed shift in a manual transmission, not like a GM slushbox. The stall will be short and the shift will not jerk the car. It'll impress you if it's in good order.
After the drive the engine should be quiet. It may make a slight lifter knock, which is common and not a problem. Any other noises are warnings.
At one point I had a curious issue that could scare. When the engine was running between 1800 and 2600 rpm and the steering wheel was moved more than 120 degrees to round a curve the steering power assist would drop out and force was needed to complete the turn. It never locked up on me, but someone who panics or who doesn't have decent arm strength would likely not complete the turn. My power steering pump was cavitating due to vane wear. Replacement solved the issue.
Have the bottom engine cover dropped and check for dryness. Assure the radiator has no evidence of white residue around the filler cap, bleed screws, and hose connections. Fire up the heater to max and assure there is no glycol odor getting into the cabin. Have all suspension components checked for play and torn rubber boots. If the tires are new then there is no way to determine whether the tires are wearing poorly.
If you buy a 540 you will end up like all of us except K-Bud - you'll never want to give it up ;-)
Re: Would you buy a 1998 540i??
My 1998 528 has been great. Fantastic, in fact, from a reliability, durability and build quality perspective. My dad's 1999 540 also seemed quite good and didn't need any repairs until he got his new 2002 540. His 2002 540, on the other hand, had obvious differences right from the start. The rear doors feel strangely lightweight compared to the older cars, the transmission was weird right from the factory, it has never seemed nearly as fast, and he has had EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE "common" E39 problem (except alternator failure) and a few uncommon ones as well.
Based on the limited samples I've seen, I wouldn't fear a well-cared-for older example in the slightest. :) Get it checked over by an indy and, as others have said, do your best to get the service history including transmission fluid and filter changes.
Why not if precautions are observed
1. Carefully examine the outside and interior before you drive it.
2. If it passes visual inspection (leather repair and paint are expensive), and it is early in the morning, take it for a short drive. Later in the or whenever you can get the car away for an extended period for an inspection and a long drive
3. Ask for service recirds, Is there a complete service history?
4. If not, either inspect it yourself or have a trusted mechanic inspect with a written pass or fail with a complete list of things that need attention.
5. If you are satisfied with the car and it's inherited issues (if any) go for it.
If you are lucky all or most of the ongoing issues have been repaired for now.
If any car is priced anywhere near market value and it has any interior (leather) issues or any exterior (paint) issues I always pass them up. Naturally if any major chassis (weled repairs, rust hrough) shows up during inspection, pass it up. Likewise if and major engine, transmission, or differential issues show up, walk away.
There are so many E39s to choose from on the market that you should be able to find one you can live with.
If it has major issues of any kind, it should be priced accordingly.
I have a 2000 540 sport 6 speed and it has given very little trouble over the years. But when I purchased it at 5 years old, it had just had $5,000.00 worth of repairs and it was good to go for another 60k or so before anything showed up. The car now has 153,000 miles but I rarely drive it anymore.
00 540 sport 6 speedMichael - Chattanooga Tennessee
00 540 Sport / 6 speed, SaharaBeige Metallic / SamanaBeige II Montanna Leather, 35% tint, Xenons, DSP, CD Changer, Auto dimming rear view mirror, rain sensing wipers, fold down rear seat, Style 32 staggard wheels, Hankook Ventus V4 ES 245/45/WR17/95W Fronts and 275/40/WR17/98W Rears. 152,900 Smiles and climbing!
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