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  1. #1
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    E39 528iT are they reliable or not ?

    this is a question I should have asked a few months ago but its already parked in front of the garage.

    The trouble is I purchased a 99 528iT with 85k and experienced quite a few problems already. I did not want to purchase a high mileage example and still most troubles are imho mileage related. I felt that a clean nice car with 85k miles should be a sound car with no troubles and no issues for at least an another 10-20k miles which will be 2+ years for me. I wanted a car that I can drive now and just do the normal maintenance to keep it alive and after a year or two I will start changing more serious things on it. It seems that I need to get into this car deep before I can drive it too much.

    1. most annoying - the rear subframe bushings. The ride is bouncy and the rear of the car shakes on everything but the smoothest road. I purchased a non-sport specifically as the roads here are not good, I wanted something comfortable for my daily driver. I have 16" rims and toyo all season tires.

    2. MAF sensor went, and the whole trans fail safe issue started with it, which in the middle of tracking the issue, due my error turned into a nightmare. Aside from my mistake, the MAF went out at 85k miles. not normal at all.

    3. The ABS module is already a repaired/rebuilt unit, apparently it was already fixed, outside of warranty.

    4. The front rotors are worn, needs rotors but no pads, as the pads are almost perfect - factory oem. I think the rotors are also original at 85k miles !!! Not a trouble, just this one adds to the tally. Its normal maintenance and PO's fault that he kept putting new pad but no rotor.

    5. Vanos - ticking and cold hesitation, once or twice even stalled. Did read the 10 miles long post, learned about the new teflon seals, will order the kit + valve cover gasket. At 85k miles this is non-sense. A Vanos should last much more then 85k miles.

    6. Both cupholder - front and rear broken. Read about them, learned about them, pissed about them. SO easy to make it sturdy, yet BMW designed a flimsy little crap. Dumb.

    7. Radiator already replaced in the car. Not due to the accident but most likely a trouble with it. BMW radiators has a notoriously bad reputation - most people recommends changing them at every 70-80k miles. Shouldn't they last longer ?
    I don't even want to know if the water pump is plastic impeller version or not, I hope PO changed that too.

    8. rear suspension sits lower then front and it seems as one side is lower then the other. I think shocks are on the way out. Seems early again but at a 100k miles I would expect them, so I take them as normal repairs.

    9. back liftgate brake light broken, cheap plastic housing, almost shattered to pieces. New one is 250usd !!! Once it falls apart beyond repair I will be removing it and installing an aftermarket LED light in place of that crap. Total junk, absolutely faulty design. Feels and looks like a Chinese crap light. It has no place on a BMW.

    10. Windshield molding is in horrible shape. Whatever left, as most are already missing. On my Z1 which is from 1990 (prod date 8/89) the modling is still soft and perfectly nice. The E39 is in a sad state, I learned that the glass has to come out to install a new one. So it stay as it is now, if there will be leak. Rear is still oke, but after the front is in this horrible shape, I expect the rear to go soon as well. Have not seen this on any other car ever... specially not after 11 years and 85k miles. OEM windshield, never been changed. It also has a long scratch, so I wait till it gets damaged and then have it replaced SC insurance pays for the windshield repairs.

    11. left front door speaker (small one in the door) is making a cracking sound. No big deal, but again so soon ?

    12. rear loading tray is making noise while travelling. Might be due to the rear subframe issue but the cracking noises are horrible, the tray moves enough that it makes noise on the road. Loading tray is the most dumbest idea imho, it will sure find its way into my garage and a nice smooth surface will replace it. No wonder BMW dropped this
    nuance in the E60 wagon. useless and just asking for trouble.

    are these issues are common with the 10+ year old E39's ? If so, what else should I be ready. I'm a shade tree mechanic, I do 99% of my repairs very seldom do I elect to use help.
    I have rebuilt rear ends and suspensions, but no engine or transmission internals yet.

    I have 2 other BMW's and one has 62 miles the other 51k miles. They both older then the 528iT and none has any issues. Both have been driven regularly but not much I admit.
    The 8 is driven on a track at least once a year but I do very careful maintenance and use either OEM or better then OEM fluid/parts.

    The E39 interior is a nice place to be. Quality is probably better then the E60 and feels rich and solid. I really hoped the rest of the car will be as good as the interior, but starting to have a little doubt.


    1997 BMW 840CiA
    1990 BMW Z1
    1999 BMW 528iT (Hauler mobile)
    2002 Astro Van AWD
    2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package
    1987 BMW 535i with 5spd manual (for sale)
    1992 BMW 735iL (needs head and interior)
    1977 BMW 320i (project racecar)
    2007 Mazda CX9 AWD (Wife mobile)
    1998 Yamaha Blaster+Breeze

    1995 850CSI CD00177 (SOLD)


  2. #2
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    Yes | No

    Sounds like normal wear and tear. The rear>>

    subframe bushings are known to fail at about 60k.

    The VANOS seals can fail in the 40k range - poor choice of materials.
    Order the May '09 issue of Bimmer magazine for a review of E39 Maladies. The rear bushings are documented here.

    Welcome to the heartbreaking, but satisfying, world of E39 ownership!

    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.

  3. #3
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    Front window molding

    You don't need to remove the windshield in order to replace the not-so-durable rubber molding. Check this link to see how forum member Viv did it herself:

    http://bimmer.roadfly.com/bmw/forums/e39/9369787-5.html

  4. #4
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    thanks. how long should the new seal last ?

    I think I will buy an aftermarket in this. I have been selling Precision seals and never heard of a failure. I think BMW goofed up on this. No need for an another crappy seal. Mine is same or worse shape then hers ! Long pieces are missing and cracked all around.



    1997 BMW 840CiA
    1990 BMW Z1
    1999 BMW 528iT (Hauler mobile)
    2002 Astro Van AWD
    2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package
    1987 BMW 535i with 5spd manual (for sale)
    1992 BMW 735iL (needs head and interior)
    1977 BMW 320i (project racecar)
    2007 Mazda CX9 AWD (Wife mobile)
    1998 Yamaha Blaster+Breeze

    1995 850CSI CD00177 (SOLD)

  5. #5
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    6 to 8 years if exposed to UV

    It looks like this rubber doesn't like UV (my guess). You may get more out of it if you park outside direct sunlight. Or find a more durable alternative. Or maybe regular treatment with e.g. Gummipflege will prevent the molding from becoming brittle. Well, at least there is no need to replace the windshield for it so that would be the silver lining to this...

    I haven't seen any OEM versions of this molding so far.

  6. #6
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    Precision F2007 is the molding. I paid 25.00

    and the factory would have been 36.50 not the price the quality difference made me buy the Precision. I have sold hundreds of these and no trouble. But it very well could be Original BMW bought at a huge discount and redistributed.
    I will see the part on friday...

    Occasionally their product comes in original bag (Mopar, Ford, GM) and exactly same as dealer version but cheaper. Just like the glasses... its from Safelite by the way...


    1997 BMW 840CiA
    1990 BMW Z1
    1999 BMW 528iT (Hauler mobile)
    2002 Astro Van AWD
    2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package
    1987 BMW 535i with 5spd manual (for sale)
    1992 BMW 735iL (needs head and interior)
    1977 BMW 320i (project racecar)
    2007 Mazda CX9 AWD (Wife mobile)
    1998 Yamaha Blaster+Breeze

    1995 850CSI CD00177 (SOLD)

  7. #7
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    My experience w/ 2000 528iT

    I picked up a 2000 528iT Sport w/ 114k miles over a year ago after a thorough inspection, and I identified many of the maintenance issues you mentioned (although not necessarily the interior issues you are having).

    When I purchased the car, I immediately replaced the plugs, fuel filter, oil & filter, differential fluid, and transmission fluid not knowing the recent maintenance history of the car.

    I was having a stumbling problem that turned out to be a faulty MAF, so that had to be replaced; I then replaced the double VANOS seals and noticed improved performance.

    It's obvious to me that the PO had all the control arms replaced but did not replace the struts/shocks or subframe bushings; so I know that is something I will need to address. (I have the self-leveling suspension in the rear.) But I presently drive only short distances on relatively smooth roads, so it is not a pressing concern.

    The rotors/pads on my car are decent, but will certainly need attention down the road.

    So I don't think your experience is unusual for a 1999 vehicle, but I appreciate your frustration if you thought all those items were addressed by the PO.


  8. #8
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    frustration is the 85k miles. So many things went

    sour on a relatively low mileage car. At 85k miles many items should not be an issue at all.
    On the E34 at 85k miles all you had to do is to keep the maintenance up to date and drive the thing.

    I was hoping most of these things last at least 2-3 more years and 15-20k more miles. If I have to fix these after 100-110k miles I would understand it. I don't drive one car too much so the 15-20k miles would be at least 2-2.5years or so.

    Now I'm faced with a lot of these small issues all at once.

    I will order the subframe bushings as those are causing the worst feelings a car can have. Violent shakes and vibration on rough roads.

    Vanos is not terrible, it improved a lot since I drive the car and I drive it more and harder (highway 70+) so I might have a time for that. THe performance and fuel mileage however talks a different picture. THe Performance is with one word sluggish and the mileage is moderate. 20mpg average is not great. My E31 840 can do 18mpg easily with the 4.4l V8 and in the meantime making a whole lot more power.

    I might need a 99-00 BMW 540iT wagon :-)


    1997 BMW 840CiA
    1990 BMW Z1
    1999 BMW 528iT (Hauler mobile)
    2002 Astro Van AWD
    2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package
    1987 BMW 535i with 5spd manual (for sale)
    1992 BMW 735iL (needs head and interior)
    1977 BMW 320i (project racecar)
    2007 Mazda CX9 AWD (Wife mobile)
    1998 Yamaha Blaster+Breeze

    1995 850CSI CD00177 (SOLD)

  9. #9
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    Re: Precision F2007 is the molding. I paid 25.00

    Thanks for sharing these details. Love the E31 in your signature. Testdrove an 850Ci once but found out that I'm too tall for this car. A good reason not to fall for this insane car ;-)

  10. #10
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    TOO TALL ? There is an Irish guy in MIA 6'6"

    and has a Dinan TT E31. He fits but barely :-)

    The sunroof removal adds an another 2" to the ceiling and saves about 30lbs weight from the top of the car.



    1997 BMW 840CiA
    1990 BMW Z1
    1999 BMW 528iT (Hauler mobile)
    2002 Astro Van AWD
    2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package
    1987 BMW 535i with 5spd manual (for sale)
    1992 BMW 735iL (needs head and interior)
    1977 BMW 320i (project racecar)
    2007 Mazda CX9 AWD (Wife mobile)
    1998 Yamaha Blaster+Breeze

    1995 850CSI CD00177 (SOLD)

  11. #11
    Registered Member
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    Yep, too tall ;-)

    I'm 6'7 and the sunroof doesn't help. Also, the seatbelt rubs across my shoulder since it goed too far down behind my back. The only BMW that suits me really well (and that I like) is an E38 boat. But the E39 will do fine for now.

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