Have owned 5 series since '85 - 528e, 535is, M5, u name it. This car has been the best of the lot. Beautiful classic exterior and interior lines - 2.8L is BMW's most reliable in-line 6 with plenty o' power (yes the M5 clearly is the pocket rocket, but 2.8 can get up and go and is easier on the gas guzzling.) The E39 is also the last 5 model without the ridiculous iDrive computer, which is completely unneccessary for driving, a safety hazard and blight on the dashboard. No major repair issues to date. When this stops running, I'll buy another used E39.
I had owned this car for about 3 years now and it has been giving headaches with sensor lights coming on like Christmas all year round. The most common lights/failure is the odometer where ASC, ABS, Engine check lights all comes on at once. When this happens, the dealer charges an arm and a leg to have them fixed. Most time it is the stupid ASC Module that failed which is an expensive equipment to replace. BMW dealership's repair are a repair. Bunch of rip offs. They charge you by just talking to you. $140 for a scan check, then a few thousands for repairs. Don't buy these cars if you can't handle stress.
Looks good when sitting in my drive way.
Stop charging so much for parts and repairs, build parts that don't break so easily.
Wonderful car, looks great, drives better. V8 thirsty around town but not bad (25mpg) on hwy, 19mpg avg over 40k mi. I'll dare to say 6-spd manual has long-ish throws & clutch delay valve (CDV) makes smooth driving tough. Bought used w/80k, now have 117k. Repairs: Final stage unit (FSU) for climate control (installed myself), coolant reservoir (recently; cooling system had been gone through before I bought). Now needs brakes (again--they were replaced just before I purchased), some clunking from front end (but steers/rides fine). What other car can one find for under $10k w/this much gravitas, ability & quality? Much prefer to newer 5-series. Still stylish/impressive to clients. A classic.
build quality interior materials and design ride/handling compromise is just about perfect quiet interior fold-down rear seats (optional, VERY desirable)
cupholders (of course) cooling system components (but not too $$ and can replace yourself) valley pan gaskets on V8 remove CDV on manual trans cars (easy/cheap fix)
This is my 6th BMW and my favorite overall. Took delivery at German factory and drove in Europe for 6 months at autobahn speeds, then another 6 years of pure fun. Quiet, safe and secure at 50 mph or 120 mph. Except for the cupholders and the climate control, everything has held up beautifully, and the body style is a classic. Sports package and 5-speed manual makes the car. Repairs are getting expensive but worth it as I plan to keep this car another 6 years. A radar detector is recommended.
Handling and secure feeling inside the car. Comfortable to drive under all conditions.
Cupholders still terrible even on the new models but there are aftermarket fixes.
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