Racer's Lounge - How great are 1996-1999 BMW cars?




View Full Version : How great are 1996-1999 BMW cars?


texas94z
03-17-2010, 12:26 PM
I'm thinking about picking up a 96-99 3 or 5 series BMW as a DD. I get to check out many BMWs at my work and I think there good cars for that time period. I want something a little more classy than an fbody lol. Also, having a sedan would be nice. So how dependable and whats the quality like on a late 90s BMW?


ElkySS
03-17-2010, 04:39 PM
cant tell u much about the quality but when u do have a problem, its gonna cost u. most shops cant even touch them if its there to fix a check engine light.

personally i never thought they wer all that comfortable. for a luxury car, the seats are too hard and the steering effort is too high. plus the bolts insted of lug nuts really pisses me off when u gotta put the wheel back on.

z_speedfreak
03-17-2010, 05:15 PM
the ultimate driving machine!
...so they claim :lol:


Vicinity
03-17-2010, 06:10 PM
Most BMW's have pretty bulletproof motors (don't shoot it), but it is a British car, so when you take it in for maintenance, bring your own lube because they even mark that up.

texas94z
03-17-2010, 06:33 PM
thanks for the info. ill maintain it and fix it if the cars shits out. i have a shop at my disposal too.

so are those cars dependable and strong?

Firebirdfan
03-17-2010, 07:24 PM
My buddy said something about the motors dropping valves in 95 or 96 in the e36 cars. Valve retainer failure i think. There was a factory recall, but if the car didn't have it done, watch out. Good luck finding any low mileage ones. EVERY e36 car I've looked has had almost 200k miles. At that mileage, all sorts of little crap starts to break. Make SURE if you test drive a car to watch out for steering wheel shake/vibration. It's a good indication of control arm bushings being worn out. Also, plastic water pumps. There's an upgrade to a TRUE all-metal water pump, but i can't imagine it's easy.

The cars handle pretty damn well, but they lack the "punch" that most v8 cars have. It's about the only reason I didn't buy one. It's also REALLY expensive to get more power out of a car. The motors are designed to make the maximum amount of power for a specific car in a specific range. You really can't get more out of some of the motors without forced induction and some serious cash. For a DD, they'd be great, but if I were to get one as a performance machine, i'd rip out the straight six and drop in 5.7L of "get up and go."

BlueBird346
03-17-2010, 07:33 PM
Most BMW's have pretty bulletproof motors (don't shoot it), but it is a British car, so when you take it in for maintenance, bring your own lube because they even mark that up.

Theyre actually German.

Vicinity
03-17-2010, 08:07 PM
Theyre actually German.

Great, that makes it worse. (See sig)

99FormulaM6r
03-17-2010, 08:07 PM
Dad just got a '01 540 M-sport (same as the 96-03 5's I think, with minor revisions). It's a nice platform, lots of room, quiet, and has a pretty good punch with the V8. The 6 speed shifts nice, the car handles well, and gas mileage on the highway has been around 30.

Damian
03-17-2010, 08:44 PM
The only BMW I'd ever own would be a 96-99 car. I worked on them for a few years, and those cars are literally bullet proof. Of course every make/model is going to have it's unique problems, but these cars were VERY well built. And they're not as expensive to fix as some people make them out to be. The newer gen BMW's are the ones that cost 2 arms and a kidney to fix now.

Nacho SS
03-17-2010, 10:43 PM
Good cars, easy and straight forward to fix. And who the hell just said BMW is British? Bayerische Motoren Werke/Bavarian Motor Works ring a bell?

BlueBird346
03-17-2010, 10:53 PM
Great, that makes it worse. (See sig)

haha.

95CamaroLS1
03-17-2010, 11:00 PM
My dad bought a 2003 Bmw 530i and its a great car. Runs very smooth and has that automatic with a manual option and is very useful for when you need that extra power. Oh and the interior is beautiful! I love my camaro, but i think if you want a luxury DD or somethin, there is no comparison between a beemer and GM.

justin455
03-17-2010, 11:30 PM
The only BMW I'd ever own would be a 96-99 car. I worked on them for a few years, and those cars are literally bullet proof. Of course every make/model is going to have it's unique problems, but these cars were VERY well built. And they're not as expensive to fix as some people make them out to be. The newer gen BMW's are the ones that cost 2 arms and a kidney to fix now.

Always been a sucker for an M Coupe myself.

It does seem that every BMW model line does have one specific problem that arises, but are tanks otherwise. Luckily these problems are generally well documented.

Damian
03-18-2010, 12:27 AM
Funny this thread came up. I've got a customer bringing in his 99 5 series in a couple of weeks for a service. It's got 300,000 miles on the original motor and trans. I'll try to snap some pics of the odometer if I remember.

AronZ28
03-18-2010, 12:33 AM
If you are looking at one, avoid a BMW with a v8, that includes any 7 series from that vintage and the 540i/M5. Awesome cars, but I heard that repair costs on those models is hideously expensive and more frequent. Much more so than a six cylinder 5 or 3 series.

acertx
03-18-2010, 02:18 AM
Unless you're getting an M3 I'd stay away from a 3 series from those years. Most BMWs are all about the name plate so I'm betting you could spend the same amount on a nicer car if it wasn't a BMW. Either way you should go drive one first, that's really what changed my opinion.

Irunelevens
03-18-2010, 03:05 AM
cant tell u much about the quality but when u do have a problem, its gonna cost u. most shops cant even touch them if its there to fix a check engine light.

personally i never thought they wer all that comfortable. for a luxury car, the seats are too hard and the steering effort is too high. plus the bolts insted of lug nuts really pisses me off when u gotta put the wheel back on.
That's because F-bodies have no steering feel at all. To be honest, neither do C5s. Driving a car that allows you to actually feel the road doesn't qualify as "steering effort is too high."

Most BMW's have pretty bulletproof motors (don't shoot it), but it is a British car, so when you take it in for maintenance, bring your own lube because they even mark that up.
I know it's been said before, but :lol: :lol:

CaliforniaBoy5
03-18-2010, 04:15 AM
See sig. :D

black_phoenix
03-18-2010, 04:27 AM
i was always fond of bimmers, they look agressive and can back it up

transamsam98
03-18-2010, 07:58 AM
one of my buddies has a 1998 M3 convertible 5 speed and its an entertaining car to drive. its also for sale 68,000 miles blue hell if it were not for bigger bills I would pick it up in a heart beat

MadIceV8
03-18-2010, 10:32 AM
cant tell u much about the quality but when u do have a problem, its gonna cost u. most shops cant even touch them if its there to fix a check engine light.

personally i never thought they wer all that comfortable. for a luxury car, the seats are too hard and the steering effort is too high. plus the bolts insted of lug nuts really pisses me off when u gotta put the wheel back on.
That's because F-bodies have no steering feel at all. To be honest, neither do C5s. Driving a car that allows you to actually feel the road doesn't qualify as "steering effort is too high."

Agreed. I love my Camaro a lot more than my BMW 330CI but the steering feel is a lot better on the BMW. I also like the the wheel is a bit smaller.

I wouldn't limit it to just the C5 and F-bodies. Most cars tend to have looser steering compared to BMWs. Even my former Audi was more of a 'standard' feel.

Juicy J
03-18-2010, 10:52 AM
And who the hell just said BMW is British? Bayerische Motoren Werke/Bavarian Motor Works ring a bell?

For some reason their is a big misconception with the general population that BMW stands for British Motor Works. I would say 95% of the American population thinks they are British.

I personally like the E30 M3's. I think it would be a FUN DD. They aren't very quick, but they handle very well, and I think their ugliness is very attractive.

BAD ASS TA WS6
03-20-2010, 02:40 AM
As above, an E39 with a 6 cylinder (525/528/530) can't be killed. I'd go with the 530 if you can afford it.

My '97 528i went 228k before I sold if for $6500 a few years back.

Again, they are bulletproof. I'd stick with a 5 speed, and it will literally last forever.

GTOSE
03-20-2010, 02:55 AM
As above, an E39 with a 6 cylinder (525/528/530) can't be killed. I'd go with the 530 if you can afford it.

My '97 528i went 228k before I sold if for $6500 a few years back.

Again, they are bulletproof. I'd stick with a 5 speed, and it will literally last forever.

4000th post. Not very epic.

justin455
03-20-2010, 10:34 AM
4000th post. Not very epic.

still not understanding lounge posts don't count even with 279 other posts...getting warmer.

Azrael
03-20-2010, 11:48 AM
I'll agree stick with any of the cars without a V8 in them and you are golden. Our old 1999 540i was the only car that has ever left us stranded on the side of the highway. Gave that car 3 strikes and ditched it; never could figure out the electrical problem that was plaguing it.

NastyNate65
03-20-2010, 01:46 PM
For some reason their is a big misconception with the general population that BMW stands for British Motor Works. I would say 95% of the American population thinks they are British.

I personally like the E30 M3's. I think it would be a FUN DD. They aren't very quick, but they handle very well, and I think their ugliness is very attractive.

:funny: ^^ This is a great post.

I would love to have a Bimmer for a DD. Theyre great cars. definitely post some pics if you go that route!

CrabhartLS1
03-20-2010, 03:29 PM
I have like 5 friends that think they're god's gift to the roads. They all have over 100k on them and they autox and track them weekly so i guess they're fairly reliable. Parts are very expensive though. Just like any car, the rear main seals and head gaskets can go out.

Also you will have to periodically replace their guibos, which are little doughnut looking things that connect the driveshaft to the diff. Not much in the way of performance mods either, and they don't like to handle FI for long since they're I6's, and like to pop headgaskets.

BAD ASS TA WS6
03-20-2010, 04:38 PM
I rarely see headgasket failure. Literally maybe once a year, on cars 10+ years old with well over 200K. Inline 6s are great motors, and handle boost just fine.

That isn't a common issue at all. A stock M52/M54 can take boost, but it's expensive, especially for the power you'll make.

texas94z
03-20-2010, 05:06 PM
As above, an E39 with a 6 cylinder (525/528/530) can't be killed. I'd go with the 530 if you can afford it.

My '97 528i went 228k before I sold if for $6500 a few years back.

Again, they are bulletproof. I'd stick with a 5 speed, and it will literally last forever.

So look for a 5 series with a manual transmission? At what mileage do e39s tend to have major issues?

Chadder
03-20-2010, 08:52 PM
Not much in the way of performance mods either, and they don't like to handle FI for long since they're I6's, and like to pop headgaskets.

There's actually a nice little BMW aftermarket, and since when did engine configuration have anything to do with how well a motor takes boost? I see posts about blown up turbo LS1's pretty often, so I could say v8's don't take boost too well either. Here's two inline sixes that would be pretty worthless without the turbo: 2JZ and RB26. Please tell me that they don't like to handle FI for long...

BMW motors aren't built from the shelf with FI in mind (Except the new BMW twin turbo I-6...Holy cow, another FI I-6!); it's definitely not the configuration that's holding them back.

Nacho SS
03-20-2010, 09:20 PM
There's actually a nice little BMW aftermarket, and since when did engine configuration have anything to do with how well a motor takes boost? I see posts about blown up turbo LS1's pretty often, so I could say v8's don't take boost too well either. Here's two inline sixes that would be pretty worthless without the turbo: 2JZ and RB26. Please tell me that they don't like to handle FI for long...

BMW motors aren't built from the shelf with FI in mind (Except the new BMW twin turbo I-6...Holy cow, another FI I-6!); it's definitely not the configuration that's holding them back.

Duly noted....Was just going to mention the N54 TT inline 6 that is in the e90/e92 335i/xi cars. Nothing like 370tq out of a FI with just a tune.

Misinformation in this thread through the roof.

Vicinity
03-20-2010, 10:20 PM
There's actually a nice little BMW aftermarket, and since when did engine configuration have anything to do with how well a motor takes boost? I see posts about blown up turbo LS1's pretty often, so I could say v8's don't take boost too well either. Here's two inline sixes that would be pretty worthless without the turbo: 2JZ and RB26. Please tell me that they don't like to handle FI for long...

BMW motors aren't built from the shelf with FI in mind (Except the new BMW twin turbo I-6...Holy cow, another FI I-6!); it's definitely not the configuration that's holding them back.

Apples to Oranges. 2JZ is iron and LS1 is aluminum.

Irunelevens
03-20-2010, 10:22 PM
Apples to Oranges. 2JZ is iron and LS1 is aluminum.

Missed the point.

97LT1
03-20-2010, 11:45 PM
Theyre actually German.

X2 alot of numbskulls think that.

justin455
03-21-2010, 12:47 AM
I hope no one finds this thread and posts it on the BMW forums of this shit is gonna blow up. :bang:

Nacho SS
03-21-2010, 01:31 AM
I hope no one finds this thread and posts it on the BMW forums of this shit is gonna blow up. :bang:

Yeah we just hit flow blow ra-tard. BMW is apparently a British company now :lol:

Chadder
03-21-2010, 03:47 AM
Apples to Oranges. 2JZ is iron and LS1 is aluminum.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3094/2713049064_a756f5dceb.jpg

BAD ASS TA WS6
03-21-2010, 10:42 PM
Misinformation in this thread through the roof.

I LOL'd. Typical of the internet...

Nacho SS
03-22-2010, 02:40 AM
I LOL'd. Typical of the internet...

I love that sig, you should post more pics of your E39...they are clean sedans.

RobA300
03-22-2010, 08:22 AM
My dad has a 99 528 5 speed with about 145K on it. Never really any problems with the drivetrain, but he did have a cv joint go bad, water pump went out and a caliper locked up on him. Also, the heater control buttons fail, but that is a common problem and there are fixes. Parts can be expensive and if you have to take it to a BMW dealer for service that adds up quick as well. It is a smooth car to drive and he gets about 28 mpg with it. Just look for one with service history to avoid any surprises. I really like the M5, but I would be afraid of maintenance after a while.

Tainted
03-22-2010, 08:42 AM
dont let anyone fool you. BMW's old and new are good cars. maintence like any other car on this world is key. We have one behind the shop with almost 300,000 on it :O and still runs after sitting for 3 years!

SOMbitch
03-22-2010, 02:34 PM
I know a tech who works at the local BMW dealer and he is fond of saying it is an acronym for Broken Motor Works.....

Irunelevens
03-22-2010, 03:31 PM
Yeah, but mechanics see nothing but broken cars...

BAD ASS TA WS6
03-22-2010, 05:43 PM
I love that sig, you should post more pics of your E39...they are clean sedans.

Mines fairly rare. Imola red on imola red/black interior. 50k miles. That pic is of it stock, not stock anymore, but not too crazy either.


Every car is a shitbox, anybody who works on cars will tell you that. BMWs are just a very nice shitbox.