How great are 1996-1999 BMW cars? - LS1TECH



How great are 1996-1999 BMW cars?

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Old 03-17-2010, 01:26 PM   #1
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Default How great are 1996-1999 BMW cars?

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?
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 03-17-2010, 06:15 PM   #3
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the ultimate driving machine!
...so they claim
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:10 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:33 PM   #5
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thanks for the info. ill maintain it and fix it if the cars ***** out. i have a shop at my disposal too.

so are those cars dependable and strong?
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Old 03-17-2010, 08:24 PM   #6
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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."
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Old 03-17-2010, 08:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicinity View Post
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.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Theyre actually German.
Great, that makes it worse. (See sig)
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:07 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:44 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:43 PM   #11
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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?
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Great, that makes it worse. (See sig)
haha.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:00 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
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.
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:27 AM   #15
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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.
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:33 AM   #16
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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.
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:18 AM   #17
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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.
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Old 03-18-2010, 04:05 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElkySS View Post
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."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicinity View Post
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
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:15 AM   #19
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See sig.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:27 AM   #20
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i was always fond of bimmers, they look agressive and can back it up
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