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E12, E28, E34, E39, E60 General discussion and technical help for all year 5 series cars.

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Old 11-27-2007, 10:10 PM   #1
jsnoland

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1999 528i Maintenance costs

I own a 1999 528i with 90K miles. Car is in good shape, but obviously well beyond the warranty period. I own the car outright (i.e. no debt to speak of).

I have owned other cars in the past that have become EXTREMELY expensive to maintain after the warranty expires, and I'm hoping to avoid a lot of unexpected costs to maintain my 528i going forward. And given that the car is now 8 years old, I know it's just a matter of time before major repair items spring up, and potentially have a real impact on the resale value of the car.

Case in point - I took the 528 in today for routine oil change and service and walked out $1100 lighter in the wallet just to repair some belts and another minor part. Not a killer bill, but this is on top of another $2100 that I've spent in the last 12 months on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance items.

I am therefore trying to decide whether to sell the 528 and lease a brand new 535i, or whether to keep the 528 and enjoy having no monthly payments, while hoping not to incur any major repair expenses. On the lease side, I'll pay about $585 per month, but will have nearly everything covered under warranty for the entire life of the lease. On the ownership front, I'll have no monthly payments but can get hit with a major repair item at any time. And when a major repair item hits, it pretty much needs to get paid or else it has a major negative impact on the value of the car.

Anyone have any thoughts? At roughly $600/mo. in lease payments, I'm out a guaranteed $7200 per year, while the repair expenses during my last year have only totaled $3300. But you never know what lies around the bend where maintenance and repairs are concerned - I had a Land Rover that had only 52K miles on it (2000 miles out of warranty), and got crushed with a $7000 repair bill that basically forced me to sell the damn thing. Now I realize that a 528 is no Land Rover, but I'll flip if I ever get hit with another bill like that.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:35 PM   #2
Numark318i
 
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the 528 has a reliable engine. I think it was engine of the year.

outside of that i think you have to consider a few things. 535 is a brand new car, will probably have issues. Might be in the shop more then you would like it to be.

it should not cost you $7000 a year to maintain the 528. as long as you take care of it. preventative maintenance is key.

if I were you i would keep the 528 for a few more years. take the extra cash not spent on a new lease and put it towards a larger investment. I think it would have to come down to whether or not you want a new car as opposed to an older one.
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:43 AM   #3
Dudesky

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The 528 does have a very reliable track record (although it was actually the 530's engine that got on Ward's 10 best). At 90k miles, you should have the cooling system overhauled before trouble does happen with it. That means water pump, thermostat, radiator, overflow tank, and associated hoses. This stuff usually deteriorates around 100k and will be your major focus. Other things to look out for at that age are front thrust arm bushings, wheel bearings, and shocks/struts. There'll be other quirks, but those will be the major things. It's not unusual for an E39 5 series to run well towards 200k, so you really don't have too much to worry about, as compared to other vehicles. But like Numark318i said, preventative maintenance is the key. Reading up on internet forum boards will keep you well informed . . it's a lot easier these days to maintain a car, back decades ago, we didn't have the internet

But there are two things I see that you might want to think about. First, it sounds like your repairs are being done by the dealership. With no warranty left, there really isn't a need for that. Ask around your area and find a reputable independent repair shop. They'll charge you much less than a dealer will, and the 528 has been around long enough that there really aren't any mysteries about servicing them anymore. Also, if you hang around BMW forum boards enough, you'll pick up on things to look out for, and how to fix some of these things on your own, save some $$. Just don't get freaked out; forums typically voice a lot of problems more than praise for the cars, but that doesn't mean all that stuff will actually happen to yours.

Second, if you're planning to trade or sell, remember that resale value can only go lower as time goes by. This factor, rather than maintenance costs, should be weighed in against getting a new car. If you opt to trade up, a private sale is your best bet; a dealership will not give you much trade-in allowance for an E39, since they can't resell it anymore as a CPO.
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Old 11-28-2007, 12:03 PM   #4
jsnoland

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Thanks for the advice - both of you. I appreciate your insight. I think I'm going to hold on to the car for another year or two, and look for an independent repair shop to handle maintenance issues in the meantime. The only thing that might force me to sell is that I'm considering a job in Salt Lake City, which would obviously mean a lot more winter driving. If this happens, I'll probably go for the 535xi.

Again, thanks for the help - if you have any thoughts, please feel free to share!
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