Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mmm . . . M5: 2000–03 E39 BMW M5 Buyer’s Guide [Econo-Exotics]

2000 BMW M5

From the July 2013 issue of CAR and DRIVER magazine

When it was unleashed upon the world, the $73,874 V-8–powered 2000 BMW M5 was immediately and universally hailed as the apex of  the 1997–2003 E39 BMW 5-series. This M5 instantly won our hearts and endures as a Car and Driver favorite, even after a V-10–equipped M5 replaced it. Depreciation has put this spectacular car within reach of anyone who can afford a Toyota Camry or even a Corolla, and careful scrutiny could land you a deal. That is, if you avoid some very pricey pitfalls.


The joy of this 394-hp V-8 can turn to suffering if seals fail inside the engine's two double-VANOS variable-valve-timing units—which use oil pressure to change intake and exhaust cam timing. BMW's solution is to swap the entire unit at more than $4500. It is cheaper to replace the seals instead of the entire VANOS unit, but you'll have to use an independent shop because it's not a BMW-approved procedure. Some owners claim the car is cursed by it while others say repairs are the cost of owning a semi-exotic.

2000 BMW M5

0–60 MPH acceleration, secondschassis

Common suspension issues include wear and tear on the M5's thicker rear anti-roll bar bushings, control arms, and ball joints. A good pre-purchase inspection will give you an idea of what you should expect to spend on the suspension, which, in the case of the M5, could mean the difference between buying and moving on.

other problem areas

Be wary of carbon buildup in the M5's combustion chambers, exhaust ports, and secondary air ports. Fixing the secondary-air-system blockage can be the most expensive repair of all, with the costs even higher than VANOS replacements. The M5's clutch is another Achilles' heel. Subjected to abuse, it wears quickly. The M5 also eats tires, brakes, and oil. Adding a quart every 600 to 700 miles isn't uncommon. Additionally, there was an engine-cooling-fan recall that may have affected inaugural-year E39s.

Estimated Used Value Ranges*:
(Assumes excellent condition and 75,000 to 90,000 miles):

Approximate Repair Costs:
VANOS replacement (each) $2200 $350
Carbon build-up clean-out (for secondary-air-system warning, involves engine disassembly) N/A ≈$8000
Control-arm replacement (front) $170/each $700
Clutch replacement $1300 $1000
Rear tires $900 $35
Brake rotors and pads (front and rear) $500–$700 $800–$1000
*Values provided by Black Book (

ask an owner: john lacey (2000 bmw m5, 55,000 miles, shown)

C/D: What repairs have cropped up, and what have they cost?
JL: The only problems for the first five years were a couple of oil leaks. One involved a replacement of the front engine seals that totaled $4000 at the dealer, but I got a local shop to redo it for $500. The other was a leaking cam cover that cost about $500 to fix. Then the check-engine light came on and, shortly after, the car began running roughly. I took it to my local mechanic, and he said it was probably a VANOS unit that was bad and he could neither diagnose it nor fix it.

C/D: Any communities you've benefited from and would recommend joining?
JL: The BMW Car Club of America is a great resource for prospective or current owners. and also contain great information and driver experiences.

2000–03 BMW M5 Buyer's Guide [Econo-Exotics] photo gallery

from Car and Driver Blog

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