Subject: E39 Rescue Mission Accomplished
I had bought a 1999 BMW 540i with the Msport package and an automatic at Copart this past July. The poor car had clearly been well cared for most of its life but never seemed to have anything more than oil changes taken care of the last few years. It still cleaned up well, albeit in need of a good detail, but mechanically, it had a lot of deferred repairs. The only thing I knew for sure when I got it was that it needed timing chain guides and a battery. That turned into Vanos, air conditioning repair, charging system repair, motor mounts, 4 rear control arms, radio, gauge cluster, a climate control unit, and catching it up on all the normal maintenance(plugs, oil change, transmission service, coolant replacement, filters, etc...) I know that is a daunting list, but really the only real pricey things were the chain guides, VANOS, and tires. The rest were reasonably priced, with the radio ending up being a simple wiring issue, just requiring a bit of tinkering to figure out. The weird one was the air conditioning failure, turned out it was just a bad tensioner that didn't hold the belt tight enough to turn the compressor when it engaged.
Since then I've put about 1500 miles on the car, bringing it up to almost 239,000 miles, and it's been perfect. It fires right up, runs, shifts, and rides smoothly without any issues. The car detailed out pretty well, and is in excellent shape considering the age and mileage. I'll have to be parting with the car soon, it's on eBay now, and while I'll never get what I put into it back, it's satisfying to have taken it and given it the care it deserved so it can be continued to be enjoyed. I was quite impressed when I got the engine apart the first time for the guides, how well everything held up. These are good, durable cars, and they drive great. The level of confidence these have at 80mph is stunning, even at over 20 years old and having traveled the distance to the moon, it still feels as solid as if it was carved from a single huge ingot as you drive down the road. If you have the chance to get one of these, go right ahead. Don't worry about the mileage, so long as you can check it out and make sure it's not hiding any big sins. These are great cars, easy to work on, and if this one proves anything, they can have a long life.
Please feel free to ask about any of the service performed if you have any questions, I know a lot of what I dealt with are common for E39 owners. Here's lots of pictures! Group 1, Group 2, and where it started.
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