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Discussion Starter #1
I am wondering what peoples' thoughts are on a purchase decision. I am looking for a 2001-2003 M5, however I am finding more 2000 year models with low miles for decent prices...but I hear they have more problematic engines, worse sound systems, older style lights and an older steering wheels. I am unsure if any of the 2000 year model year problems really matter? I heard they burn more oil and have more Vanos issues...?

So,
Do you:

A) Buy a higher mileage (like 80-140K mile range) example that has been well cared for in the $15-20K range

B) Buy a low mile (30-70K mile) pristine example that is $20-35K

or...

C) Buy any E39 M5 model, whatever year and condition, at a lower price ($9-14K), and use extra funds to address any mechanical/cosmetic issues it might come with?

D) All that crap considered....what about a sight unseen purchase and having it shipped vs flying to somewhere as far away as Florida from NorCal and making a long road trip, while throwing tons of miles and fuel in it on the (slow, lol) trip home. I wouldn't mind seeing the good old USA again from behind the wheel of a beast.

Also, how many miles can you expect from the engine before what I know is a very costly rebuild?

I have been hunting for a mostly un-molested E39 M5 for about a year and am becoming more and more confused on what to pull the trigger on.

Thanks,
ZBeam
 

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ZBeam,

Decisions, Decisions!

I have owned a MY2000 for 10 years and don't think I've experienced any more problems than the other years. Yes, there are differences in lights, steering wheel and nav system. All of these can be updated if it's important to you. I spent about $1,500 updating the steering wheel and nav system on mine. I don't really care about the lights but they would be about $500 to upgrade IIRC. I think if you do a search on some of the oil threads, it is not clear if MY2000 use any more oil than the others even with the older style rings.

The most important thing is maintenance and care. Many have had the S62 of all years last well beyond 200k without rings, rod-bearings or rebuilds. ie a well cared for category A car might be a better buy than a neglected category B car.

I would not suggest category C unless your are very competent with DIY work.

As for Category D) I bought a car (S54 M Roadster) in Dallas off craigslist. I made the deal with the owner subject to a PPI at a local BMW specialist of my choice. I flew in to get it, fully prepared to catch a return flight if I didn't feel comfortable when I saw it in person. As it turned out, the PPI was good and I bought the car and have been very happy with it. Be very careful and for sure get a PPI if you try this.

Have fun! These are great cars and this board is a wealth of information!
 

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My 2000 doesn't seem to burn any significant oil. Just look for a well cared for and documented example and get a good PPI. With the money u save u can still do all the upgrades including vanos if necessary!
 

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Category A gets my vote. Why? Because somebody getting my car if I had to sell for some reason would be getting one of the best E39s in the country for a ridiculous price. Buy for 15K, add 5K to refresh every detail of the car, and it's still worth 15K! Buy the car that somebody already paid the big bills on and already had the big stuff replaced. A low mileage car still has ALL that stuff to come. A higher mileage car had all the stuff fixed on somebody else's dime and you're waltzing in and taking advantage of the fact that that stuff doesn't necessarily add to the price. These cars don't generally show wear and tear otherwise so mileage isn't that big of a deal if mechanical stuff is all fresh.
 

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I bought my first M5: 2001 Tit.Silver with 205k miles, well-maintained, highway cruiser car for the price of a decent 540i.
One month later, I bought a 2000 Dinan M5 with 65k miles very well-care for, with Nav upgrade, double padded steering wheel, Sirius radio, Bluetooth.... for a very attractive price. I am in the process of upgrading to Celis taillights, install AE rings into the headlights.
Regardless of the MY, an M5 is an M5.
 

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OP, yeah so many ways to look at it, each on with good and bad points. Personally I'd go with a 2001 & up just so you have the updated features. I've seen 2001 & up selling for $8k locally with +150K miles on them and needing some maint' but in decent cosmetic condition.

April 2000 build date and newer had the revised piston rings that are supposed to burn less oil. Ideally get a 2003 as it has all the updates you'll end up wanting to do if you keep the car long term.
 

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ZBeam,

Decisions, Decisions!

I have owned a MY2000 for 10 years and don't think I've experienced any more problems than the other years. Yes, there are differences in lights, steering wheel and nav system. All of these can be updated if it's important to you. I spent about $1,500 updating the steering wheel and nav system on mine. I don't really care about the lights but they would be about $500 to upgrade IIRC. I think if you do a search on some of the oil threads, it is not clear if MY2000 use any more oil than the others even with the older style rings.

The most important thing is maintenance and care. Many have had the S62 of all years last well beyond 200k without rings, rod-bearings or rebuilds. ie a well cared for category A car might be a better buy than a neglected category B car.

I would not suggest category C unless your are very competent with DIY work.

As for Category D) I bought a car (S54 M Roadster) in Dallas off craigslist. I made the deal with the owner subject to a PPI at a local BMW specialist of my choice. I flew in to get it, fully prepared to catch a return flight if I didn't feel comfortable when I saw it in person. As it turned out, the PPI was good and I bought the car and have been very happy with it. Be very careful and for sure get a PPI if you try this.

Have fun! These are great cars and this board is a wealth of information!
My first one was a MY00, and never had issues with it. I now have an 03 and doesn't seem much different to me, although the 16:9 format NAV screen is nice and the lights are good too - but both easy upgrades you could tackle for under $1K.

And I second the notion that you are better off buying a car with the right history. Ideally from a long term owner. I did that with my current '03 and it has been rock solid for 30K miles now. I also recently made a similar move with a "beater" E34 525i that I picked up for my kids to drive when we finally came to the realization that 5 cars + 4 drivers is a challenge when 2 of the cars are only driven by me :3: heh heh. Bought that one from the second owner who's owned it for like 15 years and had a stack of receipts and all of the service over the last few years was done by Dinan - the car has 95K miles and literally needs nothing but a few minor fixes which I've already completed myself at no cost. Find a car like that - mileage isn't as important, but ideally under 100K miles would be a good target but not necessarily a hard and fast rule.

And hey - nice pick-up o the S54 roadster, Dennis. I recently sold a current model Miata and was considering the S54 motored coupes and roadsters and even the S54 motored M3's, but ended up going back to another Corvette this time. We should get together for coffee some time and compare notes - I daily drive an Imola 03 M5 and live and work in San Jose!
 

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If a car has had more than one owner then it is generally worthless, at least that's what I've read.



PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT OWN AN M5 AND THIS POST IS NOT INTENDED TO BE ARROGANT. PLEASE READ THE IMPORTANT REVISED DISCLAIMER THAT APPLIES TO THIS POST
 

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Having recently purchased my car in March, I can say (in hindsight) that I would go with Category A - Especially if you are able to pick up an example from a board member. The people on this board are very knowledgeable and take excellent care of their vehicles due to their passion for the performance only a well maintained car promises (prime example: http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/cars-sale-wanted/388433-greta-needs-new-home-2002-m5.html)

In my purchase I went with a category B car. I picked up a MY 2001 with just a hair over 30k miles...and I paid a premium for the mileage (although nothing obscene like the EAG guys try to get). What I am finding now is that I am doing a lot of routine stuff and replacing consumables (thermostat, O2 sensors, CPS, trans/diff fluid) which slowly deteriorate performance over time (parts are 13 years old now in my case) - even though they don't necessarily throw a code. Had I purchased a higher mileage car owned by an enthusiast, these things would likely have already been replaced. I did get a good deal of paperwork with my vehicle (8 years worth), and that's how I narrowed down what to prioritize as far as preventative maintenance.

Whatever you do - Don't buy one without an independent pre-purchase inspection that you arrange. I bought my car in Ohio and I live on the east coast, so after the PPI turned up nothing major I went and test drove it, bought it and had it shipped home. Worked well for me.

And don't forget...after you get it you will be bitten by the urge to personalize it to your taste, and depending on what that is it can add up quite quickly :1:
 

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like entire engines and transmissions for example?

I mean, if the engine has a Corvette logo on it you might want to pass....

:15:
No, only if the ignition switch has a GM logo....:hihihi:

Regards,
Jerry
 
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If I could offer any advice it would be wait and see. That is, if you don't need the car right this second. I found a 2003 M5 with 174k miles for $11,500. I was skeptical because of the high millage, but it turns out the previous owner was anal. Had service records for the past 7 years from the same shop (Bavarian Professional in the Bay Area). I couldn't be happier with the condition of this car and the only issues are your typical old bushings and struts going out.

So if you have the luxury of waiting, I'd suggest keep looking.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That's interesting Wezbian...I saw that Carbon Black on black M5 I think...on craigslist in Oakland down near alameda. I live in Montclair and was thinking about buying it because it was local, and taken care of by a local shop, but I got cold feet because of the mileage. Nice looking car for sure, just felt weird spending cash on a 175K mile car that could potentially need a new engine within 50K miles or so. But mind you, that was just a thought based on being paranoid about the right choice.

I really appreciate all the fine input from everyone. It really helps a lot.

Z
 

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@zazbram - That's funny you saw the same car. Yep, I picked her up with the worry that there would be typical engine issues but I read over the last 7 years of maintenance and the owner really took care of the car. I bought the car to work on vs to use as a daily - so anything that comes up won't be a surprise. Are you looking for something you can work on when issues arise or are you going for pure daily driver - no worries?
 

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Just my 2 cents here, I always value condition over mileage. A car with under 80k is going to need some inspection II action. Personally, I prefer the 01+ lci, with the girthier steering wheel, corona ring headlights, and celis tails, not to mention the 16:9 nav, complete with cassette deck. But different people like different things.

Also the 01+ has the m audio dual 10 inch "subs", which I removed and put a single 12 inch in.

I didn't realize how much I would prefer the full leather interior compared to the sport. I don't know how many cows they put in it, but I love it. Cow dash, glove, etc.

I would also get a ppi done, regardless where it is, cheap peace of mind.
 

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I'd get the cheapest one with a good engine you can find. Cosmetics can be fixed, but if the car has been mechanically neglected it may never achieve an ideal performance level.
 

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I just go with a car that feels right at the time. I managed to find an incredible condition one owner 69k mile car for a good price. I even went to the local BMW dealer where I saw every record since it was new in 02. Basically it was meticulously taken care of. Some mechanical things were lacking, plugs needed changed, it needed a clutch but other wise nice. It also had some paint issues that cost me about $3600 to have fixed. Nearly a year in I am probably just over $5000 in making it factory perfect. It is almost there. I just needs an air box clip and an intake plenum stud fixed.

I didn't realize how much I would prefer the full leather interior compared to the sport. I don't know how many cows they put in it, but I love it. Cow dash, glove, etc.
This is very true, there is cow pretty much everywhere. It is amazing, I suspect several high class German cows became schnitzel for my e39.
 
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