BMW 540i Reviews & Ratings

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BMW 540i (21 Reviews)
Purchased a 2001 540I 6sp Manual w/Sports Suspension in 09. Car had 128,000. It now has 191,000. It's the 2nd best car I've ever owned. My best was an 89 BMW 535I 5 speed manual. The car is a blast to drive. Would NEVER own a BMW without a true manual transmission. Corners like a dream and the ride is as smooth as silk. It's the closest thing to owning an M5. The only difference is the 100 extra horses under the hood. This car has all the power you'll ever need.
Since owning I've installed Bilsteins, front & rear suspension components, and had the timing chain guides done. At 150K if you do not replace the timing chain guides on a 4liter V-8, you might as well be playing "Russian Roulette". It's the one fatal flaw with
with this particular engine. If the plastic guide fails and the timing chain skips a tooth, kiss the car goodbye.

Also pay attention to the cooling system. It's a wise idea to replace the water pump w/a metal impeller. Why BMW continues to use plastic ones is beyond my comprehension. A new radiator, expansion tank & hoses are also recommended. Since the days of my old 72 Bavaria, BMW has always had issues with cooling. Besides these idiosyncrasies the car is top notch.
my 2001 540i M sport has 155 plus thousand miles and runs like a dream- Change the oil religiously/every 5 k miles regardless with Castrol synthetic oil- 8 qts- worth it..Changed wheels and tires to continental high speed ,z rated tires-6 speed manual on its second clutch,third radiator,new timing chain, new coils, invest a couple of grand and the car is good good for a qtr. million miles--shift with out the clutch up and down , just feel it and time it -BMW's are the Best- Race Me...
I bought a 2000 a year ago with 145K.
Despite 16 MPG (city) I would buy it again!
Great Car! (Nice "Classic" look) - Fantastic ride.

(Do wish the steering was a little more responsive like the 2003 M5, and that the interior was not so cheap or dated)

I did have to make some repairs to it:
Replaced Radiator and reserve tank (Apx $150) - For some reason they don't last that long in these cars - and $150 fixed the problem (Even if I have to replace it in a year or so - so what its an easy and cheap fix)

Was having problems with the Alternator - BMW quoted me $800 for a new one and I found a rebuilt for $500. BUT after reading the message boards and finding that the Rebuilt ones often have faulty Voltage regulators I decided to replace ONLY the Voltage regulator ($50) and haven't had a problem since. NOTE - It requires the removal of the radiator, Fan, and serpentine belt (serp belt easy to remove with a ratchet placed on a nut and pushed - no need for major effort - Fan requires BIG crescent wrench - that you'll only use twice.)

I also had to replace the window regulators (1 on the rear and 1 on the front) BMW quoted me $800 for the rear - I found it on like for $150(?) and got the front for about $50 (Don't get the super cheap ones where you get the set of fronts for $60 - they're junk).
I am absolutely enamored with this car. The headlights do not give enough light on low beams.
The electric coils seem to go bad to often and are expensive to replace
14 years later and still going strong. I wish BMW would make the interior better instead of using cheap plastic and low grade leather. Other than that is a verry good cAR.
My 540I runs like a charm,I had problems with the Body control computer( this controls all the lights) i had to replace some of the solid state relays in it ( in the passenger side kick panel),the shaking caused by the old control arms was gone as soon as i replaced then.i only have one problem left the check break fluid warning on the dash ( working on it ).I will tell u about that as soon as i am done
Good day,
I have a question on the alarmsystem of a 1998 540i,ijust cant get the alarm switched off i eventuly disconected the battery,checked the key battery,gone through the system by doing a visual check, no success at all please let me know if this is a comon occurance with alarm system i only have the car for about 6 months.
Please help
I live in South Africa hence no zip code.
Purchased it in July 2011, 74000 miles on it. the alternator, power steering pump, both serpentine belts and supply hose to the power steering pump were all bad. I opted to put on new rotors and brake pads. Changed to high speed tires (had 112 MPH on it) now has 168 MPH. Had both rear window corner screens dangling took them apart and fixed them. Lots of little things needed attention, trunk tool box hold up screw was broken, head light adjustment on both lights were broken (replaced with projectors). Last things to fix are the wheel well liners are shattered, brittle plastic or something. There is a little bit of shake when slowing from 70 in the front end acts like a warped rotor, but is intermittent. Now that it is all done driving it as compared to my Mercedes SLK is so much better, it out accelerates and out handles that car hands down. It is quiet, sure footed and comfortable. The sport seats make this a great long distance driver. Anyone with a modest budget and some mechanical knowledge would appreciate the simplicity of the car but know the upkeep of it is a little more involved than your typical chevy or ford. Bottom line, this is a drivers car, it is very fast, and handles extremely well, predictable handling makes even a novice feel like a accomplished driver. When I was a kid working on my first 55 chevy this is what I wanted it to work like. Awesome car......
this has been my favorite bmw that I have owned. I have had a 325,635, and now the 540. At high rated speeds this car performs like a bmw should. All cars have there problems but if you want a car that will late a long time you cant go wrong with a bmw. I do not think they are that expensive to fix. I take mine to a local guy that does not even work on imports. he does a great job for less. Just got to look around. If you do repair something you should not have to repair it again. good quailty products from the germans. great car for the price. I paid only $2800 for it. In 1995 this car was valued at about $48,000 so great deal for me.
The car ran beautifully for 7 years (2003-2010) ..Then everything fell apart at 85,000 miles.....
radiator, water pump, power steering, hoses/belts. "Service engine soon" light -
Recommendation: Sell car at 75,000 miles - and don't look back.
My dream car had been a 6 speed 540 for years. i finally bought a used 2001 in 2005. only had 40,000 miles on it. love driving it; it has been a nightmare for repairs. Had one bad cylinder which required changing the spark plug every 500 miles; did the compression test; passed, did the leak down test;passed; eventually tore down engine and found out it had been 'hydrolocked'; had to replace the engine; had to replace the alternator; heating/ac system has been a joke; currently trying to figure out why the fan will not operateabove a low setting; checked the fuse(75 and 76; that was fun); it was fine; tried replacing the resistor with no effect; looking at buying a used 2004 545; just read about another unfortunate 545 owner who hydrolocked his engine after driving through a 15 inch puddle; i am a succer for punishment
The car is a great example of fine engineering - For 7 years its been trouble free - unfortuantely at the expiration of warranty period - repairs are terribly expensive - BMW brand inflation, many simple items you pay a high premium "BMW repair tax" to dealer or independent mechanic.
The E34 540i is a great car. Very comfortable and fast. Repairs are expensive. I buy all my parts online and have the dealer perform the work. If you can DIY that is to be recommended. The weak areas on this car include the cooling system (perhaps its weakest area), leaking valve cover gaskets, leaking intake gaskets, front suspension, and HVAC system. The cooling system is the big one to watch out for though, these cars don't handle overheating well. The mostly aluminum V8 produces a lot of heat and puts stress on all the plastic components in the engine bay (radiator and hoses, etc.). I would buy and older E34 5-Series over a newer E39 5-Series any day, much less to break and better styling. Always do a pre-purchase inspection on any older out of warranty BMW you may be considering at a BMW center or independent BMW mechanic. I bought my 95 540 in May of 2009 with 85k miles. In April of 2010 it now has 96k miles. it is my daily driver rain, snow or shine. it has been very reliable even with is damn cold. The 4.0L V8 starts right up. I plan to keep this car as a DD for the next 5 years and then has a hobby/weekend car after that.
Truly a great car! I've owned a 540i for 5 years now and never had anything wrong with it. It's such a pleasure to drive that car that I don't mind driving where I normally would fly to destinations. The only problem I've had so far is to control myself as you don't really feel how fast you're going; therefore I've extensively used the speed control to avoid speeding tickets. I wouldn't hesitate a second to buy this car again though it's a tad small for me as I've owned larger cars before, e.g. 500 Mercedes.
Problems with front end suspension
AC has never worked properly
Great car and truly the ultimate driving machine. Not a car for the young or conservative. If you are planning a family or looking for a family sedan, get a 525 or 530! This car is a four door sports car with an amazing driving experience. Also save your money for repairs b/c it will cost for replacement parts and at the gas station!!!
Absolute blast to drive. 123k on it, no major problems. Still smokes all them mustangs/camero's/etc... Nothing like merging onto a highway at 120 mpg with two finger on the wheel - LOVE IT.
I bought my 540 July 2008 with only 47,000 miles on it. I also bought an extended warranty that more than paid for itself at 82,000 miles. I LOVE this car! At about 54,000 miles replaced the radiator (covered by warranty) and a hose. I have replaced brake pads and done oil changes myself. Power steering hose leaks a little due to clamps loosening up (no big deal). Steering became wobbly and clunky at around 70,000 miles and symptoms of intake manifold leak and valley pan gasket leaks also. At 60,000 miles the tranny was leaking slowly and needed a partial rebuild ($1700, covered by warranty). I just (at 82,000 miles) brought it into repair shop and warranty is covering the suspension parts (ball joints shot, control arm bad, tie rods and bushings need replacing) and the intake and valley pan gasket replacements. I really haven't had that many issues considering I live in mountains and have put on 34,000 miles in a year and a half, and the ones I have are the common problems. Good thing I bought the 36,000 mile extended warranty that covers gaskets and seals. This is my favorite car that I've owned..... hands down. I LOVE it!
We purchased are Bimmer in 2007 with 87,500 mls on it. A year later I replaced the alternator and the radiator. We went on one trip in it to Tampa, Fl and it handled superb. Overall we are happy with our 540i.
My son's 540 is a very heavy car so, use front brake pads like water. Recently the alternator need to be replace. Just $ 500 for a rebuild one!New alternator are about $ 800.00, and we found out it is a water cool alternator......!!!!!!!
With this model you need to be very carefull with no overheating the engine. Cronic problems with the cooler system. Very nice cars when they are new, but after 5 or 6 years......