Considering buying a '01 525i Wagon and need advice...

Asked by Apr 30, 2010 at 10:19 PM about the 2001 BMW 5 Series 525i Wagon

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

Although the car has 169k miles it seems like a well maintained and solid car and a good deal.
However, on a test drive I could smell burning oil (no visible smoke) and a heard clicking noise
that starts at very slow speeds (<10 mph) and gets faster up to around 25 mph then goes away. Thinking it may be coming from transmission. (not sure) Otherwise it seems to drive and shift well. I would like to know from anyone with experience with these models if this car is a potential keeper or a money pit?

3 Answers

1,945

The bmw 2.5L straight 6 of your vintage is the most popular engine bmw has ever built. All engine parts, whether factory, oem, or remanufactured are readily found and at very reasonable prices. All bmws need to be maintained, but the 2.5L is the least expensive. Having said that, start sourcing for the water pump, thermostat, radiator, alternator, and even the power steering pump as these usually need to be replaced around 150k miles give or take. The most common source of oil leak of this engine is the cam cover seal - oil drips down to the exhaust manifold and burnt oil can be smelled especially when the engine first achieves operating temperature. The clicking noise can be a case of worn valve guide(s) or the more sinister vanos problems, both present minimal challenge to experienced bmw mechanics. Regarding the "Touring" e39 chassis, check for rust around the rear hatch window where rust is most often found. If it is equipped with air suspended rear self-levelling system, the air chambers are only $450 to replace if the rear end starts to sag. Also make sure you are not offended by the more "truck like" ride of the wagon as the aforementioned rear suspension setup tends to be far less supple than that of the sedan's. A small price to pay, really, for one of the most exclusive bmw.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

have a 2001 525i and it is the best car i've ever owned...have considered buying newer car hundreds of times and decide that i really don't want to get rid of this one. this is the longest i've ever driven the same car. consumer reports rates almost every model of bmw as "recommended" if not "best in class" from 1998- 2001. bmw models drastically declined after 2002 in every single category. finally, in 2011, bmw 300 series made consumer reports approval....(owned a 1999 328 before buying my present car, and loved it,,,but wanted something a little bit bigger) if the 500 series can improve this year like the 300's did in 2011, i may be buying that new car after all...

3,015

I have my 2001 e39 Sportwagen and absolutely love it! I have just at 100K on the odometer. The self leveling suspension is an EASY fix. I did mine for less than $350 in about 1.0 hour. The burnt oil could be from a leaky power steering reservoir as well. As for the clicking, the '01 model has a double vanos, rather than the single that it replaced, like Vince mentioned. I would double check the water pump and the belt tensioner pulleys. They have a bad habit of making that dreaded noise before dying. The rubber and plastic pieces dry out and become brittle in warmer climates, like here in Florida. Black Magic Tire Shine is a silicon life saver get it and don't stop using it on everything ABS, rubber and the like. By the way, I turn all of my own wrenches and this is my fifth Bimmer.

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