What to Look for When Buying a BMW E39 M5?

So what is it about the BMW E39 M5 that makes it so damn desirable? Well, it has a good old fashioned naturally aspirated 4.9-liter V8 that sound amazing and a proper chassis to go with it, as well as good looks. Is that enough?
BMW E39 M5 6 photos
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For some it might not be, but we’re on ae’s BMW Power Blog here and we’re not afraid to say that this M5 is probably the best one they ever came out with. That’s right, I said it and if you don’t agree, I could care less. To each his own.

Therefore, I started looking around to buy one and I have to say that they don’t come cheap. Of course, that’s if you want one that will also run, not just sit tight and look pretty. But what should I look for when looking to buy a second-hand one?

Well, I did some research and came up with a few key areas to check prior to purchase. First of all you should know that this car hails from a day and age where longevity was still desired in a German car. That means it was built to last.

The first thing you need to check is carbon buildup. The thing is, this V8 burns some oil and that’s just natural on such a car. The problem is, not all the oil it eats up ends up in the combustion chamber. Some of the vapors left out make their way into the intake manifold and the secondary air injection system.

That, in turn, takes the vapors into the cylinders where it builds up, solidifying. The end result demands that you simply take the engine apart and clean the cylinders, work that could be costly.

The E39 M5 also came with variable valve timing or VANOS as BMW calls it. That was put in place to help with fuel consumption but over the years, components tend to fail.

If the VANOS system is failing, you’ll hear it on idle because it turns a petrol engine’s sound into something only the oldest diesels could churn out.

The thing is, the sound is the only downside as the engine won’t be affected by a malfunctioning VANOS. Since we are enthusiasts here, I’m guessing nobody will run this car with a faulty system. Fixing it according to BMW demands by replacing the system altogether may be costly, but you can also fix it using a kit that costs around a thousand bucks.

Another common problem is the timing chain tensioner. Over time, it becomes sluggish and doesn’t keep up with the demands of such a car. However, this is something you can fix yourself or at a shop if you can spare around $300-$400 bucks. The thing is, you don’t want it to break as it will damage a lot more internal bits along with it.

That’s about it. At least, that’s what I found to be more common. In case you already own one and know more, feel free to let me know using the comments section below.
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