The Ultimate E39 Experience

2002 BMW 525i

I can't believe it but I'm looking to trade my E39 for your E53.

I’m the third owner and I bought my E39 from an elderly woman a little over a year ago. It was her husbands car and when he died about a year before that, she just let the car sit. It hurt too much for her to look at it so it stayed parked in the garage until a friend of hers helped sell it. They drained the gas and replaced the battery before I bought it and went to work on it.

Since taking ownership, I’ve put about $4,000 of work into it and in many ways, truly nursed it back to health. The E39 is my favorite BMW model and I was happy to get it back on its feet. And what’s good is that there’s really no work that has to be done for another couple hundred thousand miles too. There are however a few minor upgrades or repairs that could be done and I thought I’d be looking for a buyer interested in the “art” of BMW’s. 

Why E39?

  • The Story Behind BMW's best 5-Series » Road & Track
  • Is the E39 5 Series the best car ever made? » BMW Blog
  • An E39 BMW M5 Is Still Great 16 Years Later » Road & Track
  • Doug DeMuro's 2002 BMW M5 Review » YouTube
  • Top Gear’s greatest ever car? A BMW banger that cost £1500 » The Telegraph

About my E39

2002 BMW 525i
VIN: WBADT43452GY97628
Currently a little over 167,000 miles

Here’s a list of what was wrong when I bought the car that’s now been fixed:

  • The passenger rear door vapor lock was letting water in the car, I took the panel off and re-sealed
  • The cruise control, stability control, and ABS didn’t work so I troubleshooted before sending the ABS module to get rebuilt, also had to re-wire the rear passenger wheel speed sensor
  • The interior lights and keyless entry didn’t work but got all that working now
  • Bought new tires, wipers, cabin air filters, engine air filter, spark plugs, new passenger side headlight assembly (have the old one too, just foggy), new wheel speed sensors and brake pad wear sensors
  • Even replaced the roundels (emblems) on the car and the stickers on the key fobs 
  • I also did the front and rear brake pads and rotors myself; Brembo rotors and OEM recommended Akebono pads
  • Replaced the CD player and MID so all the pixels work and it’s the correct year to be able to accept an Aux cable. Which I then added Bluetooth to.
  • Even replaced the driver's side headlight washer nozzle, found all the tools for the trunk tool kit, and bought two Ultimate Cupholders

Big Repairs (done under my care)

  • Replaced valve cover gasket, oil filter housing gasket, VANOS oil pressure line, belt tensioner assembly, pulleys, and main belt
  • New front wheel bearing hubs
  • Had the thermostat replaced and the fan clutch and fan blade


  • Includes snow tire setup (Borbet Wheels and General Altimax Arctic Tires)
  • I have some decent records back to 2009 (almost 100,000 miles ago) by calling Union Park BMW and Otto’s BMW where it was previously serviced
  • Overall, it’s not a show car, but it’s a fantastic specimen
  • There are plenty of small projects on it for an enthusiast to work with over time while still being able to daily drive it without issue
  • This car should run for another 2-300,000 miles thanks to the sturdily built M54 motor
  • Basically, just over $4,000 has been put into this car. It’s truly the best. 

Current Issues (Things that would get noticed if driven:)

  • There’s a slight vibration with the original wheels. The Borbet wheels and snow tires didn't have this effect
  • The washer fluid hoses are cracked but I have a temporary solution in place
  • Oil needs to be topped up now and then. Haven't come up with a solution schedule though as it's been holding fairly steady for awhile
  • Airbag light is on but it's ok because it’s on the passenger side. Basically what would happen is that the passenger side airbag would go off in an accident whether someone is in the seat or not 
  • Sometimes the key fob disconnects but reconnecting is easy
  • Sometimes there’s a cylinder 4 misfire but it's always smoothed itself out. Should just need a new coil per scanner
  • Passenger motorized seat adjustment is ok but the drivers has issues. Fairly usable and there's DIY guide on how to fix it (see "twisted seat")
  • Sometimes the fuel tank won't read correctly. Usually, a full fill up fixes it if it doesn't clear up on its own and I use Shell V Power which is recommended
  • Sometimes a smell from the engine comes in the cabin. Not much and not long and I think it’s just a bit of oil or something. 

What I Love about my E39

  • The Forum help. If you ever have a question about this car, someone else already has the answer.
  • The looks. Even my dad likes it. That's sayin' something.
  • Arm height fits perfect in rest on door and also on window sill.
  • The sliding front armrest. Many remove it for a [fixed] storage area. I prefer the sliding function. I also don't want more places for junk to hide anyway.
  • Visible hood and short rear make parallel parking easy.
  • Visibility in general is great. Very easy to visually check surroundings.
  • Feels more mechanical instead of electronic like the next generations.
  • Auto climate control. Just set the temp and let it do its thing.
  • The minor vent temp adjustment in center is very cool and keeps things comfortable.
  • Folding rear seats can offer quite a bit of storage.
  • Trunk arms don't get in the way when closing.
  • Little handle for closing trunk without getting fingerprints on the car.
  • Full size spare.
  • A complement of tools built into the trunk lid.
  • Metal wheel chock included next to jack.
  • Extremely easy to change air filters and spark plugs.
  • Heavy doors and a quiet cabin even when compared to many new cars.
  • Heavy steering and extremely steady at higher speeds.
  • Was able to add Bluetooth thanks to the official aid kit DIY and glovebox flashlight power port.
  • The slight angle of everything to the driver.
  • The gauges. Well laid out and perfectly visible.
  • The way the turn signals can override the hazards.
  • The extremely visible side turn signals.
  • In the winter, being able to shut the car off but keep heat blowing into the cabin for 15-30 minutes. (Press the "Max" button.)
  • After parking and just before locking, dip the high beams and the headlights stay on for a bit while you leave.
  • Being able to roll down all windows and open sunroof with the key fob and closing everything with the key in the door.
  • Soft red glow from ceiling that just faintly illuminates the center console.
  • Every window and even the sunroof is one touch.
  • Rubber luggage straps in trunk. Mine only came with one though.
  • Passenger side mirror dips down when you move into reverse so you can park easier. The only problem is that mine doesn't go back up.
  • Pop up hidden cigarette lighter. Perfect for a micro USB phone charger.
  • Insanely bright vanity mirrors and interior lighting. My wife really loves it for doing makeup.
  • The massive gas tank (18 gallon) and great highway mileage (25-28 mpg).
  • Overall it's just the whole package. One really well built car.