Common problems with BMW e39

BMW e39 problems

The BMW E39 is one of the most popular cars of the late 90s and early 2000s. Thanks to its outstanding looks, performance, and enjoyable ride. But like most BMWs, the BMW e39 also came with several issues that user’s reported over the years. So, what are the common problems with the BMW E39?

Common problems with the BMW E39 are cooling system failure, Dual-Vanos failure, hose and line leaks, LCD display problems, thrush arm bushings failure, and failing window regulators. Despite having several issues, the BMW E39 is one of the most reliable BMW 5-Series ever built. 

What are the common problems with the BMW e39?

Cooling system failure

Most BMW models have cooling system issues. The BMW e39 is not an exception as it also experiences several cooling system failures. Some of the common BMW e39 cooling system problems are the water pump and thermostat failure. In some cases, the radiator may also fail.

The best way to know whether the cooling system is failing is by looking for the “service engine soon” light coming on and checking the temperature gauge. If the temperature is above its normal range, this is an indication that the cooling system has an issue. Fix the failing parts to fix the cooling system.

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Dual-Vanos failure 

The BMW e39 comes with the M52 engine that features a Dual-Vanos system. This system controls the timing of exhaust and intake camshafts. Some of the symptoms of Dual-Vanos failure are rough idling, problems with cold starts, loss of power, and a faulty actuator.

The best way to fix a bad Dual-Vanos is to replace the entire unit or rebuild the actuators. However, the process is quite cumbersome and costly. 

LCD display problems

Another common problem that BMW e39 model users experience is LCD display problems. The LCD display on the dashboard of the car is a vital part as it conveys critical information like mileage. In some cases, the computer readout can drop pixels and turn into a mess of numbers and letters.

This issue is usually caused by a bad ribbon or the onboard computer. If you notice such a problem, you should have the mechanic inspect your car. Also, you should have the wires and fuse inspected to ensure they are working as intended.

Hose and line leaks

This problem is common in high-performance e39 5-series models. Several parts can start to leak after some time. These include oil valve cover, power steering holes, and other lines. Signs of leaking hose and lines are leakage of fluids, misfires, difficulty steering, and difficulty handling the car.

Take your car to the mechanic and have it inspected. If the hose and lines are damaged, replace them. Besides, you should also inspect the spark plugs as fluids and oils may interfere with them.

Failing window regulators

When the BMW e39 has put on over 100k miles, it is common for the window regulators to fail. The window regulators normally fail because of wear and tear or age. To fix this problem, you will have to replace the window regulators. So, before buying a used BMW E39, you should check whether the window regulators are in good condition or not.

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Thrush arm bushings fail

Like the spark plugs and ignition coils, the thrush arm bushings also fail early in BMWs. The thrust arms bushings help to control the movement of the suspension for a smooth transfer of energy and pressure from your car’s wheels to the frame. Note that the thrust arm bushings normally fail after 40,000 miles. But with proper maintenance, they can fail after 75,000 miles.

Common signs of bad or failing thrush arm bushings are the loose steering wheel, rattling noises, and clunking when hard braking.


Is the BMW E39 reliable?

Yes, the BMW E39 is one of the most reliable BMW 5-Series. Most BMW e39 models in the market have clocked over 200,000 miles. Even though the last e39 model was produced almost 20 years ago, there are still several cars in good condition. Nonetheless, maintaining this car is quite expensive.

The BMW e39 is reliable because of the exceptional and durable engines that it came with. Some of the engines featured in this model are the 2.0-liter M52 straight-6 engine, 2.2-liter M54 straight-6 engine, and 3.5-liter M62 straight-6 engine.

How long does the BMW E39 last?

The BMW e39 can last over 200,000 miles. Most BMW e39 models are now classics. This model is very durable and reliable. With proper care and maintenance, the BMW e39 5-series can do over 250k miles.

If you plan on acquiring a BMW e39 car, ensure it is well-maintained to avoid frequent visits to the mechanic or technician.

Is it expensive to maintain the BMW e39?

The BMW e39 may be more reliable than most BMW 5-series models, but it is still expensive to maintain. And since most of these models are old with over 150,000 miles, expect to undergo costly maintenance and repairs. However, with proper maintenance and care, you can reduce the cost of repairs.

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After how many miles does the BMW E39 start having problems?

The BMW E39 is one of the most BMW 5-series on the market. If it is well-maintained, this car may start experiencing minor issues after 80,000 miles. Nonetheless, users should be ready to deal with serious problems after the car hits over 150,000 miles.

What engine is fitted in the BMW E39?

The BMW e39 is fitted with the M52 engine. The M52 is a straight-6 DOHC petrol engine that was manufactured between 1994 and 2000. The BMW S52 engine is the high-performance variant of the M52 engine. Since most internal parts of the BMW M52 engine are bulletproof, it is a strong and durable engine that will clock over 200,000 miles. 


Now that you know some of the common problems that BMW e39 users face, you can plan as you prepare to acquire a used BMW e39, which has slowly turned into a classic car. With proper care and maintenance, the BMW e39 can clock over 150,000 miles without performing major repairs.

To ensure that your car lasts longer and runs smoothly, adhere to BMW’s recommended service maintenance schedule.

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Edwin Odipo

Why do you love writing about cars? Cars make our lives easy. You can visit your distant friend, relative or even rush to the grocery store a few miles from your home with a lot of ease. Imagine how life was before the invention of cars?? To me, cars are a blessing that made life more convenient.

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