Page 1 of 9 123456789 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 204

Thread: Thinking about used E38? Here's what to look for.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    614
    My Cars
    E30 E38 E39 R56

    Thinking about used E38? Here's what to look for.

    There are several things to watch for. I would avoid anything without a full history and excellent service records. I would also lean towards a CPO or aftermarket warranty.

    Some things to check:
    Loosing pixel display in temperature, mileage display.
    Catalytic converters failing
    Power steering hoses leaking
    Cup holders failing
    Nikasil engine block problems in 95 V8
    Oil pump bolts backing out, generally pre 99 years
    Radiator failures. Plastic neck breaking, all years
    A/C stepper motors failing.
    Original Water pumps with plastic impellers failing
    Coolant thermostat failing
    Poor quality jack
    Electric cooling fan failing in year 98 and newer
    Sunroof wind noise
    CD player skipping in models older than 97
    Older A/C temperature displays failing
    Phones not being upgradeable without major cost or modifications
    A/C drain lines need re-routing to stop gurgling sound


    Summary of model years:

    1996
    New 4.4 liter engine. Horsepower remained the same but torque went up from 295@4500 rpm to 310@3900 rpm. Standard steel sunroof changed, glass moonroof instead.

    1997
    Side impact airbags standard for front seat passengers. Navigation system became available but fitted into few cars.

    1998
    DSC became standard. HPS head airbags also standard and rear-seat side airbags optional. Navigation system more available. New AC control panel as well (although this was retrofitted to many pre-98 cars).

    1999
    Mild face-lift with scalloped headlights, crystalized taillamps, door scoop illumination, and chrome strip on the trunk. The 4.4 liter engine receives VANOS variable valve timing and torque rises from 310 to 324. Updated side skirts without the round hole plugs for the jack. Sport package consisting of 18-inch rims, blackout trim, lower gear ratio, and vavona redwood interior trim became available on the 740i.

    2000
    Features as standard that were options before. Xenon lights, rain sensing wipers, headlight washer nozzles, Navigation, DSP stereo with cassette in the dash and 6 disk changer in the trunk. Sport package became available on 740iL/750iL models, sans the lower gearing.

    2001
    For the last year, they added body colored side skirts, and front and rear air dams (all were black until 2001) and crystal clear turn signals. Features as standard that were options before, Star tac phone with mayday system, 16 way comfort seats, side airbags with head protection skirts. Mid year (9/00 production and later) they changed to a wide navigation screen.


    Very important, if you are considering a 1995 V8, please see this link for the Nikasil Issue (Koala Motorsport)
    Last edited by M.Wong; 10-13-2005 at 03:54 PM.
    M.Wong
    E38 2000 740iL Orient Blue
    E91 2012 328xiT Alpine White

    Passed on to a new families:
    E30 1987 325i Royal Blue
    E39 2003 540i/6 Sterling Gray
    R56 2010 Mini Cooper S British Racing Green


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    MINY USA
    Posts
    10,426
    My Cars
    2000 BMW 740iL
    Mark,

    Thanks for the write-up. I'll park this as an "un-official" FAQ so everyone can add to it as needed. You can then edit your initial post to incorporate any new info at your convenience.

    - Mike D.
    ACS Front Spoiler | Bavarian Autosport Strut Bar | Bilstein HD Struts | Dinan Cold Air Intake | Dinan Stage II Software
    Eisenmann High Performance Exhaust | H&R Stage II Sport Springs | Mobile Video & Bass Upgrades.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,783
    My Cars
    Legend, M3
    Mark,

    Thanks for the information. I'll pass it along to my aprents who are interested in a 2000-2001.
    1993 Acura Legend L Sedan
    2009 BMW M3 Sedan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,783
    My Cars
    Legend, M3
    I looked at a 2000 740i today. I noticed that none of the body panels have the vin numbers on them. I have them on all the body panels of my M3. Is it normal for a 740i to be like this? Also, I noticed that the windshield is kind of tinted, but not around the area of the mirror and in the shape of a rectangle near the bottom, close to the dash. Is this normal? Also, do the factory floor mats say "BMW" on them? Thanks for your help.
    1993 Acura Legend L Sedan
    2009 BMW M3 Sedan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    614
    My Cars
    E30 E38 E39 R56

    E38 odds and ends

    Itís strange, but the E38 and E39 donít have the visible VIN on all the fenders. My E30 has stickers in each rain gutter track on the top of the fenders. I know itís in the normal places on the E38 (base of windshield and B-pillar at driverís door) plus on the passenger side strut tower in the engine compartment and under the back license plate on a sticker.

    There are several BMW windshields for the E38. The plain glass has a slight blue tint... Options on the plain are heating/defrost elements where the wipers park and rain sensing wiper gap in the tint.

    The more expensive windshield is an infrared reflective glass with a brown tint. It has and gaps at the center top for the wiper sensor and center bottom for a radar detector or toll pass devices.

    Mine did not come with mats that said BMW, but I changed them to the rubber BMW ones that do. (Seattle, lotsa rain, etc.)





    Last edited by M.Wong; 01-29-2003 at 12:51 AM.
    M.Wong
    E38 2000 740iL Orient Blue
    E91 2012 328xiT Alpine White

    Passed on to a new families:
    E30 1987 325i Royal Blue
    E39 2003 540i/6 Sterling Gray
    R56 2010 Mini Cooper S British Racing Green


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,783
    My Cars
    Legend, M3
    Mark,

    Thanks so much for answering my questions. I was thinking that maybe the e39, e38, e65, etc. have different ways of marking the body panels for identification. I saw something on the discovery channel sometime ago that talked about having the VIN number on more expensive automobiles be built into the paint or something like that. It would be more expensive to or nearly impossible to copy this type of technology when compared to the old VIN stickers. Again, thanks for the info. If I have more questions in the next few days, I'll PM you.

    BTW: I like your choice of cars.
    1993 Acura Legend L Sedan
    2009 BMW M3 Sedan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    614
    My Cars
    E30 E38 E39 R56

    Let me add "J.Carey's" list of things to check when looking at E38s:

    Has the radiator been replaced? If so, when?
    Are the pixels working in the instrument cluster display and MID?
    Does the front suspension making any noises? Any work done to it?
    Have the water pump/thermostat been replaced yet? If so, when?
    Have the catalytic converters been replaced?
    Check the function of every electrical do-dad before you buy it. They can drive you nuts and cost plenty out of warranty to get right. Seat controls and memories (and steering wheel memory modules) fail from time to time so makes sure these work. CD changers, radio, NAV.
    Check window shades for noise and/or function,
    Radio AM/FM good reception or not? If the windows are tinted make sure about AM reception.
    Plus all the normal used car stuff: brakes, engine oil leaks, power steering function and leaks, coolant leaks and running temp, AC/Heat function, tires, wheels, exhaust.
    M.Wong
    E38 2000 740iL Orient Blue
    E91 2012 328xiT Alpine White

    Passed on to a new families:
    E30 1987 325i Royal Blue
    E39 2003 540i/6 Sterling Gray
    R56 2010 Mini Cooper S British Racing Green


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    25,449
    My Cars
    E46, S2000

    Re: E38s are great cars!

    Okay, lets see if anyone can beat me in services.


    Loosing pixel display in temperature, mileage display.
    >Catalytic converters failing
    >Power steering hoses leaking
    >Cup holders failing
    >Nikasil engine block problems in 95 V8(haven't had to replace, though)
    Oil pump bolts backing out
    >Radiator failures. Plastic neck breaking, mostly pre 98
    >A/C stepper motors failing.
    Original Water pumps with plastic impellers failing
    Coolant thermostat failing
    Poor quality jack (never had to check)
    Electric cooling fan failing in year 98 and newer
    >Sunroof wind noise
    CD player skipping in models older than 97
    >Older A/C temperature displays failing
    >Phones not being upgradeable without major cost or modifications
    A/C drain lines need re-routing to stop gurgling sound

    9 out of 17. How does everyone else come out?

    Forum Rules___Info for New Members___Teen Driving School in So Cal
    "It's the internet by my rules."--Kevlar

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    25,449
    My Cars
    E46, S2000

    Re: Let me add "J.Carey's" list of things to check when looking at E38s:

    Originally posted by M.Wong

    Seat controls and memories (and steering wheel memory modules)
    Check window shades for noise and/or function,
    Radio AM/FM good reception or not? If the windows are tinted make sure about AM reception.
    No fair, these should have been posted before. If we include that second post: 12/20

    Plus cruise control failure.

    My car is a money pit, eh?

    Forum Rules___Info for New Members___Teen Driving School in So Cal
    "It's the internet by my rules."--Kevlar

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Irvine CA
    Posts
    238
    My Cars
    1999 Techart Widebody Supercharged Porsche 911
    Who has a decent aftermarket warranty for the 7 series, or should I try to get it direct from the BMW dealer
    2002 BMW 745i
    1999 Porsche 911 Techart Widebody C2
    1995 Veilside Majisty Supercharged Widebody NSX-T
    1999 Nissan Silvia S15
    2000 Mercedes S500 :sold:
    2001 Audi S4 :sold:
    1999 BMW 740i :gone:
    1999 BMW 540i 6 SPD :sold:

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    25,449
    My Cars
    E46, S2000
    you can get one from BMW, but it doesn't cover jack. I had to deal with a lot of stuff that wasn't covered on that so called "bumper to bumper" waranty.

    Now I'm trucking it alone, with 111,715 miles on my car, and some expencive things that need to be replaced.

    Forum Rules___Info for New Members___Teen Driving School in So Cal
    "It's the internet by my rules."--Kevlar

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    12
    My Cars
    2001 735i Sport
    to little740girl,
    I have been following this forum for a few months (it's excellent just a little slow sometimes) and have read many of your posts.
    As sad as it maybe but in my humble opinion you should consider selling the 7 for another BMW that is not going keep breaking the bank. I wish you all the best.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    25,449
    My Cars
    E46, S2000
    everyone says that, but first you need to convince both myself and my mom that it's worth selling the car. I have good insurance rates with the seven, and no payment, so it's a pretty nice deal I have. Although, what I would be spending with a payment goes into service, but its spread out a bit.

    I love my car. I do think about getting something smaller, something easier to maintain, but I love my car so much that I couldn't really think about selling her. Also, she's only worth about 15 right now, not enough to get something really nice to replace her with.

    Come on people, how much have you had to replace?

    Forum Rules___Info for New Members___Teen Driving School in So Cal
    "It's the internet by my rules."--Kevlar

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    East Bay, CA
    Posts
    19,872
    My Cars
    M5, E61
    check your exhaust hanger bolts. out of the 4 on my wife's car, 2 had fallen off, 2 were on their last threads.

    Just another FYI.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    614
    My Cars
    E30 E38 E39 R56
    umnitza, I will check those hangers next weekend... thanks for the heads up!

    Yeah little740girl, I'd consider getting something else too. Have you considered a newer used car? I still have CPO coverage for 45K more miles or two more years, which ever comes first. Here are the ones I have encountered:

    Catalytic converters failing (done under warranty)

    Oil pump bolts backing out (paid to have them checked, all okay)

    A/C stepper motors failing (squeak noise, done under warranty)

    Radiator failure. (Cost $50 under CPO)

    Sunroof wind noise (replaced gasket and it's much better)

    A/C drain lines need re-routing to stop gurgling sound
    (didn't really have this problem but they did it under warranty anyway)

    Cup holders failing
    (not a problem, proactively bought aftermarket from cupholders.com)






    None of the following:

    Loosing pixel display in temperature, mileage display.
    Power steering hoses leaking
    Nikasil engine block problems in 95 V8
    Original Water pumps with plastic impellers failing
    Coolant thermostat failing
    Poor quality jack (well, we all have this I guess)
    Electric cooling fan failing in year 98 and newer
    CD player skipping in models older than 97
    Older A/C temperature displays failing
    Phones not being upgradeable without major cost or modifications
    M.Wong
    E38 2000 740iL Orient Blue
    E91 2012 328xiT Alpine White

    Passed on to a new families:
    E30 1987 325i Royal Blue
    E39 2003 540i/6 Sterling Gray
    R56 2010 Mini Cooper S British Racing Green


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Irvine CA
    Posts
    238
    My Cars
    1999 Techart Widebody Supercharged Porsche 911
    M. Wong, what kind of aftermarket warranty do you have?
    2002 BMW 745i
    1999 Porsche 911 Techart Widebody C2
    1995 Veilside Majisty Supercharged Widebody NSX-T
    1999 Nissan Silvia S15
    2000 Mercedes S500 :sold:
    2001 Audi S4 :sold:
    1999 BMW 740i :gone:
    1999 BMW 540i 6 SPD :sold:

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    614
    My Cars
    E30 E38 E39 R56

    Not aftermarket, the E38 is CPO

    It was a BMW CPO car...
    Mark Wong
    M.Wong
    E38 2000 740iL Orient Blue
    E91 2012 328xiT Alpine White

    Passed on to a new families:
    E30 1987 325i Royal Blue
    E39 2003 540i/6 Sterling Gray
    R56 2010 Mini Cooper S British Racing Green


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Austin, Republic of Texas USA
    Posts
    12
    My Cars
    525, 735, 740 750

    Thumbs up I am here...

    12 I am here and learning how everything works other than BMW. Until now everything is low and individual postings as such I do not kno what works better or there is improvenment as to how it works... perhaps, there is a learning curve so give me a few days before next complaint.

    Claude

    :eyes1

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Dorsten, Germany
    Posts
    737
    My Cars
    740i VM,E30 327i ALPINA,745i Turbo, 99' C5 M6 TT!!
    test
    Code:
    <body><img border="0" width=600 height=150 src="http://www.german2000.com/signaturebf2.jpg" usemap="#FPMap0"><map name="FPMap0">
    <area alt="The Ultimate Roadtrip!" href="http://www.german2000.com/" shape="rect" coords="207, 16, 592, 135">
    <area alt="My Ladies on Cardomain!" href="http://www.cardomain.com/id/tranceshark" shape="rect" coords="0, 82, 116, 149">
    <area alt="My Personal Homepage" href="http://mitglied.lycos.de/trancevault/" shape="rect" coords="0, 4, 115, 74">
    </map></body><head>
    <**** ***********="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
    <title>My Signature!</title>
    </head>

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Morrison, CO
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    1997 740iL (E38)

    I agree -- E38's are grrrreat!

    Hi -- just had to add to Mark's comments on the E38s... I'm very much enjoying mine...looked at many of these cars before buying "Baby". Since then I've helped several other fellows as they've shopped for and purchased their E38s....provided them each with a list of things to inspect, etc.

    With so many options and features on these cars, it's very important to make a checklist and go over the car with a fine-tooth comb (FTC) before making an offer....esp if it's non-CPO, like mine was. You should of course take it to a BMW dealer or other after-market specialist to have a pre-purchase bumper-to-bumper inspection done...that will help you identify any major gotchas. But I don't know any mechanics who will do the FTC inspection...that falls to the prospective buyer.

    With dozens of items that can fail (and which can cost hundred of $$ each to repair) you can be looking at a big repair bill if you're not careful. I've seen all kinds of cars....some with up to a dozen or more "gotchas" that needed fixing....with potential bill of $1,000 or more...and all were minor things you wouldn't notice while test driving or taking to a dealer for a checkout.....unless you do the FTC checklist inspection.

    Basically, just go through the owner's manual cover-to-cover, and write down every feature or option that's listed. Then review the car to see if (a) it has that feature or option, and (b) if it works as it should. Some other unique items on these cars are things Mark listed already in his original post....e.g. fading/vanishing pixels, weak neck on radiator hose mounting flange, etc.

    Bottom line -- Awesome car! Just be a careful and detailed buyer.
    Regards -- Jim (1997 740iL)
    See her at: www.cardomain.com/id/jimbartlett

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Western Kentucky
    Posts
    12
    My Cars
    2001 740il

    I'm lucky but missed many years ...

    without an E38. My '01 740il has only had 1 from the list, noisy sunroof. That was finally fixed at dealer and has been only good dealer experience in 2 1/2 years. Still trying to decide if April '04 and end-of-lease means "go it alone for repairs", buy CPO at dealer and prepare for more years of frustration and disappointment, or look for 3rd party warranty. Recommendations? Ken

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chevy Chase, MD
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    MR2T, 528i
    My wife's 1990 525i got crunched by a careless Acura just before Christmas. She would like another BMW, but with child seats and things would like the extra space of the 7 series. Our 525 was a dead-nuts reliable car. In ten years of ownership, we only ever had one relay and a muffler fail. From what I gather here, the 7 series doesn't have that kind of dependability...right?
    Also, if we did find a car that would pass the FTC test, what is a reasonable price to pay for a 1997-2000 car?

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Langley, WA
    Posts
    1,040
    My Cars
    Multiple vintage BMW's...
    Hmmm, pogcarr, that's a loaded question.... My personal experience is that buying a well maintained 7 should give you a relatively trouble free experience. I have put 25k miles on my '95 (currently 77k miles) and have only had to make one trip to the dealer (the infamous Nikasil engine - most of it was covered under warranty).

    ....I've spent a great deal of dollars on upgrades, but that's a whole other story...

    Buy as new a model as you can afford. You can check online sources such as Kelly's and Edmunds for pricing. Also check Autotrader.com. You will get an idea of the range you can expect to pay for each year.

    If you are concerned about major repairs, buy CPO or get an aftermarket warranty.

    Also, note that many of the irritants that are well documented in this thread are fairly easy to stay on top of and not overly expensive. If you follow some of the great advice in this thread you can end up with a great used 7 for half the cost of buying it new. ...and your wife and child will have the added protection of a bigger car, improved restraints and better airbags. Unfortunately, you will probably not get to drive the car very often :

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    161
    My Cars
    1998 740 IL
    Hm....

    I replaced

    Weather strips on the door
    Valve Cover Gasket.
    Thrust Rod Bushing.
    Windshield washer pump.
    Power Stering hoses. -- watch out if you replace one..another one might leak - since the pressure change in the system

    good luck
    Song K. - aka Texbeamer

    <a href="http://www.dfw7.com"><IMG src="http://www.dfw7.com/members/images/signatures_micro.gif" alt="The DALLAS FORT-WORTH BMW CLUB:: CHECK US OUT!" border="0"></a>


    '98 740iL

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
    Posts
    214
    My Cars
    4/95 Kaschmirbeige 740iL

    An Australian perspective..

    I can offer two opinions, one as an Aussie where anything imported costs a lot, and as a professional driver and commercial vehicle operator where every cost has to be minimized.

    Aftermarket parts specialists such as Import Advantage in Brisbane stock most of the service parts for 7s, other parts may have to be new genuine or come from one of the BMW wreckers in the southern states of Oz.

    Good quality aftermarket catalytic converters are readily available for approx $1100 fitted, Continental and Pirelli tyres in 16 inch sizes are available but don't last long and I have run Asian-made Nankangs which were half the price and good value - a little noisy but not obtrusive. Tyre rotation every 10K is a must especially if you have the car loaded all the time like I do.

    There are plenty of independent BMW techs who hated working in the dealership system and have their own shops, and I have found their labour rates to be close to what the normal Ford/GM guys charge. It will help to have someone with a bit of experience with the marque, and this is definitely the case with the electrics. Yes, you will need the trans serviced because they are a $8K proposition here if they fail. I used to use Castrol synthetic then semi-synthetic Mobil engine oil, but I have since changed to Conoco Hydroclear and I am really impressed so far.

    They seem to hold wheel alignments well ($88 as an average), even on our NYC-like pot-holed roads - wheel wobble @ 80km/h is common, and because my strut bar bushes are OK I have found running 38psi in the front tyres eliminates this (35 on rears).

    The dust sealing and water sealing is excellent for all you outback blokes - you would think they had Australian input into this its so good. Sound proofing is average - a lot of engine noise comes into the cabin, but because its a glorious song of 8 or 12 cylinders, who gives a @#*&? I have found the double glazing to quieten down the outside noise but more importantly keeps the cabin temperature longer than any single pane window cars I've had - huge difference and massive advantage in my line of work. The A/C is absolutely freezing on 16 degrees celcius BTW.

    NEVER EVER EVER put standard Aussie unleaded petrol in them - they ping like buggery and the high sulphur content is detrimental to the health of the oil, catalytic convertors and will increase the coolant temp because of the predetonation. Premium unleaded is a must, and they are even picky on that. Shell Optimax or BP Ultimate will add another 70kms range over normal premium, and the increased throttle response is noticeable.

    Little niggles - I find the screws holding the door opener recesses in the inside door panels continually need tightening because of the use they get - coat all of your electrical bulb ends with electrical grease otherwise when it rains you will get the bulb warnings going off repeatedly - the leather is hardy but dirties easy clean with mild wool wash such as Softly which will clean well and won't pull the oils out of the leather - if you don't keep drilube on the hinges on the doors bootlid and bonnet they can make a grinding noise after a while and this shortens their life - the indicator cancelling cam always breaks and doesn't cancel the LH side - running with the front and rear foglights on is essential on country roads, but the rear fogs are as bright as, and it really blinds some drivers.

    My overall summary - the best vehicle I have ever used for limousine work. It still turns heads wherever I go, my clients love the look of it, the atmosphere of the cabin and the TV which I have on all the time. I do 1000 to 1500kms a week over potholed city streets, red dirt country roads, glassy smooth freeways and our famous rough bitumen highways and I have always felt safe and enjoyed every moment in it. The legion of enthusiasts on boards such as this that share product knowledge and life in general just tops off the good vibes for this car.

    I wholeheartedly recommend this motor vehicle.

    Cheers

    JOHN
    A Retired Seven - Aussie740Limo
    173K miles
    Brisbane, Queensland, AUST.

Page 1 of 9 123456789 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •