What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?

Hi guys, long post coming up, my girlfriend inherited a 2002 525i and we’re working on deciding what to do with it. It’s in California (central valley), we are in Michigan.

I got a chance to look it over and I got a chance to drive it around town and on the highway, my impressions so far (I’ve bolded the most immediate concerns):

  • starts right up, runs well
  • accelerates smoothly and without complaint
  • the drivers side seat is all kinds messed up, it’s sitting on an angle, left side is higher than the right, it’s currently in a high position. When I attempt to lower it only the right side comes down.
  • rear bumper needs fixing or replacing
  • one of the headlights needs replacing (I think it’s beyond polishing)
  • upon deceleration I hear a LOT of road noise, I thinking this is due to it needing new tires, despite them having a lot of tread left
  • I was told it needs to be kept above a half tank, otherwise it shuts off, the family’s regular mechanic tried to address that twice and could not figure it out
  • needs a head unit, a majority of the lines on the display aren’t working
  • AC takes quite a long time to start blowing cold air
  • the steering is heavy

I’ll post some picture below (also pictured my rental F-150). I also have the VIN available, can I get some info off of that? It has almost 200k miles on it, so that tells me it must’ve been taken care of for it to make it this far and still be running well. It’s been with 1 mechanic for its last 10's of thousands of miles (unsure how many) so I can probably get records from them.


In general I’m not super knowledgeable on BMW’s, but I have always really liked the E39 series, it stands out in my mind as one of the last model years before I started disliking BMW’s for a while, the term Bangle Butt comes to mind. Anyway, do you guys think it’s worth attempting the cross-country drive to bring it to Michigan? This is not a question of value, it’s largely a sentimental car, but if there are major pitfalls or notorious reliability concerns we’d consider selling it in California and cutting our losses.

TLDR: do we road-trip this 193k miles E39 to Michigan?

Illustration for article titled girlfriend inheriting a 2002 E39 525i
Illustration for article titled girlfriend inheriting a 2002 E39 525i

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