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High mileage 5 series advice/ help.


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So i was looking to potentially buy a 2012 530d M sport but was worried about the mileage which sits just under 200k  miles. It has only had one owner from new and FSH but not all at BMW. And It would be the 1st BMW I will own should I buy it so im not too familiar on things I should look for in the service history that should have been done or what to look out for when test driving it. Or would it simply be a case of it is just too many miles and too much risk as I would need a reliable car that is not having expensive problems constantly. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, Thanks. ps: this is in the UK. 

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Morning Micheal

Welcome to the Forum

My brother inlaw is now on his 5th 5 series touring his business is in Europe so all his cars cover as many miles as the Star ship Enterprise. He has owned 2x530d 2x535d and the current 540d Xdrive, when he traded the last one in one of the Technicians actually brought his car (that speaks volumes)

A car that is 8 years old and has 200k on the clock has covered around 25k per year so depending on what the previous owner did for a living Taxi Driver or Motorway Warrior.

Lots of short stop start journeys will potentially put more strain on the emissions control EGR and DPF  plus other parts starter, stop/start system. A taxi may also have more signs of wear inside and the boot lip. Having said that one of our sons brought a Toyota Avensis estate that was an ex-taxi from the Toyota Dealer (His pick up was off the road) 194 miles £800 he ran it for 4 years as a second car before it failed an MOT and he sold it spare or repair and almost got his money back.

A car used as a motorway car will be actually working the car less than stop start journeys

So I would check general condition any marks on the roof from a sign, seats carpet steering wheel pedals etc for wear and tear, does everything work as it should check every function available works. How does it drive, quiet smooth engine smooth seamless gear changes at all speeds (take it on a motorway/dual carriageway)  If all is good and you are happy with the car and it's price. Then I would negotiate the cost of water pump new pulleys tensioners and belts either to be done by you or an independent garage don't accept "they have been checked and are OK" DPF filters have a life of around a 100k or so, so has it been changed? 

Bit of a ramble but there are bits in there that may help I hope


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Hey Dave, Thanks for the reply and no its not a ramble. any bit of information is appreciated I'd rather be told more than enough rather than not enough. I'm making a list of things to check before seeing it so i can be as thorough as possible. Due to it being around 200k miles I am expecting some wear and tear but my worry is being able to tell what is too much for this kind of car with these miles. My personal car atm is a 2010 mazda 6 sl 2.5 petrol with 105k miles on it and it can be rather thirsty when it comes to fuel so its abit of a change if I buy this 5 series. For the BMW will 200k miles have negatively affected its performance? And in regard to the tires I have read they are meant to be run flats but some people swap them for normal tires for ride comfort, but on the other hand I have heard if its meant to have run flats from factory then putting normal tires on it is an MOT fail. Is that the case? Thank you.

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Hi Micheal

First only buy from a Dealer at least then you have some protection under the sale of goods act

Cars have always been a hobby (my sons say an obsession) the BMW straight six engine is in my opinion on of the worlds great engines in either flavour (Petrol or Diesel)

If the car has a full BMW history you should be able to verify all major service items have been dealt with as well as any additional work, if the car has a BMW history plus Independent history there should be receipts/invoices for work carried out. The engine should be powerful and smooth (they churn out around 230/240bhp + over 500nm torque) If you haven't driven one they can be an eye opener 0 to 60 in about 6secs 150+ top speed but give 40+ mpg. The reason my Brother Inlaw sticks with them is he commutes in Europe for business, he has a heavy right foot so likes to get a shift on but even he has to work hard to get below 40mpg.oh and road tax will be cheaper than your current car I would think

At close to 200k look for evidence that EGR system is in good condition and the DPF has either been replaced or Professionally cleaned. I would have a list of items that if they haven't been changed or there is no evidence of change are a negotiating point, the above plus water pump pulleys and tensioners, AC service.

Gearbox is 6 speed ZF automatic changes should be smooth both up and down the box, again look for evidence of at least 2 gearbox services (ZF say every 80 to 100 kilometers)

Suspension Same rules apply no squeaks rattles or knocks, bushes have a life and I would expect a car nearing 200k to have service evidence that they have been changed.

Wheels check carefully for damage inside edges and out side, Tyres Run Flats have really stiff side walls so that they can do what  as the saying goes "what it says on the tin" and allow the car to be driven when they are deflated. However if driven while deflated they cannot be repaired so often a new tyre is required. Also due to their construction many folks think they give a harsh ride which is why they switch to conventional tyres. Non run flat tyres can safely be used on a run flat rim but not the other way around I have never heard of an MOT failure due to this but everyday is a learning day. For what it is worth my Brother Inlaw has run his cars with both.

The X5 I own was only produced by BMW for 3 years (the reason I keep it just over 200 left) the Alpina derived V8 engine originally produced 347 hp I had my engine rebuilt a few years ago and added several performance parts which put power above 400hp my Brother Inlaws 530d always felt as strong and his current 540d produces more than 400hp which makes it a real beast

Google BMW Specialists there is a register of them and you should find one near you, talk to them and they may be able to offer advice or maybe a health check on an extended test drive

Good Luck





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Mike ,

greydog is spot on with his comments.

I do 26K per annum all motorway miles. I have owned a 1.9tdi seat Leon and did 172K miles in that but wrote it off. Car was rock solid still. A mate had a VW golf 1.9 tdi which did 298k. My last BMW did 184K and the engine was rock solid but other bits started to cost me and started adding up so I bought my current 125D. The 3.0 litre straight six is apparently the most reliable unit ever according to everything I’ve read. If it has been serviced to schedule then I would agree with greydog and just check everything out like wear and tear on the interior whether DPF and belts and tensioners, water pump etc have been changed recently. You defo need to see paperwork evidence. Yes totally agree I never but private always from a dealer . I would definitely have a long drive you don’t need to be an expert to tell if it doesn’t sound or feel right then it’s not right.

if you buy the car do not use a main dealer for any work whatsoever they will take your back teeth out. Get a good BMW trained independent specialist ang they will save you a fortune.

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Hi Rich,

Yea the car was from a dealer I did end up buying it, the engine is smooth and pulls well at all speeds.

One of the ring lights on the passenger side does not work but the actual main lights are fine.

It has service history, mostly digital and a mix of bmw main dealer and specialist a few scratches on the paint and bumpers but not more than expected for this age of car with these miles and the price I paid.

Had a warning on the idrive screen saying 'drive train problem full performance not available' on the test drive on start up but it disappeared soon after and on further start ups. Dealer said it was just the battery as it had been left not running with lights on previously. Was completely fine on the 100 mile drive home but 2 days after that drivetrain warning came up again and went away again after driving for a min or 2 and it had a brief show of the engine warning light.

I have it booked in with a BMW specialist just to be safe and he said that warning can be a whole variety of things so its hard to know until they can get a look at it. The service status on the system is all good looks like alot of things were done on it recently, oil, front and rear breaks, tires and service is up to date. There is an annoying knock coming from the dash on the mid-left side. And it has no washer fluid, which I was looking and see some washer fluids labeled as BMW washer fluid. Does a bmw need a certain fluid? Or is it just recommended? I'm praying that its not gonna cost too much to fix. Got abit of money set aside for the purpose of getting it sorted if required but sadly I am not a wealthy man. 

But so far loving the car its fast, comfortable really good economy for its size and weight and not bad sounding considering it is a diesel, effortless to drive due to the auto gearbox. As long as I can get it mechanically sound and kept that way its a dream car (for me anyway) In the future I'd be looking to get the scratches and whatnot sorted but I am not too sure about the body shop is there BMW specialist body shops too? Or is it just for mechanical matters?  

And I did get a months warranty on the car so if there is something I should test or have looked at please let me know as if its a problem that makes the car not fit for purpose then at least I can fall back on the warranty.

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Hi Mike 

You are ok using any generic washer fluid, you’ll be absolutely fine. 
I’ve had the drivetrain fault and independent specialist is absolutely bang on the money . There are lots of reasons it could be. The problem is finding out which it is. Mine was worn out and Road damaged wheel speed sensors. On my old 2009 184K 118D MSport.

The wheel speed sensors control drive / stability control and other stuff do my car kept cutting out and shuddering because the sensors were faulty. But there could have been all sorts of reasons for the car cutting out. 
I bought a £300 BMW diagnostic computer (good for most models of BMW) that you plug into your OBDII communications port on the car and this mostly points you in the right direction.

Another thing the diagnostic port analyser was good for was the DPF failed at 140K on my 118D. A garage said to me that has had a good long life but with the long motorway distances you drive it should never need replacing so there must be another reason it’s failed. He said don’t replace the DPF without first finding out what caused it to fail otherwise you may need to get another DPF in 6 months. BMW wanted £1,700 to fit a new DPF. I got the independent to a fit an aftermarket one for £400. Anyway before I got the £400 replacement DPF I put my diagnostic room in the comma port and if said Glow Plug Cylinder No.2 failing. That was the cause of the DPF failing do for £30 I got a new glow plug and £400 a new DPF instead of £1700 at BMW.

Moral of the story try to learn a bit about your car because main dealers will happily do open surgery on your wallet and take your money all day long!

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The months warranty is just a marketing thing, if you’ve bought from a dealer / garage you are covered under the UK Sale of Goods Act for Six Months.

Any car body shop can fix your paintwork.

Make sure you get the washer fluid sorted as if you get stopped by the police and they check you will get a fixed penalty notice, charged £60 and 3 penalty points on your license. 

The dealer shouldn’t have let you drive the car with an empty washer fluid reservoir as it is against the law.

if the BMW Specialist has all the standard BMW computers / diagnostic equipment then you should find any gremlins lurking.

Don’t be surprised though if your car needs quite a bit spending on it due to the miles. Hopefully yours is newer with high mileage suggesting it’s all motorways miles cruising rather than start / stop. 

All the best


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Morning Guys

A few little things that may help

First, A good BMW capable Diagnostic program is worth it's weight in any currency even if you are using a Garage to do the work. It will help you understand your car when talking to a Garage.

A good BMW Specialist wi;ll be a great help but there are a great many jobs that can be checked and done with basic tools.

Your "Transmission" warning definitely needs investigation I would also advise the supplying Dealer as their warranty may require them to do the work. Fingers crossed it is Insurance based. The gearbox is often abused and never serviced until there is a problem with luck a Flush Filter change and new Fluid will sort it.

BMW washer systems have a fine mesh filter fitted to the pump so the washer fluid nees an Anti Fungal additive to avoid it becoming clogged by a jelly like build up. Loads of fluids have it so I just avoid the really cheap ones. The Filters are easy to remove and clean if the worse happens.




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Guys mine is a Foxwell Tools diagnostic OBDII   unit.

v good allows service light resets and monitors live engine info plus reads codes that the ECU gas thrown up when check engine light lit up. 
I bought it with BMW software pre-loaded but you can also add other vehicle makes to it too.

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Foxwell and I-carsoft are a couple of the better readers 

Me I got my first Diagnostic scanner in the early 90's when they were pretty new tech, but in those days they gave little information other than the code. Interpretation and understanding the cause for the code were still the user's responsibility. Mid 90's I loaded Volvo diagnostics onto an old laptop then added Mercedes Star, VW/Audi,BMW INPA/ISTA and BMW 1.4.0, Toyota and Subaru software. My Original Maxi Diag tool has had the software updated to cover just about all European cars. About the same time that Diagnostic's were becoming the norm I noticed Dealers stopped repairing things and started changing complete components, quicker for them but more expensive for us.

Always remember the scanner will identify the fault but not necessarily the cause

Enjoy your Beemers Lad's


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