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BMW 5 Series (2002-2009) Buying Guide

BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)
BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)BMW 5 Series (2002-2009)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

It's a BMW, so the assumption is made that it's pretty much unbeatable. Don't be fooled though; you pay a premium for the 5-Series and some other cars - cheaper ones - do the job just as well in the real world. If you can afford the cost, the 5-Series is well worth a look, but engine, transmission, wheel and tyre choices all affect the car more than you might think.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Build quality
High purchase costs
High running costs
Ugly dash
Key Dates 
6/03The fifth-generation 5-Series debuts.
8/03The 545i arrives.
5/04The Touring (estate) appears.
1/05The 525i and 530i get new engines and the 523i supersedes the 520i.
9/05The 540i debuts, and the 550i supersedes the 545i.
3/07A facelift brings restyled nose and tail, extra equipment and extra power for all petrol engines.
  • Steering racks can leak fluid; check the fluid level and look to see if the gaiters have split or perished.
  • Windscreens are thin and damaged easily by flying debris.
  • The run-flat tyres can perish, and replacements are costly so check how much tread is left.
  • Automatic gearboxes are 'sealed for life', so dealers don't replace the fluid. This should be done every 60,000 miles though; if it isn't, the transmission typically fails after 120-150,000 miles.
  • The ZF automatic gearbox on 231bhp 530ds can fail; listen for clunks when moving from P to R or N.
  • Six-cylinder cars with Efficient Dynamics engines can suffer from failed injectors; it's costly to fix.

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