Common Problems with the BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 SeriesThere’s always been something cool about a BMW. These cars, famous for their quality engineering and top class ride stats, are epitomised by the 5 series. Instantly recognisable as the mid-range luxury model that nicely bridges the gap between sexy motoring and family car, it’s no wonder this machine has been gracing the roads of Europe since 1972.

A second hand BMW 5 series is widely recognised as a good investment. These cars are known to last for many years, keeping their looks and style long into their lifespan. However, you need to be aware of a number of common problems with the BMW 5 series, so be vigilant and guard against these faults when considering any used vehicle from this range.

Cooling System

The water-pump and thermostat are known to have problems in the BMW 5 Series. Keep one eye open for the Service Engine Soon light as this is a giveaway and watch the temperature gauge too to see if the engine is too hot. The cooling system is responsible for 25% of all mechanical problems in this model of vehicle and if problems are allowed to persist this can cause issues with the whole engine.

Air Conditioning

There is a widely reported issue with the air conditioning in the 5 series. This can be felt as the fan changing speed without any prompt from the controls and the system only blowing out cold air on the lower settings. Be sure to check the air con fully at all levels before parting with your cash for a second hand model.

Sun Roof

Does the BMW 5 series you’re looking at buying have a sunroof? Listen out for a whistling sound as you drive the car, which could indicate a problem with the rubber seal, which has not been fitted correctly on certain vehicles due to a production fault. This will impact the fuel economy of the car, creating extra drag and will irritate you with drafts as you drive the vehicle.

Fuel Pumps

The E60 5 series including the 535i suffer from widely reported problems with its fuel pump system, resulting in poor engine performance, low power and rough idling. This requires a full change of all the pumps as the part was redesigned due to the failings – and it is a costly job to replace all six. Watch for problems accelerating, repeated misfires and an increased chance of stalling.


Worn tensioners and idler pulleys will make a squealing sound that is very distinctive, rising up from the engine bay. If you hear such a noise, then we recommend you perform a quick visual check of the belts in the engine, looking for cracks or damage. A damaged belt can affect the cooling system and will cause problems with the cooling system, alternator or power steering.

Timing Chain

Unfortunately, even though the timing chain in the M47/N47 engine was originally described as maintenance free, this part is known to suffer from sudden snaps, which will render your engine useless. Be sure to check that your BMW 5 series has a full service that details the reviews and inspections that have been carried on this part.

The BMW 5 series is a good car and is perfect for a family vehicle when you want to combine good engineering with ride quality and prestige. With a decent fuel economy and enough space in the back to accommodate holiday travel this is a great choice of second hand car. And of course, you’ve got the famous manufacturer’s mark on the front.

This entry was posted in Cars, Maintenance and tagged , on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.