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Home » BMW 5 Series [E60/E61](2003-2010) Problems, Review, Faults and Information

BMW 5 Series [E60/E61](2003-2010) Problems, Review, Faults and Information

BMW 5 Series E60 is the fifth generation of the model and it hit the market in 2003 when it replaced the previous BMW 5 Series E39. Code E60 is used for the sedan version and code E61 for the Touring (Station Wagon) version. In 2007 it underwent a restyling that brought changes to the design (the bumpers, the light clusters and more were changed), some elements of the interior changed and the mechanical part was updated. In 2010 it was replaced by the next generation BMW 5 Series F10. Let’s see the BMW 5 Series E61/E61 review with the most important information, faults and common problems.

Table of Contents

Review of the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 with all the information, defects, issues, faults, weaknesses, problems and maintenance costs.
BMW 5 Series E60

Impressions, Interior and Comfort

BMW 5 Series E60/E61 is a very popular high-end car in the premium sedan segment.

Platform and Body

In the design of the platform, choices already seen in the past on the 5 Series E39 have been maintained (for example the extensive use of elements in aluminum alloy) and new modern choices have been implemented. The platform has a longitudinally installed engine and rear-wheel drive. Optionally you could have all-wheel drive.

The front suspensions feature a MacPherson semi-virtual steering axle scheme (double joint). The rear suspension is multilink.

BMW 5 Series E60 received an innovative body design that was not immediately accepted by fans of the German brand. The new styling was totally different from what has been seen on the 5 Series before. There is a great resemblance to the larger BMW 7 Series E65/E66 (both designed by Chris Bangle). This new design was appreciated only after a few years, when it became clear that it makes the 5 Series E60 very modern and even after 20 years of its release it is still relevant and pleasing.

Review of the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 with all the information, defects, issues, faults, weaknesses, problems and maintenance costs.
BMW 5 Series E61 Touring (station wagon)

Aesthetically, the car is attractive, both before and after the restyling, especially in the more equipped versions.

The fifth generation BMW 5 Series is available in two body styles: sedan (E60) and Touring (station wagon E61). The German car has a length of 4841 – 4855 mm, a width of 1846 mm and a height of 1468 – 1512 mm. The wheelbase is 2880 – 2889 mm. The weight of the car varies from 1545 to 1735 kg depending on the version.

For the Coupé and Cabriolet versions, the 6 Series E63/E64 was created.

Comfort and Practicality

Inside the BMW 5 Series E60 there is a large amount of interior space for both front and rear passengers. Even 5 adults will be relatively comfortable, but for long journeys it will be better to leave in 4.

The trunk/boot has a volume of 520 liters in the sedan and 500 liters in the station wagon. By folding down the rear seats, a volume of 1615 l can be reached.

BMW 5 Series E60/E61 is a car that manages to combine comfort and excellent control on the road. This is why many people love this manufacturer and remain loyal to the brand.

Thanks to the sufficient interior space and the very high level of comfort, the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 is an enjoyable car both in and out of the city. Even on longer journeys you shouldn’t get so tired.

Interior and Equipment

in this photo you can see the interior compartment of the BMW 5 Series E60 E61 with the steering wheel, the stereo radio, the seats and the dashboard central panel cockpit

The interior design is stark as on all premium German cars. In the center of the central panel is a large display, below is the climate control center and below that is the radio. The multimedia system controller is located between the center armrest and the gear selector. The interior style can be called minimalist. The central panel is no longer oriented towards the driver as it was on older models.

BMW 5 Series E60/E61 is very well assembled. The interior materials are of high quality. Even on cars that have more than 200,000 km (125 k miles), the interior is still in an acceptable state. The leather is very resistant and the plastics do not scratch easily.

On some elements, serious signs of wear may appear at high mileage. First of all, of course, the most used elements wear out: the steering wheel trim, the gear knob, the climate control buttons and more. At high mileages, wear and tear on the seat upholstery is also unavoidable.

The good part is that all traces of wear and tear present in the cabin can be eliminated if desired. Some pieces can be replaced, others can be repainted or restored.

The soundproofing is very good and the interior remains silent in any situation.

The BMW 5 Series E60 is very well equipped with different systems. Already in the basic version there are: power windows, heating and electric adjustment of the rear-view mirrors, cruise control, control buttons on the steering wheel, an acceptable audio system and good climate control. The high level of safety is ensured by many front and side airbags. There are DTC, DSC and ABS stability control systems.

The iDrive multimedia system deserves special attention. Today it might seem old-fashioned and uncomfortable, but in 2003 it was truly a giant leap forward from the previous generation and many of its competitors. Behind it there is not only the multimedia system, but a complex data transmission network that offers the possibility of having: numerous information on the status of the car, adaptive cruise control, night vision and Head-Up display with projection of data onto the windscreen. It also became possible to better control the behavior of the car on the road. Thanks to this, the level of safety and comfort has increased.

The basic multimedia system has a smaller display, limited functionality and acceptable, but not great audio quality. Optionally you can have a multimedia system with a larger display, more functions and very good sound quality.

Safety

In the EuroNCAP safety test, the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 got 4 out of 5 stars. Crash safety is quite good, but to decrease the risk you need good tyres. Tires are almost the most important thing for safety on the road.

Reliability and Issues

Gearbox and Transmission

On the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 you can find the 6-speed manual gearbox and the 6-speed automatic gearbox. Only the BMW M5 sports version was equipped with the GS7S47BG 7-speed SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox).

Manual transmission

The manual transmission is rare on the BMW 5 Series E60. It is pleasant and reliable. The dual mass flywheel can start to get noisy already after 100,000 km (60 k miles), but generally it needs to be changed only around 200,000 km (125 k miles) and only in case of aggressive use of the car. The price of a new flywheel is high, but fortunately some mechanics can fix the old one.

Clutch life depends on driving style. Generally it lasts relatively little (especially with powerful engines) because you tend to have a not exactly calm drive.

ZF 6HP automatic gearbox

The ZF 6HP automatic gearbox is present in various versions: the ZF 6HP19 version was mounted with the weaker engines and the reinforced 6HP26 version with the more powerful engines.

Here is mounted the first generation of this gearbox which is not ideal and has some weaknesses.

After 150,000 km (95 k miles) you may start to feel rough gearbox operation and you will also encounter oil leaks. The bottom of the automatic gearbox is made of plastic and deforms over time. Consequently, to solve the problem of oil leaks, it is not enough to change the gaskets, but the bottom must be completely changed. The new part will cost relatively much.

After 200,000 km (125 k miles), more serious problems with automatic gearboxes may appear. The mechatronic, the torque converter and its lockup clutch may fail. The blocking system almost always works in partial attack mode. In addition to wearing the clutch, this also leads to rapid fouling of the oil with wear fragments. The likelihood of having problems is greater on pre-facelifted cars and those subjected to aggressive driving.

Dirty or degraded oil will lead to rapid wear of the solenoids and gearbox hydraulics which in turn will lead to rough running and accelerated wear of the entire unit.

In general it can be said that these gearboxes live at least 100,000 km (60 k miles) without problems, even under stress. If treated correctly, in the best cases they can reach around 250 – 300,000 km (155 – 185 k miles) without major investments. The automatic transmission loves a quiet ride and frequent oil changes (at least every 60,000 km or 35 k miles).

SMG gearbox

The SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) is more capricious than the classic automatic gearbox. The owners complain of too fast wear of the clutch and the dual mass flywheel. Also these gearboxes have a fairly aggressive operation with knocks during shifts. If the knocks are too strong, the fault lies with the misconfigured or malfunctioning gearbox control unit.

Drivetrain and Transmission System

On BMW 5 Series E60/E61 with rear wheel drive there are not too many problems with the drivetrain. After 150 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles) the rear differential start to leak oil and it may be necessary to replace the cardan shaft support.

bmw 5 series e60 e61 technical part with engine, automatic or manual gearbox, rear or all-wheel drive system, suspension, battery and exhaust system

Cars equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive can be more expensive to maintain. You can have problems already after 100,000 km or 60 k miles (if you have an aggressive driving style). The ATC 300 and ATC 500 transfer cases are similar to those used on the BMW X5 E53 and the problems are exactly the same.

The splines on the front drive shaft wear over time, the electric drive mechanism has a weak reduction gear, the locking mechanism of the clutches has a very important roller bearing which can fail due to infrequent oil changes or in case of overheating.

It is best to avoid cars that have tow hitch. If the car pulled heavy loads, the gearbox and drivetrain in general will wear more than normal.

Suspensions, Steering and Brakes

The suspension of the BMW 5 Series E60 is relatively complex and expensive, but at the same time it is quite durable.

If we talk about the standard suspension, it won’t give too many problems if you ride on good quality roads and they can hold up well even on bad roads. Most of the elements used are in aluminium.

Among the first elements to give way there will be adaptive stabilizers, springs, hubs and shock absorbers. The front stabilizers give no problems before 60 – 100,000 km (35 – 60 k miles). The hub bearings last more than 150,000 km (95 k miles) under normal conditions. A new hub has a rational price.

The aluminum arms with ball bearing can last a very long time if they are not put under stress. Only the silentblocks give way over time. The main drawback here is the fact that aluminum does not dampen shock well and the arm can crack. If the bearings wear out, beyond just replacing them, there are many repair options.

The front shock absorbers last around 150,000 km (95 k miles), the rear ones around 200,000 km (125 k miles). A complete set of original shock absorbers can cost a lot.

BMW 5 Series E60 equipped with the Dynamic Drive system may require investment at lower mileage. Hydraulic fluid leaks can occur from the rear stabilizers. Another weak point of the Dynamic Drive suspension is the actuator. The latter has a big price. The prices of all original parts are great. Fortunately, spare parts from alternative manufacturers can be found at a lower price and still of good quality.

The E61 station wagons could be fitted with rear air suspension. On these versions over time there are problems with the air compressor. The latter dies around 150,000 km (95 k miles). The main reason for its breakdown is dirt that got into the system due to worn pipes. The rear air suspension does not serve to increase comfort, but to keep the ground clearance unchanged even with the car fully loaded. The air cushions of these suspensions should not give problems before 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles). A new one will cost quite rationally. When humidity is high or temperatures are below freezing, the suspension ECU (electronic control unit) may “go crazy”.

When it comes time to change suspension elements, it is better to choose original parts because they last longer. The negative part is that they cost more than those of other manufacturers.

Steering system

The steering system of the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 is not too reliable. In most cases the dynamic rack is fitted which starts rattling already at relatively low mileages. As long as it only makes noises, you can still move around, but if it starts to leak, death is near. Repair costs are very high and some owners decide to fit the simple rack to save money.

Even the simple steering rack may start rattling already after 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles). The cost of a new rack is big. You can also try to fix the rattling rack for a more reasonable price.

Racks are short-lived due to the great stress caused by wide tires, bad roads and aggressive driving. Even their position is not too good, they tend to overheat and always come into contact with water and dirt.

Steering tie rods last more than 100 – 120,000 km (60 – 75 k miles).

bmw 5 series e60 e61 suspension and rear or all wheel drive system

Brakes system

The brakes on the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 are nice and effective, but they are not without problems. The brake booster body corrodes on most cars. Luckily also the original unit is cheap and you can find the updated version in steel.

To ensure good system operation, it is advisable to use original spare parts, however these are relatively expensive.

Electronics and Electrical System

The electronic system is very complex, there is a huge number of control units connected with different transmission channels (some of optical type). Literally electronics expand into every element of the car.

Despite the great complexity of the system, this works well if no third-party factors intervene. Serious problems are caused by contact of the electronics with water, interventions by unqualified persons and damage to the system caused by accidents, age or other reasons.

The most serious electronics problems are those related to the iDrive system. In addition to possible problems with various sensors, there can be problems with the cables of the complex network. There could be problems with data transmission and due to this an incorrect functioning of the control units which leads to various malfunctions.

You have to be especially careful with liquids carried in the trunk. The battery is located under the floor here and if you spill liquids on it, there can be serious consequences.

After wading through a few deeper puddles you might find the battery dead the next day. Generally it is the fault of water penetration and to solve the problem you need to dry the car. There may also be problems with the IBS intellectual negative terminal (responsible for detecting the state of the battery and controlling charging). A new IBS sensor costs relatively much.

Electronics can sometimes give small but annoying problems. There are occasional malfunctions in almost every system.

Over time, the seat heating may stop working. Due to problems with the contacts in the button, the glass in the trunk door may stop opening. Handles and the central locking system can also “go crazy”, this usually happens on cars equipped with keyless entry.

The air conditioner fans are not very long-lived. There may be errors in the airbag control system and the light sensor.

Parking sensors may stop working after 100,000 km (60 k miles) and may malfunction in winter at low temperatures. A new original sensor costs relatively much, but there are also sensors from alternative manufacturers that cost much less.

The alternator could become noisy around 150,000 km (95 k miles). Luckily it doesn’t cost too much. Even if the alternator pulley breaks there won’t be too much money to spend.

Other

BMW 5 Series E60 has good corrosion resistance and the paint quality is good. Small traces of rust are acceptable if the car is used in places with a severe climate. If, on the other hand, the traces of rust are large, the car probably suffered some accidents and then was badly repaired.

The front of the car is mostly made of aluminum. This is undoubtedly an excellent choice in terms of weight distribution and allows you to install large engines without ruining road stability. On the other hand this can play a bad joke in the event of an accident. Repairing aluminum is complex and expensive. Furthermore, not all workshops are capable of carrying out this type of work. Because of all this you can find BMW 5 Series E60s that are in very bad condition due to bad repairs after accidents. Best to avoid these specimens.

Often the BMW 5 Series E60 annoys its owners with minor problems. For example, leaks from the air conditioner and problems with the air pressure sensors in the tires occur.

In BMW 5 Series E60 equipped with a panoramic roof, there may be problems after 150,000 km (95 k miles). Water can enter the passenger compartment for various reasons: worn door or sunroof/panoramic roof seals, clogged water drains, etc.

Over time, the waterproofing of the light clusters could also give way and you will see humidity inside. In addition, the headlights lose their light intensity over time (the reflective element burns out). Even the protective plastic becomes opaque over time.

Glass tends to scratch easily, especially the windshield in the area where the wipers operate. Even the impact resistance is not great and they can crack quite easily.

Engines and their Problems

Diesel engines list :

Version Engine Power Top Speed Acceleration Fuel Consumption
520d 2.0 l M47TU2D20 163 hp 223 km/h or 138 mph 8.6 s 6 l/100 km

US: 39,2 mpg

UK: 47,1 mpg

520d 2.0 l N47D20 177 hp 231 km/h or 143 mph 8.3 s 5,2 l/100 km

US: 45,2 mpg

UK: 54,3 mpg

525d 2.5 l M57TUD25 177 hp 230 km/h or 142 mph 8.1 s 6,9 l/100 km

US: 34,1 mpg

UK: 40,9 mpg

525d 3.0 l M57TU2D30 197 hp 237 km/h or 147 mph 7.6 s 6,3 l/100 km

US: 37,3 mpg

UK: 44,8 mpg

525xd / xDrive 3.0 l M57TU2D30 197 hp 232 km/h or 144 mph 7.8 s 6,8 l/100 km

US: 34,5 mpg

UK: 41,5 mpg

530d 3.0 l M57TUD30 218 hp 245 km/h or 152 mph 7.1 s 6,9 l/100 km

US: 34,1 mpg

UK: 40,9 mpg

530d 3.0 l M57TU2D30 231 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.8 s 6,8 l/100 km

US: 34,5 mpg

UK: 41,5 mpg

530d 3.0 l M57TU2D30OL 235 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.8 s 6,5 l/100 km

US: 36,1 mpg

UK: 43,4 mpg

530xd 3.0 l M57TU2D30 231 hp 242 km/h or 150 mph 6.8 s 7,6 l/100 km

US: 30,9 mpg

UK: 37,1 mpg

530xd / xDrive 3.0 l M57TU2D30OL 235 hp 242 km/h or 150 mph 6.6 s 6,9 l/100 km

US: 34,1 mpg

UK: 40,9 mpg

535d 3.0 l M57D30TOP 272 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.5 s 8 l/100 km

US: 29,4 mpg

UK: 35,3 mpg

535d 3.0 l M57TUD30TOP 286 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.4 s 7,2 l/100 km

US: 32,6 mpg

UK: 39,2 mpg

Petrol/Gasoline engines list :

Version Engine Power Top Speed Acceleration Fuel Consumption
520i 2.2 l M54B22 170 hp 230 km/h or 142 mph 9 s 9 l/100 km

US: 26,1 mpg

UK: 31,3 mpg

520i 2.0 l N43B20O1 170 hp 224 km/h or 139 mph 8.7 s 7,1 l/100 km

US: 33,1 mpg

UK: 39,7 mpg

523i 2.5 l N52B25 177 hp 235 km/h or 146 mph 8.5 s 8,5 l/100 km

US: 27,6 mpg

UK: 33,2 mpg

523i 2.5 l N53B25 190 hp 237 km/h or 147 mph 8.2 s 7,5 l/100 km

US: 31,3 mpg

UK: 37,6 mpg

525i 2.5 l M54B25 192 hp 238 km/h or 147 mph 7.9 s 9,5 l/100 km

US: 24,7 mpg

UK: 29,7 mpg

525i 2.5 l N52B25OL 218 hp 245 km/h or 152 mph 7.5 s 8,7 l/100 km

US: 27 mpg

UK: 32,4 mpg

525i 3.0 l N53B30UL 218 hp 243 km/h or 150 mph 7.4 s 7,7 l/100 km

US: 30,5 mpg

UK: 36,6 mpg

525xi 2.5 l N52B25OL 218 hp 237 km/h or 147 mph 8.3 s 9,7 l/100 km

US: 24,2 mpg

UK: 29,1 mpg

525xi / xDrive 3.0 l N53B30UL 218 hp 233 km/h or 144 mph 8.2 s 8,5 l/100 km

US: 27,6 mpg

UK: 33,2 mpg

530i 3.0 l M54B30 231 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.9 s 9,6 l/100 km

US: 24,5 mpg

UK: 29,4 mpg

530i 3.0 l N52B30 258 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.5 s 8,8 l/100 km

US: 26,7 mpg

UK: 32,1 mpg

530i 3.0 l N53B30OL 272 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.3 s 7,7 l/100 km

US: 30,5 mpg

UK: 36,6 mpg

530xi 3.0 l N52B30 258 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.8 s 9,8 l/100 km

US: 24 mpg

UK: 28,8 mpg

530xi / xDrive 3.0 l N53B30OL 272 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.6 s 8,2 l/100 km

US: 28,6 mpg

UK: 34,4 mpg

535i 3.0 l N54 306 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.1 s – l/100 km

US: – mpg

UK: – mpg

540i 4.0 l N62B40 306 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 6.2 s 10,5 l/100 km

US: 22,4 mpg

UK: 26,9 mpg

545i 4.4 l N62B44 333 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 5.8 s 10,9 l/100 km

US: 21,5 mpg

UK: 25,9 mpg

550i 4.8 l N62B48 367 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 5.5 s 10,8 l/100 km

US: 21,7 mpg

UK: 26,1 mpg

M5 5.0 l S85B50 507 hp 250 km/h or 155 mph 4.7 s 14,8 l/100 km

US: 15,8 mpg

UK: 19,1 mpg

problems and issues with petrol, gasoline, LPG, CNG, methane and diesel engines mounted on BMW 5 Series E60 E61

 

Diesel Engines

Diesel engines can be 4 or 6 cylinders, with displacements of 2.0 l, 2.5 l and 3.0 l. The 2.5 l and 3.0 l 6-cylinder engines are all from the M57 family. The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engines initially fitted to the BMW 520d were from the M47 series, later more modern ones from the N47 series were installed. The first is the 2-litre M47D20, which ran until 2007 and has 163 hp. The second is the 177 HP 2-litre N47D20.

2.0 l M47 diesel Engine

The old 2-liter diesel (M47D20) has proven to be quite good and not too much trouble.

Deformations of the thermostat are possible which lead to difficult engine warm-up in cold periods and to an increase in fuel consumption. The timing chain is not immortal and will have to be replaced already at 150 – 180,000 km (95 – 110 k miles). Fortunately it is located in the front part of the engine and therefore there are no particular difficulties in changing it. The breakage of the crankshaft pulley can happen approximately every 100 thousand km (60 k miles).

A properly maintained engine will be able to get great mileage. The cases in which it exceeds 300,000 km (185 k miles) without fatal failures are not rare.

2.0 l N47 diesel Engine

After the restyling, the good old M47 was replaced with the new N47D20 which brought quite a few problems to its owners.

This engine has been installed in facelifted BMW 520d since 2007. This generation of diesel is much more problematic than the previous one. The most serious and widespread problem is that linked to the timing chain. The latter wears out too quickly and could even break. The consequences are the costly repair of the engine or its replacement with a new one. If you hear abnormal noises (metal knocking) at the rear of the engine, it means that the time has come to replace the chain.

Starting from 2011, the situation with the duration of the chain has been improved, but this is not eternal. In addition, BMW still did not want to acknowledge this defect, blaming it on poor maintenance. The basic problem also remained – the location of the chain. This is located on the gearbox side and therefore the work to replace it is complex and expensive. It will be best to find a car on which the chain has already been replaced with a modernized one.

In addition to the chain, there may also be problems with tensioners and sprockets. The most expensive to repair is the crankshaft pinion. The crankshaft pulley is also not too long-lived.

An engine with a modernized chain, undergoing proper maintenance, should not let down at least 200 – 250 thousand km (125 – 155 k miles).

6 cylinder diesel Engines

As already mentioned, the 2.5 l and 3.0 l diesel engines in the BMW 5 Series E60 are from the M57 series.

2.5 l – 3.0 l M57 diesel Engines

The M57 6-cylinder diesel engines are very popular and interesting. The 2.5 l is found on the 177 hp 525d. On the 530d version the engine mounted is the 3-litre which at the beginning was the old 218 HP M57D30, installed in the years 2003-2005. Then it was replaced by the 231 hp M57D30OL, installed in the years 2005-2007. This in turn was replaced by the 235 hp M57D30OLTU engine.

On M57 series engines, there may be leaks from the intake manifold gaskets after 100 – 120,000 km (60 – 75 k miles). Leaks can cause damage to the glow plug control unit. There are also cases of breakage of the swirl flaps in the intake manifold.

Another problem is the possible cracks on the steel exhaust manifold. Problems with the exhaust manifolds usually occur after 200,000 km (125 k miles). Both the exhaust and intake manifold cost a lot. The problem is most often encountered on cars from the first years of production. We recommend mounting a cast iron manifold (like the one on the previous BMW 5 Series E39).

The turbochargers live for at least 150 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles). The crankshaft pulley lasts approximately 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles). It happens to find the cooler of the EGR valve burnt out.

The thermostat and the coolant pump should not cause problems before 120 – 150,000 km (75 – 95 k miles). At around the same mileage, the radiator could also fail.

With diesel engines that have reached high mileage, there are problems with the injectors (especially on the more modern versions with piezoelectric injectors), with the particulate filters and their sensors and the EGR valve.

For the rest, the mechanical part of the engines is very resistant and their maintenance has acceptable costs. In most cases they exceed 300,000 km (185 k miles) without major problems. They don’t tend to overheat, they don’t tend to consume oil, they have good torque and acceptable fuel economy.

Common problems of diesel Engines

With all diesel engines there will probably be the typical problems: EGR valve that gets dirty and stops working, DPF filter that clogs and starts to give problems and at high mileage possible problems with the injection system (high pressure pump and injectors ). The problems mentioned are mostly encountered on cars used mainly in the city or for short journeys.

Petrol/Gasoline Engines

As for the petrol engines of the BMW 5 Series E60, there is a huge choice. There are 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, 8-cylinder and even V10 (10-cylinder) engines in the sporty BMW M5.

The list is opened by the only 4-cylinder petrol engine (2-litre N43 with 170 hp) and ends with the 5-litre V10 engine with 507 hp which practically comes directly from Formula 1.

M54 series 6-cylinder Engines

The 6-cylinder engines of the M54 series are available here in 3 displacements: 2.2 l, 2.5 l and 3.0 l.

The M54 series engines are very reliable, but in some cases they suffer from increased oil consumption. Generally, the cause of consumption is the malfunctioning crankcase ventilation system. Oil consumption is so widespread that this is considered more a feature than a defect of these engines. The truth is that an engine in perfect condition does not consume oil. The valve of this system should be replaced every 2/3 services.

In general they presented themselves as relatively simple, powerful and long-lived engines. If treated well, these engines should not require major investments before 300 – 500,000 km (185 – 310 k miles). You have to pay attention to the condition of the gaskets, there may be a need to replace the plastic elements of the intake manifold.

In the event of slight overheating, oil consumption could increase due to clogging of the piston rings. If action is taken immediately, replacing or cleaning the rings may be enough to solve the problem. It is better to avoid active driving with a cold engine because the oil pump and its chain could fail.

The optimal choice could be the 3.0 l engine which offers a good compromise between reliability and power. It has an electronic accelerator, an aluminum block with cast iron liners and variable timing phases on both camshafts. With this engine the German sedan offers good performance. The good power, however, is paid for with a relatively high fuel consumption. Because of this, many decide to mount the LPG system and fortunately the engine tolerates it quite well. Around 300,000 km (185 k miles) there will probably be a need to change the timing chain.

N52 series 6-cylinder Engines

The 6-cylinder engines of the N52 series replaced the previous M54s in 2005. They are available in 2 displacements: 2.5 l and 3.0 l.

The N52 series engines have a more complex construction than the older M54s. On the N52 series engines is used a block made of an aluminum and magnesium alloy. Furthermore, these engines are equipped with a Valvetronic system and an electric pump.

N52 series engines are afraid of overheating which could deform the engine block. Problems with the cooling system are frequent – the electric pump does not last too long and the plastic pipes are damaged due to the high operating temperatures of the engines.

Also due to the high operating temperatures, various gaskets and oil seals are also damaged and therefore oil leaks begin. Generally rubber and plastic elements need replacement every 3 years. To solve temperature problems, you can change the thermostat with a more effective one and adjust the settings on the control unit.

As we have already mentioned, it is important to keep the cooling system in good working order. This must not leak, the radiators must be clean and the fans must work well. It is also useful to change the oil often (at least every 10,000 km or 6000 miles) to lengthen the life of this and other petrol engines fitted to the BMW 5 Series E60/E61.

Some owners of these engines complain of exaggerated vibration at idle. In addition, the exhaust camshaft may start rattling. There may be problems with the crankcase ventilation valve. This becomes clogged and can lead to increased oil consumption. Generally this problem occurs every 80 – 120,000 km (50 – 75 k miles).

If there is exaggerated oil consumption on your car, it is very likely that the catalytic converter will be ruined as a result. The risk usually increases when consumption exceeds 300 ml per 1000 km (600 miles). If oil consumption is around 1 l every 1000 km (600 miles), the catalytic converter will die in less than a year.

2.5 l N52B25 Engine

The 2.5 l N52B25 engine did not look very good. It appeared on the E60 5 Series (523i and 525i) in 2005. Many consider it one of the worst BMW engines. Among the most serious problems are those with excessive oil consumptionintake and detonation problems, drop in oil pressure, broken timing chains, failure of the oil pump and problems with the pistons.

It all starts from the high operating temperature which leads to rapid degradation of the oil, accumulations of residues and dirt, wear of the valve stem seals and wear of many rubber or plastic elements. The rest of the problems are almost always just a consequence.

Another big problem is oil consumption which can be caused by various reasons. First of all, on the 2.5-litre engine of the N52 series, the piston rings easily become clogged. In general, these engines do not have very well done pistons. Defects can appear as early as 100 – 120 thousand km (60 – 75 k miles) and costly repairs will be required.

Problems with timing system are caused by low oil pressure, unstable rpm at idle are caused by malfunctions of the Valvetronic and Vanos systems. Dirt can damage the intake manifold and as a result there is the risk of damaging the cylinders and valves.

To minimize the likelihood of having major problems, change the oil often and keep the cooling system in good working order. If possible, it would be perfect to even lower the operating temperature. We have already explained above how to do this.

3.0 l N52B30 Engine

The 3.0 l N52B30 engine, on the other hand, despite being from the same series, has much fewer problems. This engine has different pistons (Mahle brand instead of Kolben) and thanks to this there are no such exaggerated oil consumption. If you change the valve stem seals at the right moment and if you install a colder thermostat, the engine will not consume any oil. If you also use high-quality oil and change it often (at least every 10,000 km or 6000 miles), you will not have serious problems with Vanos and Valvetronic either. If, on the other hand, the engine is treated badly and is not taken care of properly, after 150,000 km (95 k miles) it could arrive in a state similar to its 2.5 l younger brother.

The Vanos phase variation system could cause problems in some cases already at 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles). Symptoms of problems with Vanos are: unstable idle speed, erratic acceleration, difficult engine starting in cold times of the year, increased fuel consumption and noises in the front of the valve cover. In the official service centers they offer the complete replacement of the system and the price generally is very big. Third-party service centers can repair the system at much more reasonable prices.

N52В30 series 3.0 l engines may start rattling after 60 – 80,000 km or 35 – 50 k miles (generally when starting a cold engine). The sound comes from the HVA hydraulic compensator system. The problem mostly occurs on cars that are mainly used in town or for short journeys. Over time, the sound can be heard even when the engine is warm. The basic problem is the lubrication system not delivering enough oil to the hydraulic compensators. By changing the latter, the problem was solved for another 60 – 80,000 km (35 – 50 k miles). Since December 2008 the engine structure has been updated and the problem has been solved.

Despite the increased reliability, even these aggregates after about 200,000 km (125 k miles) could begin to consume more oil than usual.

2.5 l – 3.0 l N53 series Engines

In 2007, the engines with direct injection of the N53 family arrived. They were meant to replace the previous N52s and solve their problems. In some respects they succeeded, but they also introduced some new ones.

The N53 series engines have brought problems with fragile high-pressure pumps (very sensitive to the quality of the petrol) and not very resistant injectors. Due to the direct injection, spark plugs and ignition coils have short life.

If the cooling system is not cleaned regularly, overheating is possible. Vanos are not immortal and their lifespan decreases with improper maintenance.

When maintained properly, the engines shouldn’t disappoint. In terms of general vitality they can be compared with those of the N52 series. We can recall that the 2.5 l N52 was much worse than the 3.0 l N52. The new 2.5 l N53, on the other hand, is just as reliable as the 3.0 l and performs much better than the previous engine of the same displacement (it no longer has the serious oil consumption problems).

3.0 l N54 series Engine

The 3.0 l N54B30 engine is a biturbo petrol that manages to offer very good performance. This engine arrived on the BMW 5 Series E60 in 2007. It is a truly legendary unit for lovers of the German brand. All this thanks to its excellent tuning potential. The base part of the engine can handle large horsepower increases that can be obtained at relatively low cost.

The N54 engine introduced the possibility of having problems with the turbine, increased the likelihood of problems with the ignition coils and kept the problems with the injection. The engine, however, has heavier and more resistant pistons.

In general, if you drive calmly and if the interval between services is not too big (maximum 10,000 km or 6000 miles), this engine is more durable and less problematic than the N53 series engines. While relatively complex and offering plenty of power, the N54-series 3.0-litre engine generally only draws attention after 150-200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles).

In most cases serious problems are caused by poor maintenance. The engine needs high quality petrol, frequent oil changes and regular cleaning of the radiators. An engine treated well will only give satisfaction.

2.0 l N43B20 Engine

The only petrol engine with 4 cylinders is the 2.0 l of the N43 family. Among the 4-cylinder petrol engines that BMW was producing at the time, it can be considered relatively reliable, but it is still not without serious weaknesses.

This engine will not be the best choice for the big BMW 5 Series E60. Already on the BMW 3 Series E90 it gives problems, but on the heavier 5 Series it is even worse. It offers neither power nor reliability. The timing chain has a fairly long life normally. However, direct injection was added which led to several complications.

Sooner or later the injectors will fail and if used in poor condition it can cause serious damage to the engine. Carbon residues can form in the intake system. Spark plugs and ignition coils do not live so much. Malfunctions of the lubrication system, leaks and oil consumption are encountered. Of course, overheating and problems with the Vanos system are possible.

The risk of encountering all of the above problems is much less if the engine is properly maintained. You need to use high quality petrol, flush the radiators periodically and change the oil often.

However, we must recognize that despite the large number of possible problems, the engine will generally continue to run without going into failsafe mode, even if it is in bad shape. The manufacturer claims a service life of about 240 – 250 thousand km (150 – 155 k miles) for this unit.

N62 series V8 Engines

The 8-cylinder engines are from the N62 series. Here they are present in the displacements: 4.0 l, 4.4 l and 4.8 l.

The most common weak points are the Vanos and Valvetronic systems. If used incorrectly, these systems can malfunction and cause various problems. The unstable idle speed can also be caused by the ignition system in bad condition (for example the failure of the coils).

Oil consumption on these engines often appears on cars mainly used in heavy traffic and is generally caused by the wear of the piston rings, but there could also be other reasons given the great complexity of the V8s.

Oil consumption can easily reach 1 l every 1000 km (600 miles) after relatively few miles. If consumption is still small, the valve stem seals can be replaced, you can try to use a better oil and lower the engine operating temperature. This will also extend the life of the engine.

For various reasons, scratches may appear on the cylinder walls. It can happen at low mileage for these reasons: overheating, infrequent oil changes or use of low quality gasoline. At high mileage the catalytic converters can begin to destroy themselves and small fragments of these can end up in the engine scratching the cylinder walls.

5.0 l V8 S58B50 Engine

An impressive engine was mounted on the sporty BMW M5 E60. For the first and last time a V10 was fitted to this model. The large engine with code S85B50 was designed from scratch and was taken as inspiration from the P84/5 engine used on the Williams FW27 F1 racing car.

The BMW S85 engine got a lightweight aluminum cylinder block with 10 cylinders. The cylinder heads are also made of aluminum, with 4 valves per cylinder, with hydraulic compensators and with Double-VANOS variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust shafts.

In general, it is a fairly complex naturally aspirated engine that manages to offer a power of 507 hp. This makes it sensitive and to keep it in good condition you need to be very careful.

The main problem with the M5 E60 engine is premature wear of the bushings. These require replacement every 80 thousand km (50 k miles). It is best to do this work in advance to avoid fatal engine failure. The Vanos system also requires periodic, but not so frequent repairs.

For the rest, this unit can be defined as good for a sports engine. It doesn’t give any particular problems if it is treated properly, if it hasn’t been overheated, it has had regular services and a lot of attention. Unfortunately, in most cases the owners don’t realize how to maintain this engine and on many M5s it is in bad shape. Before buying a similar car, you need to do a very thorough check in a specialized service center.

Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used

BMW 5 Series E60 is a very interesting car that doesn’t cause big problems if it’s in good shape. If you think about buying it, it will be better to do a very thorough check. It is now difficult to find a low mileage car, but with a lot of luck it can be done.

Unfortunately, on the second-hand market there are cars in bad condition that are no longer able to offer the initial characteristics due to incorrect maintenance or due to non-original parts fitted to save money. Many people buy this car with the last of the money available without being aware that being a premium car it requires relatively much money to maintain.

If you want a petrol-powered car, it’s best to opt for an engine from the M54 series. If you want a diesel-engined model, avoid the 2.0-litre N47 series. A car with a manual gearbox will be more reliable, but for a greater amount of comfort it is better to have an automatic gearbox.

The main competitors of the BMW 5 Series E60/E61 are: Audi A6 C6, Mercedes-Benz E Class W211, Mercedes-Benz CLS C219, Volvo S80, Peugeot 607, Lexus GS and other similar cars.

The most important thing is to find a car in good general condition.

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