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E60 5-Series (2003+) | EDGE Motorworks

The newest iteration of 5-Series cars offers vastly improved technology and creature comforts, albeit at the expense of some pretty serious weight gains over the previous generation E39. Suspension design and engine choices are still similar, so many of the issues are pretty familiar.

Suspension and Shocks

Thrust Arm Bushings are still the number one common failure item. Shocks come in second and should be considered marginal by 60k. Most folks who have been driving their cars since new hardly notice the deterioration as it is gradual. Thrust arm bushing failure will typically reveal itself as a shimmy under braking and possibly a low-speed knock if you get on and off the throttle quickly.

Shock failure symptoms include: Diving under braking and acceleration, excessive lean and suspension compression during cornering. Bouncy and uncomfortable ride. Shocks and struts may visibly leak shock oil. EDGE generally recommends replacing the factory units with quality shocks from Koni or Bilstein whenever possible. When replacing shocks and struts, keep in mind it is a great time to install lowering springs or freshen up other areas of the suspension. You will be amazed at the difference a good set of shocks can make in both comfort and performance.

One of the cooler technological advances, the Active Sway Bar, is also prone to failure. It works by using power steering fluid to automatically adjust the swaybar for driving conditions. They will leak fluid, causing a mess, and unfortunately they are not serviceable so they must be replaced.

5-Series cars have always been notorious for eating up Rear Wheel Bearings. The E60’s are no different. Noise and excessive tire wear will be good indications that something is amiss; this is an area we always inspect when we have the car on a rack.

Oil Leaks

The six-cylinder cars are prone to leaking Valve Cover Gaskets. They leak externally, but also leak internally and can fill the spark plug holes with oil. This can fry coil packs. Other messy leaks can include the Oil Filter Stand Gasket, Oil Cooler Gasket, and Oil Vapor Separator Hoses.

Of particular concern is the Transmission Pan and Sealing Sleeve. The pans tend to warp over time (not sure why) and the only sure way to fix the leak is to replace the pan. BMW does not call for or recommend transmission fluid changes, this may prove problematic in the long term, but the transmissions seem to last well over 100k miles.

V8 cars have all of the same as above and are also prone to their Vacuum Pumps leaking engine oil, leaking Crankcase Vent Hoses, Differential leaks and Power Steering Fluid leaks from all hoses. Other issues include Intake Manifold Gaskets-these become brittle and can cause a check engine light, rough running and failed smog. This job normally combines with the Valley Pan Reseal, as the manifold has to be removed. Valve Covers can warp and just replacing the gasket does not fix the engine oil leak, so we always check them with a certified straight edge to help prevent recurring problems. Upper Timing Cover Gaskets can leak and the VANOS Solenoid Seals are notorious for seeping.

Cooling System

BMW Cooling Systems are definitely their Achilles heel. For some unfortunate reason BMW chooses to use plastic in MANY critical areas of the cooling system. The plastic heat cycles out and becomes brittle. That, coupled with normal vibration is a recipe for disaster.

Early E60 Radiators are prone to leak from the end tank and from the core as they age, later radiators and OE replacement radiators have solved the issue. We inspect these each time the car is on a lift.

Other common failure points include the Expansion Tank (cracks at the seams), Thermostat failure (these are electronic, so it will cause check engine light), Water Pump failure (electric water pumps will quickly cause an overheat), and any of the Quick Disconnect Hoses.

V8 cars have all of the same as above but are also prone to Valley Pan Gaskets leaking. On the plus side, the V8 cars are also notorious for Intake Manifolds leaking, and the intake has to come off to repair the valley pan, so you kill two birds with one stone. The coolant hose that runs under the intake manifold between the cylinder heads is also a common problem. We have a custom repair that we make to that hose to permanently fix the problem.

Just A Note

BMW service indicator-recommended 15k mile service intervals are causing internal engine wear. BMW has a Technical Service Bulletin indicating that dirty engine oil causes cam ledges to become worn down and causes oil to get through. This will cause, poor running, excessive engine noise and will eventually throw a check engine light. Because of these issues, we are recommending that customers perform regular oil changes at 7-8k miles max. BMW knows that the engines will last 100k even with this advanced wear, but that gets your car out of warranty and therefore it’s not an issue for them. We know that you want your car to last, so a little extra maintenance will go a long way! In addition to the extended intervals causing cam ledge wear, the VANOS solenoids are becoming clogged with oil sludge and debris causing rough running and check engine lights. We have been able to successfully remove these solenoids and clean them without additional repairs being needed.

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