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BMW E60 5 series (2003–2010) – Buyers guide

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All photos by Official BMW @NetCarShow.com

The BMW 5 (E60) 2003-2010 is aging like fine wine. Even though Chris Bangles’ design was first widely critiqued, the E60 was well accepted and still looks good for its age. Even the technology inside does not yet feel ancient compared to a VW Touareg for instance. There are some issues with the E60 you need to know about and avoid, especially with diesel models or cars with bad automatic transmission maintenance. Here are the major, minor and other problems of the E60 BMW 5 series.

Major faults

  • Very common injector defects on 525i and 530i models with the N53 petrol engine. The consequence of bad injectors was high fuel consumption and damage to the inner walls of the engine which often led to a complete engine swap.
  • 4 and 6 cylinder diesel engines experienced problems with the plastic flaps in the intake manifold.
  • Common difficulties with the ZF automatic transmissions in 530D diesel models. Owners detected weird dull sounds when switching from park to drive. The cost of the repair was insanely high.
  • 2.0 N47 diesel engines suffered from camshaft chain problems which occurred because of the long oil change interval. Owners suggest changing the oil on a shorter interval.
e60 wagon

Other and minor faults

  • Common problems with Dunlop Run on Flat tires.
  • Problems with leaks on the steering rack.
  • DPF filters on diesel models need changing every 90 000 miles or 150 000km
  • 530D diesel models tend to start bad due to common faults of the camshaft sensors.
  • Common oil leaks on automatic transmissions.
  • High-pressure fuel pumps tended to fail on 525i and 530i models with the N53 engine.

Body and interior problems

  • Due to tight fitment, the windshields were prone to cracking.
  • Cracking and loosening of plastic elements at the bottom of the side windows.
  • Quick wear off door panels.
  • Squeaky interior door handles.
e60 interior

Electronic problems

  • Earlier models experienced issues with i-Drive system controls, but they resolved the issue by the end of 2003.
  • There were problems with the IBS (intelligent battery sensor), which stops the battery charging.
  • Clumsy electronic placement at the bottom of the trunk meant it was exposed to spills and leaks into the boot of the car.
e60 rear back

Official recalls

  • March 22, 2004 – Possible error on one of the ESP sensors
  • July 14, 2004 – An error on the ECM module which caused a sudden loss of engine power. For cars made between 12.5.2004 and 6.7.2004
  • December 23, 2004 – Problem with the seat heater which led to overheating – For cars made between 25.9.2002 and 9.6.2004
  • February 8, 2005 – Problem with the high-pressure fuel pump fitment – For cars made between 30.11.2004 and 31.1.2005
  • July 6, 2006 – Issue with the rear damper rubber mount component.
  • July 15, 2008 – An error on the rear axle mount. – For cars made between 10.6.2008 and 20.6.2008
  • November 11, 2010 – A problem which can cause sudden loss of braking power. – For cars made between 30.10.2001 and 23.11.2009
  • October 5, 2010 – An issue with moisture on the fuel heater connector. – For cars made between 20.8.2008 and 12.6.2009
  • November 17, 2011, and April 27, 2012 – Error on the water pump for cooling the turbo (V8 turbo engines only) – For cars made between 16.11.2007 and 2.2.2011
  • May 5, 2012 – Electric installation error which can cause short-circuiting and a fire. – For cars made between 1.3.2003 and 30.9.2010
e60 5 series front

Our recommendation

The BMW E60 can be a huge mess if you buy a car with poor service history and high mileage. Its an old luxury car with plenty of features and complicated systems which translates to many things causing minor or big issues. The E60 was still a good car and it still is, it offers great engines, good interior, great road stability, and even low fuel consumption if you go for the diesel models. The E60 received a visual update in 2007 and we suggest you go for the facelift models as they look more up to date and have fewer issues from the get-go than the earlier models. And as always, look for cars with good service history, that is the key.

Check out our other BMW buyers’ guides!

Before buying any car, please, we could not be more serious, do a VIN check-up. Read and CLICK on the infographic to learn more:
vin check infographic lifeonfour

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Margarita Yazdani

    February 25, 2020 at 9:46 am

    This blog BMW E60 5 series (2003–2010) – Buyers guide helps me
    a lot with my battery problems.

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