Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used BMW 5 Series estate?
As the vast majority of BMW 5 Series Tourings will have been company cars they should have been well maintained. However, company cars don’t tend to be quite as loved as privately owned examples. so check the paintwork for swirl marks as a result of too many visits to automated car washes.
These are also very complex cars and can have a surprising amount of gadgets fitted, so before you go out car shopping, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with their operation, so that you can make sure everything works.
What are the most common problems with a used BMW 5 Series estate?
Despite the complicated technology that’s packed into a 5 Series Touring, they are proving to be generally trouble free, although like any car they do have an Achilles’ heel or two. All versions are equipped with self-levelling rear suspension that is operated via ‘airbags’ rather than conventional springs, and these can split over time. There’s one either side and they cost £500 each to replace.
If you’re considering a car with the optional adjustable dampers, be aware that while they’re not considered unreliable, they are significantly more expensive to replace if they do go wrong – a pair of adaptive front shock absorbers costs £1100.
There have been problems with the timing chains on the four-cylinder diesel fitted to the 518d and 520d – the guides can wear and the chains themselves can stretch. With the timing chain situated at the rear of the engine, replacement is an expensive business – over £1000 – but this is only likely to affect higher mileage engines. The post-face-lift models are fitted with an updated engine which hasn’t suffered from this problem so far.
There have been isolated faults with injectors, coils and turbos, too, but these are not common.
Is a used BMW 5 Series estate reliable?
The 5 Series has an average score for reliability, according to the What Car? Reliability Index, and BMW as a marque didn’t fare well in the 2016 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study.