Used BMW 5 Series 1996 - 2003 reliability

Category: Executive car

This version of the BMW 5 Series is a jack of all trades and master of most.

BMW 5 Series (96 - 04)
  • BMW 5 Series (96 - 04)
  • BMW 5 Series (96 - 04)
Used BMW 5 Series 1996 - 2003 review
Star rating

What should I look for in a used BMW 5 Series saloon?

The thing that's most likely to go wrong is the cooling system. It's responsible for no less than a quarter of all visits to the workshop, so pay close attention to the engine temperature when you're test driving and get the work done if it's dodgy.

Give the air-con a run for its money, too, to see that it can still blow hot and cold on demand.

Electrical faults dog most modern-day cars, and this BMW 5 Series is no different, so check that all the lights, locks, stereo controls, windows and mirrors operate as they should.

On the other hand, axle problems are more common on the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class than they are on the 5 Series. But it's still worth listening out for rumbles and knocks.

Otherwise, the BMW is reasonably robust, performing fairly well in our reliability surveys.

What are the most common problems with a used BMW 5 Series saloon?

Is a used BMW 5 Series saloon reliable?