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Direct Link To This Post Topic: E39 540 Manual or Auto?
    Posted: 27-January-2006 at 07:55

I'm thinking of upgrading to an E39 540 & although I've always had manuals through choice I'm contemplating getting an Auto as nearly all the 540's I see are autos or tiptronic? Are there any major performnace issues between to two? Also does an auto box add much to servicing cost? Always do servicing myslef apart from an Insp 2 I get done by a specialist every 2 years. Are there any little niggles to look put for on an E39? I Know BMW's pretty well inside & out but would like opinions of owners on here before I fully make up my mind.

Thanks,

Dean.

2001 540i Sport, Silver, Black Leather
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Andrew Rolland View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-January-2006 at 08:13

With an engine that size most 540i's will be autos and steptronic autos at that or are you meaning paddle shift gear changes on the steering wheel.

Auto transmissions are not for the diyer. 

BMW are as much use as a chocolate teapot when it comes to autoboxes. 

Sure they can unbolt if from the car and fill and drain it with oil but that is it.  I believe at an Inspection II they check the fluid level in the tranny but then they are also meant to change the differential oil also but I have never seen or heard of this getting done.

Take it to an Automatic Transmission Specialist for a full fluid change, filter change and all the other tweaks that they will do on your autobox.  An auto box service will set you back about £120 -£150 inc vat.  Half of which will be the cost of the oil!

The ZF boxes fitted to Beamers are reasonably strong units.  Do a search on here for automatic transmissions to show the faults that have happened to them.  I had to pay £700 to get mine fixed.

I am 99% sure my next E39 will be an auto.

HTH

Andrew



Edited by Andrew Rolland
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-January-2006 at 08:18
So thats one vote for an auto... Or was it? The only cars i've seen mate are either normal autos, staptronic autos or 6 speed manuals. Never seen nor would I want a paddle shift. For the money I've got the newest I could hope for would probably be a 2000 model
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-January-2006 at 09:52
Go for a manual. Right now they're worth less than
the auto but in time will be worth more - look at the
manual E34 540i's which have a small following.

Six speed ZF manual boxes don't seem to go wrong
as long as there's oil in it. The five speed autos can
be reliable, but they can go wrong. BMW don't specify
an oil change period as it's 'sealed for life' - whatever
'the life' is? There's no dipstick so you can't check the
oil level. the basic gearbox isn't too bad, but has all
kind of electronics. As has been seen here, just a
dodgy ABS sensor on the back wheel can send it
into 'Oh Sh*t" mode.

The manuals are rare but well worth waiting for.
You'll find one in the end. I found mine (long since
sold!) in Kwik Fit with a seized front caliper. It had
done a million miles (about 170k), was an insipid
bluey greeny silver (Glacier Green) with the Turbine
wheels so it looked like a boggo P reg 520i. I paid
(from memory) 3 grand-ish, fitted a pair of calipers
from Euro Car Parts and used it for a bit.
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