BMW 530D E60 2003

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This is the car I bought after the RS6. I've had to wait this long to write a review because very few cars could compete with the RS so my review may have been unfairly critical.

Now I have lived with the BMW for 2 ish years and 50,000 miles I can offer my honest opinions.

Finding the one I wanted was hard. I had a list of things it must have then a list it should have. The must have list was non-negotiable. The lists were as follows:

Must Have:

Automatic; Diesel; Cruise Control; Silver or Black; Leather

Should Have:

Sat Nav; Phone Prep; Estate; Heated Electric Seats; M5 Engine(joking)

I trawled ebay and autotrader to no avail. I found a company in Kent that seemed to specialise in BMWs. I found it strange that none of the cars had a mileage listed but I popped along anyway. When I got there I realised why they were so coy. 2 and 3 year old cars with in excess of 100,000 miles on the clock. Of course, the salesman used the 'motorway mileage' chestnut and threw in the 'regularly serviced as they were company cars' line.

Having worked in the motor trade on and off for 20 years - much of it in the service department I knew exactly how company cars, and in particular, lease cars adhere to manufacturers service schedules. Very loosely. And if a corner can be cut or a quid saved the maintenance departments are on it. You'll also notice when buying these cars that the dealer stamped service books are often 'to follow' which once they've got your money means you'll never see it. Some will be replaced by a printout from the lease company which states all the lovely services it has had. Consider this: when a lease company refused to have all of the manufacturer specified items replaced on a service (some would hold out on plugs, filters etc) we would write it in the service book by the stamp. Many would go thousands of miles over the service due time but still insist on the smaller service. Can't imagine why these books would get lost, can you?

My 50,000 miles in 2 years consisted of very little motorway driving. It was all local stop start cold engine rep driving. So there's another sales myth broken.

Another point is these cars were not being driven by the person who owned them. Remember how carefully you looked after the last car you hired on holiday. Enough said.

The sales guy sneered that I wouldn't find the spec I wanted at the price they offered with any lower mileage. I did.

I found a small independent garage selling a 53 plate 530 diesel E60 saloon in metallic grey (close enough) with 60k, full main dealer history, business sat nav (the one without pictures, just arrows) bluetooth built in to the idrive, leather, cruise and 1/2 electric seats. All in all a good find and after negotiation a couple of hundred quid cheaper than the high mileage boys near maidstone.

The only issue was a brake warning light on. If you aren't familiar with the idrive model a list of faults is available on the nav screen and things like servicing, brake wear, tyre pressure, bulb outs etc are displayed there.

Prior to collection they replaced the rear pads. What they didn't do was replace the wear sensors. No problem if done when the pads are fitted but a bit of a pain when the pads are worn a bit. Next came getting the warning message turned off. No problem thought I. I'll simply visit one of my customers (I was a car parts rep at the time) and get them to reset the computer. I hadn't realised how few after market diagnostic systems would work on the E60. Couldn't reset the brake warning and if you go too far past a service you can't reset that either. CBM it's called or conditional based maintenance. Only change what is needed - oil when dirty, filters when required etc. Tried them all, bosch, snapon etc and ended up giving the guy in the BMW dealer a drink to do it on a Saturday.

Have been very please with the car. Fairly economical. About 500 miles on a tank full costing about £70 now. Still smooth and powerfull although it eats rear tyres and gets a bit edgy when the tyre tread is low but legal. Passed the last MOT needing just a bulb and a track rod end. Wipers are those big blade thingys and very expensive.

Uses a litre of oil between services but after an Audi that seems good.

Oil is very dear even when I could get trade price. Nearly 9 litres of I think 5w30 fully synthetic. Used to cost me over £40 at cost plus 10%.

Only been recovered once when I had a blowout. You don't even get a space saver - just a squirty can of goo. No good when you have a 6 inch split in the sidewall. The runflat tyres it had on when I first bought it would have been great for that but I just couldn't afford them with the miles I did. Got a set for £280 from one of my customers. Lasted well.

The business navigation is usable and full european. You get used to not haveing maps but it can still get you lost if the road gets complicated and your going fast. The factory integrated bluetooth is a dream. You can buy various slot in adaptors to charge your phone in the arm rest and use the external aerial. Has voice dialing too which is pretty cool.

All in all a comfortable car for short and long distance. Plenty of room for 3 kids in the back even when one was in a baby seat and another in a booster seat. Boot is plent big enough although I did miss having an estate on occasions. And the idrive is easy once you get used to it. I have trouble faulting it. Even the road tax is reasonable.

Not as in depth as my RS6 review but if you are thinking about buying an E60 I would say go for it. I had only had one BMW before and that was an M3 so this was an unexpected pleasurable purchase. I still have it and drive it on a daily basis. The drivers airbag light is on which again no after market systems have managed to reset despite some of the claiming to be able to. Poor show on a car that's been around for quite a while now. On this occasion it's to do with the plug under the driver seat which is common. I unplugged it when replacing the seat adjuster cable - one of the few things to go wrong - on mine.

So don't hesitate, buy one. You'll like it.

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