BMW 5-Series (1988 – 1996) Review

BMW 5-Series (1988 – 1996) At A Glance


+Good to drive, roomy, great value at current prices

-Not really seen as classic cars yet despite their age

BMW’s 5-Series was a quantum leap over its conservatively styled predecessor. Although the same basic engines and suspension systems were carried over, they had been considerably refined, adding to the car’s ‘ultimate driving machine’ reputation. Sweet-sixes were always the best ones to have, with the 528i and 535i being almost unbeatable.

On top of this, excellent build quality made it the car to beat in the class. Developed constantly through its life, with VANOS six-cylinder engines giving improved power and performance. Later V8, especially the 540i, was an alternative M5 with a interesting V8 roar.

Ask Honest John

Why is the gear selector on my 1991 BMW 525 very stiff?

"I recently wrote to you about problems with a 1991 BMW 525 SE automatic. After a very robust drive in a hilly domain the selector of the gearbox selector was very stiff but when being driven normally it's okay. I had the oil topped up and the gearbox seems fine, so I suspect it's the selector. I am not sure whateher the selector is mechanical or electrical? "
It could be that the cable to the selector needs a liberal dose of penetrating fluid (such as WD40). This may not work at first and could take several applications before you start to see results as the more exposed are of the cable can get very gunked up.
Answered by Keith Moody

The automatic gearbox on my 1991 BMW became very stiff - what's wrong?

"I have a 1991 BMW 525i in very good condition, it has covered 135k mile since new and has never given a problem. I drove it robustly the other day in very hilly terrain so the auto gearbox was working hard. When I completed the journey the gearbox selector was extremely stiff and difficult to move. When the car cooled down, it was normal again. I have asked my garage to top up the automatic fluid in the gearbox which was last done about seven years ago as it is not part of the servicing routine. It took between two and three litres. Should I watch for any thing else? "
I'd suggest you look for a leak from the automatic box as total capacity for these units is around four litres. Was the 'box hanging on to gears? It sounds like the transmission may have gotten very hot during your journey and vented fluid.
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions

What does a BMW 5-Series (1988 – 1996) cost?