Purchase advice BMW 5er (E34): strengths and weaknesses

BMW 5 Series (E34) 1988-1996
Subscriptions & booklets

S tets pull up well dressed: the made possible E34 as a new car between February 1988 and June 1996, when the last Touring rolled off the assembly line. And that's exactly what it enables today, on the verge of youngtimer status. And what’s between getting in and out? The focus is on fine, never-demanding driving fun (okay, in the case of the M5, that's not entirely true). Good things stay that way.

Sometimes it just takes time for this knowledge to prevail. We don't want to sing the sad song of the misunderstood size, because it is well known: The young E34 was for a long time in the shadow of its predecessor E28 with the fans, which with its angular body and the overbiting shark-nose kidney a long design Era ended. But in the meantime the E34 has long since arrived with those who simply feel more comfortable in old-fashioned cars than in downsized new goods with all their connectivity and assistance.

Equipment and comfort: For everyday life and vacation

Bigger, flatter and rounder than the E28 is the new five-car

The space is - aheadeverything in the back - significantly better than in the E28, but now more on compact class level. But it is enough for everyday life and vacation (460 liters trunk volume). And in front is the Driver's Heaven, that's exactly how we love our BMW: The middle section with radio, on-board computer, air conditioning control unit and ventilation nozzles - the temperature of which can be varied independently of the basic setting if an air conditioning system is installed - tilts slightly towards the driver. p>

Operation and driving behavior: easy and effortless

Classic BMW ambience with red night lighting and red needles in the M5

The large round instruments are a Pattern of readability. The controls also show that they have been thinking carefully: to the left of the main instrument, a ratchet switch controls the parking and dipped headlights, and to the right of it an identical switch for the rear fog light and headlights. The gear lever, which many like to crown with the knob on the M models, is easy to use and requires little force to dance through the precisely defined alleys. It's all typical old BMW school, and it's still fun today. Because the E34 is easy and effortless to drive. He doesn't seem cumbersome or unwilling, but animating and fully involved. Driving, it makes him noticeably joy. And this joy is infectious.

Engine: fine six-cylinder

The heavy iron pig row six M30 with 3.0 and 3.5 liter displacement
are legendary

Today the M20 six-cylinder with which theFive started in 1988 as the 520i and 525i, a little dull because they rely on high speeds. They fit more in the lighter E30, especially with the four-speed automatic transmission, which was then 2,450 euros. Their fine sound and the lack of vibration are still a pleasure that makes it bearable to forego pulling power. The big M30 sixes, the 530i and the 535i, are of course more powerful. The cast-iron monuments of BMW engine history save the buyer the need to change the timing belt, which is expensive for the M20 every four years including a new water pump, but treat yourself to a little more of the expensive super. A little useless knowledge on the side? M20 and M30 were designed for regular gasoline. Even back then it was unworthy of a technically ambitious car and now ineffective, there is only super.

Connoisseurs treat themselves best with the EBMW 5 Series 34 with six cylinders, with the M5, its single throttle valve speed monster a further development of the M1 engine is, of course, the crowning glory. The prices for the discreetly dressed sedan and above all the Touring, which is only available with the 3.8-liter cracker introduced at the end of 1991, have drifted into regions where only solvent enthusiasts can treat themselves to a car for the weekend .

These engines are basically not capricious, but beyond the 100,000 kilometers, a few euros should be taken into account for changing the connecting rod bearings. If the adjustable damper of the EDC chassis complains, that's no small matter. Replacements are rare as gold dust and also as expensive, the overhaul is also expensive.

Buying tip: 530i and 540i

You are the bright baritone of the M60-V8 expire quickly. The three-liter wants to be turned

As an affordable and easy-care top five, the eight-cylinder M60 series automatically hit the radar in mid-1992 the M30 six-cylinder retired. The three-liter engine is designed to be easy to turn, while the four-liter engine with at least 68 hp and 110 Newton meters plus in the E34 is the all-rounder: cool draft from idle? Check. Pressure from 2,000 /min, where it lets you hear the very finest baritone? Check. Fire up to over 6,000 tours? With pleasure.What speaks in favor of the three-liter is the significantly lower price level. The Touring, for example, costs no more than a 525i 24V with the new M50 four-valve engine under the hood, which replaced the M20 models in 1990 and was the only engine that was also offered with all-wheel drive.

The wonderful M50s were launched in mid-1992 -6 thanks to the Vanos camshaft adjustment. It can go on strike, but the repair doesn't cost the world, as with all automatic transmissions, flushing and changing the oil is worth 500 or 600 euros. But even more than the solidly built six-cylinder, the V8 are virtually engines for eternity. 500,000 kilometers doesn't have to be the end of it - if not loosened oil pump screws mean engine death.

As with all BMW 5 Series E34s (yes, even with the rather tired four-cylinder 518i and the diesels, which have a long life, but have a questionable future in view of strict environmental regulations) wear on the chassis is an issue and of course rust on the body, which is actually well protected. It often blooms vigorously on the lower edges of the door, and when it comes to touring, also on the tailgate. It is not uncommon for cable harnesses to break. Then the rear window cannot be opened or the central locking and rear wiper strike. The double sunroof can also cause problems with touring, whereby squeaking is even more acceptable than leaks through clogged drain holes.

With skilled hands or a good workshop at your side, none of these are unsolvable problems. And then it's back for a long time: BMW 5 Series E34, for the joy of driving.


There's never been a buying guide with detailed checks of all important models of the youngtimer scene - and models that will be added in the future. For each series there is a detailed model history with all facelifts, all weak points, prices for each model and tips on the best engine. There is also a report on the origins of the youngtimer movement and general tips on buying, TÜV, approval, etc. The special is available at the kiosk and in selected book and magazine stores or Online here in the shop (plus shipping costs).

Table of contents:

  • 27 models from Alfa Spider to VW T4 bus in check
  • All models, all prices: the current young timers -Notierungen
  • The best purchase: In eight steps to a youngtimer
  • Fascination of youngtimers: We once had one of these
  • Youngtimer technical vocabulary: The language of freaks


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