Published on October 25th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


BMW E28 5-Series used car review

This 5-series model, the E28 had a slight styling change from the 1981-83 model. The famous “shark nose” that BMWs had become known for become a little more upright. The chrome mirrors were replaced by black units and the wheel rims style changed to a lovely looking BBS crossed spoke type.

1984 was the first year where the 5-Series came with (only in the high specification models) power seats, full wood trim and the 4-speed automatic, which is very hard to find. Prior to that year, buyers had to do with manual seats, a lot of black plastic and either the 5-speed manual or the lethargic 3-speed automatic.
The build quality of this car till today still impresses me after inspecting several well looked after examples. All the materials should still feel rock solid to this day and the body should show no signs of rust unless abused, accident damaged and unloved.


Common external rust areas are the rear boot lid edge, wheel arches, under front bumper panel and the edges of the doors, which if showing means that this unit is best avoided. The car you see should have no rattles inside which are a common problem with local assembled cars.

One important factor to consider when looking to buy a late BMW is whether or not the car is more often parked under shade. This is because after a number of years the rubber strips along the doors tend to shrink and water gets inside the door panels and sits at the bottom causing rust to build up. Pull away the inside door panels at the bottom and check for rust signs.



The E28 model to buy has to be the 528i (of course the super rare M5 version is the classic buy). The inline six engine in the 528i should be the epitome of smoothness and reliability if well maintained and serviced. A quick test drive will confirm this. It’s no wonder that BMW has become so well known for its.

The biggest problem area with these cars is its HVAC system. There can be numerous problems with the vacuum hoses, which are buried deep inside the dash. They can cost a lot to replace. Quotes as low as RM1,800 is possible. Even when it’s working at 100%, the A/C has to be kept a high fan speed to keep the cabin comfortably cool in the Malaysian heat unless previous owners have spent money removing the factory system and installing a localized Denso unit.

Also to note at the electric system which need to be checked thoroughly as many cars have been ‘messed with at unprofessional accessory shops and so this is why problems occur. If the car has all the original systems and stereo is a simple factory system then you know the wirings inside will be all working well.


This 528i is technically complicated. It was one of the first to literally computerize a large number of functions and because of that, there can be very minor little annoyances that can be rectified by a good BMW specialists. Even at city crawls the 528i is comfortable and easy to maneuver.

Prices for these cars can be ridiculously low (I have seen as low as RM2k), but if you’re seriously considering buying one, please make sure that you have it checked out by a competent BMW mechanic that knows the ins and outs of E28 ownership.

That RM6000 bargain you just picked up could easily double and triple in cost as you take care of the little things, which start giving trouble as you drive it. However, properly maintained examples can, and will cost anywhere in the region of RM8-RM12,000 to buy.



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