First introduced in 1995 as a mid-size luxury sedan, BMW 540i captivated the hearts of many drivers and car enthusiasts. It was gifted with a modest 4.4-liter V8 engine, which can generate 282 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque. This allowed the 540i to offer a comfortable driving experience that got even more accentuated by the traditional three-pedal, six-speed manual transmission. However, great things come with some drawbacks as well. The following are the problems that BMW 540i owners commonly run into:
The most common complaint against the BMW 540i is the radiator failure. A number of 540i drivers report that their radiators have cracked around the hose, causing these radiators to last for only up to 50,000 miles. The alarming scenario, though, was during the actual failure of these radiators while the car was running. A significant amount of steam appeared on the driver's front side, which obscured the view of the road. It was a very dangerous situation, which could have resulted to road accidents.
It is argued that this radiator problem roots from a manufacturing defect or poor design, but there are still no official findings as to the cause of these radiator cracks.
Electrical system glitches in the BMW 540i are varied. They are not exclusive to a certain part or system. These problems range from sunroof or windows that fail to close completely to serious overheating of tail light bulbs that could possibly cause fire hazard. Electrical short due to a faulty thermostat is also among the common problems included in this category, which could possibly result to further damage like melted wirings.
There was no known widespread recall to address this problem, as its nature was wide-ranging.
The power train is responsible for sending power from its source to drive mechanism, but the BMW 540i has been criticized for its automatic transmission failure. According to a number of 540i owners, the reverse gear suddenly stopped working without any indicator of wear or damage. This could have been the result of an internal slippage or damage, which eventually caused the transmission to go into neutral or safe mode.
Highly regarded by car enthusiasts and critics because of its excellent performance, the BMW 540i mixes luxury with power in a mid-sized sedan. Its aerodynamic, all-steel body was designed to provide protection and to increase torsion rigidity. Although these features are truly notable, there's still some chink in the BMW 540i's armor. Read on to know some of problems car owners have experienced with the BMW 540i.
One issue that has affected a great number of BMW 540i units was a faulty engine cooling system. The problem came from malfunctioning components of the cooling system such as the thermostat, water pump, and pump belt. This resulted to an increase in the coolant temperature and system pressure. It has also produced cracks and damage on the nearby parts that were affected.
BMW has issued a recall of around 340,000 units that were affected. Car dealers were instructed to install a new radiator cap to control the coolant's pressure and to provide better flow in an unlikely event of an overheating engine.
Another common problem encountered with the BMW 540i was its malfunctioning speed control system particularly the throttle cables. Due to strong vibrations and some environmental factors, the plastic bushing of the cables on broke, and this caused the separation of the bushing to the cable housing. This lead to failure to decelerate that's very dangerous especially if the vehicle's engaged in cruise control.
Over 400,000 BMW 540i units were potentially affected by this problem; and BMW has instructed dealers to install a spring steel clip on the outer tube of each cable in the area of the plastic bushing. The clip was placed to prevent the dislodgment of the busing from the cable housing.
The air bags on certain BMW 540i units were also problematic because they have the tendency to activate unintentionally. This was caused by the malfunctioning microprocessor in the air bag control module. The result can be a serious injury if the air bags were deployed while the driver is close to the steering wheel. Aside from that, since the air bags were activated, the battery safety terminal can also turn on that can cause the starter cable to be disconnected from the battery, and the vehicle to lose power.
Want to know what the 540i model name stands for? Generally, BMW uses three digits in the nomenclature that are followed by one or two letters. These digits and letters describe the size and the engine of the car. Since the BMW 540i's first number is 5, it signifies that it's a medium-sized car. The last two digits signify the engine size in 10ths of liters. Since the BMW 540i has "40" at the end, it shows that the model has a 4-liter engine. The suffix "i" means that the car is fuel injected.
In 1997, the BMW 540i was included in one of the best car movies of all time, Gone in 60 Seconds. Aside from the 1997 BMW 540i used for the movie, some of the cars included were the 1958 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham and 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. Surprisingly, the BMW 540i was not included in the list of the cars that were stolen in the movie. It was used as the cop car to chase the thieves and their stolen vehicles.
Since its introduction 1997, the BMW 540i has received numerous distinctions from different critics in the automotive industry. In its debut, the vehicle has been included in the 10 Best Cars of Car and Driver magazine. Aside from that, editors at car website Edmunds.com also raved about the BMW 540i, as it made the Most Wanted Awards from 1999 to 2003.
Since the vehicle was designed for class and luxury, the BMW 540i has been chosen as one of the official presidential cars by leaders from countries like Brunei, Bulgaria, and Spain. While in China, the model is used as escort police cars for the Chinese president's Cadillac, Lincoln, and BMW 7-Series sedans.
To maintain the luxurious and expensive appeal of the vehicle, BMW has equipped all of the 540i models with genuine leather and wood, unlike some vehicles from other BMW series that was made with leatherette. Another amazing thing is that the window remote of the 540i, when held down for a few seconds, will open all the windows simultaneously, including the car's sun roof.
If you like a classic look and you still own cassette tapes, the CD player that's mounted on the dashboard of the BMW 540i can actually be replaced to a cassette player at the request of the owner. Aside from this old school mod, the steering wheel of the car actually moves away from you when you enter and exit the vehicle. Now that's mixing the past and the future in one car.