Garage report – BMW M5

Project Moneypit has swallowed more cash. Read all about it the M5's latest exploits in the garage update...

By Tim Kendall | 21st February 2013

Garage Log

Where do you stop? It’s a fair point and one I’ve pondered on increasingly as the big M continues to swallow cash like an insatiable thing.

It’s also a point one BMW salesman pithily observed whilst strolling around my M5 with a clipboard listening to me reel off the parts I’d replaced over the last 12 months. Rod bearings, brakes, control arms, lambda sensors, badges, bushes, grommets, tyres, all of its vital fluids and much, much more. The list has me shifting uncomfortably on my perch as I write.

BMW M5 in the snow

Lots of the white stuff meant a dead battery

Why suffer the ignominy of letting a salesman walk around my car with a clipboard? Why not save time by just walking into the showroom and asking someone in a suit to pull my trousers down? Because I wanted a part-ex valuation and in the final analysis, having a main dealer value your 90k-mile M-car will inevitably involve one’s pantaloons being tweaked in a southerly direction.

It’s all been triggered by the existence of a certain ‘M-lite’ BMW hatchback (answers on a postcard). It’s got me thinking I can do without running two cars – the most expensive of which spends 90% of its time on a driveway whilst I use a faithful diesel Audi A4 for daily duty come rain, snow or Mayan apocalypse. The internet forums refer to such economically unsound thinking as ‘man-maths’. But running two cars and doubling up on insurance, repairs, road tax and servicing so I can save one for Sunday best is just not wallet-friendly. No – one car, one car to rule them all I say.

The problem – apart from a tear-jerking part-ex value – is parting with the M5 just as it begins to look and feel like a proper bahnstormer again. Recent expenditure hasn’t helped me emotionally or economically unshackle myself from it either.

The first wallet-opener of 2013 was triggered by a prolonged period of snow-enforced bed-rest for the M5. As it slept peacefully under a picturesque white blanket, a myriad of electrical brains beavered away, sapping the life out of the battery. Things like the alarm, trafficmaster and other silent battery killers slowly strangled it. So when the snow melted and I reunited key with ignition, a tell-tale click-click-click replaced the expected baritone V8 bark.

BMW M5 battery

One MASSIVE new Bosch battery later, it rumbled into life

Yes, the battery was kaput. I’ve never been one for DIY, but the £178 plus fitting which Dick Lovett BMW wanted to fit a new one made my spanner hand twitch into life. After Euro Car Parts offered up a heavy duty Bosch S5 battery with a better-than-OEM cold cranking ampage (calm down at the back) for £106 delivered, out came the spanners. It was fitted in 15 minutes flat – good going for a mechanical simpleton. The fact that said job was completed without frying any of the car’s assorted ECUs and electrical brains was also nice.

The next mission was to get the scabby and corroded alloys attended to. Years of brake dust, acidic wheel cleaner and assorted kerb-kissing had seen the BMW’s original shadow chrome look like a shadow of its former self. Platinum Alloy Wheel Solutions in Swindon were entrusted with the job as the level of refurbishment needed would have been beyond the capabilities of a ‘SMART’ repair chap with a van. After leaving the car with them, the wheels were stripped of tyres, chemically dipped, shot-blasted and powder coated in a black base coat, before being given a silver top coat. The repainted rims were then lacquered and cured in a paint oven before being reunited with tyres, re-valved and then balanced.

BMW M5 alloy wheel


The end result was a bit of a surprise – they’re darker than expected around the spokes, but with a lovely glossy chrome finish around the dished part of the rim –  just about spot on without being too bling. At £360 inclusive of removing and refitting the tyres, it wasn’t cheap. However, the E39 M5 is one of those shapes where visually, the wheels maketh the car – and the difference is night and day better than the old scabby mess. Add some new centre caps and natty little ‘M’ badges and that bill topped £400.

BMW M5 alloys

…and after the refurb

Again, not cheap, but new rims are £600-plus from BMW and it’s mildly therapeutic to spend something on the cosmetics for once. Having shovelled a lot of cash into the oily bits you can’t see, the M5’s pretty bits have been a bit neglected. In fairness the bodywork is in fine fettle anyway, but having done the one job that stuck out like a sore digit, other niggles have started to shout louder than before. Things like the delaminated BMW emblem on the bonnet. £23 from Dick Lovett and once again, fitted with no recourse to professional help. Impressive.

BMW M5 alloy wheel


The problem with lavishing attention on the exterior is the onset of OCD. One dark, cold evening, I found myself idly pondering whether brake dust would penetrate the smooth new shadow chrome finish on the M5’s manicured wheels, as you do. I decided that a pot of alloy wheel sealant (£14.99 by Poorboys) would be the stuff to quell my fears. That’s all well and good – until the neighbours spot you buffing your wheels with a small pink microfibre cloth and decide, not unreasonably, that you are probably towards the wrong end of some kind of mental health spectrum. The weird pink wax smells ruddy great though…

And the part-ex value? Against an M135i, since you ask – £5k. Ouch.

By Tim Kendall
21st February 2013

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