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Old 05-12-2020, 07:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: SB / LA
Posts: 4
E36X5er is on a distinguished road
Picked up a 2004 X5 4.4i for $700...

Last month I bought a 2004 X5 4.4i with Sport Package for $700. I had been looking for a cheap, E53 3.0 with a manual transmission for a while but couldn't find any decent prospects. I came across my current 4.4 X5 months ago, listed for $2500, with several issues that didn't seem to be too major (for me at least). With no manuals on the market, I wanted a beater truck for the snow, beach and all sports in between, nearly buying a Jeep XJ, but then decided BMW was the way to go for my beater and have always loved the E53 X5 body. Now I have one and love it more than I should love a beater PIC BELOW

The truck has 171,000 miles. Recent work done at 169,500 miles was extensive.

The truck had a sagging rear suspension, owner lost the key, radio wasn't working, back seat severely damaged, battery was dead and registration was non-op. The owner was piling up tickets from parking on the street.

I offered $700 and was accepted. The reason I offered anything was because of the engine work done - listed at the bottom.
  • I had to get the car registered ($212) so I could go to BMW and get a replacement valet key ($84) so I could then get the car back home. I had the car towed from South LA to Santa Barbara via AAA (as part of my service package).
  • The air suspension in the back had blown - one was original BMW and one was replaced with Arnott. The BMW had blown, not sure if the Arnott still holds air. I decided to replace with Suncore Springs for the time being ($140). I installed the springs in the back and noticed the truck had Bilstein Touring shocks in back, so now I have the Suncore Springs with Bilstein Touring. Compressor still works so I may go back to air suspension in the future. Will need to inspect the front suspension bushings. The rears were ok but could be replaced soon.
  • Replaced the two rear tires with Delinte Desert Storm DS8 ($200 for the pair) installed at Americas Tire ($40).
  • All brakes look fine as of now.
  • Polished the headlights with the 3M kit from O'Reilly and at least cleaned them up a bit. Replaced a blinker light and the reverse lights ($33)
  • Bought all weather mats for the front and a sunshade for the window, both OE ($100 total)
  • Sunroof inner panel was stuck open but did sunroof reset and everything works now. Sunroof glass opening is slow but opened all the way. Need to clean the tracks and lube it - hopefully that helps.
  • The stereo was not working at all (non DSP). I opened up the back and noticed everything was under water, caused by clogged Sunroof drains - iBus, Amp, MK4 Nav all ruined, tried to take apart and solder in new parts but damage was too extensive. Bought an iBus ($35), Amp ($70) and MK4 ($89) from eBay and installed them and got everything working, although the bluetooth doesn't work bc I got the wrong version of the iBus (realized after doing more research). Good news, it all works and the leaks are gone. 16x9 screen has white spots on it and I might eventually replace with used OEM from eBay
  • Front seats all work and are in fairly good shape, no tears however a lot of fading. May swap for heated E46 seats if the truck is reliable enough to invest.
  • Check Engine light was on for a misfire in cylinder 2 - code pulled using ELM and OBD Fusion - I replaced the plug and coil with a bosch coil ($30) and NGK plug ($7), put some injector only Techron ($9) and then drove it a bit and the code went away and hasn't come back. The existing plugs are in bad shape and will be replacing all plugs this weekend.
  • Replaced the expansion tank with an off brand from Amazon ($34) to get rid of a cracked tank (also a replacement aftermarket).

Took the car to get smogged and it passed with no issues ($60). Now its officially registered and being driven and I'm starting to notice a few things I will need to address. I have put 600 miles on it, driven around the city initially then taken on the highway on a series of 40mi drives then a big one to LA for about 250miles round trip in 100* weather. Performed well but now Im thinking the torque converter is going out. Some rolling stops will lead to lurching and rpms jumping at low RPM then occasionally taking off from a stop I will get an RPM jump like I gunned it even though I didn't. The plan for now is to drop the transmission pan, inspect for solids then change the fluid. Is ZF Lifeguard the preferred fluid? I use Redline on my E36 M3. If there is no sign of damage in the pan, should I get the TC replaced right away or wait to do a rebuilt transmission and TC at the same time? Will a transmission fluid change kit (with mechatronics) help the TC issue at all?

Im into he truck for $1850 so far and its drivable and meets all my needs

Previous Owner engine work performed by indy mechanic 2000 miles ago: $5500
  • Crankshaft Seals
  • Head Gasket
  • Cylinder Head Gaskets
  • Oil Pan Gasket
  • Upper Oil Pan Block Gasket
  • Crankcase Gasket
  • Crankcase Vent Hose
  • Breather Hose
  • Exhaust Manifold Gasket
  • Valley Pan Gasket
  • Cylinder Head Bolt Set
  • Water Pipe Repair Kit
  • Engine Motor Mounts
  • BMW Coolant
  • Liqui Molly 5w30
  • Oil Filter
  • Front Left/Right Axles
  • Air Filters
  • Cabin Filter
  • Radiator
  • Reinforcement Plate (protecting oil pan)
  • Wiper Blades

1997 E36 M3/4/5 Arctic Silver
2004 E53 X5 4.4i Titanium Silver
2006 E60 525i Black
2000 E39 540i Black Sapphire

Last edited by E36X5er; 05-12-2020 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virigina, USA
Posts: 2,259
StephenVA is on a distinguished road
Good buy!

2005 X5 4.8IS
The Blue ones are always FASTER....

Current Garage:
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2003 525iT
1998 528i
Former Garage Stable Highlights
2004 325XiT Sport
1973 De Tomaso Pantera, L Model
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp Alpine White
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1971 Dart Sport, “Dart Light” package
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1968 Ply Barracuda 340S FB Sea-foam Green
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Old 05-12-2020, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: SB / LA
Posts: 4
E36X5er is on a distinguished road
Thanks to these forums! I read so much on here before and after buying the truck. Has been truly tremendous.
1997 E36 M3/4/5 Arctic Silver
2004 E53 X5 4.4i Titanium Silver
2006 E60 525i Black
2000 E39 540i Black Sapphire
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:07 PM
haigha's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Machine
Posts: 1,256
haigha is on a distinguished road
Welcome aboard!

I have the basically the same X5, 04 4.4i TiAg Sport Package.

I and several others have used Valvoline MaxLife ATF. A lot less expensive than ZF. To do a full fluid change, you need to drain and fill three times. Make sure to read up on the procedure documented on the site. Especially starting it up after the initial fill and going through P-R-N-D and back, then topping it off.

I replaced my Nav screen with Chinese one from eBay for about $100. The viewing angle is wrong (even though the listing said e53 explicitly, it seems it was tuned for e39 which has a different viewing angle). The seller gave me a full refund so I decided to live with it since I don't drive it that often, usually once or twice a week. Others have gone with 3rd party Android units which have a lot more functionality. Easier for you because you don't have DSP.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:03 AM
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: SB / LA
Posts: 4
E36X5er is on a distinguished road
Thanks, gonna change the transmission fluid next weekend. I changed the plugs this weekend and the transmission is shifting so much better at low rpm / take offs. It’s only been 40 or so miles, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I haven’t ever driven an e53 prior to this and I’m not really sure how the transmission should feel. My e39 540 has a different transmission.

One thing, the throttle response seems a little off compared to the M62 engine. I’ll probably check for some vacuum leaks and search the forums. Not sure if it just isn’t intended to be as responsive.
1997 E36 M3/4/5 Arctic Silver
2004 E53 X5 4.4i Titanium Silver
2006 E60 525i Black
2000 E39 540i Black Sapphire
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:43 PM
upallnight's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Cook County
Posts: 6,736
upallnight is on a distinguished road
Look up posts by turquise1. He has a lot of posts and pictures of the 5HP24 trans. I'm in the "not going to fix a bad trans with a fluid change" group. No way to sugarcoat it, with that kind of mileage (171,000 miles) you need a trans rebuild.
2006 Infiniti G35
2001 BMW 3.0I E53 X5 Build date 08/2000 SOLD
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Lotus Type 52 1970 Twincam Webers Powered
PORSCHE 911 Targa 1982 The Garage Queen
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: SB / LA
Posts: 4
E36X5er is on a distinguished road
I agree with that for sure. No amount of trans fluid change is going to fix a bad transmission however I like to change all the fluids whenever I get a car, just to start fresh and get a look at what’s coming out. Definitely going to check out those posts ����
1997 E36 M3/4/5 Arctic Silver
2004 E53 X5 4.4i Titanium Silver
2006 E60 525i Black
2000 E39 540i Black Sapphire
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