BMW F11 535i: 3 Years of Ownership

Discussion in '5 Series' started by Peter, Sep 16, 2015.

  1. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    As promised, a review for three years of ownership. First point, the time has really gone quickly; hard to believe I’ve had the 535i for that long.

    History

    BMW F11 535i M-sport Touring, Sophisto Grey II, Cinnamon leather/trim.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Genuine EX BMW HQ car (one director user), bought at 15 months old with 5,900 recorded miles. Decent specification including Sport Automatic Transmission, Adaptive Drive, Adaptive lights including HBA, HUD plus speed recognition. Professional media with all the extra bits, including Internet, plus Hi-Fi speakers and DAB. Panoramic roof, Comfort Access, full electric and heated front seats. Reversing camera, Surround View cameras, folding and auto dipping mirrors, auto closing tailgate.

    [​IMG]

    Driving

    To save me rambling over much of the driving experience, I posted my initial thoughts on the car when getting it, in the forum topic “BMW 535i Touring First Impressions”. Those initial impressions have not in any way diminished with time and ownership, in fact the depth of the car’s abilities are even more fixed in my mind and appreciation for the car.

    http://www.bmwlander.co.uk/index.php?threads/bmw-535i-touring-first-impressions.270/

    I still enjoy every mile I drive, even though the car has not been without issues over the period. Just to go out and drive is a rewarding experience, says a lot for what this car offers. The cabin is so well laid out and the ambience it genuinely oozes, rewards in all driving conditions. Night time driving is a very pleasant experience, both from a driving perspective with adaptive lights, to the way the instrumentation is backlit and the user friendly cabin comfort is topped off with ‘mood’ lighting.

    I have a sneaky respect for the car which even the E39 540i didn’t quite achieve, even though it was a superb vehicle. The F11 535i is (to me) more than the sum of the parts, the whole package just feels so right. Straight six peachy engine, silky smooth gearbox, ability to tune the chassis to my mood or needs. Plus all the driver aids, features, functions and options, all enhance the package, rewarding the driver and passengers. I often reflect as I drive, both locally and out on decent runs, (like my trips to Wiltshire), what could I replace this car with, which would be better for what I want from a car? A hard question to answer, unless I opt for an M5. ;)

    I have to specifically comment on AD (Adaptive Drive), for me it is the star of all the options. The ability to switch the suspension setting for road condition, whether I’m carrying load and/or passengers and my own driving mood. ARS (Active Roll Stabilization) is a masterpiece in keeping the body flat, even when running in the Comfort mode. This translates to making the car feel much smaller and more agile. I typically use the ‘middle’ Normal mode, as I feel it is pitched just right for day to day driving. Having the ability to have more comfort on a long cruise, or a more sporty setting when desired, give me exactly what I want from a chassis.

    There has been much criticism of the F10/11 steering, I find it accurate and well weighted, (Sport mode adds heft). I’ve mentioned before it does have a tendency to feel a bit vague mid position, much of this is tyre related, pressures need to be watched and wear patterns do add to the loss of mid centre feel.

    Cameras are not a gimmick, reversing is aided by using the grid and turning lines. Used well, helps position the car perfectly each time in parallel parking. “Bird’s eye” view is a superb aid to tight parking spaces, second set of eyes for correct positioning. Both camera systems help shrink the car when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

    So what of the ownership experience?

    To set the scene, we bought into this vehicle with eyes wide open, not expecting cheap motoring, even with buying nearly new and saving around 40% on new list price. The intention is to run it with full BMW support, so now run under the extended warranty. I’ve a service pack (goodwill by BMW for the engine issue at purchase), so have servicing covered until September 2017. Servicing already costed as past the £1,000 mark, makes it a good deal for the average user.

    When purchased the car I took out GAP insurance for 3-years, particularly as I bought at a good price and the car is well specified, would be hard to find another at the same cost if the worst happened. Also took out tyre insurance which covers both wheel sets with ‘star approved’ tyre replacements. All this has bumped up the running costs a little, but for both myself and my wife “peace of mind” are key requirements for running any car up here in the Highlands.

    The car does like garage visits, more than I had hoped for, I’ve made seven trips to Perth. Besides the scheduled service visits for which we did manage to get CBS requirements tied together, I’ve made visits due to running issues. After about a year I did have a slight oil weep due to the initial engine work, for which a new top cover gasket was fitted. Car required an overnight stay, to ensure a 100% fix, so a hire car was required. Turned into a 3-day hire due to my personal circumstances.

    I’ve had a recall for a VANOS modification, fortunately it coincided with the mouse damage (ate through a wire) which cut off the oil level sensor function, so I combined the two issues. The car had to go back to the garage for an emission light after the work. As it couldn’t be directly identified as a result of the mouse damage (all worked correctly when I left the garage) or the recall work, diagnostic time (several hours) and the new component went through the extended warranty with me paying my £100 excess. Was identified as a power control/distribution module which had internally fused.

    Then of course the battery drain and Comfort Access fault, which resulted (after BMW ES and garage advice), in a recovery to Inverness and into a hire car. The garage identified a door handle sensor short circuit and temporarily disabled the system. I had the car back, as a new colour coded handle was a long back order item (up to 4 weeks). Finally had the new handle fitted just this week.

    (As a side issue, BMW ES still have issues with their outsourcing companies in securing a hire car in the promised time frame. We had a call from BMW ES to see how the experience went, my wife answered the call and due to her expressing the lack of premium service, a service manager phoned from Enterprise to set up a time to discuss the whole situation. We had a very constructive conversation (they recognise they have issues in remote areas and have pressure to get it running more efficiently). We got to the heart of what goes wrong and was able to make some suggestions on how they can improve their communications. I was sent a cheque as compensation, plus I was assured the content of the conversation would go higher up in the company, as my experience was not an isolated case).

    I’ve made one small adjustment to the steering settings, I remember posting on BMWLand, describing how I re-centred the steering wheel by adjusting the track rod ends by 15 thou’ (one in, one out). I’m not sure why the slight drift occurred, but having recently had new tyres fitted on the summer set (originals covered over 20,000 miles) and finding a wheel very slightly buckled, wondered if it could be related. But the steering wheel went off centre while on the winter wheel set, so no answer to that one to be honest. Steering wheel is now perfectly centred and has stayed as such since March.

    With a brake bias to the rear wheels on the F11, I do have issues with front disc corrosion, due to my use and hardly any heavy braking in normal driving. This is a bit of a pain, and to save needing discs every couple of years (regardless of mileage) the discs need cleaning up on each change of wheel set. This issue is not unique to the F11, many of us up here have similar issues and many brakes get replaced prematurely due to disc corrosion.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A further brake issue, the rear pad wear showed as requiring new pads in 3,000 miles back in June, when the car was serviced. Clearly the countdown was in error as there was around 9mm of pad thickness. The garage reset the CBS and now running at over 30,000 miles to change time.

    Winter tyres have about 6mm of tread, so hope for two more winter seasons before requiring new rubber.

    [​IMG]

    Now to costs of ownership


    Driving low annual mileage in something like an F11 is never going to be typical pence per mile running costs. But put the car into context, a loaded 535i which had a sticker price of around £60k in 2011, it is it worth the actual cost, IMO. The reality, depreciation was over £4 per mile driven (against list) before I even bought it. So buying nearly new has really made it much more reasonable cost to run. Total costs everything included, bring it to around 115 pence per mile, but that does allow some expenditure £1,500 ( percentage of warranty, tyres, road tax, insurance) to be amortised over the next few months. I’ve looked at valuations and it appears reasonable to get about £20k as a trade in, so I’ve based figures on that assumption. Car is worth more to me, as replacing for a similar car will be difficult and likely very expensive.

    The figures work out at 70ppm for depreciation, 7ppm for self-financing, 18ppm for fuel, and 20ppm for running costs. Giving me the total of 115ppm. Putting it another way, the car costs about £750 a month to own and run. Fuel consumption is running at 30.8mpg over the total mileage of just under 23,000 miles. For comparison and/or reference the E91 330d cost 100ppm for the first three years and 34,400 miles.

    Overall Experience

    I’ve remarked a few times about the size of the car, I’d personally like something a bit smaller, but the 3-series just doesn’t get close to the qualities I really appreciate in a BMW. I’ve tried with a 3-series, but for me the 5-series is 'the' BMW which hits the right spot.

    [​IMG]

    I really appreciate the blend of characteristics in this particular model and the way it works as a package. Options add to the way it rewards, no doubt about it in my mind, also allows for different driving personalities.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As the car is still less than 29,000 miles, there is no need to even think of changing, therefore I look forward to many more miles in this vehicle, hopefully they will be as rewarding as the miles I’ve already enjoyed.

    Thanks for reading, hope it reflects a realistic account of ownership.

    Peter
     
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    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  2. Chris.T
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    Chris.T

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    Great write up and some good pictures also
     
  3. kleynie
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    kleynie WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Peter, I see you seem to have accepted the vague steering. I'm still struggling to come to terms with mine.
    Have you ever actually managed to use the internet option up there. Mine is so slow it's useless, and I'm on the outskirts of London.
    I don't have surround view but do have the rear camera, but I rarely use it as you describe, probably due to being taught to use my mirrors. Maybe I should try the camera.
     
  4. slim_boy_fat
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    slim_boy_fat WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Thanks, Peter - another comprehensive report. (y)
     
  5. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Internet option first of all. I've tried it but it was slow, so with renewing connected services this week have not opted for the extra cost to use the internet connection.

    Now the steering. Remember I had an E39 540i with a steering box, so lived with a slight lack of mid precision for over 4-years. Was not an issue, once the brain adapts, you don't even think about it. Even my E91 was not that special to be honest, tyres and pressures made a great difference to how precise and immediate the steering felt. Whether you remember my comments or not, I posted that on occasion the steering felt loose, to the point the garage checked it out and I did myself twice.

    My first drive in an F10... my comment.

    Steering did seem a bit light, but well connected. But once on the motorway I started sensing the steering was not as precise as I’d choose, in fact over some road imperfections it seemed to go a little vague in mid position, also some vibration was coming back through the wheel, but not matching the road. “I’ve been here before”… some frequencies just don’t cancel out, but get amplified. It becomes clear the steering is not a good as I’d hoped.

    Second example....

    The ride was more composed, the steering was meaty and precise, I hadn’t even started playing with the sport settings. Once on the M90 it was clear this car was riding far superior to the 530d, push the ‘first’ sport setting and the car just went, even more composed, was taking the road surface imperfections so much better. The ride was slightly more firm on the normal setting, than the first car, but so much more BMW. It thumped out the bumps and ridges without any weird feedback, the steering never had any vagueness at all. In sport setting even better.....

    Third example was similar to the second, forth example (a new F11) was vague and required correction on the motorway, clearly different examples do vary in steering responses. My car, the steering is precise, no looseness, just that initial vague feel that it should respond with less movement, mid centre. It is very similar to the E39 540i. The weighting is fine, slightly less than the 330d when in normal mode, very similar to the 330d when in sport mode. The car tracks perfectly straight, hold its course and doesn't need corrections. No issues at all off centre, so not a big issue and I don't really think about it.


    But what I do note; setting tyre pressures are key to the best steering feel. I run my front tyre pressures a bit higher than listed for normal use, (2.4bar vs. 2.2bar) both for balance of tyre wear and to lessen the (road) corruption from running a lower cold setting pressure.

    Peter
     
  6. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Forgot to comment on the rear-view/ reversing camera.

    I didn't think I'd use it as much as I do. I experimented a bit, got to understand them, as I was intrigued by how accurate the guide lines are, particularly the red 'turning circle' lines. I reverse parallel park in a tight space many times when visiting my mother, follow the guides and place the inner one to the kerb as I swing in and the car is placed about 150mm from the kerb... every time.

    Don't underestimate the effectiveness of the 'driving lane' guides for reversing into car park spaces, definitely aid the manoeuvre.

    Peter
     
  7. snrbrtsn
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    snrbrtsn WARLORD Site Supporter

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    A very in depth and thorough write up! With quite astronomical monthly true costs that we seldom fully evaluate or appreciate, I'd hate to do similar and probably best not doing the sums

    I get what Ian says about the steering vagueness and thought it was a function of the higher car profile (in the F07), whilst fully endorse tyre pressure sensitivity, perhaps worth playing with.

    Reverse camera takes a lot of faith as you rightfully say, though once the faith is placed, you'll play havoc with anything else!

    As read you still have ownership elation as delivered from the F11, I'm sure it shall provide years of service yet!
     
  8. The CO
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    The CO Admin

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    Cracking thread Peter!
     
  9. Verbarthe
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    Verbarthe WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Excellent write up Peter.
     
  10. rigeng
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    rigeng

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    Excellent read Peter, though I must admit I only glanced over the monthly running costs and will have no recollection of them in the morning.....:D
     
  11. E39mad
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    E39mad

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    A great read Peter - thanks.

    I keep looking at petrol six F11's as my mileage is about to drop well below 8000 miles pa - the cost to change even though it would only be second hand is putting me off at the moment.
     
  12. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Many of us dodge what we spend on motoring by not calculating the real costs. ;) If we look at CAP figures or similar running cost sites, there is no way of getting around the reality if we run anything decent. Many of us spend £700 - £800 (or more) per month running used cars.

    Peter
     
  13. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Thanks for all the kind comments, makes the time spent writing it up worth while.

    Peter
     
  14. Harry
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    Harry

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    Thanks for taking the time Peter. I really enjoyed reading your report.

    I think particular praise is in order for keeping it so clean! That's a nightmare colour to keep tip top and would drive me mad.

    After the 540 you may have thought it would be mostly down hill so it's a good result to have found two such cars with only a one car gap between them.

    One sentence in particular resonated here. Only viable improvement would be along the lines of an M5. Yeah, funny you should say that....
     
  15. Jonathan Taylor
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    Jonathan Taylor

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    Just a brief note of appreciation, Peter. We had several interesting debates many years ago on bmwland [ subject: 'sweet spot' for E46 mpg at 75mph] and I always find your posts to be of great interest.
    Me? I've now got an E91LCi 2010 320d with 180,000 miles on it [ I do like my miles...!!] but currently have DPF 'issues'. Still on the original clutch, though...

    All the best

    Jonathan
     
  16. Spuffington
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    Spuffington Moderator WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Thanks Peter. Somewhat late to comment on this, but really enjoyed reading it and it's this kind of resource which made BMWLand so popular and what will make BMWLänder a superb resource going forwards too.

    You know, I too, am a stickler for running reports and costs. Although I used to have sufficient money to worry about what they were costing, it was always important to budget and then compare budget with actuals. No matter how many times one does it, it never ceased to amaze me just how much money was being spent on owning/running the cars I wanted. Now priorities have changed, I will be firmly in the more budget motoring for a few years to come. But I do hope the stars align at the time where my budget improves and your desire to move to a newer car comes so that I can continue your running reports! ;)

    And another compliment on keeping it clean - I know how difficult it is to do so anyway, but no less so when you live where you do. I know just a few miles spent up at my Uncle's has me reaching for the hose pipe....
     
  17. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    As some of you know the colour (exterior and interior) was not my first choice, something had to give to get the specification I was after. There was no way I would buy new (in this model range) to get the perfect choice. As the total costs show, we are still paying a high ppm even with escaping a much bigger hit on depreciation. Whatever would costs for a new car be like, at my annual mileage?

    I've never been in favour of dark colours, as cleaning is a nightmare, as we know. Yes it does need extra cleaning to keep it looking good. At least it is easy in my situation as the car is on the property, all the gear is at hand to give it a quick or more intense clean.

    Something like space grey would work best up here, more serviceable in reality. I've run white cars in the past (down south), but don't think it is the best colour for up here, or for a 5-series for that matter.

    I have grown to like the colour/trim combination. It does look classy, particularly on a sunny day when the Sophisto Grey comes alive. The cinnamon interior works as well, the colour is part of what makes it so good and warm feeling, especially under ambience lighting.

    Peter
     
  18. verysideways
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    verysideways

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    Fingers crossed the car continues to live up to expectations - and mine does too!
     
  19. Merc? No. BM!
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    Merc? No. BM! WARLORD Site Supporter

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    The combo certainly does look classy. I used to be unsure about cinnamon, being brownish, but am really starting to like it. At least it looks great in your car.

    Perhaps there is a slight fear that it's unusual and therefore it might be harder to sell on when the time comes.

    But if we would all consider that too much, I guess the roads would look rather duller since we would all buy similar looking cars...
     
  20. 21qazxsw
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    21qazxsw

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    Nice write up, thanks. Nice pics too, great scenery where you are!
     

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