BMW has made a bunch of awesome cars over the years. We can start throwing everything and anything from the E30 M3 to more modern versions at you to prove that point, but you already get the point. As far as 7-series go, we and many others, feel that one model tops the charts – the E38. BMW E38 problems are often used by its most vocal critics to elevate other 7-series cars. However, compared to other 7-series that came after it, those problems are usually not that bad. Today we’ll list 7 most common ones and show you how you can fix them fairly easily.
An Offer you Can’t Refuse
There’s something to older BMWs that makes them incredibly attractive in the sea of modern blandness. They were just made differently. The E38 has withstood the test of time design-wise quite well. The car not only looks good but the type of comfort that’s no longer available.
Best of all, these cars can be had for cheap now. A luxury sedan that used to cost over $70,000 when it was new can these days be yours for a symbolic price of around $5,000. However, that’s just the price of entry to this wild ride.
Despite BMW’s best efforts, nothing lasts forever. The same applies to the E38. As formidable as they are, these cars are starting to show signs of wear. If you know BMW, you know that any serious repairs can quickly add up to a lot.
Because of that, we’ve put together the 7 most common issues you might run into with these cars and how to fix them. If nothing else, this list should give you a good idea of whether an E38 is something you’d want to get into right now.
Since we’re just starting off the list, we might also cover the more serious issues first. ABS unit failure a common thing on these cars as they get older. It’s a problem that plagues all trims and versions built past 1987.
The failure is generally associated with the BOSCH control rig attached to the ABS/DSC unit. To fix this, you’ll need to get a new assembly or a good used one. While you’re at it, you might as well break down the ABS module and overhaul it using a repair kit.
Notorious Steering Wobble
By order of magnitude, the next issue is the notorious steering and suspension wobble that gradually appears over time. You’ll first notice it when you hit the brakes, but the longer the issue persists, the more obvious it will get.
What causes the wobble is the wear and tear of all suspension/steering components. We’re talking about all kinds of bushings, control arms, drag links, etc. Fortunately, there’s decent aftermarket support for these parts, which allows you to take care of the problem fairly easily, given that you address it on time.
Transmission Fluid Flush
BMW was one of many brands that started marketing lifetime transmission fluids in their cars. The same applied to E38s. Naturally, there’s no such thing as a lifetime fluid since every lubricant loses its properties over time.
If you get your hands on an E38, make sure to do a full flush that includes new transmission fluid as well as a new filter. We offer a complete kit, H2522XKIT, that covers the seals and filters. Use D4 ATF fluid for the flush, and you should be good to go.
Mass Air Flow Sensor
Mass Air Flow sensors or MAFs can be the cause of so many unusual engine issues. Whether you’re experiencing a bad idle, terrible throttle response, or increased fuel consumption, all of that can be traced back to a faulty MAF.
What causes this is either a dirty sensor or a faulty one. If it’s just dirty, you can get a can of MAF cleaner spray and give it a good bath. That’s usually enough to get the job done. Now, if the sensor is dead, you’ll need a replacement.
Not all sensors are the same across the E38 range of engines. Most of them use part number 13621433567, while the V12 version runs the 13621736224 sensors. We offer both Genuine like the one shown in the link and BOSCH OEM part.
The Power Steering Filter
Replacing the filter in your power steering system is one thing that many overlook when it comes to maintenance.
The tricky thing about this filter is the fact that it’s an integral part of the reservoir, meaning that they need to be changed together. Since BMW had used several versions of this assembly in different engines, make sure to check which one fits your car.
Heater Control Valves
Older BMWs are notoriously plagued with heater control valve issues. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if it’s a base model 3-series or a stacked 7-series – the problem persists.
Once the heater control valve goes, you might experience intermittent heating inside the passenger cabin or a complete lack thereof. The only fix is to replace the affected parts.
Cooling System Failure
Crappy cooling system components seem to be at the core of BMW’s DNA. You’d think it’s just an issue with older Beemers, but you’ve got the same problems on the E46 as well as E90 and later models.
As far as E38s goes, it’s packed with plastic hoses and another plastic component that crack and become brittle over time. That’s no bueno for a car that’s had nearly 40 years of exploitation. You’re most likely looking at a new set of hoses, new radiator, and a new expansion tank to stay on the safe side.
Among the last things we’ll throw on this list are lift or jack blocks. Despite being such an insignificant component in the grand scheme of things, the lack of lift blocks can cause issues during these vehicles’ maintenance. For one, they protect the chassis from being damaged or scratched up.
Additionally, the lack of jack blocks can cause this incredible annoying sound when the car gets up to speed. As you speed up, the air gets sucked into the holes where the centre stud of the block goes, causing the vehicle to whistle. Getting new blocks part number 51717001650 is a small price to pay for fixing this annoying issue.
Use Quality Parts Only
If there’s one thing you can do, or more accurately, one philosophy you can adopt that will make your life easier as an E38 owner is to use quality parts. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches that way. Here at eEuroparts.com, we offer one of the largest catalogs of genuine, OEM, and aftermarket parts for BMW vehicles, including the E38.
To find the parts you’re looking for, head over to our online store, input your car’s details into our navigation tool, and you’ll get a list of products that match. You can also use our VIN tool and get more accurate results that way.
Feel free to get in touch with our customer support service if you’ve got questions regarding specific products in our offer. Our staff is standing by to offer assistance.