Whoever invented the insult “is that thing on your neck a face or a butt?” was most likely thinking of the BMW 7 Series E65. BMW E65, the most hated modern BMW until the M4 arrived.
I have a feeling I’m going to get some kicks out of this article. The BMW 7 Series E65 has so many issues and has gotten so much hate that Gordon Ramsay himself calls him and asks for advice on how to generate so much hate. On the one hand, there are those who criticize the design and especially the butt, the BMW 7 Series E65 is famous outside as the “Bangle Butt” model, named after the designer Chris Bangle who also designed the Fiat Panda and was BMW’s lead designer from 1999 to 2009. Personally, I like the look.
What gives me trouble at night though are the hemorrhoids….sorry...the fact that the BMW 7 Series E65 has become a disposable limousine. It depreciated heavily due to the controversial looks and so it was purchased by all sorts of people who didn’t buy a 7 Series for any other reason than to show off. Most of them however either didn’t have the money for maintenance or didn’t care so they sold them at the first major repair and so the E65 7 Series passed on from owner to owner, even more than the knives and swords these distinguished gentlemen owners were passing from one to another, usually via stomach or leg or any area of the body really. And so most of the cars ended up, quite rightly, at the junkyard. What people don’t understand is that you can buy a 7 Series for 3000 euros, but the maintenance is still the same as when it was new and cost 99000 euros. Sure, you can do like most people and buy your brakes and oil from breakers, but is that how far you really are willing to go just for the sake of sort-of-rich image?
BMW 7 Series E65 Engines
- 3.0 l-6 of 231 and 258 horsepower – M54 engine until 2005 with 231 horsepower. That’s the one you want. The other one you don’t want because it’s part of the generation of engines with the timing chains sitting at the back of the engine (engine has to come out for a replacement) and it’s complementary issues with that timing. Also, the M54 tends to chugg down oil, but it’s really nothing compared to it’s succesor.
- 3.6 V8 of 272 horsepower – We have the smallest V8 N62 on the list and this is where the disaster begins. But I’ll talk at the final station about the issues with this engine.
- 4.0 V8 of 306 horsepower – We’re still at the N62 but we’re not quite there yet. We’ve got a little more pedaling to do.
- 4.4 V8 of 333 horsepower – This isn’t the end of the line either but you’ve probably heard/read about this abomination of an engine that has done serious damage to the Range Rover, X5, 5-Series, and more god-awful stuff.
- 4.8 V8 of 367 horsepower – Finally, top of the line for the N62 disaster, stopping at the 750i. Let’s take a deep breath and get started. VANOS, oil leaks, oil pan gasket, coolant pipe that runs under the engine and the intake manifold need to be removed, water pump, oil pump, alternator, and valve block. You know what, I will just write “everything” and leave it in bold so that you won’t bother with that list.
- 6.0 V12 of 445 horsepower – Same issues with the coolant pipes and alternator but also the high-pressure pump. But at least at this power, these issues are no longer relevant.
- 3.0 l-6 of 215 and 228 hp – Fortunately we only have the M57 engine, which is only famous for swirl flap issues. Unfortunately, on the BMW 7 Series E65 as well as the X5 E70 the engine is notorious for the way it operates, with many owners choosing to give it the beans from start to stop and this quickly puts the engine on it’s death bed. And because it’s full of BMWs in the scrapyards and especially M57s, it’s often cheaper to buy a new engine from the breakers than to repair the existing one. And when that engine dies, you buy another one. And so on.
- 4.0 V8 of 255 horsepower – Fortunately here too we have the ancient M67 and that’s probably the most reliable engine in the BMW 7 Series E65, that and the petrol M54. Beware though that this engine has no business being in town so buy it for the long drive only.
- 4.4 V8 with 295 and 325 horsepower – In 2005 BMW engineers thought the 4.0 V8 was too small so they enlarged it to a 4.4. Reliable as ill-suited to city driving. Still delicious though.
BMW 7 Series E65 General Issues
- The iDrive system is in its infancy here on the 7 Series E65 so it’s not the most intuitive or reliable unit possible but you’ll probably get used to it eventually.
- ZF automatic transmissions are labeled “Sealed for Life” which is true if you look at it from a first-time buyer’s perspective. The car has a 100,000 km warranty and the first oil change is at 150,000 km, then every 60,000 km. But if you’re not a first-time buyer, you might want to change the oil.
- Most of them are in deplorable condition so you’ll have to search long and hard until you find a decent model that won’t break down at the first touch of the steering wheel. Most of the time you will buy what is left out of an 7 Series.
- This 7 Series came packed with a lot of technology and is a very complicated and difficult car to repair. Plus this is one of the least reliable BMWs in recent history so I hope you’re awake when you sign the purchase contract.
BMW 7 Series E65 Verdict
The BMW 7 Series E65 had a very tough job and remained a middle child, unloved. On the one hand, it had to replace the famous E38, arguably the best car ever built by BMW, and on the other it was totally overshadowed by its F01 successor. But that also means it’s one of the cheapest limousines you can buy. Is it worth it instead? Maybe it’s worth it to buy it and keep it for 1 year or keep it until you get your hand through the bodywork, but as a 3-4 year keeper, I’d have to give it a solid “No”.
What engines do you recommend? For petrol, the clear 3.0 l-6 M54 of 231 horsepower, and for diesel, the 740d 4.0 V8 255hp should be just right.