Last updated December 16, 2001 - recent updates in RED.

What have members of the E34 530i/540i Mailing List experienced with their cars?

Below are the details of two surveys, the most recent first, and a previous survey, second.

Survey 2

The following survey is in-process, and contains information from members of the E34 530i/540i mailing list gathered staring in late November, 2001 - December, 2001. As Larry receives additional information we'll add it to this summary.

BMW Nikasil V8 Longevity Data
Compiled by Larry -
Revised: 12/15/01a
Tranny Tests Passed
Year Model Miles Status Auto Manual Idle Comp. Leakdown Home State Comments
1996 530 11,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested Indonesia Very smooth and strong
1994 540 20,000 Repl. Y untested untested untested WA Now at 55k with new motor, driven soft
1994 530 28,000 Repl. Y n/a n/a failed MA Replaced block, driven aggressively
1994 540 30,000 Repl. failed Replaced with another Nikasil
1994 530 35,000 Repl. Y Failed NC Now at 153K w/ Alusil block
1995 540 36,000 Repl. Y n/a n/a failed Ontario, Alberta Replaced block, drove hard, 35K on Alusil so far
1994 530 37,000 Repl. Y Failed NJ Now at 78K w/ Alusil block
1994 530 37,000 Repl. Y Failed CT Now at 79K w/ Alusil block
1995 530 47,000 Orig. Y Passed Passed untested CT Driven firmly, high octane only
1995 540 48,000 Repl. Y n/a n/a failed WA First 40K driven hard, fine, then soft, boom.
1994 530 49,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested CA Pulls strong
1995 540 49,637 Orig. Y Failed Failed n/a VA mostly Replaced
1995 530 50,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested Indonesia Smooth as glass
1995 540 52,000 Repl. Y Failed Failed failed TX,IL,MI Driven moderately, but 3 track events
1995 540 56,000 Orig. Y Passed Passed Passed CO Driven moderately hard
1995 540 56,000 Orig. Y Passed CA Was driven soft, now will be hard
1995 540 57,000 Repl. Y Passed Failed skipped CA Now at 92K w/ Alusil block
1995 530 62,000 Repl. Y failed So CA Driven hard. "Smooth, but a few electric problems"
1995 540 63,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested Quebec Now at 71K w/ Alusil block
1994 530iT 63,000 Repl. Y failed CA now Soon to be tested. Not driven hard.
1995 530 64,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested CA New Nikasil, still running strong
1994 540 67,000 Orig. untested untested untested Smooth as silk. Driven hard.
1994 530iT 69,000 Orig. Y FL So far, so good
1994 530 70,000 Orig. Y Hard.
1995 530 70,000 Repl. Y failed "Car runs excellent"
1995 540 74,000 Orig. Y Passed TX, CA
1994 530 75,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested FL Now at 103K, driven soft
1994 530 76,000 Repl. Y LA Lively, not hard
1995 540 77,400 Repl. Y Failed failed TX Fine so far.
540 80,000 Orig. SC, then CA Now at 109K with new motor
1995 540 80,200 Repl. Y failed NY
1995 530 82,000 Repl. Y untested untested untested MI
1994 540 89,000 Repl. Y failed CA, MA Driven hard lately. ;)
1995 540 89,000 Orig. Y CA Has "phantom revving" problem
1995 540 90,000 Repl. Y untested untested untested NY "Runs great so far.", driven hard
1994 530 95,000 Repl. Y Failed GA New purchase, just tested, BMW not helping
1994 530 96,000 Orig. Y Passed TX, FL, MN
1994 540 96,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested FL Driven hard. Engine runs perfectly.
1994 530 104,000 Orig. Y Passed Passed Passed PA Smooth as glass
1994 530 104,000 Orig. Y Passed CA Seems fine, driven moderately hard
1994 530 110,000 Orig. Y untested untested failed TX Driven hard. "Smooth, but leaked oil like a bubbling pot"
1995 530 112,000 Orig. Y Passed Passed PA Driven hard, drives great
1995 540 117,000 Orig. Y Passed Passed untested So Cal, WA Lots of power, no oil use
1995 540 120,000 Repl. Y failed MI, GA Now at 60K w/ Alusil, driven firmly
1995 540 120,000 Repl. UK Now at 87K w/ Alusil
1995 540 124,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested Atlanta, GA 1 of 3!
1994 530iT 127,500 Orig. Y untested untested untested Wn DC 2 of 3! Driven easy
1994 530 138,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested TX 3 of 3! Driven Moderately
1995 530 145,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested OH, then MD
1994 530 178,000 Orig. Y untested untested untested Dallas, TX


  1. This is an informal collection of experience from BMW owners, and mirrors the content of owner's statements
  2. Most data are from inclusions in the, some from private correspondence
  3. "Home State" refers to the present location, or where most miles were logged
  4. "Idle" test is BMW's Idle Quality test, scoring from 5.0 (perfect) on down.
  5. "Comp." is BMW's inferred compression test, calculated from measuring the current drain during cranking. Perfect score is 2.0.

Survey 1

Completed sometime in 1999 - not really sure. From a total of 26 cars (number of owners who responded to a request for this information):

- 11 had failed the M60 Engine Test and had new blocks installed by their dealer
- 10 had not yet had their cars tested at the dealer
- 5 had their cars tested at the dealer and passed the test
Owner's Name State Mileage LeakDown Test Status / Results Comments
Paul Amodei CA   Failed "530ia 62,200 miles California car since birth. Passed idle quality and pressure distribution at first dealer (no leakdown performed)Passed idle and pressure at second dealer, failed one cylinder on leakdown. "
Paul Briggs TX 40,000 Failed 1995 540i 6spd, bought in March 1998 & short block replaced at 33,000 miles, car was delivered in 8/94, but is '95 model year.  Prior to purchase, the John Roberts BMW in Dallas replaced the short block after I, and an independent mechanic (Louden Motorcars, Dallas), said the engine was idling rough.  I told them, quite honestly, that my 10 year old Taurus SHO ran better than the 95 540i before the block replacement.   I did not know about thespecific tests at the time, but they replaced the block before I actually bought the car -- the purchase was about a 6 week process, with the engine and other issues.
Ken Check CA 56,000 Passed 530i /w clutch The inservice date is 8/93. The car has been in California since it came from Germany. The leakdown on all cylinders are between 8 and 10%. The car idles extremely well. 
Jim Smith CA 38,000 See Comments "530i/a is a 94 model built 5/93 and was delivered to me 5/31/93 by Freeland motors in Ft Meyers Fl. The thermostat and eprom recall associated with the nickasil engine problem was done in early '95. A leakdown test was performed at Leakdown Test 1999 on 4/25/99 with three cylinders on the left bank failing the test. A leakdown test by a BMW dealer for verification has notbeen done yet. Engine idle still is quite smooth."
Gary Rose MA 39,000 Passed 95 w/ 39k passed w/ flying colors. Been in Massachusetts since 12/95 in-service date.
Dan Masucci TX 38,900 Failed 94 530i/5: Texas car until 1-year ago; Engine replaced at 38,900 miles in Texas
    72,000 Failed 94 540i/A: Car in Denver until 14 months ago; Engine being replaced now @72,000 miles. Damage done in Colorado, not here in CA
Dave Cohen FL   Upcoming Test  
Dana White CA 68,000 Failed passed (nay!) at approx. 50K miles, w/one cylinder at 15%.Failed (yay!) at 68K miles
Brent Herridge TX 70,000 Failed Car spent most of it's life in AR, then about a year or less in OH. I failed with unspecified leakdown % after my 1st request for the test. No prereq tests were mentioned by the dealer since I specifically asked for the leakdown. Idle was slightly rough before and is smoother now.
John Dilzell NJ 37,000 Failed NJ car replaced at 37,000mi
Stewart Squires CO 49,000 Failed passed once, failed once, replaced 49,000 miles, April 99 - Colorado car in Colorado
Charles Scott NY 74,000 Passed Original NJ car till lives in NY with owner w/ 74k
Keith Malatesta MA 52,000 Not Tested CT car until 51k now MA car with 54k Very Smooth Idle.
Vivek G. OH 91,000 Failed "Cincinnati area since new and the engine was replaced at TheBMW Store in Cinti twice.Once at 60,000 miles w/another Nikasil when the car was with the firstowner and recently at 91,000 w/an alusil block."
Zandr Milewski CA 62,000 Failed "95 540i/6 Built 2/95, Date in Service: 3/30/95. Stamps in the service book from PDI to 55k miles are from Crown BMW, Tulsa, OK.Recall/Update (eeprom, etc) history unknown...should probably call BMWNA. Purchased from Stevens Creek BMW, Santa Clara, CA: 2/99 w/ 58.5k miles. Mileage at LeakFest '99 ~62k Idle has noticeable lope, especially when cold, but nothing that would beout of the ordinary for Detroit Iron of equivalent displacement/output. "
Richard Brodehl FL 41,000 Failed 94 530 iT, 50,000 mi , sharked and alusil at 41,000 (oct 98) Florida its whole existence.
John Herman HI 42,000 Not Tested 94 530ia Car in Hawaii all its life. Some idle problems when warm. Extended warranty expires Aug 2000 so I'll need to test soon.
Dan Flenniken CO 50,000 Not Tested 1995 530ia Sharked Nikasil block Car spent its life (except from July 1998 present) in Chicago area Car runs great but I will begin testing procedure during next scheduled maintenance.
Rich Hafner IL 80,000 Not Tested 1994 540i 80,000 with the old block. I have till the end of may 1999 on my warranty and just today I noticed vibration at idle. I am calling for an appointment today
Ed Elskamp WI 85,000 Not Tested 1994 530i/clutch (in-service date 6/93) Mileage : 85,000 block: Nikasil Location: Wisconsin M-60 test scheduled for 5/8/99
Bruce Montgomery MD 72,000 Not Tested Plan to test at next maintenance interval (in next 3-4 months)
Eric Hancock CA 77,000 Passed 94 530ia Sterling in Newport Beach performed the test last Wednesday and unfortunately my block past with flying colors. The service advisors name was Richard and he showed me a print out of the test that looked like Greek to me. The report was a bar graph with a bar for each cylinder. At the top of the scale was the number 215, and was informed that at 185 that cylinder failed. The numbers for my block ran between 200 and 196. Richard told me that the engine was almost as fresh as a new one. Iíll have to take on his word as I donít know how to interpret the report. Iím pretty sure he didnít lead me astray, and the faculties there are really impressive and the entire dealers attitude was professional and sensed a true desire to satisfy the customers needs.
Joe Grunkemeyer GA 97,000 Not Tested 93 530i, 5-speed, 97,000, origional engine that idles fine.
David Chen CAN 65,000 Failed 1995 M540i 1st 2500 miles at BMW Canada (Toronto, ON), next 33K miles in Calgary/Banff, Alberta. Miles: rough idle began at 30K miles, leakdown test passed. re-tested at 36K miles because car was visibly shaking at idle, leakdown test failed, block replaced in 11/97. now at 65K miles with no problems.
Steve Tribble MO 91,000 Passed 94 530iA, tested at 91,000 miles. West County BMW, St. Louis, MO said it passed. May be taking it to Bluegrass BMW in Paduca, KY
Chuck Schrad NE 37,000 Not Tested 1994 530iA Original block Omaha Nebraska car - 2nd owner