Headache #2: 1995 BMW 540i

The first thing written in my dayplanner for today is: Pump up the left rear tire on Headache #2.

Headache #2 is the second of ten self-inflicted, yet somewhat painless, headaches I’ve lived with for years. Some for decades. (See Headache #1 here.)

During 29 years of ownership, Headache #2, a virtually mint 1995 BMW 540i, has been a trouble-free car. That might be expected since it’s only been driven 63,000 kilometres, has never been out in winter and has been fussed over by me all that time.

Heck, I don’t think it’s ever sat outside for a night. It makes no sense, but that’s how the bad-ass, black-on-black BMW has lived.

 

1995 BMW 540i
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

It’s a fun car to drive with a 4.0-litre V8 mated to a slick six-speed manual transmission. That gear box came with a slew of other goodies as it should have. The six-speed manual and its package of sport seats, special wheels and suspension tweaks was a $17,000 option.

 

1995 BMW 540i

 

That pushed the sticker price to $72,000 1995 dollars. No wonder I babied it all those years.

 

Inside the 1995 BMW 540i

 

The sleek black 1995 BMW 540i sedan is immaculate in and out but, without use over the past few years, a few problems have blossomed into Headache #2.

 

1995 BMW 540i

 

Let’s start with the tires, Michelin Pilots. Up front, 235s. At the rear, 265s on wider rims. Those tires are now 27 years old, half worn, with flat spots from sitting so long so many times. When I replaced the tires in 1997, I upsized the rears from 255s to 265s. That additional single centimetre resulted in a slight deterioration in handling if the pressures are not exactly to spec.

So, what to do when it’s time for new boots for the Bimmer? Go for the wider 265s on the rear that look better and commit to a life of constant tire pressure vigilance? Or settle for the narrower original equipment 255s that make the 540i handle better?

Ohhh, the times I’ve thought about the trade-off between superior handling and the vanity of looks.

 

1995 BMW 540i

 

But Headache #2, my 1995 BMW 540i, has more in store.

The power window switch on passenger side works. Sometimes.

The battery died and, even with a boost, the car won’t start the first time. Ever. Could it be the fuel pump? Bad fuel?

There is a pesky squeak in the über-cool backward-lifting hood assembly. Obviously an easy fix.

What about the slight coolant leak around the water pump? Hopefully this is a hose but I suspect the pump itself. Yikes.

 

1995 BMW 540i

 

But the biggest headache is deciding whether to keep the beautiful three-decade-old BMW or sell it.

On one hand, one less set of dipsticks, leaks and squeaks, one less storage space, four less tires would relieve the headache. Plus, with its fun-to-drive factor, flawless paint and like-new interior, it would be an easy sell. In my books, the beast is the last of the drive-it-like-you-stole-it BMW 540s.

The plan was always to keep it for retirement. But who knows when, if ever, I’ll retire. Go in the harness, they say.

There’s also my pledge that I would “… keep ’em all, forever”.

 

1995 BMW 540i

 

Every few years, I make the rounds of my headaches and see where I can alleviate any pain. On this round? I can’t bring myself to sell the 540i. I just really like the car. So, I’ll just keep it and deal with the symptoms that fuel Headache #2.

Time to pump up that left rear tire.

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