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View Full Version : Advice Needed: 1990 525i Purchase


All2kool
11-12-2009, 08:14 PM
Am currently driving a 325i myself but my son is in need of car as his '99 Malibu is headed for a complete water jacket/engine failure.

I'm looking at 1990 525i with only 114k miles. Very, very clean. Does the M20 engine have issues that would concern anyone?

CarDriver
11-12-2009, 09:11 PM
Am currently driving a 325i myself but my son is in need of car as his '99 Malibu is headed for a complete water jacket/engine failure.

I'm looking at 1990 525i with only 114k miles. Very, very clean. Does the M20 engine have issues that would concern anyone?

the M20 is a very reliable motor. Mine has close to 250,000 miles and runs like a champ. I have had it for well over two years as a daily driver and I have had Zero engine trouble.

strobelite
11-12-2009, 09:26 PM
i think i have the same motor, not sure. but its got 268k and still pulls mustangs on the freeway.

ross1
11-13-2009, 08:34 AM
M20 is a good engine. It uses a timing belt that requires regular replacements, BMW says every 60k, they'll go longer depending on conditions. Consequences of a belt failure are catastrophic.
If you can't document the job having been done budget another $400 or so for the belt and water pump(~$100 DIY) which is a "might as well" since 90% of the labor is done for the t-belt and water pumps don't seem to last much longer than the belts.

Wolf-Strong
11-13-2009, 10:09 AM
Completely agree on the cooling system. It seems to be standard that between 80-150k they seem to have a complete cooling system failure via water pump, thermostat, thermostat housing, and radiator/expansion tank all depending on how well it was taken care of. It is a very good idea to just do them all while you are doing a timing belt (which I would again do regardless) along with a full service with all new fluids, inspecting brakes, tires (making sure they are less than 4 years old, or replacing), and so forth. This will give you a good piece of mind knowing your son will be driving a reliable car where all has been taken care of. It is also a VERY wise move to have the car inspected prior to purchase by someone who knows the cars.

The M20, like the M30, is a very good motor, though a little down on power (which may be a good thing in this case). Absolutely bulletproof as long as you do the required maintenance, which does include valve adjustments every year along with spark plugs. Do this with all the other needed maintenance and you will find it will last virtually forever. If you did not want to have to worry about valve adjustments, annual spark plugs (or ever 2 years), and timing belts, opt to find a M50 based 525i (91-95) which runs the same motor in your 325i.

BrothaMansWhip2
11-13-2009, 10:42 AM
The timing belt on the m20 should be changed because you just got the car. It took me a weekend to do mine with the minimum amount of tools. Expect the fan clutch to be the hardest part. Once i got that off, it took no time at all. Plus have the TDC mark is great.

All2kool
11-13-2009, 11:19 AM
I've since test drove the car and it it is quite nice. It's been garaged kept obviously and doesn't look a day older than 4-5 years. It was a little hesitant while cold but once it warmed up a bit it ran fine. Everything is in working order on the car as I would expect. The Black paint is near showroom perfect. With only 110k miles my thinking is this car will last my 31-year old adult driving son another 200k miles with proper maintenance.

The hesitation - MAF, Plugs, Coils, Just Cold or crappy gas?

My first order of business whenever buying a used BMW is always SeaFoam and Premium gas but I don't expect too much affect from it. This 525i has been well kept cosmetically so one can assume it has been well kept mechanically, or we can at least hope.

All2kool
11-13-2009, 07:46 PM
Would anyone here hesitate in buying a 20 year old E34, even though it is low miles? This E34 was spotless. The boy liked it quite a bit but if he drives it 10 years it will then be a 30 year old car, albeit it will still have less than 200k miles.

PJG
11-13-2009, 09:21 PM
I justed picked my e34 up a month ago....92' M50 W/190K....I am replacing all of the control arms but so far total invested for the car and all parts is $1300....it seems to run great and is a sharp car....It would help if you get the Bentley book just in case though, and do your research on this site....the people here really know what they are talking about, this site has already saved me a lot of time and $$...I wouldn't let the age of the car scare me away if everything looks to be in good shape...you can always take it to a mechanic (that you trust) to get checked out....Of course it depends on the asking price of the car too:thumbup:

Tourburgring
11-13-2009, 09:59 PM
Would anyone here hesitate in buying a 20 year old E34, even though it is low miles? This E34 was spotless. The boy liked it quite a bit but if he drives it 10 years it will then be a 30 year old car, albeit it will still have less than 200k miles.

If the car has been well cared for (which this one seems to have been) and serviced regularly, don't let the age bother you. Any service history and records would be a huge asset as it will tell you what has been done and give you a clue as to what will need doing. The Timing Belt has already been mentioned and is a 'must do' item. If you don't know exactly when it was last done, or if it was replaced over 30k miles ago, change it as a precaution.

Bear in mind that these were pretty advanced cars for the early 90's and are quite complex electrically and technically. If you have some basic car maintenance knowledge and keep on top of the known wear items, it is a great car to own. Just don't expect Honda like reliability or Chevy parts prices.:)

All2kool
11-14-2009, 08:53 AM
A few years back I bought a '92 525i with 196k, drove it for another 3k miles without incident and traded it for an IROC. It was great car that E34. I solved the intermittent and dreaded 'TRANS PROGRAM' issue simply by re-seating every electrical fuse/relay/module under the hood. This wouldn't be an issue of course for the '90 5-Speed.

Here be that non-badged 525i:

http://home.comcast.net/~all2kool/BLK_525i.jpg

ross1
11-15-2009, 05:28 AM
You haven't mentioned a price so I won't speculate about buying, the condition sounds good. It is one of the less desireable drivelines so it ought to be reasonably priced.

Must be nice to still have Pop buying cars for you at 31.

All2kool
11-15-2009, 05:59 AM
You haven't mentioned a price so I won't speculate about buying, the condition sounds good. It is one of the less desireable drivelines so it ought to be reasonably priced.

Must be nice to still have Pop buying cars for you at 31.

They're wanting $4995 for the 525i and the boy likes it a lot - but he's 31 and pays for it himself. I'm just here to lend advice and make sure he doesn't end with another piece of shlitz.

solli
11-17-2009, 07:23 PM
I'm heading into my 7th year with my '90 525. It had 125k miles when I bought it, which is nothing in the bimmer world. It has 211k now. I've replaced the battery, the cooling system, fuel tank, and put a Eberspacher exhaust system on it. The car is no slug. M20 is a very strong engine, but be prepared to drop a grand for maintenance (every year) unless your son is a diy'r.

All2kool
11-17-2009, 08:31 PM
All good to hear, thank you everyone. We're both DIY'ers so upkeep type maintenance is surely not an issue. I like the M20 for the serviceability, and what's not to like about an E34 with less than 115k on the odometer?

strobelite
11-18-2009, 07:38 AM
just buy the thing and post pics already!

injunmort
11-18-2009, 12:46 PM
that price seems very high even for such a low mileage example. i just bought mine for $250.00 with blown head gasket. mint body and interior it sat inside for 6years because of the needed repairs. 155000 on it original owner 5 spd. the repairs took two weekends and about 750.00 in parts and beer. if the car is an auto i think that is way high as they are not longest lived trans. i definitely do suggested water pump, timing belt etc. fwiw.

ross1
11-21-2009, 06:22 AM
They're wanting $4995 for the 525i and the boy likes it a lot - but he's 31 and pays for it himself. I'm just here to lend advice and make sure he doesn't end with another piece of shlitz.


$5k is a VERY strong price, I assure you the seller has a firm grip on it at that price(perhaps he is trying to start a museum?) which will enable you to shop around.
A friend just bought a VERY nice '94 with the small v-8 and stick shift, just ticked over 100k, looks gorgeous, good color combo and clean as a whistle for $3k. Put shocks on it and it drives like a new car now.
I'd speculate that $3k is all the money in the world for any '90 525.
Don't forget an inspection by a BMW specialist.
If you or son are do it yourself inclined these aren't expensive to keep.

All2kool
11-21-2009, 06:47 AM
He ended up buying a 1997 Cadillac Catera with 81k miles. Needs a thing or two but he likes it and it runs well. Not the most reliable Cadillac (Opel) made from reviews I have read but if you're lucky, you can get a real good one. Hopefully we did.