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Old 10-02-2012, 02:18 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is offline
Warm Leatherette
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 22,897
Mein Auto: 1998 BMW 328is
Hey Mark. Welcome aboard! Firstly, in order to properly introduce yourself, you will need to post photos of your E36!

Secondly, by far, the number one maintenance concern with these cars is the cooling system. After about 75k miles, the plastic used in all of the cooling system components becomes extremely brittle and will fail catastrophically and without warning. The result of such an inevitable failure is that you will dump all of your coolant out and overheat the engine before you even know what's going on. The other thing related to this problem is that the aluminum cylinder heads used on these engines can be warped or cracked as the result of even one mild overheating, resulting in a $1200+ repair bill. Fortunately, this whole issue can easily be avoided if you replace the cooling system components BEFORE something breaks. Comprehensive cooling system overhaul kits are in the ballpark of $400-450, and if you're slightly handy with a wrench, they are very easy to overhaul yourself. The parts which MUST be replaced every 75k miles (or now, if you don't know when the last time they were replaced) are the following:

- Radiator
- Expansion tank
- Expansion tank cap
- Bleeder screw (upgrade to brass is recommended)
- Thermostat
- Thermostat housing (upgrade to aluminum is recommended)
- Water pump
- Mechanical fan (can reuse fan clutch if it's still good)
- Hoses
- Belts

Definitely get this out of the way before you spend any more money on your E36. You'll either pay a little now and get it behind you, or you'll pay a lot later when something breaks. Otherwise, the 101 Performance Projects book is a good one. I'd highly recommend also getting your hands on a copy of the E36 Bentley Service Manual. It's the E36 maintenance bible, and WAY better than any other service manuals (e.g. Chilton, Haynes, etc.).

1998 BMW 328is
1966 Pontiac GTO
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
View my photos: Caught in the Wild
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