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E34 (1989 - 1995)

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  #1  
Old 08-21-2012, 03:54 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
First time BMW owner. Just purchased a 1990 525i. Help?

So I just bought his car today. Kind of an impulse buy, but from everyone I talked to it was a good deal. It's in amazing condition for being a 90' and having 150,000 miles. I paid $1800 for it, it has no mechanical issue and runs well and like I said is in amazing condition. Did I get a decent deal? Regardless, the car is mine. So I have a few questions. What kind of problems should I look out for? What things will I come to love? What kind of aftermarket parts are available and should I even bother with them? I know very little about BMW's but assume they don't need anything aftermarket to drive amazing. Thanks for any help, I'm extremely excited to own this car and can't wait to start workin on it and driving it.
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  #2  
Old 08-21-2012, 08:00 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1989 525i M20B25
Your car has the M20B25 engine which I think is a fine engine but others say it is too underpowered.

Your particular engine is very easy to work on and will run a very long time with the proper maintenance.
First think this:
Has the timing belt been changed, any records?
How about the waterpump?
When was its last oil change?
When was the last cooling system service?
Anything unusual about the fluids?

Answer all of these questions, then take a look at this:
http://www.bmwe34.net/E34main/Troubl...will_break.htm

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask, all of us are here to help.
Welcome.
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2012, 09:22 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Awesome, thanks for the reply that's exactly what I was looking for. I can understand the underpowered comment, I felt like it it would have more pick up to it but it doesn't bother me. As far as all the questions on maintanence I'm not sure. The first thing I'm doing this weekend is doing a complete tune up (iridium spark plugs, all filters, change oil ect.) then I'll go from there. I know the previous owner put a brand new radiator in it, an I want to say a new water pump as well. I'm guessing I should replace the timing belt as well when I do the tune up? Thanks again for the post really helps out.

Edit: also, just did a quick google search for aftermarket stuff for fun on my lunch break. I came across a chip (gfchips) that advertises 60hp ,30ft torque and 4-7 mpg increase. Only for $70. Sounds like bull****. Any opinions?

Last edited by Byork7; 08-21-2012 at 09:34 PM.
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2012, 09:47 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Sounds great!

FYI: These older engines respond better to copper plugs, but its up to you. I would use copper.

AS far as chips, as long as they are brand name chips (WAR, TMS, etc.) you will be fine. You must use 91 octane fuel or higher wen you get a chip since all it does is re-map the fuel controls to work with higher octane gas as opposed to the stock chip which optimizes use for low octane fuel.
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2012, 09:54 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Well cool, copper plugs are way cheaper haha so that works out great. Good advice on the chips, I was unaware so thank you. Without a chip I can use normal unleaded, not premium or the mid grade correct?
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2012, 10:07 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byork7 View Post
Well cool, copper plugs are way cheaper haha so that works out great. Good advice on the chips, I was unaware so thank you. Without a chip I can use normal unleaded, not premium or the mid grade correct?
Yup, just like the 1989 owners manual says:


The stock ECU has a stock tuned chip from the factory. The stock chip works with 87 AKI.
The performance chips they sell out there (legitimate ones) are tuned to work with 91 AKI.

So, if you buy a performance chip, you are just replacing the old one.
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  #7  
Old 08-22-2012, 07:45 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
So just an update. My first impressions are great. Love the quality of the vehicle, am amazed at the features it has for a 1990 model, and only have a few things I need to fix. The latch for the glove compartment needs replacing. The paneldor the sunroof needs to be replaced( where the buttons are). It may have a fuel problem, as sometimes it won't start the first time I try. Perhaps fuel pump? Also, sometimes when I'm slowing down (braking or just coasting) I feel a very slight jerk. Makes me think downshifting isn't proper but that's a pure guess. Overall, very glad I bought it and can't wait to start fixing things and making it even better. I'll take some pictures and post them tomorrow.
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  #8  
Old 08-22-2012, 10:58 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Great that you are getting familiar with it!

There are two screws for the glovebox latch once you get it open. It comes apart in two pieces, junkyard item.

The panel can also be found at a yard. If its only the clips that are broken you can make your own holding tabs. I made mine out of plumbers tape!

Perhaps its the fuel pump. Can't know for sure without running fuel pressure tests.
Check the Bentley manual for testing the Fuel pressure. The manual can be DL'ed here:
http://www.bimmerwerkz.com/forum/5-s...0-a-42558.html

The jerk may be because of an improperly adjusted kickdown cable at the throttle body. Follow the instructions for adjusting it in this thread, you may need a feeler gauge:
http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=225936
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  #9  
Old 08-23-2012, 08:36 AM
coolredlich coolredlich is offline
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Location: sutherlin, oregon
 
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Mein Auto: 1993 bmw 525it
performance chip

I have a 1993 521I touring, with the stock chip can I run 87 octane fuel, and would a performance chip give me increased hp and torque as advertised? Thanks
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  #10  
Old 08-23-2012, 11:09 AM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolredlich View Post
I have a 1993 521I touring, with the stock chip can I run 87 octane fuel, and would a performance chip give me increased hp and torque as advertised? Thanks
Mister, don't threadjack...


Your engine is an M50. What you need to find out is if it has VANOS or not. The M50TU has VANOS and the M50 does not.

If you have the M50 then Premium fuel is required for best performance, otherwise you will experience knocking.
IF you have the M50TU then Premium fuel is not required since the engine is equipped with knock sensors to compensate for lower grade fuel.

If you do buy a performance chip you MUST use Premium fuel since that is what the chip does. It re-maps the injection for use with Premium fuel only (91 AKI or higher). Otherwise you will not see an increase in HP or Torque.


Byork and I do not have to use Premium fuel with our stock chips because we have the M20 engine. It was made to be used with 87 as stated above.

Last edited by paperplane94; 08-23-2012 at 11:10 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-25-2012, 07:57 AM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
So I'm trying to learn more and more about my car and what I can do to maintain it. So far, I've heard a few things that if possible I would like clarification on. I was told the m20 doesn't need high octane fuel but responds better with it. Will I notice a difference if I use say 91 or 93 with the stock chip? Also, I was told that changing all the speed sensors is recommended. True or bull****? One last thing, I want to clean up the engine as best I can and from then on take great care of it. From what I can tell its been taken great care of so far but I would like to clean it out and get a fresh start so to speak. I was thinking of using motor flush, then changing the oil and putting in some engine treatment (zmax was recommended to me). Good idea or no? I'm not very car savvy but am a quick learner and am very interests in learning all I can about bmw's , mine specifically.
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  #12  
Old 08-25-2012, 09:07 AM
ThoreauHD ThoreauHD is offline
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You should focus on replacing ALL of the fluids before you start eating through petro products with an engine cleaner. Brakes, radiator, transmission, gas filter(if your model has one) Focus on that first. It'll give you a baseline for the car, and you'll insure its longevity.

After that read the error codes with a stomp test. Then fix whatever comes up. Then you can chip it since you know your transmission and radiator aren't trying to pump cow pies through a tube while you're flooring it. Good luck.
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  #13  
Old 08-25-2012, 02:00 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Will do, that's good advice. How do I check the codes if my check engine light comes on? I read that I push the accelerator pedal down 5 times within 5 seconds with the key in the ignition but nothing happened.
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  #14  
Old 08-27-2012, 12:32 AM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...65#post5936965
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  #15  
Old 08-28-2012, 11:28 AM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
I tried that exactly and nothing happened. Ill give it another try and see if it works. My check engine light isnt always on, it usually on clicks on when im in idle or park for a small amount of time, then as soon as i give it gas it goes away.

Update:
Finally gave the car a wash. Was told it might have a small exhaust leak so i went to get it checked out and ended up putting a new cat converter and muffler on it. Just sold my truck today so this weekend is tune up and fluid change time. Pics will come as soon as it dries.
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  #16  
Old 08-28-2012, 09:30 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byork7 View Post
I tried that exactly and nothing happened. Ill give it another try and see if it works. My check engine light isnt always on, it usually on clicks on when im in idle or park for a small amount of time, then as soon as i give it gas it goes away.

Update:
Finally gave the car a wash. Was told it might have a small exhaust leak so i went to get it checked out and ended up putting a new cat converter and muffler on it. Just sold my truck today so this weekend is tune up and fluid change time. Pics will come as soon as it dries.
That means that your TPS is not functioning properly since it is not reading your stomps.
It is also not telling the computer when the car is at idle so that is why it comes on and goes away.
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  #17  
Old 09-25-2012, 10:54 AM
robertobaggio20 robertobaggio20 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byork7 View Post
I tried that exactly and nothing happened. Ill give it another try and see if it works. My check engine light isnt always on, it usually on clicks on when im in idle or park for a small amount of time, then as soon as i give it gas it goes away.

Update:
Finally gave the car a wash. Was told it might have a small exhaust leak so i went to get it checked out and ended up putting a new cat converter and muffler on it. Just sold my truck today so this weekend is tune up and fluid change time. Pics will come as soon as it dries.

There is a long list of things that you need to check, replace or tune. PM me and I'll extract it for you.

Off the top of my head, these are the things you must do even if your existing components are working perfectly.

1. Get a new oem fuel pump. Oem only, up to $200. Do not buy anything else. Change the O ring too - $15.
2. Get and install a new cRankshaft position sensor. Oem. $80.
3. Get new fuel pump, dme, o2 sensor and ABS electrical relays. Oem only, around $10 each.
4. Get a new radiator tank cap and bleed screw. Cheap stuff. Keep the old bleed screw in your car.
5. Flush the radiator and refresh the coolant. Bleed it twice, once after the flush, and once the next morning (after having driven the car some distance in the intermediate). Use walmart coolant, this will be fine. Make sure the coolant is brightly coloured and has a strong odour - this way if any hoses burst, you'll know from the strong smell invading the cabin, which will give you enough time to take inspect and maybe action before the engine overheats. The bright colour makes it easier to spot leaks. The oem coolant has a very weak smell and is pale blue in colour so its not useful.
6. (not essential but) Probably a good idea to change the fuel filter. $15. Too many people fail to do this. Keep the old filter, rinse it out in water, and use it for the next change interval.
7. When you flush your radiator, take a look at the inside of the upper and lower radiator hoses. If they are caked with rust (not the same as a light coat), then change the two hoses to new ones, and flush the radiator once every two weeks for 2 months.
8. Have your car battery's CCA (cold cranking amps), or Reserve charge, tested at a battery shop. This can only be done with an **digital** battery tester, not the analogue ones. If its under 20% its probably a great idea to replace it (and if its under 50% you should have the battery tested once every 3-6 months). Use the opportunity to get them to give you an opinion on how well the alternator is doing, the tests involve the same meter and take just 3-4 minutes.
9. Check all of your engine belts and replace those which appear to have cracks on the ribbed side of the belts.
10. Keep an assorted bunch of spare fuses in your car's fuse box.

The consequences of not doing the above (with the exception of the belts, radiator stuff and some of the relays) will be your car suddenly failing to start suddenly, with little or no warning that its about to do that beforehand. The fixes involved are not quick and simple. You can be stranded somewhere or be really embarrassed. You are driving an old car, which has the advantage of being cheap and of having most problems already identified. The above are the common problems which lead to no-start situations. It will cost you a pretty penny to do all of the above but overall you're still spending very little on an old car and as you say constantly, its in great shape which is not common. And if you wonder why you are replacing perfectly good parts, have your car towed once or twice and get a shop to charge you to fix problems while you are in a jam and the phrase "penny wise, pound foolish" will hit home like never before. Furthermore, the overwhelming inconvenience of being stuck when you need the car can be avoided, pretty much permanently.

Doing all of the above still means that you've got a cheap car, so its well worth it. And judging by the number of no-start threads on bimmerfest, it is clearly a smart thing to do. As mentioned, these are common and well known issues with our model at this age.

There are only 3 situations where you need not do the above if you don't feel like it :

1. You do not intend to keep the car for longer than 6 months.
2. You have physical proof or RELIABLE assurances that any of the above repairs were done within the past 2-4 years.
3. This is a spare car and you hardly drive it as well.

Not having enough money is not a good reason to forestall all of the above. The cost benefit analysis does not compute.

Along the way you should have all of your fluids, seals and your suspension components inspected after your car has been winched up at a shop. Also check everywhere for rust. See if you have a valve cover oil leak, see if you have a head gasket oil leak (these need not be nightmare scenarios). Have your fuel hoses and brake hoses checked for cracks. All these are observable issues and will not cost money in terms of diagnostic time. Get the shop to take out a little bit of your tranny and rear diff fluid and see how clean it is...if they look good they need not be replaced.

Since this is an m20 engine, have them remove your timing cover and inspect your timing belt and replace it ASAP together with the timing bearings if it does not look good. Unless you have proof that this has been done at a specific interval, I would recommend that you replace it anyway for pure peace of mind. A snapped timing belt during driving means your engine is destroyed. And have your water pump and fan clutch checked for bearing looseness and if its there, change it out within the next 6 months unless the mechanic advises against it based on his on-site assessment. In any case, if you change your timing belt, change your water pump as well as it has the same wear and tear interval and this keeps things simpler. Only purchase water pumps with a metal or composite/fiberglass impeller (preferable to the metal one). Do not buy one with the plastic impeller. O'Reilly's has a nice composite water pump online with a lifetime warranty. Nice !

Be anal about this inspection with a professional mechanic....I would have done this before confirming the car. If you find problems after an undercarriage inspection, you can always let us know and we'll help you prioritise or at least buy the right stuff...there's alot of junk out there. This inspection would take around 30 minutes of shop time so their charges might not be much and they might even do it for free if you are going to be a regular customer or you're having something else done there. Since the car is winched up anyway, it would be a good idea to replace that fuel filter right off. Its a 10 minute job. Maybe the labour for that will cover the cost of your inspection as well.

Oh and btw while the car is winched up, check on all of your tyres for signs of abnormal wear. If that is found, it could indicate alignment problems or more rarely, busted subframe bushings (very expensive repair but fortunately fairly uncommon). Have the tyres rotate if slight wear marks are appearing on the inside or corresponding tyres. And ensure that your tyres are not more than 3.5 years old....at the 4 year mark they must be replaced (tyres have a 5 year lifespan). I recently had the incredible experience of a tyre shop clown trying to sell me a single use tyre that was 7 years old ! Jerk. So this needs to be double checked.

I think that's the whole bucket list on the E34 so no need for that pm

Oh btw, congrats dude! You've got a great ride! Goto youtube and do searches for e34 commercials. There are a couple of old e34 tv commercials there, and they are still pretty cool.


rgds,
Roberto

p.s. Just scanned a few of the earlier posts. Looks like you've done the undercarriage inspection. Apologies if I've repeated anything unnecessarily.
p.p.s. This may be a useful thread : http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...&highlight=m20

Last edited by robertobaggio20; 09-25-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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  #18  
Old 08-29-2012, 12:56 AM
BMWFatherFigure's Avatar
BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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If this is a long term buy get the manual. The EFI settings will need checking (throttle position etc) and the air flow resistor may need cleaning, O2 sensor change and the throttle by-pass unit cleaned and checked. I would not use 'flushing agents' just service at half the standard period. An injector clean (removed in a test rig type clean) may be a good idea.
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  #19  
Old 08-29-2012, 06:41 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
So random question. But whats a 1990 730i worth? It has 90,000 miles, motor is in great condition, so is exterior. The inrerior needs work though. My friend offered me his for $900 and im thinking of getting it, fixing the muffler and the interior with a $1-1500 and selling it for profit. Good idea?
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  #20  
Old 08-29-2012, 09:08 PM
TommyD525i TommyD525i is offline
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Mein Auto: 1992 525Ii
Just wanted to add a couple things here. Do your tune up and change ALL fluids.

However!

I don't remember if you have a auto or manual. If its auto I wouldn't mess with it or drain anything out of it. They are notorious for failing after a fluid change! If it's manual then definitely change fluid.

DO go to www.bmwe34.net
It's full of awesome info. Ask people on here when you get confused. And get yourself a E34 Bentley Repair Manual (amazon it). It E34 owner's bible.

If you want to clean everything in the inside of your engine I would suggest researching all you can do with SeaFoam. It's amazing stuff!

Also the front control arms are renoun for going bad. The car will shake terribly bad when you hit the brakes at 50-65ish mph. That's how you'll know when those are shot. In fact check all parts in the steering system.

And check shocks too. All you need to do is push down on one corner of the car at a time. It should feel very stiff and should have very little give. If you can push it down more than a fat inch or you can rock it, then you shocks are toast.
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  #21  
Old 08-30-2012, 12:11 AM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Quote:
Originally Posted by paperplane94 View Post
That means that your TPS is not functioning properly since it is not reading your stomps.
It is also not telling the computer when the car is at idle so that is why it comes on and goes away.
Ahhh gotcha. Cool, they arent to expensive so ill switch that out and see if it fixes it. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWFatherFigure View Post
If this is a long term buy get the manual. The EFI settings will need checking (throttle position etc) and the air flow resistor may need cleaning, O2 sensor change and the throttle by-pass unit cleaned and checked. I would not use 'flushing agents' just service at half the standard period. An injector clean (removed in a test rig type clean) may be a good idea.
Thanks for info sir. I downloaded the bentley manual a couple days ago, and bought a haynes manual from my work as well. Ive been reading through them a little when i have the time. After i research how to do all the things you mentioned i will surely do them as well. Sounds like some sound advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyD525i View Post
Just wanted to add a couple things here. Do your tune up and change ALL fluids.

However!

I don't remember if you have a auto or manual. If its auto I wouldn't mess with it or drain anything out of it. They are notorious for failing after a fluid change! If it's manual then definitely change fluid.

DO go to www.bmwe34.net
It's full of awesome info. Ask people on here when you get confused. And get yourself a E34 Bentley Repair Manual (amazon it). It E34 owner's bible.

If you want to clean everything in the inside of your engine I would suggest researching all you can do with SeaFoam. It's amazing stuff!

Also the front control arms are renoun for going bad. The car will shake terribly bad when you hit the brakes at 50-65ish mph. That's how you'll know when those are shot. In fact check all parts in the steering system.

And check shocks too. All you need to do is push down on one corner of the car at a time. It should feel very stiff and should have very little give. If you can push it down more than a fat inch or you can rock it, then you shocks are toast.
Yes its an Auto. So i shouldnt change the fluid or filter? What about adding some? Thanks for the link, it looks awesome. Yea i was recommended sea foam and was going to give that a shot so im glad im hearing more good things about the product. The control arms look good, i checked both when i had the car lifted up. Ill check on the shocks tomorrow. Thanks again for the advice should be of great help.

Thanks everyone that has contributed with sounds advice. Im really learning a good amount of am excited to keep my BMW in top shape.
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  #22  
Old 08-30-2012, 10:41 AM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Pictures finally.




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  #23  
Old 08-30-2012, 08:38 PM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1989 525i M20B25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byork7 View Post
Pictures finally.


I'm glad your cat enjoys the car.
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  #24  
Old 08-30-2012, 12:30 PM
TommyD525i TommyD525i is offline
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Location: eugene
 
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Mein Auto: 1992 525Ii
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byork7 View Post
Ahhh gotcha. Cool, they arent to expensive so ill switch that out and see if it fixes it. Thanks.



Thanks for info sir. I downloaded the bentley manual a couple days ago, and bought a haynes manual from my work as well. Ive been reading through them a little when i have the time. After i research how to do all the things you mentioned i will surely do them as well. Sounds like some sound advice.



Yes its an Auto. So i shouldnt change the fluid or filter? What about adding some? Thanks for the link, it looks awesome. Yea i was recommended sea foam and was going to give that a shot so im glad im hearing more good things about the product. The control arms look good, i checked both when i had the car lifted up. Ill check on the shocks tomorrow. Thanks again for the advice should be of great help.

Oh I just thought of a couple more weak points.
The heater core and/or the o-rings that couple it to the engine bay. The aux water pump (mounted on firewall next to brake cylinder) and/heater control valve. Also I haven't heard anybody that hasn't replaced a radiator, thermostat housing, fan clutch, and hasn't had issues with the aux fan. If the aux fan motor doesn't go bad the resistor will, or the temperature sensor for it, or the relay, etc. The whole cooling system is pretty much crap with these cars. IMO

One more thing that can suck. If the little mechanism inside the doors that control the little arm that keeps the doors open is wearing out in any way, fix it immediately! When the mechanism inside gives out it WILL put a dent from the inside out on your door and possible break the window if it's down. The driver side will wear the fasted followed by the front passenger door. Ask me how I know! >:/

Thanks everyone that has contributed with sounds advice. Im really learning a good amount of am excited to keep my BMW in top shape.
Hey you're welcome.
I would only add some if it needs it. Don't drain any out. You don't want to dislodge any gunk that could be actually beneficial. I know that sounds weird. If you know the tranny fluid was changed out regularly then there should be no problem changing fluids because there shouldn't be gunk built up.
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  #25  
Old 09-03-2012, 01:58 PM
Byork7 Byork7 is offline
Popeye
Location: Texas
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
Mein Auto: 1990 525i
Haha yes my cat loved it. So i just bought some ceremic brake pads for the front and back on eBay ($85 for both, shipping included) and am slowly doing small replacement/upgrades as well. While i was looking at my car today i noticed this, and was wondering if anyone here would have any information on it. Do you think its a big deal? Any advice on how to fix it?

It looks like a small amount of rust is forming near the bottom of the doors behind the plastic trim.

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