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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-26-2005, 02:00 PM
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SoonerE39 SoonerE39 is offline
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What maintenance would you do on a 325 with unknown history?

Thinking about a 92-95 325i or is for my son. From my preliminary searches, I think we can find one with 120k to 150k miles in the price range we're looking at. But if you didn't know the maintenance history of a car (such as purchased at a dealer or at acution) what maintenance would you want to do right away?

Among things I can think of: Flush radiator, oil and filter change, plugs and plug wires, fuel and air filters. Many cars with timining belts I would consider changing the belt but since Bimmers use a chain instead of a belt, how long before you would consider changing the timing chain? What else am I overlooking? Just trying to get an idea how much I'll be spending up front to get it up to date.
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  #2  
Old 09-26-2005, 02:09 PM
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James James is offline
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If you have a trusted indy mechanic near by you could take it to them and have them do an "inspection". I was in the waiting room of a local indy shop here while the shop owner was talking to a prospective buyer on the phone that had a car in for inspection. The stuff found by the mechanic was very interesting and quite complete. You could pick and choose what you wanted done then and what could wait but you'd at least have a confidence level in the fitness of the car.

James.
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  #3  
Old 09-26-2005, 04:02 PM
my_e36 my_e36 is offline
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On the safe side you can change all fluids and all filters
Fluids: Engine, Gearbox, Clutch, Breaks, Diff.
Filters: Micro-filter (low priority), Oil, Fuel and Air

and....
Spark-plugs, breakpads

If you are quite mechanically minded, you can change most of these yourself.
Of course, common sense applies here, if the they look clean enough, you can put that off for later to save $$.
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Old 09-26-2005, 05:02 PM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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I'd never buy an older BMW without having a BMW mechanic or dealer inspect it first.

I'd replace the cooling system, the whole thing, if it looks old - it's cheaper if you do it in one shot.
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  #5  
Old 09-26-2005, 07:54 PM
FierySphere FierySphere is offline
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If the history is truely 'unknown' or the unreliable, I'd want to:
replace all filter
replace all fluids
replace all rubber (belts, hoses)
replace cooling system components (radiator, thermostat, plastic thermostat housing with the aluminum one)
Plugs
O2 sensor
replace all rubber bushings (front lower control arm, rear trailing arm, diff mounts)

Also if they known to be older than 70K miles, or unknown:
replace control arms
rebuild brake calipers
replace power steering reservior (it has an internal filter) and lines (they leak)


It sounds like a lot, but you don't need to do it all at once. Start with the stuff that will cost you big $$ if they fail, like cooling system stuff. And the cheap stuff like fluids and filters.
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Old 09-26-2005, 08:30 PM
Bmwcat Bmwcat is offline
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Fiery got it right. I'm replacing some stuff slowly on my 96 328. You may need new struts and shocks if they are worn also. And have the Indy mechanic check the usual stuff like engine compression. Good Luck and keep us posted!
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  #7  
Old 09-26-2005, 08:37 PM
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BeRzErKaS BeRzErKaS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerE39
Thinking about a 92-95 325i or is for my son. From my preliminary searches, I think we can find one with 120k to 150k miles in the price range we're looking at. But if you didn't know the maintenance history of a car (such as purchased at a dealer or at acution) what maintenance would you want to do right away?

Among things I can think of: Flush radiator, oil and filter change, plugs and plug wires, fuel and air filters. Many cars with timining belts I would consider changing the belt but since Bimmers use a chain instead of a belt, how long before you would consider changing the timing chain? What else am I overlooking? Just trying to get an idea how much I'll be spending up front to get it up to date.
To this point most of the other posts have covered most of the general stuff you should check when buying ANY car with an unknown history. But I will try to answer in terms of BMW e36's in particular:

1) OBD I e36's don't have a timing chain. They use a timing ring that is attached to the block right behind the crank pulley. This should not need replaceing

2) Take it to a dealer and verify that ALL recall issues have been taken care of. This shouldn't cost you much. They will run you car's VIN and pretty much have to replace all the offending parts. There are quite a few of these items.

3) Check you shock towers and rear shock mounts for crackng. RSMs are a wear item and will lead to all kinds of creaking, squeaking and knocking when going over bumps if not replaced.

4) Disconnect the radiator coolant hose and inspect the plastic neck for signs of failre. These weren't orginally considered a wear item but it was found that the acidity of the coolant caused the plastic neck to become brittle over time. It can break off, spraying boiling hot coolant everywhere and leaving you stranded on the side of the road. BMW now recommends replacing the entire radiator around 150k.

5) When starting the car listen very closely to the engine. If you hear a ticking/clacking sound comming from the left side of the engine near the valve cover you may want to pass on that car. It could indicate a defective VANOS unit. About a $700-$900 job at the dealer. (ask me how I know )

These are all very common problems w/ e36's. There are a few others but it all depends on which model/year you are looking at? Pre 1994? '94-'95? '96-'99?

Check these things in addition to what everyone else has recommended.
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  #8  
Old 09-26-2005, 08:50 PM
ListenToMeNow ListenToMeNow is offline
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I bought a 1992 325i with an essentially "unknown" service record from an indy BMW dealer. I went to CarFax.com and ran it and found out a lot about the car. I'm not here to sing the praises or CarFax, but it is a neat deal since, if the work on the car was done at a certified dealer, it will show you when and what was repaired/replaced. Mine has 110k miles and I've replaced the cooling system, all fluids, blah blah blah just like everyone says. I know some ppl especially on this forum hate the older e36s, but I LOVE IT. It's NEVER given me a problem, ever. And I'm sure if you get one and take care of it, it'll run great. Well, there's my 2 cents.
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  #9  
Old 09-26-2005, 08:54 PM
ListenToMeNow ListenToMeNow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeRzErKaS

2) Take it to a dealer and verify that ALL recall issues have been taken care of. This shouldn't cost you much. They will run you car's VIN and pretty much have to replace all the offending parts. There are quite a few of these items.
A quick sidebar if you don't mind: Recalls are an issue. Do dealers charge you anything to get the stuff replaced? I know for my BMW, there's about a dictionary's worth of stuff that should be replaced and I haven't done it yet b/c I didn't know if it would cost much. Answering this I'm sure will help out our friend who posted this question as well
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  #10  
Old 09-26-2005, 09:49 PM
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BeRzErKaS BeRzErKaS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ListenToMeNow
A quick sidebar if you don't mind: Recalls are an issue. Do dealers charge you anything to get the stuff replaced? I know for my BMW, there's about a dictionary's worth of stuff that should be replaced and I haven't done it yet b/c I didn't know if it would cost much. Answering this I'm sure will help out our friend who posted this question as well
100% Free.

Parts & labor get coded as "Warranty" on your workorder/receipt.
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BMW 3 Series - "Consistency of Purpose...Excellence of Execution."

Supercharged E36 325is 5sp
::ERT S/C, Auto-Manual Conv, SPAL Fan, Zeitronix, SAFCII, Alpine, Autotek, Orion, Angel Eyes, Tinted, Smoked, Trackpiped, and so much more::

Drop Top E46 330cic Step
::PP, SPP, CWP, HK, BT, Lumbar, Xenon, Tints, Clears, Remus Exhaust, ///M-Tech Wheels::
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  #11  
Old 09-27-2005, 06:59 AM
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SoonerE39 SoonerE39 is offline
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Ok, the radiator issue is the kind of thing I was looking for here. It's also good to know I won't have to worry about replacing a timing belt or chain. I hadn't thought about control arms and bushings either. Otherwise, it's mostly stuff you would consider with about any car.

I'm thinking about a '92-'94 model. I have a limited mechanical background but would still like to have something my son and I can work on together some. We'll probably buy sometime around Dec- Jan so we'll have about 4-5 months to work on it before he actually starts driving.
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  #12  
Old 09-27-2005, 01:53 PM
Bmwcat Bmwcat is offline
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I had to replace my Sport Power seat as the gearbox failed. A boneyard seat costs the same as the seat gear box, about 400.00!! Manual seats dont have that issue.!!
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  #13  
Old 09-27-2005, 07:06 PM
MRoady MRoady is offline
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Have the pully tensioners checked...there are three. about $250 replaced depending on your mechanic.
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  #14  
Old 10-02-2005, 11:44 PM
sl55g sl55g is offline
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Mein Auto: 92 325i manual
recalls

do the recalls expire? i just got a 92 325i a couple of months ago and i saw that there were some recalls on it online, and im not sure if they have been attended to by the previous owner. Can i still go to a dealer and get the things fixed, or is there a time period that has passed? thanks
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