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General BMW
Use this forum to talk about general BMW news/stories and to chat with fellow enthusiasts about the direction that BMW is going in for their cars and/or motorcycles!

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  #1  
Old 06-25-2015, 07:08 AM
AlexxRyzhkov AlexxRyzhkov is offline
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Buying an old bimmer as first car to learn how to work on, good idea?

hopefully this is the right place to post this...

Anyways, I'm a 16 year old who's never really gave a crap about cars until about a year ago, when a friend made me help him replace his timing belt on his old Accord. I realized that there was only a year or so till I was gonna learn how to drive, and I really didn't want to be one of those morons who had no idea how their car works or how to maintain them.

I've never really liked BMWs till quite recently, when my sister got hers. I started to really get into them, and started dreaming about owning one. I especially loved old ones from the 80s and 90s, just something about them made me want one. I started to browse on craigslist, and saw a bunch of E36s and E46s for around 3-5k, and I got a part time job so I could save up money so that when I get my license I could buy one. One thing is I really wanted to learn how to work on my own car. Seeing my dad taking his car to the stealership to get it fixed was always painful when they would always make him shell out hundreds of dollars for basic stuff.

I've been saving up money for a bit now, and have around 2k right now. But then something happened... My parents found out my sister has been doing drugs and stealing stuff and just stupid crap like that, and they took her BMW away from her. The car sat around for a while, and I would always stare at it, and recently my parents said that as long as I made decent grades, I could drive it.

I was super happy, as now I basically had my own bimmer, and it was quite a bit nicer than any of the ones I was planning to save up for. It's a 2006 530XI E60, only problem is my sister never took care of the interior, so it's dirty as hell and just reeks of cigarettes It's also got quite a bit of miles, currently around 186k.

But's it's still kinda sucks because I'm don't actually own the car, and my parents won't let me do any maintenance or learn how to fix things on it since they'd rather pay someone else to do it.

Anyways I've been looking on craigslist still and I've thought about, maybe getting a second car to learn how to fix things on it. I will have roughly 3-4k by the end of the year, which should be plenty to get an old beater, and have enough money left over to fix any issues with it.

Probably my absolute favorite BMWs are E30's and E34's. I think they're the perfect balance between modern and classic. I love the way the headlights look, and E34's have great looking interiors in my opinion. I'm also a fan of E36's. For some reason, I really don't like the look of E39's and E46's, I can't really explain why. But the car I want the most is a decent E34.

Right now I see a couple E30s and E34s on craigslist in decentish condition. There's an E32 740i thats in great condition, but according to the seller it has a rough idle, and he's only asking $800. Then there's a E34 525i for $1800 that's in pretty nice condition, and the seller says it runs great and has no issues, but it does have 200k miles on the clock. There's another E34 525i for $2500 with 170k miles, and it's in good condition and runs well, but it is from a dealership so idk.

Is buying an old E30 or E34 to learn how to work on a good idea? Or will I just be wasting my time and money. I really want to have my own car that I can feel proud that I can actually fix stuff on it and maintain it. I'm pretty skilled with tools generally, but the most I've ever done on a car is changing the oil on my dads 04 Acura RL, which I thought was super easy, and changing the battery on my moms Honda CRV. I'm not looking to spend more than 1-2k on the car itself, and this isn't going to be my daily driver that I have to depend on.

Anyways hope that wasn't too long or boring of a read, I'm just not sure about this idea.
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2015, 08:10 AM
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stonex1 stonex1 is online now
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I say go for it!
Check youtube for DIY videos for an E34 and see what's out there.
Parts might be expensive, but if you are just doing maintenance, like changing oil filters, air filters, and powertrain fluids, you'll be fine.

Post a pic of your new ride if you get one.
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  #3  
Old 06-25-2015, 08:16 AM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is online now
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I own an e30 with over 230k miles on it (manual trans conversion at 130k), and I think it's not too bad to work on. sometimes its an absolute pain, but eh what isn't? if you're actually willing to work on it yourself, I say go for it.

Buy a Bentley manual (red book), and plan on having a good set of 6 pointer metric sockets (and some e-torx). I highly recommend getting one with a low/no rust body, and doing your absolute best to keep it that way if you want to hold onto it long term. another bit of advice that cannot be said too often is NEVER work under a car unless it's on a lift/jackstands!
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Although I have nothing scientific to say, I can confidently say that it works.
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  #4  
Old 06-25-2015, 08:20 AM
Norm37 Norm37 is offline
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Might be a good idea to go to the E34 forum and read the sticky sections. Then post your question in that forum and also in the Do-It-Yourself H.Q. forum.
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  #5  
Old 06-25-2015, 08:29 AM
AlexxRyzhkov AlexxRyzhkov is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u3b3rg33k View Post
I own an e30 with over 230k miles on it (manual trans conversion at 130k), and I think it's not too bad to work on. sometimes its an absolute pain, but eh what isn't? if you're actually willing to work on it yourself, I say go for it.

Buy a Bentley manual (red book), and plan on having a good set of 6 pointer metric sockets (and some e-torx). I highly recommend getting one with a low/no rust body, and doing your absolute best to keep it that way if you want to hold onto it long term. another bit of advice that cannot be said too often is NEVER work under a car unless it's on a lift/jackstands!
Yeah, I definitely am going to buy a good manual for the car, if I get one.
Also awhile ago when I was looking for a guide on how to change oil on a E60, there was a youtube video with some guy working underneath his car without any axle stands and using just a crappy scissor jack. The guy got quite a lot of hate for that lol.

Also just wondering, how much rust is too much rust?
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  #6  
Old 06-25-2015, 10:58 AM
drrpm drrpm is offline
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I had a E21 315 when I was stationed in Germany and it was very easy to work on. Its replacement was an E36 which I enjoyed for 15 years and was a reliable car that rarely needed anything beyond routine maintenance. A lot of people like the E30 but I never really cared for it. The older cars are definitely easier to work on yourself but they don't drive anywhere nearly as nice as my E46.
As far as rust goes, any rust is bad though a little may come with the territory in terms of your age and price points. Rust is a relentless cancer that often requires cutting and welding to fix correctly.
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  #7  
Old 06-25-2015, 11:14 AM
Initial E Initial E is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
hopefully this is the right place to post this...

Anyways, I'm a 16 year old who's never really gave a crap about cars until about a year ago, when a friend made me help him replace his timing belt on his old Accord.
That is quite a task for to be helping with. I've owned a few hondas/acuras and the timing belt change was by far the worst thing ever. Especially since at the time I didnt have air tools. Just thinking about breaking the nut off the crank pulley makes me want to throw a chair out of a window.

But definitely buy an old beater and tinker around with it. Get a good manual like the equivalent to Helm's manual for honda/acura.

Also if you can get your hands on an old motor for next to nothing (running or not) - take it completely apart then put it back together. You'll learn a lot doing that without risking messing it up.

Working on cars is something that you have to learn hands on. You can watch all the youtube vids or read the manuals, but nothing will beat getting your hands dirty fixing something.
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  #8  
Old 06-25-2015, 08:49 PM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
Yeah, I definitely am going to buy a good manual for the car, if I get one.
Also awhile ago when I was looking for a guide on how to change oil on a E60, there was a youtube video with some guy working underneath his car without any axle stands and using just a crappy scissor jack. The guy got quite a lot of hate for that lol.

Also just wondering, how much rust is too much rust?
Rust on the body is what matters most (it's the most expensive to deal with). anything that bolts on can be easily replaced, so surface rust on subframes/diffs/brake parts is rather irrelevant. penetrative rust or massive flaking should be a "think twice" indicator to you, unless you're up for body work.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeNoo View Post
Although I have nothing scientific to say, I can confidently say that it works.
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  #9  
Old 06-26-2015, 03:15 PM
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MeNoo MeNoo is offline
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Visible rust is too much. I'd recommend a 535i/525i E34 5 spd as a great first car. They're not as bad to work on as everyone says they are, and fun to drive, but it will keep you out of trouble stock.
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  #10  
Old 06-27-2015, 07:50 PM
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sixpot_simon sixpot_simon is offline
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The E30 is easier to work on than the E34 (I've owned both), and cheap parts are easier to find. On the other hand, the E30 has become a cult car, so prices are inflated.

Either way, I'd recommend budgeting $2k for repairs once you've bought it
(I'm probably gonna get flamed for that statement! Sure, there is the odd pampered car out there, but I've seen too many people get snowed under with unexpected repairs on a used car they've just bought)

Beware that the cheap cars you see for sale may be because expensive repairs are needed soon. So the current owner is desperate to write off their losses and get rid of it. Do lots of research on the model you're interested in, so that you're an expert in looking for problems by the time you test drive the car.

Sorry this is a bit doom and gloom, just don't wanna see you get burnt. Once you have the cash to support the habit, then go for it! They're wonderful cars when working properly.
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2015, 05:00 AM
AlexxRyzhkov AlexxRyzhkov is offline
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Alright, so a couple things.
First off, any major differences between E32s and E34s? Especially in terms of maintenance cost and difficulty.
Also, do you guys think it's worth driving anywhere between 200-400 miles to find a decent car? In my location, there's almost no decent bmws, mostly just overpriced E46's and E39's. But if I drive down into Texas, there are a lot more cars there, and if I go even further to the Austin area, there are plenty of E30's, E34's and E32's in the $800-$2000 range, most of them running and in decent condition. The literally only E34 in my area is a 95 525i for $1600, and it has a pretty big dent in the drivers side door and the passenger door is bolted shut.

In terms of money, by the time I'm ready to buy a car, I'll have around $3000-$4000 saved up, and I'm trying to find a good running car for around $1200-$1800, which will leave me at least a grand for repairs, plus I'll have more money coming in the future.

My only problem is the lack of decent cars in my area. Not sure if now is a bad time to sell/buy cars or something, but craigslist seems totally empty
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2015, 05:20 AM
Doug Huffman Doug Huffman is offline
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I suggest that one check their expectations.

I started on English cars in the Sixties and graduated to nuclear power plants and submarines. In between I had a new 911E Porsche that taught me to leave the mechanicking to expert specialists. This BMW has not changed my mind.

If you want to drive a Bimmer, first get a good education (the trivium, books), then specialize in a well paying career that will allow you to buy the Bimmer and have the mechanic specialists work on it. By the bye, Bimmer is pronounce with a short 'I' and not beamer. Immer is 'always' in German. BMW Immer.
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2015, 07:43 AM
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KyleDrivesABmw KyleDrivesABmw is offline
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I bought my first car which was an e36 two years ago when I was 16. It was $1200. Also with the job I had I was only getting around $100-150 a week and I was still able to do maintenance and repair parts myself. I also still had money to do modifications. But all of my money went into it which is fine because I love my car.

I say go for it and buy an e34 or whichever older Bmw you want or is a good deal. You're going to have to put alot of money into it. Parts aren't to expensive if you buy them online but dont buy them from a dealership because they are very expensive. I also recommend buying a manual transmission Bmw, automatics will have more problems and the manual is much for fun.

Also as for the education thing, I dont personally agree with that. I'm shipping off to the Navy in a few months and I plan on buying a 135 in a year or two. You don't need alot of money to enjoy and buy a BMW and you don't really need a mechanic. Working on your car isn't difficult and it gives you a better connection with your car
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  #14  
Old 06-29-2015, 06:07 AM
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sixpot_simon sixpot_simon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
First off, any major differences between E32s and E34s? Especially in terms of maintenance cost and difficulty.
Purely because there are more E34s around, E32-specific parts will be rarer and probably more expensive. And there's more E34 knowledge floating around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
Also, do you guys think it's worth driving anywhere between 200-400 miles to find a decent car?
Absolutely. Finding the right car is critical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
In terms of money, by the time I'm ready to buy a car, I'll have around $3000-$4000 saved up, and I'm trying to find a good running car for around $1200-$1800, which will leave me at least a grand for repairs, plus I'll have more money coming in the future.
Good plan.

I completely disagree that maintenance/repairs is something you pay someone else to do. Sure, you're not going to be rebuilding engines the first day you pick up a spanner, but you slowly build up your skills and start tackling bigger jobs. I know plenty of people with nice BMWs who are hardly rolling in cash. By getting their hands dirty, the running costs are very reasonable. In their case, the commitment is time instead of money.
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  #15  
Old 06-29-2015, 10:30 AM
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Dave 20T Dave 20T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexxRyzhkov View Post
But's it's still kinda sucks because I'm don't actually own the car, and my parents won't let me do any maintenance or learn how to fix things on it since they'd rather pay someone else to do it.
Don't worry about not owing the car. It is entrusted to you. Maintenance is an excellent way to start to become familiar with the car. You have more time so you can do better workmanship, like letting the oil drain more completely and not overtightening things.

Now is the time to learn. Later in life, you will be too busy to learn.

Life is short. The critical window that I learned about how cars work has resulted in me being the family expert on car problems. Of course, forums like this one help increase knowledge. Not counting washing the car and checking tire pressure, I just work on cars about 4 times a year but knowledge helps a lot. It also saves money because the mechanic thinks I know what is going on.

It's also nice to have a used car as your first car. You can then make a few mistakes on it.

Last edited by Dave 20T; 06-29-2015 at 10:31 AM.
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