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E36 M3 (1995-1999)

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  #1  
Old 10-26-2010, 03:44 PM
4rkit3ct 4rkit3ct is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 e36 M3
Cost to maintian an e36 M3

I am considering buying a 1999 M3 and have been trying to research approximately what I can expect to pay in order to properly maintain the vehicle. The M3 I have been looking at has just over 100k miles on it and the owner claims to have done all of the regular maintenance on it over the years. I also know that many people claim that, if maintained properly, they can last well over 200k miles.

I was reading through the thread talking about common problems with the M3, that combined with the fact that parts for BMWs tend to run a bit high has made me start to reconsider. Now, I am planning to purchase a car with over 100k miles on it so I expect to have to pay a fair amount to maintain it, but having never owned and e36 M3 and I have no idea roughly how much this will cost. I do a lot of the maintenance on my cars myself so I do have that going for me…

Can any of you experienced owners give me any estimates of what I can expect to pay for regular maintenance?
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2010, 05:05 PM
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Killjoy Killjoy is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 M3, 2002 tii
Cooling system overhaul - 400-600 dollars.

All wearable suspension bits (rubber, control arms, subframe mounts, etc.) - Check Bimmerworld, FCP Groton, Bavautuo, prices vary wildly depending on type of material you are putting back into the suspension, such as rubber polyurethane.

All fluids changed, using Full Synthetic and BMW coolant - 100-300

Always expect the unexpected. Something will likely pop up maintenance wise that you were not planning on, and it can be costly or minor. Reinforcing shock towers is a must (trust me, I have the skinny wallet to prove it.)

Try posting the regular e36 section, not the e36 ///M section. The ///M subforums on bimmerfest are oh so dead, and most of the e36 ///M owners kick it at the regular e36 section anyways, so you can get a lot more help there rather than here.

I probably left some maintenance issues out, so search this question on the 'fest and you should definitely come up with something. Welcome to Bimmerfest!

Also, post some pictures of your car, we like that around here!
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  #3  
Old 10-27-2010, 06:05 AM
Staric Staric is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 M3
I bought my '97 M3 not quite six years ago when it had 86k on the odometer. To date, I've put about another 46k miles on it and have spent a little over $7000 on repairs (ouch). These are repairs - not upgrades - and I'm not including tires, oil changes, etc. I've also done some very minor stuff myself, like the brake light circuit fix. My biggest ticket items seem to have been suspension problems. Currently, my ABS/ASC lights come on frequently, which is most likely an ABS control unit issue, which is something like a $1500 repair I just cannot stomach rigth now (though I'm looking into cheaper options). I don't track the car or anything - it's just a daily driver.

Hope this helps.

PS - The good news is that the car has never - not once - failed to start, died or otherwise been unfit to drive, except for once when I had a dead battery (due to age) and had to get a jump start. It's been unbelievably reliable - knock on wood.

Last edited by Staric; 10-27-2010 at 06:09 AM.
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  #4  
Old 10-27-2010, 08:21 AM
4rkit3ct 4rkit3ct is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 e36 M3
Thanks for the replies, that does help a lot. I will try re posting it over on the regular e36 forums to see if I can get anything else.
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  #5  
Old 10-28-2010, 04:08 AM
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rrsperry rrsperry is offline
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Sage piece of advice.

If you can't afford to pay for the car twice, don't get an old German sports coupe...

If you can't do most of the work yourself, don't get an old German sports coupe.

Properly cared for, the car can last a long long time. But they do require maintenance. Fluid changes every 30K, spark plugs and filters every 30K brake fluid, pads and rotors, tires, cooling system replacement every 80-100K miles, (you can upgrade to lifetime components but it does cost more.), Suspension bushings, and other parts, alignments. Pretty much everything you can ignore on a Asian car and the thing will just keep on ticking. (no here)
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:51 AM
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Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is offline
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Like everyone else said. At that mileage, you need to buy a car that has a lot of PREVENTATIVE stuff done, not just fixing what out and out breaks.

Check the maintenance records, get a good feel for the owner (the more anal he seems the better), and get a PPI. All this said, the 99 is the best M3 ever. ;-)

Another tip if you join the few and the proud -- m3forum.com is very active, and only talks M3.
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  #7  
Old 11-22-2010, 01:08 PM
waldo170 waldo170 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 E36 M3
Glad I saw this thread. I just bought my first M3. @killjoy What wing is that on the rear M3 in your signature?
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  #8  
Old 12-05-2010, 05:38 AM
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It's the factory low arch... At least that's what it looks like.
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2010, 02:59 PM
DAVIDZM DAVIDZM is offline
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These cars have what they refer as "BULLET PROOF ENGINES" i have had a ton of them. The 99's are the way to go. I have never spent 7k on any of them and just looks like a crook mechanic took advantage of your lack of knowledge regarding your m3. Always look for head gasket leaks and make sure the water pump, cooling system have been checked. Treat these cars well and they will return the favor. O and 200k miles is nothing. My friend has a 95 with 302k miles and still strong. Enjoy it
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  #10  
Old 12-11-2010, 04:33 PM
chambolle chambolle is offline
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I have a "hellrot" 1995 M3, delivered to the US in 12/1994. I am the original owner and have just over 75,000 miles on it. Maintenance has been minimal, with some prominent exceptions: (1) BMW replaced the engine at about 8,000 miles -- engine torched as result of missed shift,, in turn a result of probable transmission defect. (2) Cooling system has been a frequent source of difficulty - water pump supernova resulted in expensive repair including radiator replacement; more recently, the replacement pump seized with considerable damage to fan assembly. It's probably time to consider comprehensive suspension overhaul, although nothing has failed. But the engine is strong; other than the usual unavoidable door and rock dings the body is solid with no apparent rust issues; and the car still turns heads.
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  #11  
Old 12-11-2010, 04:50 PM
chambolle chambolle is offline
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And I guess to stay on track with the 'cost to maintain' theme, other than the issues just described, routine maintenance on this car has really been pretty minimal -- if you don't count tires, a few batteries, regular oil changes and the like, this has been a trouble free car that has not cost a lot to maintain over the 15 years I have owned it. Unless I go nuts and swap it for a new 1 series M car, it will probably continue to serve as a fun to drive daily commuter for another decade.
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  #12  
Old 12-13-2010, 12:32 PM
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To really maintain the car you need to replace all the suspension bushings every 100K miles, along with the cooling system, shocks, front and real ball joints, (entire control arm for the front) Yep it's expensive, but how many miles are you really going to put on an E36 M3? I've had mine 16 years, and only have 72K... So the average cost for me is about nothing... but it's coming due. (other than tires which I seem to use up at an alraming rate...lol)
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  #13  
Old 12-13-2010, 02:29 PM
chambolle chambolle is offline
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My feeling is that a new car equivalent to the E36 M3 will cost me upwards of $35,000. That new car will depreciate considerably during its first 24 months of life post-purchase. Instead of making that investment, I can quite happily put $5K to $10K into my existing low mileage M3 and be quite happy with my transportation for at least a few more years. Alas, as someone just told me, as soon as I do that, I've probably increased the risk that some bozo will run a stop sign and t-bone me in an intersection, or rear-end me at a red light, but such is life. I'm still disinclined to let the cost of required maintenance and upgrades push me into buying a new car -- esp. as I find the newer BMW models less than exciting. Maybe if the 1-series M car didn't look like a pot-bellied pig, wasn't about 500 pounds overweight and gave me the option of a sunroof, I might be tempted. As things are, I'll keep my low mileage E36 M3. I'm guessing that in the long run, by not buying a new car (with the resources required to manufacture it) and not driving the national average of upwards of 12,000 miles per year, I'm more 'energy efficient' and 'carbon neutral' than your average Prius owner. And I'm doing it without having to drive a golf cart on the freeway.
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  #14  
Old 12-13-2010, 09:04 PM
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Seriously, $35K to replace an E36 M3? Hell almost any new crapbox today is probably a better car. Mazda3 to name one. A Mini Cooper is just about as much fun and gets 50% better gas mileage, and has great resale value...
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  #15  
Old 12-14-2010, 06:00 AM
chambolle chambolle is offline
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Wait, you're seriously arguing that a Mini or a Mazda 3 is the equivalent of an M3? I'll grant you that both are fun little rides, but neither is anywhere near as comfortable or substantial an autombobile. You can barely squeeze a small ten year old in the back seat of a Mini. In addition, by the time you get done optioning up a Mini Cooper S, you're $30K into it. I bought my '95 M3 new, cash, for the princely sum of $33,750. Other than gas, oil, tires, a few batteries, insurance and an occasional repair, it hasn't cost me diddly for 15 years and it has kept perhaps half of its value.

And I seriously doubt that a Mazda 3 is going to be a car you will still want to own 15 years from now.

I'll grant you there has been a lot of new technology since 1995, and even modest cars have lots more bells and whistles than a '95 M3. But that's like saying you'd rather have a Mazda 3 instead of an Austin Healey 3000 in impeccable condition. The Healey may not have air bags and bluetooth and GPS, but gimme a break, it's still a real car 50 years after it was built. The "crapboxes" as you affectionately refer to them will always be just that -- crapboxes.
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  #16  
Old 12-14-2010, 06:16 AM
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rrsperry rrsperry is offline
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With the Mini, you are pretty close to $30K, mine was $28.5, (almost $31K with taxes and fees), for a 2010 MCS with all 4 packages. 4 year warranty, bells and whistles... It is a great little car. Since I don't ever tote people around, 2 seats in the M3 or 2 seats in the Mini, it's a draw. My wife has a Mazda 3, (auto) it's a good car, no problems at all and still under warranty. Cleans up pretty nice, Cost her $23K... Just saying..

Anyway, You just never know what's going to happen with a 16 year old German car...
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  #17  
Old 12-14-2010, 11:43 AM
chambolle chambolle is offline
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Definitely true. You don't drive a 16 year old M3 because it's the most reliable and practical transportation. That's why we have a newer 3-series wagon to get us where we need to go. The Mini and the Mazda 3 are both well priced, well made and fun little cars. But comparing them to an M car, no matter its age, is an apples and oranges proposition.
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  #18  
Old 12-23-2010, 10:02 AM
Cosmos Kramer Cosmos Kramer is offline
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Originally Posted by rrsperry View Post
Sage piece of advice.

If you can't afford to pay for the car twice, don't get an old German sports coupe...
or you could save yourself some time, and just buy 2.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:59 AM
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Although you have experience working on other cars a bimmer can be different from any other car you've worked on. It can be very frustrating
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:59 AM
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or you could save yourself some time, and just buy 2.
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