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E30 (1982 - 1993)
God's Chariot. The E30 was produced primarily from 1982 through 1991. The cabriolet was the one exception which was produced through 1993.

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  #1  
Old 05-13-2012, 05:38 PM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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Mein Auto: 05 E60 545i, 84 E30 318i
Wanting an E30

Hi everyone, I am new to the forums here, in fact, i just signed up. I come here with questions about the E30. I am an E60 driver, 545i. One day, when I can afford an ///M, I will have one, with a manual, but the problem is, I not too well versed in driving a manual. I know how to drive with a standard gear box, but not as well as somone whos been driving one for years. I leared how to drive a stick on a dying toyota hilux while i was in afghanistan a few years ago, but the speed limits on base were much too slow to open up and get past 3rd, not that you could anyway, because the roads there just simply would not allow you to. Long story short, I want to buy a cheap car to learn stick with, but i dont want some old honda or toyota. I want a BMW. More specifically, the E30. My 5 series is automatic with shift override, and my other car is a 2000 mitsubishi galant automatic, which brings me to my questions about the E30. There are a few being sold in my area for reasonalble prices with manual gearboxes. The E30 will replace my galant which by the way, is a very dependable and low maintenance car, and is my everyday driver. So my questions finally are:

Is the E30 dependable. will maintenace costs make up for such low prices?

What are the major problems with the E30?

What are all the major component time changes?

What milage should the motor and trans be rebuilt, or changed.(i ask this because the ones im looking at are cheap because they have about 250K on them, but still run. The motors ive seen are the 2.5e's and 2.5i's)

what should i watch for in buying such a dated BMW. I understand that buying such an old car is a gamble, and if the previous owners did not take care of it, it can be a money pit. these questions are mainly aimed at the E30 itself, not a specific car.

Any other thoughts?

I just dont want to get off on buying an inexpensive car, just to end up throing money away on endless maintenance. Its such a good looking car which is why i want one, but im still paying off my first BMW, so I dont have major amouts of money to spend on another, just enough to keep it running, and provide a little TLC.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:57 PM
91318is 91318is is offline
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Is the E30 dependable. will maintenace costs make up for such low prices?
- I find mine to be very very dependable (1984 318i automatic)


What are the major problems with the E30?
- Every car has its own story and depends where it is from. I am in California and I bought mine that was running rough, common stuff I have noticed while shopping on craigslist is mass air flow meters, idle control valves, suspension bushings, etc. Pretty much anything on these cars are really simple to fix yourself and parts are available and not expensive at all compared to most cars. Please don't believe the "German cars are so much more to work on" bull@#$, most people who say that just get ripped off by mechanics for little things they could do themselves.


What are all the major component time changes?
- I haven't noticed anything dramatic or different from most cars when it comes to frequency of maintenance and repairs. I can tell you that the biggest component that I rarely have to add if the fuel in my car! I love the 318's fuel economy! All sarcasm aside, it has your typical filters (oil, air, fuel) that should be changed on a regular basis. Brakes, Tires, etc all last pretty good for me. ***Water Pumps*** I almost forgot to mention that water pumps tend to be changed every 50,000 miles! It is NOT that hard of a job and can be a cheap fix by doing it yourself. Pumps go from $50 (Pelican Parts for a 318i) up to $400 for full kits.


What milage should the motor and trans be rebuilt, or changed.(i ask this because the ones im looking at are cheap because they have about 250K on them, but still run. The motors ive seen are the 2.5e's and 2.5i's)
- As I said before, it all really depends on how well the car was taken care of. I can't speak for the car but an engine cycle can last anywhere from 150k-300k, transmissions (manual) should not be too much to have rebuilt if needed (can't speak for that since I have a bullet proof automatic). I will tell you this though, if my engine needed to be rebuilt or replaced, I will just buy a used M20 engine and replace it when that. Cost pretty much the same anyways.



what should i watch for in buying such a dated BMW. I understand that buying such an old car is a gamble, and if the previous owners did not take care of it, it can be a money pit. these questions are mainly aimed at the E30 itself, not a specific car.
- I posted before on someones thread about this. I look for common wear around the car (if cosmetic matters to you), get the car up to 65 and see how it runs, test the suspension out by making some good hard sharp turns, maybe hit a speed bump if possible, look under the car at the bushings/suspension/ flex disc (I will post pictures later) but these tend to wear out and need replacing, making sure all the instruments in the cluster works, AC/Heat, check belts (shows how good the owner takes care of it), radiator, LEAKS* after you take the car out for a spin take a look under the car after 5-10 minutes to see if anything is leaking, in particular check out under the rack and pinion ($195 part plus labor if you need a shop to do it), hit the brakes a couple times to see if the rotors are warped (vibrating while stopping) and will only mean you need new rotors/pads, check all the lights, make sure all locks and windows are working, *check transmission fluid*! make sure it isn't dark brown or black, and even if the fluid was changed, smell if it smells burnt. Sorry I could have made all this more clear by spacing it out. But just give the car a good look through before you make a purchase.



Any other thoughts?
- Great cars all around! Fun to drive, fun to learn with (After working with a few for a little over a year, I can almost replace anything myself, fuel efficient, fast (pretty much any E30 except a 318i Automatic), very comfortable to drive with the right suspension and seats, parts are cheap and easy to get with all the websites out there. Not much else I can say off the top of my head, but good luck in your search! Feel free to message or post with any questions!

Last edited by 91318is; 05-13-2012 at 09:58 PM. Reason: Poorly organized
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  #3  
Old 05-13-2012, 11:18 PM
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fcsteve fcsteve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ///Mariani View Post
what should i watch for in buying such a dated BMW. I understand that buying such an old car is a gamble, and if the previous owners did not take care of it, it can be a money pit. these questions are mainly aimed at the E30 itself, not a specific car.
you kind of answered your own post right from the start. everything you asked all depends on how the previous owners took care of it. these cars can last well over 500,000 miles with the proper care. Mobil had an e30 running for 4 years straight, only stopping to perform scheduled BMW maintenance and even after 1,000,000 miles of travel, everything was still within BMW specifications for a brand new car.

if you purchase a cheap car that was not maintained well, you will be looking at around $1500 worth of "catch up" maintenance just so you do not have to risk anything. after that you will be looking at nothing but oil changes for a few years depending on how often and far you drive.

these cars are very dependable and long lasting, but just like most cars .. ONLY with the proper care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJeremy28 View Post
- As I said before, it all really depends on how well the car was taken care of. I can't speak for the car but an engine cycle can last anywhere from 150k-300k, transmissions (manual) should not be too much to have rebuilt if needed (can't speak for that since I have a bullet proof automatic). I will tell you this though, if my engine needed to be rebuilt or replaced, I will just buy a used M20 engine and replace it when that. Cost pretty much the same anyways.
these engines last WAY longer then that with no rebuild needed. i had a 325e with over 350k that went 5 years without an oil change and was still a dependable car in no need of a rebuild.

Also, Your opinion on "bullet proof" automatic transmissions is incorrect. i purchased an original owner 325e with less then 130k original miles and the auto trans had been replaced 2 times. the first time was with a brand new trans, the second time was rebuilt. the auto transmissions on these cars are not that great, very far from "bullet proof". the manual transmissions on these cars can last a very long time, but if you are constantly grinding gears .. no transmission in the world will last. the manual transmissions CAN take heavy abuse tho(popping the cultch, slamming gears, etc.) if it came down to it and you did destroy the trans, have it replaced with another used trans, do not pay the insane amounts it costs to have 1 fully rebuilt, it's not worth it.

Lastly, it costs nowhere near the same to rebuild an m20 as it does to buy a new(used) m20. used m20's can be had for less then $200. to rebuilt an m20 you are looking at well over $1500 in JUST rebuild costs. M20's are a dime a dozen because everyone is removing them to install newer engines.
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  #4  
Old 05-13-2012, 11:20 PM
pjoa09 pjoa09 is offline
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I'd suggest to pay a little extra. At least for the body work. A well maintained E30 should require little work and regular maintenance.
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  #5  
Old 05-14-2012, 05:25 AM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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Ok thanks. It would seem then that the E30 is a solid car. I cant wait to have one. Since its gonna be replacing my daily driver, I just wanted to know a little more about the E30, because it will be my daily driver. I should have one in the next three to four months.
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:29 AM
91318is 91318is is offline
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@fcsteve

Like I said all cars are different. You are picking the "perfect" ideal cars and using them to compare to the average abused e30. The 150k-300k is what I have seen many of them worked on. They can go up to 500k easy if properly cared its whole life, not with owners replacing oil ever 5 years (even though it's done by mileage).

Secondly, you do it again and I mention my (automatic) transmission being bulletproof. Again, I actually maintain my car properly and with proper transmission care, it does last as mine has. And that is all I mentioned. Hence why I said I can't speak for manuals? Obviously you are just looking to correct anyone and anything. Again, take care of your car and you wouldn't have so many problems.

Lastly, about the engine rebuilding, you are wrong again. If your engine blows, a rebuild will be about $1000-$1500. So buying an engine for $300 (fixing anything wrong could cost more), having it picked up or shipped and installed will cost you something called "labor" unless you can do it yourself. Roughly $700-$1000 to have your old one removed and sent out as a core and the new one installed. Again, think before you speak.
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJeremy28 View Post
@fcsteve

1. Like I said all cars are different. You are picking the "perfect" ideal cars and using them to compare to the average abused e30. The 150k-300k is what I have seen many of them worked on. They can go up to 500k easy if properly cared its whole life, not with owners replacing oil ever 5 years (even though it's done by mileage).

2. Secondly, you do it again and I mention my (automatic) transmission being bulletproof. Again, I actually maintain my car properly and with proper transmission care, it does last as mine has. And that is all I mentioned. Hence why I said I can't speak for manuals? Obviously you are just looking to correct anyone and anything. Again, take care of your car and you wouldn't have so many problems.

3. Lastly, about the engine rebuilding, you are wrong again. If your engine blows, a rebuild will be about $1000-$1500. So buying an engine for $300 (fixing anything wrong could cost more), having it picked up or shipped and installed will cost you something called "labor" unless you can do it yourself. Roughly $700-$1000 to have your old one removed and sent out as a core and the new one installed. Again, think before you speak.
1. ive seen MANY abused e30's go well over 300k no problem. ive worked on/owned more of these then most people would ever want to. from royally abused e30's to well taken care of e30's.

2. the automatic transmission in the original owner e30 i purchased blew while still under factory BMW warranty and while still being maintained directly by the BMW dealer. the auto transmissions in these cars are not as great as you'd like to think. But on the topic of this thread, mentioning your auto trans at all is unneeded as it is completely irrelevant considering the OP wants a manual and is asking about a manual. i was simply correcting you on misinformation.

3. this is the third time you are wrong. rebuilding a motor costs around $1500 ON TOP of having to remove the motor. No shop is goign to fully rebuild your motor while its sitting in the car .. it would be pretty hard to work the proper machinery with a car around the motor. so the cost to remove the motor remains a common factor either way. the price of a good condition used motor is less than $300 all day which makes the new(used) engine a much, MUCH cheaper scenario.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:29 PM
91318is 91318is is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcsteve View Post
1. ive seen MANY abused e30's go well over 300k no problem. ive worked on/owned more of these then most people would ever want to. from royally abused e30's to well taken care of e30's.

2. the automatic transmission in the original owner e30 i purchased blew while still under factory BMW warranty and while still being maintained directly by the BMW dealer. the auto transmissions in these cars are not as great as you'd like to think. But on the topic of this thread, mentioning your auto trans at all is unneeded as it is completely irrelevant considering the OP wants a manual and is asking about a manual. i was simply correcting you on misinformation.

3. this is the third time you are wrong. rebuilding a motor costs around $1500 ON TOP of having to remove the motor. No shop is goign to fully rebuild your motor while its sitting in the car .. it would be pretty hard to work the proper machinery with a car around the motor. so the cost to remove the motor remains a common factor either way. the price of a good condition used motor is less than $300 all day which makes the new(used) engine a much, MUCH cheaper scenario.

Are you serious or just living in Pennsylvania? Shops do not charge you to rebuild the engine and then charge to pull the engine in and out. Besides...I can have it done for about $1000 in California. And you are incorrect about about the cost being a common factor. Rebuilding includes taking out the motor, you buying a used engine then bringing it to a shop and having them replace is DOES cost labor...did you know that at least? Not just $300 and magically have someone do it for free.

As for the transmission, you should read where it says "What milage should the motor and trans be rebuilt, or changed." and all the topics above asking about E30s.

Also, you mention about seeing many E30s go well above 300k...so does this mean you have seen them your entire life? suggesting you were even born around the time the car was built? So how do you even know? Again..YOU DON'T. For all you know, they could have had head gaskets replaced, engines rebuilt, or anything. And if you actually believe that it is common for a 325i or e to have over 300,000 miles with no work done, you are a complete fool. Like I said before...there probably are a few, but not a general idea to wear them to the ground. Keeping changing that oil every 5 years like you do!

P.S. I won't waste my time with someone who speaks for the cars life and uses it as an example for the general population, although you probably were born between 84-90. I am just giving him my personal opinion and really you have no room to judge or comment. Everything you commented on was trying to correct something you had no knowledge of, including MY TRANSMISSION, Repair cost across the country, and anything I have experienced. Everything I said had to do with MY personal experiences, prices, work, maintenance. Notice how much room I gave between mileage and how often I said 'I can't speak for the individual car".
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:38 PM
91318is 91318is is offline
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I will say this though from one E30 owners to another, they are great cars all around along with the owners. No sense in going back and forth about stuff that doesn't matter. I enjoy talking to anyone about these cars and give them my best personal opinions and I only speak for the cars I have dealt with. No harm intended and I don't mean to offend you or anyone. All I ask is for the same courtesy and I am sure we can learn a lot from each other. Hope to see you around the forums and I enjoy your past post. Sorry for any offense I may have caused.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:39 PM
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i can't argue with someone who has no clue or understanding of what they are ignorantly arguing about. you clearly do not know these cars well, you also clearly don't know what shops are like. i also can't argue with someone who has no idea who they are talking to.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:56 PM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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Well i did not mean to spark a thread of arguments lol. But yes, my questions were mainly general towards the E30, and not towards the one i might have where as ill then worry about how well the car was treated and how frequently the oil is changed. Pretty much the E30 all around, If I find the best one i can find and take care of it like my first two cars (which is pretty well, in fact, I never let my E60 go to the BMW recommended 15,000 mile oil change deadline, I dont even like going above 3K but ill let it slide up to 7K then change.) will it in return give me the same dependability as say maybe a Honda? And everyone here seems to stand by their E30 which is expected, this is the E30 Forum after all. And this possible soon to be E30 of mine will replace my first car, the galant. My biggest worry with that is that this galant is a very dependable car, my every day driver. In my four years of owning the car, the only thing thats has broken was the AC compressor, an $800 fix, steep, but my only biggest problem yet. Ive seen many the same model and year broke down, on the side of the road, or extremly beat up worn and dying. So I know a bit about owner abuse or neglect, I just want to get to know the E30 a little more before I live with one.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:28 AM
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it will be just as dependable as a honda. as we said .. only if it was either well taken care of, or you took care of it as soon as you bought it. but thats the same story for a Honda as well.

ive been driving e30's for a long time. i've never had a part fail before it was due for regular scheduled maintenance. they are very reliable cars.
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:11 AM
pjoa09 pjoa09 is offline
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Not trying to enrage DrJeremy28 here but what you are saying is that, give or take, a mechanic will remove your engine, rebuild it, and reinstall it for as much as it would cost to remove your engine, and install it again. I am just saying that from reading that, this scenario exists.

Don't know what is sent out as core. But if a motor can be rebuilt I think someone would at least pay a penny for it.


I am a complete noob on E30s so these are just assumptions.

Last edited by pjoa09; 05-15-2012 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:49 AM
91318is 91318is is offline
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Originally Posted by pjoa09 View Post
Not trying to enrage DrJeremy28 here but what you are saying is that, give or take, a mechanic will remove your engine, rebuild it, and reinstall it for as much as it would cost to remove your engine, and install it again. I am just saying that from reading that, this scenario exists.

Don't know what is sent out as core. But if a motor can be rebuilt I think someone would at least pay a penny for it.


I am a complete noob on E30s so these are just assumptions.


No engagement here lol.
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:08 PM
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Timing belt
Water pump
Window regulators and misc electronic bits
Depending on car an ecu
Body work if rust
Standard issue plugs, wires, discap, filters, fluids
Other than that it's cherry...and stay away from auto bmw's unless it's <10yrs old is a rule I adhere to religiously
Now go find you a half decent on post pics and forget about driving anything else ever again!
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:04 AM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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So I found one. 87 325e 5 speed. Needs work. The owners says its been sitting for a little over a year now. Does not start. he says he was told that it needs a new computer. Motor looks intact. Few rust spots on body. Looks like exhuast manifold is rusted up. Odo does not work, he say stopped at 120K. What do you guys think. I plan to have it at least running at around a grand. Is this possible?
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:30 AM
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Mariani, is that the car listed in Roswell? I saw the CL posting. It would be worth a look. It is probably NOT going to be the ECU. More likely something like a crank position sensor or fuel pump. If you buy it (offer him $300) start with the simple/cheap stuff. The computers aren't normally a failure item in these cars.

Good luck.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:34 AM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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yes, is that very one. How much do you think that fix would cost to AT LEAST get it to run?
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:34 AM
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Unless you're dead-set on a coupe, this might be a better car:

http://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/cto/2958116397.html

You could pick up another front bumper from the wrecking yard for cheap.
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Last edited by hornhospital; 05-26-2012 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:47 AM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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oooh, nice find, im calling now.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:49 AM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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its been sold
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ///Mariani View Post
yes, is that very one. How much do you think that fix would cost to AT LEAST get it to run?
No way to tell without seeing and testing it. If the body is in decent shape it would be worth putting a few hundred into.

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oooh, nice find, im calling now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ///Mariani View Post
its been sold

The decent ones go quick. I hate CL sellers that leave the ads up well after they've sold the item. A friend of mine bought an E30 close to me two weeks ago. The ad is still up.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:15 PM
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Another one in your area. Needs body work/paint but runs: CORRECTION: NEEDS FUEL PUMP...probably not a runner. Not worth a grand.

http://atlanta.craigslist.org/eat/cto/2949785314.html

Have you noticed how many E30 automatics, 4 cylinders, sedans and especially cabriolets there are listed these days??? It's getting hard to find a running 5-speed 325 coupe, at least in the southeast.
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1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
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Last edited by hornhospital; 05-26-2012 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 05-26-2012, 05:45 PM
///Mariani ///Mariani is offline
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Mein Auto: 05 E60 545i, 84 E30 318i
Found another one. hes asking 2K. He says Lights stay on and kill the batt when he shuts the car down, and also, it wont shift into 4th. MAy talk him down on the price.
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:11 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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Mein Auto: 1995 318is / 1993 325is
Lights staying on is no big deal...light switch deteriorating inside, but not going into 4th is a red flag. Points to (probably) big problems with the transmission. Not an easy fix. Better to source a replacement. That should be a major bargain-down point if you negotiate for it. The rest of the car will have to be exceptional to warrant $2000.
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