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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
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  #1  
Old 10-27-2019, 07:37 AM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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Z3 - buy or not

Been looking at a really cheap Z3 (Europe 1.8L engine) 1999 model.

Body looks good, no rust or dings as I could see. Headlamps needs polishing.

Drives well (gearbox etc feels good), though at breaking there are some vibrations and rear disks were a bit rusty (car seem to have not been driven much latest year).

At standstill the temp raised to 75% but below red. The heater at full were not that hot actually. According to owner the engine was exchanged to another used unit a year ago.

Edit: AC was not working and battery was shut also... And no original radio.

I will not have the budget to buy a nice 2.8 (right now) and want a decent car that will be driven <5000km/year (ie I have another everyday car).

Had several things not so nice;

Generally it seem not to have been well taken care of, really dirty interior.

Driver seat had torn leather at side support (seems common on all types of cars) but also in the middle of the seat there were two big rips and the leather had lots of cracks. Pass seat also not so nice.

Door panels seem to not been correctly mounted, handles loose, some plastic parts gone (and what about the side airbags, where are they?).

Water leaking in at the A-pillar, the rear window.

Mould stains on back of seats, seatbelts etc.

One side mirror haning.

Both side windows wont go down by themselfes, they seem to go good in the front but rear part of window sticking when going down, if "helped" they go down and up again but a bit slow.

Top had grayish rear window and some wear spots, but was decent.

If I have some luck, seats can be fixable to look nice, interior will clean up, windows easy fixed and door panels easy to repair and attach again. Mirrors seem to fail also on nice cars.

The nightmare, the interior will still look like ***, there are some cooling issue, the brake vibrations require to change all joints in the front end, both side windows will need complete new mechanism...

I don't have the time to put 100 hours in the car, but I can put some evenings fixing things up...

I'm really hesitant if this is something to buy or if I should keep looking. Here a decent 1.8 Z3 is about 4000-5000. This one is 2500. That is a low price I think. But interior looks like ****. It will still be fun to drive.

Any advice? Buy or walk away?

Last edited by Z3_JZ3; 10-27-2019 at 07:53 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2019, 07:04 PM
vintage42's Avatar
vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Wait until you can afford a decent 1.8.
If you buy this car for 2500, the problems that you have easily seen, and the problems what you will find out after buying, will add more than another 2500. Plus you will have spent hundreds of hours of time, and end up with a car that is still not very decent.
I would not accept this car as a free gift.
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:00 PM
[email protected] tgilbert@embarq is offline
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depends ,,,, first off how handy are you ?how much do you want to spend on repairs.It can be cheaper to buy a better car up front then to rebuild one a little at a time.But,,,If you really like the car and you like a project well just go for it and have fun.Lots of guys like a car that is not perfect but is fun .
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  #4  
Old 10-28-2019, 02:14 AM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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I like to fix with cars, though some parts seems expensive to buy and I would not like to do a really bad deal. Perhaps I give an even lower offer, like 2k euro and fix it up the cheapest possible way... Mirrors and interior grab handles need parts and they seem rather expensive. Rest of the interior probably fixable to look ok with some work but not much money. Brakes an front suspension will probably need work on most cars.

Not that many z3 for sale here... If it is a bit rough, I will use it more as I need not to care that much...
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2019, 10:55 AM
zed3coupe zed3coupe is offline
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Interior is just a pain but shouldn't effect it mechanically. Could be come real expensive to replace all that stuff tho. If you can deal with it or it cleans up nice, no real cost them. Coolant system should be overhauled regardless if it was a 2k car or a 6k car. Been on my 4th e36 style bmw and have replaced the coolant systems day 1. With the heat not being to hot, sounds like air trapped in system. Brakes are simple and replacing those should fix vibration. Figure maybe $800 to replace coolant system and brakes. If these are the only mechanical issues (highly unlikely based on how it sounds) not a horrible deal. Still might be better to save and buy a better example.
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  #6  
Old 10-29-2019, 11:16 AM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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What is exchanged in cooling system? Thermostat, pump, radiator? Something more? Why is not a flush of the radiator enough? Probably some threads about this, I will search for it. Never had any reason to change radiator on any other old car I owned...
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2019, 11:20 AM
z3jeff z3jeff is offline
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Here in the states, independent BMW shops will do a pre-purchase inspection for approx $100. Often they uncover hidden problems and are especially help full in finding mechanical issues. I don't know the procedure for them in the UK. Just a suggestion.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:23 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3_JZ3 View Post
What is exchanged in cooling system? Thermostat, pump, radiator? Something more? Why is not a flush of the radiator enough?... Never had any reason to change radiator on any other old car I owned...
The plastic parts begin to fail after 60,000 miles.

The plastic parts are the radiator, expansion tank, and plastic connector pipes on the block and head. With age and heat, the plastic becomes brittle and fractures. Expansion tanks leak. Radiator spigots crack under their clamps. The bottom of its radiator can explode, driving the radiator up out of its mounts. Very many 1.9s have had the connector on the back of the head break. The last two kinds of events cause such sudden loss of coolant that the head usually is overheated and warped.

That plastic Y connector on the head is particularly dangerous. It should be replaced ASAP because:
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showthrea...hlight=cooling

The Y connector on the back of the head has a companion connector pipe under the intake manifold. It can also break spontaneously, and often fails when tugged on to replace hoses:
https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...pe-Replacement

And then the plastic radiator and expansion tank sometimes crack or burst, or a spigot breaks:
https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...1#post29764581
https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...1#post29764581
And the water pump bearing or seal can go bad, or the impeller even come apart.

Failures that result in sudden loss of coolant can run the head dry before action is taken to shut the engine down, which can overheat and warp the head. There are many stories like these:
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sh...9&postcount=12

So if you are going to keep the 1.9 awhile, or drive it much, the entire cooling system should be replaced at one time for economy and convenience. These are the parts:
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showthread.php?t=18066

Buy what the vendor will call Original or OE BMW parts for the cooling system. There are substandard parts that may not fit, seal or last as well, like this example:
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sh...59&postcount=1

Last edited by vintage42; 10-30-2019 at 05:27 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-30-2019, 01:04 PM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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I bought it, seem to drive well. Are some things to sort out. Thanks for the info about cooling system. Winter comes now here and I have nowhere to work indoors with the car, so I will probably remove seats and try to fix them. The mechanical parts will need to wait until spring. This car will likely serve me well on sunny days. Waiting for a 2020 VW Passat gte pehv as my daily driver. Not fun but environmently friendly... Thanks for all advise, more questions will likely pop up during my journey...
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Old 11-03-2019, 03:35 PM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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Anyware to find electrical scematics for the vehicle. It seems that someone have replaced the seats and interior rear view mirror to "M" spec. The mirror have a (what I think) non working autodim function, an alarm LED... But the key with 3 buttons had a flat battery and I cannot by following the instructions reconnect it to the vehicle. I read that the receiver for the OEM keyless entry is mounted in the rear view mirror. But perhaps the diffrent model years did have different systems and my car (1999) was not compatible with the mirror mounted?
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:36 AM
zed3coupe zed3coupe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3_JZ3 View Post
Anyware to find electrical scematics for the vehicle. It seems that someone have replaced the seats and interior rear view mirror to "M" spec. The mirror have a (what I think) non working autodim function, an alarm LED... But the key with 3 buttons had a flat battery and I cannot by following the instructions reconnect it to the vehicle. I read that the receiver for the OEM keyless entry is mounted in the rear view mirror. But perhaps the diffrent model years did have different systems and my car (1999) was not compatible with the mirror mounted?
There is 2 type of M mirrors auto dimming and non auto dimming. If yours has a round bulb looking think on bottom its non auto dimming. just twist that to manually dim. Not sure about anything else.
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  #12  
Old 11-04-2019, 03:05 PM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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Thanks... I googled the number on the cover, it pointed me at an E46 M autodimming mirror. The remote things are in the Z3 mirror, if i get it right so also on the other BMW convertibles, so I guess either I will live without the remote entry or I will need to swap to an original mirror. Perhaps I just shall leave this alone. Key entry will be OK and I don't need an alarm... Though it would be nice if both autodim and remote entrance did work... I will google some more on the topic...
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  #13  
Old 11-24-2019, 03:35 PM
Z3_JZ3 Z3_JZ3 is offline
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Replaced the interior mirror for a Z3 manual mirror, and now the remote key started to work!
I though have only one key, anyone tried the AK90 for making cheap ebay keys work?

I did the inspection (MOT) and the e-brake and one of the control arm joints got a remark. I will fix these issues so I get the car to pass the MOT.
I now changed the rear disks and pads, tightened the e-brake. The control arms were not that easy to get lose, so I will give that task to the local workshop.

The car is fun to drive and seem to run fine. The cooling system is a bit strange, the level in the expansion tank (mounted on the side of the radiator) changes a lot. How much is ok for the level to vary when car is cold/hot or whatever makes it vary? It was low, I filled it up a bit over the "cold" mark and now when warm it was almost touching the cap ... I thought I would open the bleed screw to see if there were air and it might have been some, but I managed to break the screw. Will need to buy a new one. I will then try to run it if the weather is fine for some days, just to see that it seems to work OK and does not require any refill.

I also found out that the subwoofer, amp and all speakers still seem to be connected, even though the main unit been exchanged. The kickers in the footwell area though rattles a bit and the level of the sub is rather low.
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