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1996 318i overheating

1508 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  rmv23887
Hey guys tommorow I'm going to pick up a 1996 318i I found off Craigslist for cheap it's $1,300. But it's overheating, my plan is to check and replace if bad the head gasket, also I was planning on replacing the water pump and thermostat since I know they go bad. The car is a automatic with 145k miles on it. I have a few questions #1 how is the price overall it looks good the paint clearcoat is fading though on hood and roof and it has the overheating problem, should I try to haggle down a little? #2 if the headgasket is bad would you reccomend I buy the whole kit that comes with all the gaskets like the valve gasket and all and head bolts or save money and just buy head gasket and bolts. #3 does the head have to be tested and machined when it's off or can I get away without doing that?? And lastly the water pump and thermostat are the main things too go right? Pretty much check head gasket them replace theostat and water pump and check fan pully.
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1- If the head gasket is bad I wouldn't pay more than $1000 depending on condition. I would have a Pre Purchase inspection done to make sure you're not buying a pile of crap.

2- Yes, might as well do everything while you're in there.

3- No, but it would be very unwise to have the head in your hands and not have it checked and resurfaced.

The entire cooling system needs to be replaced no matter what. I think Bimmerworld sells a kit. Pump, thermostat, radiator, hoses, coolant.
Alright awesome. Now is there a simple way for me to check the head gasket? Or pretty much just check oil/ coolant if milky and white smoke out of exhaust? Any other simple ways for me to check? The 318 has 145k and it's only a 4 banger is that near its end? Or fixed up do u think I can get it to lat till 170k or so
How does the oil and coolant look? Anything getting mixed? If the oil is milky that isn't a for sure sign of a bad gasket. It could be condensation build up from the engine never really getting to operating temp. There is a test that will check compression and give you a better idea. A pre purchase inspection will do that for you.

IF it were me, the only way I would look into that car is if I had plans to swap a bigger engine in. Also, the automatic transmissions are prone to failure.

As for how long it will last. I had a 318i with an auto transmission and it had over 200k miles. I would trust that car to get me anywhere, but moved to an M3 for the power.

Do some research and read the sticky's and you'll feel much more confident in your purchase. No reason to rush a BMW purchase, they aren't rare at all and can cost thousands if you don't know what to look for.
Don't pay more than $800 for it.It will probably have a cracked head. Anyone that tells you it just overheated a little means it got cooked. I bet you the head is cracked. Do a compression test. Plan on replacing the head for sure. It doesn't take much to crack them.
I would never pay that much for an overheated 318I. $800 sounds about right.

I had a overheated 318I. Total was around a 1k for the repairs. The mechanic was charging me cheap too(this was when I didn't know much about cars).
Hot 318i

I have a 96 318i with 149K same/same running hot, no coolant in oil and no white smoke! Pulled head, could see where leaking between cyl 2 and 3. I did the work myself, $200 gaskets etc and $410 machine shop (straighten warp, plane surface and exhaust guides
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