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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello guys, glad to be here.

So first things first, I bought my first car and found a nice '94 325is. Here is a pic after a full wash and a quick Nu Finish Car Polish application, plus painted rims white with plasti dip.




Long story, I drove about an hour to where the car was, two of my cousins went with me as they had nothing to do one of them is a mechanic so he helped me out I'm still new to cars and would miss what is wrong with them plus nothing wrong with having someone who knows. Prior to this I had looked over for all kinds of cars, coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, Japanese, American, Euro but all were overpriced for their mileage and care, on the day I bought it I had just seen earlier a 1997 325 but was scared away when I saw the engine shaking the whole car, I didn't have the budget to fix engine problems even if luckily it was the engine mounts.

So when I get to the seller I see the car, I knew this was it, we ran it, drove it around the block and everything was working great, of course for an almost 20 year old car there were details to work out but nothing major. Windows work, seats work, Engine starts no smoke and all lights and switches work like they're supposed to. Only thing it was overheating due to a bad fan clutch, but turning on the heather or driving it cooled it enough to avoid damage.

And it the end I can't really say we negotiated the price, here's why. The seller had it originally for $3100, when I first saw the add it was $2600, then by the time I went to see it it was down to $2400, so at one point one might think there's something going on here or the car is no good but luckily it that was not it. After we took it for a spin the guy says "I like you guys, you're cool" he was a pretty cool guy too, we spent more time chilling than talking price, car stuff go figure (but that's how we guys are). His reason for selling the car was he had four other cars and decided to go for something newer. So "negotiation" comes and we just offer $2000 right there cold hard cash, he didn't believe I already had it ready.


As far as the car goes it is a Black 1994 BMW 325is, 140k miles, Automatic (only thing I don't like), aftermarket rims (don't know if BBS or knockoffs), M3 front seats, good tires filled with Nitrogen, rear spoiler, CAI, and decent sub-woofer.
No major mods or add-ons. It was missing the radio but I had one home.

Probably little stuff I haven't noticed but it is in one piece.



And that's how I got my car.





A few days later and I start going over to what it needs to put it on the road properly and I wanted peace of mind knowing that it had been properly and recently serviced.

First was obviously the heating problem so first thing I order was a new fan clutch. Also changed the radiator and fan because the blades on old fan clutch shattered and pierced radiator. Have rest of parts to complete cooling system overhaul but have to find time since I was working non stop and now I'm moving and school.

Apart from that everything was good, engine and tranny oil could last a little longer but I feel at easy with a change, also changed both oil filters.

To finish, cleaned it up a bit, washed it and a light polish.


Should mention that reading around the forum helped me a lot and found info that I could not on the manual or somewhere else, found great advice on upgrading cooling system among other maintenance stuff.

I am learning more about the car everyday and love it.
 

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Thanks for sharing your story!

The forums are an awesome tool to learn the ins and out of your car, the great thing about E36 is their defects are well documented and easy to find information about.
Looks like your on your way to keeping this car running a long time! Stay on stop of maintenance and you will be just fine!

Make sure once your all caught up there to address some of the other common E36 problems like the rear shock mount towers, worn bushings, etc.

Most of all enjoy the new to you car!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Frank, I kinow I'll be able to keep it in good shape and enjoy it for a long time.


Before I forget, if anyone wants to know, yes I did name her its "Feldt" just because she is gorgeous :D

One of my female friends was like "guys and their cars" yeah its true. LOL
 

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Ambitious But Rubbish
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You have an M3 (or M3 replica, most likely) front bumper. And M3 mirrors. Looks good!

Get everything maintenance-y up to date before you start modding it any more. Sounds like you are on the way to doing that already. Hopefully she'll treat you right!
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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That isn't an M3 bumper. It's just the regular bumper with a large air damn screwed onto it. I forget who makes them, but I've seen them on eBay.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You have an M3 (or M3 replica, most likely) front bumper. And M3 mirrors. Looks good!

Get everything maintenance-y up to date before you start modding it any more. Sounds like you are on the way to doing that already. Hopefully she'll treat you right!
That isn't an M3 bumper. It's just the regular bumper with a large air damn screwed onto it. I forget who makes them, but I've seen them on eBay.
That's correct.
Plus the mirrors and front seats are M3.

I haven't made any body modifications or interior, only added missing radio, hooked it up and replaced two rear worn out speakers. Also checked and replaced bad instrument cluster bulbs and things like that. Just maintenance and replacing broken stuff.
 

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The Canadian Prick.
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I've the same front lip. I likes it!
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
So we got snow these days and its been cold.


I kind of like the E36 hatchback :rofl:


Since we got snow I've been trying to get the experience of driving in it, especially since this is a RWD. A good start, I only got stuck when I got home but just backed up and with a little push it went into the driveway.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
(In this thread I will add maintenance progress/record and repairs)(And talk about my car)


So finals are over and while still in the middle of moving and home improvements I found some time and garage space to work on the E36. Can't do it outside too cold but even my garage is a little cold.


I went on the web and hit some parts places to get a bunch of parts and planned to:

1) Cooling system overhaul.
2) Clean and repaint my wheels with with PlastiDip.
3) Brake Fluid Flush and replace bleeder screws.
4) Power Steering Fluid change.
5) Change Rear Shock Mounts.
6) Check Front/Rear shocks, mounts, springs, shock bump, strut bellow, bushings, etc.
7) Fix driver side door handle.
8) Check for other places of common wear/tear, broken stuff, rust.

And oh boy was I surprised, previous owners cut corners or did not bother finding and reading the repair manual :thumbdwn:, I want to find and :behead:the previous owner(s) who was this neglecting or just plain ignorant. But fear no more Feldt is in good hands now :thumbup:

Day 1​


1) Cooling System
I had previously changed the radiator, fan and fan clutch. This time I got a new thermostat t-stat housing (metal), new upper and lower hoses, new water pump with metal impeller, new belts.
It all went easy and smooth since I previously worked on it so was no familiar with it. After I got everything out I could better examine the estate the system was in.
It did not look too bad, inside looks clean and no antifreeze is leaking inside engine. A few weeks ago I noticed my OBC display "Low Coolant" which got me curious, yup it was at a low level, topped it off right away and it kept going down slowly after a few days so I got a cooling system pressure test tool and found two leaks, for loose hose clamps and from thermostat housing. Took care of those, and no more leaks.

Also since its cold my car has become a cold deathtrap, literally. There was no or very little heat inside the cabin, after this I discovered it was due to a open t-stat. Now is much warmer. Also got a new blower resistor pack since I only get the blower motor running on the highest speed.

So, after I had taken everything out I found that the system was overhauled not too long ago, maybe at the 100k? But there were a few things that we all know are :nono:
-Water pump was what I think a plastic composite impeller or just plastic, definitely not metal, replaced it with a metal impeller water pump.
-T-stat was stuck open and the o-ring was not put it right :tsk:(it bent and slipped out of place) so there was the leak, replaced.
-Housing was plastic and there was some sealer used around the profile gasket, cleaned and replaced with new gasket and metal housing.
-My belts were worn and starting to peel, replaced, I feel the car accelerates smoother now.
-New upper and lower hoses, old ones were not bad but for their price why risk not plus feel more at ease.


Old t-stat (left) and new t-stat (right), and badly installed o-ring for t-stat that's what was causing one of the leaks.


Old t-stat housing with some kind of sealant.


Apparently this is what they wanted to seal around that gasket, am I right to believe at some point the wrong antifreeze was used and corroded around the gasket. Tried looking inside the engine and no corrosion like that is visible.

EDIT: hornhospital confirmed me that it was not the coolant that did it but the sealant. So obvious, the reason was right in face.
The coolant didn't cause that corrosion. The sealant did. They used a form of RTV that isn't safe for aluminum. Some RTV (silicone) has a lot of acetic acid in it, and it attacks aluminum.

If the coolant had caused the corrosion, the thermostat pocket would have been corroded, too. It isn't.

Everything went back in without a problem, filled and bled the system a few times and will check again just in case. After driving it I see the temp go to its proper 12 o clock position faster and the inside is warm again.

More work to continue tomorrow.
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
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The coolant didn't cause that corrosion. The sealant did. They used a form of RTV that isn't safe for aluminum. Some RTV (silicone) has a lot of acetic acid in it, and it attacks aluminum.

If the coolant had caused the corrosion, the thermostat pocket would have been corroded, too. It isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Oh yeah, I was going to put the sealant on the suspect list too. Makes sense as that is the only affected area, all cleaned off now. Glad to know, thanks hornhospital.


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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Day 2

2) Clean and repaint wheel with PlastiDip​
Well, this is on hold, I have the car jacked up ready for suspension work, check brakes, and e-brake making a rattling noise.
As far as painting I have cleaned only the rear wheels, plan to paint them black so they won't look as dirty in the rain/snow and brake dust. They still look good on the car whether they are white, black or the original silver. One more thing, my rims are not BBS or any BMW style they are Breyton, still not bad they do look good, the same as the Style 42 but with the screws/rivets around the edge like the Style 101.

(I'll add a pic of them later)


3) Brake Fluid Flush and replace caliper bleeder screw​
Since I still have the car jacked up and with no wheels to do the suspension check I wanted to check the brake fluid and if needed a flush, also check the caliper bleeder screws as they looked to start rusting. But that turned out to be a bad idea, they seized a little but came off no problem, I had a new set of bleeder screws and when replacing my rear right screw the new one broke off, just my luck, didn't expect them to break that easy and I didn't exactly went hulk on it. Never again with aftermarket for this. I took it to a shop to have them take it off but they could not so now I'm waiting for a re-manufactured caliper which should arrive Monday. Checked rear left bleeder screw and that gave me no problem so I'm not replacing it at the moment.

4) Power steering fluid flush​
Now this is a must, mine looks dark brown so I know it hasn't been changed in a while, have no problems with steering but why wait and make it worst but since I'm held back by the brake bleeding this has to wait for now.

5) Change Rear Shock Mounts
Plus
6) Check Front/Rear shocks, mounts, springs, shock bump, strut bellow, bushings, etc.​
Since I'm doing rear mounts might was well check shocks.
Now this was the most fun no really, who am I kidding :(. It wasn't end of the world bad but gave a hard time. I was so :mad: but at the moment appreciate the chance to work on my car and learn more about it and working on cars.

Off with wheel and visual check of shocks, first driver side.

Surprise, what do we have here, I think something's missing, yup a bump stop, but hey there's a little left I guess that still helps :rolleyes:

Now passenger side

As expected, no bump stop either, what a surprise, let me guess, same with the front no strut bellow?
Wait, something's not right, I'm sure I have a Bilstein set up, well only one short of a full set up, seems to be the stock shock or an replacement OEM, no info on it to confirm but doesn't matter anyway.

- Just remembered, the other day as I came off the highway, when driving through the exit ramp I felt the car rear bounce as I was driving left, it seemed off and now I know the reason why.


That's not all, look at next pic.


Can you spot what is wrong here? Yes, a blow shock, it had no resistance at all, I pushed it in using only two fingers :yikes:. No wonder the passenger side wheel scrapes when its loaded with people, the rear right is only riding on the spring and they are not in pristine condition either.


Driver side spring, a stock spring with an aftermarket shock :confused:? And its rusting.


A little better than driver's side but not far from gone either.

I was somehow relieved that at least the mounts weren't destroyed but they had seen better days, got new ones and added gaskets and reinforcement plates along with new bolts. Should mention old mounts did not have the gaskets.
Now the bad, the old mounts had rust on the bolts, one had more washers than needed and the shock's nut was overtightened, I almost gave up and about to put back old mount as I could not get it out, but I did :thumbup:.


Driver side rear shock mount, not too bad but wait is there an extra washer? Yep and overtightened, how was I supposed to take it out with no place to grab the shock and keep it from turning as I loosen the nut? :confused:
After using a pray to loosen bolts/rusted bolts ect no luck, heated the nut to help loosen it no luck. I ended up cheating and took a grinder and carved very little (not enought to damage it structurally, since its round I only made two sides a little flat) on the shock's shaft just to be able to use vice grips and it worked.

Success, and you can see why the nut did not come out either, it was so overtightened the treads are damaged :tsk:


I know this shock is blow but come on this is overkill just how much do you have to tighten a shock? At least it was easier to take off than driver's side. I found out later that it was missing some hardware under mount so shock came up pretty far and produced this.

(Insert here a pic of how new mounts look, the proper way)

Well, after all that I'm done for the day and after seeing all of this I'm feeling :mad: by the treatment my poor baby went through. When I find the culprit I'll :flame::spank::violent::behead:, and it won't even be enough. Not really a treat to who ever did it but I feel very upset and since I'm getting tired (and sleepy while typing this) I get angry/mad very easy.

So now on top of the list is save up for new shocks, and if possible a complete set, struts and shocks with proper springs plus bump stops and strut bellows.
Off to rest and hope better luck tomorow.
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
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Stock springs? No, no, no! Those are H&R Sport springs.
 

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Stock springs? No, no, no! Those are H&R Sport springs.
That right there is probably why the shock blew. The shock appears to be either a Bilstein Touring or cheap no-name, neither of which are designed to work on a lowered suspension. bliger7gz, before you put everything back together, you should pick yourself up either a pair of stock springs or pair of Bilstein sport/ Koni STR.T shocks, so you do not blow another shock.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Stock springs? No, no, no! Those are H&R Sport springs.
My bad, I was looking at the H&R page and since it says OE Sport Springs I forgot the Sports part.
Here:
http://www.hrsprings.com/application/search/results/4/89/1994
Springs have 50424-55 printed on them and that is where google led me.


That right there is probably why the shock blew. The shock appears to be either a Bilstein Touring or cheap no-name, neither of which are designed to work on a lowered suspension. bliger7gz, before you put everything back together, you should pick yourself up either a pair of stock springs or pair of Bilstein sport/ Koni STR.T shocks, so you do not blow another shock.
They are most likely Bilstein touring, on the bottom of the shock there is engraved "5981L" and "S11B12" but google can't find the answer oh well.

Yes I do plan to get new ones, and as soon as possible because this is my only car unless I want to fight over the minivan but might not be as bad since I'm out of school right now and work is seasonal so no work in winter.

I want to get Koni shock/struts but undecided as to get the orange ones (they are affordable, around $400) or the yellow ones (pricier than oranges but adjustable, close to $700), for a DD would I miss on much if I go for non adjustable shock/struts (my current Bilstein are non adjustable so not sure if I should upgrade)? Should I buy a new set of springs too, not now but in near future (near $250)?

Buying the Orange Koni's STR.T over the Yellows leaves me enough left over to buy a set of springs.
 

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Yeah, I think you'll be happy with the Koni STR.T shocks. And you should be able to find some springs for pretty cheap, too. You can usually find people selling H&R Sports or similar for very little money, and it would be nice to have something with less rust than what's currently in your car.

But yes, 95% of previous owners seem to mess everything up. I got "lucky" with my car, since it was 100% untouched and original, although that also meant that I got task of getting caught up on years worth of deferred maintenance (cooling system, suspension, etc...). Most E36s have either been owned by people who neglect them, or by people who probably shouldn't be working on their own car, or a combination of the two.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Looks like a fun project if it wasn't so cold out lately! lol Where in Jersey are you?
Yeah, at least the weekend warmed up, almost 70.
I live in central Jersey, Plainfield city to be exact.


Yeah, I think you'll be happy with the Koni STR.T shocks. And you should be able to find some springs for pretty cheap, too. You can usually find people selling H&R Sports or similar for very little money, and it would be nice to have something with less rust than what's currently in your car.

But yes, 95% of previous owners seem to mess everything up. I got "lucky" with my car, since it was 100% untouched and original, although that also meant that I got task of getting caught up on years worth of deferred maintenance (cooling system, suspension, etc...). Most E36s have either been owned by people who neglect them, or by people who probably shouldn't be working on their own car, or a combination of the two.
Agree. I gave it a thought overnight and I'll get the Koni STR.T they are not bad, I like the color and I'll have some $$$ left for springs among other stuff. Gotta work with a budget, I'll leave getting adjustable or coil overs in the future.

Glad about your car but its a shame there are so many neglecting or (mechanically) incompetent people out there, not just with E36s but any car in general. Mine wasn't untouched but the little upgrades are nice and desirable, and could have used better care.



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