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Blue Bastide
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40 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My son is looking for a used E36. There are several around our neighbourhood but the prices vary between 3K to 7K for what I would call equivalent cars after substracting accessories, milleage, winterized and so on so forth.

Anyone with a list of top issues to be cautious about on this series so I can do a better evaluation of the offers ?

Thx
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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29,754 Posts
Cooling system, hands down. You need to replace everything about every 75000 to 90000 miles (opinions vary on exact mileage). And I mean everything: radiator, hoses, thermostat and housing, water pump, the works.

There are 5 threads stickied at the top of this forum that are directly related to E36 problems and fixes. I strongly suggest you at least skim over them. Like all BMWs, E36s are all about preventive maintenance. Take care of them and they'll probably outlive you; ignore them and you'll have nothing but trouble eventually.
 

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Fireballs inc.
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9,256 Posts
if you replace the cooling system with upgraded parts you can go 350 thousand miles with just changing thermostat and hoses..

alluminum radiator and stewart racing waterpump go a long way
 

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Blue Bastide
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40 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
thx and agree on maintenance. The stickies and search are not giving much additional recurring issues except for cover gaskets leaking unless I want to spend the next week searching. That will happen when the kid find the "deal". Then the key will be finding a vendor with good maintenance record keeping behavior and feeling the vendor sadness of selling is beauty!!
 

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Registered
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108 Posts
Cooling system as stated, Suspension: check everything from shocks to ball joints to tie rods to bushings, they are all bound to be wore out. Sunroof parts break easily and if the sunroof works it will save you a bit of trouble. My 2 cents :) Happy hunting
 

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Registered
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416 Posts
Depending on the age and climate, a lot of the plastic and rubber in the engine bay will be brittle or deteriorated.
 

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The Canadian Prick.
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12,984 Posts
Headliner will sag, door panels will bubble.

These are not negatives, though the door panels will cost you a couple of hundred to get redone. Use them as bargaining chips.
 

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Blue Bastide
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Here is a first summary of general, recurring issues with E36 including some from Jonesin's link with some grouping.

ENGINE
- Cooling system, hands down. You need to replace everything about every 75000 to 90000 miles (opinions vary on exact mileage). And I mean everything: radiator, hoses, thermostat and housing, water pump, the works.
. Water pump (they seem to last about 40k miles even with the ss impellers, but 95 - mid 97 /Ms had a stock plastic impeller that failed routinely)
. Radiator (hose fittings crack - about 60k miles?)
. Thermostat housing
- Cover seals and additionnaly plugs if oily; both are highly related
- Vanos failures seem to be fairly common
- Camshaft timing sensor
- Faulty ignition cylinder

SUSPENSION
- Suspension: check everything from shocks to ball joints to tie rods to bushings, they are all bound to be wore out.
. Rear shock mounts
. Rear Trailing Arm Bushings (RTABS)
. Shocks (oem seem to last about 40k miles)
. Bent wheels on the earlier models
. Front control arm bushings

AROUND THE CAR
- Sunroof parts break easily and if the sunroof works it will save you a bit of trouble.
- Plastic and rubber in the engine bay will be brittle or deteriorated
- Headliner will sag, door panels will bubble

UNDERNEATH
- Transmission mounts (to avoid mis-shifts)
- The undercariage panel seems to routinely fall off (and can be replaced with an aftermarket metal piece that stays)

DRIVING
- Sticky 5th gear.
- Uneven idling on cold starts
- Brake light circuit failure


Thanks for your input. Don't stop there if there is more....

Great link jonesin!
 

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The Canadian Prick.
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12,984 Posts
Ohh!

Check all of the usual suspects for rust:

Bottom of doors, under wheel wells, well... All of the spots here:



And here:

 
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