RexSeven HalfDork
Sept. 10, 2009 4:15 p.m.

For whatever reason, I've been looking at BMWs lately. Specifically, mid-90s 3- and 5-series wagons and the 318ti hatchback. The E46 AWD wagon I asked about yesterday got a resounding nein from you guys. However, I did also come across this 318ti on CL:

http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/ctd/1365688630.html

Besides any general knowledge you can impart on me about the 318ti, I have some specific questions about this car:

-Should I be concerned about the high mileage? If so, what are some things I should look out for specifically on this model?

-I noticed the bumpers are color-keyed to the car, which I read somewhere makes it a Sport model. What did the Sport model include?

belteshazzar SuperDork
Sept. 10, 2009 6:41 p.m.

i would be encouraged that they "just put brand new tires on it". people don't tend to do that to a car that's all used up.

m42's break, they don't wear out.

walterj Dork
Sept. 10, 2009 6:59 p.m.

I missed the E46 AWD thread... why did it get the hook? I have an '05 that is really a brilliant car. I have had a whole fleet of E30, E36, E28s and the E46 is a better daily driver than any of them.

dyintorace Dork
Sept. 10, 2009 7:27 p.m.
walterj wrote: I missed the E46 AWD thread... why did it get the hook? I have an '05 that is really a brilliant car. I have had a whole fleet of E30, E36, E28s and the E46 is a better daily driver than any of them.

As did I. Granted my e46 wagon is not AWD, but I love it nonetheless.

MrJoshua SuperDork
Sept. 10, 2009 7:44 p.m.

It was the combination of the "You don't really need AWD, just snow tires" sentiment that runs strong here, and the fact that the car was listed as a manual which was said to make it rare enough to be worried.

pigeon Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 8:00 p.m.

No no no it was "it's a manual, don't let the AWD scare you off" There's all of 8 manual transmission CPO E46 wagons available in the country listed on BMWUSA's web site. Yes, I led the snow tires are better than expensive to fix AWD components argument, but it's still a great car and better than an Audi A4 Avant...

Gimp Dork
Sept. 10, 2009 8:28 p.m.

I love my 318ti, and $2000 is a good deal if it's in good shape.

1995 was the only year that got the 1.8L M42. Later cars got the M44. Output is just about the same, but the M42 is OBDI and has forged internals. Something to think about if you want to have fun with boost later (either turbo or DASC). Any E36 motor is pretty much a drop in.

I'm pretty sure that car isn't a "sport". It has the standard bumpers and 15" wheels. I'm pretty sure all years of ti's got color matched bumpers.

For 1995 there was the base car and a "Club Sport". The Club Sport has special interior, a limited slip, 16" wheels, M3 front bumper and side mirrors, and a special rear bumper, as well as slightly lower/stiffer springs and bigger sway bars. The Club Sport was 1995 only. After 1995, all "Sport" models had everything the Club Sport did with the exception of the interior, limited slip, and mirrors.

High miles are the same for all cars. I'm at 157K and I've done a clutch, head gasket, bushings, etc. The clutch was milage based, and the head gasket problem was there when I bought the car. The cooling system is like other E36s and is made from crap plastic, so it's a good idea to replace the thermostat and other housings frequently. The hood and front fenders are 4-door E36, and the rest of the car, including doors, is unique to the ti.

Aside from the M3 Lightweight, the 318ti was the lightest E36 you could buy. The front suspension is all E36, and the rear is E30 trailing arm with the standard E36 five lug wheel pattern. Some people hate the E30 rear suspension, but it's 200lbs lighter than the E36 and is a little bit more "lively", IMO.

RexSeven HalfDork
Sept. 10, 2009 8:31 p.m.

belteshazzar mentioned the M42 engines break at high mileage. I thought these were the motors to get because the forged internals can handle more boost for a possible Downing-Atlanta S/C install. How exactly do they break, are they fixable, and at what cost?

flountown New Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 8:38 p.m.

If the engine breaks, put in a Ford 5.0 engine...thats what I want to do, however, I'd prefer the 325 in the meantime as opposed to the 4 cyl.

Good thing about the 4 cyl is its a timing chain not belt, so you don't have to worry about it as much.

keethrax New Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 8:46 p.m.
pigeon wrote: Yes, I led the snow tires are better than expensive to fix AWD components argument

Never really understood that argument myself.

It's not like it's an either/or proposition.

I'm not one who says that AWD is necessary, I've lived places that get 300" and up of snow, and have yet to have my own car that spins all four wheels. But it's not like having it preclude snow tires.

ansonivan Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 9:42 p.m.

Rex, you need to go drive a few different bimmers and decide which one is right for you. Buy the best car you can afford, make sure you have your prospective* purchase inspected by an independent shop which is familiar with bmw's.

I encourage you to take the plunge into roundel ownership, in the last year I've owned an e30, e36 and e39 and loved them all. If I had to pick a used daily driver right now it would be a 5 speed e46, probably a 325 four door since they're fairly cheap.

  • I can't emphasize enough the importance of having the car checked before buying the damn thing, more than half of the people who bring their cars in for a 'pre-purchase' inspection have already handed over the cash. Some of the time it works out, some of the time they get a nasty surprise.
RexSeven HalfDork
Sept. 10, 2009 9:59 p.m.

In reply to ansonivan:

I live close to Turner Motorsports. They do pre-purchase inspections.

ansonivan Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 10:02 p.m.

Perfect, go forth and test drive.

dyintorace Dork
Sept. 10, 2009 10:13 p.m.

You mentioned interest in mid-90's wagons and proximity to Turner.

How about this? http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html/bmw_sale_info.asp?ID=38313

pigeon Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 10:45 p.m.
keethrax wrote:
pigeon wrote: Yes, I led the snow tires are better than expensive to fix AWD components argument

Never really understood that argument myself.

It's not like it's an either/or proposition.

I'm not one who says that AWD is necessary, I've lived places that get 300" and up of snow, and have yet to have my own car that spins all four wheels. But it's not like having it preclude snow tires.

Absolutely agree but most folks will assume AWD substitutes for snows, and then be very confused when they can gather speed quickly but can't stop or turn. My point was you don't need AWD to drive a BMW in the snow, that's all.

nderwater Reader
Sept. 10, 2009 11:50 p.m.

I hate to be a dissenting opinion, but (after owing four 3's and driving many, many more) if you're going to buy an E36, get one with the I6. There are a bizillion out there on the used market, so keep looking until you find the one for you.

iceracer HalfDork
Sept. 11, 2009 9:53 a.m.

I saw a nice '89 325ix for sale. Asking $2500 obo. It is being driven daily. I'll have to get the phone number. It has for sale signs in the window.

keethrax New Reader
Sept. 11, 2009 9:57 a.m.
pigeon wrote:
keethrax wrote:
pigeon wrote: Yes, I led the snow tires are better than expensive to fix AWD components argument

Never really understood that argument myself.

It's not like it's an either/or proposition.

I'm not one who says that AWD is necessary, I've lived places that get 300" and up of snow, and have yet to have my own car that spins all four wheels. But it's not like having it preclude snow tires.

Absolutely agree but most folks will assume AWD substitutes for snows, and then be very confused when they can gather speed quickly but can't stop or turn. My point was you don't need AWD to drive a BMW in the snow, that's all.

Certainly. And if it was somehow either/or in most cases I'd still go with the tires.

Gimp Dork
Sept. 11, 2009 10:06 a.m.
nderwater wrote: I hate to be a dissenting opinion, but (after owing four 3's and driving many, many more) if you're going to buy an E36, get one with the I6. There are a bizillion out there on the used market, so keep looking until you find the one for you.

On standard E36s, either sedan or coupe, I'd totally agree with you, but...

The 318ti is something a little special, especially with the hatch. This car fits a ton of stuff. 46" flat screen in the box slides right in. On top of that, you get "love it or hate it looks".

The 318ti is also a hair quicker than it's 318 sedan counterparts, partly due to less weight and slightly better gearing. The car is a ton of fun to drive, and still averages me 30mpg including autocrosses.

mad_machine SuperDork
Sept. 11, 2009 10:11 a.m.

the I6 is good for about a second and a half difference in zero to 60 compared to the 318ti. What does not tell you is that the aggressive gearing in the Ti requires a shift to third at roughly 50mph if you hit the redline fuel cutoff in second. Up until that point, the Ti is not that far behind the larger engined 325i.

It all comes down to weight. the i6 engined cars all weighed about 500 (or more) than the i4 ti. The sedan and coupe' I4s all weight a few hundred pounds more than the Ti.

To group the cars from best to last... M3>328>325>318ti>323>318i. You will find the ti is slightly "downmarket" in the interior. It's dash is similar (but not the same as, though most people will swear it is the same) to the e30. Funny enough, the e46 also went to a "pod" in front of the driver instead of the e36's sweeping dash. The door panels are cheaper (and similar to the e30) and a lot of the niceties of the sedan and coupe' are missing. You cannot get automatic Climate control, power opening rear side windows, 7,11,or 18 button On Board Computers (we get a 2 button) and the ti never got a fuel economy gage (seems silly for the most economical of the E36 range)

You will find a lot of the same problems. Falling down headliners, falling off door cards, failing power windows, plastic radiators, thermostate housings, and plastic in the waterpump. Not to mention the soft BMW rubber bushings that all fall apart by 100,000 miles.

An interesting note of what you will NOT find that is a good thing. the ti was the ONLY e36 fitted with electric fans instead of the viscous coupling at the waterpump. Means you NEVER hear of a fan disintergrating and taking out the radiator (though to be honest, all the fans disintergrating are probably due to worn out engine mounts allowing the fan to hit the shroud or the waterpump going)

The rear suspension is more "Lively" as said above. I do not see the big issue with it. in 40,000 miles of spirited driving, it has only ONCE caught me out, and that was when I first got the car and all the bushings were bad and the shocks/struts blown.

Over all the Ti is a "cult car" you either get it or you don't. It is one of the rarest e36 models in the US (aside from the m roadster and coupe') that in my opinion combines the very best of the e30 and e36 into one smaller (9 inches shorter) car. As a bonus you get a hatch that can swallow cubic yards of stuff without complaint.

Autolex Reader
Sept. 11, 2009 10:28 a.m.

I love my 325 Ti!

belteshazzar SuperDork
Sept. 11, 2009 10:34 a.m.
RexSeven wrote: belteshazzar mentioned the M42 engines break at high mileage. I thought these were the motors to get because the forged internals can handle more boost for a possible Downing-Atlanta S/C install. How exactly do they break, are they fixable, and at what cost?

well it came out wrong. I meant to emphasize the fact that at 200k miles, an m42 is unlikely to be tired out. they can be "broken" I've seen them overheated and cracked because of a cooling system someone didn't pay enough attention to, and overrevved because of failed motor mounts and a missed upshift. things like that.

walterj Dork
Sept. 11, 2009 10:38 a.m.
mad_machine wrote: The rear suspension is more "Lively" as said above. I do not see the big issue with it. in 40,000 miles of spirited driving, it has only ONCE caught me out, and that was when I first got the car and all the bushings were bad and the shocks/struts blown.

The "lively" part is because it is a semi-trailing arm suspension that suffers from large toe changes in both bump and droop. It can be a lot of fun - and stiffening it up can help the wonkiness from causing drama but it is always pretty inefficient at keeping the tire contact patch on the road - especially if you lower the car and don't address the geometry.

A 325i will generally be faster in the twisties (and under hard braking) even with the big weight penalty as result of the more advanced multi-link keeping the rear planted.

nderwater Reader
Sept. 11, 2009 12:10 p.m.

I hear you guys saying how the Ti is better than the dog that is the E36 318 sedan, but honestly - every guy I know who has owned one has either swapped a six into it or always talks about how he's 'going to' do that.

Gimp Dork
Sept. 11, 2009 12:49 p.m.

I'd swap a LSX in mine, but that's about it. 4 banger works just fine for me. Only thing that would make me want to swap for the 6 would be if the SCCA put the ti on the same line as the I6 cars in SP.

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