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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 8:27 a.m.

318ti

Seems cheap, E36 chassis. All I know about these cars is whenever I see one the engine seems as loud as the OM616 in my diesel benz.

Any major issues with them, failure points, etc? $1700 seems cheap.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 8:30 a.m.

We did one as a magazine project car back when they were new. They're not terribly fast but are cool.

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/4/17 8:30 a.m.

challenge!

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/4/17 8:32 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens:

The one I've driven felt very much like a cross between a stock Miata and a European city car. Not a bad combination at all, if that's what you're looking for.

At that price I'm tempted to grab it myself.

Ovid_and_Flem
Ovid_and_Flem Reader
4/4/17 8:33 a.m.

E36 front but e30 rear suspension. Bought one for my stepdaughter several years ago and it's a great little car. I've seen one with an M3 motor in it that was a holy Terror

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 8:37 a.m.

Looking for a daily driver to replace my disintegrating 300TD. Functioning A/C is my main requirement. I hear these are stupid easy to work on and parts are inexpensive.

I've seen one in person and the hatch holds an impressive amount of stuff.

Ovid_and_Flem
Ovid_and_Flem HalfDork
4/4/17 8:45 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: Looking for a daily driver to replace my disintegrating 300TD. Functioning A/C is my main requirement. I hear these are stupid easy to work on and parts are inexpensive. I've seen one in person and the hatch holds an impressive amount of stuff.

Perfect dd...good gas mileage. Handles great. Hatchback and cargo area suprisingly cavernous with seats down. Interior can need attention, i.e. door panEl upholstery can separate, roof liner can need replacing but simple inexpensive fixes.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
4/4/17 8:51 a.m.

All I can add is they are prone to crankshaft thrust bearing troubles. Friend has one as a race car. Spun a bearing, and three used engines later, we still don't have one with a useable crankshaft.

The wiring harness on the engine is an evil combination of German and Toyota- securely and poorly routed, then wrapped in an impervious plastic shell.

Ovid_and_Flem
Ovid_and_Flem HalfDork
4/4/17 8:56 a.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy:

My step dor sold hers with 170k on clock and it was trouble free mechanically. I think only repair was a water pump and a gasket for oil filter housing which both a pretty common maintenance issues.YMMV

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
4/4/17 9:11 a.m.

These things have pretty much bottomed out on the depreciation curve. They're not terribly hard to work on and most parts are reasonably priced - maybe not quite Buick level, but nothing outlandish.

The main weaknesses on these cars is the cooling system. At 120,000 miles, if the radiator hasn't been replaced, it's likely to break.

In the minor annoyances department, legend has it that Germany decided that cars in the '90s needed a certain percent of biodegradable material in them. Mercedes opted for biodegradable wiring and BMW went for biodegradable interiors. I'm not sure how much truth there is to that, but the interiors on those don't hold up well.

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
4/4/17 9:20 a.m.

The 318ti is my favorite of all BMWs. That one looks nice, except that's one heck of a dent in the front passenger side rim. Mine had almost 200k on the odo when I got it and the car still drove pretty well. I did end up replacing the driveshaft and some other stuff to fix a vibration at speed. It was a great little driver.

Any problem areas are well documented and a quick internet search will tell you all you need to know. Check if the cooling system has been redone and the timing chain guides have been replaced. Other things that can wear and cause trouble are rear shock mounts, front control arm bushings, trans mounts, and the flex disc on the driveshaft. Listen for clunks when shifting and speed related vibration at low speeds. The rubber likes to wear out but those rubber bushings and stuff are also part of the reason these cars are so good to drive. The rear suspension on the hatch is simpler than the regular E36 chassis but it's still plenty capable.

None of that stuff is difficult to DIY. Spend the $$ for OEM replacement parts and it will keep you happy for a long time. I would have kept mine but it was turning into too much of a project.

Edit: For what it's worth, the interior in mine was in great shape but it was cloth and the ti dash is simpler and plastic so maybe that's why it had held up better.

Robbie
Robbie UberDork
4/4/17 9:21 a.m.

Ahhhh, the good old "trunk impaired".

That interior looks really nice.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 9:32 a.m.

In reply to BlueInGreen44:

Good eye on the dent...didn't catch that. Well, going to look at it at noon today. Thanks for the insights!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
4/4/17 9:37 a.m.

We've had one for a while now, and put probably 30k miles on it so far- plan to replace every cooling system component, every suspension/drivetrain bushing and mount, and most of the accessory drive stuff. The interior will also fall apart, and the power window regulators will bend and eat themselves no matter what you do.

Ours has 328i springs, Bilstein HDs, and delrin bushings which has given it a slight lift in ride height and firmed things up nicely, it makes a good vehicle for my commute on PA's rough backroads, does well in the snow with the right tires, and returns 30mpg despite being full throttle nearly all the time. If your commute is primarily highway, consider that the 5 speed manual's 5th gear is 1:1, so it's pretty buzzy at 80mph.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 9:41 a.m.

In reply to ¯_(ツ)_/¯:

Ha...80mph. Funny. Most of my commute is 65 or under. And my current daily is a 300TD with 3.47 gears and a non-OD automatic.

rslifkin
rslifkin Dork
4/4/17 9:42 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: If your commute is primarily highway, consider that the 5 speed manual's 5th gear is 1:1, so it's pretty buzzy at 80mph.

That's fixable with a diff change if you don't mind making all of the gears taller. That was the era of BMW using taller geared diffs and a non-OD trans to keep driveshaft speed lower for a given road speed / RPM combo. This continued through the E46 for the 3 series only changing when they went to a 6sp with 6th being an OD and started using slightly lower geared diffs.

bluej
bluej UltraDork
4/4/17 9:49 a.m.

Yes, you want that. Buy it and come play in the fields! Someone did well with a 318 e36 sedan in PR last year.

This was a little over a week ago. Next event is this sunday. plenty of time to buy and prep!

Pic of the e36 from last year:

that particular chassis has now been, uh, "retired for cause". Not sure what he's doing now. This was at the last or next to last event last year:

It didn't look much better than that for most of the season, so that should tell you about durability even when neglected considering how he did on the year

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
4/4/17 9:53 a.m.
rslifkin wrote:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: If your commute is primarily highway, consider that the 5 speed manual's 5th gear is 1:1, so it's pretty buzzy at 80mph.

That's fixable with a diff change if you don't mind making all of the gears taller. That was the era of BMW using taller geared diffs and a non-OD trans to keep driveshaft speed lower for a given road speed / RPM combo. This continued through the E46 for the 3 series only changing when they went to a 6sp with 6th being an OD and started using slightly lower geared diffs.

There are two issues with doing this:
1) The acceleration is already pretty poor, so making the gears taller would make an already slow car into a VERY slow car (although still a rocket ship compared to VCH's 300TD)
2) Everyone thinks their BMW diff is made of gold, if prices are any indication

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 9:56 a.m.

Anyway, I'm mostly concerned with it being reasonably easy to work on, cheap to run, and a low likelihood of leaving me stranded someplace other than my driveway.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
4/4/17 10:02 a.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse:

Cheap-ish to run- worse than the various Toyotas I've owned, but better than my older e24 and e28 BMWs. If you put $1500 into it right off the bat in preventative maintenance then it will probably be trouble free for a few years at least. The only stuff ours has needed in addition to the previously mentioned suspension, cooling system, and window regulator overhauls has been interior switches and pieces, a fuel line, ignition module, plug wires, several wheel bearings, a valve cover gasket, the idle control valve, two sets of idler pulleys, a serpentine belt tensioner, guibo and motor/trans mounts. It has never stranded us but I don't think it has ever gone three months without at least a small failure either.

Pretty easy to work on, it just suffers from the usual German trend of using a random number generator to pick what size socket you'll need for each bolt.

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
4/4/17 10:21 a.m.

Not cheap to run compared to the domestic beaters I've owned. Parts cost was a significant factor there.

However, it was much nicer to drive than the domestic crapcans. Also, mine had a limited slip installed by the previous owner. It was reeeeally good at drifty fun in the snow

DocV
DocV New Reader
4/4/17 10:32 a.m.

I say do it. It looks to be in nice condition and should be fun. I have an E30 318is with the same engine. Take a look over on M42club message board. IIRC, the M42 ran from 92-95 in the E36 chassis, and M44 in the later cars (95-99?) The timing components are a weak spot on the early cars (listen for timing chain rattle - will be slapping the chain guides if components are worn).

Also little issues like the oil pan bolts that like to back themselves out due to the vibration of these buzzy little motors. ECU chip to update fuel and timing to "euro spec" gives a easy little bump in power but requires 91-93 octane - these got detuned for the US market.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/4/17 11:12 a.m.

Wow. Talk about looking better in pictures. Where to begin...exterior is at least 4 different shades of blue, rust at all the wheel edges and arches, structural rust underneath...it looked like someone had pancaked the car off something because there were huge streaks of smashed up damage underneath the front...a missing interior door panel, dented front wheel AND one rear wheel on a space saver...mysterious fluid leaks underneath...

And that was just from me spending 5 minutes to go over the car. The guy didn't even come out and I texted him back that I wasn't interested.

He follows up with some garbage about it being "flawless other than needing an O2 sensor (why does every car need one of those?) and the door panel" and something about how all cars rust here because "it snows, bro". He told me if I was that picky I ought to be at a BMW dealer.

NOPE.

NBraun
NBraun New Reader
4/4/17 11:22 a.m.

He sounds like the kind of PO you wouldn't want to buy a car from anyways.

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
4/4/17 11:32 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: He follows up with some garbage about it being "flawless other than needing an O2 sensor (why does every car need one of those?)

I think that it's a excuse for why the CEL is on. It maybe hiding other issues, so people just say it needs an O2 Sensor.

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