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mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/1/15 9:41 p.m.

The only reason I gave up on BMW ownership... was because of how other people reacted around it. Because my 318ti had the M bumpers and I did lower it while putting M3 cast off rims on it.. I had every wannabe racer and ricer wanting to start something. I just grew very weary of driving like a grandmom just to avoid trouble with these folks.

I am hoping that my Turbo Saab won't get the same reaction.

Other wise, I loved my E36. They are great little cars and would have another one in a heart beat

t25torx
t25torx Dork
10/1/15 10:24 p.m.
Harvey wrote:
t25torx wrote: See my restoration thread for what usually goes wrong when someone defers maintenance on an E39. https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/wheeler-dealers-usa-episode-3-2001-bmw-525i/90566/page1/ The hardest thing to do on this car was actually replacing the ABS Computer, has to be VIN coded to the car. I bought a $10 cable off ebay and downloaded the BMW software from one of the forums for free. I would probably only go upto an E46 if I was wanting to keep maintenance costs down.
What happened to the other build you were promising?

I am a huge slacker, is what happened. I've been tied up with house projects, and maintenance on my truck and motorcycle. Once it starts to cool down I'm going to start in earnest on it. Oh and I also might have a different Wheeler Dealers episode before I get to that one.

motomoron
motomoron SuperDork
10/1/15 10:36 p.m.

In reply to Fueled by Caffeine:

I have an e36 M3 (the car, not the feces) and an e39 525i manual touring. I don't mind working on them at all. Electrical stuff on the e39 can be a little trying, but none of it is awful.

My wife had an Audi B5 A4 2.8 30V V6 manual quattro. I'd soone chew my own fingers off than work on it. It was replaced by an 8P A3 2.0 TFSI FWD. It's a very nice, fun, quick, good handling car, and she got it in flawless, perfectly maintained 32k mile condition and not long after, rear-ended a Lexus. The shop did a great job w/ all Audi parts. Last week it started leaking coolant. I took it apart 'til I had the splash shield, charge pipe, intercooler hoses, air snorkel and heater valve out of the way, at which point I could tell that either the upper or lower radiator hose connections at the motor was the source. The next 30 minutes were looking for where I could drain the coolant so I could examine the joints.

Audi finds it necessary to make hoses with plastic couplers with latching clips. No primitive hose barbs and hose clamps here! a new OEM lower hose is $122 if a coupler starts leaking.

Anyway, 2-1/2 hours in I'm stymied. We take it to the body shop where the work is still under warranty. Their mechanical guy looks the next day and says "It's leaking but it's buried so deep I can't see it and it'll take hours to do - we'll send it to the dealer. So they okayed it with the insurance company and had it towed 25 miles to the dealership.

...For a leaking radiator hose.

I can install a complete BMW cooling system in 2 hours. I just did a radiator and hoses on my NA Miata in like 35 minutes.

So I'll respectfully offer that in my experience there's no cheap Audis.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/2/15 8:03 a.m.

^Your next BMW (assuming it's an e46 or newer) will have those same bastard hose connections. Helped my buddy replace the lines and resevoir on his E46 M3 -- even with the proper disconnect tool, we finally ended up breaking out the Dremel.

I have fond memories of hose clamps and banjo fittings.

gearheadmb
gearheadmb Reader
10/2/15 8:35 a.m.

If i spend, lets say, $4k on a 6 cyl 3 series will I be happy that I didnt put that money into a mustang gt?

Harvey
Harvey Dork
10/2/15 8:37 a.m.

Still would rather work on an E46 BMW than just about any Audi.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
10/2/15 8:39 a.m.
gearheadmb wrote: If i spend, lets say, $4k on a 6 cyl 3 series will I be happy that I didnt put that money into a mustang gt?

I'm not sure what $4k gets you on the Mustang GT scale, but I'm pretty sure the V8 you can get for that money doesn't make much more power than the inline 6 from an E46 3 series (probably more torque). The quality level is probably overall a lot less too. The Ford folks have only come up in that regard in the past five or six years IMO.

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
10/2/15 8:41 a.m.

My E39 has those hose connectors - they're easy to access and come off in seconds. What's the problem?

As far as service and repair, BMW's attitude toward mechanical design (at least through the E39/E46 years) is radically more attuned to the idea that at some point humans will have to work on the car. I think VAG just assumes owners will dispose of it once it breaks.

chuckles
chuckles HalfDork
10/2/15 9:05 a.m.

My '94 325is has been about as described by the other E36 owners. I paid a little extra five years ago for a fanatically-maintained 140K mile car owned by my neighbor who had recently done the clutch, headliner and the ECU computer (water damage.) I have put only another 15,000 on it with one track day but it has been flawless, except for a few electrical annoyances.

There is nothing like a good straight six. Steering is great and handling is very balanced and safe at speed. The interior is in excellent shape. I added a racing-grade radiator and replaced the Stewart water pump and the temp gauge didn't move off the highway reading on the track. I have not spent a dime on anything constituting a "repair." EDIT. Wait, I misspoke. I've had the bushings freshened. As somebody said, the car is a really nice place to spend some time.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/2/15 9:09 a.m.
02Pilot wrote: My E39 has those hose connectors - they're easy to access and come off in seconds. What's the problem? As far as service and repair, BMW's attitude toward mechanical design (at least through the E39/E46 years) is radically more attuned to the idea that at some point humans will have to work on the car. I think VAG just assumes owners will dispose of it once it breaks.

I will go out on a limb here and say that BMW made it as easy as possible to work on their cars.

mr2peak
mr2peak Dork
10/2/15 9:24 a.m.

Just get an E30. Inexpensive plentiful simple parts, and anything you miss having from an e36 can be made to fit.

Karacticus
Karacticus GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/2/15 9:36 a.m.
mad_machine wrote:
02Pilot wrote: My E39 has those hose connectors - they're easy to access and come off in seconds. What's the problem? As far as service and repair, BMW's attitude toward mechanical design (at least through the E39/E46 years) is radically more attuned to the idea that at some point humans will have to work on the car. I think VAG just assumes owners will dispose of it once it breaks.
I will go out on a limb here and say that BMW made it as easy as possible to work on their cars.

Don't buy an AWD BMW if you're interested in ease of repair-- those components tend to get in the way of the easy to work on bit.

Dropping the transfer case on an E90 to get at the fill plug isn't that hard (on a lift) but getting it remounted without dropping the exhaust is a bit of a struggle. Must be why it's a "lifetime fill".

If there are tips on getting those latching coolant hoses off, I'm interested-- sometimes it's easy, sometimes, it's pull, wiggle, wait, re-bandage knuckles, do it some more, etc, until I could get them off.

NoBrakesRacing
NoBrakesRacing Reader
10/2/15 9:37 a.m.

So of course this thread makes me go and look at craigslist for e46, not a big fan of the e36 look since new.

Surprising there are a few for $1k and challenge price with head issues. how hard is it to replace the head gasket and does the head usually warp? Seems a few also mention having this done.

Last week I was looking at g-body Malibus now bmw, before it was old bugs, the madness...

gearheadmb
gearheadmb Reader
10/2/15 10:03 a.m.
NoBrakesRacing wrote: Last week I was looking at g-body Malibus now bmw, before it was old bugs, the madness...

I am so with you on that one. For me it was V8 powered S10's and full size pickups from the 60s.

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
10/2/15 10:35 a.m.
NoBrakesRacing wrote: So of course this thread makes me go and look at craigslist for e46, not a big fan of the e36 look since new. Surprising there are a few for $1k and challenge price with head issues. how hard is it to replace the head gasket and does the head usually warp? Seems a few also mention having this done. Last week I was looking at g-body Malibus now bmw, before it was old bugs, the madness...

Not only does the head warp 99% of the time, but it usually rips the head bolts out of the threads in the aluminum block. If there is any evidence at all of even a single overheat, turn around and walk away.

Furious_E
Furious_E Reader
10/2/15 10:53 a.m.
gearheadmb wrote: If i spend, lets say, $4k on a 6 cyl 3 series will I be happy that I didnt put that money into a mustang gt?

I went from my E36 into an LS1 Camaro (shopped SN95s a bit too but never got to drive one - flakiest sellers on CL). The Bimmer was more satisfying in every imaginable way but one. 340 lb-ft sure does mask a lot of flaws, though...

I think your solution is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc1cPCF7Iuc

Have your cake and eat it too! So much want

gearheadmb
gearheadmb Reader
10/2/15 12:08 p.m.

In reply to 02Pilot:

What evidence would you look for? If there is damage would it be clearly evident from a test drive and look over, or do you need to dig a little deeper?

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
10/2/15 12:34 p.m.
gearheadmb wrote: In reply to 02Pilot: What evidence would you look for? If there is damage would it be clearly evident from a test drive and look over, or do you need to dig a little deeper?

Check the condition and level of the oil and coolant. Look around all the hose fittings for evidence of leakage. Check for steam out the exhaust once it's fully hot and any condensation has burned off.

Ideally, I'd be pulling the plugs to inspect, and if I got that far, I'd throw a compression tester on there. Leakdown and chemical test for combustion components in the coolant if you really want to be sure.

Cooling system is a 100k mile maintenance item. Ignore at your peril. Maybe $600 in OE parts and an afternoon's work.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/2/15 6:36 p.m.

My e30 was one of the cheaper vehicles I've owned to maintain. If you have a shop do anything for you, be prepared for the dumb people tax. Many shops capitalize on the fact that many luxo-car owners assume that there is an inherent difficulty or cost to working on expensive cars. I called a general repair shop to see about replacing the tranny fluid in my e30's 5 speed, and their $49.99 special suddenly turned into $169. When I asked why, the guy said "well, its a BMW..." Even though it was the same procedure as any other manual, and they would have used the same $3.99 generic fluid as any other manual fluid change.

Parts are relatively cheap. Parts stores carry most parts at notably inflated prices. Online sources like Rock Auto and Pelican Parts will be your friend. Another nice thing is that many BMW parts are Bosch parts. If you go buy a headlight relay from a BMW parts counter, it will be $30. If you look at the Bosch part number, the same exact relay is available at NAPA for $7.95.

The nice thing is, you likely won't need many parts. I owned mine from about 120k through 180k. The only "major" part I needed was an ECM which I got from a junkyard for $80.

Manual transmissions use a pretty complicated linkage setup. The pivot ball is plastic and all of the joints wear. Replacing them is a royal pain and aftermarket upgrades are expensive.

I would very definitely consider another BMW. e46s are still too expensive for me, I don't like the styling of the e36, and its hard to find nice e30s anymore. I would, however, strongly consider an e34 or e39 5-series. And part of me always wanted an e38 7-series.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/2/15 6:42 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: I will go out on a limb here and say that BMW made it as easy as possible to work on their cars.

Ayyymen. Super simple. And unlike so many cars (cough cough... VW), the parts that have to come off for maintenance are designed to actually be removed and replaced. They're beefy, and held on with 6mm bolts, not cheap screws into plastic. Gaskets are often rubber-impregnated steel, so deflection and over/under tightening are not an issue. Its amazing the confidence you have with your job when you're done working on a BMW. I had a similar experience with my W210 MB

M2Pilot
M2Pilot HalfDork
10/2/15 8:37 p.m.

I bought a '98 e36 M3/4/5 thirteen years ago. I think it's my favorite of all the cars I've owned. Only mods are chassis X-brace, Conforti chip & Euro cold air. No significant problems with it ever until recently. The right front strut is leaking a little. Power steering has always had a small leak but they all do that. Interior has held up well except for headliner sag. No door card delamination. It doesn't have the 18 button on board computer display & the pixels for time & temp etc come on when they damned well please. Did the cooling system replacement pro-actively a couple of years ago, use redline trans & diff lube & change it appropriately. The car still looks really good. It's been a great car for daily driving,trips & an occasional HPDE with no nasty surprises nor untoward expenses.

Having said all the above, I expect to sell it later this year or early next. I need to make room for something else in the garage.

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 SuperDork
10/2/15 9:59 p.m.
gearheadmb wrote: But what about the drive itself? Im thinking 3 series, 6cyl, manual trans. Is it "The Ultimate Driving Experience" or will I will a guy quickly get bored with it? This important to me because Im ultimately thinking of consolidating the fleet. Selling off a few vehicles including the mustang, and combining the hobby vehicle and the commuter vehicle into one bmw. Keep in mind that it most likely wouldnt be an M3, as prices are pretty steep on those. So I want something that will hold my interest more than five minutes.

I would say to drive both an E36, E46, and a Mustang GT back to back, to get a great feel on how they all drive. Your opinion is the most important, if you like the Mustang Gt more than the E36 or E46, you have to get that. The E36 and E46 are quintessential driver's cars; They don't just handle well, they feel good while handling well. If you're looking for good handling, ride, and interior, go with the BMWs. A 90s Mustang GT would drive much different than it. I will assume that if you want something fast, more of a drag racer, get the Mustang GT. I will also assume that with the 5.0 and 4.6 V8s, a few carefully selected performance parts may get them into the 280-300hp range.

Also, a few people have done Ford 5.0 V8 swaps(easy and cheap swap) in E36s for more power, but I don't think it is worth it without getting about a 100hp bump over the 190hp 2.8 I6. One company does make a supercharger kit for the 2.8L E36; a big cost in general, but not unreasonable for the huge power increase.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/2/15 10:36 p.m.

the first time I drove my 318ti, my first BMW, I understood their "magic". Even with blown shocks, bushings so rotted they fell apart in your hands, and skinny mixed make tyres, I could feel the road like so few other cars could. Nothing short of the few sports cars I had owned up until that time felt that same way.. and this was a small hatchback that could seat 5. I was very impressed

NoBrakesRacing
NoBrakesRacing Reader
10/2/15 10:45 p.m.
02Pilot wrote:
gearheadmb wrote: In reply to 02Pilot: What evidence would you look for? If there is damage would it be clearly evident from a test drive and look over, or do you need to dig a little deeper?
Check the condition and level of the oil and coolant. Look around all the hose fittings for evidence of leakage. Check for steam out the exhaust once it's fully hot and any condensation has burned off. Ideally, I'd be pulling the plugs to inspect, and if I got that far, I'd throw a compression tester on there. Leakdown and chemical test for combustion components in the coolant if you really want to be sure. Cooling system is a 100k mile maintenance item. Ignore at your peril. Maybe $600 in OE parts and an afternoon's work.

Thanks for the education.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/4/15 11:12 a.m.
gearheadmb wrote: If i spend, lets say, $4k on a 6 cyl 3 series will I be happy that I didnt put that money into a mustang gt?

So hard to compare. Apples and orangutans. The BMW is a well-sorted, highly engineered car with a GT-type of layout. It subscribes to the "more isn't better, better is better," mantra.

The Mustang is a "hold my beer and watch me put a V8 in this car," approach. By comparison, it is a floppy, rattly, noisy pony car.

So it depends on what you want. I personally found my experiences in BMWs to be a consistent joy while driving. Every turn, bump, merge, and cruise is rewarding. I have also owned a dozen or so muscle cars. They are a passion, but driving them gets old.

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