jgp1843 HalfDork
7/29/08 6:09 p.m.

I may get the chance to look over a 1989 325is this weekend - 198K miles, new timing belt and water pump, plus some other stuff I don't remember right now. What should I look out for?

Sonic New Reader
7/29/08 6:12 p.m.

Rust in normal old car places, worn suspension (shocks and bushings), ratty interiors, warning lights on the dash. There aren't many unique trouble spots, just lots of deferred maintenance and neglect, but most of it can be easily fixed up.

Salanis Dork
7/29/08 6:27 p.m.

There's a good chance the Guibo is shot. It's the rubber bit connecting the driveshaft to the rear end. It's a cheap and easy fix.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn Dork
7/29/08 6:46 p.m.

What the other guys said. There aren't a lot of hidden things you can't find by looking at it (for cosmetic items) or by driving it (for mechanical items.) I'd expect worn rubber bits in the suspension and subframe bushings and sloppy shifter bushings. The iS should have Recaro-like sport seats, a trunk spoiler and an air dam (there's a bottom piece on the air dam that may be cracked or missing.) E30 interiors are usually pretty durable but it's likely the leather on the driver's seat bolster will be worn or have holes in it on a car with that kind of mileage. Oil leaks on the engine can be messy but are usually not a big deal - the oil pressure switch sender can leak along with valve cover and oil pan gaskets. Ask for proof of the timing belt being replaced. BMWs that have been taken care of often come with service records, so ask for that as well. With care, the BMW baby six engine will run just about forever, so 200,000 miles on the odometer doesn't necessarily mean much.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/30/08 12:40 a.m.

true enough.. The drivetrain on most BMWs seem to last forever. The Suspension bushings are less durable, but easily replaced.

European cars always seem to have electronic gremlins.. thankfully the E30 is relativly free of electronic gimicks

speedblind New Reader
7/30/08 6:42 a.m.

See if you hear a clunk from the rear suspension under acceleration and braking. You're listenning for worn/shot subframe mounts. Replacing them involves removal of everything past the driveshaft, and can be quite a pain. When I bought my car, the mounts were so bad that the car would get squirrely at anything above 40 mph.

walterj HalfDork
7/30/08 9:31 a.m.

The synchros and often the front bearings in the trans go bad. If it sounds like a jet engine in 1st and 2nd figure $250 for a replacement gearbox. The splines grime up from a leaky front seal and make the throw-out bearing difficult to move over time... which make the clutch pedal difficult to depress. Thats a clutch job... $200.

The rear axles can wear and leave a lot of play so that you hear a loud clunk when stomping/lifting on the throttle. They are $175 each.

Rear wheel bearing are a b1tch to replace, $100 each

Vacuum leaks... cracked rubber under the hood makes for some difficult to diagnose throttle response and idle issues.

Sloppy/unadjusted valves sound like a sewing machine

Sloppy shifter is worn/broken plastic cup and bushings that cost $50

These cars are mostly bulletproof but at 200k there is def. reason to believe that you have some expensive refreshing of suspension to do before it drives like an E30 should. Dampers, tie rods, control arms and every bushing on the car will cost $800 in parts.

jgp1843 HalfDork
7/30/08 10:10 a.m.

IF I get it (I'm a cheap so-and-so and already have a Mk. 1 MR2, which would become my high-MPG summer street car, so this is a project, not a need) it will be pretty much a dedicated autocross and occasional HPDE car, so I'd put on the Spec e30 suspension (works good, gives the car some resale advantages to other racers when it comes time to sell it) and probably run STX on a local basis. It's definately an is, supposedly has new suspension bushings and other recent maintenance, supposedly runs good, has "valve cover and other mysterious oil leaks but doesn't burn or drip oil", whatever that means - needs checking out.

It's 160 miles away, in the middle of nowhere, but I may check into it. My first new car was a 2002, and I've always liked e30s. Possibly the finest road car I've driven was a new e30 M3 at a GRM track test back in '88 or '89, I forget which (long story). I've been following the GRM spec e30 series, so I'll definately nail the ABS a couple of times if I actually go test it.

Would really love an e30 M3, but can't justify the price differential to a set up 325 is, which should be very similar in performance.

Any other particular trouble spots? I've been reading through the "101 performance projects" book to get familiar with maintenance issues.

ditchdigger Reader
7/30/08 10:36 a.m.

steering wheel shimmy at 55 and above is usually control arm bushings. The OEM M3 bushings cured this completley on mine.

My 88 325is has 200K on it and is in surprisingly good shape. The interior has held up very well, it doesnt burn a drop of oil although it does drip a little when parked. It is the most solid high mileage car I have ever owned.

belteshazzar Dork
7/30/08 10:47 a.m.

wheelspeed related whine is typically the diff. I've never seen one fail outright, just get more irritating with time. Get your choice of ratios in a good/quiet used one for $300 or less, sometimes a lot less if you're patient.

The headgasket is leaking oil on the front passenger side corner. That's okay, it's inescapable, but can be leverage depending on the seller.

z31maniac HalfDork
7/30/08 10:55 a.m.

Salanis was close, guibo connects the driveshaft to trans output flange.

Check behind the pedals on the driver side up by a big grey grommet (and in the wheel wells for rust, common spot on these cars), check the trunk cavaties on either side of the trunk for signs water retention (easy fix for the rear sunroof drains)

Good luck! E30s are awesome.

curtis73 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/30/08 5:00 p.m.

Clunks over bumps can also be worn upper strut/shock mounts.

Check for play in the shifter. E30 shifters wear out and its not a big issue, but a pain in the arse to fix.

I also would listen for the whining front input bearing on the tranny, but mine sounded like a jet engine from 112k miles to 186k miles with no change. There was a rumor that it was a recall item that was just for noise; not really a problem with the bearing causing problems.

z31maniac HalfDork
7/30/08 5:06 p.m.

^That makes me feel good then, I won't get in a hurry to change out the tranny then. Still shifts relatively good, but is noisy.

5th gear really sounds like a jet engine!

ddavidv SuperDork
7/30/08 9:02 p.m.
belteshazzar wrote: The headgasket is leaking oil on the front passenger side corner. That's okay, it's inescapable, but can be leverage depending on the seller.

So I'm not imagining that's what it is on mine. Cam seal and valve cover gasket didn't fix it. It's not really hurting anything, just making a mess of my otherwise clean engine. I don't think it bothers me enought to pull the head to fix it.

belteshazzar Dork
7/31/08 10:23 a.m.

I've never been able to fix that leak, but I've only tried twice. On one car by replacing the headgasket. On another by getting the head decked and using permex or whoever's headgasket adhesive(which I've had great luck with normally btw). Gave up.

Every m20 I've been around did it.

Travis_K New Reader
7/31/08 12:59 p.m.

The biggest problems with E30s when I was looking for one that most of them the reclining mechanisim on the drivers seat is broken/bent so the seatback is crooked, and any of them under $3500 or so have no maintaince records at all. I wanted one, but I needed a car I could drive right away, not after I learned how to swap the timing belt becasue the previous owner had put 50k+ miles on the car and never done it.

belteshazzar Dork
8/1/08 10:43 a.m.

Interesting that I have NEVER seen that problem. Sport seats or standard?

RedS13Coupe New Reader
8/3/08 5:15 a.m.

A buddy of mine had what ever the economy model of the E30 is that had that problem with the seats too.

Travis_K New Reader
8/3/08 10:34 a.m.

Usually the standard seats are the ones that are broken, also the 5 and 7 series ones seem to often have the same problem.

speedblind New Reader
8/3/08 10:47 p.m.

+1 on the broken seats. Both non-sport seat cars I've owned had the problem on the driver's seat. A Corbeau FX1 fixed the problem nicely.

scotaku New Reader
8/4/08 7:51 a.m.

Look for rust behind the rear wheels as well, particularly underneath the battery tray.

alleykat New Reader
8/4/08 9:33 a.m.
scotaku wrote: Look for rust behind the rear wheels as well, particularly underneath the battery tray.

Poke the floors around the gas pedal and at the exterior front corners (jacking points). Also look under the windscreen cowl area. Mechanical issues are cheap compared to body work. Unless it's been maintained well the bushings and dampers will be toast.

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