karussell New Reader
4/25/21 5:43 p.m.

While I was looking for a used car classified on Ebay-Kleinanzeigen(German Craigslist) I found this:

1999 316i Compact, seller claimed it had no rust at all, and the general inspection was valid till June of next year - so I decided to see that myself, as it was cheaper than Mk4 Golf.

So I dragged my friend with me - and he(and I) realized the seller is a bit shady...

- My friend asked the seller's name, but he was very reluctant to say it - he finally said that he is Ibrahim or something, and he is from Turkey. But according to my friend he is not - their Turkish is terrible.

- Too many people trying to sell me the car. Like four of them. They looked very happy that naive young asian boy came to buy it. They were even more thrilled when I said it's going to be my first car. "You are very lucky!" "I wanted to buy this car, but I didn't have enough money to buy it." "You have a lot of knowledge about BMW! You understand that this is a good deal, right?"

- Every time I point out the defects, he changes his word("No rust on the car" "There is a rust on the jack point" "Except that part, it's rust free" "What about that rust on the door sill" "That too")

- They are very interested in my friends car(E39 520i), for some reason.

- They want me to make a quick decision. "There are a lot of people waiting" "You have to make decision now" "Pay 500 Euro first, than we will give you paperwork and the key" Typical sales tactic. The ad is still there, and it has been like that for three weeks. People aren't that stupid.

The car in question was also full of defects:

- Broken air intake hose

- ABS warning light AND stability control(ASC+T) warning light: Seller claims that changing the air intake hose will fix this problem... but really?

- Rust everywhere: all 4 Jack points, entire underbody(I took a video with my phone, and the screen was full of red stuff...), driver's side door sill, rear wheel arches, and rear suspension. I noticed a lot of 'bubbles' on the rear panel, and side skirt was definitely recently repainted. I expected some rust spots, as E36 is notorious for rust and the car is cheap, but not this much...

- Missing Interior parts: Passenger side door handle trim is missing, and one screw is holding the door pocket for some reason. My favorite was the headliner - the owner removed the upholstery, then he 'fixed it' by applying some sort of sticky black paint.

- Cooling system: The seller does not know that the cooling system need an overhaul every 100k miles...

- Weird marking on the strut tower: Not a defect, but why would somebody write 'E36' with a white marker on a perfectly fine car?

- Oil leaks: The seller tried to hide it by washing the engine bay, but even I could spot what's wrong with it.

- Tires: Minerva tires... never heard of them.

- Broken fog light: One fog light does not light up.

It probably had even more problems, but I got tired dealing with the seller and left.

There's no way this is worth 1,000 Euro(about 1,200 USD). Even if it was 500 Euro or something I still wouldn't have bought from them, because they lied too much. It's a shame because after a very short test drive in a parking lot I liked the car, but again, I didn't want to deal with them.


I'm still looking for a decent 316i Compact - it is the cheapest RWD car in Germany, it's practical(even a washing machine fits!), and finding used/cheap parts is easy. I want to use the lesson learned from this when I look for another E36 Compact, but there is one thing I am not sure of: 'thump' when starting the car. It happened when it was cold, and when it was warm. I could feel it mostly with the shift lever. Was it a worn engine mount? Also going into 1st was difficult, and so was distinguishing 1st and reverse. Is it a BMW thing?






BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
4/25/21 5:58 p.m.

Badly worn transmission mount, probably.

Really easy to replace so it’s another clear sign of a neglected car. Anyone who knows or cares would have taken care of it right away.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/25/21 6:09 p.m.

Germany is strict on inspection. My guess is this car won't pass and the seller knows it. 

karussell New Reader
4/25/21 6:18 p.m.

In reply to BlueInGreen - Jon :

Thank you for the answer! Yes, it seemed to be very neglected car that was (poorly) repainted recently. And the seller's friends knew the car too well... My guess is that it was some sort of shared car for them. Nobody takes care about the shared car...


karussell New Reader
4/25/21 6:26 p.m.
John Welsh said:

Germany is strict on inspection. My guess is this car won't pass and the seller knows it. 

That's the interesting part. In Germany general inspection(HU, but people simply calls it TÜV) is valid for 2 years, so the car was inspected less than a year ago. The car probably passed the inspection in this condition!

My friend and I talked about it on the way back, and he tells me that there are mechanics who would just pass the car that has serious problems like rust. The seller probably knew such people.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/25/21 7:08 p.m.

Do you know this same unscrupulous inspector?  If not then you won't be driving this car in year 3 and you won't be able to sell it to anyone else either.

karussell New Reader
4/26/21 4:37 a.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

That car will end up in somewhere in eastern Europe in the near future, that's for sure.

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
4/26/21 2:01 p.m.
karussell said:

In reply to John Welsh :

That car will end up in somewhere in eastern Europe in the near future, that's for sure.

It will be filled with blini, AKs, and polinka while bumping techno and have good time. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/26/21 2:11 p.m.
John Welsh said:

Germany is strict on inspection. My guess is this car won't pass and the seller knows it. 

It's been 20+ years since I lived there, but even back then I'm pretty sure the ABS warning light on its own would been a failure.

The rust is probably at the discretion of the tester - if they can't find a hole, I think it's an advisory only.

Oh, and the only time I've seen this sort of marker like the "E36" written on the car is on a junkyard.

BTW, the HU only means that the car was considered safe at the time of inspection. If the police pulls you over and finds something unsafe, they can (and will) still impound the car even if you're on the way back from passing the HU and the sticker has only been on the plate for 10 minutes.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/26/21 7:37 p.m.

I would think that the traction control light would be fixed by replacing the air intake hose.  Traction control on the E36 is very simple, it's a seperate throttle plate in the intake that closes when the computer senses wheel spin.  So if air is getting around this plate due to a bad hose, it would set off the light.


I miss my compact, but I would not buy that one.

paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/30/21 6:33 p.m.

Stealth canoe in 3-2-1....

iansane GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/1/21 9:54 a.m.

I know this is a resurrection thread and I'm sure I'm missing something here but that car doesn't look that bad...

Maybe I just buy crap.

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