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AL the 78 King View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: E36 advice needed
    Posted: 06-June-2005 at 15:21

Hi all,

I'm looking at buying an E36 model BMW and I have the folowing questions if anyone can help me out. I'm looking at getting one of the 6 cylinder models probably very early 90s as my budget is only  £1500. I would go for the E30, but safety and refinement is unfortunately high on the list of priorities (not like my current sports car!)

1. First off, the 320i or a 325i? I need something thats good for quiet comfortable mway cruising with decent mpg, but it would be nice to have something thats got a kick to it. Anyone know the mpg for these cars?

2. Is the E36 fairly easy to maintain for the home mechanic? I have a fair knowledge of mechanics and do all my own servicing at the moment.

3. Lastly, I want to check when the cambelt/chain and clutch have been done but don't really get the service manuals. They just say Inspection 1 and 2, which I guess means that some work was done but who knows what?

thanks for your time

AL

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2005 at 15:55

Al,

Both models are good, but the 325i has a fair amount more kick, and not much difference in MPG. 320i is smooth but not that fast, but 325i has more chance of being hammered.

Talking about MPG, both are pretty poor - expect somewhere between 20 & 30 MPG in the real world.  You might get 35 at a steady 70 on the motorway!

Yes it's fairly easy to maintain - but some components need special tools to get in / out.  Servicing is however very simple - just make sure you use the right oil!

And finally, don't worry about the cambelts on either - they're driven by chain. 

Oil Service, Insp I and II is mostly around the extra items that are serviced (like greasing the door latches, replacing the pollen filters etc)

Clutch can last between 50 and 200k, so check for slipage and / or juddering in traffic - it's not replaced as a service item!

Carl

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2005 at 16:37

Hmm I was hoping for slightly more than 25 mpg (averaging your figures there), but I guess thats the price you pay for 6 cylinder pulling power. Perhaps I should go for the 318i, but then I've heard that accelerates like a brick and is really noisy at motorway speeds (I like to be able to hear my music!). Any opinions on that or the 318is?

Thanks for your help on the servicing etc Carl

Anyone know of an E36 buyers guide?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2005 at 17:18

Al,

there is an E36 buyers guide around.

The 318is is supposed to be a good car with almost as much grunt as the 320 but with better economy and less weight. It won't be as refined as the 320 though.

I have a 328 and I get about 27mpg on average although on longer runs i do get 35+

The e36 is a fairly easy car to service, but as Carl has already said some speciallist tools are required for replacing some parts. There are a few problem areas that you need to look out for.

Rust. Despite what some people may tell you the E36 does rust, although it just cosmetic, nothing structural.

Rear suspension arm bushes. These are prone to wearing out. If they are tired the car will not feel stable when cornering and the back end will feel loose. If they are totally shot you will get a knocking when you go over a bump.

Front ball joints. Again when these are worn the front suspension will knock over bumps.

Rear damper top mounts. These are a know weak spot and will make a knocking sound a bit like a loose parcel shelf.

Thermostat. The engine should warm up in about 5 minutes and the needle should remain in the centre of the gauge. If it reads low, takes a long time to warm up or fluctuates depending on driving then the thermostat may be shot.

interior trim. Early E36's had poor interior trim quality,

Electric windows. Window motors can burn out. Make sure they work and don't run slowley.

There was a recall on the E36 for a steering linkage. If you ring BMW UK with then chassis number they will tell you if it has been done or not. BMW UK can also tell you when the car has visited a BMW dealer and which dealer. You can then check history by contacting the individual dealers.

Rear springs. The E36 has a habit of snapping rear springs. Normally the top coil so it is not always easy to spot.

These are just a few things you need to look out for.

The E36 is a good great car and if you find a good one that has been well looked after you will love the driving experience. The handling is superb. However get a tired one that is in need of a bit of TLC, especially in the suspension department and it will handle like a pig and cost as much as you paid for it to sort.  

However there is always plenty of help and advice here from people who have been there, myself included!  Big Smile

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2005 at 17:42
Originally posted by Peter Fenwick Peter Fenwick wrote:

Electric windows. Window motors can burn out. Make sure they work and don't run slowley.

There was a recall on the E36 for a steering linkage. If you ring BMW UK with then chassis number they will tell you if it has been done or not. BMW UK can also tell you when the car has visited a BMW dealer and which dealer. You can then check history by contacting the individual dealers.

 

The E36 is a good great car and if you find a good one that has been well looked after you will love the driving experience. The handling is superb. However get a tired one that is in need of a bit of TLC, especially in the suspension department and it will handle like a pig and cost as much as you paid for it to sort.  

However there is always plenty of help and advice here from people who have been there, myself included!  Big Smile

i echo peters sentiments aswell

get a nice one and it will give you fun everyday and allday long..dont go for an "asmatic" 4 cylinder pitt pony engine.there good but not very fun if you like drive a car rather than pedal it .then go for the 6 bore engine as they are far more reponsive

apart from whats been said   .. happy hunting and good luck

 

peter>>>>> just been the devils bit here....  could you tell me why the e36 interior   could be of poor quality??????

i havnt had a bad "inside" ever so was just wondering???

its a dogs world out there
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2005 at 17:50

Originally posted by Peter Fenwick Peter Fenwick wrote:

Electric windows. Window motors can burn out. Make sure they work and don't run slowley.

Another fairly common issue with e36 windows is where they only go up or down an inch at a time.  There is a regulator that needs replacement to sort it.  A good few motors have been changed first before finding that they weren't the problem.

Now: BMW 523i SE '00, 318i SE - e91 '07, 325i Coupe '93.

Prev:
e46 328i SE Touring, 330Ci, 318Ci.
e39 523i SE.
e36 325i Coupe *2, 323i SE, 316iSE.
e30 325iSE 2dr, 320i Conv, 320i 2dr, 316i.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 03:00

Craig,

poor interior trim quality on early cars is something I've read a lot about. From what I can gather it only affected H & J reg cars.

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 04:16
Originally posted by Peter Fenwick Peter Fenwick wrote:

Craig,

poor interior trim quality on early cars is something I've read a lot about. From what I can gather it only affected H & J reg cars.

 

yes, interiors sorted by first K platers. Having come from an E34 520 & 535i no E36 interior is particularly 'solid' but definately better than most!

If you are going to buy a 6, get the biggest you can afford as MPG varies little between 320 & 328 (through 323 & 325) in normal driving.

I learnt this lesson with the 5 series I've had - the 520 did 1mpg more than the 535i (average for entire ownership). I guess the biger engine works less hard.

Al - are you looking for saloon or coupe variant?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 04:34

For 1500 you will get a very ropey coupe, i think the saloon will be the best bet, dont be put of by the 316 or 318, they arent bad by any standards, they just are not as good as the 6 cyl's, which isnt anything to be ashamed of!

When you do get one, if its a 6 cyl, look through its history to check whether it has had a new water pump, if not, get it replaced as this could save your engine, this is a common failure on the M50 engine and can result in overheating and stuffing your engine.

Otherwise, as above......

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 09:47

I've got a 318is. Don't confuse these with the 316i and 318i. Not as smooth as a six cylinder, but not bad at all on performance, and since the weight of the engine is less, the handling is pretty good.

Cheers, Neil
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 12:38

Hello again,

I would prefer a coupe, but the guy above is right , the only ones within my price range are approaching knackered status. I test drove an M reg 320 today, just to see what it was like, not bad at all, I enjoyed the ride and it was pretty throaty once it got going. Regrettably it had alot of bodywork damage and service history was incomplete (airbag light on etc). At least its a start. I might go and look at a '91 325i this evening, the guy says that the service history is patchy but then its the only one I have seen in my price range soooo....

Just got to try the 318 after that and its decision time. It would be nice to try the 318is too but all the ones I've seen sound like they have been thrashed (although admittedly thats just from looking through autotrader)

Thanks for all your comments, I found them very helpful in sussing out the 320i today.I thought it was pretty amusing how the 'cough' "economy" dial on the dash is very accurate in the low figures but then leaps from 30 mpg to 50mpg in about 5 mms, obviously the Germans do know how to have a joke!

cheers

Al 



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 13:15

whats the difference between a 318i and 318is ?

 

excuse my ignorance

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 13:55

318i is 8v 115bhp, 318is is 16v 139/140bhp.

Coupe King - I inderstand that waterpump failure is only common on the alloy blocks of newer cars as they switched to plastic impellers (and then switched back when they began to fail!)

Saying that, mine just failed at 115K, with no warning - although as it was the bearing that went, it only had the result of spewing a bit of coolant everywhere - easy to spot!  Temp guage stayed rock steady though, so you would have to be in traffic to notice (unless you see the steam!)

Also, the later alloy block engines are MUCH better on fuel, especially round town, but i guess this is out of Al's budget by a fair margin!

Al - if you can find one, try a TD or TDS 325 - six cylinders and bags of torque - all with an average of about 40 - 50 mpg!  Not sure if you can pick one up in your price range though.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 14:21

Just thought I'd mention two things:

I got new springs and shocks from GSF for under £300, totally transforming my handling/ride quality.

I do a combination of driving, and have never acheived less than 31mpg. Oh and I drive like I'm in the fastest car out there.

currently driving a RENAULT clio sport 172!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 15:31
John , perhaps your fuel economy is aided by the fact that the later 320 engine has vvt (I thought I read that somewhere, correct me if I'm wrong here!)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-June-2005 at 17:58
i think it does have the valvetronic gubbins aye, could be why - like two engines in one etc...
currently driving a RENAULT clio sport 172!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-June-2005 at 02:10
lol john, vanos perhaps, not valvetronic! '92 on sixes get single vanos (ecu controlled inlet cam timing) very similar to vvti, but only on the in side. e46 gets both on sixes, valvetronic on fours (inlet cam becomes the throttle control).
hth.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-June-2005 at 03:09
Originally posted by Peter Fenwick Peter Fenwick wrote:

Craig,

poor interior trim quality on early cars is something I've read a lot about. From what I can gather it only affected H & J reg cars.

 

thanks peter for putting me straight on that one ..

the only dealings ive had with h and j plate e36 s   is that ive traded them straight on to other guys .so i havent owned them for long enought to find out if they have had a bad interior

what was the problems in those early cars????

its a dogs world out there
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-June-2005 at 05:13
Originally posted by pma1ums pma1ums wrote:

[

what was the problems in those early cars????

TBH I don't really know. Cheap plastic not well put together I guess.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-June-2005 at 10:27
Originally posted by bmw325tds bmw325tds wrote:

Coupe King - I inderstand that waterpump failure is only common on the alloy blocks of newer cars as they switched to plastic impellers (and then switched back when they began to fail!)

Waterpump failure is definately common on the M50, the old iron blocks are well known for cracking, due to overheating caused by waterpump failure. It happened to mine at 100k. Saw the red light in time tho, before the engine was goosed.

 



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