PDA

View Full Version : Buying an E 30 (Checklist)


qimis
04-06-2004, 11:40 PM
Due to a lot threads on what to check before buying an E30, here are some points that might be useful. All other inputs are welcome !


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These what I've got from internet, hope it helps :

check the obvious things... make sure everything inside the car works (buttons, windows, fan blower, AC etc..) If it has a sunroof, look for rust where the tracks are. Check the engine compartment for leaks, oil level & condition, straight frame, VIN # consistancy. Look in the trunk for water accumulation and the condition of the spare tire, also to see if the tool kit is complete and if there's any record of the last timing belt change. If all that checks out fine, take it to a mechanic to see if everything under the car checks out and get an abstract on it from the Ministry.

BEFORE YOU SHOP...


Before you decide to start looking at E30's, you must promise yourself that you will not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Even if you find a gem, there will be problems that you should tackle yourself. BMW's are no harder to work on then other cars, but repair shops love to overcharge you just because you have a German car. Make a commitment to buy a metric set of tools, a Bentley manual, and a few hours of your time to keep your E30 in tip top shape without breaking your wallet.

If you cannot change your oil, replace a fuse, or tighten a bolt do not buy an E30 because the little things will kill your love for your E30 and your bank account.

However, if you don't mind spending a few hours every once in a while working on you car, then owning an E30 will be a great (and cheap) experience.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR


The one thing I cannot stress enough is that low mileage E30's do not make the best buys for two reasons. First, the owners of low mileage E30's usually ask a premium (I will explain why it is a bad idea to pay a premium for low mileage E30's). Second, owning an E30 between the 100,000 mile and 150,000 mile interval can be extremely expensive. A lot goes on these cars in the 50,000 mile period. Why pay a premium for a car with 90,000 miles when you are 10,000 miles away from hell? It make much more since to grab a cheap e30 with 150,000 miles or more since the 100,000-150,000 mile problems SHOULD have been fixed. Please note SHOULD.

So what is so bad about the 100,000-150,000 black hole I keep referring to? Well between 100,000-150,000 the following parts usually need to be replaced or repaired:

Steering rack $ 500
Control arms $ 500
Driveshaft $ 800
Radiator $ 250
Brakes $ 500
SI Board $ 250
Timing belt $ 400
Battery $ 100
Clutch $ 800
Various electronics $ 0-1,000
Auto Transmission $ 1,000

As you can see, stuff adds up very quickly.

There are no guarantees that the previous owner took care of the 100,000-150,000 mile maintenance, or did the jobs properly. There is even the possibility that the car you are buying managed to crawl through the 100,000-150,000 interval with no problems. This could mean that you are gonna get hit hard with repairs in as little as a week!

Luckily there is an easy way to see what you are getting into. GET THE SERVICE RECORDS! I strongly advise buying an E30 without the service records. If the owner did not take the time to document the work done to the car chances are he wouldn't take the time to make sure the work was done properly. There is also the possibility the owner had the car serviced at an auto repair "chain," or "mom and pop" mechanic.

One of the worst things an E30 owner can do is to have their car serviced at a generic auto repair shop. BMW are special cars that need special attention from certified BMW shops or highly recommended local shops that specialize in high end cars. Using an automotive repair "chain" or a "mom and pop" mechanic can be murder on BMW's.



KICKING THE FENDERS

Here is a list of things to check for when you buy an E30.

Exterior
Check all body panels for damage or signs of repair. Look to see if all the VIN numbers match. Look for anything out of the ordinary. Aftermarket spoilers or bodykits can sometimes be used to hide dents or damage. Check the head and taillights for cracks or pits. Make sure that all the door locks work properly. Check all trim and moldings for signs of overspray from a possible paint job. The hood washers, bumper trim, side moldings, door locks, door handles, and wipers should all be a flat black. If these are painted the body color the car could have a cheap paint job. Ask the owner if it OK to place a piece of making tape on an inconspicuous spot. If the car has the OEM or quality aftermarket paint job the tape should come of with no drama. If the tape takes tape with it, the car has been to a cheap repair shop. Look at the tread life on the tires. Also inspect the rims for damage. I also suggest that you get down and look at the under side of the car. Check for rust on the floorpans, drivetrain, and exhaust.


Interior
Look closely at the seats. If the owner has seat covers ask to remove them. Reupholstering jobs run $ 500- $ 2,000 for the front seats alone, so make sure the interior is in satisfactory shape. Check the dashboard and console for cracks or signs of wear. The carpet should be in decent shape. Ask to pull back a section to inspect the floorpans for rust (The carpet easily pulls back in the rear of the cabin. Make sure all buttons work. See that all the lights on the instrument cluster light up when the key is turned to position 1 or 2, and go dark once the car is started. It is very common for people to disconnect or remove the light bulbs to hid problems. Be sure the radio, power mirrors, power locks, power sunroof, flashers, turn signals, brake lights, fog lights, headlights, interior lights and AC work.

Engine bay and Trunk
Inspect the engine compartment and the trunk for signs of repair (The carpet will need to be pulled back in the trunk). The VINS should be found on both front fenders. The rear fenders do not have VIN stickers. Inspect all shock towers for excessive weld lines as it could be a sign of repair due to an accident or collapsed shock tower. The engine should be relatively clean. Make sure there are no leaks coming from the headgasket. Inspect the dipstick for signs of coolant (this could mean a cracked block). Check the condition and color of all fluid containers.

Test Drive
Check for a rough idle, hesitation, and knocks. The engine should be pretty smooth unless it is modified by performance upgrades like camshafts. Make sure the car can pull to redline without drama. Make sure the shifting is smooth and swift (short shifters can feel notchy). Check for a hard brake pedal and smooth stops. The handling and ride should be up to usual BMW standards (stiff but sweet). Make sure the E-brake is tight and holds the car in place. Don't be afraid to drive it hard! BMW's are strong machines that can take tough love easily if well maintained.

I strongly advise that you take your car to an independent mechanic for a check up before you buy. However, using these tips can eliminate problem cars right away and save you the $ 100 or so for a professional inspection.

It's actually pretty simple...

1. Choose the model you are interested in and set your price range.

2. Search the local Classified and Autotrader for the model you are looking for in your price range.

3. Inspect the car and ask the hard questions.

4. Take the car to an independent mechanic for the final inspection.

5. If everything looks good, buy it!

Chain tensioner and profile gasket, those are the major things




What color is the oil? ... any metal flakes in it?
How does the car idle? ...
does the car stay straight when you slam on the brakes and let go of the steering wheel?
does the steering wheel turn when you go over potholes?
any grinding or knocking (not ticking) in the engine bay?.. how about when you rev high then release?
what happens when you slam on the gas then release?... any knocking sounds from the shock mounts?.. subframe?
ABS kick in when you slam on the brakes?
any play in the steering wheel? ...
automatic or manual?.. if manual how's the clutch?... how easily does the car shift from 1st to 2nd without depressing the clutch?.. if you push gently it should be able to slide right in without any grinding.


Originally posted by Jase
Look for rust! pull the carpet back behind the front seats and in the trunk. If it is a pre 89 look under the rear bumper. Check the steering rack boots for leaks. Uneven tire wear.
Just a few to get you started

Originally posted by Mystikal
Differential whine. If you hear any loud noises from the rear, STAY AWAY.

Originally posted by chromius_e30
buzzing or humming from the wheels (wheel bearing)...Water pump (check for leaks) Same with the power steering pump...and make sure the belts are in good shape (timming belt especially), oh and something that I just ran into, check to see if there is a chirping noise from the blower fan, it means its on its last legs....and I got quoted something like $400 to get it replaced...gonna look into doing it myself...shouldn't be too hard. Other than a few minor things they are amazing cars. *th-up*Oh and if its equiped with A/C make sure to check it....very few of them still work as far as I know...but you might be able to get a few bucks knocked off.

AmaRu
04-07-2004, 12:49 AM
weeee thank you i needed this good post *th-up*

atilla
04-07-2004, 04:53 AM
k your comin with if im buying an e30 :)

ZiMMie
04-07-2004, 05:13 AM
Good One But cant seems to find a pleasable e30 to buy. ive chked out 7 e30 for the past weeks all 89-91 all of them rusted as hell.. OHH GOD HOPE I FIND ONE lke My SIlver oNe :)

///m powered
04-07-2004, 06:33 AM
haha get one from california! no rust ;)

benm
04-07-2004, 07:07 PM
I think it is a good idea to look at several E30s, that way you have several to compare against.

I looked at 4 E30s before I bought mine. I almost didn't consider looking at the one I ended up buying because it had 203k miles, but it was in the best shape of any I could find, and the mileage made a good bargaining point. The cars with the lowest mileage were in the worst shape (One only had 110k, but it was pretty beat up). I'm sure there are nice low-mileage cars out there though.

school
04-07-2004, 07:28 PM
Didn't read everything but heres a few things.

Can't for get the tires, buzzing/humming sound could also be cumming from the tires. May need balancing or may need to be replaced because of flatspot (cupping).

Bumpers, the pre '88 cars came with metal bumpers which stick out about 3-5" from the body, if they're not out that far then may have drilled rebars or been in accciedent.

Suspension, drive the car to about 70-80mph (thats about 120kph) if the car starts to bounce or sway may need new suspension. Some degree of bounce is normal for the wieght of these cars.

Springs, people often lower these cars by cutting the springs, or compressing them with clamps, resulting in some degree of bad handling.

Cluster, if two or more gauges in the cluster do not work may need a new board thats $200-500 USD.

King Luis
04-07-2004, 11:13 PM
this should be a sticky: 6 votes

NightSmk
07-15-2004, 04:46 AM
Thx of lot for all the info *th-up* *wiggle*

Eviltwin
07-15-2004, 10:46 PM
wow very helpfull

deff. gonna help me out during my search.

FYI, I've checked out about 4 e30's so far. All 1990+.

the ones with the lowest mileage seemed nice at first, but showed all signs of needed attention very soon.

This 90' 325i with 208K has had everything rebuilt. Head, tbelt, waterpump, reardiff seal, tranny rebuild, etc etc seems to be the best shape of them all given the KM's on the body*th-up*

qimis
07-15-2004, 11:56 PM
It wont hurt to see some pictures on these threads, that'll give you some idea and awareness:

Part One (http://www.maxbimmer.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=30027&highlight=water+leaking)

Part Two (http://www.maxbimmer.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=35579&highlight=water+leaking)

///m powered
07-15-2004, 11:59 PM
qimis i didn't know your car was auto? is that one of your future projects or no? :P

qimis
07-16-2004, 12:03 AM
yes it's auto *shiner*
meh ... i dont really mind actually. IF it's going to be manual that means M3 engine project :cool:, unless i fuked up my transmission :( *knock on wood*

bmdoubleya
07-28-2004, 02:12 PM
Steering rack $ 500
Control arms $ 500
Driveshaft $ 800
Radiator $ 250
Brakes $ 500
SI Board $ 250
Timing belt $ 400
Battery $ 100
Clutch $ 800
Various electronics $ 0-1,000

I would just like to say I'm @ 310000km with original clutch, rad and steering rack... + lot of other original stuff..

qimis
07-29-2004, 11:40 PM
guys ... in a month the "sticky" gonna take over all the checklist info in here !

BladeRunner
07-30-2004, 11:32 PM
very TRUE qimis I have thought about that, so I think i will go through and delete my sticky/bump messages.

Well this board is different can delete if buffer time has passed.

ara325
12-04-2004, 05:06 PM
what does 'bump' or 'sticky' mean anyways?

josh318
12-06-2004, 07:20 PM
ditto to that? ^

Skunk#1
01-11-2005, 05:11 PM
Sorry, was bored and had to point this out....

quote:
"Luckily there is an easy way to see what you are getting into. GET THE SERVICE RECORDS!

I strongly advise buying an E30 without the service records.

If the owner did not take the time to document the work done to the car chances are he wouldn't take the time to make sure the work was done properly. There is also the possibility the owner had the car serviced at an auto repair "chain," or "mom and pop" mechanic."\

just being a punk *wave*

BladeRunner
01-23-2005, 01:38 PM
Been a while since I've been here...

When an item is stickied it stays at the top of a dicussion/forum in this case this thread is under E30 discussions. An example of a sticky would the the administrators forum rules or attention messages such as the forums will be down.... If it was stickied it would be at the atop of all threads posted under E30 discussions no matter how old this thread is or new the newer threads are (normally new/updated threads appear at the top most of the discussion).

When were doing bump we were simply saying bump this thread above all other threads, thereby making it the topmost or one of the topmost threads in the E30 discussions. Thus bringing more attention to the thread.

BMW325BMW
02-15-2005, 12:08 AM
dont expect to buy an e30 without running into problems... they are old cars... when u can find parts in the scrap yard, better than the ones on your car, you know its old... just don't get to discouraged when the repair bills come in... and like someone on here said b4... just cause its german, doesn't mean they cant be fixed... i find them easier than japanese cars to fix... u need little tiny hands to work under the hood of a honda

Eurospeed88
03-05-2005, 08:10 PM
Qimis, you might want to edit your write-up to mention that only the M42 has a chain tensioner and profile gasket. M20's have a timing belt and just a standard head gasket.

dirtyd14
03-21-2005, 03:51 PM
i got to say my eta is at 320,000km and shes still goin strong like the day we got her back in 1996...... and the clutch is just startnig to go so its time for a stroker :cool: ....

Hungaryboy
03-27-2005, 03:05 AM
I have seen a 88 325i with almost 400,000 miles.Its amazing how long a car can last if you maintain it right.

Axxe
03-31-2005, 12:33 PM
My parts car has 410,000 kms. It's a 1987 325is, and it was still running like a top when I pulled out the transmission.

King Luis
05-22-2005, 12:00 PM
don't know if it was said already but look and see if the tail lights have their seals. one of my tail lights didn't have a seal and i was getting water in my tail light and it over flowed on to and around the battery cover.

PelicanGolf2
08-02-2005, 09:25 AM
Make sure that you check the car with a full tank, I bought my car and the whole time it only had less than 20L in it. Get it home, fill it up, alas!! it is leaking. From what I see it is very expensive to replace the tank and alot of people have had pacth jobs. I highly recomend you inspect the lines on the drivers side just in front of the rear wheel.

Oh yeah a replacement tank ordered from germany is 943.00 cdn (at cost) from BMW so I was told.

wd948
10-23-2005, 05:17 PM
For that kind of gas leak you may wanna check under the back passenger seat, there is a cover and under either the internal gas pump or a plastic thing for the ones with external gas pump. Often it is the seal or the metal is bent from pressure from under the tank and when your tank is full gas will leak from there, it is alot cheaper to fix than getting a new tank.

oldskoole30
11-10-2005, 11:43 PM
Chaeck under the battery if you have a trunk battery, have seen a few with this problem, including one of mine preveous ones, also behind tail tight around the bolts that are holding it, also seems to be a common problem, most common though as far as I see it is the rocker pannels rusting through under the front doors at the welding line.
*th-up* Sorry if I re-posted something I did not read through everything

ara325
11-11-2005, 12:09 PM
Been a while since I've been here...

When an item is stickied it stays at the top of a dicussion/forum in this case this thread is under E30 discussions. An example of a sticky would the the administrators forum rules or attention messages such as the forums will be down.... If it was stickied it would be at the atop of all threads posted under E30 discussions no matter how old this thread is or new the newer threads are (normally new/updated threads appear at the top most of the discussion).

When were doing bump we were simply saying bump this thread above all other threads, thereby making it the topmost or one of the topmost threads in the E30 discussions. Thus bringing more attention to the thread.

thx...i've waited almost a year for an answer :D

ara325
11-11-2005, 12:12 PM
Make sure that you check the car with a full tank, I bought my car and the whole time it only had less than 20L in it. Get it home, fill it up, alas!! it is leaking. From what I see it is very expensive to replace the tank and alot of people have had pacth jobs. I highly recomend you inspect the lines on the drivers side just in front of the rear wheel.

Oh yeah a replacement tank ordered from germany is 943.00 cdn (at cost) from BMW so I was told.

Good call...often times cars will have a gas tank leak at the top of the tank. Such was the case with my M10. All I did was to make sure not to fill it up all the way...cheezy way around it i guess.

Derek89E30
11-30-2005, 12:52 PM
Wow, that checklist was great, ive been looking for something exactly like it for so long on the internet, and i finally found it.

So this is my first post on this forum...Im looking into buying a 1989 325is. It has 317000 kms on it, and looks like it is in fairly good condition. Im buying it off of a relatives friend. now, i guess the car was in a accident, it was hit slightly in the back end. the seller rebuilds bmws as a hobby, and has completely rebuilt the rear suspension and replaced the rear axle. Is there anything else in the back that could have been damaged that i should look for? Im a little nervous about buying a car that has been in an accident, but by the sounds of it, hes done a pretty impressive job rebuilding. in the process he also replaced the timing belt and water pump on the engine. any comments would be appreciated. thanks guys.

ara325
12-01-2005, 12:50 PM
Wow, that checklist was great, ive been looking for something exactly like it for so long on the internet, and i finally found it.

So this is my first post on this forum...Im looking into buying a 1989 325is. It has 317000 kms on it, and looks like it is in fairly good condition. Im buying it off of a relatives friend. now, i guess the car was in a accident, it was hit slightly in the back end. the seller rebuilds bmws as a hobby, and has completely rebuilt the rear suspension and replaced the rear axle. Is there anything else in the back that could have been damaged that i should look for? Im a little nervous about buying a car that has been in an accident, but by the sounds of it, hes done a pretty impressive job rebuilding. in the process he also replaced the timing belt and water pump on the engine. any comments would be appreciated. thanks guys.

You have a legal right to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection BEFORE you buy it. I would suggest you take it to a good body shop that can measure if the frame is straight. If you know the car's been in an accident, I wouldn't hesitate to get the frame checked before purchasing. Also, look at the lines of the car and make sure they're straight, i.e. check that the gap between the hood and the 1/4 panels are consistent the whole length, check the same for the rear trunk, bumper, etc...
good luck*th-up*

qimis
12-01-2005, 05:14 PM
You probably wanna check this one too, it's right on the battery side:

http://www.maxbimmer.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=30027&highlight=water+leaking

dgmorr
06-25-2006, 02:08 PM
i find them easier than japanese cars to fix... u need little tiny hands to work under the hood of a honda

I don't think you're speaking from experience. I'm comnig from the Honda world and find the E30 engine bay cramped. *thmbsdwn*

e30countess
08-10-2006, 09:53 PM
Nice read......exactly what i came here for!

03 Dinan 3
07-12-2007, 09:14 PM
hey guys,
I've been doing quite a bit of research and I'm looking into buying an E30 as a project and maybe eventual track car.
I've decided that I want to get a 325is or 318is.

From what I know, the 89+ has a LSD I think..

So my 2 choices right now are:

1. 1988 325is with 223,100 kms
2. 1991 318is with 256,000 kms
both are under $3000, both are manual and both appear to be in good shape. The 318 looks like it's in a little better shape exterior-wise

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Ideally I wanted to find one for super cheap, but I want one that is driveable from the get-go.:P

this checklist is awesome and very detailed too! I'll be sure to apply it when the time comes to look at them.

∆Jackacks
08-14-2007, 10:58 PM
Don't fall in love with the first BMW you find!!

ara325
08-16-2007, 12:13 PM
hey guys,
I've been doing quite a bit of research and I'm looking into buying an E30 as a project and maybe eventual track car.
I've decided that I want to get a 325is or 318is.

From what I know, the 89+ has a LSD I think..

So my 2 choices right now are:

1. 1988 325is with 223,100 kms
2. 1991 318is with 256,000 kms
both are under $3000, both are manual and both appear to be in good shape. The 318 looks like it's in a little better shape exterior-wise

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Ideally I wanted to find one for super cheap, but I want one that is driveable from the get-go.:P

this checklist is awesome and very detailed too! I'll be sure to apply it when the time comes to look at them.

I used to have a 318, then when i went to the 325...what a difference. IMO, might as well go with the 325 since it might become a track car.*th-up*

LeftRights
02-07-2008, 09:31 PM
don't forget about those damn "backing plates"

LeftRights
05-09-2008, 03:37 PM
Auto Transmission $ 1,000????? mabey new, i got one for $200 no problem.

daveed
06-17-2010, 11:22 AM
How is the shifting on these cars in general (yes I know this is difficult to explain in words)?

I just viewed a car with a very "loose" stick (didn't get a chance to buy it anyway since another buyer showed up 5 mins before me and had first dibs). While driving I didn't have any problem finding gears (no grinding or resistance even putting it into reverse from stop) but it still felt way "looser" than any 5speed I've used. My experience is very limited though (early 90's Ford Escort which my current daily*thmbsdwn* and my dad's recently purchased Accent). I figured that the shift assembly was worn out and that the gearbox was probably fine but the car was very low mileage (160k) and I'm not an expert at all.

HavocSteve
06-17-2010, 01:31 PM
Mine's kinda loose. No problems really, I think it's the shift linkage. They have clips which get worn out and can cause havoc when trying to shift gears. I haven't replaced my clip yet but I'm going to do so one I change my clutch.

daveed
06-17-2010, 03:28 PM
Mine's kinda loose. No problems really, I think it's the shift linkage. They have clips which get worn out and can cause havoc when trying to shift gears. I haven't replaced my clip yet but I'm going to do so one I change my clutch.

Thanks for the reply Steve, I'll have to take a look at the Bentley manual for a diagram of the shift linkage.

Anyone else have any insight so I can get a bigger sample size?

Mre30M
11-08-2010, 03:02 PM
Thanks for the guide. just picked up e30 convertible. Love it!!!!

MaxBell
11-08-2010, 03:41 PM
Congrats!!

bismarck315
11-23-2011, 02:44 AM
i have for sale bmw 325i black sedan standart 1991

bismarck315
11-23-2011, 02:45 AM
text me please has a bbs gold silver rims on it recaro leather seats 6477122278

bismarck315
12-11-2011, 09:24 PM
i have bmw 325i 1991 black sedan recaro leather seat bbs rims M streeing well obm 13 button all working computer 300000 e test done valid 1 year i m asking 1400 quick i have to sell it text me or call me 6477122278 doesnt have a problem daily driving .i have to go to vocation thats why i wanna sell it .

bismarck315
12-11-2011, 11:26 PM
IT S FROM GERMANY WE CAN MEET UP ISLINGTON 401 OR EGLINTON CALEDONIA AREA 6477122278
jensen amp 80 jensen twin subwoofer with box 140$ bmw 528e 4000$ battery charger 30$

longtro
12-29-2011, 03:37 PM
fail^

wonder if this place is well moderated?

i just first poster here and wanted to say Thanks to the op! kick ass info and recommendations.


tim

armando74
06-14-2012, 12:12 AM
yup! Def. great info! read all 4 pages! :)