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RedEye 12-23-2011 09:01 PM

My 325i Winter Beater Basket Case Project
Welcome to the epic saga of a man whose BMW experience begins by purchasing what might very well be the worst piece of crap E30 in the entire country. For use as a winter beater fcplm

I was on kijiji (of course) looking at cars $1000 and under to sacrifice to the angry god named Saskatchewan Winter. There were several likely candidates including several Integras, an MX-6, and the value leader, a $350 Swift. I'd always liked the Mazdas, but by the time I replied to the ad it was sold. Lucky for me, since it turned up on kijiji again a week later as a parts car due to timing belt failure *shiner*

I kept looking and soon enough this turned up:


Originally Posted by Kijiji Ad

1989 325i BMW Coupe - heated seats, pwr windows, manual sunroof, original sound system, aluminum wheels, summer (Feb/07) & winter (Nov/07) tires (winter studded on it now). Parts and work we've done since Sept 2006 when we purchased it in addition to regular oil changes:

- ABS brake relay Dec 2006
- Fuel Pump Apr 2007
- Rear Brakes Oct 2007
- Alternator June 2009
- Block Heater Oct 2009
- Front Brakes Oct 2009
- Battery Dec 2009
- Radiator Cap Jan 2010
- All 3 belts Oct 2010

The cons - has rust driver and passenger doors and rear fenders, rear defrost doesn't work, front signal lights sometimes don't work but rears do, muffler needs to be replaced, check engine light is on - oxygen sensor the Eurosport mechanic tells me, doesn't like to start when's it's below -30 without being plugged in.

Good little car and with a little work will last a lot longer. The kids have moved on so it's time to sell.

I was intrigued to say the least. E30s are rare here; I've only seen a handful and most of those restored and definitely not in the under-a-grand price range. 265,000 km on it, nothing exceptional for a 20+ year old car. Automatic, bleh -- I'm 41 and have never owned a slushbox before. But heated seats, studded tires . . . this thing had winter beater written all over it.
The winter tires looked like new, the asswarmers worked, it started, moved under its own power, and stopped when requested. Sold for nine hundred bucks!

I loved it *love* ABS, sufficient traction with the studs, but still able to slide all over the place with a bit of throttle. The 325 was my first rwd car since my '86 MR2 many years ago, I'd forgotten how much fun they were. There was just one thing I needed to do . . . replace the timing belt. I've learned the hard way to never let that slide, especially on a vehicle without a complete service history. The MX-6 on kijiji proved motivational as well. The idle was kind of erratic as well, so I thought I'd see what that was all about . . .

cormier 12-23-2011 09:17 PM

Congrats! Any more pix? Perfect beater!

RedEye 12-23-2011 09:38 PM

Of course you're all snickering now, because you know all about E30 idle troubleshooting:

Well, some things you just have to learn the hard way *shiner* I got the Bentley manual, looked up some timing belt DIY articles, and ordered a timing belt kit plus a camshaft seal and o-ring. While I was waiting for the parts I started reading about idle issues . . .

. . . and reading

. . . and reading

And finally reached the point where I felt I knew enough about it to begin the troubleshooting process. So let the horror show begin . . .

Spark plugs and air filter seemed like a good way to ease into it. I can't believe I didn't take a pic of the filter, but as things progress I'm sure you'll be able to imagine it accurately enough. Here's what the housing looked like:

And a representative example of the plugs:

Not only were the plugs in that condition, they weren't the right plugs. Not even close. I don't remember the exact number but when I tried to cross-reference them with other brands the only application that came up was LAWNMOWER. But wait, what about that O2 sensor mentioned in the ad? Let's have a look over there . . .

Is there a Jesus Wept smiley here?

So, add new plugs and air filter to the list and forge ahead. Next up the intake tract, the AFM!

RedEye 12-23-2011 10:17 PM

It's not pretty, but a little oxidation is to be expected, right?

Inside, things take a turn for the worse:

I'm not too alarmed yet, I've read approximately ELEVEN BILLION PAGES of E30 related stuff and know that a bit of oily crud in the intake tract is nothing to get excited about. And after the air filter and plugs I'm getting desensitized to dark wonders of this engine bay. If I want to fix the idle I should be looking for vacuum leaks, which is easy because they're everywhere!

Why spend all that money on a silicone air intake boot when you can just cover your cracked-to-shit rubber boot in silicone? You'll also want to note the electrical tape on the broken ICV-air boot connection, and the discerning eye will also see the pressed-in throttle housing fittings, which are no longer pressed in so much as being trapped in a thick layer of baked on greasy crud. All the other hoses were dry rotted into oblivion as well, some taped up some not.

The throttle housing didn't fail to fail to disappoint:

An even less flattering angle:

I didn't notice until much later when I was reassembling, but the throttle linkage was nicely bent. Next pic makes a good visual representation of my sanity at this point: superficially intact, but cracked to the point of being completely nonfunctional.

And way down there at the bottom of the throttle housing was this poor guy. You can't really see it here but it was completely full of oil. I took it apart, cleaned it, and drilled a tiny drain hole in the bottom of the casing.

The O2 sensor had more problems than just being unplugged:

I gave it a good soaking in Sea Foam:

After the crud was loosened up a bit I cleaned it up as much as I could, plugged it back in, and no more O2 sensor code! Of course the CEL didn't go out, either.

RedEye 12-23-2011 11:04 PM

So the parts list groweth, with the addition of an air boot plus various hoses and gaskets. Unfortunately, removing the throttle housing meant that I could see into the intake manifold. This pic was taken on the bench with better light, but for narrative purposes we'll pretend it's still on the car:

The other end, at the FPR vacuum fitting:

Clearly, no decent human being would allow this to continue. Fortunately for this car, neither would I :) The manifold must come off! But ohhhhh those fiendish Germans and their almost-but-not-quite-impossible to access manifold nuts . . I swear I had to devise a combination of u-joints and extensions that could twist in more than 3 dimensions to get them all. A mighty effort which was rewarded by finding this at the #6 intake port:

And yes, it was like that before I moved the manifold at all. Removing it revealed this:

HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? How could someone fail to notice the broken gasket was just hanging off the top stud at an angle? Or maybe the last guy who had the manifold off just said "**** it, close enough".

RedEye 12-23-2011 11:09 PM

Now I'll digress slightly, in order to show you the amazing super power of this M20B25: it carries more oil on its outside than it has inside!

(the hose is to keep stuff from falling into the spark plug hole)

Now because of the thick protective coating of vulcanized oil I expended a great deal of effort cleaning the engine bay. Each component I removed revealed new areas that not only could be cleaned, they had to be cleaned before removing anything else, to prevent mass quantities of crap from getting into the engine. There were many cycles of degreasing and rinsing throughout this project . . .

. . . all carried out under the not entirely unreasonable assumption that one of the intake ports was not, in fact, completely open to the engine bay. Thus:

Oh look, #6 intake valve is swimming in Engine Brite! Greetings, O citrusy merchant of doom! By pure dumb luck the valve was completely closed so I was able to suck the liquid out. Catastrophe averted.

blk3 12-23-2011 11:40 PM

lol i have to say you make it an interesting read

daveed 12-24-2011 01:12 AM

nice project thread

my intake manifold gasket was also ripped like that causing vacuum leaks, any other ideas on why it happens?

egye30 12-24-2011 09:12 AM

cool thread man, looks like that little guy found himself a good home after years of abuse, good luck with bringing it back up to par, feel free to post any questions or problems you encounter alot of the guys on here are very resourceful when it comes to e30s, welcome aboard

DR.ZED 12-24-2011 05:35 PM

Fantastic reading. Keep up with it and keep the pictures coming!

Some of us (me included) are fortunate to have B25s not as oily, so its intriguing to see the difference and restoration!

FYI have you found the service manuals yet? There are plenty of links to the actual service manual (in reality quite vague except for great wiring diagrams and pictures, but instructions seems to suck missing many steps).

Bentley's is good to have as a backup. I predict you're going to like this car so much you're going to run it in the summer, or buy a rust free manual version.

Prepare yourself for the addiction of an early 80s car that can deliver a driving experience like little else.

RedEye 12-24-2011 06:26 PM


Originally Posted by DR.ZED (Post 1540991)
I predict you're going to like this car so much you're going to run it in the summer, or buy a rust free manual version.

Prepare yourself for the addiction of an early 80s car that can deliver a driving experience like little else.

You've hit the nail on the head my friend, as you'll see when this continues *th-up* The more I work on it, the more I like it. Part of that comes from the continually improving driving experience as I fix things, a lot of it comes from sheer admiration and amazement that it was still running at all :eek:

Blackedout95 12-24-2011 06:46 PM

Great thread...curious though why is someone in that neighborhood driving a sub $1k beater in winter?

Also is that your homes driveway? How did you and the neighbor get to join drives, can't do it here, need to leave 3-4 feet of green :(

By your writing you do not sound like a 17 year old living with mom and dad.

Roysneon 12-25-2011 12:56 AM

Good work so far, slap that thing together and slide around until spring :)

DIY 12-25-2011 01:54 AM

Awesome I love the progress! Although I did cry a little seeing how that car has missed the easiest of maintenence, keep up the good work!!

Ceeker 12-25-2011 01:09 PM

there is no doom of having some engine brite in the valve chamber.. All that will happen is it will burn off once the valve is open. not nearly enough to create hydralock. Fun watching someone else do this for a change...been there done it too often. :-) I know time factor may be at play here but since you are doing the "dirty" on the block. you may want to remove the pan gasket as well?

Frost plug!!! Great idea especially out there!

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