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Old 02-27-2004, 08:50 PM   #1
Shane Bawa
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Engine sweat??

Guys; Went to see this E30 today, and few questions.
1) Rough idle?? maybe plugs etc
2) Clutch is really soft, I think the clutch bearing is going. Does that mean I have to buy a compleatly new clutch. The car has 185K on it..
3) Here is the pic of the engine bay... Why so much sweat all over the place?? Maybe a head gasket?? What does it look like to you guys?? Something I should worry about.
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:04 PM   #2
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Re: Engine sweat??

Originally posted by Shane Bawa
What does it look like to you guys??
he sucks at pouring oil when doing oil changes??? LoL
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:22 PM   #3
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My engine has blown cylinder head gasket at moment and it looks nothing like that. The engine just looks like it has been badly maintained and has not been cleaned often. I would agree that he sucks when pouring oil or something has been spilt. Looks like everything just needs tightening up and cleaning.
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:34 PM   #4
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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.

Looking to buy an E30?

Classic styling, superior performance, and bulletproof engineering make the E30 a great car to own. However, like all cars, they require attention and like all BMW's, repairs are EXPENSIVE! It is very important that you know what to look for when you are searching for and E30. If you go in blind, you can easily wind up paying what you paid for the car in repair costs. Use this page as a guide when you go E30 hunting.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:35 PM   #5
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that was my research on the web, before i bought my E30
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:25 PM   #6
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I agree and disagree. I may be new to BMW...but I am not new to German cars. Ive owned Mercedes, Audi, and have even worked onm BMW's before. I agree that rust is a problem on these cars, check it out. Also check your fluids for any signs of mixing with anything else...this is usually a serious problem. Suspension should be stiff and sporty, body should be in good shape. No unusual noises from drivetrain or suspension. These engines are known to tick from the valves. I do disagree though, on the 100-150k mile statement you made. You will not nessacerially have problems in this period unless your car wasn't maintained properly. Yes, some things will go with this milage and some things will get sloppy and wear out just like on any other car...again depending on the maintence done to the car. This does not mean you WILL have problems with the car...just do some preventative maintenence on the wearable parts and look and listen for anything strange...service records are a great way of knowing what was done...try to find them. TIMING BELT AND TENSIONER ARE A MUST for the M20 engines. A TB failure WILL result in major engine damage. The body of the car should be in good shape....but remember, your dealing with 20 year old paint. It WILL have some imperfections unless its been repainted. If the engine runs great, trans shifts great and if manual, clutch and shifter are in order, suspension is great, sporty and solid, and the car is rust free and no major damage or dents...paint should be the least if your worries if its in decent shape, a few flaws or fades in a paint job is nothing compared to a great running car in good working order. Do check all the seals...make sure you have no water leakage. Just follow that list he made....its great and will help you alot. Its pretty well laid down. Just my $.02

BTW: My car was "stored" for 3 years and has 124k on problems yet! Serviced by BMW before I bought it....I got it cheap cause of passenger side damage (door and 2 small quarter panel dents) a small rust spot behind pass front wheel and a little spot behind tail lights, and a paint job that was in rough shape. Got it for $1300 with new tires and BMW service. Runs great...looks okay...Trans and Suspension rule! Can't beat the M20 engine for durability!
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:27 PM   #7
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ask a mod to make that as a sticky in the e30 thread
the whole buying a e30 thing

AND if the car grinds into second. what does it mean???? clutch??
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:48 PM   #8
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Originally posted by King Luis
ask a mod to make that as a sticky in the e30 thread
the whole buying a e30 thing

AND if the car grinds into second. what does it mean???? clutch??
great idea
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Old 02-28-2004, 12:26 AM   #9
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Originally posted by King Luis

AND if the car grinds into second. what does it mean???? clutch??
I would also appreciate an answer to this, sometimes I get a grinding when putting it in 2nd too

Old car 1990 325ix. Current car 2000 540i.
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Old 02-28-2004, 12:50 AM   #10
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change the valve cover gasket, that's oil fumes collecting on the cover.
I'm doing mine this weekend on my e36, and it looked similar (but not as bad) as that one does.

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Old 02-28-2004, 03:40 AM   #11
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2nd gear synchros are shot.

Mine are to. I guess I dunno, does it in the cold.
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Old 02-29-2004, 05:35 AM   #12
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damn qimis he/she asked for opinion not a "how to buy an e30" book. LOL j/k but some good info indeed. some people will paint over the rust spots in the trunk and such you can usually tell because there is an inconsitancy in the coloring or one part is raised higher than the other. once you get the car it might be a good idea to gone and change the seals around the rear tail lights if they have been changed yet. these seals are known to leak. clutch i'd say is fixable a simiple spring/pump adjustment or replacement and bam feels like a new clutch. if the engine looks like that what condition is the trany and final dif in. don't want either of those go then your talking repairs that are equal to what the car is worth in value.
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