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Old 10-19-2008, 06:20 PM   #1
supernaught
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M5 engine identification

Looking at an M38B36 swapped e34 525. Problem is the valve cover says BMW and there is a blank spot where M POWER should be. Is this ok, or is there a way to find a code on the engine that will prove it is a M5 engine/tranny? Looks right otherwise and pulls pretty hard.

Anything on this combo of chassis/drivetrain that I should look for if I'm wanting to buy?
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:05 PM   #2
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Should have ITB's. Oh yeah... and the S38 should look nothing like an M5x/S5x.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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can't recall if it had that ///M on the intake, but I know the engine did look like that. I did a quick search before I went to see it and the only thing that stood out was the valve cover. Looked like there was room for M Power to fit, but almost as if it was ground off or never there.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:45 PM   #4
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also one other thing was the clutch was a BITCH to put down. Supposedly the M5 trans with a perf clutch but the effort did not seem likable. is this adjustable and shouldn't it be easy? and is that a symptom of an issue?
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:16 PM   #5
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You do realize what you are getting into? Don't buy it unless you get a PPI from a reputable indy BMW mechanic. If this S38 needs work you'll hate BMW's for the rest of your life. And based on the fact that you can't identify an S38 from 20 yards I'm guessing you won't be doing the work yourself
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:28 PM   #6
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I will definitely have it checked by a BMW mech., and I am not afraid of doing any work myself. As I see it be able to identify an engine should not reflect any intentions I had on who would perform any service. My clear point is that I was hoping someone could answer these questions before I waste time and money getting it inspected. Does it not appear like I'm trying to do some research before I decide to buy?
Also, are there any engines that look like a S38, that share the same intake etc?
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supernaught View Post
I will definitely have it checked by a BMW mech., and I am not afraid of doing any work myself. As I see it be able to identify an engine should not reflect any intentions I had on who would perform any service. My clear point is that I was hoping someone could answer these questions before I waste time and money getting it inspected. Does it not appear like I'm trying to do some research before I decide to buy?
Also, are there any engines that look like a S38, that share the same intake etc?
Lots, Most M motors have individual throttle bodies. S38b35's or b38's, S15, S50's etc.

If this is the car I think it is, I'd wait a little bit. you can grab an e34 m5 for 3 to 4 grand more. Unless insurance is an issue for you =p.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:01 PM   #8
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So much mis-information already in this thread. LOL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zubbie View Post
You do realize what you are getting into? Don't buy it unless you get a PPI from a reputable indy BMW mechanic. If this S38 needs work you'll hate BMW's for the rest of your life. And based on the fact that you can't identify an S38 from 20 yards I'm guessing you won't be doing the work yourself
^ What this guy said. He speaks truth.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:58 AM   #9
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naw, insurance is not an issue, just looked like not too bad of a deal. Looks to be tight in all the right places. I'm looking for another challenge anyways, and I have a former tech as a coworker. E30s are simple and fun and I want more. Not like it would be a DD and I would depend on only that car.
And forgive me if I don't have any e34 M5s in my neighborhood to compare with, I'm trying to start with what I did notice.
I appreciate the dissuasion on you part to save me the aggravation of buying a problem car, but I'm trying to evaluate the issues that I could see to determine if any further persuit of the car is worthwhile. Aesthetically it is in a condition I can live with. Engine is strong and smooth, transmission shifts well(aside from clutch pressure) suspension is tight, etc. Just looking for constructive advice.
Could the clutch issue be that they didnt swap the master cyl? The m5 Master has a larger bore, right?

And thanks for ALL the help, I don't mean to say that I will ignore anyones input, I'm trying to get my info straight before I put too much effort into it.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:01 AM   #10
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Trust me, working on and taking care of a S38 is not like any other motor. They require constant up keep and cost quite a bit to fix if something should be wrong. I love my car and i LOVE the S38, its a great motor, but you have to stay on top of it or your gunna hate it. You cant just ride things out or use quick fixes on it like other motors. You take care of it and it takes care of you. Leave something for to long and it'll bite you in ass. Take it from someone who is just having his head rebuilt for around 6k USD.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:28 AM   #11
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Thanks
I don't mind consant maintenance and I would like to step it up from my M20. And I DO plan on doing a lot of work myself.
And if its such a pain in the ass, why does anyone own one at all? If the +ves outweigh the -ves, I'm willing to try. Again, providing I get a good point to start from.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:33 AM   #12
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An S38 in good shape requires almost no extra cost or effort to maintain than any other normal BMW engine. Valve adjustment is pretty much the only thing, and it's done once a year. You can do it yourself if you get the bucket depressing tool. If wear items are replaced before the end of their service life (like a waterpump after 2-3 years), it's a very reliable and cheap to run engine.

The problem is that the only good S38s left, the ones that have been maintained properly their whole life, are not for sale. You'll likely end up with a neglected pile of shit. That's where this engine gets expensive, where something like an M20 or M30 can limp along for another 200k on oil changes and new spark plugs. If it hasn't had regular oil changes and wasn't treated with the care every engine deserves but rarely gets, the oil pump will die, your chain will skip and you'll need new valves and possibly some pistons. A new exhaust valve is around 300 bucks, there are 12 of them. A new intake valve is around 250, there are 12 of those too. A new piston is around 600 - 6 of those. A good used crank is 1-2k. Another 1-2k for a new HG kit, oil pump and various other crap. Starting to get the picture? Even if you do your own work, it will cost a lot.

Unless it's a an original, unmolested car whose owner you trust to have taken great care of it from the beginning of its life (which ideally wasn't long ago due to a full rebuild by someone who knows these engines), like putting almost no load on the motor until the oil temp gauge reads over 85, WALK AWAY. The cheap price of these cars reflects their state. A car you can trust long term will cost you over 20 grand. For that price you can get a newer used car with better performance (like a 6 spd GTO).
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:51 PM   #13
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If you're serious

IF you are serious, I have a REAL E34 M5 in great shape:

1991 Black on black
197,000km
HID retrofit (proper E46 projectors and ballasts)
UUC Shortshifter and DSSC
Mark D chip
BMW CD43 headunit with DICE iPod integration
Rust free Southern car, original paint
Front suspension bushings all recently replaced
New OEM catalytic converters, new O2 sensor.
Brand new clutch 2 weeks ago.
Runs well and pulls hard.
Can e-test and certify at cost.
Price would be in the 12-13K range.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:56 PM   #14
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I'd love to have a real M5 but I don't have the $.
This deal I'm looking at is more in my price range(included is the cost to get on the road and service). If the deal looks too sour or is gone before I'm ready, I'll just dump more $ into my IXs.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:42 PM   #15
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A lot of good info.
Tough motors, but if they were neglected, you are in a for a hate relationship.

My car has been fairly good so far, I did the waterpump(which was starting to go), a T-stat(as precaution), and a bunch of other Misc items when I first got it, along with a full front susp overhaul. On my agenda next, is a Valve adjustment, and probably main rod bearings, and tensior which was done not too long ago(as a precaution.). My car is a high miler which has received proper care(it seems) for most of its life, and was never abused. I do oil changes with good oil ever 3-4Kkms like clock work.
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