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Old 05-25-2010, 02:54 PM   #1
daveed
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Join Date: May 2010
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What do you think?

I've been checking the classifieds for about 3 months. Yesterday found a nice ad (adequate information, good photos) for a really nice looking 91' 318i.

info:

-200k km
-manual
-recently replaced struts, steering rack
-nice black paint, rarely see paint this nice
-no leaks, abnormal noises
-fresh looking tires
-interior (pass/driver) seats need to be replaced but that's not a big deal to me
-driver was going to use it as a dd but then pulled the trigger on an inside deal to get a different vehicle, might hold on to it if nobody gives him
a good deal


bad:
-no service history as this guy hasn't had it for very long, prior owner was a friend who owned it for a year

I'm worried about the engine, as I've heard som frightening things about the M42. Namely, that timing chain is more difficult than a timing belt to do, and terrifying things like finding bolts in the oil pan. I wouldn't mind paying for a clutch replacement but stuff involving the engine is a little scary for me.

The seller seems like an honest bloke and I think I could get it for $2000.000 (keep in mind this a west coast vehicle and seeing an E30 for $3500 is not abnormal) which seems reasonable. All of this is moot if he end up selling it today (another potential buyer is taking it to a mechanic) but I might take the 1.5 hour trip to check it out.

What do you guys think? Is it ever worth it to take a chance if the car seems alright in person/test drive? Do I have to take it to a BMW mechanic specifically to check if the engine is sound?
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:06 PM   #2
Dissembler
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All the engines in e30s are bulletproof. The timing chain lasts the life of the engine and should not have to be replaced ever, unless its defective, but I wouldnt worry about that at this point lol. You'll only find bolts in the oil pan if you remove the pan and drop some in there.

As long as nothing sounds out of place on the test drive than you shouldn't need to bring it to a mechanic. The only thing I advise you to do is scour the car inside, outside, underbody and in the wheel wells for rot.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:47 AM   #3
daveed
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Good to know! I was starting to get worried...
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:37 PM   #4
Slowered318
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Keep in mind the age of the car... 20 years and 200,000 km's of snow, pot holes, fender benders, random mechanics under the hood sometimes DIY'ers that don't know anything, silly modifications or cheap aftermarket parts.

I would seriously look into buying a car from Cali, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida. Make sure it was well taken care of and budget about $3000 for repairs within the first year (people tend to let things go if they are "feeling" like getting rid of a car)

As for the M42, it's just as durable and well designed as any BMW motor. The only annoyances are oil leaks from the chain case and pan, and noise due to wear on the chain guides and tensioner or sometimes the lifters. These are not super expensive to remedy, they just take some patience.

Dissembler: Like any moving part, the chain can stretch and sprockets wear down with that much service time. I replaced both before the 200,000 km mark as they were both wearing out. You don't wait for a chain or belt to break before you do anything about it, thats bad advise and could potentially destroy the engine.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:00 PM   #5
daveed
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I'm lucky enough to live in (probably) the only region of the country that isn't hell for cars: Vancouver/Lower mainland, British Columbia. That being said, there's a lot of rain here so we still get body rust in problem areas.

Looks like the car was sold as the owner hasn't got back to me

How do E36's compare to E30's in terms of drive-ability (I haven't test-driven either, but hope to in the near future)? There seem to be quite a few out there. Also, is there an E30 engine that is cheaper/easier to repair?
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:19 PM   #6
Slowered318
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveed View Post
I'm lucky enough to live in (probably) the only region of the country that isn't hell for cars: Vancouver/Lower mainland, British Columbia. That being said, there's a lot of rain here so we still get body rust in problem areas.

Looks like the car was sold as the owner hasn't got back to me

How do E36's compare to E30's in terms of drive-ability (I haven't test-driven either, but hope to in the near future)? There seem to be quite a few out there. Also, is there an E30 engine that is cheaper/easier to repair?
It's not the weather so much as the condition of the roads up here. You can hear and feel the strain on the chassis, your constantly replacing worn out bushings and ball joints, sand and salt gets up in everything and slowly destroys the car front the inside out.

I haven't spent much time behind the wheel of the E36 but I've clocked 350,000+ km's on various E30's. I have to say, compared to most cars you really feel as though you are connected with the vehicle and not just a passenger... a real pleasure to drive (highway, city, and track). They are not ideal for deep snow or ice but with a good set of tires you can manage to get there safe.

I have heard countless times the M30 is the most robust BMW engine from that era. So I would assume the M20 would be second because it's quite similar. It's not uncommon to see a 325e/i/is pass by the 400,000 km mark with proper maintenance. All e30's are fairly easy to repair, they have plenty of room to work under the hood and mechanics are well designed.

Hope this helps.
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