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Old 10-03-2012, 04:08 PM   #1
325isMostar
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e30 common issues and problems

Guys I am new to the forums and a new owner of 2 e30's, so I appreciate your input. Ever since I was kid having lived in Europe I fell in love with the e30's and finally got a chance to get one. I think it's the one true BMW bodystyle - our cars are. The search button is not my friend so I apologize if I sound uneducated on the matters, but I would like your input..I come from the Honda world (cause they were affordable and reliable) but I am not generally mechanically inclined so...so any help is appreciated.

So far...I've noticed some recurring issues with the several e30's I've looked at including the parts car that I own...


1. why does the dashboard crack on the e30's??
What is the solution? Replace the dashboard? Is it possible to repair the dashboard? What do you guys use when you clean the interior of your e30?? Meguiars, Simoniz or Armor All safe to use? I'd like to prevent dashboard cracking from happening on my non parts car.

2. Fan blower not working on 1, 2, 3 but working on 4?
What is the solution/issue with that?

3. Driver's side door lock doesn't work, it will either turn side to side or won't move at all?
What is the solution/issue with that?


4. Ripped leather shifter boot on manual transmissions
I find that you gotta push the shifter knob so hard to the left then up to engage reverse it feels like I am going to rip the center console out.

What is the cause/solution to that? Shouldn't it be more smooth?

Thanks again..

Last edited by 325isMostar; 10-03-2012 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:23 AM   #2
MaxBell
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1. Dashboards crack because the PVC and foam/vinyl top layers dry out under UV light and then crack. The best way to protect it is to use a windscreen shield when it's sitting out. I recommend not using Armor All, since it uses dimethyl silicone oils. These penetrate the dash and, when you stop using it, will actually accelerate cracking. Check out Auto Glym's vinyl care available at Canadian Tire.

I would just replace it. You'll never get a proper OEM look from any repairs. Unless you can somehow get the stock vinyl and fill/rewrap it. (unlikely)

2. Usually your resistors have heated and cooled so many times that they are bent and touching each other. The 4th setting bypasses this and will work no matter what. Open the cover at the back of the engine bay on the firewall and the blower pack is on the bottom side of the blower. Junkyard or R3VLimited.com for a used but still good one.

3. You need to rebuild your lock. These locks are made with pot metal, or white metal, and are very brittle. Also, the type of bearing used in them is sub par. All sorts of parts will break after 25 years of usage. Look at PelicanParts.com for a lock rebuild kit, they're about $30. Very easy to rekey and rebuild your lock at home.

Here's a guide I used: http://www.billswebspace.com/BMWE30D...derRebuild.htm

4. Over the years, your selector rod and the various bushings will wear out. This will cause high amounts of slop and play in the shifter. Autopartsway.ca sells all the needed bushings. Check that your selector rod is straight while you're in there. I ignored this problem and ended up cracking my center console in my old car.
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Last edited by MaxBell; 10-04-2012 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:21 AM   #3
325isMostar
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Thanks very much for your input, this information is gold!

So what do you use to clean your dashboard with? Just a clean rag and water ok?
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:48 PM   #4
InfiniteDice
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The dash cracking is mostly uv damage from the sun and expansion/contraction between hot and cold. Usually in the winter the car sits at -20 and then you crank the heat to 100 and it expands rapidly.

In northern Quebec I actually had some minor dash explosions lol Sitting at -40 then warming up too quickly caused the cracks to pop little bits of foam all over the place.

I would use something that moisturizes vinyl and protects against UV damage and apply monthly. For the first application slap it on thick and let it sit for a few hours. Then wipe excess off. Give it time to absorb. Pick a decent brand like autoglym.

Actually I just read MaxBell's comments and he's right on the money...

Well the locks are electronic. Does that door unlock when you use the other door or trunk to open the locks?

Shifter - Take the shifter boot off. Check that the shifter is centered in the hole properly. MaxBell is right again in that the bushings are most likely worn out. To be exact, if the whole thing moves too much it's likely the rear bushing (towards the back of the car) that has let go. It's a cheap part but a pain in the ass to replace.

If you have an 325i the shifter should look like this: (part #2,4 and 7 should be replace in the least).
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...27&hg=25&fg=05

On older cars there is a plate and a horrible rubber mount/damper. And it looks like this:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...93&hg=25&fg=05

A lot of guys might bite my head off for showing you two but the reality is these cars are old, and since the parts are interchangeable in many cases you won't know what you have till you look. You most likely have the first one above as that is the standard for an 'i'.

I'm only mentioning this because some 'i' cars start out as autos and are converted to manual. They could have easily used 'e' transmission and shift components.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:55 PM   #5
325isMostar
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Would you ever use SIMONIZ wipes with UV protectant and stuff?

is there a way to tell if my car ever used to be automatic...because it is manual but after I checked the VIN no decoder, it says 325is automatic...which I thought was strange...is there a way to tell whether I have an i or an e transmission if that is the case?

Basically I have to go the passenger side door to unlock the door, hop in then unlock the drivers side door in order to get in. They are electronic, so when I turn the key to lock the passenger side the drivers side will lock too (but it will not unlock)..bummer

Last edited by 325isMostar; 10-04-2012 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:01 PM   #6
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There you have it. There are a few tell tale signs of the automatic.

#1 check the throttle body, there is a metal lever on the top where the kickdown cable would have attached. You'll notice the hook is there but no cable.
#2 The park safety switch wiring will be bypassed, you can see this under the shift boot. Look for some 'custom' wiring I think one wire is blue/white.

There are other ways to tell, various little bits here and there mounting holes, grommets, etc. But if the vin says automatic, then it was swapped.

Swaps aren't bad. But you'll want to check what kind of shift linkage/components you have before you buy anything.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
MaxBell
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InfiniteDice is so right about the rear carrier bushing. THAT was what was ripped apart on my old 325i. You can replace that if you lower the exhaust a bit and remove the heatshield over the cat.

I was about to reach in with a few extentions and remove it and replace it again.

As for SIMONIZ and the like, just read the ingredients (or Google) for dimethyl silicones. If it has this, keep it away from your car.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:25 PM   #8
325isMostar
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is there a way to tell whether I have an i or an e transmission if that is the case?

Basically I have to go the passenger side door to unlock the door, hop in then unlock the drivers side door in order to get in. They are electronic, so when I turn the key to lock the passenger side the drivers side will lock too (but it will not unlock)..bummer so I will have to buy that kit and rebuild the door lock, but I am thinking I would like to disconnect the turn and lock feature..is that possible to do?
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:27 PM   #9
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Sounds like the contact is broke, bent or unable to make a connection when in the 'locked' position. Could be a simple fix but you'll need to look in there to see. (not fun)

For the transmission, usually the arm type shift linkage is on the 'i' trans. and the plate style is on the 'e'. But my car has an 'e' transmission and I have installed the 'i' arm style linkage. if you remove the shift boot under the black rubber cover thing you'll be able to see if it's the plate or the arm style linkage.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:33 PM   #10
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ok, i ordered some new shift boots and ebrake boots on ebay so once i get them i will remove it and maybe take some pics to see if you guys can tell me whether i have an i or an e transmission....thank you so much for your help

Last edited by 325isMostar; 10-04-2012 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:48 PM   #11
InfiniteDice
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You don't work downtown St. Catharines do you? There is about 3 or 4 e30s daily drivers I see tooling around on occasion.
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:00 PM   #12
325isMostar
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no but my wife works downtown and I see them too on an occasion.....i point them out to her and she says "that's a nice mercedes" - on purpose of course to tick me off.....there is a mint looking.... like an 89-91 white e30 convertible driven by some young guy - seen him coming down welland ave the other day.....looks really nice
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:51 PM   #13
InfiniteDice
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That's funny... I bought a junker e30 for parts once and my sister nicknamed it the 'mercedes'.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:46 PM   #14
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My car literally has/had all the issues you listed in the OP lol. I use Meguire's Gold series wipes for my new dash and seats, they clean and protect your leather and leave it with a nice shine for quite some time. I have the lock problem as well but thankfully its on my passenger door, it's got its moments where it would work, but that doesn't happen very often. Not sure if you're aware but you could also unlock your doors from the trunk on our cars which might be a little easier than walking to the other side of the car lol
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 325isMostar View Post
is there a way to tell whether I have an i or an e transmission if that is the case?

Basically I have to go the passenger side door to unlock the door, hop in then unlock the drivers side door in order to get in. They are electronic, so when I turn the key to lock the passenger side the drivers side will lock too (but it will not unlock)..bummer so I will have to buy that kit and rebuild the door lock, but I am thinking I would like to disconnect the turn and lock feature..is that possible to do?
They are the same transmission, older versions have sensors in the bell housing, but either can be used in a swap. The difference like other said are the shifter plate and bushings they use, pull up your shifter boot and the ripper boot in the car and look, it takes a couple minutes
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