From digest.v7.n864 Fri Jan 2 16:28:15 1998
From: Pearson-Franks Family <pearsonf_at_halcyon.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 11:07:24 -0800
Subject: <E28> Purchase/Maintenance Observations, Part 1 of 3
In responding to an individual's questions about an impending
E28 purchase, I found myself assembling a pretty long (page down
if you don't need to hear about E28's, again!) list of things to
look for (or avoid) in the acquisition or maintenance of these
wonderful machines. This got big, so I am posting it in three
pieces, not a WOB IMHO, but opinions may vary. Yeah, maybe I
coulda populated a Web page somewhere, but I don't want to
work THAT hard!
My observations are just that, not necessarily the Truth (capital 'T'),
but _my_ experiences and judgements, leavened with mucho experience
from other Digesters. Although not strictly observing Digest
netiquette by asking in advance, my thanks posthumously for
inspiration, but not quotes, from Mssrs Anderson, Boylan, D'G,
Eilenberger, Lin, Stock, Tangen and of course, Welty, without
whom this would all be impossible. Or at least harder!
I included wildly personal prices where I could, for ballpark
info and potential purchase price negotiation. I look at them
from the point of view of the DIYer, parts plus shop time (if required).
If I get ambitious, I may add links to the many other, more
detailed info also available.
Comments, corrections, additions all welcome. With any luck
at all, this will be useful to others who enjoy these cars as
much as I do!
Anyway, on to the classic E28 look-for's:
- Head Gasket or other work
- Top end work a frequent 100,000ish requirement. $1500+ for
parts (do all belts and hoses, too!) and shop time.
- Compression or leak-down test very informative, look for
160+ on all cylinders, +/- 5 OK, +/- 10 marginal. If you
want details on my many recorded numbers, or a rap on the
leakdown test, drop me a note.
- Easy things to look for in this department: coolant. If
someone is concealing a known head gasket problem, the coolant
may be clear and/or rusty, meaning they consume a lot, and have
been just adding water, or the coolant may be suspiciously
clean, meaning added to all the time.
- Spark plug condition. In addition to the normal interpretation
found in every Haynes manual (the color picture page), look for
differences in plug color. Cylinders leaking coolant will have
_very_ clean plugs. Pressure washed, if you will.
- Coolant burners (cracked head or bad head gasket) will put out
reams of white smoke (actually steam) when they are first
warming up. Smells kinda sweet, not unlike coolant.
- Coolant system pressure and leak-down useful, but not definitive.
- Cooling System
- Normal water pump inspection: check the water pump by rocking
the fan, both in line and 90 degrees from the pressure of the
belts. Play should be small, and the same in each direction.
$45 part, add $200 for all belts and hoses.
- From underneath with a light, find the 'weep-hole' just aft
of the fan clutch mount. Should have no 'tear-tracks'
left from a bad bearing seal.
- Belts and hoses should be uncracked and not bulgy, respectively.
- Temp guage should run at 10:30 to 12 o'clock under any and
all conditions. After a test drive, leave it idling for 15
minutes or so and see what it goes up to and settles at.
Anything over 12 o'clock means maintenance coming up.
Radiator likely, typical consumable. $240 part.
- If suspicious of guage/sensor inaccuracy, wrap your hand around
the upper radiator hose: if you can squeeze it for an
indefinite amount of time, <50 C, not warmed up yet. Hold
several seconds, 70 - 90 C, OK. Can't hold 1 second, >90 C,
which means trouble. Or, use a candy thermometer. But hey,
you probably had your hands in your pockets and NOT a thermometer!
- Check fan clutch. Should not freewheel when spun, but have a
certain resistance. Should give more resistance at temp, but
this is hard to 'feel', in my experience. $30ish.
- Heater control solenoid fails, resulting in erratic heat, or
heat all the time. Easy fixes, write for details. $25 for kit
which replaces innards.
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