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From digest.v7.n864 Fri Jan 2 16:28:15 1998
From: Pearson-Franks Family <>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 11:07:29 -0800
Subject: <E28> Purchase/Maintenance Observations, Part 3 of 3

Fellow Digesters:

Part 2 of 3 of my long post. Page down if WOB from your point of view. At least it isn't Mazda/Audi/sumpin' vs. BMW!

More E28 look-for's:

6) Driveline

  • Check guibo, the rubber flexdisk connecting the output of the tranny to the driveline. At 100K it will be cracked, and may be the cause of a shudder at certain speeds (frequently 25 to 35 mph) while under load.
  • Ditto the center bearing and support, but much harder to check, as you have to dispose of the exhaust system (well, remove enough to get the heat shield off, but you know what I mean!).
  • Do the traditional twist-drive-components-and-note-any-play of the two U-joints. The rear one is the more likely to fail, and is easily observed. Bear in mind that if they are bad, you will need to get the driveline rebuilt, $400ish if you rebuild the whole thing (recommended). 7) Suspension and Brakes (groan!)
  • There are books written on the subject of the front control arms, but the exec summary is: they all die. Symptoms of impending doom are shuddering when braking, especially from say 65 down to 45. May get very jumpy at the steering wheel. There are upper and lower control arm bushings and ball joints, and lots of alternatives (bushing upgrades, etc.). FAQ's abound. $160-$800 in parts.
  • And, of course, the front rotors warp. $120ish.
  • Steering should be 'tight' when gently rocked at the center of travel when the engine is off. 'Clunks' may mean pitman arm bushings (_bad_), loose collar nut under dash (easy) or bad center track rod (cheap, <$60, but obnoxious).
  • The two senders on the brake pressure regulator regularly leak. Replace them both, $32ish.
  • There is a 'nitrogen ball', frequently referred to as the 'brake bomb', due to it's cartoon-bomblike appearance, that dies. Symptom is a slow-to-respond brake pedal, frequently accompanied by a flash of the 'brake' idiot light, and/or no brake boost immediately after shutting down the engine. (It should give several-to-many 'assists' after shutdown). Again, several fine FAQ's on replacement (somewhere). $50ish. 8) Interior, Electrical
  • Alternator brushes ($5.50 at BavAuto) are typical 140K items. Two screws pop the assy off the back of the alternator to check.
  • Weird guage problems (tach or mpg guage erratic, etc.) indicate a possible SI battery replacement needed. Very typical, and lots written on the subject.
  • Dead SI batteries may also cause the Oil Service lights to be on at odd times. <$10 for batts, couple hundred for rebuilt board.
  • If batt's are OK, lights are very easily reset, refer to FAQ's and/or reset tools, or, for the very brave, just ground pin 7 of the diagnostic connector, turn on the ignition (but don't start) for 15 seconds, turn it off, and you're done. Many will tell you this procedure is highly risky, but so is cutting vegetables with a dull knife - sheesh! no rocket science here. (15 pin version)
  • Headrest up/down dies. Easy fix, good FAQ's elsewhere. $0.
  • Just an observation: window lift and sunroof switches were illuminated 'standard' in late '86 US cars on. Easy swap, wires already in place, as an easy upgrade. I got a set from Jason at Zionsville, very cool outfit (no affiliation, yada x 3)
  • Fuse box has chronic, but easy problems. Fuse clips corrode, wirebrush 'em. Fuses corrode, replace 'em all.
  • Several chronic problems show up as 'cutting out' at any speed, frequently the 'main' relay, sometimes the fuel pump relay, sometimes the position or timing sensors. Details available. 9) General
  • Don't believe a _damn_ thing a salesperson says, if there is not documentation behind it. "Changed the oil every 3K miles" if literally true means they _never_ changed the filter. Semantics? Maybe. The car tells the real story, a salesperson has a car to sell.
  • All of these items can be priced out; I use them as negotiating points. I have no qualms about leaving a lowball offer with somebody, and just walking away. If they take it, that's their choice, so I feel no guilt. If they don't, and find someone who will pay their asking price, who 'discovers' all these things to do, oh, well. I rarely run into folks, private or dealer, who are offended by my offers, especially because I let them know what my points of 'discount' are.
  • Buy a Bentley manual, and an ETM (Electronic Troubleshooting Manual) if you are electrically astute.
  • Check to see if it has the TRX tires. If so, you face one of the classic $$$ delimmas - discount asking price $400 if tires OK, $1000 if tires need replacement. Many details elsewhere.

That's it! As before, comments, corrections welcome.

Larry Franks
Issaquah, Washington
'86 535i
'86 528e - JimC'd and lovin' it!
'83 245 GLT (Swedish iron)

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