From digest.v6.n239 Wed Feb 19 07:21:30 1997
From: Bob Stommel <Bob_at_trader.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 00:37:18 -0500
Subject: E30 M3 tips
There seems to be a fair number of people looking for E30 M3's recently, so
I though I'd post a collection of notes I have saved. Hope this helps some
the E30 M3 shoppers out there.
- Check for cracks near the bolts holding the engine mounts
to the front subframe. Some of the heavily tracked M3's are
showing cracks there. You can see the cracks from the
underside of the subframe at the bolt locations. The cracks
are in the subframe metal. Shake the engine vigorously and
if you hear a squeaking sound, the front subframe is probably
- Check for dimples in the roof between the windshield and
the front edges of the sunroof. This is another sign of a
heavily tracked car. The dimples are caused by torsional
stresses on the body.
- Common modifications are a performance chip and modified
exhaust cam gear. I have some personal opinions on the various
chips for this car. E-mail me if you're interested.
- If you are going to drive the car on the street, stick
with the stock suspension. The aftermarket performance
suspensions are too stiff for the street. The OEM suspension
is fine for both street and driver schools (but adding Bilstein
Sport shocks really improves track performance). There are BMW
factory "camber correcting upper strut bearings" that will
add .5 degree of negative camber to the front suspension. They
make a tremendous improvement in the way the car corners on the
- If you take the car to driver schools frequently, you
should consider ducting the front brakes by replacing the foglights
with brake ducts. Without brake ducts, the rotors tend to warp on
- Plan to buy a new water pump every few years. For some
reason, the E30 M3 engine wears them out quickly. The M3
does not have the coolant leak problems of the other E30 models,
but some of the M3's experience coolant loss from a worn
coolant recovery tank cap. Buy a new cap from the dealer.
The new ones have been "updated." There was also a recall
for a cooling system update which consists of a special
valve that was installed in one the of the heater hoses that
runs from the cylinder head into the firewall.
- The lower control arms tend to crack on heavily tracked
cars. The aluminum alloy control arms can be purchased
mail-order from Eurasian for about $159 each. They also sell
the offset control arm bushings for about $89 a pair.
- There is a lot of disagreement on the best brake pads to
use. The OEM BMW pads (Energit, not Jurid) seem to work fine
for street and driver schools. I would recommend using the
Energit OEM pads unless you are racing.
- The Bentley manual for the E30 BMW covers most of the
same body and electrical as is on the M3, but the engine
and Motronics on the M3 are different. The factory service
manual (on microfiche only) is the only thing available on the
- Are the swaybars still stock? If there are stiffer aftermarket
swaybars on the car, you should take a close look at the mounting
locations. The mounting tabs on the front and rear tend to crack
with stiffer bars. The tabs need to be reinforced with extra welded
metal if stiffer bars are installed.
- When you have the engine inspected by a mechanic, have him/her remove
the valve cover and look carefully for wear in the chain, cam
sprockets, and chain tensioner parts. These parts are wearing out
on the higher mileage cars.
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