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From Fri Nov 8 12:13:38 1996
From: Dale Beuning <>
Subject: 325es questions
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 1996 11:12:48 -0800 (PST)
Cc: ()


> Hi -
> I saw your web page, and I'm taking you at face value and sending along =
> a few questions. Hope you don't mind; I'll be glad to repay in kind if =
> you have any technical questions related to client/server development. =
> For the moment, I'll rely on your good nature, since you offer a nice =
> big link to your e-mail address.

My E30 and E36 web pages are constantly being updated, so I am always looking for feedback from fellow enthusiasts. By asking questions, I get an idea of where the pages can stand improvement.

> I find myself facing the ever-unpleasant task of replacing a car, and =
> I've come across a BMW which I find myself interested in - possibly =
> against all common sense. It's a 1986 325es with 125k miles on it. It =
> *looks* fine, the interior is pretty well taken care of, and it has only =
> a few very minor dings. The engine sounds and responds OK. The price is =
> $3900. I checked Edmond's on the web and the price seems in line with =
> wholesale, given the mileage. If I decide I'm serious about the car, I =
> will, of course, have it professionally checked, but it passes the basic =
> kick-the-tires tests (although they need to be replaced).=20

We have an '86 325es that is in great shape, and there is no way I could talk my wife into selling her.
On the tires, I'm running BFGoodrich's Comp T/A in the stock size and we really like them. Durable and great year-round tracktion. Cheap too at $65 a tire or so.

> So, since I have never owned a BMW, nor do I know anybody who owns one, =
> and since I need a car PDQ, I have a bunch of questions, and I'm hoping =
> you can either answer them or point me to the answers:

I'll answer the ones I can.

> - It seems like the 325i is more popular than the e or es. Is that =
> because of the model years only? In other words, is there a reason there =
> don't seem to be many e and es models for sale compared with the others?

The 'i is more popular because it has 168hp and it's newer. Also the guys with the 'e seem to keep them longer!

> - Just how much extra am I going to pay for repairs for the privilege of =
> owning a BMW? Are there alternatives to the dealer, and can competent =
> but less expensive work be found?

If you can find a good independent BMW shop, one that does NOT have a big fancy store front, and noone in a tie, you will pay the same price as an independent shop for any other make of car. Careful of the parts, if they get them from the dealer, you will pay an arm and a leg. Join the BMWCCA for $35/year and get a 10-25% discount on parts from most dealers. Or buy GOOD OEM parts from someone like Steve D'G... out of N.J., check my used parts page for a phone number/email address.

> - How long is it likely to run? 125k seems like a big number, but I've =
> never owned a car of this class.

The highest I have heard of is 800k miles. My '84 318i had 228k miles on it when I sold it, it was running strong! My friends '84 318i had 232k when he sold his to a friend, and it's still going.

> - Do you know the original specs on the car? I've found many links on =
> the web, but there's nothing to tell me what the car was like when it =
> rolled off the line. You know, weight, horsepower, etc. Perhaps a link =
> to a review from when it was new? (Do you know if Car & Driver maintains =
> an archive on the web from that far back?) I'm told that an engine =
> compression test is a good thing to get, and that if the engine is at =
> 85% or less of its original compression, it's time to think about =
> rebuilding it. Any comment on that? And if it's relevant, where can I =
> find out that original number?

Specs, here are some aproximations:
hp = 120hp
torque = 170-180 ft/lbs
weight = 2800lbs
mileage = 28mpg on highway

On the review, I have an old Car and Driver review of just this car, perhaps I could FAX you a copy, if I can find it. Basically they loved it, one of the editors (Crane?) kept sneaking off to Ohio with the car for the afternoon.

> - I see plenty of references to these cars with 175, 200, 225k miles on =
> them. Should I assume that these are numbers on the original engine, or =
> that it's been rebuilt?

If the car has been maintained, (3k oil changes/w/filter), it will run for a long long time 200k+ no problem. If it's been abused, it will need some help by 100k.
Have you mechanic check the condition of the camshaft, it's the first thing to go. Figure $1,500 for a new camshaft/rocker arms/valve job. Or you could just live with the noise for another 100k or so.

> Somebody I know tells me "German engines tend to =
> have to be rebuilt every 100k miles because it's a cast-iron head" but I =
> confess it's a bit beyond me and I'm not positive he's an authoritative =
> source.=20


> - I see that, at least on the Internet, those who have anything to say =
> seem to be enthusiasts in the extreme. And the existence of a car club =
> with 37000 members certainly speaks well of the cars. But, I'm not =
> exactly swimming in money, and I wonder how much it costs to keep the =
> car running - especially at this age - and if these people who are so =
> happy would be happy with any car that they could afford to pay =
> above-average dollars for. I guess what I'm asking is - what are the =
> hidden costs? It seems like a key to happy ownership of a BMW may be to =
> be somewhat married to one's car.=20

Basically there are no hidden costs if the car has been maintained. If it has not been maintained, expensive stuff like the braking system will need work. One unusual point of maintenance that BMW specifies, is to flush your brake system every year with new brake fluid. What this does is get all of the water and contaminents(sp?) out of the system, which prevents corrosion of expensive brake components. If this was not done, the brake system will last a much shorter time. You can tell if it's been flushed recently by looking at the color of the fluid in the resovoir(sp?). If it's clear, it's been done in the last 5k miles. if it's not clear you should have it flushed right away on purchase and anually thereafter. Ask the owner the last time he changed the brake fluid or coolant on the car.

> - Possibly the easiest to answer: Know of any =
> "So-you're-thinking-of-buying-your-first-used-Bimmer" FAQs?

Looks like we are starting one here.

> Thanks in advance for your time and attention -
> -Frank

PS I'm planning on posting this to the BMW email list and to my E30 page if you don't mind.


                       |            Dale Beuning           |
                       |       email:     |
                       | web: |
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