3-Series (E21, E30)Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.
A bit over a month ago I bought my first car, a 1987 BMW 325, and got what seemed to be a good price for a car that checked out ok, although had high miles (210,4xx, now up to 211,6xx).
It was great for a while... however, on memorial day, it started breaking down. The first time, we had it towed to the garage we bought it at, they did some work on the muffler, and I got it back again only to have it break down a couple days later (in my school parking lot, no less). Back to the garage, they put dry gas in it and it was fine for another few days. Then, I was out doing errands for my parents and as I'm coming home it breaks down. Back to the garage. They find a corroded fuel pump relay and it gets replaced. As we're driving it back home, it breaks down yet again. Back at the garage again, they see that the sockets for all of the relays need to be replaced as they're not holding the relays in very well. Watch it break down again after that's fixed.
So far, it's still at the shop, but honestly I'm a bit afraid to drive it again. I like the car a lot- it handles well, it's got plenty of power, although it has its issues (no radio, no AC, a bit of rust). I'd like to keep it... but I really can't have a car that's not going to be reliable. I can't be breaking down in the middle of a long trip.
A friend is trying to sell her 1991 318i, 150k miles- in very nice overall condition, and I don't know whether to try and sell my 325 and somehow come up with the money to buy the 318i.... or whether mine will be fairly reliable once this problem is fixed. I test-drove the 318i, and honestly while it's not bad... I find the 4 cyl. engine a bit underpowered compared to my 325.
Any advice on what to do? Any ideas would be appreciated. I've never owned a car before, don't know too much about them, and have only been driving for a few months. I figured a BMW would be a good car to start out with, since most people I know have had very good luck with them. Maybe I just have bad karma...
In order to try to give you some advice, I think we need more information regarding the "breakdowns"
You said the first time it went in they worked on the muffler. While this might quiet the exhaust down, I don't see how that would affect drivability.
The second time, they put dry gas in it. Again, if you had run very many miles before this, I don't see that helping a whole lot. How full was the tank when it quit? If it was water in the tank, it would have to have been pretty low.
The third time, they said it was a corroded fuel pump relay...Did they check the fuel pressure? While I can see this causing a problem, it seems to me they are throwing parts at your car and charging you an arm and a leg without doing any troubleshooting. I'm guessing there is an intermittant problem somewhere and the car works fine when the mechanics get hold of it after towing, so they're guessing.
When it breaks down, what are the symptoms? Does it just quit? Does it run funny for a few seconds and then die? Do all of your warning lights etc, work when it dies? If you leave it for an hour or two, will it restart?
I think before you give up, you should try to figure out what the problem really is. For instance, if you have a cracked intake boot, it may get bounced enough to let a bunch of air in and cause the engine to die. How about a clogged fuel filter? Coil?
There are tons of little things that can go wrong, but I've got an 84 325E and have had no MAJOR problems with it. See if you can describe your symptoms in a little more detail, and we'll see if we can help.
The fuel tank was pretty much full, and still is. I'd be driving along.. and the engine would just die out, with no warning whatsoever. If you left it for a few hours, sometimes it would start again, but more often, not. Sometimes it would start, run for a second, and die out again. Thing is.. it's not after a specific time of driving (could be 20 minutes, could be 3 hours), but it tends to happen in wet or humid weather. All of the lights work, I can put it on Accessory and run the air or radio (if it had one), so the battery's okay.
Basically... up until a couple days ago when it went into the shop... the car ran fine for the mechanics, and they really didn't seem to be able to do much. They did check and confirm the following things were okay: fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel pressure, ignition module, alternator, distributor. But basically, they were guessing, yes.
My mom got a call from them today, the car (finally?) wouldn't start for them, and replaced the sockets holding the relays, (apparently he said that if he wiggled the wires underneath he could sometimes get the car to start). From what they said, it works now, but I wonder how long it will work for. Does this sound like it could be causing the problem? Or perhaps something else as well...
Thankfully they haven't charged us anything yet (we did buy the car from them, afterall) except for the parts that they used (which weren't expensive). But I'd rather pay and get the problem troubleshooted and fixed, instead of having them do random things to it and then dealing with the constant breakdowns.
I guess I'll find out if it really is fixed, this afternoon when I pick it up.
From what you've said so far, I would guess that it is indeed electrical. Generally, if it's a fuel problem, it will sputter a bit before it stops working - so they may be on the right track. I'm new to BMW ownership myself, but have owned many different cars. Anybody want to buy an MG?
I wouldn't think that the relay sockets having a problem is common, but one never knows. Only thing you can really do is drive it and see if it fails again. Apparently, they have tested all of the logical things so far. Unfortunately, problems like this are tough to find sometimes.
I wouldn't dump the car though. It may be a pain to find, but probably won't be expensive to fix.
i had a 1989 325i before and went through the same problems. Stalling, not starting, getting towed to the shop, etc...etc...E30 cars are well-built and those kind of things happen constantly...i say take it to a shop that knows more about BMWs..there is this thing that they hook up on the car and find out what's causing the problem...electrical problem could be it but it doesn't stop there...it could be something else...get it fixed and keep the car...i still have my 325i and i love that car so much....these are the things that you need to check...fuel and spark...if you have both of that, the car should start...check the Air Flow Meter...check the fuel pump and filter, check the voltage regulator, check the fuel pressure regulator, check the injectors or have it cleaned (industrial cleaning not just buying one of those bottled fuel cleaners), change your plugs, wire, and distributors...replace your idler valve solenoid (the black cylindrical thing w/ silver top close to the air filter box going into the throttle body), check all fuses/relays, and anything else you can think of then its a keeper....on top of that, replace all hoses and belts and that car is good for another 100,000 miles....Good luck!!
I picked it up from the mechanic yesterday afternoon, they told me that they replaced a wire that goes from the fuel pump to the fuel pump relay- hopefully that will solve the problem. I think bringing it to a place that specialises in BMW's is a good idea. I did find an authorised repair shop, and will probably have them look it over too.
After driving it back from the garage, I'm pretty certain I will keep the car. It's got a lot of power and handles very well. And the only other problems with it are really cosmetic... a little rust (I'm in the northeast after all, I'm amazed it's lasted this long with the winters we get), and some cracks in the leather on the driver's seat. I've decided that I might as well get a radio put in... so assuming the car doesn't break down on the way... that's going to get done tomorrow afternoon.
I think that it'll be good for the next couple of years, after which I hopefully will be able to move somewhere a little warmer. Then I can get something else; I've always loved the older little 2002's, as well as the slightly newer, and much larger 6-series.
I actually was referring to the 6 series from the 80's (I meant that it was slightly newer than the 2002).... although a new 6 series would be great... guess there's motivation right there to work hard in college and get a good job!
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