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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.

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Old 02-08-2009, 07:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Buying my first car, looking into older bimmers

So I've finally racked up about 2k dollars, and I am transferring to a 4 yr in fall. I have decided to buy a car b/c I am tired of taking the bus every day in the cold. I recently drove my friends 2002 tii and I just loved it so much - the handling, the sports car characteristics, the power, it was all very exciting to experience. Now I am personally looking into the high-80s 3 series.

I bring to this issue to the forum because my dad is telling me that BMW's have expensive parts, and I told him but its a pretty old one so it should be cheap. He sort of bought it, but I really wanted to know - how costly is the maintenance/parts for the high-80s 3 srs? In other words, is it a good car for a college student?

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Old 02-08-2009, 07:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So I've finally racked up about 2k dollars, and I am transferring to a 4 yr in fall. I have decided to buy a car b/c I am tired of taking the bus every day in the cold. I recently drove my friends 2002 tii and I just loved it so much - the handling, the sports car characteristics, the power, it was all very exciting to experience. Now I am personally looking into the high-80s 3 series.

I bring to this issue to the forum because my dad is telling me that BMW's have expensive parts, and I told him but its a pretty old one so it should be cheap. He sort of bought it, but I really wanted to know - how costly is the maintenance/parts for the high-80s 3 srs? In other words, is it a good car for a college student?

tia
Most parts are fairly cheap... For instance i just put a water pump in my 1987 325eta and it was $50.00 for the water pump. But for instance your distributor cap and rotor adds up to almost $100 for both when it usually costs around $45 for Nissan cap and rotor set.

It all really depends on the condition of the vehicle, honestly. If you can find one in good shape that was taken care of mechanically, you shouldnt run into too many parts problems. Otherwise be ready to spend $500-$800 to get it 100% road worthy.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would not do that. I think your father is correct. If you don't know what you are doing with these things on a college budget I recommend you stay the hell away from them. Grab a Chevy (or better yet a mid 90's Honda Civic) and graduate. The BMWs come later, that's the reward.....A BMW, of that vintage will eat you alive if you can't do it yourself. it's not the parts. A mid 90's Honda Civic is a killer car for a college student. Well built, affordable to run and fun...I'd wait for the BMW.....
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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what Whitie fails to mention that the labor to replace that $50 water pump is $300, and while you are in there you might as well do a bunch of other things as well, so when all is said and done a $50 part might run $500 out the door from the shop, possibly more. And that's just the front end of the engine...I swear I wouldn't go that route unless I was very sure. I mean, that's just a water pump. I have dealt with these things for many years and can assure you that if you not prepared for these, excellant as they are, they will eat you up and sour your taste for them needlessly. A tune up is (rotor, cap and plugs (screw wires)) gonna go $75 for parts alone. Timing belt and tensioner not much, maybe $40 for both. Labor $300, same as the water pump but if you don't know that the water pump, timing belt, tensioner, distributer cap and rotor should all be replaced at the same time since you're in there anyway some people might allow 'mechanics' to do the same thing several times. so what might be $700 job one time thing could turn into a $2500 bummer. And that's just the water pump.....be careful is my best advise...
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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my '89 325i has only cost me about $1k in repairs in the 5 years I've had it. $200 per year in maintenance? not bad....that's, of course, not counting the fun mods.


I also have an 2001 330i. I've had it for a month and it's already cost me more than the e30 has in 5 years. I've sunk a little over $1k in repairs in one friggin month.
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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what Whitie fails to mention that the labor to replace that $50 water pump is $300, and while you are in there you might as well do a bunch of other things as well, so when all is said and done a $50 part might run $500 out the door from the shop, possibly more. And that's just the front end of the engine...I swear I wouldn't go that route unless I was very sure. I mean, that's just a water pump. I have dealt with these things for many years and can assure you that if you not prepared for these, excellant as they are, they will eat you up and sour your taste for them needlessly. A tune up is (rotor, cap and plugs (screw wires)) gonna go $75 for parts alone. Timing belt and tensioner not much, maybe $40 for both. Labor $300, same as the water pump but if you don't know that the water pump, timing belt, tensioner, distributer cap and rotor should all be replaced at the same time since you're in there anyway some people might allow 'mechanics' to do the same thing several times. so what might be $700 job one time thing could turn into a $2500 bummer. And that's just the water pump.....be careful is my best advise...
I forgot about laybor... Since my mechanic had no idea what he was doing, ive been doing all the repairs myself... So that makes a huge difference.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Any BMW you can buy for less than 4 grand is probably going to cost another four G's to make roadworthy, at least long term. At least that is what I think after doing a heckload of research and buying one. : )
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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yeah I bought my e30 about four months ago and I have already dumped about 600 into it lets see
crank sensor 130
battery 90
wires 100 (got a discount through work)
plugs 60
coil 50
water pump 60
rad. hose 20
cap and rotor 130
throttle position sensor five finger discount from a scrap yard
I think thats about it but all this stuff I put on at work and also she has about 230k on her defenitely aim for like an american made car the pluses with that are that most parts stores have the items in stock(don't have to sit and wait and they are also much cheaper(don't need a special mechanic to do satisfactory work) there also arn't many bmws in scrap yards I was at harry's u pull it and they only had three bmws one was gutted and the other there wasn't much left of it but best of luck to you with which ever you choose
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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no, a 4K BMW will not cost you 4K to make road worthy....these are very excellent machines but you have understand them. I have a 1988 325iC that I bought in 2000 with 83K on it. It now has 173K on it and runs like a champ. I have done many things upon it maintenance wise, I would say in 90K miles probably $5000 in repair, and that includes a $1400 ZF 4-HP22 tranny rebuild and $200 for control arms and strut replacement and $240 for a new windshield...the remainder is just parts and my own labor. This includes oil changes, tires, general things such as heater control valves, turn signal switches, assorted trim issues, lamps, general tune up parts (filters and so forth) water pump, thermostat and timing belt replacement at specified intervals. When I break it down I look at the $7200 initial invenstment and add $5000 to it and come up with $13,000 roughly. When I divide 9 years into $13,000 I come up with somewhere around $1500 per annum to drive a
BMW, not counting fuel of course. And the car is still worth around $3000.
So, whatever your viewpoint...my point is...if you know you are doing with these things they are killers....if you don't they will kill you...
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Old 02-10-2009, 01:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I bought a 1992 735iL on eBay about a year ago. Previous owner had left the sunroof open and so the electrical system is screwy. Mechanically, the car is fantastic. Because of the electrical problems I got a steal: $1400. I've since put about $800 into repairs & upgrades.
One thing to be very aware of, however, is the gas mileage. I get about 19 MPG. This car has a 22 gallon tank and back when gas was $4/gallon, I was paying $90 a tank! Now is not so bad, only about $40. If you got a Honda with a 30+ MPG rating, you would save a LOT of money on day-to-day operation. And remember, "A dollar saved is another dollar in the beer kitty!"
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:12 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I apologize, Silversled. My phrasing was imprecise. You are correct. I meant that, when you buy one for a good price, you *still* want to have some cash left over to take care of long term repairs.
When I bought my four grand BMW, I *could* have just driven it "as-is" and in fact I had to drive it five hours to get it home! *But* I chose to do some preventative maintenance before settling into daily driver life with it. Fluids, suspension, this and that, etc.
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
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So I talked to my dad and he started elaborating a little more on why I shouldn't get a BMW:

He said he used to work on the same exact bimmers that I want to get, and he said no matter how cheap the parts are, the labor is a, excuse my language, a b*tch. He said nonetheless, if you have the mechanical knowledge for BMW's, he said then its a perfect car. I don't have that knowledge, and I don't have time to work on it too much, and my dad is even busier than me.

in other words, silversled and the rest of you guys were right

I think its best if I get this after I'm done with my undergrad (which is only 2 years)

I'll be back guys!
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