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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 03-23-2013, 09:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Bargain 1996 318I Convertible

Folks, first I want to say I am new here so I am learning and have been doing some reading. I recently purchased a 1996 BMW 318I convertible from a friend for a very good price knowing that the car had issues but the price was more than right. The car has a history of overheating and I have done some looking into that issue, replaced thermostat first, still overheating, now I have discovered bubbles in the radiator when the cap is off and you rev the engine to about 4,000 rpms. I assume either the headgasket has failed or the head is craked. This car has been well maintained based on the records I have but is high mileage 252,000 miles. We intend to uses this car as a 3rd vehicle and pleasure cruiser just to enjoy during great weather with the top down. What should I do, should i take the the engine down to the head and change gasket and machine the head and replace? Or given the mileage should I do a full engine swap? If an engine swap is in order where is the best place to get one? Any help experiences E36 folks can offer is more than welcomed
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to Bimmerwerkz.

First, ill touch on the idea of an engine swap. Any engine you get know will have quite high milage, similair to yours, or if it has really low milage then it will be considerably more expensive. I would leave the engine you have until it absolutley needs to be replaced.

If you think the head is blown then get a pressure test done. That will confirm if it is or not. If it is then your gonna have to tear it down. Depending on how much money you want to invest this will be the time for replacing things. Replace as many hoses as you can as they deteriorate over time. VANOS seals are good to do while you have the head off.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I used to live in Athens Ohio and running top down on "rim of the world drive" would be a real hoot. Compression test will determine if the head gasket is blown. Pulling the head if necessary, is not a job for the faint of heard. It's not bad, but can be intimidating for the inexperanced. The NAPA supply store (used to be named Ferd Hack Auto SupplY) had an excellant machine shop. They could tell you if the head is cracked. Oh, SR 550 would a fun ride too. Jetsam
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