Considering Purchasing A Low Mileage E36 M3 - Can I Count On It Being Reliable?
I considering the possible purchase of a E36 M3 (vintage 97-99). This would be a low mileage (under 50k) 2 door coupe in exceptional condition. I have long read that the E36 series M3's were perhaps the ultimate drivers 3 class car.
The car would be driven approximately 7 months a year, mid April through mid November as my daily driver, 5-6 days a week. If its carefully maintained, can I expect this to be a reasonably reliable vehicle? What should I be concerned about in either excess maintenance and/or repair possibilities? I've wanted one of these for a very long time but could use some assurance that I wont be going broke keeping it in good running order. I would hope to get at least five years of quality driving out of it.
Your opinions, thoughts, expertise and recommendations are particularily appreciated. Thanks in advance.
The motors made in that year were very reliable, and considerably less stressed compared to the modern 3.2L motors which make roughly 100bhp more power. They are also lower revving than the newer motors, and are simpler to maintain.
The lifter design means that ticking sounds are normal while the car is warming up and also that you run a high quality synthetic oil. The VANOS unit is very durable, but the solenoid that controls it is more fragile, and may need replacement after 100,000 miles. Other than that, the motor enjoys a great deal better fuel economy (27mpg highway) than it's younger brother's engine.
All told, a wonderful car to drive.
Addicted to Speed Since 1997 Founding member of the GreenDragon Poo Flingers Club
Founder and Double Member of the 150mph club
97-99 isnt vintage. vintage is like 50s and 60s cars, that kinda stuff. and yes, they are the ultimate driver's 3 series. they have the most power and the best suspension and brakes. theyre also the most expensive.
and yes the car will be very reliable, especially if you take care of it. go for it.
You'll find lists of common failures all over the net, I'm sure. Overall, I'm very pleased with mine. Rear shock mounts, steering control arms, thermostats, radiators, and various other little stuff happens from time to time. If you can find one in good condition at a good price, take it.
If you're driving a Toyota, Honda or Nissan product (Lexus, Acura or Infinity) then you will probaly not consider the BMW reliable. However if you currently drive a GM, Chrystler, Mercedes, Saab or Volvo product you will think it is on par. I've owned a lot of BMW's and I don't consider them to be "reliable" compared to my free company cars (Ford Explorer) or my wifes Lexus. I switched my wifes car from BMW to Lexus because I was fed up with her car being in the shop monthly (stay away from the BMW AWD option!). Her Lexus has 118k and has only needed one set of tires and one set of brakes. BMW's can't get to 118k with only tires & brakes at least none of the 9 we've owned... They are good cars (for a European brand) and the late 90's E36's were some of the best they ever built. From what I understand in talking to my BMW mechanic the new ones (04's & up) are littered with issues. Stay with an E36 or E46 and you'll be fine but like I said relaibility is relative to what you are used to. The J.D. Powers and Consumer Reports ratings are fairly accurate. Don't get me wrong I hate the Lexus but it's damn reliable and for my wife to loose work time dealing with car issues costs $$$$$. I'll stick with my Ford (free & free gas) and the 99 BMW Cabrio & she can have the reliable Lexus all to her self.... If reliability is your main concern go Japanese but if you're looking for that unmistakable BMW feel then just do it!
Acoustic has the correct answer. BMW is not the most reliable vehicle out there. But there is also nothing that compares to the feel and status it seems to carry. People don't know if an E36 BMW is ten years old they just see the BMW emblem. People look at it and say you have a BMW? They don't know that it cost you less than the new Honda they bought, though it will need more attention.
My first car was a 1979 320is. I bought it in '93. I drive an 11 year old 325is that looks just as good today as it did in 95. Reliability is driving an 11 year old car that has 245000 km hard everyday and everyday she works. Have you driven an 11 year old civic? Reliability is driving a 1979 through a 1995 Montreal winter and never being stranded. Reliability is a 1994 318is with 350 000 kms and still going.
If u take care of it it'll be as reliable as anything but i think bmw's are less forgiving than japaneses cars. u can run a toyota like shit for years b4 anything will break, a bmw is more sensitive but it is much nicer to drive and its more comfertable. It will cost more to run a bmw and u'll need to fix it more often but its a privelidge to drive one. The cooling system in an m3 wouldnt be any different to any other e36, but once its fixed its mint!
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