Alright, had to call AAA AGAIN to come and tow Chad's 1998 328 sedan from down the street ("Ultimate driving machine" my a**, I finally gave in and got him his OWN AAA membership since he's used mine more than I have!) As of a couple months or so he's been noticing a slight shimmy or wobble in the wheel at around 40 MPH and chalked it to alignment, or possibly the struts which he knows need replacing because he hits a lot of potholes pretty hard, and within the last week or two he's been noticing it get bad enough to require some looking at but hasn't been able to take it in because of work. He says its not just on acceleration but also while coasting and seems to be less present when braking.
HOWEVER, this suddenly became a non-issue last night when on the way home he says he felt or heard something go "clang" and that it sounded like something metal had fallen off the car, but didn't have long to ponder what it might be as then "everything just fell apart" after that. He was able to get off the road immediately since it was about at midnight and just a few blocks away, and was able to stop before doing further damage to the car. He discovered that two fins on the fan had been sheared off, and considers it lucky that they didn't pierce the radiator or any thing that he could see. The car engine will start but then in idle it will wobble off balance because of the missing fins on the fan which is driven by a belt ("connected to the crank shaft"?)
The shop guy said it might be a relatively minor issue, but I am hesitant to accept the face value of that assessment since it was over the phone and he'd clearly been drinking (thankfully, at least this was after the shop closed for the day). As usual, I want to find out what to expect and learn what all the likely and also unlikely prospects might be as far as learning why the fan disintegrated in the first place (it is tilt-able at this time, not fixed in position, but I don't know if that is a result of the disintegration or maybe cause of the disintegration from the fan colliding with something in the housing that sheared off the fins, or if unrelated to the disintegration and being the normal range of movement/pivot -ability.)
Is the self destruction of the fan an isolated thing or is it a direct symptom or cause of the wobble he'd noticed? I've been reading things that make me nervous concerning the older E36's cooling system and more than one use of the word "explode" ( O.o ...um, yikes?) Other things mention issues related to various other wheel and tire related alignment or components like the control arms/bushings/otherautoparttermsIdon'treallyundertand, and also something which mentioned bad engine mounts (which is the first thing that came to my mind as reason for that metal clang sound he talked about "something falling off the car" and would make sense with that movement resulting in the shredding of the fan blades.)
Any thoughts? And how bad is this likely going to hurt to fix? Do I need to go buy some KY or is the drunken mechanic psychic enough to be correct that it might be relatively minor?
Had to replace the alternator about a month ago, and replaced whatever belt is "outside the engine" ("Timing belt?" asked I, the newb girl, to which he replies, "I dunno, there's only one on the outside..."
Good grief! I think
I'm the girl around here, but when he says stuff like that, sometimes I wonder...)
The car has about 160K miles and we don't know all the history having purchased it from a private seller, used. It has been in better shape than his other BMW's so I'm thinking its more likely related to normal age and wear rather than the previous owners not maintaining it well or whatever, but that is based on the the fact we've had it long enough to be our fault in neglect as opposed to theirs and a first impression of them not seeming shady and like they had really liked the car a lot, enough to take good care of it and were only selling because they had gotten a new toy which meant this one going out to pasture.