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E21, E30 General discussion and technical help for 1975-1991 3 series cars.

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Unread 09-08-2013, 02:06 PM   #1

Name: poplars
Title: United Newb
Status: Offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Montague, California
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Your Ride: 1984 BMW 325E E30
my first car, 1984 BMW 325E E30

Hey all, this forum is awesome I hope I can supply enough information for you guys to give me your informed opinions.

Just picked up this 1984 BMW 325E E30 about 2 months ago, its previous owners included a couple mechanics and people who kept up on maintenance quite well, there is over a half inch of maintenance records from 3 different owners.

Its going to take me a while to sum up what's been done to it, I'm not a mechanic though I have light mechanical knowledge and would like to learn more I feel more comfortable leaving the more complicated jobs for the professionals, while working with them as much as I can to save $$$.

I will start with some pictures:
profile views:

Exhaust pics, hole in muffler, needs new rubber doughnut:

a picture of the suspension:

and now, onto the engine...:

Please forgive the dust, I live on a dusty road and would love any advice that could be given to maintain this car well, I clean the outside often but I would like to also clean the engine and would love details on how to safely do this.

So, current issues I've discovered so far are...
*Speedometer doesn't work, nor do the lights behind the speedometer, or the odometer.
*Heat guage doesn't work, electronics indicating MPH or mpg don't work, MPG guage doesn't work.
*Fuel level indicator shows just under half full when empty, the almost empty light does work however (would definitely love to fix all guage issues...)
*Check engine light flashes, hitting the test button fixes this, but slowing down abruptly causes it to turn on, same with speeding up too quickly as well, not sure what it means, the guy who sold it to me just said "you know, old bmw electronics."
*Its lowered, which is sort of an issue for me because I live in a hilly area. Would like to address this if it isn't too expensive.
*The idle was uneven the other day, cleaned the air filter and it improved it dramatically but it's been strange ever since, it was suggested to me that the oxygen sensor may have got dirty from all the dirt in the air?
*There is a decent smell of gas which seems to be coming from the exhaust, would this be caused by the hole in the muffler? or something else?

Other than all that, the driving is very smooth, very enjoyable shifting, the shifter was changed to a short shifter, makes a little bit of a noise when I'm in 2nd gear and the shifter is hanging towards the corner, if I move it slightly up while still in 2nd the sound disappears, I was told it was just how the shifter fits and it has nothing to do with the transmission, would definitely like more info on this as well.

The RPM guage works fine, this car seems to be limited at 3000 RPM. There is only one light behind the RPM guage and it is hardly enough to light it up completely.

So the main things I'm wondering about is revolving my economic situation, I can reasonably afford to throw in around 1000-1500 in maintenance every year, would this theoretically be enough to keep up with the car's age?

I don't plan to use it for any heavy driving, mainly long drives not too much hefty acceleration (though I can't say I wont ever go fast in it ) I would really like to keep this car, I payed 1900 for it, the odometer read 219,000 miles, and I have reason to believe it is no higher than 225,000 based on maintenance records .

I'm going to post up as much about the car as I can find from the maintenance records, I'm also going to try to get in contact with one of the previous owners who was a mechanic and see what he can tell me.

I was just mainly wondering what you guys could tell me to expect from this car, what I should look into replacing immediately, and what it would take to keep up with this car's age with maintenance?

I also ran into an issue with this car not passing the pre-smog inspection, the CO levels were too high labeling it a gross polluter, I can post up the details of the smog if you guys like.

the last time the timing belt and water pump were changed was at 167K, we are at 225K now, so I'm sort of worried about even driving it around until I get those things fixed. are timing belts cheaper to be replaced on this car than others? I could have sworn other people telling me timing belt replacements cost over 500 dollars yet I see in the maitenance it only cost him around 250.

Thanks again and I hope this post isn't too long winded, I figure I couldn't leave out too much detail about this car.
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Unread 09-08-2013, 02:07 PM   #2

Name: poplars
Title: United Newb
Status: Offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Montague, California
User not setup in Rate My Car.
Click here to set it up.
Your Ride: 1984 BMW 325E E30
more pics
The Interior:

The dash, electronics indicators:

power on:
(check engine light flashes, will go into details below)

closeup on air intake:

Last edited by poplars; 09-08-2013 at 02:09 PM..
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Unread 10-18-2013, 09:58 AM   #3
DEATH2000's Avatar

Name: DEATH2000
Title: Moderator
Status: Offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Rate My Car: 111 / 340
Your Ride: 1998 E36 328i sedan
Welcome to UB.

Not a bad first car to be honest. It will need work to keep it running for sure, but properly cared for their pretty decent cars. My E36 has higher milage then that thing.

I would have all the fluids replaced, then all the filters (air, fuel, cabin air, transmission). Depending on how long the car sat for anything made of rubber may have deteriorated. I would have all the vaccum lines inspected for leaks.

The reason it failed smog could be because the catalytic converter has failed and may need replacement.


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