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Thread: What I need to know about the 3 & 5 series worth around $5k

                  
   
  1. #1
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    What I need to know about the 3 & 5 series worth around $5k

    Living in Loudoun County, VA and looking for a BMW...

    Enjoy driving (previous vehicles 3000GT VR4 and WRX STI) and looking to get a used high milage 3 or 5 series sedan. Looking over the normal internet venues 325, 328, 330, 528, and 540 models seems to be common. Trying to keep my initial investment down to $5k.


    Yea I know that is low. Will need a decent mechanic look it over and help me keep it running for a few years.

    That's why I'm here. Looking to expand my knowledge of known features and issues. Find some people that can assist in that endeavor...

    Thanks in advance!

    - Travis

  2. #2
    Senior Member John in VA's Avatar
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    E46 3er Buyers Guide:
    http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1007722

    E34 5er info:
    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=715009

    E39 5er Frequently Asked Questions:
    http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...tions-(FAQ)***

    If you are not mechanically inclined, or willing to become so, you will be eaten alive with a high-mileage car in that price range. For example, we E28 5er (1982-1988) owners have the "$2K rule" - that amount is usually required to "baseline" (perform the deferred or neglected repair items) your new purchase. New models can require even more $$ to do this, especially if the 100K mile services have not been performed (cooling system replacement, belts/tensioners/pulleys, VANOS/SAP/DISA/CCV maintenance or replacement).

    Happy hunting!
    John in VA

    '74 2002tii
    '85 535i
    '86 535i
    '00 328i
    '02 325xi
    '03 530i
    '06 330ci ZHP
    '15 228i M Sport

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by John in VA View Post
    E46 3er Buyers Guide:
    http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1007722

    E34 5er info:
    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=715009

    E39 5er Frequently Asked Questions:
    http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...tions-(FAQ)***

    If you are not mechanically inclined, or willing to become so, you will be eaten alive with a high-mileage car in that price range. For example, we E28 5er (1982-1988) owners have the "$2K rule" - that amount is usually required to "baseline" (perform the deferred or neglected repair items) your new purchase. New models can require even more $$ to do this, especially if the 100K mile services have not been performed (cooling system replacement, belts/tensioners/pulleys, VANOS/SAP/DISA/CCV maintenance or replacement).

    Happy hunting!

    Groovy! Good advice. Makes sense, buddy just went truck hunting and he did a $3k rule. I have worked on gasoline and diesel engines, but not BMW yet. I can do simple things like brake and cooling system work, but don't have all the space tools to do something like an engine rebuild. I'll likely have an initial mech check it out and then get as much digital or paper service manual / repair manual documentation for the vehicle I purchase.

    Thanks a bunch!

    - Travis

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by John in VA View Post
    E46 3er Buyers Guide:
    http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1007722

    E34 5er info:
    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=715009

    E39 5er Frequently Asked Questions:
    http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...tions-(FAQ)***

    If you are not mechanically inclined, or willing to become so, you will be eaten alive with a high-mileage car in that price range. For example, we E28 5er (1982-1988) owners have the "$2K rule" - that amount is usually required to "baseline" (perform the deferred or neglected repair items) your new purchase. New models can require even more $$ to do this, especially if the 100K mile services have not been performed (cooling system replacement, belts/tensioners/pulleys, VANOS/SAP/DISA/CCV maintenance or replacement).

    Happy hunting!

    Looks like I have some more forums to search.

    Found an E36 today... Haven't looked at it yet.
    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/n...921361752.html


    Thank you for the useful links!

    Much appreciated!

    - Travis

  5. #5
    Senior Member John in VA's Avatar
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    That doesn't look too bad, if you like red and those wheels. "Mechanically 100%. Doesn't need anything." - I wonder how far back the maintenance records go, and how many owners it's had?
    John in VA

    '74 2002tii
    '85 535i
    '86 535i
    '00 328i
    '02 325xi
    '03 530i
    '06 330ci ZHP
    '15 228i M Sport

  6. #6
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    Hi Travis!

    Just to throw out some things to think about in your search:

    - Picking between the cars you mentioned in your "intro" post really depends on what you want to do with the car. If you want something you can use as a daily driver, then the 5 is a good bet. Or if you want something to turn into a track car, autocross, you may want to stay in the 3 series for weight reasons and a more agile suspension layout, at least in the newer ones. I personally would be hesitant about a 540 as the first plunge into this, since the V8 is a whole different beast with extra complications.
    - If you don't already have a mechanic, I think Sports Car Shop is a decent shop out in Loudon... http://www.sportscarshopinc.com/ I don't have any personal dealings with them though.
    - As John mentioned having a shop work on a car of the age we are talking about here will have you in the poor-house in the blink of an eye. If you have the space and the inclination working on the car yourself can be extremely rewarding though. :-)
    - I am super biased, but I would vote for the E34 body (maybe a 535 if you can find one!). They are plenty of fun to drive, have more room to work with than an E36, and in some cases cheaper to get into. I would avoid anything with self-leveling suspension though.
    - I would also be very cautious buying an E36 that is anything but stock. Unfortunately those cars have become sufficiently affordable at this point that people with questionable judgement that want to go fast can afford them and then do really silly things to them. If you read the boards you will see what I am talking about.
    - Agree with the other guys that with any of these cars a good pre-purchase inspection is critical unless you are spending a minimal amount of money on it. As a general guideline, for an E34 it takes about $10k to fully "restore" your standard Craigslist purchase, including painting, and assuming you do some of the work yourself. If you start with that number in mind, anything you save is a bonus!

    Happy hunting!

    Stephen

  7. #7
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    Cool I took the bait...

    Thanks again.

    Well I have made a choice. Getting the pre-inspection done soon... Should know more by the 24th....

    Here is the craigslist add that I have copied into evernote to share with you all.
    https://www.evernote.com/shard/s553/...7fb88c9820db8a


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  8. #8
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    Really nice looking car. Make sure you ask for the paperwork to support all the parts he says he put in. Knowing what kind they are and when they went in will save you a lot of headaches later when you have to troubleshoot something.

    Things to ask:
    - Why did he only do the Bilsteins in the back? Typically a performance upgrade would be doing all four, so I suspect that something broke and you probably want to know what it was.
    - What bushings did he put in when he did the control arms
    - What pads/rotors did he put in
    - What clutch did he put in
    - Did he do the work himself or have a shop do it, of so what shop
    - Check for missing pixels anywhere on the OBC/radio display, this is common on these cars

    If you haven't done it already, do a quick google search for "e36 m3 issues", some good guides from the forums and such come up.

    Good luck on the pre-purchase! Where are you having it done?

    Stephen


    P.S. I would suggest doing your homework thoroughly before putting the M50 intake that he says comes with the car. The BMW M people know a lot about what they are doing, so make sure you have thought it through before you decide you know better.

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