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E36 M3 maintenance/repair cost, reliability

So at some point in the next few months I'll be getting a used car. It will be in my dad's name but for me, so the ultimate decision is up to him. Price range is probably $4000-7000, but I won't know for sure for a while (insurance, old car was wrecked). He wants me to get a Civic (04-05 manual four door if our price range allows). Well, I've been driving his Versa, and it is the most boring car I've driven. I can't imaging the Civic is that much better. I've been trying to figure out a FUN car to drive in the price range that is reasonably cheap to maintain and reliable.
Focus SVT? Cheap interior, probably ragged on, hard to find in my area.
Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V? Maybe, but kinda hard to find in my area, and the pre-cat and intake screw issue worries me.
Miata? Too impractical.

I've decided I want to try for a four door manual E36 M3. As soon as I say "BMW," my dad will think "expensive to buy, expensive parts, expensive labor, insurance rape" etc. Just how bad is the maintenance cost? I'm relatively confident in my ability to DIY with help from others, especially with the awesome online communities that I'm sure exist for the E36. Are parts significantly more expensive for the M3 vs your average econobox? Are there any expensive parts that tend to break?
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:11 PM trajectory is offline  
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Dongboy
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are parts signifigantly more expensive for a car that originalyl sold for 45 thousand dollars pre-inflation adjustment than a car that originally sold for 19 thousdand

think about that for a minute.

don't have your dad buy you a car that you personally can't afford to maintain, that's just stupid - buy an econobox and bust your ass to put a shitload of money in the bank, move out of your parents house and buy your own car on your own dime to fuck with.

I just spent ~500 bucks on BUSHINGS, just bushings for the rear end of the car. oh, you want to do the front too, yeah, thats another 500 bucks for just the basics. wheel bearings, thats another 200 an axle + tools. oops your center bushing died - thats another 300 bucks
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:18 PM Dongboy is offline  
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How come people aren't smart enough to leave out the "my dad blah blah blah" when they post something like this?

Now you're gonna get exactly the advice you need and exactly what you don't wanna hear, which is tongboy's post echoed over and over.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:23 PM claffix is offline  
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are parts signifigantly more expensive for a car that originalyl sold for 45 thousand dollars pre-inflation adjustment than a car that originally sold for 19 thousdand

think about that for a minute.

don't have your dad buy you a car that you personally can't afford to maintain, that's just stupid - buy an econobox and bust your ass to put a shitload of money in the bank, move out of your parents house and buy your own car on your own dime to fuck with.

I just spent ~500 bucks on BUSHINGS, just bushings for the rear end of the car. oh, you want to do the front too, yeah, thats another 500 bucks for just the basics. wheel bearings, thats another 200 an axle + tools. oops your center bushing died - thats another 300 bucks

I figured as much, I was just hoping it wouldn't be too bad
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:23 PM trajectory is offline  
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Get a 97/98 240sx, buy one for 5-6k and have a grand to do a full tuneup on it.With your investment in the vehicle you get an amazing community with every problem of the car documented and easily fixed cheaply (for the most part). Plus that community has a ton of parts and you can make them go fast. The most AWESOME thing about a 240sx is, if you want a stock one, you can get stock parts for free or ridiculously cheap. Also, provided you don't crash it or rice it out you'll have awesome resale.


AS for the BMW, they are amazing cars when they work but they are extremely finicky in their old age (at least for the E36 specifically in my opinion.) My parents have a 94 325i that was an amazing solid and comfortable 4 door sedan for the first year we had it but after that it went all downhill between the transmission, wiring gremlins, and expensive replacement parts. If you ever plan on getting a BMW serviced at a shop your going to pay more no question, just goes the territory.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:28 PM Silent_Fart is offline  
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Get a 97/98 240sx, buy one for 5-6k and have a grand to do a full tuneup on it.With your investment in the vehicle you get an amazing community with every problem of the car documented and easily fixed cheaply (for the most part). Plus that community has a ton of parts and you can make them go fast. The most AWESOME thing about a 240sx is, if you want a stock one, you can get stock parts for free or ridiculously cheap. Also, provided you don't crash it or rice it out you'll have awesome resale.


AS for the BMW, they are amazing cars when they work but they are extremely finicky in their old age (at least for the E36 specifically in my opinion.) My parents have a 94 325i that was an amazing solid and comfortable 4 door sedan for the first year we had it but after that it went all downhill between the transmission, wiring gremlins, and expensive replacement parts. If you ever plan on getting a BMW serviced at a shop your going to pay more no question, just goes the territory.

I thought about the 240, but the problem is there are no good ones in my area for sale. They tend to be overpriced, riced out, beat on, old, high mileage (160k+), or automatic.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:35 PM trajectory is offline  
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I thought about the 240, but the problem is there are no good ones in my area for sale. They tend to be overpriced, riced out, beat on, old, high mileage (160k+), or automatic.

I have had 5, just use em like trading cards kinda lol, all 140k+ and have only had an issue with 2 of them. One had 270k and finally blew a headgasket, the other had a freezeplug rust from a tard running pure water in it for years and blew a headgasket as well. If you can find one without body damage its worth putting some money into it and can be fun to learn how to do stuff. I understand the annoyance of it though you have to just whore craigslist for a few weeks and you'll find a gem. I wouldn't get an auto though, the auto trannys suck and I hate converting stuff
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:39 PM Silent_Fart is offline  
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E36 was the last bmw that was any bit reliable with out super complex electronics. E46 is reliable, but electronics started to get very complex. E90 complex electronics and shit drivelines. Stay away from BMW in general. Only a matter of time until they say fuck america, we're not bringing over any more cars or parts.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:48 PM Rancidpunk666 is offline  
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I have had 5, just use em like trading cards kinda lol, all 140k+ and have only had an issue with 2 of them. One had 270k and finally blew a headgasket, the other had a freezeplug rust from a tard running pure water in it for years and blew a headgasket as well. If you can find one without body damage its worth putting some money into it and can be fun to learn how to do stuff. I understand the annoyance of it though you have to just whore craigslist for a few weeks and you'll find a gem. I wouldn't get an auto though, the auto trannys suck and I hate converting stuff

Yeah, I really wanted one for a while some time ago. I crawled craigslist and cars.com looking for one but never found anything decent. Guess if I go with a 240 I'll have to take my time. Why a 97/98?
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:48 PM trajectory is offline  
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E36 was the last bmw that was any bit reliable with out super complex electronics. E46 is reliable, but electronics started to get very complex. E90 complex electronics and shit drivelines. Stay away from BMW in general. Only a matter of time until they say fuck america, we're not bringing over any more cars or parts.

That's why I was hoping maintenance wouldn't be too bad on it. I was looking at E30s but those are too expensive, busted up, and old around here for me to bother with
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:50 PM trajectory is offline  
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Ya E36 still uses dino 15w-40. only thing to really watch out for is a complete cooling system rebuild between 80-120k, which really won't cost you that much, but I suggest changing the water pump as soon as you get the car and draining the block and radiator and refilling it with bmw blue coolant and distilled water. Axle seals leak on all bmws, but it's just looking at it and figuring out how to get to the axle seal, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Just don't hit any pot holes and you should be good. Just stay away from 4cylinders because if your blower motor goes out it requires removal of the head.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:54 PM Rancidpunk666 is offline  
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Yeah, I really wanted one for a while some time ago. I crawled craigslist and cars.com looking for one but never found anything decent. Guess if I go with a 240 I'll have to take my time. Why a 97/98?

They're the latest years, they look the coolest IMHO. If you want a DD they are nice, if you were going to be building a track car I'd recommend a 91-93 which is what I'll be using one for. S13's are cheap and beat to shit so I won't feel bad destroying one on the track.

Plus now that I've owned 2 95's and a 96 I prefer the OBDII system on the 240sx's, easier to diagnose problems and all the vacuum lines are super easy to access on the OBDII cars.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:57 PM Silent_Fart is offline  
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Ya E36 still uses dino 15w-40. only thing to really watch out for is a complete cooling system rebuild between 80-120k, which really won't cost you that much, but I suggest changing the water pump as soon as you get the car and draining the block and radiator and refilling it with bmw blue coolant and distilled water. Axle seals leak on all bmws, but it's just looking at it and figuring out how to get to the axle seal, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Just don't hit any pot holes and you should be good. Just stay away from 4cylinders because if your blower motor goes out it requires removal of the head.

Yeah, I've heard about the water pumps. Are E36s the ones with plastic radiator necks that snap?

Are parts/maintenance as bad as Tongboy makes them out to be?
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:58 PM trajectory is offline  
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no, go to

www.bmwpartscenter.net

my dealerships parts department runs it and it's about 30% off of list on parts.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:00 PM Rancidpunk666 is offline  
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no, go to

www.bmwpartscenter.net

my dealerships parts department runs it and it's about 30% off of list on parts.

Things look a bit more expensive than I'm used to, but nothing too bad. It seems like maintenance would be manageable as long as it wasn't shitting parts left and right

And bushings would be a maintenance item that doesn't need to be done again for a while..
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:15 PM trajectory is offline  
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