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Discussion in 'E34 (1989-1995)' started by DocMaine, Nov 7, 2008.

    DocMaine guest

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    Hi everyone! I am about to buy my first BMW and need advice. It is a 1994 530i with 215,000 miles. It is owned by a retired local dentist, always maintained, and not driven in winter (Portland Maine). It looks almost new, clean outside and inside, and everything seems to work fine, all electronics, dashboard meters, switches, sunroof, and so forth.
    I now have a 2006 Volvo CX90 and the lease is up. So I can buy the Volvo for $525/month or I can buy the BMW for $1,600 plus an oriental rug trade too. I drove the car and it was smooth and quiet and handled well at all speeds. It has a brand new set of sport Michelin tires on it ($1,000 the set). The only two things I saw need fixing was some sort of electric rear trunk opener motor that whined, and the interior light switches over the windshield did not turn on the lights.
    I am taking it to a place called AUTOWERKS here in Maine which has a reknowned BMW shop for a diagnostic review and go-over. I will basically be driving the car to work, on good highways, about twenty miles a day, and maybe 100 miles on the weekend. I was in a Ford Escape rollover accident three years ago after I recovered (a year later) I panicked and got the big Volvo, but now am healed and moved closer to work. So all I need is a good car like a BMW. I live in Portland Maine and we can get a lot of snow in winter but the roads are always well plowed. So my questions, what should I look for in buying this car? Major repairs that might be needed? How is the car in the snow? Does it have this thing called stability control and traction like my Volvo? What questions should I ask the Autowerks guy? I think the price is good at $1,600 +-. Any other comments would be appreciated! Thank you. Dave B.

    BIMMIR guest

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    I live in Maine as well and think you are on the right track going to Autowerkes. Voit will tell it to you straight. He'll be a good resource on the condition of the car and in terms of the fair price as well as what maint. things to be sure to do in the future. BMW's are a great car, and fun to drive, but do require more maint. than some brands. The key is preventive maint.
    • Member


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    If it's very well maintained and have the records to prove it, you can't go wrong. You say that everything on it works perfectly and that only a few minor things need attention. That is what I call a good catch.

    Think of it this way: $1600 + maybe a couple of hundred on repairs is a helluva lot cheaper than $500+/mo plus insurance on a brand new car.

    Besides, you could get away with liability on the BMW and not have to pay that much more on insurance.

    If the roads are well plowed, then I don't think you have anything to worry about. I got my 325e rear-wheel-drive car up a hill here that was UNPLOWED without too much drama, just had to take it with some speed and maintain it. I think you'll be facing relatively "clean" roads, so you shouldn't have to worry about the traction control, especially if you know what to do in case the rear end does decide to play with you.

    Autohaus guest

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    Just to let you know, make sure that V8 has the Alusil engine block and not the Nikasil block. When the car is at the shop on the lift, look for certain serial numbers. Please see below:

    The Nikasil problem
    BMW used Nikasil, an aluminium, nickel, and silicon alloy, to line the cylinders of the M60 engines. The cross-hatched Nikasil linings react with the high sulfur content found in lower-quality gasoline, such as that used in parts of the United States. This reaction causes damage to the very top of the cylinder bore, where there is the most contact of the burning mixture and the cylinder lining. The damage prevents a good seal from forming between the piston and the cylinder wall, causing a loss of compression in the combustion chamber. This "leak down" will cause M60s with worn linings to exhibit a rough idle, and if the problem continues unchecked, the engine will not start.

    The only permanent fix for this problem is the replacement of the short block with the equivalent block composed of Alusil, which do not exhibit this corrosion problem. After the problem was found, BMW issued an extended six-year, 100,000-mile (160,000 km) warranty to cover these engines at no cost to the owner.

    The composition of the engine can be found by checking the serial number stamped into the engine block:

    M60B30: This is the engine that 94 530i has

    1 725 970 - Nikasil
    1 741 212 - Nikasil
    1 745 871 - Alusil Make sure this 530i has these numbers!!!!

    1 725 963 - Nikasil
    1 742 998 - Nikasil
    1 745 872 - Alusil

    If you have the Alusil block, then your good to go! Just be prepared to spend about another $1500 in preventative maintenence (cooling system, fluids changed, full tune up, etc...) Stick or auto?
    • Member


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    +1 on avoiding the Nikasil. More headache to prevent problems from occuring (if they haven't shown up already) than it's worth with a Nikasil.

    As far as spending another $1500+... he might not have to. Everything may be in order already. I didn't have to spend a dime on my car for at least 6 months when I first bought it because the PO has taken care of everything.

    As much as I want to know too, irrelevant. Stop obsessing! :D
    • Member


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    One very important thing to look out for. The V8 BMW engines in the early to mid 90s had issue with the high sulfur content in our fuel. A lot of these motors failed during the warranty period, but a lot did not. The replacement motors do not have this problem b/c they are made out of a different alloy, I believe they went from Nikasil to Alusil. Now at 215K miles it could be assumed that the motor has been replaced. But if it hasn't you are looking at a big expense, more than the car is worth if the motor fails. Have the shop that is going to look at it do a compression test on all the cylinders, that is one way of knowing if the problem is developing. If the motor has been replaced you are good to go.

    This car should be good in the snow if you put snow tires on all four corners. I would suggest getting a second set of wheels for your snows, it will make it easier and cheaper switching in fall and spring every year. You can probably get a used set pretty cheap. Check the back of Roundel for BMW dismantlers for a used set. Buy your snow tires from www.tirerack.com. They will ship to your door or the shop mounting them for you.

    Bimmers are great and you will love the driving experience. If you take care of the routine maintenance they will take care of you.


    Autohaus guest

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    I have not seen any V8s with Nikasil problems lately. It seems like the damage has been done to the ones that it was going to happen to. The fuel has been changed, so it is no longer an issue anyhow. The issue now is that every 100k-150k you need to reseal the intake and the valley pan. This can cost from $1000-$1500 depending on the cost of the labor and whether or not you go after the knock sensors (recommended.) It might be a good deal if you can find service records, but it can be a very expensive car to own. They usually require valve cover gaskets, oil pan gaskets (and have the nuts that hold the oil pump on checked!!!) intake vapor separators, coil boots, sometimes coils, and various cooling system components at high mileage. It could be a bargain, but save up for those things if you buy it.

    eightynine535 guest

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    eh......V8 without the power and same gas milage as my 19 year old M30 535i. get a 540i instead.
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    I would recommend an E34 540 or M5. My car is in perfect shape, and is the same as what you are buying. The only thing is that the mpg is the same as the 540, but without the higher end power.

    Although, at 1600, I would buy it anyway. That's nothing for a well maintained car. I paid 7K for mine... but it had 80K miles on it. Now it's at 100K. So, there's a difference there.

    I think that you should buy it if you can't find a 540 or M5 in as good a condition. That's it. Otherwise, you can't go wrong. This car is a rock and is the classic of modern BMW's. There is none greater than the E34. So sayeth me.

    And so sayeth the Alpina B10 Biturbo E34, which I consider to be the ultimate in car sex. Sorry, I'm starting to drool on myself.. I hate that. OK, moving on now.

    Autohaus guest

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    The OP hasn't responded to his only post. I hope he won't vanish like the 18yr old who wanted advice for the "Best BMW for an 18 yr old". As for the previous post about getting a 535i instead, I would agree. Though I don't think the OP has enough BMW knowledge in understanding that. The 530i for $1600 is a great deal. Brownie points if its a 5-speed. An Alpina B10=$exy :)

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