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Thread: 1994 325i, 96,833 mi. Reliable or a time bomb?

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb 1994 325i, 96,833 mi. Reliable or a time bomb?

    A good friend of mine with 3 bmws says to stay the hell away from a 94 and at least get a 96, but the car seems to be in good shape, Iím taking it to be inspected tomorrow but Iíd love to hear from you all your opinions on the cars reliability Iíve had enough cars that are problem plagued and I donít want to bury myself in another.

  2. #2
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    It can definitely be Reliable, as long as there are no major issues with it, and as long as you're willing to get your hands dirty every once in a while.

    Despite the low mileage, if things haven't been changed over the years, be prepared to replace the shocks, suspension bushings, and motor/trans mounts. After 23 years, a lot of the rubber in those parts are going to be bad.

  3. #3
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    ^^^What testify said. Not sure where your friend is coming from or what he really knows about these cars. Both the M50 '94 and the M52 '96 up engines are very reliable if properly maintained. M52 has a little more low end torque but more restrictive manifold design unless modded. The '94 is OBD1 so less emissions controls and fewer things to trigger a CEL. Used to be more easily modded but that's no longer universally true. Some prefer ODD2 because it can help give more diagnostic clues. To each their own. No major problems with my '94 other than wear and tear from passage of time.

  4. #4
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    Cooling system should be your number one concern, I would not trust a car around that range until water pump, expansion tank, radiator, hoses and thermostat housing as well as thermostat has been replaced. But with that said, it really comes down to how well the car was maintained.

  5. #5
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    The reliability will be relative to how well or poorly the last owner(s) maintained the car. The mileage isn't an issue, I've never been hesitant to buy an e36 with over 100,000 miles as long as it comes with a decent service history.

  6. #6
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    My 1998 328i has been dead reliable with plenty of preventative maintenance along the way; Currently sitting at 196k miles. Never left me stranded or broke down and always starts first first go. its all about maintenance and fixing the things that come up when they break instead of waiting for a laundry list.
    Mike
    1999 750 IL (SOLD)
    1990 750 IL (SOLD)
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    1995 540I (SOLD)
    1999 323 (SOLD)
    1998 328I 195,000 miles and counting
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  7. #7
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    1993 BMW 325I
    300k on my wife's 93 325i. The previous owner beat the ever living piss out of it. And I beat the hell out of it as well. But I maintain it as well. 7 yrs and 90k in my possession and she's as good as the day I got her. Hell even better than I got her. As for reliability, its as reliable as any newer car. I would not hesitate to take my 36 on a long trip at anytime.

  8. #8
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    u should be getting the car very very cheap.

  9. #9
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    rust is number one for me. Then accident history and maintenance. I bought a 120k 94 325i and I replaced everything. Still runs great at 140k now. I also did a full M spec swap. I'd say you should consider how soon you need a car, how easy it is for you to come across a good e36 example (clean cars are now much more rare), your budget, and your aspirations for the car. The 325i should be cheaper too but not by much. OBD2 now is easier to tune, but a basic chip can net you some power gains. And there is FI if you think stockish is too slow. Another can of worms.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCStreetTroll View Post
    A good friend of mine with 3 bmws says to stay the hell away from a 94 and at least get a 96, but the car seems to be in good shape, I’m taking it to be inspected tomorrow but I’d love to hear from you all your opinions on the cars reliability I’ve had enough cars that are problem plagued and I don’t want to bury myself in another.
    You never came back. What did the PPI show?

    -Josh
    1998 M3/4/5 with most of the easy stuff, some of the hard stuff.

  11. #11
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    '94 318ic, '00 323it
    The most accurate answer is "it depends".

    If the car was neglected, then sure, it will be a clusterf**k. If it was well maintained, you should not have many major problems.

    Budget for the worst scenario: full cooling system refresh, oil leaks (pan, housing gasket, valve cover gasket), guibo, suspension and associated bushings.

    94 + are the ones to go with. 92 and 93 had inconsistent parts used throughout the car. The parts like window regulator motors and alternator brackets are unique for certain build months and expensive now.
    Alpine 318ic FTMFW!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by myblackcar View Post
    ... 94 + are the ones to go with. 92 and 93 had inconsistent parts used throughout the car. The parts like window regulator motors and alternator brackets are unique for certain build months and expensive now.
    It took BMW almost three years, until the Autumn of 1993 to cure the E36 of its major "childhood diseases", in case anyone might wonder why earlier cars have such varied parts.
    Last edited by johnf; 11-15-2017 at 06:56 PM.

  13. #13
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    1994 325iC
    My car is a July '94 build, it's fine. I really can't see how one can make a blanket statement that the car you are considering is something to avoid, especially when the miles are below 100k. It should be in near showroom condition.

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