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The “75k Mile List”

E30 3 Series (1984-1992, including M) Edition

After years of driving, racing and repairing BMWs, we have clearly identified the common problems and maintenance concerns that need to be addressed on nearly every middle-aged BMW. E30 3-series cars, like all BMWs, have specific areas that need to be inspected regularly, and buyers should require a pre-purchase inspection to verify the condition of these areas.

In this list, you will find items that should have been replaced or at least inspected by 75k-100k miles. Some are model specific and will be noted as such.

Areas of Concern:

Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure

Symptoms: Undesired front toe changes during cornering, vague and rubbery feel in steering, vibration while braking at freeway speeds. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you likely have a torn or cracked lower control arm bushing. Non-M bushings are commonly replaced with M3 bushings to increase performance with little to no change in comfort.

E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks

Tie Rod Wear

Symptoms: Steering shimmy, clunking during steering input, inability to hold proper alignment. If any ball joint boot is cracked as indicated by grease coming out, it must be replaced. All components should also be checked for excessive play, and replaced if out of BMW spec.

Worn or Blown Shocks and Struts

Symptoms: Diving under braking and acceleration, excessive lean and suspension compression during cornering, bouncy and uncomfortable ride, shocks and struts visibly leaking shock oil. Factory BMW shocks work very well for 30k miles, but they quit by 60k miles. Because the deterioration is gradual, most BMW drivers hardly notice until the 60K mile mark. EDGE recommends replacing factory units with quality shocks from Koni whenever possible. And when replacing shocks and struts, install lowering springs and adjust other areas of the suspension. You will be amazed at the difference a good set of shocks can make in both comfort and performance.

Worn or Failed Swaybar Endlinks

Symptoms: Metallic clicking noise and compromised handling. There is no critical danger in a failed swaybar endlink, but the handling of the car will be severely compromised. Ease of handling can be restored by simple replacement with new endlinks.

Torn Rear Shock Mounts

Symptoms: Pronounced clunking sound during suspension movement, sloppy and erratic handling, excessive rear suspension play. Torn or damaged rear shock mounts can tear right through the trunk carpeting into the passenger cabin, so any of these symptoms should be attended to right away.

E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #2

Torn Subframe and Subframe Bushings

Symptoms: Erratic handling, unidentified clunking and banging sounds from rear of the car. Torn subframe bushings can lead to subframe failure. If your E30 still has stock parts, we recommend you bring it in immediately for replacement..

E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #3E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #4E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #5

Torn or Cracked Transmission Mounts

Symptoms: Hard, notchy, forced shifting while cornering, excessive shifter jerk during hard acceleration and braking, muddy shifter feel. Torn transmission mounts can lead to the dreaded ‘money shift,’ or mechanical overrev and probable destruction of the car’s motor. Worn transmission mounts allow for an excess amount of transmission movement

Stock replacements are just okay. We recommend stronger aftermarket replacements.

Ripped or Failed Guibo

Symptoms: Loud clunking sound before acceleration as the guibo bolts bind together. A torn guibo (Flex Disc) results in perceivable drivetrain elasticity. 

E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #6E30 3 Series 1984-1992 | EDGE Motorworks image #7

Water Pump Failure

Symptom: Rapidly overheating motor. Water pump failure is the easiest way to cause extensive and expensive damage to your BMW. When the bearing or impeller on the stock pump breaks, it disables the cooling system and can result in a warped head or even more severe engine damage. If you ever see the temperature gauge on your BMW climb above the ¾ mark, ​TURN THE CAR OFF IMMEDIATELY AND CALL A TOW TRUCK! 

To prevent water pump failure, we recommend changing out the waterpump on six cylinder cars every 60-80k miles.

Cracked Radiator Necks

Symptom: Possible drastic drop in coolant level, possible overheating motor, but sometimes no symptoms showing whatsoever. Unfortunately for BMW owners everywhere, the makers of this beautiful car love plastic radiators. These radiators become brittle and crack with age, particularly around the neck and often without warning (see warning above in “Water Pump Failure” section). To prevent costly repairs or devastating damage, radiators should be replaced routinely every 80-100k miles.

Fan Clutch Failure

Symptom: Fan clutch shows low resistance after driving (while engine is still warm) when manually turning the fan clutch. Most fan clutches fail between 80k and 100k miles. They provide the primary cooling for your car, and are easy for us to diagnose. If, after driving the car and while the engine is still warm, you do not feel a significant amount of resistance when trying to manually turn the fan clutch, we recommend immediate replacement.

Accessory Belt and Tensioner Failure

Symptoms: Squealing noise from the engine bay and/or cracks in the belts, temperature gauge rising above the ¾ mark. If a belt snaps, the cooling system will fail as the water pump ceases to operate. Power steering and alternator will also fail. If you suspect belt failure, TURN THE CAR OFF IMMEDIATELY AND CALL A TOW TRUCK.

Leaky Valve Cover Gasket

Symptom: Burning oil smell. Prevalent on all BMWs. Leaky valve cover gaskets on E30s will be messy. On S14s, the oil seals on the spark plug holes can also fail and leak, potentially causing misfire conditions.

O2 Sensor Failure

Symptoms: Poor mileage, poor idle and flat spots in the power curve. Even if your check engine light is on, your car may not be performing optimally. BMW recommends replacing the O2 sensors every 100k miles. Extended high-RPM running/racing and high-performance chips may shorten the replacement cycle.


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