1989 BMW 3 Series 325i 2.5L I6 from North America
A true BMW to its bare elements
The car was bought from an owner who stored the car for two years, which resulted to the following repairs that have been done since.
The battery was replaced.
The radiator had an internal crack that allowed transmission fluid to mix in with the coolant, and it destroyed the water pump and most of the coolant hoses. I had to replace the timing belt, camshaft and crankshaft seals and water pump, replaced all hoses and the radiator, and flushed new coolant several times. Until now, I still have to do another flush before all the remaining gunk is free from the engine.
All the shock absorbers and rear shock mounts were shot when I got the car, so that was replaced a few months after the purchase.
The fuel pump went bad twice on this model, but it was because I used junk yard parts. I recommend using TRE fuel pump with the original flow rate, and re-using the fuel pump cage. Fuel pump is a common problem for 325i models made after 1987.
The ABS system is defective, and I have not done the service yet since it costs thousands of US dollars ($2000 estimated). I think it was due to storage without the brake fluid drained, which caused corrosion in the system.
There is a small engine oil leak that has been recently identified and will be repaired soon.
Other than the following repairs, everything else were common maintenance done timely.
After the shocks and shock mounts were replaced, I cannot believe how well can this car handle corners! It is as good as my previous Porsche 924S! The engine is powerful for a 20 year old car. 170 HP with an ANSA exhaust is just enough for this sport sedan!
Despite having a defective ABS, stopping power is unscathed. I just have to be careful on slippery roads and sudden stops.
The transmission is okay, and I notice it is sensitive on the accelerator, no matter how much I adjust the throttle cable to reduce sensitivity. It must be the enlarged intake manifold that the manufacturer designed for 1988 and above models...
Though this car is sporty in every way, it is also a smooth cruiser for a family sedan, with fuel economy that was more than decent at its time. Average fuel economy is around 24 mpg. The interior is pretty compact, and I would have to say the back seats are not for anyone taller than 6 feet. Yet it is comfortable for most passengers and the driver. Driver visibility is not compromised, you can see traffic on every side. I got to love the fuel economy gauge meter, though it's a bit inaccurate.
It recently had a smog check, which is mandatory in California, and it passed like a new car! It is a good thing I keep a strict maintenance schedule, despite balancing on cost. Oh yes, this car is not that expensive to maintain.
It is a BMW that can keep up with the modern times, and it will remain my car for the years to come.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th October, 2010
I am the owner of this BMW. I was wrong about the radiator causing oil to mix with the coolant. The car overheated again a few months ago, and I had to replace the radiator because it was flooded with gunk. All the cooling hoses were replaced because the gunk was all over the cooling system. The cause of the oil and coolant mix-up is a crack in my head gasket :( However, the crack has not yet propagated through the pistons. It will be repaired at the cost of $1200+. So far, the car is reliable despite this major problem.
Update from the author of this review:
Head gasket, and all cooling components have been replaced. Tune up was done while the head gasket was changed.
I installed the AFE Pro Dry S air filter on my car and replaced all tires with an all season Kumho. The car runs much smoother, and now it has more power. Fuel economy seemed to improve slightly.
I am very satisfied that this car remains as one of the best cars I've driven, despite its age.
Update from owner:
Drive shaft was removed and rebuilt due to age. New Zimmerman drilled front rotors, ATE rear rotors and ATE brake pads were installed. The car is quicker than it was and stops at a dime. New Kumho all season tires improved road feel and fuel economy. This car continues to prove itself that BMW made a great car back in its days.