1991 BMW 3 Series 318i 4 cylinder from North America


An excellent value over the long haul, especially if you can maintain on your own


Head gasket blew at 52,000 miles, was out of warranty, but dealer covered 50% of the repair cost after much complaint.

Extensive electrical problems while under warranty. BMW dealer has to bring in an expert from headquarters finally as I threatened to sue under PA Lemon Law, after bringing the car in so many times for correction.

Dash board cracked in seven places.

Door drip trim fell off and other minor body parts failed.

General Comments:

After 15 years with this car I have become attached to it. It drives and handles well after 118,000 miles. The last 60,000 miles have been problem free and the gas mileage is close to 30mpg. I can afford a newer fancier car, but when I compare them to what I have with my 318i and the cost differential I stick with this one.

The body is beginning to look classic and often draws more attention than newer BMW's.

I would recommend the 1991 model over earlier e30 body styles, as engine is better and it has a driver's side airbag.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th August, 2005

7th Aug 2005, 22:49

The m42 in the 91 318i and 318is is actually more problematic (profile gasket problems) than the m20 6cly engines.

1991 BMW 3 Series 320i saloon 2.0 i from Croatia


Great drivers car


Stoppers on front suspension worn out at 160k km - manifested in sometimes annoying sound. ABS sensor failure on 198k km.

General Comments:

After owning '90 520i and crashing it I bought this car. Drove it for one year (32k km) and had no major complaint.

It had suspension performed by AC Schnitzer (-30mm Eibach springs + Bilstein sport absorbers, later replaced by Sachs M tehnik).

Car was often driven on track days; this means pretty heavy working condition, but nothing ever went wrong.

Top speed is 216km/h (220 on tacho) and is achieved when you hit the rev limiter in 5th gear. Fuel consumption would be around 11l per 100km. Engine NEVER used any oil (Shell 5w40 was in it, service interval between 10 an 12,5k km)

Car is not a straight line racer (9,9sec 0-100km/h, round 17sec 0 - 400m) due to its weight (1360kg). But when it comes to corners I find it definitely one of the best cars made in that time.

Feeling behind the wheel (handling) is just fantastic, especially if you can install (afford) sport suspension package. Also the sound of stock inline 6 is a sypmhony for ears.

Car was oftenly driven on highway at high speeds (180+km/h) but that never appeared to be a problem. Also the brakes were fantastic; pads never faded, nor on the track, nor on the highway. If you want an optimally fast car for modest maintenance cost; this is ideal choice, only look for full service history models.

Althought this was one of the first models produced (E36 line was introduced in 1991) there was no need for pinion rack replacement (often e36 fault) nor the water or fuel pump replacement.

I replaced this car with '98 328i coupe. Although I found it a bit underpowered for my choice, this will definitely be one of the best cars I ever owned.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th July, 2005

1991 BMW 3 Series 320i SE from UK and Ireland


A good 2nd car to learn to drive properly


All four tyres needed replacing at 140000 miles.

Seats had started to show there age.

Smell of petrol was always coming into the cabin. Took it to two garages and both of them could not find any problem.

Power steering leak, £500 to replace.

General Comments:

This was my first BMW, and for damn sure, it was the best driving experience of my young life.

The 6 cylinder engine sure put a smile on my face every time I started the car, a big roar and then it quietend down ready for the road.

This is not a very powerful car, 0-60 in about 8.5 seconds. What it is, is a comfortable drivers car that will get you ready to move onto something more powerful. In other words, it's a good car to learn real driving.

The gear change is the best I have encountered so far, smooth, slick and very responsive.

The interior, even though this car was 13 years old still made it very inviting to drive long distances, unlike Mercedes from even as late as 98 have the most dull interior.

I am convinced with BMW, in my opinion, the best car manufacturer in the world that combines comfort with real drivers cars.

I drive a new shape Passat at the moment, I miss the BMW oooohhhh I really do.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 28th September, 2004

3rd Jan 2005, 18:02

I also had a BMW 320 SEi and have experienced two of the problems you mentioned.

1, A petrol smell that occasionally came into the cabin of the car. The dealer couldn't solve it. This could have been because the occurrence of it was intermittent. In the end my usual mechanic solved it, and I think he replaced/tightened the metal clips round pipes through which the petrol flows.

2, Power steering fluid leak which would have cost as much as the car is worth to have it fixed.

Saying that, my car had done over 100000 miles when these problems occurred!



2nd Jul 2008, 20:31

I found my 320i to sometimes smell of petrol this seems a common fault.