1997 BMW 3 Series 328i 4 cylinder from North America


Fun when it works, but high maintenance and failures are unacceptable. Avoid


The radiator failed 3 times - the car overheated and had to be towed 3 times.

Some interior trim pieces fell off.

The key became very difficult to turn in the ignition to start the car.

The interior leather cracked.

The car had lots of rattles.

There was some failure every 3 months or so -- the A/C, the radio, the headlights, lots of dashboard electronics issues. Each repair took the car out of service and was very costly to repair -- $1,000 minimum each time. I couldn't afford to keep it.

It was extraordinarily expensive to buy, operate, and maintain.

This car had a clean history report when I bought it.

General Comments:

When it worked, it was a fun driver's car.

The car was well equipped.

The multitude of issues and high cost of repair, ownership, and regular failures were not worth it.

The service manager suggested I should buy the extended warranty.

I sold it "as is" to another person like me who was seduced by the BMW allure.

I will never own a BMW outside of a full warranty, and unless it was some incredible, amazing deal, I don't think I'd own another BMW.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 17th January, 2014

18th Jan 2014, 18:29

Excellent review! We owned a 2000 with many of the same problems. Your comments perfectly sum up BMW ownership (we have owned four - finally learned - drive Toyota now!)

1997 BMW 3 Series 318i 1.9 from North America


Great vehicle


I purchased this car knowing that there was a problem with the steering rack. The steering wheel would lock as you tried to turn the wheel, and then would free itself and then lock again. I replaced the rack, and while I had it down for maintenance, I changed the oil in the engine and transmission, as well as the gear oil in the rear axle.

Before performing any servicing to the trans or rear axle, make sure you have the necessary copper or aluminum crush gaskets. These can be a bit challenging to locate on short notice, so be prepared in advance to ensure this goes smoothly.

I also replaced the steering reservoir, as it contains a non-replaceable filter, and should be replaced along with the steering fluid at regular intervals, to prevent your rack from failing early due to contaminated power steering fluid. After 167,000, the fluid was in very bad shape and full of debris from the rack.

The aluminum exhaust heat deflectors tend to become loose due to dissimilar metal corrosion, so it is a good idea to ensure they are secure, and if possible, install a sacrificial washer between the steel bolt and aluminum deflector to prevent further deterioration.

General Comments:

Keep in mind that I was unable to drive the car prior to the maintenance, because of the issues with the rack.

I can honestly say that this is a true "driver's car". The handling is excellent, and the manual transmission ratios are very nice.

The clutch is very well suited for the car; not too heavy and not too light.

The cost of parts is what you would expect for a BMW; not unreasonable, but certainly more than an American car. If you can plan your maintenance in advance and source your parts online, you can save hundreds of dollars.

If you aren't mechanically inclined, this car can be expensive to maintain if you are using your local dealer.

I'm installing a starter, water pump and alternator next. After that, I will use the vehicle as a daily driver. At 167,000 it is time for these to be replaced to ensure many more miles of trouble free driving.

The interior is very well appointed.

Buy the Bentley manual, it is very well written and accurate. Haynes is helpful, but can easily steer you down the wrong path.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th May, 2012