22nd Oct 2013, 13:34

Update: Now has done 112K km. Just passed yet another warrant of fitness (done at 6 months) without a problem - I was expecting it to fail because at least of tyre wear, but no. I fully expected this car to need repairs every six or so months due to age (small things), but knock on wood, it's been even more reliable than my Mitsubishi Galant.

The clutch shudders every so often when taking off, but not always - when I take it to the mechanic, it just won't do it. But it has been like that since acquiring it 3 years ago at 65K km, and hasn't gotten any worse. I usually start thinking of replacing a car by this time (car now 12 years old), but not this car. I still think the gear ratios between second and third could be better-spaced. But, no complaints except that I wish the original owner had specified heated mirrors (a sunroof would've been nice too).

7th Sep 2014, 01:24

Update: 121K km. Six months ago, the original, BMW 2001 battery died suddenly. Unlike other batteries, which start giving signs like taking longer to start the car, this was perfectly normal until the night before it happened. Battery replaced - AA agent said they don't make batteries like the original one any more.

Got the car serviced three weeks ago, spark plugs and two rollers for the alternator belt were replaced. I had the mechanic check the timing chain tensioner - a common problem for my vintage of car before improved parts were fitted. The chain itself had stretched a bit, and will need to be done.

Two weeks ago, one of the coils died (first coil died on me four years ago). So when I get the chain done, I might as well get the two original coils changed.

A rattling catalytic converter baffle just after start up from cold at 1100 RPM, but stops within 30 seconds. I'm not bothered, neither is the mechanic.

Will need new tyres within the next six months.

Else, the car's running fine.

14th Sep 2014, 12:14

These cars are bulletproof. I do however think for NZ roads, and its body being quite heavy, a bit more powerful engine such as a 2.5 litre would certainly be of benefit. The weakest link in BMWs is the auto box, and yours being manual makes it robust.

Very nice review and updates. I am sure it will greatly help people who are on the hunt to buy one of these :)

15th Sep 2014, 19:42

Original reviewer here - I would dearly have loved at least the newer 318Ti, much more the rare and mighty 325Ti version, but for the price, and the 65K third-car of the family mileage with the manual, it may be the last manual I could get in my lifetime. Yes - in NZ, power is vital. I learned that very quickly when I first arrived in 1994 and got a 55 BHP Mitsubishi Mirage 1.2, and almost died 4 times going to Wellington and back.

This 316TI is the least powerful car I've had since the Mirage - 115 BHP, vs. other cars I've had - Audis with 120+ BHP, a Lancia Beta at 118 BHP, and a Galant V6 with 150 BHP. That was the risk of buying this. But I have since found out that the manual gearbox - and the ratios and spacing of the top 3 gears - make all the difference. The engine's character changes markedly once you go past the 4,000 RPM range, and anything I couldn't overtake given our winding mountain roads with blind corners every hundred metres, really I shouldn't pass anyhow. I didn't expect the car to be THIS good. I just came from the V6 Galant, and this is still fine. Yes, 115 BHP. But the gearbox makes all the difference.

19th Feb 2015, 19:28

Original reviewer here. Current mileage 131K km - finally got the chain replaced last October. As per my September update, the chain had stretched - not uncommon for this vintage - so this was replaced together with the tensioner and an upgraded chain guide too (the original fortunately had not cracked). While at it, I got the last two coils changed as well (it'll just be a matter of time before they fail at my inconvenience), and a small plug/seal in the VANOS (or Valvetronic? Can't remember) unit that was starting to leak oil.

Also changed tyres - was shocked to find out (well, I got this second hand) that the Bridgestone tyres on the car were made in 2001 - so the full set were the ones that came with the car 14 years ago! Must say though, they lasted a good 127K km and still had maybe 3mm of tread, but past 10 years I really must get new tyres. I ended up buying Yokohama BluEarths. Being summer here, I haven't tried them in the wet as yet. Tyres aren't supposed to last that mileage - maybe 60K at the most. But perhaps because much of my driving is in the city, the tyres are really only being worn out by the weight of the car, not accelerated by high-speed driving, where air pushes down the weight of the car while the tyres are running hotter.

Had I not needed the cam chain done, I'd have wanted to get that clutch take-off shudder fixed (probably a clutch plate) which has been there since buying the car 4.5 years ago, but fortunately hasn't gotten worse.

30th Jun 2016, 08:28

Update 151K km. Coolant level light came on for the first time ever on the motorway, stayed on for about 5 minutes. Temp OK, coolant level was down by not even a cup. Happened again two days after, this time lost 2-3 cups. Just picked it up from the garage - new radiator and expansion tank fitted. I've been expecting that expansion tank to fail for the last few years (a common problem - but possibly more on automatics, mine's a manual). They also fixed the revs - it dropped to 450-500 RPM when I come to a full stop at the lights (like it was going to stall). This was for months, fuel injection cleaner wasn't helping. Anyhow, both fixed.

Was lent a mate's car - a 2001 Mondeo, same age, but 65K more miles - still smooth engine, held up pretty well, but getting back into my car, the BMW felt... new. Odd - the clutch, brake, gas pedal, all as if the car was 4-5 years old. To this day, 15 years old and counting, I am still amazed at the car. I hope this holds up, I don't know what to replace it with - especially since the used BMWs here turning up (mostly Japanese imports) are all automatics.

Two words describe how I still feel about this car: contented and satisfied.

30th Aug 2017, 11:02

Update - 178K km. Still have the car, and it just passed yet another Warrant of Fitness (WOF) without any problems.

The Yokohama BluEarth tyres are getting down there, tread depth 4mm in front and 3mm at the back, fitted roughly at 126K km. Still legal to 1.5mm here in NZ, but from experience, braking in the wet gets dangerous once tread depth starts getting less than 3mm.

The car was serviced two months ago - just a new fuel filter and cabin filter were fitted besides the oil and general check-up. The water pump and thermostat were apparently still in good form. Some bushings will need to be replaced during the next service.

During the WOF, the inspector did say the left rear parking brake could use a bit of adjustment during the next service.

This car has easily been the best I've ever had - not just because it has been very dependable and unusually reliable, but because it still feels good and solid. The materials have held up, the seats haven't sagged, no rattles. My sole car that takes me to and from work daily, to friends and leisure on weekends, long distance driving up to 500km away. Even the dot matrix on the dash hasn't got a single unlit "dot". The bulb integrity sensor doesn't have the usual BMW problem of indicating a busted (but actually working) brake light.

Having sold my flat, I currently live with a friend and it's not parked inside a garage anymore, so out in the cold and heat.

I love this car, have had it for 7 years, bought used, and I still have not grown tired of it. I wished I owned it since new, I'm afraid to replace it now, since whatever I replace it with, I have a feeling will be nowhere near as good. I wouldn't know what to replace it with.