bmw newbie

hi all,
i just bought a two doors 1990 318i last friday and lovin it... i am a computer programmer but i want to learn car mechanics... so i'm planning to do various maintenace myself... do you have any suggestion
where i should start, in term of what parts/maintenance i should start from?
when i took it off the dealer, the radiator was half full, so i topped it up with water... is that good? i read somewhere in the internet i should not do that because bmw coolant system is made of aluminium and somehow it could make the engine rusty... do you guys have any suggestion?
another problem is it is quite hard to start... i need to turn the ignition key a bit long and i need to hit the accelerator while doing it... what and where should i start looking into?
thanks...
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I think I'd start with a Chiltons or a Haynes manual and go from there. Maybe BMW sells a do-it-yourself basic maintenance book through the parts dept at the dealership, might be worth asking. There's lots of help here if you need it too.
Chris

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I suppose the best place to start would be to learn how to conduct the service routines on the car, oil changes, brake checks, coolant flushes, spark plug replacement, air filter and oil filters.
As for the starting, I guess it depends on what the car has fitted, 1990? Well (and these are guesses and open to correction) does it have automatic choke? I had a 1990 car with manual, and a lot of people have now forgotten how to use them, automatic chokes where prone to running the cars very rich for too long and this caused all kinds of problems, perhaps your starting issues are something to do with that. I would not expect a 1990 to need you to put your foot on the throttle to start it, should be key turn and choke setting at the most.
Yeah, they are right.. don't use water within your cooling system... If the radiator was half full I might be a bit concerned, perhaps it's using water which is a potential head gassket problem.. BUT.. I would recommend a complete flush of the cooling system, and replacement with a properly mixed BMW coolant fluid. It is not unusual for these cars to use a little coolant now and then, nor is it really anything to worry about.. All my BMW cars have done this (E36 models), and I simply check the levels once every month or month and a half... about every time I check my washer fluid, I always check my oil too.
I think on a car like that.. I would start by making a list of things you think might need doing, and then working through it, a full service and coolant flush would be my starting point. On a car of that age (assuming the mileage is also high) you might expect the following:
Suspension bushes Suspension mounts Suspension Shocks Track rods Ball joints Clutch Wheel bearings Various body work - particularly wheel arches, boot, and where the bumpers meet the main body.. stay on top of this, she'll thank you for it later.
Apart from that. .I think these cars are fairly robust.. and she should give you many years happy motoring..
Hope all that helps.. Welcome to the BMW club!
Craig
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thanks for excellent replies... i've ordered bentley manual from amazon and it should come around next week...
the car doesn't have automatic choke (or i don't know if it does)... i'll research a bit more about this...
about coolant, i'll flush it this weekend... i'm planning to start from there...
does anyone in this forum live in gold coast, australia? i'd like to learn more hands on from other bmw hobbyist...
thanks...
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Try this and see what you can find out from here:
http://www.clubs.bmw.com.au/indexframe.asp
I love Google
Chris

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My '94 3 Series cars start within about 3 seconds. They might take less, but I never measured the time because they start so easily.
I think you shoujld buy a Bentley manual that covers your car, try Barnes & Nobel as a place to get started. Bentley is a publisher, and they put out what is about the best aftermarket manual for your car.
Since it is low on coolant, and is hard to start, I have to wonder if you selected a quality car, but we'll see on that, won't we?
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Yeah, this is my first car and i am hoping to keep it at least one or two years and not having to spend a fortune on it.
After I filled it with water, it doesn't seem to lose coolant. But I'll flush it and refill it with BMW coolant this weekend and we'll see from that.
About the starter, I hope it's just an easy fix. Fingers crossed.
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