I have some insight on this since I've had a 99 Z3 2.8 Roadster since
it was new. We're up to 143K miles and it is still fun every time we
head out for a drive. But like any used car there are a few things you
need to consider.
1) It might be inexpensive now but parts are still based on a car that
cost $40K when it was new and parts prices will reflect that reality.
2.) Typical maintenance items are.
A.) Radiator at 60 K miles
B. Thermostat housing at 60 K miles
C.) Lower front control arms and reaction bushings before 80 K
D.) Widow Regulators, both sides.
E.) Seat bushings on power seat hardware.
None of these are monumental but they cost some money to fix. If you
can do those kind of repairs yourself you could do all of it for less
than $600.00 in parts.
As far as ride comfort and noise -- its a convertible!
It holds enough that my wife and I can take it on a one week vacation
to the mountains where it shines compared to hardtops. There is
something exhilarating about driving through the mountains with an
open top car.
It can't be your only car unless you have lots of stuff delivered as
it is small but that is what makes it fun.
On Wed, 26 Aug 2009 22:25:47 -0500, Puddin' Man
I put 65,000 miles on my '97 Z3 2.8. As it replaced a motorcycle for
touring, my wife and I found the 6 cu.ft. of trunk space to be adequate for
4 week trips - if both pack very carefully and plan on doing laundry every 5
days or so. I recommend the 6 cyl. as it has plenty of power but still gave
me 26.5 mpg overall with mostly highway and spirited mountain road driving.
Having the E36 suspension and conventional tires, the ride was quite
comfortable for a roadster - much better than the later Z4; although the
handling was more boulevard than hard core sportscar. Also, unlike the
later Z4 and E46 'verts, the top was unlined and had a large plastic rear
My only real expense out of warranty was a repaint due to excessive stone
chip damage - avoid the black paint if at all possible.
I didn't, although it was getting a bit scratched. Even though one can see
a zipper around it, I understand it was a dealer only job - circa $300 for
parts & labor. If I hadn't succombed to the lure of the Z4, I probably
would have replaced the window.
My top was in perfect shape when I traded mine in after 5 1/2 years.
Applying RaggTopp fabric top protectant 2 or 3 times a year helps
However, the OEM boot cover was a royal pain, as it had to be completely
removed when the top was raised, yet top down driving on gravel roads
without it allowed a great deal of dust and dirt to get into the top
compartment. It also took up an inordinate amount of trunk space when the
top was up, so I replaced it with a soft boot cover from HMS motorsports.
I'll assume you mean just flush, etc, and not replacement.
This is the kind of info I hoped to find.
Given good info and a manual, I could likely manage all but C.).
Interesting. Here's the blurb from
This table lists costs of likely repairs for comparison with other
vehicles. The dollar amount includes the cost of the part(s) and
labor (based on $50 per hour) for the typical repair without extras
or add-ons. Like the pricing information, replacement costs can vary
widely depending on region. Expect charges at a new-car dealership
to be slightly higher.
Item Name Repair Cost
A/C Compressor $1,250
Automatic Transmission or Transaxle $1,150
Clutch, Pressure Plate, Bearing $570
Constant Velocity Joints $960
Exhaust System $1,140
Shocks and/or Struts $1,310
Timing Chain or Belt $840
Yes, a sports convertible. Good enough.
Glad you're happy with it.
So long as it'll hold 3-4 bags of groceries, I could manage. I'm not
very active, plan no home improvements, etc. I can rent a truck if
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
Hi Puddin Man:
On the question of the radiator, I mean replacement in total. The
radiator end caps are plastic and typically will fail where the
expansion tank return line exits the upper radiator. It is common to
all 3 series and those in the know replace the thermostat housing and
the water pump at the same time. They are all there together so its
quick and a good investment to prevent a very expensive engine
replacement. That is an aluminum engine and they don't do well when
overheated thanks to a coolant leak.
Ours serves as the daily grocery getter so you would find the trunk to
be large enough for that duty.
I have replaced the rear window and you can do it yourself (the wife
and I did) but it helps if you are flexible enough to do yoga as it is
a contortionists dream trying to get it started. Removal is easy
--installation is a bitch. Our top is original and still works well
and looks new.
On Fri, 28 Aug 2009 14:46:13 -0500, Puddin' Man
1. This is due to a poor design. I don't know if the design has been
corrected by BMW or not.
2. There are aftermarket radiators, some with brass end caps, which
solve the problem completely.
3. 60k seems a little early to change it pre-emptively, and they usually
start leaking before they fail. So if you do a weekly look-over
in the engine compartment, you should notice something wrong long before
it actually goes.
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
On 28 Aug 2009 18:09:50 -0400, email@example.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote:
Damn. I have similar/identical problem with my old '94 Thunderbird:
leaks where plastic interfaces with metal on rad. I haven't had to
replace it 'tho. Only leaks when extremely cold.
Glad to hear. Hate to replace junk with junk.
Thanks. Forewarned is forearmed.
Both the I4 and I6 have aluminum heads and blocks?
Did a fast search and failed to determine what drives the valve-train
(belt, chain, gears). Are either of the I4 or I6 motors "interference"
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
One remark concerning the radiator issues:
It's a very old and well known problem at BMW, I had it very early on my
Everytime the radiator was leaking, once or twice a year, I used to unfasten
it (without dismounting the hoses) and to clamp the clips of the plastic box
aluminum retainer, one by one, vith vice pliers. Repaired as such, it lasted
more than 100 000 km until the outlet broke, completely rotten and cooked by
the heat at 170 000 km.
On the Z3, the radiator design didn"t change. Same plastic boxes, sale
aluminum retainer, same clips.
Last month a blue stain appeared on the garage ground, the box was wet and
It was leaking as the E30 was doing, during the cooling in the garage, never
during the heating. Differential effect between the pressure and the
contraction of the expanded materials.
I asked the dealer, of course, before opening the bonnet, he already
diagnosed the failure and said that the radiator needed to be replaced, the
pump as well, bla bla bla. "Bring your car after your work and leave it for
one day". That I didn't do !
I kept the radiator clean for some days waiting every evening for the leak.
Not so easy to troubleshoot because the leakage lasts for a very short
period and the liquid quickly spreads everywhere. Finally I noticed that it
was coming from the top, from the small hose (8mm internal dia.) returning
to the expansion vase, exactly at the junction with the box. I cut 10 mm of
the hose, put a new clamping ring and that did the trick. The hose was
cracked on its first 5 mm. I have to replace it.
A little late here, I don't check this group often
My daily driver is a '98 Z3 1.9L
I bought it about 3 years ago, just because it was cool looking, and
surprisingly cheap, and it wasn't a Miata. And I needed an economical
alternative to my 11 mpg F350.
It had 98K miles on it, had some paint blemishes, noisy throwout
bearing. Since then it has been my daily driver. As much as I hate my
morning commute, it is so much better with the top down. Summers here in
North Texas limit top-down times to morning, and after dark. It's great
on the open highway after dark, especially alone.
Mine will get 26 mpg in town, and up to 32 on the highway.
Acceleration is adequate. It is the slowest vehicle I own, but it's
still a hoot to drive.
I've had a bit of difficulty finding someone to work on it at a
reasonable price. I can do most of it myself, but when I don't have the
time, energy or the talent, I want to take it to someone who won't screw
me or screw up my car. I may have finally find that guy, but not totally
Mine needs a top. I can get a top-quality top for $400 online. A local
trim shop will change it for $300. I'm about to have that done.
I think I now need a battery. the one in it appears to be the original,
and it's acting a little less frisky.
Changing a flat and using the spare looks like an ordeal. So far I
haven't had to, although I've had my share of flats.
I bought a factory boot cover, used it once. The other comment is right
on track, wish I'd had that advice before I paid $150 for a used one.
When you put the top down, lay a bath towel in the fold of the window
and it won't get scratched. My worn-out top and rotted window surround
still has a nice clear plastic window.
Window lifts do get balky, but it's the channel trim that wears out, not
the motors. The glass tries to cock in the channels. I keep mine going
by spraying silicone spray in the channels
The ride is good, again the softest of any car I own. It still hangs in
well on twisty roads.
Stock seats are awful. It's like sitting on a wooden chair. I eventually
got used to it, but there is still no excuse for not having better
seats. I understand there is a sport seat option that might be better.
I do all the grocery shoppin in our house. I sometimes forget what I'mn
driving and load up a basket. I have always been able to get everything
Trunks often leak around the rear stoplight. that's a gasket,easy to
change. Trunk is small. I can't pack a shotgun in there unless it's a
I'm at 125K miles now, and still doing fine.
All in all, it's a good daily driver. I get compliments on it from
strangers fairly regularly.
I figure mine is worth $5500 today.
If I were buying another, I might consider one with the 2.3 instead of
Puddin' Man wrote:
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