"Salvaged" 1991 535i - 131000 miles - questions.

I am in the process of shopping for a "new" used BMW, while also repairing on older 325is. I have used this newsgroup often and want to thank everyone
who has sent me reponses on previous posts. It is much appreciated.
Here is the latest. I can get a 1991 535i with Manual Transmission, 131K miles, for $4000.
The car is extremely clean, but it has been wrecked.
I noticed the car pulls to the right, when breaking, ever so slightly, it could almost be by imagination or the tilt of the highway. When I take my hands off the wheel and apply the breaks, the car drifts to the right, a little, but not much really.
My other concern is that the temperature gauge stays square dab at the halfway mark. We drove for about 40 miles and the gauge stayed at the half way mark the whole time. When we stopped and idled, it did not climb.
It passed smog with good numbers.
Any advice? - before I basically write a check and get married to a car for the next 5 years or so??????
Thanks in advance.
- Ben
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There's one more zero in the price than I'd want to deal with.
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Could be brakes - many things could do that. Also suspension problems, possibly due to the wreck. Most things like that are fixable.

That's the way it's supposed to be.
I've seen 525i s for as little as $2500; $4000 might be a little high.
FloydR
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for that price that wasn't wrecked, it's simple. That car could need $4000 to get it right.
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It could need $8000 to get it right. Optimist.
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You would do better to take the $4000 purchase price and add it to the $4000(minimum) repair bill and get yourself an EXCELLENT 535i 5speed for $8000. They are still around if you look. I guarantee you will be better off.
On Sun, 18 Jun 2006 17:13:42 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@news.vrx.net (Richard Sexton) wrote:

Michael
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I don't want to be rude or demean but how many of you actually posting advice like this have actually done it. You could change that 8K to 12K and it would still be true.
There's better cars for half that (4K) frankly, if you're careful.
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Nothing to worry about.

Correct operation.

Make sure the tyres match especially at the front. Get the wheel alignment, tracking etc. wheel balance checked and corrected by a good tyre place.

I am in the UK, but $4k sounds like a lot for a car of this age and this one is has been written off (UK for 'totalled'), so I would be disinclined to give much more than the parts value (probably ~$1k).
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A salvage title can also mean the car has been flooded. What salvage really means is that a previous owner filed an insurance claim, and the insurance company decided that the needed repairs exceeded the value. Given the labor rate and cost of body parts, a reasonably minor crash on a car this old (a recent crash) can result in a repair bill of 4 or 5 thousand dollars.
Somebody with good fabrication skills can take such a project on and make the repairs and sell the car, the profit in this scenario is in the form of "sweat equity." Insurance settles the claim for <whatever> and allows the owner to retain title. The owner finds a freelance body guy that can fix the car cheaper than the insurance company's body shop, and then turns around and passes the car along to another owner. Frequently, the body shop will physically buy the wrecked car, do the repairs, then sell the car to make money.
In any case, if you don't have to fight with the car to keep it on the road, then it is put back together as straight as it can be done. A salvage title should shave a few hundred from the purchase price.

This is normal, the temp guage is not supposed to move.

It's all on you my friend. YOU are the one that has to be comfortable driving a car that the insurance company elected not to repair. Personally, I'd look on www.kbb.com (Kelley Blue book) or any of the equivelent sources, and find the Private Party value for the same year, make, and model with all of the same options in POOR CONDITION. A salvage title can turn an otherwise Excellent car into a Poor car, no questions asked. Keep in mind that once you buy a salvage titled car, you might never be able to sell it because most people will not drive salvage cars. This alone is a good reason to drive the price right into the basement.
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Ben, all these other posters that are saying $4k or more to repair are assuming that it's currently wrecked, I believe.
There's currently a '89 535i in the Seattle papers for $4200, so the price is about right, especially considering that the manual is rare (and desirable IMHO). It really depends upon the quality of the repair - you need to find a high-end body shop and have them inspect the repair. It would be useful if you had the repair order.
FloydR
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MAINTENANCE RECORDS????????????? This is a must have.
don't touch it without a real inspection by a BMW specialist.
I would really think you could find another that doesn't pull, and has a non-wrecked title, but an alignment may fix it.
$4k is good, but it depends if it has been maintained, if not you'll be sorry as it will eat a hole in your wallet. Front end parts are commonnly required - if they are new great, if not a suspension overhaul could be in need.
E34 are amazing, but a bad one (read: neglected) will cost you dearly.
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I see that the Kelly price for this car is $4400 from a private seller and $6700 from a dealer so the price doesn't seem to be completely out of line although you might use the salvage title to ask for a 10 or 15% reduction. It would probably be prudent to run the VIN through CarFax or some other Vehicle History Report service. It will tell you if the car was out of service for a long time, where the car spent it's previous life, and perhaps some indication of the level of damage that led to the salvage title. Check the glove compartment for the owners manual package. It very often contains the original owners name and address which you might be able to use to get the full story on the incident leading to the salvage title. I would see if I could take the car for a fairly long test drive. Many time you won't notice small defects immediately. Drive on some rough roads and do some emergency stops. Take your time and systematically make sure that everything works. You can often get very good value on the salvaged title cars just because so many people are afraid of them.
Good Luck Jack

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I'd not touch it until thoroughly checked - especially since I presume it has been repaired but not correctly?
Heavy impact can cause suspension pick up points to become out of alignment. To correct this needs skill and expensive equipment and must be done before any cosmetic work.
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