It auto-tranny - when was it last replaced. They're good for about 130k
miles if not abused.
Check the condition of the camshaft lobes (open the oil fill cap and
LOOK) - there are bolts holding an oil-spray rail down that liked to
back out and cause a loss of oil-spray. BMW replaced these on late model
M30 engines with loctite'd ones.. which have a circular groove cut into
the head (also visible through the oil cap..)
Other than that - suspension - check it for wobbles at 60-80MPH. If it
does - it needs work (bushings primarily). If on original struts and
shocks they are very tired by now. Check drivers door for cracking
where the door-check (thing that keeps door from opening too wide) goes
into the door - they all do it - there are repair kits for it, hopefully
the repair has been done. Make sure HVAC all works - this car used R12
so if it doesn't - it's expensive to fix (requires an R134 conversion,
new compressor, all that good stuff..)
That's about it. Nice comfortable powerful car. Especially nice if a
5-speed (which were rare..)
Generally - look for things that would be wrong on any 16 year old car..
not that there are that many US ones that old still running around.
My 1990 535i auto has done 180k miles, the last 20k being on LPG. The only
major thing I have had to do is replace the exhaust valve guides due to
wear. It was not burning oil but started suffering backfires on LPG.
In its life I have changed the radiator once, the discs (rotors) once, all
four shock absorbers, water pump and rear sub frame bushes. It still has the
original complete exhaust system.
I have always run it on fully synthetic oil and changed it at twice the
The best car I have owned - it doesn't owe me a penny! I now use it as a
runabout as it saves putting mileage on my Landcruiser!
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