The Truth About Cars » E36 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » E36 Piston Slap: Need a “Hans and Franz” ABS Workout? Mon, 30 Jul 2012 11:25:19 +0000


Craig writes:


Some time ago I purchased a 1995 (E36) BMW M3 as a project car. Mostly I have limited myself to bringing the maintenance up to date. I have a more than averagely equipped workshop and can find my way around a car pretty well (I have even built my own Brunton SuperStalker) One problem that has eluded me from day 1 is an intermittent ABS light.

Should I just ditch the ABS forever or is there a way to trouble shoot these things without Hans and Franz at the stealership taking me for a ride?

Sajeev answers:

I tend to like ABS, especially for a car that’s so race course worthy.  The E36 M3 is just a fantastic car in so many ways.  That said, I was disappointed when I googled Brunton SuperStalker and realized it wasn’t a murdered out full-size van with a suped up turbo diesel motor, air-ride suspension and big ass wheels.

A non-van referred to as a SuperStalker?  That’s almost criminal!

Right.  So, about the diagnosis, you have two options.  The first is spending a lot of time on the BMW forums, learning how to diagnose this vintage system and possibly finding a common problem with a somewhat easy to fix solution. Not really your cup of tea?  Then find an independent mechanic that specializes in BMWs and get 1-2 hours of their diagnosis instead.  It will be worth it.

The dealership isn’t the best move here, usually. Cars that are “E36-old” need a shop that is tailor-made to their unique needs.  Many (insert make here) dealerships know a good vintage (insert the same make here) shop and will recommend them to anyone. Yes, I’ve seen it happen! Most importantly, Hans and Franz will always encourage you to work your ABS.

“Hear me now, and believe me later: WORK YOUR E36 ABS!  ARE YOU A GIRLY MAN?” 


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: E36, The Immaculata! Mon, 09 Jul 2012 10:37:44 +0000

Robert writes:

Sajeev -

My wife drives a 1998 328i that we bought new for her- it currently has 64,300 miles on it. She drives it more or less daily (just not very far) so we couldn ’t just get rid of it; it would have to be replaced. I call this car ”The Immaculata” as it lives in covered parking and is often mistaken by her un-car-savvy girlfriends as almost new.

Unfortunately that isn’t the case. It got a new hood and fender after ”an incident”, and it’s ticked off the list of usual E36 demands. New shocks, radiator, etc. However it’s gotten everything it wanted including regular oil changes and radiator and brake flushes and a transmission flush as well.

Now it’s advanced down the list to having the HVAC mix door slam open when the heat comes on. My Independent macanic say $1,500 to fix that but it annoys the wife.

Thought about replacing the car, but I’m kind of stuck. She’s used to her heated seats and the easy power of the BMW. The suggestion of a new Mini was sneered at. However obviously this car, even in great condition as it is won’t be worth enough to make the trade for a new 3 – and she won’t eventry driving my 2011 anyhow.

So… should I bite the bullet and fix the noise she’s complaining about, bite the shotgun shell and dump it while it’s as valuable as it will ever get and buy a new car she doesn’t want, or tell her she’s crazy and that I don’t hear the noise?

Sajeev answers:

I sure as hell wouldn’t trade “up” from a well-preserved E36 to a MINI: that’s like telling me to sell my well-preserved Mark VIII for an MKS. Keyword: well-preserved!

That’s the problem: when you have one of the best examples of a make/model, loved by car nuts and “un-car-savvy” girlfriends alike, there’s no trade that is a trade up.  Provided you don’t win the lottery, of course. And I think the E36 is the best looking and maybe the best performing (these days used as a pure track car) 3-series ever made.  The E30 is frumpy and somewhat overrated (there, I said it), and every 3-er after has been too big, more Mercedes like and less fun to drive.

You could say I have a thing for the E36. Especially when it sounds like you have some misbehaving foam at the heart of the matter.  And after doing a similar thing on my Mercury Cougar, I can say that replacing all parts in the HVAC box (heater core, evaporator, blower motor, any known electric malcontents, etc) makes the money very well spent. The best A/C in the Mehta garage might be the fully reconditioned unit in the Cougar. The air comes out delightfully cold and brutally dense, even at the lowest fan speed. Granted my car has 200,000 miles, the system was on its last legs and I did all the work myself, but this might be a small price to pay for you too.

My point: it’s funny how happy one gets when a large automotive expenditure yields added perks not expected to come with. Plus, you keep your prized vehicle on the road, in tip top shape.

But I could be wrong. So go test drive a lot of cars before committing to the expense.  Who knows, maybe a Hyundai Genesis coupe pushes the right buttons, at the right price. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.


 Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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New or Used: A Flip of the E36 Coin Thu, 16 Jun 2011 23:43:44 +0000

Danny writes:

Dear Sajeev and Steve,

This is not necessarily a purchase conundrum, but I hope that you’ll help me anyway. I’m currently the owner of a lovely, well-kept 1998 BMW 323is Coupe (E36) that comes very close to fulfilling every automotive need of a frugal 24-year old single guy living in a big city—it looks good, it’s a blast to drive, it’s economical to run, and it’s pretty comfy to boot.

I picked it up about a year ago for just over 4 grand, and put about $1900 into it (a new set of Yokos and the replacement of a troublesome driveshaft). I’d love to keep the car into old age (it turned 130k on the clock yesterday), but two things give me pause. One: as much as I love the car, I don’t know if keeping it around will be worth the cost of upkeep (I’m mechanically savvy, but my “garage” is a cold pad of publicly-owned asphalt on a city street). Two: in all likelihood, I will be leaving my current city to start graduate school this fall (and will have no need for a car there).

I would hate to get rid of it—it’s been a joy to own and drive, and I know that if I sell it now, I’ll never be able to make back the money I put into it. I could conceivably leave it with a family member, and resume our relationship after I graduate, but that might not be worth the hassle. So what’s a fella to do?

Sajeev Answers:

There’s no doubt about it, E36s are sweet and you aren’t keeping yours.  No matter when you sell, you’ll never get your “investment” back from it. So go ahead and do it now, considering the time value of money and your needs in college. The only way I see things differently is if you answer these questions with a yes:

Will you move on, grow up, progress as a human being and regret not having this car around as a future project? Will you piss away far too much money finding another version of your true love a decade (or more) from now? Are you as nuts as me with my Fox Body Fords?

Steve Answers:

This is more of a coin flip. You need to first figure out what your family is willing to do. Would they be willing to drive it once every couple weeks for perhaps 20 miles or so? The cost of insuring this vehicle will go down dramatically if you arrange to have a low mileage policy with your insurance company. I know that USAA does this and I’m sure others do so as well. This is what I did when I flew around the country liquidating vehicles and it worked out.

I would estimate your costs may run right around the $1500 range if you have it driven on occasion. Storing it on blocks would be a lot less. But you have to find a place for that. Not an easy thing to do if you live in a county or city that prohibits it. I would ask yourself a simple question if the storing option isn’t available,. Am I willing to spend $65 a month for the next two years to keep this car? That’s a question only you can answer.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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