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In 2009, I bought a 1995 E36 318ti, off a friend for only £200. For this price I was expecting the advertised overheating problem to be serious, but at £200 I thought "What's the worst that can happen". The owner replaced the water pump, radiator (which start from under £50) the thermostat and all the coolant pipes (which was good news for me). When I got her home, I looked around the engine bay in more detail and noticed dripping coolant coming from the thermostat housing. I bought the gasket for a few pence at my local BMW dealer (always try the dealer, as sometimes they are the cheapest) and fitted it (last mechanic didn’t fit one). After this repair she was easy to bleed and the temperature gauge stayed in the 12'oclock position (as all BMW’s should). After six years of ownership I sold her for £900 to buy the E46 compact.
Practicality: Even though this car was shorter than my E36 Saloon and coupe, it was a lot more practical thanks to its 40/60 folding rear seats. Once I had to fit my large mountain bike in the back, and with the seats folded it fitted like a dream. The E36 touring is more practical thou, thanks to the angle of its rear tailgate.
Driving: This car handles a lot differently from the rest of the E36 range. The main reason being is that the rear suspension on these were carried over from the previous generation 3 series (the famous E30). I personally loved this set up, as it made driving a lot more interesting (especially in the wet). If this issue would scare you, I’d avoid the compact and get any other E36 or newer BMW.
Even thou the Engine in my version was the baby 1.8 she felt pretty nippy. This engine was also used in the E30 and early e36 318is BMWs.This car is RWD, so they aren’t that great in the snow, but if you’re steady and careful she will get you there in the end, even if its backwards.
Comfort and interior: The E36 compact is very comfortable and of a good quality, but when you compare it to the rest of the E36 range you will notice a big difference in quality and style. The compacts have a totally different dashboard, which looks more similar to the E30 dash, and other interior trim is of a lower quality, but they were still way ahead of its rivals such as the golfs mk3 etc. Also with the compacts is, you hear a lot more engine noise, but to be honest I did like this issue, I just she had the 323ti 6 cylinder sound.
She did have a lot of extras thou including full white leather seats, rear parking sensors, and if you take out the standard E36 radio you will have a decent radio, due to the decent speakers (as long as the parcel shelf isn’t loose).
This car was very reliable, but saying that she did a few little problems which didn’t cost much at all to fix.
Uneven idle and stalling turned out to be the idle control valve. Mine ICV was dead, to test to see if its working I put a metal stick onto the ICV valve to see if it was making a noise, by listening to the other end of the metal pole. If its buzzing then that’s good news. Many of these can be saved by cleaning them up, as they can get blocked up inside..
The rear spring snapped, and the bushes perished. This is of no fault too the car, I had to drive down an extremely bad conditioned lane.
Insurance on this car was about £400 fully comp with 8 years no claims.
She wasn’t amazing on fuel, but she wasn’t awful. I say she did an average of about 25-29mpg.
I used to service this car by myself or get an ex BMW technician if I had no time.
If I did the service 1 myself it would only cost around £50 for parts and oil. Suspension parts and brakes were very reasonable too (much cheaper than what French manufacture’s charge).
I hope I haven’t missed anything out. Take care.
Although i have only had the car a very short amount of time i have been extremely impressed by almost every aspect of it. For a car of its age 1995 M-reg it hasn't got the slightest bit of rust on it which i find unsurprising really as it is a BMW after all. The paintwork looks like it has just come off the production line with minimal number of stonechips on it. The cars engine is a 1.8 16 valve beast which is chain timed and does 0-50 in 6.6 seconds according to the official statistics and i can quite believe it and on to 60 mph ind 3.3 seconds later.The car has a top end speed of 130 mph but i have only taken mine up to 100 mph as i see a BMW more about image than a speed machine.Another nice thing about the car is that it is rear wheel drive so it is a totally different feeling to driving a front wheel drive car,you get much better energy transfer in comparisson to a front wheel drive car as there isn't as much weight necessarily over the wheels.The feeling you have when you drive one of these cars is great, nearly everybody looks at the car as i drive past i surpose it could be due to the fact i am only 19 but also the cars perception by other people.The cars fuel cosumption is quite good surprisingly especially as it does 35.8 mpg at 70-75mph official figures, however i can vouch for this with my car as i drove it back from Manchester between these speeds most of the time. My BMW compact is probably one of the most high spec ones in regard to all of its optional extras i have, electrics sunroof,electric windows,heated electric mirrors,park distance sensors,alloy wheels ,on board computer with outside temperature, average speed,mpg and tank range all operated on the indicater lever.My car also has one of BMW's top of the range alarm and immobilizers on it with the air sensors on the front windscreen side pillars.The car also has twin airbags and ABS which are all handy to have i think. Nearly all BMW's have s
ervice indicater lights on them to let you know when the cars is due either an oil service or inspections however these do not come cheap in my neck of the woods or anywhere i think, £98 an oil change,and £207 for inspection 1,£287 for inspection 2 but really you have to weigh up the costs against the vehicles value.By this i mean the resale value is retained far more by having a full BMW service history and people can see for themselves the level of care to the car by the owner.I bought this BMW as it has a sense of status driving it but mainly as other cars such as the new Renault parts prices are very close to that of the BMW anyway so i knew which on id rather have. My advice for buying a BMW is to buy one with a full BMW service history of somebody who is maticulous with even what some consider smaller problems like stonechips etc.Also doing a vehicle check can give you a much higher level of confidence when buying.check for the cut and shut signs,an oversized sunroof is sometimes a clever way of trying to hide this so beware.Do you trust the seller, if not walk right away and never feel rushed when buying. Above all do your research before you veiw any car and you will feel much more confident.I hope this reveiw has been of help and any opinions and feedback will be appreciated cheers James :-)