Most car enthusiasts aren’t rich folk. Most car enthusiasts have rather small budgets, even fans of expensive brands like BMW. There’s really no issue with that, as there are many superb classic BMWs for sale in classifieds. However, the problem with buying older cars is that they can be unreliable. BMW’s are actually pretty solid, especially the parts that matter, such as engines and gearboxes. But, still, old cars have issues, there’s no two ways about it. Fixing them can be annoying, especially for young, inexperienced enthusiasts. So which BMW part or repair job has frustrated you the most during you time with the brand?
When I first bought my E36 328i, I was an idiot. I didn’t know anything about anything (some might argue that that’s still true) and messed up a lot. Fortunately, the kind gentleman I bought my car from took incredible care of it. It was in beautiful condition and in perfect running order. In fact, the only thing wrong with it at the time of me buying it was that its driver-side power door lock didn’t work. But it worked just fine manually, so all was good. But when a punk 17/18 year old owns it, things go south quick.
Over the years, I spent many days, nights and weekends trying to fix certain parts of my old car. Many nights were spent scouring forums for answers to my problems, things I just didn’t know. However, the one thing that annoyed me most, by far and away, was the entire coolant system. From the radiator to the water pump to the fan clutch to the heater core, everything that had to do with either coolant or cooling the engine made my blood boil. I had to replace the radiator twice, went through three fan clutches, two fans and two water pumps. Admittedly, I did 240,000 miles, so that’s actually not that bad. The worst part of it all though was bleeding the air out of the system.
Then there’s the heater core. While not too expensive and not actually that difficult to actually replace, getting to the heater core in an E36 is more maddening than anything I’ve ever done. It’s almost as if BMW designed the heater core first and the rest of the car around it, as it’s behind the dashboard with what feels like days worth of work just to get to it. Ugh, I’m have shell shock just thinking about it. Oh, and one time my coolant overflow bottle exploded, dumping its entire contents onto the ground. This left me completely stranded. On the Garden State Parkway. In a blizzard. At night. For about four hours.
Aside from that, though, my E36 was actually pretty reliable as it lasted me almost 10 years and the aforementioned 240,000 miles before finally dying on me. So what is the most annoying repair/part/job on a BMW that you’ve experienced?