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Re: 735i - '88 vs '90 please help (archive)

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Posted by Troy on December 31, 2000 at 21:41:03:

In Reply to: Re: 735i - '88 vs '90 please help posted by Bob H. on December 31, 2000 at 13:02:35:

Thanks Bob - it looks like the '88 in wuestion has had most of the electrical whammies that you wrote about fixed. The car has approx 140k on it, and therefore has had quite a bit of replacement suspension work done on it too. The problems that haven't been fixed have been faithfully disclosed to me. Would you worry about a build date of 4/87 though? Another member wrote that the DME software for this early of a build isn't even acknowledged in any tech. literature.

It looks like this '88 with a large amount of repair work already done would be preferable over the '90 with 91k - as the owner of that car listed it as a 'V6 5-spd' and has 'probably' changed the oil in the last year.

Thanks, and have a great holiday.


I own an '88 E32, bought it new, now have 215K miles on it and it runs like a dream. However, the horror stories about electricals on the '88 are true. Otherwise, the mechanicals are fine and the engine superb. Never a problem with the DME or any of the engine electricals. Just general problems with the wiring circuits, relays, etc. Weak points are: auto transmission wiring, motherboard (capacitor problems), headlight circuits (relays often need resoldering on the high current solder joints), ditto light warning system, hvac sword failure, hvac main computer failure (failed voltage regulator). Over the years, after the warranty ran out, I did most of the diagnosis and repair of these problems myself in order to get the fixes absolutely right and avoid the awful cost of dealer replacements. Now I have a very reliable E32, hardly any more incidents of failure of any kind, since all the bugs have been worked out. Also did all the wear part replacement work myself usually using aftermarket parts from BAS or Eurasian, including replacement of all tie rods, shocks, stabilizers, links, rear carrier (beer can) bushings, all at between 150 and 200K miles, which is about right for these wear items. Also replaced the radiator, but only because the equalizer connection failed(that damn little plastic pipe that the 5mm hose goes on hairline cracked at 150K allowing coolant loss and stink), not a radiator core failure, per se. Also did the instrument motherboard capacitor replacements and redid the hvac IKEA voltage control circuit due to a failure of the solid state voltage regulator. SNC Thompson, the French maker of the original part graciously sent me a replacement integrated circuit regulator free (I wanted to put exactly the original part back in the computer). The only outstanding electrical problem is an erratic chime, and I plan to trace that down this spring (have disconnected it).

What would I do if I were you? If you're notinterested in the challenges or good at repair work, I'd first go for a '90 or newer E32, but if you can't get one or have found an outstanding '88, I'd look hard at the older model, but make sure that all of the electrical problems on an '88 were fixed and that the car had at least 100K on it, and the owner is knowledgeable about the problems that were solved. I'd also go down through a checklist with him, quizzing on each one of the vulnerabilities. Then, I wouldn't be afraid of the car. But, on the other hand, I have the background to fix almost anything electrical or mechanical and don't get too worried when something fails. Usually, I can fix a problem worth several hundred or a thousand at a dealers for almost nothing, by taking a component apart, looking for bad circuits, bad solder joints, clogged ports and the like, then fixing them for almost nothing but the cost of the solder and my time, which is free because I'm a retired engineer.





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