1997 BMW 3 Series User Reviews

1997 BMW 3 Series Review Ratings

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Average Ratings from 59 reviews

  • Performance:4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars 4 / 5
  • Appearance:4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars 4.4 / 5
  • Build Quality:4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars 4.4 / 5
  • Overall: 4.6 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars 4.6 / 5

Review Highlights Click to filter reviews below

PROS
"ride" 31 reviews
"handling" 20 reviews
"power" 20 reviews
"fuel economy" 11 reviews
"reliable car" 10 reviews
CONS
"expensive car" 8 reviews
"power" 8 reviews
"high maintenance" 5 reviews
"doors" 4 reviews
"transmission" 3 reviews

User Reviews

Displaying 1 - 10 of 59 1997 BMW 3 Series reviews.

Paul writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328i Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
5

Pros

SMOOTH RIDE

Cons

EXSPENSIVE

135

The Balls — Car is extremely tight even with high miles. Not loose in the front end like most high mile cars and smooth riding. I've owned Fords and Chevys before and they don't compare. Repairs can be expensive but if you can do anything yourself it's not to bad, plus shopping around for parts on the internet can save you loads of money. Bavarian Auto is one of the best places to get parts for BMW's online and you will be sure to get the right parts and not waste your time and money. 135,000 miles is still considered low miles for a BMW, but any american made car with over 100,000 is pushing it. I would still feel very confident with driving this car on long trips like Florida too.

Primary Use: Commuting to work

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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Philip writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328is Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
5

Pros

Fast, great handling, well built. reliable

Cons

nothing

75

97 328is — This car may be 12 years old, but it still manages to preform and rive like a brand new car. It blends BMW driving dynamics with great luxury. It also feels really solid when your driving it. Its fun and really reliable.

Primary Use: Commuting to work

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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DaAvTh writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328i Review
Accessories:
Brakes:
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Family Car:
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Overall:
4

Pros

Style, Engine Layout, MPG,  On Board Computer, Handling, Reliability, Supportive Community, Easily Self Maintained

Cons

Transmission, Original Waterpump, Door Panels, Dealer Repair Costs

DaAvTh
65

Simply, A Keeper — It's taken a while for me to come up with a comprehensive review on this vehicle based off of the personal experience, but here it is: Starting with, The Bad: So far the only major repair needed was after the accessory belt (not timing) that blew on the highway and ended up requiring a new waterpump and belts. All could've been avoided had I replaced the belts when I notice they were worn, but was low on funds. The repair was about $800+ total at firestone. Planned on getting these components replaced regardless since these models had a plastic impeller in the original waterpumps that were prone to breaking. So since I wasn't sure if it was already replaced I planned on having it done with the belts anyway. (FYI: Most new waterpumps have metal impellers now) The transmission shifts fine and doesn't slip. So what's the problem you ask? Well, once the transmission fluid gets warmed up from highway driving/constant driving when you brake suddenly or "hard" it causes the fluid to rush forward and the transmission has an annoying shudder. In my case, it still drives fine after the shudder; nonetheless it worries me so I try to brake softly at red lights & stop signs When you try to pull off too fast after a hard stop it slips some and jumps into gear, but after that it's smooth sailing (for me). Other than that the some speakers are going in & out need to be replaced and I want to get my seats reupholstered. Transmission Info: After experiencing this I read forums to see what the issue was and thats were I learned of some American E36s auto transmissions were being produced/made by GM. =/ So due to the transmission issue I've done some research in my area and found a reputable company (specializing in BMWs, of course) that will do the complete auto to manual trans swap (including the transmission, pedals, shifter, computer adjustment, drive shaft, etc.) for around $1800 if I remember correctly. Not bad considering regular transmission repair/replacement cost about that much. On the plus side I wanted the car in manual anyway! And now onto, The Good: This car is an excellent all-around vehicle despite being classified as a luxury car. Great daily driver, feels solid with good gas mileage when driven properly and power when you need it (6 cyl). The steering feels very connected with the road. I thoroughly appreciate the engine layout since it is easy access for most "do-it-yourself" (DIY) tasks like spark plugs, oil changes & filter, air filter, coil packs, etc, you name it. Take it from a man who has owned two Hondas previously (96 Accord Coupe & 96 Prelude) when it comes to reliability this car is up there with them. From any routine maintenance issues to minor/major repairs this car is about equal to my accord (didn't own the prelude long enough to state). Since I've bought the 3-series (Summer of 2012) the minor DIY things I've performed was an oil change, air filter change, spark plugs, hood struts, tail lights, which were all at my leisure and not necessarily needed. I just like to tune a car up that I just bought so I know it's up to date. Other than that I replaced the O2 sensors myself once the check engine code ran up at Autozone. Ordered those sensors off of amazon. The car has started up each and every time with no issue and has brought me back and forth from NC to CT twice, from NC to MD twice, and countless times back and forth between home and school (about 65 miles/1hour one way). This is all besides random other short trips and daily driving. Even electrically the car is up to par. I personally love the look of these models. In my opinion they are excellent choices for stylish and feature filled daily drivers; great first cars for any teen who is or has family that knows their way around a wrench or can find reliable repair specialist to avoid the dealership prices. Even from my experience have been able to find a video or detailed step by step instruction on almost any repair I've wanted to do on this car. Many people are out there just to help with videos and advice. I plan on doing a complete brake job myself soon. With an MPG gauge, outdoor temp sensor, advanced trip computer, and other features I didn't expect them to have in the mid 90's I would recommend this car to anyone. Advice/Heads-Up: - If you aren't looking for a beemer DO NOT sit in one, that's how it got me! Haha - If you are thinking of purchasing one of these cars, try to avoid the GM auto transmissions. - The forums and DIY blogs for these cars and BMWs in general are extensive and by far have the most supportive community. ( http://www.bimmerdiy.com/dir/e36 ) - Door Panels hanging off are a common issue and can be taken car of. - Avoid the dealership except for OEM parts you can't buy elsewhere. - Amazon has all your tune-up needs. My apologies for such a long review but I am passionate about this car and felt I wanted to share it with the carguru community! Hope this helps someone!

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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Sam writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328is Review
Back Seats:
Cargo Capacity:
Family Car:
Fuel Economy:
Front Seats:
Handling:
Maintenance Cost:
Price:
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5

Pros

looks,performance, fun to drive.

Cons

nothing

65

Excellent Car Would Have One Again And Again — performance: smooth fast acceleration, good brakes, handling is good build quality: its german its excellent build will last a llifetime! appearance: still looks good today for a 14 year old car. cost of ownership: keep it serviced and it shouldnt want for much fun factor: its rear wheel drive what more do you want?

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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Mohammed writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328i Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
4

Pros

acceleration

Cons

cost

55

Nice One — just hate it is manual.... cars should be!!! on the other hand it is good in terms of stability i drove it with 220km/hr and it still could go :)) how ever it is little old and u have to pay!!!

Primary Use: Commuting to work

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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RickELake writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 318ti Review
Back Seats:
Cargo Capacity:
Daily Commute:
Family Car:
Fuel Economy:
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Handling:
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5

Pros

Excellent styling, ride, interior room, build quality and just plain fun to drive.

Cons

Who doesn't want more power - but this little inline 1.9 4 cylinder pumps out nearly 140hp and returns a solid 30 mpg.....

RickELake
635

The True Spiritual Successor To The Bmw 2002tii — Fans of the BBC's Dr.Who know that his preferred method of transportation - The Tardis - is much bigger on the inside than its exterior dimensions would suggest. Much the same is true of the BMW 318ti E36 Compact. Imported to The States for model years 1995 through 1999, this ' entry level ' 3 Series at first appears like they lopped off the trunk of a Coupe or Sedan but in reality - ithe 318ti has more interior room, more rear leg room and more headroom than either the E36 coupe or the sedan. On top of that you get the utility of a mini SUV hatchback. With the wheels pushed to with a foot of all four corners, the handling is superb in an almost go-kart fashion - and it drives very similar to the legendary 2002tii, last seen in the USA in 1974. The M-Sport was the top of the line variation, with special paint colors ( Alaska Blue Metallic among them ), sport suspension, larger 15" light alloy wheels, ASC, leather sport seats with cloth inserts, electric sunroof, special side trim and M3 front/rear/side fascia. With a base price $5000 less than the 318i 2 and 4 door offerings ( and that was a whopping 20% back then ), this little gem outhandled them both and provided better interior comfort and utility to boot!..... Thinking Of Buying a 318ti?....here are the problem areas to look for.... 1. The door panels and front side windows are enormous and specific to this car. To make matters worse, the door clips that hold the panels on the car - 10 Numbered and individual different clips for each door - are no longer made by BMW. 2. The windows come off-track because they are so large and heavy....check the regulators and glide brackets. 3. The exterior door handle seals rot and decay easily.... 4. The lower seal for the front windshield is part of the cowl vents that surround the wiper arms - and these are always deteriorated allowing water and debris to invade the electronics. 5. The exterior horizontal window wipe seal on each door is usually long past useful, allowing water into the doors... 6. The fog lights are precarious close to the ground...and curbs...and the bumper corners. If they survived intact they are likely clouded over. Find a rust free example with all the above issues properly addressed, and you've really got something to have fun with.....

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Jouko writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 318i Review
Back Seats:
Cargo Capacity:
Family Car:
Fuel Economy:
Front Seats:
Handling:
Maintenance Cost:
Price:
Power:
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Overall:
5

Pros

It's like a reliable pet <3

Cons

I hate to fear that somebody does a damage to it, e.g. in parking lot with their doors, or just vandalism. The car has no cons.

45

A Great Everyday Car From The Creators Of The Ultimate Driving Machines. — Fun Factor - is this car fun to drive? - Yes it is, though I am a BMW fan. So my argument is not objective... But it's like a basic car but just better, done with care, soul and expertise. A car made for driving, made for the driver, not the people who just want 4 wheels and plastic cupholders for the family of 7. It's made to people who want to enjoy driving, not everything else during driving. Sorry for my english, had to use dictionary a little.

Primary Use: Commuting to work

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Jacob writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 318i Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
5

Pros

Quick and lightweight

Cons

Hard to to get professional service without going to the Twin Cities

85

Great Car For A Beginning Bmw Enthusiast — My Bimmer is quicker than you would expect from a 1.9L. It also is capable of going 140mph on the high end. It has 5 shifting modes: Autoomatic, Sport, Manual, Mountain, and Towing. The BMW brakes hard with its four disc brakes. It is also equiped with driver controlled traction control and stability management. The 318Ti is a two door that seats 5 comfortably. The interior is clean and austere, but it has a lot of new age features despite it being 12 years old. I have a six CD changer, thermometer, stereo controls, and trip computer.It turns very tight and the handling is stiff. It still has a very comfortable ride, though. It also has storage. I can fit 4 full sets of golf clubs in the trunk and still have room left over. Practical and still a ton of fun to drive. It is different than most BMWs because it's a hatchback. Mine is 256/7 Calypso Red Metallic. I have the upgraded factory 15" rims. It is built as solid as a tank with no rattles or squeaks even with over 100,000 miles on it. It's fun to drive and cheap to own. I get around 35 miles per gallon on the highway and 24 in the city. No repairs other than basic maintanence.

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Justin writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
5

Pros

handling, gas mileage, overall performance

Cons

window regulators, dealer costs for maintenance, unloved by the general BMW community (4-cylinder; hatchback)

55

'97 Bmw 318ti Sport — Car is a '97 318ti Sport 5-speed (2-door hatchback) Bought this car used about one year ago with 178,000 miles. Previous owner took great care of the car. Maintenance has been very inexpensive, and can be if you avoid the dealership. Performance is about what you'd expect from a 4-cylinder, however it's a little enhanced thanks to the lower weight of the car compared with the coupe/sedan. Handling is outstanding, at least compared to my previous cars. Quality - overall pretty good. The window regulators have been an issue, but that's common with the E36 (and other German cars I hear). Interior materials could be better, but this was basically their entry model, so BMW saved money wherever they could. Overall I'd give it an A- Appearance - I love it. I've always loved the boxy shape of the E36, whether it was the sedan, coupe, or hatchback. I've surprised numerous people when telling them what year the car is when they've asked. Straight-on shot of the rear isn't the greatest, but overall I like the car, and always have, even before I owned it. CoO - Not very much. Again, if you find an independant shop of do some work yourself, maintenance costs are minimal. Take it to the dealer and you'll pay ($120/hr labor at my local dealer). Mileage is fantastic, 27-30mpg in the city, 31-35 on the highway. And being a 4-cylinder, it doesn't require Premium gas, only 89 octane minimum. So where there's only 87 & 91 octane you'll have to spring for premium, but in most parts of the US you can get by with midgrade. Fun - Tremendous. I've never had this much fun with a car I owned (granted my previous car's weren't the greatest). Took a trip to the Denver/Boulder area shortly after getting the car and had a blast in the mountains. Left the car in 2nd & 3rd gear while doing some mountain driving, reaching speeds close to 60mph, and still averaged 35mpg. The car handles incredibly, and I can't wait to get my summer tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R's) on. Overall - Wonderful car. A tremendous buy if you can find a decent one cheaply. Hatchbacks have never been popular in the US, and neither have 4-cylinder BMW's, but when you combine the two it's wonderful. Add in the fact that you can easily swap in a 6-cylinder (including the S50/52 from the M3) and you have a terrific car for the cost.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Sudheer writes:
1997 BMW 3 Series 328i Review
Appearance:
Performance:
Quality:
Overall:
5

Pros

Reasonable horsepower, handles great

Cons

Small, leather wears badly

75

Personally Love This Car — Loved this car for the few years I drove it. Always handled well in dry and wet weather. Turning traction control system off allowed for more fun driving. Back seat space is kinda tight, friends never wanted to pile up in this thing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 59 1997 BMW 3 Series reviews.

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Reviews From Other Years

2014 BMW 3 Series Reviews

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After driving my 2010 Jetta Sportwagen for 50,000 miles, I test drove the new 328d that BMW was finally offering in North America. I was looking for an automatic for my daily commute (my Jetta was a ... Read More

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2013 BMW 3 Series Reviews

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Read all 4 2013 BMW 3 Series reviews

2012 BMW 3 Series Reviews

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It's The Honda Accord Of Our Age By Aaron

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Read all 5 2012 BMW 3 Series reviews

2011 BMW 3 Series Reviews

Typical Bmw. Drives Great, Looks Great. By canicken

I've owned a few 3-series BMW's. This is the 3rd. My favorite was an E36 1999 325is. It was a manual transmission and was a blast to drive. I then had the E46, a 2001 325i coupe. It was also a gr... Read More

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Power and handling are exceptional. In addition, I am very happy with the X drive. Last winter, the car had absolutely no problems in the snow. Even maneuvered well over the ice. The vehicle ... Read More

Read all 32 2011 BMW 3 Series reviews

2010 BMW 3 Series Reviews

Car Of The Gods By MattBMW

There isn't much I can say about this car that you can't already tell by looking at it but lets be honest here Looks? sexy beast Drive? it carves the road like an olympic ice skater what more could ... Read More

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Appreciate the handling of this model. The turbo boost gives plenty of power. High performance luxury sports car that delivers. The feel behind the wheel is smooth, solid, tight, and gives the driv... Read More

Read all 14 2010 BMW 3 Series reviews

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