Just bought a 89 325i convertible. Seems straight & solid. What should I do right away to make certain it keeps running good?


Asked by Dec 24, 2011 at 12:50 AM about the 1989 BMW 3 Series 325i Sedan RWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Not sure when the timing belt was done last.  Oil appears clean.  Runs like a little German sewing machine.  Automatic transmission shifts fast and smooth.

13 Answers


Baby it and it'll go forever. Changing oil, coolant, timing belt etc. earlier than usual is a good idea with these but seriously if you baby it you've got nothing to worry about. My '70 1600 has about 250k on her and she runs like new, mostly cause I baby her like no tomorrow.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Definitely have the timing belt changed. If that goes out it will more than likely bend half your valves when it fails. Also water pump and thermostat while that is getting changed. Do change your transmission fluid and filter if you have no record of when it was last changed. If all your meters work properly that is great. What's common is the rechargeable NiCad batteries fail inside the cluster circuit board and the tach and or other meters start to fail. Either replace the Nicads with new ones or the whole cluster (MotoMeter or VDO) are interchangeable depending on year. Your model has an "opened" differential. Which means only one rear wheel gets power. There are was to change to a LSD (Limited Slip Differential) by swapping from another model even a 5 or 6 series by changing the axle flanges. That way you can swap out a differential gear ration more to your liking. Stock are usually a 2.93 (325e) and 3.73 (325i). You can find higher ratios from other series models. And it wouldn't hurt to change your dif' fluid also. Performance chips are a a very low cost on eBay. Get the serial number off your ECU/DME box (under glove box) to purchase the right one. They are pretty easy to install. Good for another 10-15 HP, releases better torque at certain RPMs and usually frees up another +400 RPM redline.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

By the way.. I have owned a 86 325e, 88 325e, 88 325i convertible, and a 89 325iX (AWD), plus other 5 and 7 series models. I have quite a bit of knowledge on BMWs. Both my 86 and 88 325e I had put 280k miles on them before selling. The 88 having a "slush box" or automatic transmission.


Wow Thanks! That's all good info. I have a couple receipts. One is an invoice with a note that says "rear dif service and modification to Posi" with a charge of $49.00. Does that make sense to you? There are receipts for new balljoints and it steers really tight in 05. It seems to have been maintained really well... It has 215,000 miles. If it was on schedule what would the timing be for the next timing belt change? I'll do it, but I want to know if it seems like an emergency. Thanks again! Coy


Well "posi" is a term used from American muscle cars, which is more or less the same thing as a LSD. So yes that means you have a LSD from probably an "is" or "325is" model. The "is" model was the sport which had a LSD, recaro seats, stiffer suspension, and maybe a trunk lip spoiler, and or different front valance that incorporated the fog lights differently. (IIRC) If I remember correctly, the timing belt change intervals is 60k miles. But since you have to remove the fan clutch, radiator, and timing cover, and water pump to change the t-belt then it's worth it to change the water pump and thermostat while your in there. Get some new coolant hoses while your at it. Another common problem is the steering rack leaking and lower ball joints failing after 150k miles or so. Would hear a clunking noise when going over bumps, or something like pulling into a driveway or parking lot ramp lip, if the lower ball joints are shot. To replace the lower ball joints you have to replace the whole lower control arm and rear bushing. Not too difficult, I've done a few myself. Makes it easier if you have a set of ratcheting combo wrenches.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

On the differential, to check for a LSD there's usually a stamp like a large "S" on the bottom. Additionally there should be a metal tag on one of the lower differential cover bolts that should have the ratio stamp on it. Like "3.73", or "4.10" (4.10 you see on the M3) for example. It may also have an "S" stamped on that too.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

What does the stitching look like on the top of the rear seat? Most common is that the leather dries and cracks because it wasn't protected or conditioned over the years. I had to repair mine on my 88.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Patch repair and headrests


Mines been repaired, but there doesn't seem to be receivers for headrests.


You can fabricate your own. If you find a rear seat (or front) with headrests at a junk yard or donor car, remove the seat or backing and look how it is mounted. It's a pretty simple design. Just cut two small holes then insert the plastic caps that guide the headrest post. You can mount the inside supports by fabricating something of metal or plastic to help support them. Or take a set from a donor car. Some people take it another step and take the motor out of a 5 or 7 series model so you can adjust them electrically. It would mean routing the wires and mounting switches, and of course a hot lead to power them.


Is it complicated to change fuel line?


At 100 km/h my 3251989 convertible run at 3.5 rpm. Is it the normal range?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

My tach doesn't work so I'm afraid I can't say. And I've never replaced my fuel lines.

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