With out a doubt the BMW e36 M40 engines are a very reliable engine. These cars require routine maintenance such as oil changes with synthetic oil, oxygen sensor replacement every 30,000 - 60,000 miles for best fuel air mixture ratio and mpg performance. The cooling systems are prone to wear due to plastic BMW OEM parts however, replacing the thermostat, water pump and radiator with full metal parts is highly suggested.
BMW parts for the E36 series are relatively inexpensive and can be found on the internet comparable to the price of Honda, or Toyota parts. I bought my 1998 BMW 318I in August of 2012 with 176,000 miles. I have not had any mechanical issues with it. I do my own maintainence
Style, performance, gas millage, performance
Idle Speed Control Valve
ABS Pump Relay
Wheel Speed Sensors
Power Steering Hose
Rear Shock Absorber Mount
Outer Ball Joints
Inner Control Arm
I bought this used four years ago when it had 84k. It was my first 'upscale' car and I am totally spoiled. The 4cyl feels like a 6 and it can really move the car. The handling is solid and smooth. I believe that the ASC even kept me out of a major accident. Mine is MT and I average about 28mpg around town (although I'm a very efficient driver). I put about $1300 into fixing an emissions problem when I first got it, but nothing has gone wrong since - other than taillight problems. Still feels like a new car.
MPG. The way the car coasts forever in neutral. The solid, quality feel. Very reliable engine.
Cheap vinyl material on the seats cracks too easily. BMW might also want to look into cup holders that actually hold cups.
Always wanted a 5 series wagon, but when this came available I couldn't help myself. Other than being very slow off the line this is the best driving vehicle I have ever owned. This car is so smooth at highway speeds (and faster!!), that I can't wait to take long road trips. Have only had it for a few months, so can't say much about reliability other than I am not afraid to drive this car long distances.
Harmon Kardon stereo.
Wish I had an armrest, only thing wrong with this vehicle.
I am a car guy as I have 60' & 70's muscle cars. I bought this car in Sept. of 2003 with only 35K on it. This is the best car to have fun in. It has great power for I6, the HK stereo and CD changer are awesome. The only problems I had was the taillight warning light telling me I had a burned out bulb. I found out by using Google that it is related to a faulty Stop light switch, which I replaced for under $20 and never had a problem since. I like one or two others have had a auto transmission problem when serviced but it was covered under the extended warranty, 4 years unlimited mileage, and only cost me $75 for a new transmission. Too Cool!
Being able to put the auto in manual mode, take off the traction control and shift the car. The HK stereo is fantastic, and since I have made some performance upgrades the car is even more fun to drive, if that is possible.
The cup holders are bad, but the Germans believe that driving a BMW should not be distracted by drinking coffee or soda.