Worst designed BMW ever. From plastic radiator to plastic fins on the water pump blade to a computer that does not adequately drain when the car is taken to a car wash such that is floods and shorts out.
Bought this second or third hand from a guy who blew the head gasket. I was pissed, but 2600 for a gasket vs 1200 for a new engine package, I swapped engines. Parts are cheap for this car folks, if you are handy you can conquer this one. FYI the broken gasket engine was because he overheated it by not changing the water pump at regular guidelines. You need to do matinence on the car, just regular stuff, she will run forever. Ive only replaced water pump and alternator at regular intervals once... so this car has been beaten bad. Ive also done suspension parts, small stabilizers and struts, routine. I kill this thing all over the USA and she is a trooper... Im impressed.
I love the way the car looks, performs, and drives, however failing electrical system, and computer system is very disappointing. Windows have failed 4 times. Sandia BMW wants $1100 to fix computer/sensor. Labor charge ($90) per hour plus outrageous part costs make this car difficult to own. I don't intend to buy another.
Really fun car to drive...I bought it for my son and I love driving it also..I have a new audi a4 and the BMW still rides as well. Have had all the typical 92 bmw problems. water pump, rear shocks, thermostat, hoses...but, overall a great car...I do wish the labor was cheaper...car mechanics see BMW and charge you acordingly...they see ya coming...
The E36 M50 engines are reliable if you spend the money to get them that way... Before buying or shortly after, make sure to replace the plastic waterpump housing and the waterpump itself. The plastic used on both is prone to breaking and will overheat the car. Also, replacing the radiator and thermostat is a good thing to do if it has never been done before. The rear shock mounts will fail also. Replace these with E46 mounts. The ignition coils will need to be replaced also if they are original. Be sure to buy a car that has been serviced regularly. Transmissions should not be an issue, but the auto does have more failure than the manual.