Running Reports – BMW E36 323i Convertible pt3

BMW 323i Convertible (E36 2.5l M52) – Calypso Red
Starting mileage –  127287 30th September 2012 – 134296 20th April 2014
Total Miles – 6986
MPG – 23.29mpg

Costs per mile – £0.264 Petrol, £0.224 Servicing, £0.145 Expenses (Insurance, Tax, MoT) = £0.633 Total

Costs –

  • £172 – 2x Michelin Primacy HP (Rear) 225/50/16
  • £97 – Oil & Filter & Brake Light Switch
  • £10 – Puncture front right
  • £40 MoT
  • £325 – Insurance
  • £258 – Water pump, belt tensioner, thermostat
  • £225 – Vehicle Excise Duty
  • £10 – Puncture rear right
  • £394 – Clutch
  • £100 – Battery
  • £140 – Window Regulator
  • £40 – MoT
  • £285 – 2x Front Bottom Arms 
  • £245 – Insurance
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Cat n Fiddle Sunset

So I’m pretty much up to year 3 of ownership of my 323i, like the last running report, it’s been over a year since the previous report, and I find myself looking at a list of expensive expenses, and yet still thinking generally it hasn’t been that bad. Most of it is again, just general expected running costs, and the demons we have to pay annually. I can at least console myself with the fact that I believe the depreciation, which is a big expense on newer metal, should at least be minimal, particularly based on the continued feedback from the garage, tyre centre and other casual observers that it’s “very tidy for one of these”. 

Two of the repairs are annoying though, the water pump & right bottom arm were first replaced at 117,000 miles just after I’d first purchased the car. A few months ago, and having only covered 13,000 miles in that time I noticed a noise with the bonnet lifted, which was eventually traced to the belt tensioner, but the water pump also had play & so was replaced. Then for this years MoT both bottom arms were replaced to cure ball joint issues, so the right hand had only covered 17,000 miles. I’m rather hoping both replacements are of better quality as 13-17,000 miles is what I expect of spark plugs & tyres, not water pumps & suspension components. But, the ball joints are all she failed the MoT on, and no other advisories, so for a 17 year old 134,000 mile car I’m very happy with that.

The battery first gave me a shot across the bow during the snow of early 2013, when I came to start it one day and it was utterly flat. I assumed down to leaving a light on as it was fine after that for another 12 months, but during the next winter it gave me two very lazy starts, and it I didn’t wait for a third to get down to ECP for a replacement. The clutch is expected really on the mileage, I had a few suspicions about it for a while, but the smells exiting Babbacombe beach road (1:3) meant I didn’t wait long after returning off holiday to get it sorted. I left it to the garages discretion re the dual mass flywheel, they usually just replace anything else that’s required, so this time round at least that hasn’t been done.

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“On the Beach” – Weston-Super-Mare

But the mileage keeps ticking away, and reliability has been such I’ve always been confident of just being able to jump in it & take it to the other end of the country. Flat battery besides, it’s always started first turn, and uses very little oil. Overall MPG is down a tad, but I think I’ve been doing more local runs, less long runs, and the shorter runs have been ever more spirited around the peaks. Actually comparing notes of running costs & reliability between my 323 and my dads Focus 1.8i a few months ago, one conclusion was quickly come to, that the BMW was actually no more expensive to run. Needless to say a few weeks later he’d chopped in the 1999 Focus against a loaded 2001 E39 525i Touring, netted for £1000 after trade in. Bargain!

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As mentioned at the close of my last report, despite initial intentions to maintain the car on the OEM spec Dunlop’s the car had always been run on, after a cheeky tweet to Michelin resulted in some discounted Michelin Primacy HP tyres (many thanks!), it’s now running those on the rear, and thus far I’ve been very impressed, quiet, plenty of grip, pretty progressive. Even managed a run out in the snow on them, though I wouldn’t really recommend that as they are a summer tyre. It did however bring an issue up with Wingerworth Tyres who’d I’d been using for years, phoned them up to check the price for just fitting & that everything would be fine pre purchasing the tyres. Rocked up to get them fitted a few days later & it was made pretty clear that they weren’t interested in doing it any time soon. So rolled down the road & tried my luck & Jons Tyres nearer to town, who agreed to do it for the same price, and there & then on the spot. Funnily enough, that’s now where the repeat business keeps going for the repairs & for future tyres. Current tyre wear suggests I’ll probably need another set of Michelin’s for the rear before the front Dunlop’s get replaced…

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The window regulator fault had been a niggle for a bit, the window had ceased to close properly (just by a mm or two), and juddered as it got to the top. One of those, must get round to it jobs, didn’t, and eventually booked it in at the garage to get it sorted as it was gradually getting worse. Turned out the teeth had gone at the end of the mechanism, I suspect down to a frozen window during the harsh winter. Was so so nice to get back in again after it had been done, nice quiet door shut again, and no more whistle on the dual carriageway.

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Current niggles:
There’s a few left unfortunately, the clip on the right side front of the internal roof cover has broken, this means replacing the whole plastic trim which for the part is over £200 new, so I’m going to investigate various glues first to see if we can cure it otherwise, as forum research suggest the replacements don’t necessarily last long either. The elastic on the rear of the roof hasn’t quite got full tension either, which means you have to push the roof out of the way of the rear deck when putting it down, a minor niggle, but one I’d like sorting.
The bottom half of the odometer doesn’t work either when it is cold, another common fault on E36 generally, so need at some point to decide between DIY, local sparky, or sending off the cluster.

There’s also a small amount of corrosion on the  panel below the boot lid, so that’s on the ‘must do’ list too. Oh and around the rear screen the roof is a bit green, so I’ve already got in the Renovo roof cleaner & protector & rear screen cleaner to put through the paces when we get a decent dry spell, and she needs a bloody good clean, but lately driving has taken priority over cleaning.

None of them major, but just things to keep on top of this coming year. The service indicators down to two green lights, so that means an inspection service will be due this year (oil, filters & plugs) so that’ll be on the cards before too long too, but it’s a pretty easy job on these, so nothing to worry about, and as ever the Peake code scanner will earn its keep.

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