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Need to get E30 M3 running again

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  • Need to get E30 M3 running again


    I have a 90 M3 that has been sitting in a garage for 20+ years due to my priorities shifting with school and then family. Now I need to move it due to the space it was stored at is no longer an option for me.

    Prior to the car sitting in a garage, the car was driven on the weekend without any issues. (I think the only thing at that time that needed replacement was the left lower control arm LOL)

    The car has 112K on the odometer from the last time it was driven and started. I am going to have the car towed to a new location for storage and sale once I clean it up a bit and give it an overall check.

    My question is, since this car has been sitting for so many years, what should my check list entail to get this car road worthy again?

    I disconnected the battery at the time of storage, but what should I tackle in terms of items like flushing fluids and an oil change? What about the gas in the tank, should I add fuel additives?

    If I were to bring this to shop in northern California, what am I looking at for an average cost to give the car a once over and perform the above mentioned steps to get road worthy again providing nothing else is discovered.

    Sorry and one last questions guys, does anyone know of a few reputable shops in N. California (bay area)

    Thanks forum!

  • #2
    if it was not prepped for long term storage, you have a LOT of work ahead of you.

    if gas tank was not left full, the inside of the gas tank and the lift pump are probably rusted out and will need replacement.
    gas should be drained and discarded.
    all fluids replaced.
    brake calipers will need rebuilding.
    every rubber hose in the car should be replaced. brake, fuel and cooling.
    SI board batteries are dead and board will need replacement
    odometer gears may have turned to mush and will need replacement

    there is so much more. i am about 100 labor hours into reviving a 39k mile 88 that sat for the better part of 18years without care. much more to go.
    75 M2
    88 M3


    • #3
      Wow....20+ years?

      It is a given that the old fuel will need to be drained and all the fuel system parts cleaned or replaced. Over that period of time, gasoline becomes almost like varnish, and retains none of the characteristics of gasoline. This would include the fuel tank, all the fuel pipes and hoses, and the injectors.

      Once that is done. I would drain and replace the oil and coolant. If it were me, I would also replace most or all of the rubber hoses. I suppose this doesn't need to be done prior to startup, but they will be very dry and brittle and there is an excellent chance one or more of them will leak or burst soon after the car is started.

      Once the oil and coolant is replaced, I would take out the plugs, squirt in some oil through the plug holes, and then turn over the engine by hand just to see if A: It turns over B: There is any evidence of problems that will become more severe if the car is actually started.

      Next I would get a charged battery, disconnect the fuel pump relay (or otherwise deactivate the fuel pump) and crank the engine over (still without plugs) trying to get some oil pressure and flow through the engine.

      That's about all I can think of. Next step would be to start it and hope for the best.
      Last edited by Ironhead; 04-15-2019, 11:38 AM.


      • #4
        Hi Marshall,

        Thank you for your reply and giving me a little insight into your journey with reviving your 88.

        Unfortunately the car was not prepped for long term storage L

        Would you have a ballpark dollar amount with what a shop will charge to get things back in order for selling the vehicle?



        • #5
          Thank you Ironhead for your reply.

          After reading all of this, I guess the question then comes to mind is:

          How much am I looking at to perform all the necessary work (low end / high end) to get the car working again?

          When selling the car, will I be just breaking even?

          Should I sell as is? Would this be a good route to take.



          • #6
            if you have a GOOD shop do the work, i would guess between $5k and $15k. (if i charged myself $100/hr for my own labor, i would be at $10k so far, not counting parts...)

            too many variables to say anthing about "break even".

            without it known to be in running condition ("ran when parked" does not count), the resale value will be much lower.
            75 M2
            88 M3


            • #7
              Assuming mlytle labor hours apply in your case I'd figure $10,000 - $12,500 just in labor. You could be well into $15,000 to make this poor car roadworthy. You didn't make mention of the interior or exterior which I assume will need some restoration as well. Hard to put a current value on the car without pictures and more information. I've seen cars with your mileage on them sell from between $35k and $60k depending upon condition. I've seen engine-less shells sell in the range of $25k - $35k.

              Prices are on the up so unless there as a catastrophic issue (i.e. seized engine), I think you could spend the money to make the car roadworthy and get your money back and more. Again, much depends on the condition of the interior and exterior.

              From Hagerty:

              Sounds like yours is presently below #4 since it is a non-runner.

              Click image for larger version  Name:	Value.JPG Views:	1 Size:	82.2 KB ID:	1278794
              1990 M3


              • #8
                Thanks guys for all your input on reviving my M3.

                It looks like I have a long road ahead of me for getting the car road-worthy again or opting to sell as is.

                My next task is a try to find a good mechanic or shop in the bay area to get some pricing.

                I am sure this forum will be hearing from me a lot more as questions come up, thank you all again for your guidance.



                • #9
                  In the bay area, the shop/expert of choice is Bill Arnold up in San Rafael. If you're further south, I like Motorspeed West in Santa Clara. Otherwise Edge Motorworks in Mountain View, Carbahn (Steve Dinan's new shop). Out toward Sacramento you would do well with HMB Motorwerks.

                  If you're on Facebook, we have a great local community of owners - see link in my signature.

                  In fact, a local owner just went through a very similar body of work:
                  1989 Lachs
                  1988 Lachs - sold
                  1988 DS - sold
                  Bay Area M3 FB group


                • #10
                  just a hint of what may lie in your car.

                  this was the in tank pump pulled from my car after it had been parked for ~18 years with 1/3 tank of gas...............

                  and the fuel level "dipstick"....

                  and a brake caliper

                  and the brake fluid.

                  and the brake pads actually rusted off the backing plates.

                  75 M2
                  88 M3


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by mlytle View Post
                    just a hint of what may lie in your car.

                    this was the in tank pump pulled from my car after it had been parked for ~18 years with 1/3 tank of gas...............

                    and the fuel level "dipstick"....

                    and a brake caliper

                    and the brake fluid.

                    and the brake pads actually rusted off the backing plates.
                    How much of that, do you think, was from sitting vs what maybe was original brake fluid? Holy crap dude.

                    76 M2


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by irdave View Post

                      How much of that, do you think, was from sitting vs what maybe was original brake fluid? Holy crap dude.

                      it was not the original fluid...system had been flushed before a track day...20years ago. that is just from age. i have almost identical pictures from a 325e i saved that had 20yr brake fluid in it.
                      (long thread on that 325e on the 2002faq)
                      75 M2
                      88 M3


                      • #13
                        Konig-thank you for the shop recommendations. Have you or anyone you know of dealt with a shop call Bryoko Motosports. I have driven by this place time to time and it looks like they specialize in BMWs.

                        Mlytle-Thank you for posting the pictures of what 18+ years of a car sitting can look like on the inside. A long road ahead of me for sure.


                        • Konig
                          Konig commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I'm not familiar with that shop.

                      • #14
                        Would you be interested in doing some of the low level servicing work yourself and depending on how that is going then make a decision if a workshop input is required.
                        What I mean low level is engine oil and filter, air filter, spark plugs, battery, tyre pressures, anti freeze etc.

                        The other thing is you could start purchasing the known servicing items you require that is what I do and when I have spare time in the winter months I do the repairs.

                        Another way of looking at it is brake it down to systems and work through each system then on to the next,
                        ie: cooling system, brakes, charging, fuel, lubrication, ignition etc.

                        There is plenty of help on how to questions on the forum.

                        E30 M3 1987
                        Mini Clubman GT
                        BMW E36 323 Msport
                        Toyota Corona
                        KTM 200EXC
                        Honda CB50 (1979)


                        • #15
                          If it was stored in a well sealed garage that’s a plus. Check for rodent infestation and chewed wires. Etc. Mice love to nest on top of the ECU over the glove box.
                          I bet if you’re not interested in driving the car take a look at putting it up for sale on Bring-a-Trailer and set a reserve.
                          There'll be Spandex jackets one for everyone ...