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I Love my E-30

Posted by Bob in Everett 
January 01, 2012 10:30PM
The E-30 is just about as complicated a car as I want. I was trying to determine why the sunroof on the spouse's 740 would open and not close...had to go to a shop and have the scan tool give it the once over. Turns out the motor module was not communicating with the car CAN bus. The switch on the sunroof panel does not control the motor, it tells the computer to tell the motor what to do. The motor has quite a complex electronic circuit on it including a hall effect transistor that counts the motor revs and keeps track of them. So, a failure of a part on the circuit card that probably cost pennies made it necessary to replace the whole module. Fortunately a local "entrepreneur" was parting out a similar car and only needed $50 for the sunroof motor module. Lo and behold, the replacement worked the first time. A random success. Never had this problem with a manual sunroof on an E-30.

Similar story on the rear door window regulator on the 740. The cable that the motor winds around a capstan to move the window up and down had slipped off a pulley and was wedged between the pulley and the frame of the regulator. The groove in the pulley was too shallow to keep the cable from jumping out of the groove. It is a plastic part that probably cost 10 cents to manufacture. It would have cost no more to make it have a deeper groove and it would not have failed. Might have cost 15 cents to make the part of metal and it would never fail.

Give me the simplicity of the E-30. It handles well, goes fast and is fun. :burnout:

Bob in Everett
January 03, 2012 04:39AM
This is to prove less is more.
rkj
January 03, 2012 01:18PM
Quote
Bob in Everett
The E-30 is just about as complicated a car as I want. I was trying to determine why the sunroof on the spouse's 740 would open and not close...had to go to a shop and have the scan tool give it the once over. Turns out the motor module was not communicating with the car CAN bus. The switch on the sunroof panel does not control the motor, it tells the computer to tell the motor what to do. The motor has quite a complex electronic circuit on it including a hall effect transistor that counts the motor revs and keeps track of them. So, a failure of a part on the circuit card that probably cost pennies made it necessary to replace the whole module. Fortunately a local "entrepreneur" was parting out a similar car and only needed $50 for the sunroof motor module. Lo and behold, the replacement worked the first time. A random success. Never had this problem with a manual sunroof on an E-30.

Similar story on the rear door window regulator on the 740. The cable that the motor winds around a capstan to move the window up and down had slipped off a pulley and was wedged between the pulley and the frame of the regulator. The groove in the pulley was too shallow to keep the cable from jumping out of the groove. It is a plastic part that probably cost 10 cents to manufacture. It would have cost no more to make it have a deeper groove and it would not have failed. Might have cost 15 cents to make the part of metal and it would never fail.

Give me the simplicity of the E-30. It handles well, goes fast and is fun. :burnout:

As I sit here looking at newer Bmws for my wife I ponder this daily Bob....
January 03, 2012 09:04PM
The E-38 is a drivers dream car but when even the sunroof motor has to be controlled with a computer it has gone a bit over the top. The feature on the key fob that allows the windows and sunroof to be opened or closed all at once requires a lot of computer control and wiring for them too. It is a feature that might get used a dozen times in the life of the car and certainly not necessary for the car to be a terrific driver and get great gas mileage. At the low speed limits we have here, it gets close to 30 mpg and at 80 mph it gets about 25.5 mpg. So far, it has been mostly reliable but has required some expensive trim pieces and suspension parts to be replaced. I can hardly wait for the 140 amp water cooled alternator to fail. If that happens the battery will definitely not last long enough to limp home.

The newer cars are even more integrated. The Sequential Manual Transmission is a sort of normal transmission with a set of computer controlled hydraulic actuators to control the clutch and operate the shift lever. The control is so complex that it will be impossible to adapt it to a different car if one thought they wanted one. It even controls the throttle by wire actuator to make the "manual" shift like an automatic. Who knows, it might be more reliable than the BMW automatic transmissions. :burnout:

Bob in Everett
January 04, 2012 05:05PM
The problem for any car manufacturer is that they can not appear to be technologically inferior to the competition. If one manufac. is using canbus, then ultimately, they all will.

My feeling is at this point, they might as well weld the hood shut. You pretty much need the dealer scan tool to see what is going on and each year they get more and more complex.

alan
January 04, 2012 08:07PM
That is true, competition will prevail. The problem is the price of the scan tool needed to read its mind. If one could buy the tool for a reasonable price it would be a benefit to diagnosis for the home mechanic or hobbyist. The way it is now, these new cars will not be easily modified and customized by aficionados of old cars. They get junked and parted out with the slightest damage. Insurance costs go up and new cars become less affordable. The used cars are less affordable due to the cost of maintenance at high end shops that can read the computer. Makes the E-30 much more affordable to keep up and it is still fun to drive. Wish I had room to store a couple of parts cars.

With laptop computers as cheap as they are, all that would be needed is an adapter for the car to the computer and the software.

Bob in Everett
January 04, 2012 09:49PM
Quote
alanrw
My feeling is at this point, they might as well weld the hood shut. You pretty much need the dealer scan tool to see what is going on and each year they get more and more complex.
Every time I start to think this, I remember back to when I was a kid back in the early 70's, and cars started getting fuel injection, electronic ignition, and eventually computers. My dad bitched and moaned to everyone that would listen that cars were all getting to be run by computers, and pretty soon they'd be so complex there would be nothing for the home mechanic to do any more because only the dealers could afford the equipment needed to repair them. He may have even complained that they might as well weld the hood shut. smiling smiley

It's the same as it's ever been. Cars always get more complicated, and we home mechanics adapt. A few years ago I bought my first OBD-II scanner and software to run on my laptop. On cars built later than 1995 it's been a great tool, and I frequently get asked by friends and family to scan their cars when the CEL comes on. Years ago, the idea of having such a tool would have been in the realm of Star Trek fantasy. I fret as much as the next guy when the technology intrudes, for example when I discovered that I couldn't do a compression check on our 04 Mazda because the individual coils made it impossible to crank the engine with the spark plugs out. Or when I have to fight to change a headlight bulb because there's so much crap in the way. But then I remember all the times changing points, or adjusting carburetors, or fighting with drum brakes, and on balance I think the good old days weren't as good as they seem in hindsight.

But OK, I'll admit that I still think the E30 is about the perfect balance of technology and ease of repair. smiling smiley

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
January 04, 2012 09:55PM
Quote
Bob in Everett
The problem is the price of the scan tool needed to read its mind. If one could buy the tool for a reasonable price it would be a benefit to diagnosis for the home mechanic or hobbyist.
I forget what I paid for my OBD-II scanner, but the newer version of what I've got sells for US$30 on Amazon.

Sure it's not what a professional garage would have, but it's everything most people will need.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
January 05, 2012 01:57PM
An example:

Change air filter on E30: 5 min job
Change air filter on E46 320d: 45 min job (first time I ever did it)

On the other hand:
Change cabin air filter on E46: 30 second job
Change cabin air filter on some EU Ford's: 2 hour job (need to take out throttle pedal, try not to break the central console plastic, break the old filter when removing and almost break the new filter upon installing it)
Change cabin air filter on E30: cabin air what?

Oil changes take about the same time on the E30 and the E46. Resetting service indicator on the E46 is easier (some menu tricks) whereas on the E30 I had to find my fused wire and locate the correct pins (that was before I was smart enough to mark them with paint). Changing brakes is as easy. The E46 is so good, no warning light has ever come up (except for the airbag light, due to a bad wire contact after sliding the seat back) over the last 70.000 km. I checked the DTC's once with the scanner at work, not a single one present.

Scantools - both handheld and on laptop - are not extremely expensive, a good wrench or any other part in your toolkit costs about the same. It is just another tool, electronic instead of mechanic.

Sometimes it is also easier to narrow down where to look, if an engine is running badly, you almost know directly which sensor or component to check or replace.
January 05, 2012 04:27PM
Well, the problem is that many of the cars today need to go on the computer after part replacement to initialize or reset/relearn for the cpu. In some instances, if you don't follow protocol, you might even damage something. On my 2002 PT Cruiser, I had to replace the automatic transmission solenoid pack. Not a bad job but before you start the car, you have to initialize and do a "transmission relearn" procedure or the trans runs like crap. Fortunately, I have a friend who had the laptop to do that. The manufacturers have zero interest in making their cars "consumer friendly" as far as repair goes. It would appear they believe the exact opposite.

A buddy of mine has a shop that services Minicoopers. The cost for the diagnostic computer is staggering and they are only good for a few years. As is the case with all shops, computer diagnostic time is an add on as the purchase and maintaining of the computer has to be paid for somehow.

alan
January 06, 2012 05:17AM
...On the other end, is not easy anymore to find a shop where they know trheir way around tuning a carburator properly...

Of course a simple car will allways be easy to service, by definition.
Problem is people don't look twice at a car that has no cerntral locks, electric windows, good HVAC and sound, etc, so the manufacturers don't offer those anymore.
January 06, 2012 09:16AM
Exactly, consumer expectation also drives the marketplace.

alan
January 06, 2012 02:10PM
Quote
Michiel 318iS
The E46 is so good, no warning light has ever come up (except for the airbag light, due to a bad wire contact after sliding the seat back) over the last 70.000 km.

I should have shut my mouth... Today my oil level light came up. Oil was leaking out of the oil filter. I probably wasn't careful enough when screwing the cover in and caused the o-ring to move upward a bit, not sealing it properly. Drove it for 1000 km without trouble but this morning (just before I arrived at work, luckily) the telltale came on. Looks like I've lost 3 liters of precious long life oil in this event.
January 06, 2012 07:23PM
A problem like that I would have noticed as I park in the same place regularly and would see a puddle. Also check my oil nearly every time I fill up with gasoline. I did get a surprise myself last week while driving an hour from home my oil level warning light came on. My sons had been using my car and had not been checking the oil level for three tanks of gas and I had to stop at a store and buy a quart of oil to top it up. It may be using more oil lately than I realized. It also leaks a little but was not parked at home. Fortunately I had found a replacement sensor that actually worked. For the past 7 years the sensor did not work at all. The float was apparently stuck.

Bob in Everett
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