BMW 525i (1990)

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2007-09-25) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

My Saturn was dying, so I finally got a replacement car end of last week-- a 1990 BMW 525i. It's a little beat up on the exterior, but the engine seems in good shape and aside from a bit of peeling paint and a little parking lot accident crunch in the front right side, it's not too terrible.

So, this is going to become the project car for a while, it looks like. Plenty of things to restore, though hopefully not too terribly many to get it to pass the safety inspection. However, it is a little worse off than it seemed before I bought it. After driving it around more, I fear that there may be something that needs fixing in the exhaust system, as it's pretty loud.

Also, I took off the stupid leather "bra" thing on the front, and realized that underneath, the accident damage was more extensive than I had thought. The front edge of the hood was bent down-- which I knew)-- but also, the tip of the fender next to the turn signal was creased in, as well as what looks like superficial damage to the bumper cover and a fog light that's been kicked out of alignment (and is making me wonder if the mount has been broken). Hopefully I won't have to replace the bumper itself. I had already ordered a new turn signal assembly, to replace the broken lens, but it looks now like I'm going to need to pull that crease out to make the new lens fit again. Yay for learning how to pull dents!

Today at lunch, I went to the local dealership and picked up the brand spanking new Owners Manual for the car, pulled out of whatever vault they keep all the stuff from 1990 in--- I think Rico Suave's career is in there somewhere. So, now I know what oil and other fluids it takes, and also know that it takes higher octane fuel than I just pumped into it on Friday night. Whups. That's going to be a pain in the ol' wallet, but... oh well.

So far, the tally is:

  • Broken right front turn signal lens (replacement assembly ordered)
  • Crease in right front fender
  • Crease in right front edge of the hood
  • Minor damage to trim on front right bumper cover
  • Front right fog light is cracked and out of alignment. Suspect mount may be damaged or broken.
  • Idle hunts
  • Possible exhaust system issue
  • Rearview mirror fallen off (replacement mount plate ordered)
  • Hood release handle bolt and cover missing (replacements ordered)
  • When locking the car with the key in the driver's door, the central lock bounces back open, and you must lock it a second time. Not sure why.
  • Key turns, but does not operate any locks in passenger door. Passenger lock knob does not operate central lock either.
  • Rear passenger side window control inoperative
  • Ceiling liner to rear of sunroof opening is falling down.
  • After-market sound system installation has possibly removed ability for rear seats to fold down. (Apparently this was an option and not standard--- not sure if this applies.)
  • Current stereo head unit does not have AUX enabled, or any input jacks for attachment of iPod/iPhone. (Plan to order cable from Crutchfield.)
  • Interior of rear window has adhesive remaining from what looks to have been a window tint installation
  • Bezels around rear seatbelts seem to be missing.
  • I have one master key with the flashlight insert missing, but would like to get a full set of master, backup, wallet and valet keys cut from VIN.
  • Alarm system with remote keyless entry is installed but disabled because no remotes were had by the previous owner.
  • Paint is generally in poor condition with scratches and peeling places.
  • Light rust in various small scratch areas, and heavy rust in the rocker panel below the driver's door.

Hopefully a lot of that, I can do myself. I've ordered the Bentley Service Manual, and and am looking forward to spending some Saturdays with the kids fixing the car!