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Thursday 3rd March 2011

PH Fleet Update: BMW 328i Touring

Surprising fuel economy appeals; paint lacquer peels...



Fuel economy is not generally something we get particularly excited about here on PH.

Partly this is because we like to keep our heads in the sand a bit, considering the effect that filling hungry PH fleet tanks with ever-more expensive fuel has on our collective wallets. But mostly this is because counting up the MPGs is a bit, well, dull.

Sometimes, though, you get a fuel economy-based moment that is genuinely exciting.

This happened to me the other day on the return home from a horrendously rainy Sunday night trip up the M3, when I idly flicked through the 328i's trip computer (that I'd zero'd at the start of a journey) to find a figure of 35.3mpg glowing orangely back at me.

For a 15-year-old car, with a petrol-powered 2.8-litre straight six coupled to a five-speed automatic gearbox I reckon that's pretty darn good form.


Okay, so the rain-soaked M3 was pretty busy, but I wasn't hanging back when traffic and weather conditions allowed. When the PH Fleet Defender can only manage high 20s mpg even when you're trying hard, and the Mini Cooper D cabrio I trundled around in a while back could do no better than the low 40s mpg.

There is of course a couple of caveats here, in that it's never wise to trust an on-board computer's figures, and the 328's economy drops dramatically in town (to more like 22-23mpg. Still, like pretty much everything my trusty 'Shed of the fleet' does, it just gets on with things in a quiet, unassuming, but above all damn effective way.

Looking small next to Garlick's Merc...
Looking small next to Garlick's Merc...
Which is why I haven't written about it for a while. Despite being the world's only four-door estate (thanks to a firmly stuck right rear door), the Boston Green Bee-Em sailed through its MOT at the tail end of last year, has started on the button even in the most icy of weathers, and generally caused very little trouble.

It even managed to battle up Reigate Hill on the M25 when we got caught in an unexpected snow storm, coping rather better than its driver (weaving across four lanes to avoid stranded lorries, sliding at just 15mph, knowing that if I stopped I'd be stuck, was perhaps the least pleasant motoring experience I've ever had).

...and even smaller next to his Lexus
...and even smaller next to his Lexus
In fact, the only real problem the car is suffering from is a moderate to severe case of automotive leprosy - the lacquer is peeling from the paintwork on the nearside front wing at an alarming rate.

And so I leave all you restoration-minded PHers out there with a conundrum. Bearing in mind that a respray is out of the question (with so many dings and dents it would be a silly route to go down), how do I arrest - or possibly reverse - the spread of the peeling lacquer? I'm hoping the answer will involve some kind of miracle spray, though I suspect it won't...

Riggers
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Oelholm

Original Poster:

321 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
The world's only four-door estate? How about the MINI Countryman and the Mitsubishi Space Wagon (or something like that) from the 90's..?

smile


EDIT: just googled, and the Countryman has two rear doors - Christ that car is daft laugh

Edited by Oelholm on Thursday 3rd March 07:31

mmd works

2 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
so the respray is out of question then? two choices:

1. let it rust or even help it a bit - go for a 'old rat' look
2. wrap the whole car - I did that to my old legnum - what a difference...

fatboy b

6,516 posts

104 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Oelholm said:
The world's only four-door estate? How about the MINI Countryman and the Mitsubishi Space Wagon (or something like that) from the 90's..?

smile
Suggest you read that again. It's 4 doors, 'cos one of the rear passenger doors is jammed.

Life Saab Itch

37,056 posts

76 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Why not just redo the offending front wing with a rattle can of Laquer?

Either remove it or mask it off with newspaper, rub it down with some wet and dry after removing any flakey bits. Wipe it with meths/thinners to remove dust, then spray it with the rattle can.

Job jobbed.

WeirdNeville

5,892 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Glad it's going well! I have to say, only my wife gets 35mp out of mine, and I know the trip computer to be 5-10% optomistic. I get 29mpg average and 32mpg on a long journey (calculated, not computer). Mines a manual, albeit a very leggy one.

I have a similar bodywork dilemma - a patch of rust on the offside front wing. I'm half tempted to leave it as patina, and the only thing 'wrong' with the car. But I need to sort it really, and will get around to it soon.
I've kept my PH garage profile up to date to keep tabs on the running costs. Now that I've sorted the brakes and a couple of suspension wear items (I.e. All of it!) I found myself driving into work 4 days last week, the BMW just makes it such a pleasant relaxing experience. I've also got a bit of a road trip coming up next week so we'll see how she fares on that!
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varsas

3,361 posts

90 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
The fuel computers can be calibrated, see here:

http://www.bimmerinfo.com/E36_OBC_tricks.htm

You want option 20. If your computer runs 5%-10% over you need to set it to about 925.

joe_90

3,930 posts

119 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Have you changed the water pump yet.?

sanctum

191 posts

63 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
I recently replaced both the rusting front wings on my A6 for a smidge under £100 (total including paints), and they were easy enough to remove and fit. If you don't have rust yet, then you could just use a very fine wet sandpaper to cut the surface back on that panel, then use a good cutting paste to bring back the finish in the paint that's left. Don't for get to put a good quality wax over anything you've cut back to protect your paint. Giving the whole thing a good wax once a month with a high quality product will also make things look and last alot better, if you care about that sort of thing.

mgmrw2003

20,951 posts

45 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
I own a 320i touring (manual) on a 96plate, round town seeing same figures as the 328i auto, so I'd be happy with that. Motorway, on a 160mile run I saw 42.7mpg (calculated, not trip computer stated) and that was keeping a "fluid pace with traffic".... the old buses are hard to beat when used right.

As for laquer peel....... personally, weigh up if couple of hundred quid on spray work is worth it, or just leave it to add character. Mine has 3 such beauty spots dotted around her, and is a nice post office red with a decade and a half of fade

GBB

1,727 posts

47 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
I'd get a quote for just relaquering, find the right place and it can be suprisingly cheap.

I had the rust sorted on both my coupe rear arches done and arches re-sprayed (top quality job, guy specialises in high end classics) for £375 ish - I guess I wouldn't have done it normally but a silly lady scraped the paint of one arch so her insurance covered part of the work.

Result is a 97 car that's virtually as new paint wise and looks more like a £3000 car than the £750 car it is.

These cars are probably the best daily driver you can get.

HAIRYHOOVER

6 posts

77 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Hopefully your "discovery" will attract favour back to the M52 engined E36's (I'm selling mine in the spring as I now have an E36 M3 as well).
My 328i cabriolet with hardtop and M-tech trim regularly saw 37-38mpg when toodling at 70-80mph for long periods on busy motorways. It is a relatively lazy engine and even at well over 100K miles sounds and runs so smoothly and doesn't use any oil between changes at all.
Yes there is a small amount of surface rust and a small amount of laquer has come off the drivers door (and been replace by myself to stop it spreading) but this car has easily cost me less overall to run in 6 years than most of the "family" cars that you could name. I'm sure it would for another 5 years at least, given continued TLC.

Nice little article. Thanks.

Martin

WeirdNeville

5,892 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
varsas said:
The fuel computers can be calibrated, see here:

http://www.bimmerinfo.com/E36_OBC_tricks.htm

You want option 20. If your computer runs 5%-10% over you need to set it to about 925.
Yup, I knew about that.
I've just replaced the air filter and I removed the MAF and gave it a good squirt over with electrical contact cleaner.
I've also found that the car runs much better - and gets 10% better fuel economy from shell 95 RON as opposed to Morrissons finest ullage.

The upshot of all this is that I've improved it's economy from 26mpg average to 29mpg mixed average over the last few months, and I'm fust calculating te correct factor to adjust the OBC by so it will be accurate.

Odd OBC fact of the day:
The 'code' button on the OBC can be used to set an ignition immobiliser. Press code with the key in ignition position 1, then enter your chosen code. The car will thereafter only start when you input the code. How 90's is that!? Not one to stumble across, I was wondering what that button did when i first got the car, I'm glad I didn't find out the hard way!

But yes, fuel economy aside (not a car to commute in) the 328 touring is my best all rounder to date. Cheap to buy, big, fast enough, fun and relaxing to drive, cheap and easy to maintain. Lovely stuff.

Edited by WeirdNeville on Thursday 3rd March 09:43

Garlick

40,601 posts

128 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
My cars may be bigger than yours, but you have far better economy than me smile

mgmrw2003

20,951 posts

45 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Gotta agree with weirdneville about:

"But yes, fuel economy aside (not a car to commute in) the 328 touring is my best all rounder to date. Cheap to buy, big, fast enough, fun and relaxing to drive, cheap and easy to maintain. Lovely stuff."


The 320 may be a bit slower, but makes a sublime all-rounder for less than the price of 4 tyres and an exhaust for my derv powered luxo barge

Oelholm

Original Poster:

321 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
fatboy b said:
Suggest you read that again. It's 4 doors, 'cos one of the rear passenger doors is jammed.
- Suggest you reread my post; I'm just arguing that it isn't a first, jammed door or not... Nice contribution, though.


In other news, those 3-series estates do look good, found myself looking at one passing by earlier today. Some nice engines as well!

GBB

1,727 posts

47 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
WeirdNeville said:
Odd OBC fact of the day:
The 'code' button on the OBC can be used to set an ignition immobiliser. Press code with the key in ignition position 1, then enter your chosen code. The car will thereafter only start when you input the code. How 90's is that!? Not one to stumble across, I was wondering what that button did when i first got the car, I'm glad I didn't find out the hard way!

But yes, fuel economy aside (not a car to commute in) the 328 touring is my best all rounder to date. Cheap to buy, big, fast enough, fun and relaxing to drive, cheap and easy to maintain. Lovely stuff.
That's interesting, might give it a try (reminds me of my old 405 which had a keycode immobiliser) though one advantage of having a £500 car is no-one is likely to want to steal it.

I used my 328 for a 120 mile commute taking it from 130K miles to 190K, I'm sure I could have saved money on fuel but figured that the lack of depreciation offset fuel savings on switching to a newer Golf Diesel. As a car to do miles then they are hard to beat, I used to get circa 30mpg at "motorway speeds" - as per Garlick's mine plummets to 20-22 around town or if I decide to enjoy the kickdown. I'm inspired to see what I can get out of it tomorrow if I do the legal limit all the way.

Bucket O Frogs

38 posts

70 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
You wanna break out the rattle cans mate - Matt Black all the way smile

varsas

3,361 posts

90 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
WeirdNeville said:
varsas said:
The fuel computers can be calibrated, see here:

http://www.bimmerinfo.com/E36_OBC_tricks.htm

You want option 20. If your computer runs 5%-10% over you need to set it to about 925.
Yup, I knew about that.
I've just replaced the air filter and I removed the MAF and gave it a good squirt over with electrical contact cleaner.
I've also found that the car runs much better - and gets 10% better fuel economy from shell 95 RON as opposed to Morrissons finest ullage.

The upshot of all this is that I've improved it's economy from 26mpg average to 29mpg mixed average over the last few months, and I'm fust calculating te correct factor to adjust the OBC by so it will be accurate.

Odd OBC fact of the day:
The 'code' button on the OBC can be used to set an ignition immobiliser. Press code with the key in ignition position 1, then enter your chosen code. The car will thereafter only start when you input the code. How 90's is that!? Not one to stumble across, I was wondering what that button did when i first got the car, I'm glad I didn't find out the hard way!

But yes, fuel economy aside (not a car to commute in) the 328 touring is my best all rounder to date. Cheap to buy, big, fast enough, fun and relaxing to drive, cheap and easy to maintain. Lovely stuff.

Edited by WeirdNeville on Thursday 3rd March 09:43
Ahh, did not know that.

I assume you know that the button on the end of the left hand stalk can be programmed, you can set what it scrolls through. People seem to think it's some sort of secret, but actually it's documented in the user guide.

Yes, love my 328i. It does all the boring stuff, i.e. it's cheap, reliable, economical, comfortable etc but show it a nice road (or even a track day) and it'll handle better then anything else I've driven this side of a boxster. One day I'll do the inlet manifold mod...

pSyCoSiS

1,914 posts

93 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
Glad to hear she is running well.

The 328i's have a gem of an engine (providing they are not affected by the Nikasil issue!) - quick, quiet and smooth power delivery. They can be a bit juicy, but, drive them sensibly, and they will return decent MPG figures.

If the lacquer peel is on panels only, and not the roof, or rest of body, it would be dirt cheap to source panels from a breaker off eBay (as long as they are in good nick!).

You could probably pick up a front wing, in the same colour, for around £20 - £30, and they are usually bolt on items.

Also, any other panel, just swap them over. You may need to wait a little while for the correct colour to pop up, but they do, and is the cheapest way to resolve bodywork issues on older cars.

Here's one that is breaking now, and has panels in Boston Green:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Bmw-325-Tds-Touring-Breaking...

Obviously, if the rest of the body is bad, then it may require paintwork - which isn't cheap these days!

louismchuge

1,577 posts

72 months

[news] 
Thursday 3rd March 2011 quote quote all
We've always referred to rattle cans as tt cans

Usually just tts who use them; for cars, graffiti or what have you

But yeah, I say tt can it!
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