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Old 05-03-2022, 07:13 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2022
Location: Tempe, AZ
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Default Danny's 318ti Thread (5-speed/slicktop)

Hey all,

I figured I'd start a thread to keep track of progress on this 318ti I just picked up... I've had build threads for every other car I've owned (bunch of E34's, E39's, E36's, E46's, E38, E53, etc) so why not one for this little meatball?

The car is a 8/95 build, with an OBDI M42 and a 5-speed. It has a hair under 200k miles at the moment, and is Alpine White with the gray-ish cloth interior.

I bought it from my friend who had gotten it running and did a bit of work to it, including replacing a bunch of rotten fuel hoses under the manifold, the fuel pump, and the AFM. Prior to that, the car had sat abandoned at a shop that did a lot of work to it for the previous owner.

Here's how the car looked when I picked it upó it's on wheels that my friend let me borrow because the factory steelies had such bad tires that they didn't hold air at all.

Looking over the car initially, I noted the following:

- New shocks all around, with KYB's in the rear and Sachs in the front, though the front shock mounts have cracked quite a bit from the car sitting.
- New control arms in the front
- Control arm bushings look to be not great
- Driveshaft has been rebuilt by a good local driveshaft shop
- Trans mounts are collapsed and cracking apart
- Brake pads and rotors appear to be relatively new, though a bit rusty from sitting.
- AC compressor has no belt and no lines going to it, because somebody was previously in the process of removing the AC system... you know, because racecar.
- It has the later M44 electric fan retrofitted in place of the mechanical clutch fan, a nice touch.
- It has a 4.44 LSD, which is absolutely insane and utterly useless on the highway, so I'll definitely be replacing that pretty soon.

Upon the initial test drive, the car started overheating in less than a mile, that's a good sign, right? I pulled over and let it cool off before driving it back to my friend's house where I assessed the cooling system. It never got past 3/4 so I wasn't too worried. I noted that the upper radiator hose felt cool to the touch while everything else was quite hot, so there was probably some blockage in the system.

Scrounging together parts at my friend's house, we found a new-in-box M44 water pump from his last E36 318i, a good used thermostat from an M50 car, and some RTV. Along with some basic hand tools, we had enough to fix the car right then and there.

Removing the upper hose from the thermostat housing, I immediately found the problem:

Both the upper hose and the thermostat housing outlet were blocked solid with chunky, crystallized coolant. The coolant was pink because the car had been worked on by a VW shop. It was actually kind of a relief to find something so obviously wrong.

After removing the thermostat housing, I was happy to see that the coolant blockage was only on one outlet, and that the thermostat itself looked fine. I pulled the thermostat out anyways, just to check behind it, and it was just normal clean coolant back there.

The water pump fought me quite a bit coming out, and a piece of it actually broke off because of how crusted up it was... but eventually after some rubber mallet action I was able to get the crusty old water pump out.

Everything went back together without any drama, and I filled the system with distilled water and some cheap blue coolant I bought at Walmart. It'll need a proper flush in the future anyways to get the pink crap out, but I just needed it to work for a bit. The heat worked great in the car, and the cooling system was able to be bled without any issues. The electric fan worked correctly as well, turning on the low and high speeds accordingly. With everything done, the coolant temp gauge now sits at a hair under middle, which is fine by me.

Driving the car 25 miles to my shop, I realized just how awful that 4.44 diff is... the RPM's are insane even at normal cruising speeds (75-80).

Aside from the diff nonsense, the car drove great, with the M42 pulling hard and the transmission shifting super smoothly. It's such a light little car, I can't wait to drive it more once it's a bit more sorted.

Stay tuned as I tackle the mess of an interior...
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