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Two Things to Learn Before Buying an E30 BMW

Are you finally buying your dream car, “God’s Chariot”?

Here are two important DIY’s that you’ll need to learn when you buy your E30 3 series BMW. First, the valves on an M20 6-cylinder engine will need to be adjusted roughly once a year or every 15,000 miles. This keeps your car running correctly and reduces the possibility of breaking a rocker arm. Poorly adjusted valves can put additional stress on the already fragile rocker arms in this motor, so be sure to stay on top of this maintenance item.

M20 Valve Adjustment Procedure

Adjustment of the valves on an M20 engine requires simple tools:

  1. 10mm deep socket and ratchet with extension
  2. Stainless steel feeler gauge set to measure the correct gap
  3. Alan key set; use a small key to adjust the rocker eccentric while adjusting
  4. New M20 valve cover gasket

This procedure should take you anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on your experience and mechanical aptitude. Perform this check and adjustment in early spring each year when taking the car out of storage, before the driving season begins.

Secondly, you’ll need to reset your service interval lights in the gauge cluster. When I first began driving E30’s in 2003, the reset and oil light tool was $150. Over the years, enthusiasts figured out that you don’t actually need an expensive tool to reset these lights. With a piece of wire you can simply jump the pins (carefully) in the diagnostic port under the hood and reset the lights. Here’s a video detailing exactly how to reset the E30 service interval light and oil light without a tool:

E30 Service Interval Light Reset

So there you have it! Two maintenance items you’ll have to learn before buying or owning an E30 3-series BMW. For more E30 specific guides, see my playlist on YouTube here.

Buy E30 Parts and Specialty Tools Here.

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