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> Problems To Look For In 1988 740 Turbo Wagon
post Oct 24 2012, 11:08 AM
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Location: College Station, TX
Drives: 1986 BMW 325

I'm thinking about buying a 1988 740 turbo wagon (seller's description). I searched for a list of common problems with these wagons, but couldn't find anything. I would appreciate any pointers about what to look for when inspecting/driving the car.

Do these engines have a timing belt and how often do they need to be replaced?

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post Jan 10 2013, 06:15 AM
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Location: Colorado, USA
Drives: 1988 740 Turbo Wagon

I'm a little new to my 88 740 Turbo, but here's a few I've learned:

They have a long life rep but many dufus owners consider this a reason not to do any-much maintainence, so beware above 100k miles unless there are records!

Besides the obvious once over for damaged and missing bits and leaks and noises and crunches under the car... 1st of all listen to the turbo (passenger side of engine on exhaust manifold) as you rev engine for any excessive whine or grinds and screels. If any, expect bearings to be going bad.

Listen for valve clatter. This engine has manual shim on bucket valve adjustments that is usually done at 60k miles when toothed rubber timing belt is due for replacement. When starting cold listen for bottom end thunks or clatters. Is everything quiet even before it warms up? This is likely good engine hint. Does everything get quiet after it warms up? This is so-so engine. Check sparkplugs for color and deposits and do compression test on all 4 cyls if you can. You want all cyls 120 PSI or better for a good engine. 100 PSI or better for so-so engine. 2 sub-100 cyls side by side is trouble.

The fan tends to whoosh so don't be alarmed, just as long as the fan clutch is quiet when turning and feels tight when engine is off. The water pump could be dicey. Happily it's visible at front of engine if leaking or noisy and cheap to replace compared to most. Vacuum lines and hoses are all due for replacement so look for rot. Listen for vacuum whistles of worst offenders. Does the alternator whine lightly or is it complaining? Are the belts OK? Does AC work and are there odd noises when it's on?

Check tires for even pressure (30-35 psi) and odd wear patterns. Grab top of tire and push-pull in-out to check bearings in front. In back look on inside of wheels for any fluids indicating bad seals. On test drive does it steer OK? Does it wander? Do the struts damp well or does it pogo after a dip?

When shifting from park or nuetral into gear, are there clunking noises? Check driveshaft for bad U-joints or rear end for play. When moving are there whines and clunks? Where does the sound come from?Listen carefully to transmission operation. If a 5 speed, does shifter and clutch work OK or is there binding or strangeness? Does overdrive button put you in 5th after you shift to 4th (light on dash will light and you will feel a little jerk)? Does it drop you out of 5th automatically upon shifting out of 4th (light goes out on dash)? If in 5th and you push OD button do you feel downshift to 4th? Does tachometer register RPM change when these things occur? If automatic, does it shift promptly and accurately to the correct gears? Does it auto downshift for passing crisply? Is there any lag worth mentioning when manaully selecting gears? Are fluid levels OK and have any but red or dark red color? Does fluid smell burnt?

Does sunroof operate well? If stiff sometimes a carefull cleaning and lube of cables and channels will bring it back to life. Does tailgate-trunk lift OK? Are the little struts shot? Do electric locks, windows and mirrors respond properly? Check all switches and fuses. In rear, check spare tire cover doors as they can wear hinges. Electric antenna can be sticky and need TLC.

Lights all working? Is there a bulb warning light "on" on the dash? Does it come on only when you hit brakes or high beams? You can trace the bad ones and clean contacts.

That should cover most of it. Hope the manuals are there.
Good luck!

This post has been edited by Jopower: Jan 10 2013, 06:27 AM
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