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M20 vs M50 maintenance costs

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    M20 vs M50 maintenance costs

    For those of you out there who have owned cars (E30 or otherwise) with both the M20 and M50, which engine have you find to be the cheaper of the two to maintain, money-wise and time-wise? I initially believed the M20 would be the cheaper engine to maintain due to its simpler design, but it seems that this may not be the case for the as the intervals for things like timing belts, engine belts, oil changes, ignition system on the M20 are much shorter than things like the cooling system on the M50 and that there are more items on the M20 that need to be refreshed on a periodic basis compared to the M50

    #2
    The m52tu is a superior engine.

    Hell, the oil filter placement alone in m50/52s rates it above the m20s.
    AWD > RWD

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      #3
      M20
      ADAMS Autosport

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        #4
        If you do all the work yourself? Ive had two e30 cars, both well past the 200,000 mile mark, and the big money stuff for me has always been chassis related things like shocks, bushings, bearings.

        I don’t know anything about the newer engines, so all I can say is if you invest $1500 in having a spare head and a timing belt kit I’d say you’re good to go for a really long time with the 20.
        My son has the 1987 325e, 2 door, 5speed
        I daily the 1989 325i, 4 door, 5speed

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          #5
          What's with people being afraid of the timing belt? It's not expensive ($100 for a kit with a water pump) and you only have to do it every 4 years or 50k miles. Valve adjustments are also no big deal, easy and fast.
          @turbovarg
          '91 318is, M20B25, T3/T04E 60 trim (15psi), megasquirt, coilovers, Z3 rack, cold AC
          [b u i l d]
          [Car of the month: April 2018]

          0c8b7c9527af628a346878feb14bf757

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            #6
            Originally posted by 325e '87 View Post
            If you do all the work yourself?
            No, I don't have a garage and my neighborhood does not let me work on cars. I pay a shop to do all the major maintenance items like the cooling system and do things like oil changes and ignition coils on my own. I don't even own an E30
            (currently an E46 owner) but am looking into one.

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              #7
              I'd state the obvious that if you have a running M20 in the car - maintaining that will without a doubt be cheaper than swapping in any X5X variant.

              Having owned both, the beauty of self adjusting valves, timing chain reliability, additional power stretched out of Vanos systems etc. make this a pretty easy win for the 'newer' engines.

              If money weren't a variable and you had both motors on hand and a roller ready for a power plant - I don't think it's much of a debate even if $ in maintenance were your only consideration.

              That said, the non vanos M20 sure makes a sweet sound!

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                #8
                buying a swapped car will mean you're at the mercy of the PO to trust that the swap has been done well enough to be reliable and serviceable - not the norm

                Also, a shop isn't going to want to touch your average craigslist swap

                the M50 is 20 years old at this point. Can we please stop pretending it's SO much better than the m20? They're both old af. Swap an M54B30 or N52 ffs


                it's a Kenny Powers quote on wheels

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by thedentonmare View Post
                  That said, the non vanos M20 sure makes a sweet sound!
                  Originally posted by wholepailofwater
                  Q
                  :devil:


                  WTB: Dove Grey e36 Front Door Panels (2 door)

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                    #10
                    The answer is that a stock car will require less maintenance than a modified car.

                    Also, the M50 sucks. You end up with barely any more power, in exchange for a worse sound and more weight on the nose.
                    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD LBZ/Allison
                    2002 BMW M3 Alpinweiß/Black
                    1999 323i GTS2 Alpinweiß
                    1995 M3 Dakargelb/Black
                    - S50B32/S6S420G/3.91
                    1990 325is Brilliantrot/Tan
                    1989 M3 Alpinweiß/Black

                    Hers: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo Black/Black
                    Hers: 1988 325iX Coupe Diamantschwartz/Black 5spd

                    sigpic

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                      #11
                      its not the regular periodic maintenance that you should be worried about on 20-30 year old engines.
                      89 E30 325is Lachs Silber - currently M20B31, M20B33 in the works, stroked to the hilt...

                      new build thread http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=317505

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Das Delfin View Post
                        buying a swapped car will mean you're at the mercy of the PO to trust that the swap has been done well enough to be reliable and serviceable - not the norm

                        Also, a shop isn't going to want to touch your average craigslist swap

                        the M50 is 20 years old at this point. Can we please stop pretending it's SO much better than the m20? They're both old af. Swap an M54B30 or N52 ffs
                        Good point, I'll stick to looking at M20 cars then. I am already wary of modified cars - if it has colorful aftermarket shit in the engine bay I pretty much stay away. I figured getting a well-done M50 swap would be more livable than the M20 but it seems like the well-done ones will be way out of my price bracket.

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