Like any BMW, the E30 is a complex precision machine, precision-built and designed to last. But even the simplest of machines needs maintenance occasionally, so keep your E30 running the way it should, it helps to familiarise yourself with the design, and the components. The Technical section of the E30 Zone Wiki is your one-stop source for maintenance tips, common problems, upgrades and troubleshooting.
Your E30 is broken down into separate sections, to help you understand each part in turn.
Main article: Engines
The powerhouse of any E30, and the reason you bought the car in the first place. The Wiki has in-depth information on all the E30 engines, from the humblest carb-fed M10 to the monstrous six-cylinder M20, with the M40 and M42 in between. The diesel deviants even have their own section for the M21.
We're also constantly updating our knowledge on the newer non-E30 engines, to help them fit into your engine bay. Check out our list of engine swaps for more information. If you're thinking of fitting a lump from another BMW, then by far the most popular upgrade is the M50/M52 engine. But don't turn your nose up on the big old M30 engines; if they were good enough for Alpina, then they're good enough for you. There's also the big V8 M60 and M62 engines, and for those with serious cash to burn, the Motorsport S50/S52 and S62 engines.
We've also covered all the elements of how your engine runs. From making the explosions happen through a mixture of Fuel, Air and Spark, all the way through to the Exhaust system. You also need to keep things simmering at just the right temperature, so we have info on the Cooling system too.
Main article: Drivetrain
The drivetrain is everything between the engine and the wheels. This includes the gearbox, differental, prop- and drive-shafts. This covers all the Gearboxs fitted to the E30 during its production run, as well as the multitude of Differentials to get that power spinning the Wheels.
Main article: Brakes
Going fast is great; stopping when needed is better. Get familiar with every aspect of the braking system, and learn what's fitted to your car.
If you want a bit more stopping power, first make sure you have rear discs, and then look at what other brake upgrades are available. For the mightiest challenge, think about converting to 5-Stud fitment.
Main article: Suspension
Whether you're setting your car up for a the track, aiming for a better stance or just trying to keep the car factory fresh, it's important to get your suspension working right. Make sure you know what suspension is for.
First off, understand the setup. All E30s are fitted with McPherson struts for front suspension, bolting up to a single control arm at the bottom. This is reinforced by an anti-roll bar connecting the control arm to the front subframe. The rear wheels have independent suspension of springs and shocks, and are connected to the rear subframe via trailing arms. The weight-gain models had rear anti-roll bars too.
Main article: Steering
Straight-line speed is a wonderful thing, but getting the car through the twisties is where the fun really is. So make sure you understand how E30 steering works, including those models with power-assisted steering.
For the more cosmetic approach, you can choose from a variety of steering wheels based on style and size.
Body Styles and Fittings
Main article: Bodywork
Main article: Electrical