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Help Diagnose Engine Issues


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I’ve been looking for a 2002 for years now in the NY/NJ area, but everything I’ve seen in my price range has been pretty rusty, or gone before I was able to even go see it.

Recently a friend of mine in California came across 1975 BMW 2002 with a solid body, but running real rough.

He sent me a video of the car running (see below). 

I was hoping someone with more experience on these cars than me could help determine what the issues are, if it’s something serious or relatively simple.

Any feedback would be appreciated.





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That could be a lot of things, timing, vacuum leak, carburetor adjustment. It doesn't sound too horrendous like a rod knock. Of greater concern is rust, mechanical issues are cheap compared to rust repair. A compression test and view of tailpipe smoke would be a plus in determining engine condition. What do you want it for, as-is daily driver or project to restore and make nicer? How much are they asking and how much do you want to spend?

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It certainly doesn't sound very healthy. I think the short answer to the long question is, if the body really is good and it's in your price range then just buy it. A very rough rule of thumb is that bodywork / paint costs 3-4 x mechanical if you get someone to do all the work. 


Getting back to your engine, it sounds like you have a bit of a misfire. Have you pulled the plug wires off the plugs one at a time to establish which cylinders are affected? After that, pretty straightforward- compression, spark and fuel.


Complete a compression test first (assuming that a visual examination of the ignition and the plugs doesn't throw up something). You may find that this is a head gasket failure between 2 adjacent cylinders which would be good news. 


If you have any oddities with compression then report back. 


Spark-wise, there are lots of relatively cheap, easy to replace items. I would start by just replacing the lot. Plugs, leads, cap, rotor, points, condenser. Set the points gap with a dwell meter to spec and then set the timing using the flywheel ball and timing light. 


By this point you will will probably have figured out the issue but if not we can go through the fuel separately. 


It might be worth paying a local specialist to go and complete a pre purchase inspection. Others will chime in with the best recommendations if you give us a bit more info about where the car is located.


good luck !


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Looks exactly like my car after I took off, cleaned, and put the original solex 2bbl back on. It was a combination of idling at 100rpm, vacuum leak, bad mixture, and FUBAR'd carb. After putting on a weber, doing timing, dwell, mixture, and idle speed, it was MUCH better. While it certainly is possible that the head gasket is also having problems, to me it looks like it's just completely and utterly out of tune.

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 needs valve job or blow head gasket due to  warped head  overheated.


Tell the seller this.  You read it on the internet, so it's true.


Then replace the Botch spark plug wires.


I'm with Simeon on this- go over the body with a fine- toothed comb, then use the engine as a negotiating

point.  If it's in really good shape, shell- wise, mechanical things are pretty easy to put right.


Realistically, we can't tell you over the internet what's wrong,

so go in expecting Arizona, and if it turns out to be Houston, you're an internet winner!




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