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-   -   "Smartest" choice for an E46? (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667788)

Aestheticus 01-03-2013 05:04 PM

"Smartest" choice for an E46?
 
I'm part of another forum unrelated to cars so I know how they work. I tried searching before I posted, but I guess my searching skills aren't so great so I'm gonna have to make a thread

Right now I drive an E36 M3. I'll be graduating this year and hopefully be getting a job soon after. I love the look of the E46 coupes, both pre-facelift and facelift models. I want one as a daily driver so I want it to be as reliable as possible. I'm well aware that there are "smarter" and more reliable choices out there, but I want an E46 coupe because well...they're damn sexy haha

I only plan on doing exterior mods like an M-Tech or maybe an M3 replica front bumper, angel eyes, clear corners, rims, a drop, maybe a boot lid, etc.

Speed/performance isn't really a factor here because I'm still keeping my E36 M3 and if I ever have enough money I can just mod that for my fun car instead

My question is, what's the least problematic E46? From what I understand some models have problems with the cooling system, some have problems with the automatic transmission, etc.

My search skills must suck a little since I couldn't really find anything about this. Maybe I'm just using the wrong keywords I don't know. Can you guys point me in the right direction? My main concern for a daily driver are looks and reliability. I like the pre-facelift and facelift models equally so that isn't a concern

Long story short, between all the E46s...325i, 330Ci, etc., which model and year is the least problematic?

e46freak 01-03-2013 06:28 PM

My bit of advice would be to stay away from the early e46s (1999-2001) because they had very expensive rear subframe issues. From what I understand most e46s have a problem with the cooling system. I would look for a manual just because they are more fun and more reliable than autos.

MMME30W 01-03-2013 06:41 PM

Howdee. E36M FTW.

Well, an E46 Coupe is definitely a looker. IMHO, a car will be more reliable if:

- It is newer, relatively speaking. So buy the newest car you can afford. This is a 2005/2006 model year.

- It has been well maintained. Even the newest E46 is going on 8 or 9 years, maybe 100K. Look for documented services like the cooling system (all of it), crankcase ventilation valve, routine oil and filter changes. Look for an OCI of better than factory interval of 15-17k miles.

- You engage a good indy to conduct a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Expect to pay a mechanic an hour or two time to check out any prospective purchases.

- It has fewer / less optional equipment. For example, no Navi, no fancy electronics, no sunroof, no accursed automatic transmission.

- It has been owned by an enthusiast owner. For example, look for cars owned by BMW CCA members, or posted for sale in the club magazine, Roundel.

Good luck in your search.

MMME30W 01-03-2013 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by e46freak (Post 7288105)
My bit of advice would be to stay away from the early e46s (1999-2001) because they had very expensive rear subframe issues. From what I understand all e46s have a problem with the cooling system. I would look for a manual just because they are more fun and more reliable than autos.

FTFY. :bigpimp:

Just look on the water pump, thermostat, expansion tank as consumables and replace at 60k, radiator and hoses at 120k.

bmw330ci04 01-03-2013 06:50 PM

i have a 2004 330ci (first year of the facelift) and its been great and pretty reliable as long as ive owned it (and as long as its been in the family for that matter)
325s are slow, so id recommend the 330 with a stick, and the sport package wouldnt hurt, with the better suspension.
i dont really think there is a more problematic year than another, except for the early models like e46freak said above, but it does matter if the previous owner took care of it

on the wiki there some "some things to look for when buying" so id take a look at that as well

good luck!

GoForthFast 01-03-2013 07:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bmw330ci04 (Post 7288152)
i have a 2004 330ci (first year of the facelift) and its been great and pretty reliable as long as ive owned it (and as long as its been in the family for that matter)
325s are slow, so id recommend the 330 with a stick, and the sport package wouldnt hurt, with the better suspension.
i dont really think there is a more problematic year than another, except for the early models like e46freak said above, but it does matter if the previous owner took care of it

on the wiki there some "some things to look for when buying" so id take a look at that as well

good luck!

Can't +1 here strongly enough! I too have a 2004 330Ci with manual and can tell you that this is the year everything became as good as you need to be reliable and quality. No need to go newer and reason to stay away from older.
After that, go for great maintenance and low mileage and good condition. Check service records.

hitbyastick 01-04-2013 08:28 AM

I bought an '02 325i in August of last year from a retired Army officer. This car has a manual transmission and had 122k on it when I bought it. Base model no options except cold weather package & Harmon Kardon stereo.
I got all the service records they had to give me, but I suspect not all of them. The car had been garaged and maintained, but not obsessively so.
The engine looks brand new, very clean. The handling is taut and there are no rattles or squeaks. So I think I might have found a decent one.
What you need to realize is the most important thing about a used car is the previous owner.

I did have to replace the clutch. 122k I suppose is about average. VANOS needs seals as there is idle bouncing when cold and a bit of a flat spot in the power curve below 3500rpm. Cooling system I assume is original, as well as the CCV. Car runs great and returns 32mpg highway, seriously. Burns no oil either.
I'm going to have to address those things next spring but in the meantime it seems healthy.

Try to find a base model with a stick. The sport package may be overrated, as this car handles like its on rails anyway. And 325s are not slow, no way. 330s are faster, but this car is quite peppy and I expect some improvement once I get those VANOS seals replaced. 32mpg highway-->whut

Fishful Thinking 01-04-2013 11:01 AM

All coupes come with sport suspension. Sport package gets you nicer seats, I believe.

I love my '04 325ci. It's plenty quick, comfortable, reliable, and even gets good gas mileage on the freeway.

I searched for years for the right car, and finally got one with only 36k on the odo. I cannot emphasize enough that low mileage, good maintanance records and a clean PPI are more important than color, options, engine size, etc. Best of luck, and have fun!

tturedraider 01-04-2013 12:06 PM

Smartest choice - 2004 - 2006 ZHP!! Hands down!!

Fast Bob 01-04-2013 12:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tturedraider (Post 7289808)
Smartest choice - 2004 - 2006 ZHP!! Hands down!!

Yes indeed....the ZHP was definitely the high point for E46 production....:thumbup:


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