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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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Old 01-10-2011, 08:54 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 25,236
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Mine's an E39, but this is what I discovered after I bought it ...

  1. - COOLING SYSTEM CATASTROPHICALLY FAILS: brittle plastic expansion tank, radiator, & thermostat housings that blow up due to faulty plastic mostly at the upper hose neck and also faulty water pumps, hoses, and fan clutches (1) that send whirling blades through the hood and quarter panels (1) & autopsy here (1)
  2. - I6 VANOS SEALS DETERIORATE: they're made out of the wrong materials so that they harden and leak over time causing degraded performance (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) & how VANOS works (1) (2) (3) & what your options are (1) and vanos application table (1)
  3. - V8 VALLEY PAN GASKETS LEAK: poorly designed V8 valley pan gaskets that leak coolant (1) (2) (3)
  4. - CLUSTER PIXELS FAIL LINE BY LINE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on the instrument cluster causing dead pixels (1) [cluster removal instructions (1) (2)]
  5. - MID PIXELS SLOWLY DIE: press-fit pink connection tape lifts up over time on MID causing dead pixels (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) [MID removal instructions (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)] [MID pixel test sequence (1) ]
  6. - HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS CRUMBLE: brittle PBT plastic headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) & a comprehensive list of all your available options, by price (1)
  7. - FAN CONTROL GOES HAYWIRE: poorly ventilated final stage resistur/final stage unit (FSR/FSU) modules that are practically sure to go haywire due to poor heat-sink design (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) ... Autopsy (1) (2) often causing the battery to drain overnight (1) (2) (3)
  8. - CCV FAILS: crankcase ventilation valve diaphragm tears, freezes (1), &/or clogs (1), necessitating CCV replacement (M54,M54,M54) (M52,M52) (M52TU) (M62,M62) ('99 528i) ('98 528i); raising pressures, often causing the OFH oil filter housing to leak (1) (2) (3); frequently blowing the VCG valve cover gasket (1); and sometimes the head gasket (1) (2); often causing vacuum leaks (1) (2) (3)
  9. - AMBER ABS/DSC/BRAKE LIGHTS: tack-welded steel resistance-welded Bosch 5.x ABS control module power wires that break off their gold contact because of being too close to engine heat and vibration (1) ... Abs control module autopsy (1) (2) (3) (4) ... and explanations by 540iman as to why the fancy diagnostic tools fail (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) & accessing the wheel speed sensor at the wheel (1)
  10. - REAR DOOR VAPOR BARRIER FAILS CAUSING WATER PUDDLES: improper adhesive used on rear door vapor barrier seals that allow rain water to fill the rear footwell (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & sizes for the adhesive (1)
  11. - FRONT SHOCKS FAIL PREMATURELY VIOLENT SHUDDER WHILE BRAKING: OEM Sachs shocks fail causing violent shudder upon front-wheel braking on bumps (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  12. - POWER WINDOWS SUDDENLY STOP WORKING: low-quality unreliable window regulator mechanisms (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) and a repair kit (1) (2) and for other models (1) (2) (3) (4)
  13. - TRUNK WIRING FRAYS ATROCIOUSLY: a badly designed trunk loom wiring harness certain to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2) & opening the trunk with the key when the car battery is dead (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
  14. - THRUST-ARM BUSHINGS TEAR: fluid-filled thrust arm bushings that crack and tear causing vibrations at speed (0) (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  15. - IGNITION SWITCH FAILS: ignition switch that fails causing electrical problems (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
  16. - AMBIENT TEMPERATURE SENSOR BREAKS OFF: low mounted ambient temperature sensors in the passenger side front wheel well cover is practically designed to be ripped off on a parking curb (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
  17. - SEAT & STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER BREAK OFF: seat covers that don't protect switches for both the steering wheel tilt & driver's seat control (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
  18. - SEAT CABLES BREAK: seat cables that fall out causing seat twist (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) & accidental airbag light fix (1) (2)
  19. - WINDSHIELD WASHER LEAKS: windshield reservoirs prone to leaking due to an ill-fitting pump o-ring gasket (1) (2) or to hose disintegration (1) (2) or to leaks in the main reservoir (1) (2) (3) or leaks in the intensive wash system (1) (2) or the pump itself goes bad (1) (2) & debugging hints (1) & adjusting nozzles after repair (1) & windshield washer fluid (1) and intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
  20. - POWER STEERING RESERVOIR CAP LEAKS OILY MIST: constantly wet power steering reservoirs due to poor O-ring design (1) (2)
  21. - POWER STEERING HOSE DRIPS ATF ONTO ALTERNATOR: power steering hose clamps practically guaranteed to leak (1) (2)
  22. - ALTERNATOR FAILS PREMATURELY: most say this premature failure is due to power steering leaks just above it so do a rebuild BEFORE your alternator fails catastrophically on you (1) (2) & how to prevent leaves in your alternator air-intake duct (1) (2)
  23. - WINDSHIELD MOLDING CRUMBLES: heat labile rubber windshield & back window molding that crumbles in three years due to poor choice of recycled materials (1) (2)
  24. - JACK PADS FALL OFF: plastic jack pads that fall off the underside of the frame due to poor latch design causing jack failures & wind noise (1) (2) (3) & good jack stands (1)
  25. - AIR CONDITIONING ODORS: poorly designed cabin-filter housing drain hoses to clog which leaves causing gym-sock smells from the AC (1) (2) (3)
  26. - BMW ROUNDEL PAINT CHIPS AWAY: cheaply painted BMW emblem roundels that wash away in the car wash over time (1)
  27. - CUPHOLDERS BREAK EASILY: front and rear (nearly useless) cupholder replacement strategies (1)
  28. - WOOD TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: wood trim whose varnish cracks and whose cd cover doors rattle (1) (2) (3)
  29. - PLASTIC VENT TRIM CRACKS SPONTANEOUSLY: plastic trim around the air vents which invariably crack at the corners (1) (2) (3)
  30. - SAP CLOGS or FREEZES (1): the secondary air pump (SAP) valve (aka diverter valve) clogs, taking out the SAS (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
  31. - MAF CLOGS: the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and idle control valve (ICV) require periodic cleaning (1) (2)
  32. - DISA VALVE FLAP BREAKS: the DISA valve flap breaks, sometimes with parts sucked into the intake manifold (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & recommended parts (1) (2) & brand selection (1)
  33. DOOR EDGE PROTECTION MOLDING SEALS neoprene rubber crumbles prematurely (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:53 PM
Danielbmw Danielbmw is offline
Registered User
Location: Washington
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: 2000 BMW 323i
My e46 always has fun surprises for me.
1. Flashlight in glovebox
2. lights turn off after about 10 minutes if left on after car shut off
3. MUCH easier to work on than expected
4. Treat it right, it treats you right back.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:06 PM
my 04 330i my 04 330i is offline
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Location: Rochester, New York. Usa
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4
Mein Auto: 2004 330i
The tool box in the trunk. Very cool.

Sent from my DROIDX using Bimmer App
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:44 PM
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Tangent Tangent is offline
Format c:\*.* /y
Location: San Jacinto, CA
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,321
Mein Auto: '11 Z435i, '01 330i
I've had this car for years and I just found this one out a few days ago: When the climate control is set to let in fresh air instead of recirculating, it will slowly close the inlet flaps to keep from having your speed affect how fast the air comes out of the vents. Up to 36 mph the inlet flaps are still full open but they progressively close until at 100 mph they are only 20% open. This way you don't get blasted with more air than you want at low fan speed settings just because of your high road speed.
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:10 PM
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henry_desmond henry_desmond is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Georgia
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 466
Mein Auto: 08 BMW 335i cabrio
I discovered 2 great things about my car!

1st - it had sirius satellite radio
2nd - it was under a BMW extended maintenance plan

Neither of these features were listed when I bought the car. But, I did discover that I had to replace the expansion tank after a week of owning the car.

Currently own: 08 BMW 335i vert, 07 Mazda CX-7 GT (DD)
Previously owned: 03 Infiniti G35 sedan, 00 Mercedes-Benz S-430, 97 Volvo 960, 01 BMW 330i, 97 Lexus ES300, 09 Honda Civic LX, 04 BMW 325CIc, 00 BMW 323i, 97 Honda Accord EX Coupe, 99 Ford Expedition EB, 05 Mazda 6i, 94 BMW 325i, 98 Pontiac Firebird Formula WS6 "Collectors Edition", & 87 Honda Prelude Si (First car)
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:52 PM
2003325ci 2003325ci is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 104
Mein Auto: Alpine White 2003 325ci
I discovered that BMWs are great for customization. Didn't know that.
Alpine White 2003 325Ci
- Spyder LED Halo Projector Headlights
- Black and White Roundels
- Debadged (and stayin' that way)
- ECS Smoked Front Reflctors
- Matte Black Kidney Grilles
- Smoked Fender Markers
Originally Posted by jonathan2263 View Post
I think that's technically called "dirt delete".
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Old 01-14-2011, 05:10 PM
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jetblackbimmer jetblackbimmer is offline
ZHP Baby!
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 219
Mein Auto: 2005 330i Performance 6MT
I discovered that my ZHP is the first car that I didn't need to customize! It was perfect-as is-from the factory.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:22 PM
crashed4u crashed4u is offline
Registered User
Location: Oklahoma City
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3
Send a message via Yahoo to crashed4u
Mein Auto: 05 325ci
I found out that most locksmiths cant get into these cars if you happen to leave your keys in the trunk. 175.00 later, and I am smooth sailing....with a thinner wallet.
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:26 PM
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jmanscotch jmanscotch is offline
is a Texan
Location: Colorado Springs
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,400
Mein Auto: '04 530iA
^ Thinner wallets help reduce back problems...I see this as a win

2004 325Ci - 5MT - SOLD & MISSED
1967 1602 - 4MT - STOLEN IN KY
2008 328XI - 6MT - LOST IN DIVORCE
1995 325i - A/T - RUSTED BACK TO EARTH
2009 135i - 6MT - COPS IMPOUNDED
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:00 PM
darksigno darksigno is offline
Registered User
Location: Mackay
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 41
Mein Auto: 318i
i wasnt happy with my car within a week of owning it

1.the front left hand side suspesion had colapsed

2. the front left hand side had been completely replaced

3.the car had been in an accident

4. the left hand side control arm was still snaped

i had to replace alot on the front left within the first 3 months of owning it as the mechanic who fixed it after the crash just made it look pretty not mechanically sound, i dont kno how the dealership sold the damn thing, still currently goin through a legal battle about it with the dealership as its something that is required to be brought up when selling the car.

just for info it wasnt a bmw dealership but a private one, and im looking at getting all costs of fixing back atleast and maybe some of how much i originally paid for the car

but yes i was like the hulk , i even smashed the shop up on a drunken rampage one night, but the dealership deserved it, only a week after i bought mine they sold another car that lost a wheel 500 meters down the road after the guy drove his car from there,

they r no longer in business but im still goin through a legal fight for what i believe i am owed
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:24 PM
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marinekilz marinekilz is offline
Noone Special
Location: Bronx, NY
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 673
Mein Auto: 01 E46 330 xi
The first rain storm after buying the car ( about a month or so after owning it) found out the vapor barriers in all doors were bad and leaking. Turned the interior floor of the veh into a swiming pool
01 E46 330Xi
06 E92 328i ZSP
07 E92 335i ZSP

E9 One Day It Will Be Mine
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:24 AM
Ephlan e36 Ephlan e36 is offline
Registered User
Location: Nashville
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 47
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 323is
Originally Posted by av98 View Post
That it beeps @ 36-37 degrees.
That scared the BEE-JESUS out of me the first time it happend. I actually pulled over.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:29 AM
Ephlan e36 Ephlan e36 is offline
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Location: Nashville
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 47
Mein Auto: 1999 BMW 323is
I realized my ZHP was wayyy faster than my brother in-laws Civic SI.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:59 AM
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kunal_D kunal_D is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Toronto, Canada
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,582
Mein Auto: 2008 335i Sport 6MT
Originally Posted by Ephlan e36 View Post
That scared the BEE-JESUS out of me the first time it happend. I actually pulled over.
This still catches me off guard

08' E90 335i, Sport, Premium, Logic 7, 6-spd
01' 330i TiAG, ZSP, ZPP, ZCW, 5spd - R.I.P 04/12- gone but not forgotten.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:21 PM
vol2010 vol2010 is offline
Registered User
Location: Tennessee
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 41
Mein Auto: 2003 BMW 325i
That theres a pretty neat toolkit in the trunk

got 99 problems and a car aint one...psh i wish

Last edited by vol2010; 01-19-2011 at 08:26 PM. Reason: AND the sunroof mechanism likes to cave in while in a car wash....ugh
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:52 PM
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AlboBMW AlboBMW is offline
Location: Norman, OK
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,271
Mein Auto: '01 325i
I discovered the leaking cooling system. would have paid $500 less for it if I knew that.
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:57 AM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
tappa tappa toit
Location: NY
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,697
Mein Auto: hoopty
I discovered that if the brake light bulb on the facelifted sedan is out, the outer bulb on the parking light/running light will light up when the brakes are depressed. Cool feature
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:30 AM
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jburns jburns is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Little Rock, AR
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 388
Mein Auto: 2007 BMW 328i Coupe
I discovered mine still had a CPO warranty after paying an Indy $500 to replace a power steering pump! Would've cost me $50 bucks at the dealer.
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:34 PM
323cirunsmylife 323cirunsmylife is offline
Registered User
Location: Bronx, NY
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 8
Mein Auto: Bmw 323ci
There's a mini flash light in the glove (its cute lol)
This forum is the best thing known to man
I now have a need for extreme speed
E46= ACTION ;-)
There are more DIYs than most non owners would think.
She has feelings...who would have thought. :-/ Some days she runs mean :-D other days she's a bit sluggish. :-(
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Old 03-20-2011, 11:47 AM
LX-biker LX-biker is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Ontario, Canada
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 631
Mein Auto: 2004 325XI Sport pkg
I dicovered better do not use windshiled washer at mall parking if sombody passing in front of the car- headlight washer may scary crap out of them if activated.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:53 AM
Dr. Bimmer11 Dr. Bimmer11 is offline
Registered User
Location: Orlando,FL
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2002 325i
Still working on the bad

Bought the car and turned out it had a bad washer pump, camshaft sensor, and bad wire connections. So far I have fixed most of the wire connections and the Two oil leaks that have occurred. I can't wait for what's next!!

But all in all I love driving my baby around.
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:55 AM
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Gryphon Gryphon is offline
The Boss of Nobody
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,654
Mein Auto: 2005 ZHP, Wife's Prius
Originally Posted by Gino215 View Post
Tell us your story. Sometimes you discover Good or Bad surprises after you buy a car.
I have found out that it is the only thing that puts my son to sleep right now. Lots of driving around the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning lately.

P.S. he still fusses in the Xi, but sleeps immediately in the ZHP
Arthur John "Destroyer of Sleep"
Born 02-24-11

Sean David (has more rolls than a bakery)
Born 06-22-16

Last edited by Gryphon; 03-21-2011 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:22 PM
FirstVert FirstVert is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Houston, TX
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 112
Mein Auto: 2004 BMW 325Ci
Flashlight in the glove compartment

Tool kit in the trunk

This forum (thank you thank you thank you)

I've become a follower of DIYism
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:29 AM
kbigler kbigler is offline
Registered User
Location: Walnut, CA
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 35
Mein Auto: 2001 330ci
I actually enjoy driving to work now. Not worried about the high maintenance either because I have a friend that works at a BMW dealer so I can get my parts CHEAP. Plus I'm very good with tools and can do just about anything to this car in my garage. Unless it's diagnostics, then the dealer can tell me what the problem is and I'll fix it
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:05 AM
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E46landshark E46landshark is offline
Location: Oklahoma
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 198
Mein Auto: 2004 325ci
Originally Posted by kunal_D View Post
This still catches me off guard

Originally Posted by FirstVert View Post
Tool kit in the trunk

I found out some minor problems. My windshield wiper reservoir or pump leak, I can't hold more than a cup of fluid at a time

annnd my far left halo is slightly lower than the rest. Nothing that can't be fixed.

Last edited by E46landshark; 01-14-2013 at 08:07 AM.
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