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E46 M3 (2001-2006)

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  #1  
Old 05-05-2013, 11:40 PM
ccates21 ccates21 is offline
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Location: Saint Peters
 
Join Date: May 2013
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Mein Auto: E46 M3
My first BMW... PPI Checklist?

Hi guys, new to the site. I'm about to buy a 2002 M3 vert, 6sp with 125k miles as a weekend car. My friend had an '01 when the E46's first came out, and I fell in love with it. Now I can finally (financially) justify having a "weekend" car (to my wife)! I'm getting a great price, its only had one owner, with supposedly well documented maintenance and a clean Carfax. I'm driving 4 hours to see the car, get a PPI and go over maintenance records. All in all, I think its a great buy if it all checks out as advertised.

Maybe this will help someone else. Here is the list of things I've compiled from trolling the forums, as far as some specifics to look for in a PPI:

- new or newer: tires/brakes/belts/hoses
- lower control arm
- rear trailing arm bushing
- front control arm bushings
- shifter bushing
- vanos bolts, solenoid and seals
- bank 1 cat. converter (was there an emissions recall?)
- inspection 1/2 done?
- rod bearing and subframe recalls done
- convertible mechanics

Is there anything I seem to be missing? Are these reasonable requests? How much should a good PPI cost, and how long should I expect it to take?

Thanks in advance. Looking forward to spending some serious time on here!
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2013, 06:50 AM
OBS3SSION OBS3SSION is offline
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Who's going to do the PPI for you; a dealership or an indy shop? I'd guess it's going to cost you about $200 for a couple hours of labor.

I think the most important things would be checking the maintenance history and the condition of the consumable parts (tires, brakes, etc.) Combined with a thorough inspection of the rest of the car's mechanical and electrical systems. When the PPI is done, you should have a bill of health listing any issues. Then you can take all of that into consideration when making your offer (or deciding to walk away from a nightmare.)
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2013, 07:08 AM
ccates21 ccates21 is offline
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Mein Auto: E46 M3
Nearest dealer is over an hour away. It'll be an Indy shop with a master mechanic. Has new brakes and tires.
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  #4  
Old 05-07-2013, 07:21 PM
Quick99Si Quick99Si is offline
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Mein Auto: 2004 M3 6MT
Quote:
- new or newer: tires/brakes/belts/hoses
- lower control arm
- rear trailing arm bushing
- front control arm bushings
- shifter bushing
- vanos bolts, solenoid and seals
- bank 1 cat. converter (was there an emissions recall?)
- inspection 1/2 done?
- rod bearing and subframe recalls done
- convertible mechanics
I would move the rod bearing and subframe issues to the top of the list. Your indy may not be experienced enough to tell, but given the VIN, the dealer may provide insight into the matter if the car was serviced at BMW. Given the expense with servicing these, they are often deal breakers or makers.

The top 3 things are checked with virtually every PPI as part of suspension and steering. Other points of interest include the tie rods, lower ball joints (part of front control arms), strut bearings, and end links. The strut bearings creek, the endlinks click, and the balljoints shake the steering wheel at higher speed. These are all checked by manipulating the specific component either by hand or a crow bar while looking for excessive play.

VANOS bolts may also be difficult to diagnose unless you've seen/heard a few bad S54's. I don't think your indy will remove the valve cover and dig to physically inspect, but it's worth asking both him and the owner. If they're unsure, then you would be well advised to go ahead and replace them anyway. Along the same lines, I'd double check the inspection I/II history and pay close attention to when the valve adjustments have been performed.

Another point of interest on E46's is the cooling system. Don't worry so much about the catalyst because it should be picked up in a scan after a couple of drive cycles. As far a computer scan goes, make sure that your indy has a DIS/GT1 station or similar, as opposed to a generic OBD scanner (I always read these types of comments as elitist until I played around with DIS and INPA and compared "bmw codes" to "OBD2 codes.")

Good luck!
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  #5  
Old 05-07-2013, 07:50 PM
ccates21 ccates21 is offline
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Location: Saint Peters
 
Join Date: May 2013
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Mein Auto: E46 M3
Good info, thanks! The indy shop is a place that deals exclusively in high end european cars, so I'm really hoping that he's got a good BMW background. The owner is the one I've been dealing with.
They did the PPI today, with this revised checklist that I sent them... Borrowed a lot from Inspection 1. The top half was emphasized as most important.

- Check rear trailing arm bushings and front control arm bushings.
- Check shifter bushing.
- Check Vanos: bolts for loosening and shear, solenoid solder joints, O-ring seals.
- Check rear subframe for tears. (This was a known E46 M3 issue)
- Check transmission for leaks.
- Check rear axle for leaks.
- Check steering for absence of play, condition of suspension track rods, front axle joints, steering linkage, and joint disc.
- Check engine cooling system/heater hose connections for leaks.
- Check brake and clutch system connectors and lines for leaks, damage, and incorrect positioning.
----------------------
- Half shafts: Check for leaks at flexible boots.
- Visually check fuel tank, lines, and connections for leaks.
- Check condition, position, and mounting of exhaust system. Examine for leaks.
- Check power steering system for leaks.
- Check coolant level and antifreeze protection level.
- Check level of brake and clutch fluid.
- Check air conditioner for operation.
- Check heater/air conditioner blower, rear window defogger.
- Check for worn, new/newer: tires/brakes/belts/hoses.
- Check basic functions of the electrical system.
- Check the convertible top and its mechanics.

- Perform compression test!!!


I really stressed the importance of the Vanos checks, but as long as the car can make the 4-5 hr trip back to St Louis, I think I'll be fine. I'm pretty sure he said the bolts have the torx heads instead of the hex, so if that's true, its a good sign. Otherwise, I'm most concerned about the last time the Inspection 2 and valve adjustment was done/documented. Also, I believe the seller when he told me the rod bearing work was done, because he went on about the additional 100k mile warranty they got with it... Now its a matter of producing the records when I get there. (All of the cars records are somewhere in the pile of boxes he has from moving back from Florida. He's 76 yrs old, so he'll need to start digging soon!) I'm sure we can get things together, though.

Everyone who's put hands on the car says it drives really well and is solid. I'm hoping that my biggest issues are age related and easily addressed. (i.e: The water pump is working fine, but the mechanic said he'd recommend replacing it sooner rather than later.)

Again guys, thanks for helping me out. I'm really looking forward to finally owning the car I've been oogling over for the past 10 years.


****I just realized that this post sounded like I was skeptical of the car making it home...
("...but as long as the car can make the 4-5 hr trip back to St Louis, I think I'll be fine.")

I'm sure it'll make it, and be fine to drive for a good WHILE, provided its 'as-advertised'. Just saying that as soon as it gets back, I'll get to tinkering!

Last edited by ccates21; 05-07-2013 at 08:11 PM. Reason: I'm stupid and I type too much.
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2013, 06:20 AM
BeOfService BeOfService is offline
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Mein Auto: 325i (currently)
Update

Did you buy the car? How did it turn out?
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  #7  
Old 05-31-2013, 10:36 AM
ccates21 ccates21 is offline
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Location: Saint Peters
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: E46 M3
After the PPI came back, I drove down, tested it and bought the car knowing it had a few issues cosmetically on the interior and some mechanically I'd have to address. I knew from the PPI that it would eventually need the valve adjustment, a water pump, a tie rod end (immediately), rear passenger axle and differential seals. He was asking $12,500 with 127k miles, but the car drove pretty well and the engine was sound, so I bought it for $11,000.

But when I got home, I noticed that the horn didn't work... Someone had pulled the fuse. Replaced fuse, turned on and horn sounds off constantly. Pulled the airbag and found the trim screw had fallen out and was wedged in there, completing the horn circuit. Easy fix... However, my TRUSTED mechanic found more than the shop that did the PPI down there...

Then my mechanic additionally found the front and rear differential bushings were shot, along with the shifter bushing and the rear trailing arm bushings. The RTAB's and horn were SPECIFICALLY on the PPI checklist that the shop owner agreed to. And within a 5 minute test drive and putting it on the lift, my guy had diagnosed the differential bushings, RTABs and shifter bushing. The differential had almost a half inch of play because of how bad the bushings were. All of this was completely missed in the PPI, and it really pissed me off. I even went back and looked at my emailed list of checks, which included the RTABs... and his post-PPI checklist, that actually passed the horn!

That being said, I am debating calling the shop that did the PPI and demanding a full or partial refund. They missed things that were glaringly obvious-- especially for a shop that exclusively deals with high end european cars-- and flat out lied about other issues. It was $260 with a compression test, so I'm not sure where to start. But maybe a credit card dispute will get their attention if they don't want to play ball...

Am I glad I bought the car? Yes. I have a FANTASTIC shop working on my car as we speak, and they're doing the work at a fraction of the cost that I'd expected. Without their professional input along the way, I would have walked away from the sale. But now, I will have the peace of mind to know that all the issues have been addressed properly and I can enjoy my new weekend car. And if anyone in the St Louis area needs a great shop that specializes in BMW's, let me know.
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