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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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  #1  
Old 04-08-2014, 10:15 PM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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New to the Euro world, previous Honda owner!!!!

As the title states, I'm new to the Euro world, specifically BMW's.
I've own Honda's for the last 12 yrs, 91 Prelude [sold ], 92 Integra GSR(stolen), 2001 Honda s2000(sold), and 2000 S2000 with oem HT (current) I'm in the market for a E36 and E46, my fiancé is pregnant so I need a 4 door vehicle, s2000 isn't too child friendly . I found a clean title white 1999 BMW 323i Ac Schnitzer package, the car has 145,xxx and the owner is asking $4,500 obo. Is this reasonably priced? Any obvious or common problems to to expect or look for E36/E46 BMW's? My cousin has 2001 5 series and has no complaints what so ever, I've also heard positive feedback from my uncle who has a 06 7 series. I was currently in the market for a CRV, TSX, and a IS300 but to my surprise they were $6k+ a little out of my price range so I decided to give BMW's a try. I know parts aren't as affordable as most Honda's or Japanese vehicles but are there any previous Honda owners who have any valuable feedback or comments? Considering 323i are entry level luxury sport cars/entry level BMW's, how do they compare to Honda's or any reputable Japanese make and models? What should I expect? Any feedback is greatly appreciate it.

Last edited by s2k90650; 04-08-2014 at 10:19 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-08-2014, 10:41 PM
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Read the E46 wiki! It has a ton of information on these cars.
Located at the top of the page.


I will mention that early model E46s (1999 - 2001) are more prevalent to rear subframe tears.

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Old 04-08-2014, 10:44 PM
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Hello !

Read the E46 Wiki, and Google "BMW E46 Class-Action Lawsuit", which will explain about the subframe cracking problem that plagued many early E46s.

Best to research these things before signing on the dotted line.
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:49 AM
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i advise u to stay in the Honda family (yes i'm in love with BMW ) but still
owning a jap car, u know how resilient they are, u barely pay in maintenance per year, and they practically run on fumes
owning a BMW requires effort and money, and being that ur fiance is pregnant, u'll be needing that time and money instead of wasting it on a 10+ year old car.
however if u'r looking for a very clean BMW, and extremely well maintained, there's a ZHP up for sale for $7,500 by our own smolck.
good luck
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:14 AM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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Originally Posted by heztheone View Post
i advise u to stay in the Honda family (yes i'm in love with BMW ) but still
owning a jap car, u know how resilient they are, u barely pay in maintenance per year, and they practically run on fumes
owning a BMW requires effort and money, and being that ur fiance is pregnant, u'll be needing that time and money instead of wasting it on a 10+ year old car.
however if u'r looking for a very clean BMW, and extremely well maintained, there's a ZHP up for sale for $7,500 by our own smolck.
good luck
Thank you for your honest opinion. I was actually looking at the IS300 and TSX but a lot of kids have gotten a hold of IS300 and have salvaged them :/
IS300 and TSX still carrie premium prices in California but to my surprise, I've seen clean title 3series BMW's under $5k. Yes I agree that most Japanese cars are low maintenance vehicles and reliable but I though about going more with comfort and a little luxury. My dad is a mechanic so labor shouldn't be an issue but I know parts for BMW's are a little more expensive.

Local guy on craigslist is selling this car for $4,500 but is willing to negotiate, he was offered $3,800 and might let it go for $3,800 -/+ car holds a clean title and has 145,xxx miles. He's selling it because he has a STI and wants to get a s2k.


Last edited by s2k90650; 04-09-2014 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:19 AM
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$4500 would buy you a nice E36 which would be way more fun than that 323i, and possibly more reliable. Look for a '97-98 328i.

And keep in mind a used BMW will require $2000/year in maintenance, and more if you get unlucky. If you don't DIY you'll need a good independent shop - they're not hard to find but they aren't cheap.

If your dad's willing to do the work, BMW parts are cheap online.

As a side note, an LSD on an E36 costs like $500 + labor (M3 diff drops right in). An LSD on an E46 is like $2000+.
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Last edited by Chris90; 04-09-2014 at 08:21 AM.
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  #7  
Old 04-09-2014, 08:42 AM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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Originally Posted by Chris90 View Post
$4500 would buy you a nice E36 which would be way more fun than that 323i, and possibly more reliable. Look for a '97-98 328i.

And keep in mind a used BMW will require $2000/year in maintenance, and more if you get unlucky. If you don't DIY you'll need a good independent shop - they're not hard to find but they aren't cheap.

If your dad's willing to do the work, BMW parts are cheap online.

As a side note, an LSD on an E36 costs like $500 + labor (M3 diff drops right in). An LSD on an E46 is like $2000+.
$2,000 yearly maintenance what does it consist of??
Yeah I was looking at e36, they're not too far apart price wise, well at least in cali. I was was actually looking at 318i.
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:49 AM
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$2,000 yearly maintenance what does it consist of??
Yeah I was looking at e36, they're not too far apart price wise, well at least in cali. I was was actually looking at 318i.
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:46 PM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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Originally Posted by heztheone View Post
i advise u to stay in the Honda family (yes i'm in love with BMW ) but still
owning a jap car, u know how resilient they are, u barely pay in maintenance per year, and they practically run on fumes
owning a BMW requires effort and money, and being that ur fiance is pregnant, u'll be needing that time and money instead of wasting it on a 10+ year old car.
however if u'r looking for a very clean BMW, and extremely well maintained, there's a ZHP up for sale for $7,500 by our own smolck.
good luck
I love Honda's but theft in the Honda community is still a problem, at least with the late 80's, 90's, and early 2000's models. RSX is out of the question, 2 seaters and Acura sedans are still a little pricey. It's kind of hard finding a 4 door civic now a days that isn't riced out with the whole hellaflush bull ****. Only car I'm remotely interested is the CRV. I'm not too impressed with the Element, They're ok, I use to drive one for work but, ehhhh I'll still my eye open for a clean base 4 door Civic and a TSX.

Last edited by s2k90650; 04-09-2014 at 01:48 PM.
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  #10  
Old 04-09-2014, 09:54 PM
heztheone heztheone is offline
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Thank you for your honest opinion. I was actually looking at the IS300 and TSX but a lot of kids have gotten a hold of IS300 and have salvaged them :/
that lexus has a 2JZ-GE engine, primary reason for that salvaged title

Quote:
Originally Posted by s2k90650 View Post
IS300 and TSX still carrie premium prices in California but to my surprise, I've seen clean title 3series BMW's under $5k. Yes I agree that most Japanese cars are low maintenance vehicles and reliable but I though about going more with comfort and a little luxury. My dad is a mechanic so labor shouldn't be an issue but I know parts for BMW's are a little more expensive.
the main concerns when owning a BMW is not the cost of the items, it's the labor. since ur dad is a mechanic, owning and maintaining a BMW won't be that difficult. nothing beats the luxury and feel of a BMW.
putting myself in ur shoes after reading ur thread, u want a sedan that has power. well that IS300 can become a beast with very little money (having that 2JZ-GE engine under the hood). in case u didn't find one up to ur standards, i would recommend getting a 330 instead of a 323. the 323 is very sluggish, the 330 is a lot more torquy and powerful in comparison, can even match an IS300 with a good driver behind the wheel
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris90 View Post
$4500 would buy you a nice E36 which would be way more fun than that 323i, and possibly more reliable. Look for a '97-98 328i.

And keep in mind a used BMW will require $2000/year in maintenance, and more if you get unlucky. If you don't DIY you'll need a good independent shop - they're not hard to find but they aren't cheap.

If your dad's willing to do the work, BMW parts are cheap online.

As a side note, an LSD on an E36 costs like $500 + labor (M3 diff drops right in). An LSD on an E46 is like $2000+.
I personally think the 323i would be WAY more fun than the e36 and the lsd for it is $1250 not $2000+.

My 323i has more miles than anyone commenting in this thread and has given me practically zero problems. No sub frame issues either. But I have an automatic and not a stick shift. Seems to be more of an issue on the manual trans cars.

Its far more civilized than the earlier models too feature wise. Since you did say this is for a family car.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:03 AM
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I personally think the 323i would be WAY more fun than the e36 and the lsd for it is $1250 not $2000+.

My 323i has more miles than anyone commenting in this thread and has given me practically zero problems. No sub frame issues either. But I have an automatic and not a stick shift. Seems to be more of an issue on the manual trans cars.

Its far more civilized than the earlier models too feature wise. Since you did say this is for a family car.
Right e46 is more roomy as family car.

OP is coming from Honda world... i was considering 4door civic or Accord at some point, but i learned they have about 200€ higher insurance payments per year (here in Finland) because they are so popular among ricer racers. I might have bought some other bit cheaper 4door, but when wife said she really likes looks of e46, then i didn't try to talk her out of it. :P
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:40 AM
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Main thing I love about mine is the gas mileage. Worse Ive ever had was 23mpg and I autocrossed at the track that weekend

City driving only and I get 24.5 and around 36mph highway. So for me I get a car that handles great, very peppy and killing mpg and yes I know what peppy is. Between the corvette, the 350 hp formula, and 600 hp truck I do have stuff to compare it to. I own it for the driving experience and mpg I get out of it. Its been very reliable too. Cost me about $35 a year in maintenance at the most.

Cheapest vehicle Ive ever owned upkeep wise.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:47 AM
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I personally think the 323i would be WAY more fun than the e36 and the lsd for it is $1250 not $2000+.

My 323i has more miles than anyone commenting in this thread and has given me practically zero problems. No sub frame issues either. But I have an automatic and not a stick shift. Seems to be more of an issue on the manual trans cars.

Its far more civilized than the earlier models too feature wise. Since you did say this is for a family car.
My E36 was more fun than my ZHP. You've probably never driven an E36.

E36 is slightly roomier than E46, and can't think of any features a 2000 323i has over a 98 328i, other than stability control.

LInk to $1250 LSD?
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Last edited by Chris90; 04-10-2014 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:08 AM
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My E36 was more fun than my ZHP. You've probably never driven an E36.

E36 is slightly roomier than E46, and can't think of any features a 2000 323i has over a 98 328i, other than stability control.

LInk to $1250 LSD?
Wavetrac's quote they sent me recently. Theres a thread on it here.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:15 AM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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Wow. Thanks for all the wonderfull feedback
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:18 AM
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Wavetrac's quote they sent me recently. Theres a thread on it here.
OK, I remember that. Do you think his dad would know how to install an LSD though? My understanding is it's not simply drop in on an E46, or is Wavetrac's $1250 price for a diff you can just bolt right in?

On an E36 it's much easier since it has the same rear end as the M3.

To the OP though, the problem with E36s is they're getting old now, so not only have they stopped depreciating, they might feel jiggly compared to an E46.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:23 AM
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Wow. Thanks for all the wonderfull feedback
Like others said, if you have free labor, BMW parts aren't that expensive, no more than a Honda, I think. So budget $1000/year if you have your dad doing all the work. Make sure you learn with him.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:49 AM
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OK, I remember that. Do you think his dad would know how to install an LSD though? My understanding is it's not simply drop in on an E46, or is Wavetrac's $1250 price for a diff you can just bolt right in?

On an E36 it's much easier since it has the same rear end as the M3.

To the OP though, the problem with E36s is they're getting old now, so not only have they stopped depreciating, they might feel jiggly compared to an E46.
If his dads a mechanic Id imagine he's done rear end rebuilds and there isnt that much to doing it. They sent me info on it when I got the quote. The only reason I havent done mine yet is Im working on the wife's 528i right now redoing suspension, tires, and updating the front end to the m5 front piece. Just got done putting the hids, projectors and halo's in it. Really brought the look up to a more modern look with just that.

As for the e36, yep been there drove that. In fact Im eye balling an m3 that a local guy here has. I dont think he knows what it is.

For a handling family car with a much more modern interior and better ride I think the e46 wins hands down over e36. Remember he's looking for a sporty family car.

I dont hate the e36 but it feels very old in comparison sitting in one compared to the e46.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:32 PM
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If his dads a mechanic Id imagine he's done rear end rebuilds and there isnt that much to doing it. They sent me info on it when I got the quote. The only reason I havent done mine yet is Im working on the wife's 528i right now redoing suspension, tires, and updating the front end to the m5 front piece. Just got done putting the hids, projectors and halo's in it. Really brought the look up to a more modern look with just that.

As for the e36, yep been there drove that. In fact Im eye balling an m3 that a local guy here has. I dont think he knows what it is.

For a handling family car with a much more modern interior and better ride I think the e46 wins hands down over e36. Remember he's looking for a sporty family car.

I dont hate the e36 but it feels very old in comparison sitting in one compared to the e46.
It's been 9 years since i sat in an E36, you're probably right. If you could find one in good shape though, it's more involving and faster than a 323i.

16 years since I drove a 323, that was at BMW's Driving Event when they introduced the E46, with an autoX comparison with an A4, Volvo S40 or something, i forget. That event was awesome.
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:20 AM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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My current s2000









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Old 04-11-2014, 08:26 AM
s2k90650 s2k90650 is offline
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Local seller is asking $3,800 for this car. Clean title, 145,xxx miles
Allegedly AC Schnitzer edition???? I kind of highly doubt that.
What do you guys think? I'm going to check out the car tomorrow.

Thanks
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by s2k90650 View Post
Local seller is asking $3,800 for this car. Clean title, 145,xxx miles
Allegedly AC Schnitzer edition???? I kind of highly doubt that.
What do you guys think? I'm going to check out the car tomorrow.

Thanks
It could be true....if it wasn`t beaten to death, and given halfway decent maintenance, it might not be a bad deal. If service records are available, by all means, check it out.
Good luck !
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:52 AM
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Can't tell if your S2000 just has a really big intake and manifold or it's boosted or not. ???
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by s2k90650 View Post
Local seller is asking $3,800 for this car. Clean title, 145,xxx miles
Allegedly AC Schnitzer edition???? I kind of highly doubt that.
What do you guys think? I'm going to check out the car tomorrow.

Thanks
"AC Schnitzer Edition" - this doesn't exist, I'd be skeptical. Maybe he just means it has some Schnitzer parts on it.
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