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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 03-23-2017, 06:39 AM
khavon34 khavon34 is offline
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Reliability of the M54 engine

How reliable is this engine ? And does it burn oil ?


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  #2  
Old 03-23-2017, 07:17 AM
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There is a user on E46Fanatics.com with 550,000 miles on his original engine. Take care of it and it will take care of you. Getting more than 200,000 miles is common.

Last edited by All2kool; 06-19-2017 at 02:28 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-23-2017, 08:16 AM
Cardiac Cardiac is offline
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  #4  
Old 03-23-2017, 08:45 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Reading several threads is probably best...

The engine itself is extremely reliable, BUT:
- Neglecting cooling refresh, suffering a coolant loss, and no stopping immediately is most common cause of M54 mortality.
- it will need several ancillary parts: CVV (aka CCV), DISA, OFHG, VANOS seals. If you're not familiar with those, search.
- It should get more frequent oil changes than BMW recommends (say 7,500 miles instead of 15,000)
- Auto trans much weaker point than the manual, particularly if it's neglected.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:40 AM
Dave1027 Dave1027 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by All2kool View Post
There is a user on E46Fanatics.com with 550,000 miles on his original engine.
I think that was an M52TUB25
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2017, 08:04 AM
mtnbimmer mtnbimmer is offline
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Very if well maintained.
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  #7  
Old 03-28-2017, 07:45 PM
Superniceone Superniceone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
Reading several threads is probably best...

The engine itself is extremely reliable, BUT:
- Neglecting cooling refresh, suffering a coolant loss, and no stopping immediately is most common cause of M54 mortality.
- it will need several ancillary parts: CVV (aka CCV), DISA, OFHG, VANOS seals. If you're not familiar with those, search.
- It should get more frequent oil changes than BMW recommends (say 7,500 miles instead of 15,000)
- Auto trans much weaker point than the manual, particularly if it's neglected.


Buy HM SYN oil change filter @7500 spend $1200 on all the rubber parts every 100000. Change the fluids in everything @75000. Use Mann or Mahle filters ON EVERYTHING.


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  #8  
Old 06-19-2017, 10:47 AM
Lane from s.c. Lane from s.c. is offline
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My 2005 is at 321,000 miles and has been the least expensive car I've ever owned. I just had my first big expense, $600 for both manifold cats. I did have a fuel pump at 1\4 million miles. Change oil every 15,000 miles and engine is clean. I plan to drive 1\2 million or more. My oil consumption has been very little until recent and it could be the clogged cats. Creating more back pressure. It drives great again. I love this car.
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  #9  
Old 06-19-2017, 10:49 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane from s.c. View Post
My 2005 is at 321,000 miles and has been the least expensive car I've ever owned. I just had my first big expense, $600 for both manifold cats. I did have a fuel pump at 1\4 million miles. Change oil every 15,000 miles and engine is clean. I plan to drive 1\2 million or more. My oil consumption has been very little until recent and it could be the clogged cats. Creating more back pressure. It drives great again. I love this car.
We need to see some pics of that odometer. That's awesome.
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  #10  
Old 06-19-2017, 12:56 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane from s.c. View Post
My 2005 is at 321,000 miles and has been the least expensive car I've ever owned. I just had my first big expense, $600 for both manifold cats. I did have a fuel pump at 1\4 million miles. Change oil every 15,000 miles and engine is clean. I plan to drive 1\2 million or more. My oil consumption has been very little until recent and it could be the clogged cats. Creating more back pressure. It drives great again. I love this car.

That is awesome but I can't believe there hasn't been a couple of water pumps, expansion tanks, LCA bushings, a OFHG, VCG, CCV, and DISA somewhere between 0 and 321k.
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  #11  
Old 06-19-2017, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
That is awesome but I can't believe there hasn't been a couple of water pumps, expansion tanks, LCA bushings, a OFHG, VCG, CCV, and DISA somewhere between 0 and 321k.
Not everyone has to do all of that. My 323i is on the original disa, ccv, and all original cooling system parts etc at almost 400k miles. Im still on the original fuel pump too.

I did replace the mechanical fan clutch at one point and a few power steering pumps.

I replaced the steering rack around 300k.

I swapped the auto trans to a manual right around 300k but the auto still worked just wanted the 5 speed to autocross stuff.

New struts, rear diff bushing, brakes, changed the oil, filters and that's about it.

I can't think of anything else I had to do to it.

Very reliable car. That's the 2.5 of course.

I hope my X5's 3.0 is as good long term as the 323i has been or my wifes 528i (original ccv and cooling system on that one too).
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  #12  
Old 06-19-2017, 01:12 PM
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Oh forgot window regulators on the 323i. Like all my bmw's it has had a steady diet of window regulators.

Lots and lots and LOTS of window regulators.

I now stock them since I found a supply of them for $25 each. I just keep a few shelves full of the different ones my different bmw's use.
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  #13  
Old 06-19-2017, 03:53 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Well then, maybe there are exceptions to the self destructing cooling system... Meanwhile mine is on its third water pump at 64k miles. Replaced the original preemptively with the supposedly best you can get lifetime made in US stewart EMP version; it sprung a leak after 7k miles. Highly disappointed. Water pump numero tres (a replacement Stewart version) was put in service recently, we shall see if it holds up better. If it doesn't I'm going back to OEM.
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  #14  
Old 06-19-2017, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
Well then, maybe there are exceptions to the self destructing cooling system... Meanwhile mine is on its third water pump at 64k miles. Replaced the original preemptively with the supposedly best you can get lifetime made in US stewart EMP version; it sprung a leak after 7k miles. Highly disappointed. Water pump numero tres (a replacement Stewart version) was put in service recently, we shall see if it holds up better. If it doesn't I'm going back to OEM.
Great I was planning on putting one of those on my X5. Hope the fast failure wasn't the norm with them.
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:12 PM
Y2K_Bimmer Y2K_Bimmer is offline
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Mine has been pretty reliable. Going to turn 200,00 tomorrow or Wednesday. There has been some nit picky stuff like window regulators but overall cost of ownership has been very low.
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  #16  
Old 06-20-2017, 08:01 AM
John Davis John Davis is offline
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My girlfriend's 2002 325xi has just over 267,000 miles. The engine is in great shape, so I'm now spending to get some bodywork done and the interior spruced up so the car will look more or less new inside and out. (We are sentimental about this car.) Why waste a perfectly good powertrain?
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  #17  
Old 06-20-2017, 09:10 AM
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I had 200k miles on my old one and it was supercharged. Ran fine.
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  #18  
Old 06-20-2017, 10:18 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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I just remembered: The oil pump nut. Ask MalibuMafiaV how it feels when that red light of death comes on and your car starts making bad noises.
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  #19  
Old 06-20-2017, 10:53 AM
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I'm hoping with mine being a 2005 it will have the factory loctite additive used on the nut. Plus I don't think I will see much time over 6k rpms in my X5

The X5 is the only thing I have with the 3.0 in it.

From what I read the 3.0 is the one that has the problems with the nut backing off for high revving folks.
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Old 06-20-2017, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
I just remembered: The oil pump nut. Ask MalibuMafiaV how it feels when that red light of death comes on and your car starts making bad noises.
That could of been way worse. I literally turned the car off instantly when they light came on. And ditched a blown engine. That was a scary day. And the fact it happened at the top of my canyon was even better. Was able to coast all the way into the garage.
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  #21  
Old 06-20-2017, 11:53 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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Originally Posted by MalibuMafiaV View Post
That could of been way worse. I literally turned the car off instantly when they light came on. And ditched a blown engine. That was a scary day. And the fact it happened at the top of my canyon was even better. Was able to coast all the way into the garage.
I didn't know that part.

You sure did get lucky.
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  #22  
Old 06-20-2017, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
I didn't know that part.

You sure did get lucky.
But the oil pump nut issue was only with the M54B30.

If you've got a M52 your in the clear.
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BMW 2006 M5 - REALLY LOUD
BMW 2007 335i. Single Turbo 6266.
Audi S4 2000 Stage 3 - Dat turbo spool - SOLD
BMW 2000 3-series - Supercharged Because race car SOLD
Maserati 2004 M128 GT - HREs/tint/straight piped SOLD
BMW 2006 M3 - stock - SOLD
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  #23  
Old 06-20-2017, 12:49 PM
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Mine is a M54B30 in the X5. I read somewhere that later years somewhere after 2003 (mines a 2005) had Loctite added from the factory and a different balancer to help with the issue. Hoping for the best
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Old 06-20-2017, 02:33 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Originally Posted by crowz View Post
Mine is a M54B30 in the X5. I read somewhere that later years somewhere after 2003 (mines a 2005) had Loctite added from the factory and a different balancer to help with the issue. Hoping for the best
It wont happen as long as you aren't red lining it all the time.
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BMW 2006 M5 - REALLY LOUD
BMW 2007 335i. Single Turbo 6266.
Audi S4 2000 Stage 3 - Dat turbo spool - SOLD
BMW 2000 3-series - Supercharged Because race car SOLD
Maserati 2004 M128 GT - HREs/tint/straight piped SOLD
BMW 2006 M3 - stock - SOLD
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  #25  
Old 06-20-2017, 07:44 PM
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I drive the X5 like Im 100 years old. Its my slow cruising vehicle. Well I do go into curves faster than I should but no real revving. I have my toys for the fun stuff.
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