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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 08-24-2016, 10:34 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Looking into buying a 3-series ...

Hi everyone,

Used to own a 325i (E36) in the past but traded it in for a 2003 530i (E39), a decision that I still regret to this day (not that I bought the 530, but that I sold the 325 ... - should've kept them both !!)

I love my 530 and will drive it till its wheels falls apart but I have a very short trip to the office these days and for that reason I have to change the CCV on it every winter.

Soooo ... I am thinking of getting a 3-series (either E36 or E46, M3 is also tempting) as my daily commuter and have a few questions:
  1. Is E46 just as prone to CCV failure as E39 ? If so, is E36 better in this regard ?
  2. Unless is a major repair (like dropping the oil pan), I do all the maintenance myself. So I have no issues with doing the cooling overhaul, suspension, etc. But rear sub-frame repair ... it's a different story. Are some years and models more affected by this issue than others ?
  3. Tempted to get a coupe or convertible (saw an M3 of that kind for sale ) ... Any additional things to watch out for on them compared to sedans ?

Thanks very much guys !

Last edited by bmw4te; 08-24-2016 at 01:30 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2016, 10:59 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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E46s share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as the E39, including problems with the CVV. In your case, you`d be way ahead of the game by just removing it altogether, and replacing it with the much simpler catch can. We have some good info on the subject right here, check the Sticky Threads.

It`s mostly E46s that were built prior to 2002 that have subframe problems, you don`t see much of that with more recent cars.

Happy Hunting ! (and, read the E46 Wiki !)
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2016, 11:59 AM
Rob43 Rob43 is offline
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If it were me, I'd buy a 02 or 03 330Ci/i with a 5 speed & MS43. This will target the best of all worlds...



Rob43
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Rob #43 ITS/ITR/STU, BMW 325I, STU LAP RECORD
SUMMIT POINT WV 1:24:229 S.C.C.A.
(DynoDynamics https:vimeo.com/8486878 Dyno Video)
"Chance Favors The Prepared Mind"

I BUILD SUSPENSIONS (Consult) FROM MILD TO WILD FOR RWD & Xi E46's
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
Nitrous is a little trickier than boost, but it's not the spray that kills motors, it's STUPIDITY!!
I Know How To Fix The Rear "Bouncing" Problem On Your Cheap Coilovers Like: Jom RL SE RK SW & FK.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2016, 12:34 PM
JKRIT JKRIT is online now
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Of the ones you are considering, the M3 is the very last one I would choose as a daily driver for a "very short commute" and harsh winters. Among other reasons, the M3 requires 10W60 motor oil. IMHO, to drive that race-car-for-the-street under your conditions would amount to abuse.
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2016, 09:07 PM
John Davis John Davis is offline
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Originally Posted by Rob43 View Post
If it were me, I'd buy a 02 or 03 330Ci/i with a 5 speed & MS43. This will target the best of all worlds... Rob43
Just out of curiosity, why a 5 speed and MS43 over a 6 speed and MS45?
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2016, 09:43 PM
Rob43 Rob43 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Davis View Post
Just out of curiosity, why a 5 speed and MS43 over a 6 speed and MS45?
To be clear, a 5 speed Over an auto trans. There's certainly nothing wrong with a 6 speed,....except when it comes time to replace the clutch & flywheel with a lighter high performance design; then that's a problem based on the lack of options & expense.

MS43 is MUCH easier to tune "if" someone wants to mod their Bimmer at a later date. MS45.1, not so much...


Rob43
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Rob #43 ITS/ITR/STU, BMW 325I, STU LAP RECORD
SUMMIT POINT WV 1:24:229 S.C.C.A.
(DynoDynamics https:vimeo.com/8486878 Dyno Video)
"Chance Favors The Prepared Mind"

I BUILD SUSPENSIONS (Consult) FROM MILD TO WILD FOR RWD & Xi E46's
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
Nitrous is a little trickier than boost, but it's not the spray that kills motors, it's STUPIDITY!!
I Know How To Fix The Rear "Bouncing" Problem On Your Cheap Coilovers Like: Jom RL SE RK SW & FK.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-29-2016, 09:47 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Thanks to all who replied !

I am eyeing a 2003 330i with 1 owner and 140k on ODO, manual, very likely with premium package from what I can make out of the few pictures provided (in which the car looks good I must say).

However at that mileage, I expect to at least have to change the starter and possibly the clutch. Most likely suspension, mounts and cooling overhaul too.

Roughly the parts for all the above will cost ~2 grands I reckon so it depends how much the owner is willing to negotiate ...
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  #8  
Old 08-29-2016, 10:45 PM
Rob43 Rob43 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Thanks to all who replied !

I am eyeing a 2003 330i with 1 owner and 140k on ODO, manual, very likely with premium package from what I can make out of the few pictures provided (in which the car looks good I must say).

However at that mileage, I expect to at least have to change the starter and possibly the clutch. Most likely suspension, mounts and cooling overhaul too.

Roughly the parts for all the above will cost ~2 grands I reckon so it depends how much the owner is willing to negotiate ...

Find out what the build date is.

Unless something is extremely imperative, start with the cooling system, then move on to other things...



Rob43
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Rob #43 ITS/ITR/STU, BMW 325I, STU LAP RECORD
SUMMIT POINT WV 1:24:229 S.C.C.A.
(DynoDynamics https:vimeo.com/8486878 Dyno Video)
"Chance Favors The Prepared Mind"

I BUILD SUSPENSIONS (Consult) FROM MILD TO WILD FOR RWD & Xi E46's
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
Nitrous is a little trickier than boost, but it's not the spray that kills motors, it's STUPIDITY!!
I Know How To Fix The Rear "Bouncing" Problem On Your Cheap Coilovers Like: Jom RL SE RK SW & FK.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-30-2016, 07:28 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Thank you Rob43 !

According to realoem (I have the VIN), it was built on 10/2002, USA model, engine M54. Does that raise any concerns ?

According to carfax, it had coils, fuel filter and blower motor replaced. Last entry hints towards issues with starting the car so that makes me suspect that either the alternator, the starter, or both are on their way out.
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  #10  
Old 08-30-2016, 10:09 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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One other thing: at 140K, what chances are that the cats are done, or on their way out ?
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  #11  
Old 08-30-2016, 10:56 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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It turns out that the car has all three packages: sport, premium and cold weather. Anything else to watch out/be aware of in this case ?

Thank you.
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  #12  
Old 08-30-2016, 11:04 AM
Rob43 Rob43 is offline
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Mein Auto: 03 331Ci, 5spd
With that build date, you have a MS43 ECU & a 5 speed. This means any future mods will be easier to do because the MS43 ECU has been cracked.

As to the cats being possibly clogged, probably Not.

Enjoy your new/used Bimmer.



Rob43
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Rob #43 ITS/ITR/STU, BMW 325I, STU LAP RECORD
SUMMIT POINT WV 1:24:229 S.C.C.A.
(DynoDynamics https:vimeo.com/8486878 Dyno Video)
"Chance Favors The Prepared Mind"

I BUILD SUSPENSIONS (Consult) FROM MILD TO WILD FOR RWD & Xi E46's
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
Nitrous is a little trickier than boost, but it's not the spray that kills motors, it's STUPIDITY!!
I Know How To Fix The Rear "Bouncing" Problem On Your Cheap Coilovers Like: Jom RL SE RK SW & FK.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-24-2016, 12:26 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 BMW 530i
So the car I was originally interested in had sold before I even had a chance to drive it

The other day I saw a 2000 328Ci which looked good. The "only" problem was that the oil level light (yellow) was on soon after the car started. It had plenty of oil and the engine had a smooth, quiet sound, not vibrations felt in the cabin and no shudder. However, after a while the ASC+T light also lit up (the car was stationary all the time) and at that time the idle got rather rough ... The car had ~90K miles on the ODO.

Now I'd say that most likely the culprit for the oil level light is a faulty oil sensor. And from what I've read that can throw additional weird errors. But can it also trigger the ASC+T and cause rough idling ? Now I've seen some sort of "brownish" coat under the oil cap (haven't seen that before on other cars ...) - it wasn't thick but it was there. Made me wonder whether there was some sludge in the engine ... . On the other hand, I think sludge should trigger the low oil pressure light if it was that bad.

Anyway, I got scared and didn't even drive it but now I wonder whether my fear was not exaggerated and maybe if it's just an oil level sensor, I could use that to haggle for a very good price as the car otherwise was nice.
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  #14  
Old 09-24-2016, 12:46 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
So the car I was originally interested in had sold before I even had a chance to drive it

The other day I saw a 2000 328Ci which looked good. The "only" problem was that the oil level light (yellow) was on soon after the car started. It had plenty of oil and the engine had a smooth, quiet sound, not vibrations felt in the cabin and no shudder. However, after a while the ASC+T light also lit up (the car was stationary all the time) and at that time the idle got rather rough ... The car had ~90K miles on the ODO.

Now I'd say that most likely the culprit for the oil level light is a faulty oil sensor. And from what I've read that can throw additional weird errors. But can it also trigger the ASC+T and cause rough idling ? Now I've seen some sort of "brownish" coat under the oil cap (haven't seen that before on other cars ...) - it wasn't thick but it was there. Made me wonder whether there was some sludge in the engine ... . On the other hand, I think sludge should trigger the low oil pressure light if it was that bad.

Anyway, I got scared and didn't even drive it but now I wonder whether my fear was not exaggerated and maybe if it's just an oil level sensor, I could use that to haggle for a very good price as the car otherwise was nice.
You really want to avoid any cars (particularly coupes) that were built prior to 2002. They were the most prone to subframe cracking and separation (dangerous and very expensive to repair).
__________________
The road goes ever onward....
(R.I.P. Jever)

*Please support the Disabled American Veterans*

When faced with choosing between two evils, always go with the one you`ve never tried before....
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  #15  
Old 09-24-2016, 01:19 PM
Rob43 Rob43 is offline
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Location: Richmond VA
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 301
Mein Auto: 03 331Ci, 5spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
You really want to avoid any cars (particularly coupes) that were built prior to 2002. They were the most prone to subframe cracking and separation (dangerous and very expensive to repair).
Take Bob's advice.



Rob43
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Rob #43 ITS/ITR/STU, BMW 325I, STU LAP RECORD
SUMMIT POINT WV 1:24:229 S.C.C.A.
(DynoDynamics https:vimeo.com/8486878 Dyno Video)
"Chance Favors The Prepared Mind"

I BUILD SUSPENSIONS (Consult) FROM MILD TO WILD FOR RWD & Xi E46's
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
Nitrous is a little trickier than boost, but it's not the spray that kills motors, it's STUPIDITY!!
I Know How To Fix The Rear "Bouncing" Problem On Your Cheap Coilovers Like: Jom RL SE RK SW & FK.
Reply With Quote
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