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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 10-05-2016, 11:01 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Anyone ever export a car from US to EU as an individual (not gov't) and DIY request

I am thinking of shipping my E46 to France, the reason being I have now lost two garage spaces due to sale of a home in the US but have vacant garage space at a house in France which will become partial time residence in the not too distant future. Not looking to sell the car as I ordered it new, picked up via ED back in 2002, and I still enjoy the car immensely.

I looked on French embassy as well as BMW France homologation web sites, and the requirements seem to be:
1. Pay VAT (based on value of the car)
2. Replace with EU compliant headlamps
3. Replace with EU compliant rear lamps
4. Replace side view mirrors
5. Equip with rear fog lights
6. Equip with headlamp washers if xenon

The trouble is these are general guidelines, BMW is not helping me confirm what exactly needs to be done for my car and the French agency tells me they can only give details when car shows for inspection. Outstanding...

On the headlights and taillights, no details on what the differences are but I believe it is to make sure there is amber turn signal in rear lights and none in front headlights. Anyone know if that is case? If so I might be in good shape with the E46 since it is already equipped this way. If not I assume that used lights for an E46 should be easy to come by on other side of pond, but not sure if they are plug and play. I double checked Real OEM and rear assembly part number is the same for EU / US, and most of the front individual part numbers seem to be the same with exception of bulbs and complete assembly.

The mirror requirement is to add the convex edge to the outer mirror for wider view. That should be simple mirror replacement with a EU part. I know this is easy because I equipped the X5 this way to reduce blind spots.

The fog lights... On newer models it just requires a switch to a different light switch that supports rear fogs and making sure there is a proper bulb, but the E46 requires wiring. I know I've seen threads on this and I will review them further to assess what is really needed.

Now for the headlamp washers. I ordered heated seats only instead of cold weather package that would have given me the washers. Wishing I had gone for that package now. How not found any DIY or retrofit info. Anyone have a guess or experience?

Looking for feedback on anyone who has done a similar move and whether my assumptions are correct. The part list does not seem daunting and the VAT ticket should be easy to digest given the age of the car. Thanks in advance.
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Last edited by FredoinSF; 10-05-2016 at 11:03 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2016, 12:18 PM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
...
On the headlights and taillights, no details on what the differences are but I believe it is to make sure there is amber turn signal in rear lights and none in front headlights. Anyone know if that is case...
The focussing and reflectors are different - you need an entire assembly for the headlights. The USA has a stupid standard that *REQUIRES* more "uplight", ie light leak, to illuminate overhead signs.

There are also differences in "parking" lights, and side marker lights. Not sure exactly.

FYI, this type of differences is one of the reasons that importing EU cars into the USA/CA is so difficult - it's not a matter of emissions.
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Old 10-05-2016, 08:06 PM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is offline
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While you are waiting on an answer from someone with experience exporting a car to France, I will make a limited contribution to your questions. I exported a car to Germany about 5 years ago. It was a vehicle I had sold, so both the new owner and I worked together to make it TÜV compliant. But I am sure there are differences between France and Germany, for importing cars.

First, in terms of headlight washers, BMW sells a retrofit kit in Europe. Here is for a Euro 320d:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/show...diagId=03_2512
I noticed the kit is labeled "ended", so this may no longer be available, but at least it is a start. The instructions should still be available.

Assuming you are working on your 2002 330i, the US specification taillights will work for Europe. The headlight switch will have to be replaced. Your car (E46 LCI) should have the sockets and bulbs for the rear foglights, but you will probably have to retrofit a wire from the rear light all the way forward to your LCM (light module).

Since your car has Xenon lights, your car already has the leveling system built in. This will save you a lot of work, to not have to install a leveling system. Although US-spec (DOT) headlights are not identical Euro-spec (DIN), sometimes they are similar enough in function and beam pattern. The TÜV occasionally accepts DOT Xenon headlights, especially on an older car. Your experience in France may or may not be similar. But as a worst case, you will have to replace your lights. Incidentally, you will have to electronically enable the city light function.

Anyway, I hope this helped a bit. Please wait for a better answer from someone with France experience on importing cars.

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Last edited by alpinweiss; 10-05-2016 at 08:12 PM.
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  #4  
Old 10-06-2016, 10:58 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Thanks for the info, very interesting about the details of headlight projection.
I am looking into storage space as an alternative (X5 would be stored summer, 650i winter) for the time being or I may sell the 650i down the line as a last resort. I think all the modifications I am reading about are doable and not all that expensive if using used parts. Definitely something to ponder if I want to keep the fleet intact.
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Old 10-10-2016, 12:50 PM
RAD RAD is offline
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This seems like a very expensive way to store a car. If, on the other hand, you need a car to drive in France why not buy the "ideal car", one you can't get in the US - a 330i Touring, or even better a 330d.
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  #6  
Old 10-11-2016, 08:24 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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We already have a car that we use (something we do not get in the US that is a surprisingly good little car), but once we spend more time we'll want a topless option. Using a car we already own and want to keep long term instead of purchasing another is part of the reason for this crazy idea. I was looking at used Peugeot 308cc's last month and was uninspired. Not a fan of the aesthetics, most were diesels and a diesel in a convertible is just wrong. The top of the line gasser I drove was saddled with some nasty equivalent of SMG and that was awful to drive.

Not doing anything drastic right now. Just going to get a storage space in US and see how things develop as I get closer to splitting time 50/50.
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  #7  
Old 10-11-2016, 08:38 AM
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I know you love your 330Cic--how attached are you to the 428i cabrio? If your US/EU split will top out around 50/50, would it make more sense to leave the E46 here, dump the US 428i and replace it with a Euro-spec 428i over there? You'd have your drop-top on the continent and with an E46 back here, you'd have more to look forward to on each return Stateside.
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   N47° 35' 30.13" E11° 10' 33.36" - End of break-in...you can guess what came next. BMW CCA
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  #8  
Old 10-12-2016, 08:19 AM
alpinweiss alpinweiss is offline
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If you are a Peugeot enthusiast, I think the 406 Coupé was stunningly beautiful. They are now getting old, but if you could find a nice one, perhaps it could substitute for the convertible you wanted. The V6 with manual transmission is the best configuration (IMO).
http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/feature...eot-406-coupe/

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Last edited by alpinweiss; 10-12-2016 at 08:23 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2016, 09:33 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeichen311 View Post
I know you love your 330Cic--how attached are you to the 428i cabrio? If your US/EU split will top out around 50/50, would it make more sense to leave the E46 here, dump the US 428i and replace it with a Euro-spec 428i over there? You'd have your drop-top on the continent and with an E46 back here, you'd have more to look forward to on each return Stateside.

Not a bad plan but unfortunately the 4 series is not exactly mine, it's the significant other's primarily. He's not selling it. Not a bad car, just wish he'd have gone for a manual M235i instead. Given he drove a slush box Pontiac Le Mans when we first met and I managed to talk him into a stick Miata then a Cooper S, there is improvement.
If I have to give up one of "my" cars state side it would be he 650. I love driving it but it scares me long term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinweiss View Post
If you are a Peugeot enthusiast, I think the 406 Coupé was stunningly beautiful. They are now getting old, but if you could find a nice one, perhaps it could substitute for the convertible you wanted. The V6 with manual transmission is the best configuration (IMO).
http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/feature...eot-406-coupe/


The Peugeot 406 coupé. Yes indeed. I came really close to moving to Zurich for work a couple of years ago and was looking for one of those. That gig never came to be. Love the body style, favorite Peugeot after the 70's 504 coupe. They made the 504 In a convertible but sadly not the 406. A cousin has a 406 coupe, but again a diesel. Not bad powerplant, but it spoils the coupé IMO. I have not driven the V6, but I agree that would be the one to have.
If I could find a good 504 cabrio, problem solved. You got me thinking...
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Old 03-29-2017, 08:53 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Anyone ever export a car from US to EU as an individual (not gov't) and DIY request

Reviving the thread.

I found a local Reno garage to rent back in December. The 330cic was stored there all winter and I swapped it out of storage for the 650 a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the lady who owns the house informed me she was selling the house. She listed it, it sold in 4 days with close within 30 days.

With the latest developments, I checked on shipping costs. $1,300 from Richmond CA which is less than an hour from my place in Healdsburg to Le Havre FR which is 1h15 from my parents' where the car will be kept until I retire and move there at least part time.

I ordered a used LCM from Eastern European country to start the rear fog light retrofit. It came in today, see below for picture of LCM with the extra fog light button.



I had an unexpected water pump failure, which is when I told myself I should turn into a VANOS seals upgrade as the car has lost oomph at low RPMs, and then I told myself that required a VCG replacement which is a good thing to do before it ends up leaking, and I told myself I should also do the OFHG while I was at it. This way I have it all buttoned up with potential leaks before my parents take custody. Normandy has BMWs, but they are all smaller displacement diesels and I'd rather take care of as many potential issues myself rather than bother my Dad with this.

Here are pictures of my VANOS. Looks cleanest if any video I've seen in DYI videos so I feel good about my OCD oil change schedule.




The valve cover gasket was still pliable on the perimeter of the cover, the center gaskets were brittle so not wasted effort.

Not sure if anyone is interested, but I'll update the thread with progress on pre shipping projects, shipping, pickup, France registration process. Hoping for a smooth process, expecting difficulties.


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  #11  
Old 03-29-2017, 09:16 PM
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Zeichen311 Zeichen311 is offline
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That's what the inside of my 325xi's engine looked like at ~210,000 miles--with the addition of a slight golden patina on the non-moving parts. You're doing it right.
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   N47° 35' 30.13" E11° 10' 33.36" - End of break-in...you can guess what came next. BMW CCA
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  #12  
Old 04-03-2017, 05:07 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Anyone ever export a car from US to EU as an individual (not gov't) and DIY request

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeichen311 View Post
That's what the inside of my 325xi's engine looked like at ~210,000 miles--with the addition of a slight golden patina on the non-moving parts. You're doing it right.


Thanks. Not sure I'll live long enough to get to 210k miles on this car at the rate the miles are going up! Need to drive it more.


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Old 04-03-2017, 05:12 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Parts hoarding continues. Ordered Euro legal side mirrors.



With that and the the rear fog (install still pending) taken care of, headlights is the biggest worry. That being said 'm starting to question my choice of a Dinan exhaust last year. No louder than a Renault diesel and much more pleasing, but...


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Old 04-03-2017, 06:57 PM
chocopotamus chocopotamus is offline
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Will the Dinan exhaust not pass Euro spec?
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:54 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Will the Dinan exhaust not pass Euro spec?


They check for exhaust noise. I don't know what the criteria are. The Dinan is subtle! But it's not stock...


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Old 04-25-2017, 11:40 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Update on my DIY projects. The car is back together and on the road! Here is what was done:
- Water pump (which is what started this whole thing)
- VANOS seals
- Valve Cover Gasket
- Oil Filter Housing Gasket
- New coolant and oil / filter, obviously...
- Aspheric mirrors installed
- New driver's side airbag installed by dealer based on the Takata recall

This may have been the longest time it took anyone to get these job done, but I was working on it sporadically - because life (two homes so not where car is on weekends, plus one half marathon and one triathlon done after the project started - that stuff takes time...) I elected not to do the DISA rebuild because of time constraint but mostly because the pin is attached very solidly and it passed the vacuum test. I will ship the car with the DISA kit in the trunk and tackle it later.
I've put about 50 miles on the car since install and all seems well. Not sure if placebo effect but I think the VANOS seals job was well worth it as the acceleration seems more rewarding than it had been the past few summers.

I looked at my lower control arm bushings while I was crawling under the car and they look cracked - confirming the feel of the car on the road so that may get added to the project list. In addition, the rear shocks also generate a lot of bouncing over bridges with close expansion joints so add that to the list, as well as the front brakes which are still the original and have very little pad life left. Hoping after I do all this I won't have to touch anything major for another 15 years!

To get it registrable in France I still need that rear fog light which is my biggest headache at this time. I do not have a plan or good DIY to follow. LCM install coming up in next month hopefully, but my indy mentioned a used LCM would cause a tamper dot and would not be codable to my car (anyone know??)
Planning to drop off for shipping mid July; I have one more triathlon and a two day relay between now and then so weekend time is going to be a precious commodity.

Question about the rear shocks: Are there bushings that need to be replaced "while I'm there"?
Also would love feedback on whether installing LCM would cause tamper dot. I highly question it would.
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  #17  
Old 04-25-2017, 11:49 AM
cvx5832 cvx5832 is offline
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For the shock job you can (and in my opinion should) replace the mounts. Keeps the rubber nice and soft.
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Old 04-25-2017, 01:37 PM
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Zeichen311 Zeichen311 is offline
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For the shock job you can (and in my opinion should) replace the mounts. Keeps the rubber nice and soft.
+1. Not only that, the parts are pretty cheap relative to the labor (or personal effort) to do the job over, when the mounts eventually do fail.

Fredo, I would advise against shipping the car overseas with the DISA kit aboard, or any other loose items, unless your carrier is willing to inventory and insure any personal effects in the car upon acceptance for transport. Otherwise, better to transport it with your household effects. It may be easier than the inevitable hassle if something should happen to disappear or get damaged in transit.
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   N47° 35' 30.13" E11° 10' 33.36" - End of break-in...you can guess what came next. BMW CCA

Last edited by Zeichen311; 04-25-2017 at 01:40 PM.
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  #19  
Old 04-25-2017, 09:22 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Thanks for the tips. Will replace mounts along with shocks. I think I did that in my E30 convertible too, 18 to 20 years ago
The disa kit is tiny, will fit in jack pouch or even in center armrest storage. It may end up in my luggage. I fly united so not sure which is safer.


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