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E46 M3 (2001-2006)

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  #1  
Old 10-20-2011, 06:48 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Considering M3: Can I afford it?

Hey guys, I'm new to these forums, but I admit I have done quite a bit of snooping around before I registered. I'm a senior in highschool and have been saving since I was 11 or so for a car. The time has finally come. I've been dreaming of getting an E46 M3 and I have enough saved up as well as a job to pay for insurance and repairs and fun things like that. However, before I make the plunge, I have a couple of questions about ownership and such.

1. How much can I expect to spend on a highly used M3 in terms of repairs and maintenance? How much do regular maintenance trips cost and how often do you have to take the car in? And how often do things go horribly wrong with your car?

I guess an addendum to that would be how critical is it to use OEM parts? I've read that BMW brakes are particularly expensive, so are non-BMW brakes fine?

2. I live in New England and I don't have a garage. How is the M3 in crappy weather? Is being exposed to rain and snow and salt going to wreak havoc on the car?

3. Anything else I should know before making a commitment?

I appreciate the help guys, and hopefully I'll be able to officially join the community soon!
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2011, 06:02 AM
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Highmodulus Highmodulus is offline
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Honestly- no.

And you never will be able to afford the insurance at your age, if they will offer it at all. Instead of putting all your money in a car- buy a nice used bimmer with 1/2 and save the rest.
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2011, 12:54 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Instead of being so pessimistic can you give me an estimate of what insurance would cost? I talked to an agent who gave me an estimate of $2,000-2,500, but obviously agents are going to under estimate.
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  #4  
Old 10-21-2011, 01:21 PM
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LarkHouston LarkHouston is offline
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It would depend on several things. Previous tickets? Previous claims? Is it a tag on to your parents policy or a stand alone? Urban or city area? Rates vary from state to state. So unless someone else on here matches your circumstances hard to estimate. Get your insurance agent to give you a hard estimate. It's not that difficult. He is just being lazy. Finally, there are websites which will give you estimates.

And the maintenance on older BMWs, especially M3s can eat you alive. I applaud your gumption, but you are biting off a lot at 16. Good luck.
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  #5  
Old 10-21-2011, 01:58 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Cheers. Would a similar year 330ci be significantly cheaper to own? Thanks for the replies, too; I appreciate it.
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  #6  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:03 PM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is offline
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If you're mechanically inclined and don't mind DIY projects, I'd say go for it! An M3 will be a better investment and will hold its value better than a 330
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  #7  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:08 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Definitely all for DYI. I want to be a mechanical engineer, so the sooner I get experience the better haha. If you don't mind, would you tell me what you spent on repairs and such in your first couple years of ownership?
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  #8  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:08 PM
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LarkHouston LarkHouston is offline
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It should. But much of that will be driven by the condition of the car and the maintenance care taken by previous owner(s). You should buy only a car with all maintenance records and you should have it inspected by a reputable independent mechanic. If you were in Houston I could give the name of a great one. Ask on the boards for some recs in your area. You should join the BMWCCA. Check with the local BMWCCA chapter for the name of some good local mechanics.
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  #9  
Old 10-21-2011, 03:20 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Good advice, thanks. No matter what car I get it will be highly used, so that advice is particularly pertinent. I guess I can't really make a final decision until I have a rough idea of costs for the two cars: M3 and 330ci. Obviously it varies wildly from car to car, but if anyone could tell me about their personal experience that would be awesome, or if there is a website that compiles that kind of information. Thanks again for the help everyone.
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  #10  
Old 10-22-2011, 07:01 AM
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Ask the agent for a quote, not an estimate. And make sure you have enough coverage, agents will give you estimates based on the minimum required coverage. And if your state only requires $20K liability, think what happens if you hit a new M3.

As for maintenance, it will vary. BMW brake parts are not that expensive, but no reaso to use OEM. Aftermarket pads work better and make less dust.

There are several known issues with the M3, but none are huge issues, except for the rear subframe mounting cracking.
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2011, 07:57 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is offline
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It depends on if youre fixing things that need to be replaced or getting into performance upgrades.
I've had my 330i for 3 years. Only had to do about 1500 dollars of maintenance to it.
Control arms 500
Brakes 500
Cooling system 350
Oil changes maybe 200
Belts 60
Fluids 200

Figure 1000 every time you need tires. If you're driving in the winter you'll need snow tires and maybe a spare set of wheels to mount them on.

Don't buy anything without a subframe inspection.
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  #12  
Old 10-22-2011, 07:58 AM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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^That's somewhat promising. I just got a bunch of quotes from all the insurance companies websites with a lot of coverage and they are all manageable, so yay. And it's good to hear that using aftermarket brakes is acceptable practice. I feel like if I find a well maintenanced M3 I can go for it. The extra money is definitely worth it for the ///M badges.

Mlukas161, just saw your post: That's really helpful, thanks. Those definitely aren't overwhelming prices.

Last edited by speedlover1994; 10-22-2011 at 08:00 AM.
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  #13  
Old 10-23-2011, 01:26 AM
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Do realize that some things are going to cost more. Like oil changes. Castrol TWS 10W-60 is around $9 per liter, and you need 6 - 7 to change the oil.
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  #14  
Old 10-23-2011, 06:50 AM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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How often do you have to change the oil? And I assume oil changes can be DIY?

Last edited by speedlover1994; 10-23-2011 at 06:51 AM.
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  #15  
Old 10-24-2011, 06:18 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Annually or every 7,500 miles whichever comes first.

BMW says every 15K miles, but most everyone does it in between.

And it not actually mileage, there is a countdown on the dash, based on fuel used. So drive harder, oil changes come more often. The coutner starts at 15,525 miles when reset, most people chance teh oil at about half way to 0.

Yes, you can IDY, but just pointing out, that even the oil is more expensive on these cars.
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  #16  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:44 AM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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That's actually good to know, thanks. All the littler things really add up. I just need to decide if I want to listen to my heart or my brain now. But god do I want an M.
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  #17  
Old 10-26-2011, 12:55 PM
Matt P. Matt P. is offline
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I had been wanting a BMW... not just the M series but a standard one for many... many years! I was looking for one so hard when i was shopping for my first car. I had even found one. An E36 328i 4 doors standard with everything I wanted for $7,500. That was back in 2000 when I was 17. I even had the keychain to go with the car I didn't have!

Not long after, I found out how expensice it was to repair and maintain. Plus the insurance! If I were you, I would get myself something "cheaper" doesn't have to be a Kia... but something more reasonable. otherwise you will be living for this car. Say good bye to your social life, friends and savings! All your money will go into it.

I'm 29 now. I have a steady fulltime job. Recently single with no kids. That's the only reason why I can afford one of these! Less 6 months ago... It was still only a dream!

My advice to you, buy a reasonable car. Drive it and have fun with it! Plus you'll have a life and you will be able to do things and not have to work exclusively to keep a car running!

I know exactly how you feel, I was in the exact situation! And $3000 for a steering rack is A LOT of money!


Edit: You also have to take into account that you HAVE to fuel with "premium". Get the more expensive oil. Have decent tires that cost $1600 for OEM Michelins. $150 for the OEM wippers. $33 for a blinker socket. The list goes on! I don't want to dissapoint you but you might regret it after buying it.

That said, I don't know your financial situation and can't choose for you but I can help in your decision!

Last edited by Matt P.; 10-26-2011 at 01:04 PM.
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  #18  
Old 10-26-2011, 01:09 PM
Matt P. Matt P. is offline
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You could have a lot of fun in a Subaru WRX or STi! A well tuned version will easily pass a (stock) M3 on a straight and keep up with it in turns. All that for half the cost in maintenance and repairs!

Edit: I will store my M for the winter. I doubt it is very good in snow. Wet tarmac is enough to make the traction control come on.

Plus my advisor at the dealership advised me not to use any other parts than OEM.

Last edited by Matt P.; 10-26-2011 at 01:29 PM.
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  #19  
Old 10-26-2011, 01:30 PM
Fryed Fryed is offline
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While I'm all for you joining the BMW crowd, an ///M might not be your best first purhase. At your age, there are a lot more things you can save your money/spend your money on. Anything in the 3 series lineup will suit you well.

I've got a steady job and paycheck, am 27 on my second car (540i MSPort) and just now starting to consider an M purchase. It really won't kill you to go with something more friendly for a daily driver (330) and upgrade later.

Sent from my ADR6300 using Bimmer
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  #20  
Old 10-26-2011, 04:08 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Matt: thanks for the reply. Sad as it is, I guess you're probably right. I make pretty decent money (at least considering the fact that I don't have many other expenses), but a $3,000 fix would still sink me haha. I could still live with a 330Ci, that's pretty sweet living for a 17 year old. Let me know how your appointment tomorrow goes, though.

Fryed: probably true. Can you give me a sense of how much cheaper a regular 3 is to own than an M?
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  #21  
Old 10-26-2011, 05:28 PM
TJS///M3 TJS///M3 is offline
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Hey, I don't pretend to know your financial situation, but I'll second the suggestion to go for a 330i ZHP or the like. I don't think you said what your range of price is, or what year, etc., but even for me, at 43, married, good job etc. some repairs on the M definitely raise the eyebrows at my indy shop - forget calling the dealer to get a quote. The use of OEM vs non-OEM parts is always discussed with my mechanic, and in reality, it sometimes doesn't make a whole lot of sense not to use OEM for some things. Problem is, the $$. Everything costs more when you are repairing something with an ///M badge. Oil, Tires, Brakes, etc. = $$.

I had 328i, then a 330i before the M3. Big difference for sure, and nothing compares to pressing the pedal to the floor hard (maybe an M5 or M6 would ), but when a light comes on, or I hear a weird noise, my wallet cringes. I knew full well what I was getting into though.

And, I don't even think about driving it in the winter here. Could I? Sure, with a dedicated set of snows on a separate set of rims. But I don't have to, since I have another car for winter driving. It's too risky not to have snow tires if you are going to drive it. Mine sits in the garage during winter crap weather.

Like I said, I'll second the suggestion for a really nice 330. To start anyway.
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  #22  
Old 10-26-2011, 06:22 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Good points. So the very upper reaches of my budget are $15,000 for the car itself, and I make between $500-600 a month. Any idea if I could get a ZHP for that price? Pretty much all of the cars I've been looking at have been in the 100,000 to 150,000 mile range, so they've all seen some love. I'd be very happy with a 330 if you all think the maintenance on that would be manageable. Once again, thanks for all the help, everyone, it's been super helpful.
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  #23  
Old 10-26-2011, 06:22 PM
Fryed Fryed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedlover1994 View Post
Fryed: probably true. Can you give me a sense of how much cheaper a regular 3 is to own than an M?
I've never owned a 3 series myself, but general rule of thumb applies here. Everybody knows an M is far and away more expensive. Get yourself a nice 328 or 330 ZHP (performance package!) and bank the rest of the money for repairs. Don't spend your entire bankroll on the car.

Really, I can't stress enough that you shouldn't spend everything just to get your 'dream' car right off the bat. Start off simple, get used to driving and maintaining a BMW, sign up for BMW CCA, and enjoy the crap out of that car. In a few years the addiction should be strong.

-Fryed
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I happen to have $80 laying around and I'm wondering what can I buy to make the 540 perform better or look better with only $80.
full tank of 94 octane
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  #24  
Old 10-26-2011, 06:26 PM
speedlover1994 speedlover1994 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fryed View Post
enjoy the crap out of that car. In a few years the addiction should be strong.

-Fryed


That's the real dream.

Also, if you don't mind me asking, where in MA are you?
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  #25  
Old 10-26-2011, 06:57 PM
Fryed Fryed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedlover1994 View Post
...the very upper reaches of my budget are $15,000 for the car itself,
That's a down payment. Anything decent (e46) is in the high 20's, low 30's; for the e46 (at least in my opinion) you should be looking for '05 and '06 only, as they have ZCP competition package: car looks a lot meaner with 19" rims, bigger brakes, alcantara handbrake and steering wheel and a quicker turn ratio.

The low end for 330Ci's is about 10k.

I'm just outside the 128 belt, about 20 minutes south of the city.
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