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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E46 (1999 - 2006)

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 01-03-2012, 03:22 PM
navyseals navyseals is offline
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Newbie: Looking to purchase first long-term car and BMW

Hey everyone,

I apologize beforehand if any of my questions are very elementary.

Anyway, I have researched what I've wanted to purchase quite a bit but I've been eyeing a 2004 BMW 330i SMG. I've looked for issues with the E46 SMG transmission online but in every Q/A I've seen it's been a 50/50 split of people hating or loving the SMG with the people owning them loving it and the manual drivers hating it.

1. Do you recommend knowledge of driving manual before SMG?
2. Does anyone have any experience with an SMG and had any problems?
3. What is a realistic figure of my maintenance costs per year and what usually goes wrong on these cars?
4. What to look for when test driving the vehicle? (e.g. shudders in the SMG gearbox)


I realized that it may require more maintenance than say a Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura, but ever since I've driven European cars I can't seem to go back. I've driven a Volvo 850, Volvo S70 T5, Acura Integra, Subaru Outback, and Nissan Altima and the Volvo S70 T5 has been the best experience by far...except when all the electronics started failing.

Thanks!

Last edited by navyseals; 01-03-2012 at 03:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2012, 05:09 PM
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smolck smolck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navyseals View Post

1. Do you recommend knowledge of driving manual before SMG?
2. Does anyone have any experience with an SMG and had any problems?
3. What is a realistic figure of my maintenance costs per year and what usually goes wrong on these cars?
4. What to look for when test driving the vehicle? (e.g. shudders in the SMG gearbox)
People who have the non ///M version of the SMG (actually an SSG that is called SMG) will say it is great, but they are failure prone and if they do go bad, it gets mighty expensive mighty fast. And most indy mechanics aren't equipped to diagnose or fix them so you may be dealer only service and THAT is expensive. BMW only offered the SSG for half of the 2004 production run in non ///M cars, so that should tell you something.

1. No, an SMG is NOTHING like a true manual
2. There are plenty of people who have had issues
3. Depends greatly on the car you buy, it's mileage, and history
4. Check the wiki

Skip the SSG and get a manual.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2012, 05:38 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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If you ENJOY migraine headaches, constipation, diarrhea, and a bitchy wife with constant PMS, *by all means*, get the SMG....


(Is the message getting through here ?)
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2012, 05:54 PM
navyseals navyseals is offline
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Thanks guys, that SMG one had the perfect color and trim i wanted. I was aiming for an automatic but it's hard to find a good 330i with what I want here. I don't really want a manual because of the traffic over here.

Last edited by navyseals; 01-03-2012 at 06:14 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:25 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navyseals View Post
Thanks guys, that SMG one had the perfect color and trim i wanted. I was aiming for an automatic but it's hard to find a good 330i with what I want here. I don't really want a manual because of the traffic over here.
Where is "over here" ???
Many of us have driven stick our entire lives in traffic that`s as bad as it can get....it`s not that big of a deal, you learn little tricks to adapt.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2012, 07:45 PM
navyseals navyseals is offline
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
Where is "over here" ???
Many of us have driven stick our entire lives in traffic that`s as bad as it can get....it`s not that big of a deal, you learn little tricks to adapt.
Toronto, I also don't know how to drive a stick and nobody I know has a manual for me to learn from. I was going to buy like a 500 dollar manual to learn but not really practical for me or financially feasible. An option would be for someone who does know how to drive manual to go with me to the test drive and then I'd learn it after I purchase the vehicle but it's not really an option i like.

Last edited by navyseals; 01-03-2012 at 08:00 PM.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2012, 08:31 PM
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smolck smolck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navyseals View Post
Toronto, I also don't know how to drive a stick and nobody I know has a manual for me to learn from. I was going to buy like a 500 dollar manual to learn but not really practical for me or financially feasible. An option would be for someone who does know how to drive manual to go with me to the test drive and then I'd learn it after I purchase the vehicle but it's not really an option i like.
When I turned 16 my dad handed me the keys to the old truck and said "it's yours if you can learn to drive it". It was a 4 on the floor and I knew nothing about driving a manual, but I learned FAST when freedom was at stake. So will you. You are making too much out of it. The auto 330's are frought with issues, a manual is faster, more fun, and more reliable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
If you ENJOY migraine headaches, constipation, diarrhea, and a bitchy wife with constant PMS, *by all means*, get the SMG....
As you can tell, Bob is as keen on SMG's as he is on Steptronics (check my sig).
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #8  
Old 01-03-2012, 08:49 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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If you understand the basic mechanics behind the operation of a manual you should be OK. I learned to drive stick in my first car. Just don't slip the clutch. BMWs have a delay valve that keeps the clutch from being seriously abused by newbs.

On the other hand, the e46s I saw when shopping for my car were awful, unless they were auto. A lot of people leased them in Toronto as status symbols it seems. Leatherette, manual everything, and manual seem to go together.
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2012, 09:57 PM
navyseals navyseals is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
When I turned 16 my dad handed me the keys to the old truck and said "it's yours if you can learn to drive it". It was a 4 on the floor and I knew nothing about driving a manual, but I learned FAST when freedom was at stake. So will you. You are making too much out of it. The auto 330's are frought with issues, a manual is faster, more fun, and more reliable.



As you can tell, Bob is as keen on SMG's as he is on Steptronics (check my sig).
If I go for a manual my choices are MUCH better and I can get a better car. I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to do the test drive. I wouldn't be able to test it so I'd have to get someone else.
I'm not too worried about learning how to drive manual because I'm sure I'll learn it quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
If you understand the basic mechanics behind the operation of a manual you should be OK. I learned to drive stick in my first car. Just don't slip the clutch. BMWs have a delay valve that keeps the clutch from being seriously abused by newbs.

On the other hand, the e46s I saw when shopping for my car were awful, unless they were auto. A lot of people leased them in Toronto as status symbols it seems. Leatherette, manual everything, and manual seem to go together.
I'm being extremely cautious in shopping for one in Toronto. 90% of these dealers are liars and 70% of private sellers are hiding something major. If you know of any trusted places please let me know.

Last edited by navyseals; 01-03-2012 at 10:00 PM.
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2012, 10:05 PM
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OP, just buy a Steptronic (auto) and retrofit the SMG wheel and paddle shifters. Problem solved
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  #11  
Old 01-08-2012, 09:56 PM
Fishful Thinking Fishful Thinking is offline
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Manual FTW! I drove a manual in friggin LA and never wished for an automatic. The few hours it'll take you to learn will bring you a lifetime of satisfaction.
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  #12  
Old 10-10-2012, 07:34 PM
dkotanto dkotanto is offline
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I've been very happy with the SMG. No issues, 71K miles. Changed the hydraulic fluid at 67K miles as preventive maintenance.
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  #13  
Old 10-11-2012, 07:47 AM
330istrlblue 330istrlblue is offline
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Smile

OP pm me if you want me to go test drive with you. I live in scarborough , and be glad to help out a fellow fester..
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  #14  
Old 10-11-2012, 08:01 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Originally Posted by 330istrlblue View Post
OP pm me if you want me to go test drive with you. I live in scarborough , and be glad to help out a fellow fester..
You`re responding to a thread from almost a year ago....check the dates before posting....

(nice of you to offer, though )
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*Please support the Wounded Warrior Project*

When faced with choosing between two evils, always go with the one you`ve never tried before....
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  #15  
Old 10-11-2012, 08:37 AM
330istrlblue 330istrlblue is offline
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
You`re responding to a thread from almost a year ago....check the dates before posting....

(nice of you to offer, though )
just noticed the date.. Thanks Fast Bob..
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