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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 08-14-2019, 06:59 PM
Isaac325i Isaac325i is offline
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Opinions. Repare Or Replace?

So... I have a 2002 325i with 270,000 miles on it. A lot I know. The time has come where I am considering either fixing it up and making it run perfect or replace it with a newer (still used) 328 or maybe another E46 325..

I am currently a college student planning on graduating in the spring

Whatever decision I make, first off has the intention of making the car run well for at least 3-5 more years.

I do most of the work on my car myself but main issue with the engine, I cannot fix myself. I have replaced the OFHG already to no avail. Didn't slow the burning at all.

These are the current issues my car has now,

Motor burns about a qt. of oil every other gas fill up (Rebuild or Buy one with less miles?)
The Motor also feels low on power recently but could just be the hot summer temps.
Doors dont always auto unlock. (Press key fob and it clicks but lock wont disengage)
Paint clear coat is flaking
Needs Brake rotors and new tires soon.
Halogen bulbs are not very bright in aftermarket headlights (not crucial but its on the list)
Needs front drivers side window regulator and rear passenger side.
One side of the sunroof has fallen off the rail I think. (dont know how to fix that)
A/C and Heat just randomly stop blowing at all every know and again.
Windows let in so much heat mid day the AC on full blast wont cool the car.
Probably gonna need a new clutch within 50-70k more miles.
Shifter is beyond sloppy.
I would like a new radio so I dont have to use these crappy fm transmitters anymore.

So, main idea with this is to get opinions on if it would be worth it to fix everything, or just get a newer car with less miles. I do like my car, the e46 body is my favorite look but im a broke college student trying to make ends meet and yall are the gurus so your opinions on the matter will weigh heavily.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated as always!

Thanks guys!
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  #2  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:12 PM
BabyUnicornTaco BabyUnicornTaco is offline
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Trying to get 3-5 years from repairs done now on a BMW with 270,000 miles as a daily driver seems like quite the reach. You will have future opportunities to get an e46. I’d sell it and put it toward something simple until you graduate and know more about your future. Or park it at your parent’s and have fun in a few years.


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  #3  
Old 08-14-2019, 11:49 PM
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Sell it...part it...gain monies for your future e46 or simply trade it.

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  #4  
Old 08-15-2019, 03:33 AM
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The only thing, that I can think of at the moment, more expensive than a cheap BMW is a valuable useful degree. My Pharm. D. (MUSC 2008) daughter is still driving her 2000 Civic.

Coincidentally, this; "In fact, the full costs of colleges far exceed their sticker prices. The average annual sticker price at a 4-year public college is $20,050 for in-state students and $25,657 for out-of-state students. In contrast, the average spending per student at these colleges is now $44,965 per year - roughly twice their sticker price."

The article goes on to 2-year public 'colleges' and concludes "five times their sticker price."
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Last edited by Doug Huffman; 08-15-2019 at 05:02 AM.
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2019, 06:19 AM
marcozandrini marcozandrini is offline
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My advice: sell it and buy a Honda.
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2019, 09:12 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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Sell it, buy another one that has fewer needs and fewer miles. They are out there.
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  #7  
Old 08-15-2019, 09:14 AM
u.nanimous u.nanimous is offline
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Graduating in the spring...I'd baby that car around until graduation then hopefully your financial situation will be changing and this will become a much easier question to answer.

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  #8  
Old 08-15-2019, 09:59 AM
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Its always cheaper to fix what you have. cars are lose/lose anyway.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #9  
Old 08-15-2019, 11:48 AM
Isaac325i Isaac325i is offline
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I appreciate your input although I am not sure what you're going on about. I know how much debt I will finish with and being a student athlete for four years on scholarship, its not as much as the average yearly tuition you mentioned.

Cool that your daughter graduated from MUSC! Im from around there!

My original question was would it be cheaper to buy a new car (old stock) Civic SI or the new Corolla MT and shoulder the payments and run that for probably 10 years or get my current car running as well as it possibly can. Would it cost more or less to make my current car "perfect" or even worth messing with hardcore at all.

I see most on the thread are saying to get a Honda or whatnot but I wanna make sure everyone understands my question


Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
The only thing, that I can think of at the moment, more expensive than a cheap BMW is a valuable useful degree. My Pharm. D. (MUSC 2008) daughter is still driving her 2000 Civic.

Coincidentally, this; "In fact, the full costs of colleges far exceed their sticker prices. The average annual sticker price at a 4-year public college is $20,050 for in-state students and $25,657 for out-of-state students. In contrast, the average spending per student at these colleges is now $44,965 per year - roughly twice their sticker price."

The article goes on to 2-year public 'colleges' and concludes "five times their sticker price."
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  #10  
Old 08-15-2019, 01:33 PM
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smolck smolck is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac325i View Post
I appreciate your input although I am not sure what you're going on about. I know how much debt I will finish with and being a student athlete for four years on scholarship, its not as much as the average yearly tuition you mentioned.

Cool that your daughter graduated from MUSC! Im from around there!

My original question was would it be cheaper to buy a new car (old stock) Civic SI or the new Corolla MT and shoulder the payments and run that for probably 10 years or get my current car running as well as it possibly can. Would it cost more or less to make my current car "perfect" or even worth messing with hardcore at all.

I see most on the thread are saying to get a Honda or whatnot but I wanna make sure everyone understands my question
This may help. in 2017 I decided to “upgrade” my wife’s 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Hemi because he needed some work (roughly $1800) and had 167k miles. I could have fixed it, but instead chose to trade it in and buy a very nice 2011 Grand cherokee Limited Hemi(newest body style at the time). Since buying in 2017 it has cost me $3500 in repairs (parts only, I do my own labor) as well as the $300 per month payments (paid $17k for it). The big cost was a $2500 cam/lifter repair common on the new Hemi (heads have to come off) and it would have cost $6000 to pay someone to do it.

Not a day goes by I dont regret getting rid of the 07. It was almost paid for, and $1800 in repairs is a lot less than $17k, plus $3500 in ownership costs. As I said, its ALWAYS cheaper to keep what you have.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #11  
Old 08-15-2019, 01:44 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac325i View Post
I appreciate your input although I am not sure what you're going on about. I know how much debt I will finish with and being a student athlete for four years on scholarship, its not as much as the average yearly tuition you mentioned.

Cool that your daughter graduated from MUSC! Im from around there!

My original question was would it be cheaper to buy a new car (old stock) Civic SI or the new Corolla MT and shoulder the payments and run that for probably 10 years or get my current car running as well as it possibly can. Would it cost more or less to make my current car "perfect" or even worth messing with hardcore at all.

I see most on the thread are saying to get a Honda or whatnot but I wanna make sure everyone understands my question
Going to amend my earlier response...
First, congrats on your achievements and impending graduation.
Then about the car I think it's hard for everyone here to just give you a black / white answer. There are so many variables to this whole situation. Overall the car sounds like a bit of a beater given all that is not working and the paint. Not surprising given age and miles, but I think you need to be practical and pragmatic about it and not try to polish a turd by fixing everything. On top of that you are a college student so it is fair to consider that the typical college student would be on a tight budget with little wiggle room for unplanned car expenses - children whose parents bribe their way through the college admission process excepted. This is why you are getting the 'buy a Honda' response.

The thing that puzzles my is why you are jumping to the conclusion that the engine is shot. have you had it diagnosed? Could it be the CCV or rear main seal leak? Both are repairable and if the engine was maintained it should last to 300k miles or higher.

Three options I would consider if I were in your situation:
1. Find out why the engine is consuming so much oil, determine if it is fixable, if yes take care of it (assuming it's not more than known good engine). Then fix the top other three problems, drive the car until it dies, hope you don't get hit and have it totaled right after spending the money on it.
2. Sell it as is, then spend another couple grand on getting an E46 that is more functional than yours. Or maybe even a 1 series if you can swing it; they're relatively cheap and fun to drive too.
3. Sell it and get something other than a BMW with better track record for reliability.

I'd focus on option 2 if you have a couple of thousands of dollars laying around, 1 if not but that's not going to be cheap either. It sounds like your goal is to still be in a BMW and if you go with 3 then you're going to buy a car you're not going to like, end up being miserable, and will sell it faster than you intend. On top of that you already have BMW ownership experience, know they are far from perfect, and know how to turn a wrench.

Good luck, please update.
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2019, 03:11 PM
MoparJim MoparJim is offline
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"A broke college student" means different things to different people, but with that said, your current BMW is likely not worth fixing from a strictly monetary point. BUT, you already own it and know what is wrong. My next door neighbor was in a similar position with a 200,000+ mile 1997 Acura that he bought new. The engine was making unpleasant noises and the transmission was acting up a bit. He's got a near new Toyota 4x4 that mostly sits in the garage (he's single, sort of). The Acura was not going to be worth the $4,000 it cost him to put a used engine and trans in, BUT it was a car that he knew. He also wants it to last another 4 years or so until he retires. In his case the money spent was worth it. He'll replace it with a nice retirement vehicle when the time comes.

You're just on the other end, beginning. What you didn't mention was what your degree is in and your prospects for employment. That really makes a difference, in my opinion. BUT, in the case of your car I'd lean toward replacing it, even with another E46 with lower miles and in better condition.
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  #13  
Old 08-15-2019, 03:35 PM
Isaac325i Isaac325i is offline
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This brings up a great point I hadn't thought of. I guess I should have the oil issue diagnosed before making any moves. If the motor is in fact still good and repairable, that definitely makes my decision a lot easier, even if I just fix it and drive it for another year or so until i am on a salary position.

I appreciate it man!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
Going to amend my earlier response...
First, congrats on your achievements and impending graduation.
Then about the car I think it's hard for everyone here to just give you a black / white answer. There are so many variables to this whole situation. Overall the car sounds like a bit of a beater given all that is not working and the paint. Not surprising given age and miles, but I think you need to be practical and pragmatic about it and not try to polish a turd by fixing everything. On top of that you are a college student so it is fair to consider that the typical college student would be on a tight budget with little wiggle room for unplanned car expenses - children whose parents bribe their way through the college admission process excepted. This is why you are getting the 'buy a Honda' response.

The thing that puzzles my is why you are jumping to the conclusion that the engine is shot. have you had it diagnosed? Could it be the CCV or rear main seal leak? Both are repairable and if the engine was maintained it should last to 300k miles or higher.

Three options I would consider if I were in your situation:
1. Find out why the engine is consuming so much oil, determine if it is fixable, if yes take care of it (assuming it's not more than known good engine). Then fix the top other three problems, drive the car until it dies, hope you don't get hit and have it totaled right after spending the money on it.
2. Sell it as is, then spend another couple grand on getting an E46 that is more functional than yours. Or maybe even a 1 series if you can swing it; they're relatively cheap and fun to drive too.
3. Sell it and get something other than a BMW with better track record for reliability.

I'd focus on option 2 if you have a couple of thousands of dollars laying around, 1 if not but that's not going to be cheap either. It sounds like your goal is to still be in a BMW and if you go with 3 then you're going to buy a car you're not going to like, end up being miserable, and will sell it faster than you intend. On top of that you already have BMW ownership experience, know they are far from perfect, and know how to turn a wrench.

Good luck, please update.
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  #14  
Old 08-15-2019, 06:06 PM
ard ard is offline
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OP.

It seems that your 'project car' may not be joining you in the next phase of your life, where nursing a 'project' is incompatible with getting a first job, maybe mving, etc.

The engine swap thing is the killer- everything else, no probs. But if you need a new motor, time for a new (smaller) project.

You are a DIYer, so dont listen to the 'honda/toyota' crowd. If you are paying labor, or need to fix the car via retail, yes- but you can change that equation and make it work. IMO

As Fredo suggested, get a solid diagnosis on the motor- everything follows from that.


Oh, I put a factory rebuilt trans in a 2001MDX w 208k. $2400, I did the work. Crazy? Car now has 345k.
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OEM is not what BMW sells


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  #15  
Old 08-15-2019, 08:56 PM
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I agree with those who say "Fix It"....that is probably the most cost-effective answer at this point. If you read up on it, you`ll see that the CVV is a VERY common failure point which will cause the oil consumption problems like you`re currently experiencing. It might cost considerably less than you expected to get the car back into decent running shape.
Good luck !
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Old 08-16-2019, 03:49 AM
BabyUnicornTaco BabyUnicornTaco is offline
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When you added that you will be financing a different vehicle for years to replace your BMW, I changed my approach. Making your own repairs to a vehicle will almost always be cheaper than having another vehicle with a monthly payment. I agree with getting the engine checked out and making a decision from there.


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  #17  
Old 08-16-2019, 07:37 AM
bmw one bmw one is offline
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I've tried to list out what i would do. Honestly you list isn't too bad. A couple years ago when i got the car and finished my program I knew i wanted to work on the e46. For me the daunting issue was that the car would go into limp mode every time i decelerated on the highway. It was frustrating and knew the cost's associated with the repair, I also contemplated whether the car was worth keeping. Everyone will tell you it's not worth it financially but if you know how to diy and source out good parts (buy good parts the first time around lol) then keeping the car is much more worthwhile then paying bi weekly for a car that you may not truly appreciate. In the end i stuck with my car and ended up fixing the transmission issue at zero cost. Today, the car is amazing (of course i've maintained it by changing vanos, ccv, etc). For you, I would do a thorough inspection of the car like checking valve cover gaskets, checking under the car, etc. Think of it as a learning experience for future cars you may own. An understanding of how one car can definitely be applied to other cars. Hope everything works out.



Motor burns about a qt. of oil every other gas fill up (Rebuild or Buy one with less miles?) - not too sure, but as above CCV may an issue, did you check your oil pan for leaks?

The Motor also feels low on power recently but could just be the hot summer temps. - CHeck your vanos seals, mine felt low on power until i replaced it.

Doors dont always auto unlock. (Press key fob and it clicks but lock wont disengage) - try re-syncing it with the car - my second key didn't work for the longest time, but one day i decided to do the relearn procedure within a couple seconds of the primary key and its work well.

Paint clear coat is flaking - attempt to sand and reclear with spraymax 2K -search youtube for DIY videos

Needs Brake rotors and new tires soon. - any car will need this, but you can get some decent cheap rotors and pads from rockauto and replace yourself- $200 for the entire car?

Halogen bulbs are not very bright in aftermarket headlights (not crucial but its on the list) - try osram bulbs, always good or go to the retrofitsource and see if there are any upgrades for cheap (plug and play)

Needs front drivers side window regulator and rear passenger side. - you can get the parts from rockauto or fcpeuro and do this yourself

One side of the sunroof has fallen off the rail I think. (dont know how to fix that) - is it the glass or the sub blocker thing, there are diy that will show you how to remove the the glass


A/C and Heat just randomly stop blowing at all every know and again. - check fuses and relays,


Windows let in so much heat mid day the AC on full blast wont cool the car.- try to get one of those recharging kits, but if the sun is super hot that day, chances are all cars won't be cool (even my dad's newer cars experience the same problem despite blasting ac)

Probably gonna need a new clutch within 50-70k more miles. - that's reasonable, you can always save money for this

Shifter is beyond sloppy.-not too sure about this since i have an auto, but it can be fixed


I would like a new radio so I dont have to use these crappy fm transmitters anymore. - i use the fm transmitters as well, lol, but to me it's all good for now. Perhaps look at dynavin or sony ax1000 ($350)
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  #18  
Old 08-16-2019, 02:51 PM
Isaac325i Isaac325i is offline
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This helps a ton. I think Getting the motor diagnosed is the first step and if its in good condition Ill start check what you listed and check what others have said.

Another thing I just remembered is that occasionally when I hit the gas, it cuts the gas right before the gas pedal input is accepted? It is extremely annoying at stop signs because if I take off like normal it will stall so I pretty much have to floor it to get past the rpms dropping. At speed, when I give it gas, it feels like it falls on its face and then slams back once. It feels like a big clunk. im not sure how else to describe that problem so any insight on that issue helps a lot as well.

Thanks guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw one View Post
I've tried to list out what i would do. Honestly you list isn't too bad. A couple years ago when i got the car and finished my program I knew i wanted to work on the e46. For me the daunting issue was that the car would go into limp mode every time i decelerated on the highway. It was frustrating and knew the cost's associated with the repair, I also contemplated whether the car was worth keeping. Everyone will tell you it's not worth it financially but if you know how to diy and source out good parts (buy good parts the first time around lol) then keeping the car is much more worthwhile then paying bi weekly for a car that you may not truly appreciate. In the end i stuck with my car and ended up fixing the transmission issue at zero cost. Today, the car is amazing (of course i've maintained it by changing vanos, ccv, etc). For you, I would do a thorough inspection of the car like checking valve cover gaskets, checking under the car, etc. Think of it as a learning experience for future cars you may own. An understanding of how one car can definitely be applied to other cars. Hope everything works out.



Motor burns about a qt. of oil every other gas fill up (Rebuild or Buy one with less miles?) - not too sure, but as above CCV may an issue, did you check your oil pan for leaks?

The Motor also feels low on power recently but could just be the hot summer temps. - CHeck your vanos seals, mine felt low on power until i replaced it.

Doors dont always auto unlock. (Press key fob and it clicks but lock wont disengage) - try re-syncing it with the car - my second key didn't work for the longest time, but one day i decided to do the relearn procedure within a couple seconds of the primary key and its work well.

Paint clear coat is flaking - attempt to sand and reclear with spraymax 2K -search youtube for DIY videos

Needs Brake rotors and new tires soon. - any car will need this, but you can get some decent cheap rotors and pads from rockauto and replace yourself- $200 for the entire car?

Halogen bulbs are not very bright in aftermarket headlights (not crucial but its on the list) - try osram bulbs, always good or go to the retrofitsource and see if there are any upgrades for cheap (plug and play)

Needs front drivers side window regulator and rear passenger side. - you can get the parts from rockauto or fcpeuro and do this yourself

One side of the sunroof has fallen off the rail I think. (dont know how to fix that) - is it the glass or the sub blocker thing, there are diy that will show you how to remove the the glass


A/C and Heat just randomly stop blowing at all every know and again. - check fuses and relays,


Windows let in so much heat mid day the AC on full blast wont cool the car.- try to get one of those recharging kits, but if the sun is super hot that day, chances are all cars won't be cool (even my dad's newer cars experience the same problem despite blasting ac)

Probably gonna need a new clutch within 50-70k more miles. - that's reasonable, you can always save money for this

Shifter is beyond sloppy.-not too sure about this since i have an auto, but it can be fixed


I would like a new radio so I dont have to use these crappy fm transmitters anymore. - i use the fm transmitters as well, lol, but to me it's all good for now. Perhaps look at dynavin or sony ax1000 ($350)
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  #19  
Old 08-17-2019, 10:49 PM
Aidzer0 Aidzer0 is offline
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If you are planning on DIY, I would say keep it, I bought mine from an auction and trickled money into it. Paid 1600 for it (160k mile at the time) as per usual it had all e46 issues. (Ccv, engine gaskets leaking, Sun roof broken and a lot more).

In total, I spent about 3000$ getting this car into shape, since I bought it, I replaced all of the gaskets in the motor, did a auto to manual swap, retro fitted hids with projectors, upgrades the whole interior and exterior to m sport. (The roof liner was full of cigarette burns from previous owner along with burns in the leather) upgraded the front brakes to 330i. And a whole lot more. All of this with a jack and jack stands, so it’s possible to diy it.

I would suggest you watch YouTube videos or google the issues you face, assess if you are able to do the work and take it from there (this is how I started).
I would definitely do a compression test and assess the engine. I really hope it’s the ccv system and not losing compression. But an engine swap can be done!

Best of luck!
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Old Yesterday, 04:27 PM
JayMac JayMac is offline
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I like fix it but maybe before the diploma another math course might be worthwhile. Cost to service a loan might not seam like a big deal but if you budget for repairs you can go pretty far, Nothing in my driveway under 130,000 and the top one is 551,000. No free lunch with cars. Love to work on mine but always do the math on what makes sense, Best of luck!
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Old Yesterday, 04:37 PM
QDP QDP is offline
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Mein Auto: 2011 X-5 5.0i
KEEP IT! here's why

I had same dilemma,

I own a beautiful 2011 BMW E70 X-5 5.0 Sport with all the options.... bought it at 72k miles and today have slightly over 143k miles.

Even placed an ad for sale @ $12.5k. Then I just put on new Michelins, Super Sport Pilots $1,800, new BMW alignment, $295, new differential seals $1,200 and now the V-8 is being pulled for a total valve seal replacement and turbo check up, etc. Well into $4k there, probably. So I changed my asking price to $17.5k and probably will not get one offer, I hope, because of the 'high' miles, BUT I know this car.

That's my point.

I've changed oil religiously every 5k miles and it runs TOP. The $3k 21" OEM rims, new shocks, Bilsteins up front, make this such an incredible daily that I'm happy just to keep her. Paid off and best of all, I'll have another 150 kmiles without any problems. Its the ultimate driving machine, and the N63 motor is in a class of her own.

I might just add the Burger RJ4 chip for another 50 HP and love to have it detailed, shiny. No accidents, original paint and babied. Who can ask for more with the BERST LOOKING X-5 EVER...

Keep it, you know this car, lower carbon footprint and familiarity breeds satisfaction.
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Quentin Dart Parker, architect
www.ArchWork.com

2011 BMW X-5 5.0 Msport. loaded 140k miles Best E70 ever!
2019 BMW X-3 M40i loaded
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  #22  
Old Yesterday, 05:07 PM
Brain1 Brain1 is offline
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Location: Puyallup, Wa 98374
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 8
Mein Auto: 2003 BMW 325i
Opinions. Repare Or Replace?

You dont have time to fix it. And the hassles of parting out... you don't have the time for. if there is a place you can park it indefinatly...do that..or sell it "as is"
get rid of it.
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  #23  
Old Yesterday, 05:17 PM
BabyUnicornTaco BabyUnicornTaco is offline
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Location: Charleston, SC
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,459
Mein Auto: 2008 X5 4.8i E70 Sport
Quote:
Originally Posted by QDP View Post
I had same dilemma,



I own a beautiful 2011 BMW E70 X-5 5.0 Sport with all the options.... bought it at 72k miles and today have slightly over 143k miles.



Even placed an ad for sale @ $12.5k. Then I just put on new Michelins, Super Sport Pilots $1,800, new BMW alignment, $295, new differential seals $1,200 and now the V-8 is being pulled for a total valve seal replacement and turbo check up, etc. Well into $4k there, probably. So I changed my asking price to $17.5k and probably will not get one offer, I hope, because of the 'high' miles, BUT I know this car.



That's my point.



I've changed oil religiously every 5k miles and it runs TOP. The $3k 21" OEM rims, new shocks, Bilsteins up front, make this such an incredible daily that I'm happy just to keep her. Paid off and best of all, I'll have another 150 kmiles without any problems. Its the ultimate driving machine, and the N63 motor is in a class of her own.



I might just add the Burger RJ4 chip for another 50 HP and love to have it detailed, shiny. No accidents, original paint and babied. Who can ask for more with the BERST LOOKING X-5 EVER...



Keep it, you know this car, lower carbon footprint and familiarity breeds satisfaction.


You probably have to keep it. I see the same. X5s with less than 100,000 miles listed for less than $10,000 around me. Hard to recoup the money spent to repair. The N63 is also not always fixed by new VSS.


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2008 550i RPI Exhaust, RPI Ram Air
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  #24  
Old Yesterday, 05:50 PM
archbid archbid is offline
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Location: Mill Valley, CA
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 91
Mein Auto: 330ci Convertible
I would look at Bay Area craigslist. There are a ton of e46s with no paint issues and zero rust. And a lot have 120-140k miles.

Buy one for $3k, get a $350 plane ticket and drive it home.

At your mileage you need to refresh everything. Better to put that money into a slightly younger chassis. Plus many of these cars have perfect paint and literally no rust.
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  #25  
Old Yesterday, 09:39 PM
ken2116 ken2116 is offline
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Location: Northern CA
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: E30
As nice some cars are, they're just machines and designed to last only a certain amount of use. Miles aren't the only contributor to age - maintenance, driving style, climate and luck (failure statistics) all play roles, but yours is getting up there and already showing its age. Years ago there was a congressional study showing the cost/mi. of cars throughout their life cycle. It was the usual "bath tub" curve, high at the beginning due to depreciation, collision insurance, etc. (but reliable), relatively low in mid-life and still reliable, and high again at the end (and less reliable) as one part after another gives up the ghost. In the end stage you're almost building a new car one part at a time - replace enough parts and it gets to be real money. Better to pick up a younger one after depreciation has settled down - you'll get better reliability, better paint, more modern safety features, and maybe more desirable dates in the bargain.

You also could consider a two car solution - a hobby car that you love to drive and dump money into when you can afford it and an economic and reliable car for every day use - we're doing this with a 31 yr old 3-series (which is nearly perfect but has cost ~ $1/mi over the last 15,000mi) and a Gen. 4 Prius (62mpg without trying, ~ 20% over EPA). For comparison, our daughter has our old 2006 Civic with a MT which cost $16,000 and at over 140,000mil has cost a whopping $60 for a new engine sensor (plus two headlamps and a dome bulb). You do the math. (And take a look at a Mazda 3).

Last edited by ken2116; Yesterday at 09:45 PM.
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