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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering what the perspective costs of maintenance are for the e46. I really want to purchase one and possibly trade my jeep to help get one, but I'm not overly wealthy and want to be sure i won't have to pour a ton of money into it. Would a sub 80k miles one be the best bet? Any thoughts?
 

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The only DIY stuff I did on mine was oil changes. Everything else was done at an absolutely great BMW dealer's service department. Here are my annual maintenance and depreciation costs, and mileage. I've come to the conclusion that modern BMW's are good for about 100k miles for a non-DIY-er. (See attachment #2.) After that, you need to be a serious DIY'er to make owning one cost effective.

A big cost is the valve adjustment, which is needed about every 25k miles. Avoid SMG II's if at all possible. Watch out for floor pan cracks around the rear suspension mounts. The 2001-2003's had two massive engine recalls for a new oil pump and/or new connection rod bearings. Make sure that was done if applicable.

These are going to be highly collectable cars, like the E30 M3, and more so than the E36 and E90 versions. The key is finding one that is stock (no mods), and with low miles. The longer you look, the better the car you will end up with. Join BMWCCA and go to the meetings and events (Octoberfest, etc.), and give your contact information to E46 M3 owners there. The trick to finding a really good car is finding it before it's for sale. When a really good one comes up for sale, it's a feeding frenzy. I had about 300 calls for mine. I should have asked more money for it.
 

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///M Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your time and response. I'll be sure to use your advice when I am in the market for one. I'm really excited to join the ///M3 community.

When in the market, what do you think the mileage cap should be when looking for one? 75,000? 50,000? I need to keep it below about $18,000 to purchase.

Also, would you say that purchasing a cheaper SMG E46 M3 and swapping the transmission with a manual would ruin the collectibilty of the car?
 

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Thank you for your time and response. I'll be sure to use your advice when I am in the market for one. I'm really excited to join the ///M3 community.

When in the market, what do you think the mileage cap should be when looking for one? 75,000? 50,000? I need to keep it below about $18,000 to purchase.

Also, would you say that purchasing a cheaper SMG E46 M3 and swapping the transmission with a manual would ruin the collectibilty of the car?
For mileage, the lower the better. It depends on how many miles you want to get out of it. For me, that 12th year was a bad one. 105K miles is where things started to unravel for me. I called the 75k to 100k period "The Happy Time." I was driving an incredible car for the cost of driving a new Kia.

I'm not sure a SMG to manual conversion would even be possible. Even if it was, people would be wary of buying it. I suspect the transmission electronics and the engine electronics are all intertwined. Even if you could get the hardware straight, there's probably software to deal with.

I sold mine for $9k, a few hundred over the KBB private sale price. I had no takers from the ten people on my waiting list. I put it on BMWCCA's classified ad web page at 8 p.m. I got a call the following morning at 8 a.m. for the car, and he took it at what I was asking. I had to tell the other 300 people "Sorry, you're too late."

One good tactic for buying used cars is every time you see one out and about, give the owner your contact information. That's how I got several people on my waiting list. You might even print up some do-it-yourself business cards for sticking under windshield wipers saying "I'm very interested in buying your car someday when you're ready to sell.... name... phone... email."

Road salt induced rust might be an issue where you live. In Florida, sun damage of the paint and upholstery is a larger problem.

$18k would get you a pretty good one. But, you need to have a cash reserve for repairs.

Internet for-sale-by-owner sites would be your best bet. But, you'd either be buying a pig in a poke, or you must be prepared to make a long distance trip to inspect the car first. Finding a good one at a fair price will involve a lot of effort and a lot of luck.
 
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