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Former Bimmerphile
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55 Posts
Are any lights showing? Check Engine maybe?

I test-drove a ridiculously badly-maintained E46 and it made a short of sound like that, and at ignition it stuttered - but it showed the Check Engine light.
 

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86 Posts
The VANOS pump (top front of the engine) always sounds a little loose at start-up. Have an assistant start your car with the hood up and you leaning over the VANOS, and try to determine if it is from the engine or elsewhere.
 
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