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Old 12-11-2012, 04:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,067
My Ride: 323i, 530i, Z4 3.0i
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Originally Posted by trj View Post
This is going to be primarily driven by my fiance, so auto is a must.

My fiance hated manual until her autotragic crapped out and she started driving my E46. Now she loves it and refuses to go back.

Originally Posted by trj View Post
Are there any significant weakness of these cars other than cooling system and window regulators?
Not that I'm acutely aware of. Headlight adjusters break a lot, resulting in headlights aimed 10' in front of the car. Replacement ones are $25 for a set, but you have to bake open the headlights. Oh, and if it's a 2002 or newer, you have to cut them open or get new headlights. I'm doing a quad bixenon retrofit while I'm in there.

Originally Posted by trj View Post
Whats the ideal price to pay for one of these with good maintenance history? If no maintenance history, what are the specific areas to look for in an e39?
I got mine, a topaz blue '01 530i M-Sport 5spd for $4900 at 180k miles with a nearly brand new clutch. Only problem was a leaky CCV. Look for the same issues as the E46, plus headlight adjusters.

Originally Posted by trj View Post
I believe it needs the same maintenance as e46s, so its not going to be a problem for me to DIY.
Yep. Engine bay is larger too, so less of a pain to work in. I did the CCV in <6 hours, and that was taking an hour or more just to clean out the dipstick and distribution piece that were full of oil sludge.

Originally Posted by trj View Post
Overall, I am asking for a review on the buying and ownership experience of a e39 from an e46 owner's point of view.
Really nice cars. Not huge like E60's, just a little larger than the E46, but way more comfortable. Hell of a road trip car. I did 1300 miles in one day bringing it home and it was still comfortable enough to sleep in at the end of that day. The M-Sport version still handles extremely well, comparable to my E46 actually.

To be perfectly honest, between the Z4 and E39, I don't see a point for the E46 anymore, as it doesn't do anything overly well compared to the other two. My fiance loves it though, so she'll likely be taking it to 300k miles and beyond.
E46 323i Sport/5 speed | 243k miles
E85 Z4 3.0i Sport/6 speed | 117k miles
E83 X3 3.0i M-Sport/6 speed | 130k miles
E39 530i M-Sport/5 speed | 237k miles
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