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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 01-09-2012, 10:43 PM   #1
Stinger9
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Vulnerable e46 points

Pulled this out of my file and good to review from time to time.
Or for new owners who ask what to look for.

Getting EDGEucated: the "75k mile list"
The E46 3-Series (1999-2005, including M) Edition

After years of working on BMW's, we have begun to see common problems and maintenance concerns that need to be addressed on nearly every middle-aged BMW. E46 3-series cars, like all BMWs, they have certain areas that need to be inspected regularly, and prospective owners should always have a pre-purchase inspection done to verify the condition of these items.

In this list, you will find items that should have been replaced or at least inspected by 75k-100k miles. Some are model specific, and will be noted as such.

If you suspect you may have some of these issues, or just want us to take a look for your peace of mind, print out your free inspection coupon (located here), and call us at 925.479.0797 to schedule an appointment!

Areas of Concern:

Broken window regulators: Leaves you stuck with your inoperative window in the down position.
Warning signs sometimes are a noisy crunchy sound a few times before you lose control of your window.
DIY's abound on various sites, and pay particular attention to your door seal when backing out of that area if you want to avoid rain soaked floors in your car.

Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure

Common symptoms for torn or cracked lower control arm bushings are undesired front toe changes during cornering, vague and rubbery feel in the steering, and vibration experienced while braking at freeway speeds. Non-M bushings are commonly replaced with M3 bushings to increase performance with little to no change in comfort.

Tie Rod Wear

Symtoms include: steering shimmy, clunking during steering input and inability to hold proper alignment. If any of the ball joint boots is cracked (you'll see grease coming out) then expect that component to need replacement. All components should also be checked for excessive play, and replaced if out of BMW spec.

Worn or Blown Shocks and Struts
Factory BMW shocks work great for about 30k. By 60k they are completely shot. Most folks who have been driving their cars since new hardly notice the deterioration as it is gradual. Symptoms includeiving under braking and acceleration, excessive lean and suspension compression during cornering. Bouncy and uncomfortable ride. Shocks and struts may visibly leak shock oil. EDGE generally recommends replacing the factory units with quality shocks from Koni whenever possible. When replacing shocks and struts, keep in mind it is a great time to install lowering springs or freshen up other areas of the suspension. You will be amazed at the difference a good set of shocks can make in both comfort and performance!

Worn or Failed Swaybar Endlinks
Worn swaybar endlinks can compromise handling. A worn swaybar can sound like a metallic clicking noise. There is no critical danger in a failed swaybar endlink, but the handling of the car is severely compromised.

Torn Rear Trailing Arm Bushings (RTABs)
E46's are prone to the same RTAB failure as the E36. In fact, since they are heavier cars, they tend to wear faster on the E46. If the rear of the car feels strange during cornering or you have excessive rear tire wear, expect that your RTABs are shot. Typical mileage for the E46 is around 35-45k. Failure to replace could lead to torn subframe and costly repairs. EDGE recommends replacement with factory units and RTAB limiting shims. The shims prevent excessive movement and can double the life of the bushing.

Torn Rear Shock Mounts
Torn or destroyed rear shock mounts will produce a very pronounced clunk during any sort of suspension movement, and could possibly just tear right through the trunk carpeting into the passenger cabin. Sloppy and erratic handling and excessive rear suspension play are common symptoms of a RSM failure.

Torn Subframe and Subframe Bushings
Torn subframe bushings could lead to subframe failure. Common symptoms of subframe failure are erratic handling and unidentified clunks and bangs from the rear of the car. Early detection of a torn or cracked subframe bushing can prevent costly subframe repair and welding. We see subframe issues mainly appearing in tracked and autocrossed E46's, but we have swapped out cracked bushings in higher mileage E46's as well.

Torn or Cracked Transmission Mounts
Torn transmission mounts could lead to the dreaded 'money shift,' or mechanical overrev and the possible (and likely) destruction of the car's motor. Worn transmission mounts allow for an excess amount of transmission movement. Symptoms can be hard, notchy and forced shifting during cornering, excessive shifter jerk during hard acceleration and braking, and muddy shifter feel.

Ripped or Failed Guibo
A torn guibo (Flex Disc) will result in a perceivable 'drivetrain elasticity.' Acceleration will be preceded with a loud clunk as the guibo bolts bind together.

Dirty Automatic Transmission Fluid or Clogged Filter
Hesitation and/or hard shifting could be the result of dirty and old automatic transmission fluid or clogged transmission filter.

Water Pump Failure-----extremely common & tragic

Water pump failure is without a doubt the easiest way to cause extensive and expensive damage to your BMW. The main symptom will be a rapidly overheating motor. What occurs is that the bearing or impeller on the stock pump breaks, completely disabling the cooling system. If you ever see the temperature gauge on your BMW climb above the 3/4 mark,...

TURN THE CAR OFF IMMEDIATELY AND CALL A TOW TRUCK!!

We can't stress this enough. Failure to catch the overheating motor in time can result in a warped head or even more severe engine damage. We recommend changing out the water pump in these six cylinder cars every 60-80k.


Cracked Radiator Necks
BMW loves their plastic radiator tanks....Unfortunately...The plastic around the radiator necks become brittle and crack with age, often without warning (see warning above.) Radiators should be thought of as 80-100k mile wear items. Trust us, this is cheap insurance!

Fan Clutch Failure
Most fan clutches fail between 80 and 100k miles. They provide the primary cooling for your car, and are easy for us to diagnose.

Accessory Belt and Tensioner Failure
Worn tensioners and idler pullies will sound like a squealing noise from the engine bay. Belts should be inspected for cracks regularly. If a belt happens to snap, the cooling system will fail as the water pump will cease to operate. Power steering and the alternator will also fail to work. Again, pull over and shut the car off immediately should you suspect a belt failure or see the temperature gauge rise past the 3/4 mark.

Leaky valve cover gasket
Prevalent on all BMWs, a burning oil smell could indicate a leaky valve cover gasket. If the condition continues unchecked, oil can seep into the spark plug holes and damage the ignition coils, resulting in costly replacement. Replacement of this inexpensive gasket is a good idea when changing sparkplugs as the coilpacks will already be out.

Vanos seals. See www.beisansystems.com for details for explanation, symptoms and upgraded parts.

Oil Filter Housing Gasket leaks. $6 part requires removal of the housing for replacement.

DISA is pretty high up on the list of high fail rate components.

Tail light ground circuit fix (recall on this).

Sunroof - what a disaster that design is with leaks and jams and broken clips. Labor on this one is torture.

Door locks can break. If your locks unlock and windows all roll completlely down by themselves spontaneously, replace the driver's door lock mechanism.

O2 Sensor Failure
Poor mileage, poor idle and flat spots in the power curve could be caused by bad O2 sensors. Even if your car isn't throwing a check engine light, they may not be performing optimally. BMW recommends replacing the O2 sensors every 100k miles. Extended high-RPM running/racing and high-performance chips may shorten the replacement cycle.

Oil Separator
Non M cars. If you have a poor idle and periodic Check Engine lights, you may have a bad oil seperator. This valve tends to go bad and introduce a vacuum leak which produces the above symptoms and will eventually strand you somewhere. We started seeing these a year ago and we are now repairing more and more cars with this problem. Typical mileage seems to be around 80k. The good news is that the part is only around $75..the bad news is that the labor runs about 4 hours, depending on the year of the car.

Clogged and dirty pollen filter
If the flow of air out of the air conditioning and heater system is not as strong as it used to be, it strongly suggests the pollen microfilter of your car has become dirty and clogged over time. A damp and musky smell can also indicate a dirty filter. This is a service II replacement item.

Last edited by Stinger9; 02-03-2012 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 01-09-2012, 10:50 PM   #2
HyeWarrior
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Holy hell, this is like a list of everything that has been replaced or still needs replacing on my car

Tie rods and bushings definitely need attention

Good post
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:54 AM   #3
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You just posted the list of what my car currently needs. Every single item.
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:15 AM   #4
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I guess I should have done a bit more research before buying a Bimmer. I don't mind these problems too much as long as they're not too costly or too difficult to replace.

Also I'm a bit terrified now, I do hear an unidentified clunk in the rear. I hope this car doesn't turn into a money pit.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:26 AM   #5
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Great post! But you forgot something, OP.
Draining wallet..
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:25 AM   #6
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Great list for anyone. I've seen a lot of torn lower intake boots on this site. Not sure if this is a common problem across the board or if I'm only noticing the few that have had it happen because I myself have. Two minutes with a mirror can save a lot of trouble shooting elsewhere.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:32 AM   #7
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How about cooling overhaul?
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:33 AM   #8
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According to this post, if you only put gas in your car and change the oil every 15,000 miles your car will need 3/4 of the parts replaced by 80k miles..lol

But seriously though. You cant find a single forum member on here that hasn't done any one of these repairs to his/her car..
I myself replaced $3000 worth of parts in 1.5 years
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:58 AM   #9
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This should be made a sticky so new members can find it. I've almost replaced everything mentioned on that list, except a few
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Hots View Post
But seriously though. You cant find a single forum member on here that hasn't done any one of these repairs to his/her car..
I myself replaced $3000 worth of parts in 1.5 years
I am up to $2000 and it has only been four months. The previous owner failed at car maintenance. I still haven't finished my list of stuff to do before I can even do the fun mods. Good list of items to watch for on this thread!
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:03 PM   #11
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Kind of interesting to see how many people have had to do all that work on theirs. My 01 has 135K miles and I guess it had been properly maintained by the PO before me buying it just about 11 months ago at 128K miles that I haven't had to replace any of the above mentioned items.

The handling is great, no abnormal tire wear, no leaks/clunks/noises anywhere, all bushings look like new, control arms have been changed etc. etc.

Then again... I guess I'll have to perform some of those duties just as a preventive maintenance before my daughter heads off to college in about eight months. At least the cooling system overhaul, for sure!
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:13 PM   #12
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Exactly!

Point well illustrated! If someone were to buy my car right now, they'd think e46's run trouble free as I try to keep many systems updated with healthy parts.

If you can't document at least one cooling system update, at least do your ET, hoses, thermostat, sensor and pump.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TexFinn View Post
Kind of interesting to see how many people have had to do all that work on theirs. My 01 has 135K miles and I guess it had been properly maintained by the PO before me buying it just about 11 months ago at 128K miles that I haven't had to replace any of the above mentioned items.

The handling is great, no abnormal tire wear, no leaks/clunks/noises anywhere, all bushings look like new, control arms have been changed etc. etc.

Then again... I guess I'll have to perform some of those duties just as a preventive maintenance before my daughter heads off to college in about eight months. At least the cooling system overhaul, for sure!
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:20 PM   #13
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Yeap, the cooling system stuff was on the list already when I bought it, but just been procrastinating...

It was very obvious that the car had been well taken care of and maintained. Otherwise I wouldn't even have bought it. Unfortunately it only came with some maintenance records, which actually indicate control arm/bushing replacement a couple of years ago and some other stuff.

But the above is list is definitely a very good reference to all new or prospective new E46 owners.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:34 PM   #14
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Welcome to 2004. This list has been around the webz for almost a decade.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:42 PM   #15
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I'm trying to draw some conclusions?

Never repeat anything for those that may not have seen them before?

You wish you were the one who posted them after all the appreciation expressed?




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Welcome to 2004. This list has been around the webz for almost a decade.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
Never repeat anything for those that may not have seen them before?

You wish you were the one who posted them after all the appreciation expressed?
Hmm let me think.

No, not really. Posting lists like these are great for people who haven't seen them for about... a few hours. Then it just gets buried at the bottom.

Just saying. No need to get worked up over it.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:30 PM   #17
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Never worked up here. Just having fun. Hope you are too.

I post because years ago I copied the list for my
BMW file. Then forgot it. Reminders for the new and old.

Quote:
Originally Posted by E46Mango View Post
Hmm let me think.

No, not really. Posting lists like these are great for people who haven't seen them for about... a few hours. Then it just gets buried at the bottom.

Just saying. No need to get worked up over it.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:47 PM   #18
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Just replaced the radiator this morning due to a cracked neck. What luck.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:59 PM   #19
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Not sooo reliable cars after all...learned by experience.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:11 PM   #20
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at what mileage does subframe failure usually occur? i posted this question before but didnt get a response.

im kinda paranoid since i read that the subframe recall has expired, and i dont know if the PO had gotten the work done previously. i just havent had the time to check for myself. thanks.

good list!
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