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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 07-06-2012, 09:35 PM   #1
BAMxi
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Am I crazy to consider going from an e90 to an e46 (non M)?

Hi! So as you can tell, I'm brand new here. I've been an e90poster for a couple years now, but before I got my e90, I was a hardcore lurker on this site. The e46 was the BMW I always planned to be my first, but I somehow ended up finding a 2007 328xi e90 instead.

First of all, let me say that I'm not unhappy with my current car at all. In fact, I actually love the thing. Of course there are always mods or improvements I would like to make, however overall, I've been very impressed with my 3er. That being said, in the next several months, I'm going to be making a move from my current cubicle-imprisonment to self employment, and dropping the car payment would help substantially. I know there are many cheap reliable cars that I could move to, however I'm pretty sold on BMWs, and really can't imagine not owning one. So, I'm considering buying an e46. Plus, I've loved the way e46es look since driving my buddy's e46 m3. My thinking is I could sell my car and get the loan paid off plus some extra to put toward an e46 (thinking around $7k-$9k). I'm not opposed to basic DIY and am pretty good at following directions, but I'm no professional mechanic, and am opposed to being stranded on the side of the road.

After spending some time on here, I can't tell if the e46's common issues are just very well documented (a plus in my book), and if the e90s are just now coming of the age where they start having their own problems to be discovered, or if the e46s just have a lot of problems. I guess my question is this: my main objective is to get rid of my current $350 car payment while I build my business, and have a reliable daily driver that will last me for the next few years, until I can ultimately get into a newer car.

So, what's your honest opinion? Am I better off just keeping the e90 xdrive and sucking up the payments (and consequently the cubicle job that I hate for a while longer)? Should I just buy a Honda and shut up? or could I get away with a nice e46 for the next few years? Do you think repairs and maintenance on an e46 with 100k+ miles would just completely negate the savings of no car payment, and I'll die poor and alone in the gutter somewhere?

thanks for your advice, and reading all this. Sorry for the long post.

Here's the current ride:


Last edited by BAMxi; 07-06-2012 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:06 PM   #2
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$7-9k will get you a nice e46 (I paid $6,500 for mine) and a single month's car payment will pay for all the parts to overhaul the cooling system (approx $350) and it's a very diy friendly job. I say go e46 and don't look back.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:08 PM   #3
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Any 2001-2006 e46 with manual transmission will be a solid choice.
All preventive maintenance can be DIYed.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:10 PM   #4
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E46s are cheap now because not only they are aging, but because their maintenance is costly. However, it sure as **** best looking and handling car I know of for road cars. I would take e46 over e90s unless its 1M, M3, M5 or M6. I would have to think about 135i and 335i long and hard.

Anyways, e46 parts and documents are everywhere. However, if you are stuck with a malfunction or get in to a small crash, expect spending a lot of money at the dealer, or getting total loss claim from insurance company.

PS. Rear subframe cracks, thats all I gotta say, everything else can be fixed aside that and frame damage.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:13 PM   #5
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PS. Rear subframe cracks, thats all I gotta say, everything else can be fixed aside that and frame damage.
Mostly on 1999-2000 328 and 2001 m3s.

Sometimes on 1999-2000 323, and heavily r1cer abused and tortured 330s.

Almost never on other years.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercForHire View Post
Mostly on 1999-2000 328 and 2001 m3s.

Sometimes on 1999-2000 323, and heavily r1cer abused and tortured 330s.

Almost never on other years.
You would be surprised how many people with newer years still send me messages asking me how I got the dealer to pay for my repairs..
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:39 PM   #7
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You would be surprised how many people with newer years still send me messages asking me how I got the dealer to pay for my repairs..
How did you?
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:46 PM   #8
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I bought my ZHP in December for $10k. I am a BMW mechanic on the side and had been maintaining it for three years prior to buying it. Even though I put all new brakes, cooling system, VANOS, and OFHG on it before buying it I still have spent $1770 on it in 7 months. That means I have been spending $250 a month just on maintenance items and I do ALL MY OWN WORK! And I still have another $1500 or so to go (clutch, motor mounts, control arms, DISA, 02 sensors, the list continues) before it will be "good" for a while.

My point, a used E46 is expensive to PROPERLY maintain. Sure, you can let stuff go, but then the ride quality and reliability suck. Just make sure you get a GOOD used one.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:52 PM   #9
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Are you still under warranty? If so, for how much longer? Depending on that, you might want to keep the car just for the warranty and peace of mind.
The e46 can break down and have serious issues. That's why it's very important to pay for a good car. Make sure you get records. That's so important and will save you big time.
Understand what goes wrong in the e46 and be preventative about it: ofhg, vcg, fuel filter, fuel pump, sub frame, cooling system, worn pulleys.
Understand the things that can actually leave you stranded and replace them before they break (as necessary) and all other things be ready to replace when they break.
To keep these cars reliable its all about being ahead of the problems. Be ready to spend a weekend doing the cooling system. Be ready to rip out your back seat and slap your fuel pump to avoid a tow when it quits on you.
Basically, these cars need more love and attention than your current car to keep them reliable. However if you're prepared to make that commitment and take care of the car as it needs to be taken care of, it will serve you reliably and happily for however long you decide to love it.
Hope this helps
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peytonracer4 View Post
How did you?
My uncle used to work at Mercedes factory in Germany and he knows people at BMW, had to make some international calls. This dude faxed me some papers from TIS that are conveniently deleted now, on procedures for repairing and reimbursing customers with these sort of problem.. When the dealer gave me a problem about my check being too late (a single day), my uncle complained to a friend who wrote an email to one of the VPs. And I got a call back from the dealer after speaking to that dude on the phone.

Long story short (my car sat at the dealer for about a week at that point), they got the rear of the car rebuilt with the subframe in a week, and gave me a dodge charger rental that was free to play around with.

My phone bill was like 400$ that month..

Funny part was, the head tech said at the end, your subframe bushings are like brand new, and showed me what they got paid from BMW NA, a whopping 9700$ and change.. car was originally bought for 6500$ from Armenian mafia dudes (thats why I thought twice about returning it)

Last edited by doshu; 07-06-2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:53 PM   #11
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My uncle used to work at Mercedes factory in Germany and he knows people at BMW, had to make some international calls. This dude faxed me some papers from TIS that are deleted now. When they gave me a problem too, my uncle complained to a friend who wrote an email to one of the VPs.

Long story short, they got the rear of the car rebuilt with the subframe in a week, and gave me a dodge charger rental that was free to play around with.

My phone bill was like 400$ that month..
Luckily you have those connections.
Not sure what I'll do if my subframe ever takes a crap
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peytonracer4 View Post
Luckily you have those connections.
Not sure what I'll do if my subframe ever takes a crap
BMW officially stopped repairs a day before I had my check. that was 2 years a go.

Honestly I would sell the car and get another one and apply reinforcement kit.

I hear there are still people fighting it, and there is a lawyer in LA somewhere that freely represents people because of the lawsuit that happened a while back. BMW got slapped with a court order or something..

Last edited by doshu; 07-06-2012 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:00 PM   #13
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BMW officially stopped repairs a day before I had my check. that was 2 years a go.

Honestly I would sell the car and get another one and apply reinforcement kit.
doshu please help me with something.
What model and year is your car?

Is this true?
Quote:
11. What are the chances that my car has a Sub-Frame Condition?

BMW NA estimates that cars produced prior to February 2000 may experience the Sub-Frame
Condition at a rate believed by BMW NA to be below 2 percent. For Class Vehicles produced
beginning in February of 2000 and after, BMW NA believes the rate of Sub-Frame Conditions is
extremely low and BMW believes that it will be below 0.1 percent. Plaintiff and Class Counsel
have not adopted BMW NA's estimates or position in this regard.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:01 PM   #14
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BMW officially stopped repairs a day before I had my check. that was 2 years a go.

Honestly I would sell the car and get another one and apply reinforcement kit.

I hear there are still people fighting it, and there is a lawyer in LA somewhere that freely represents people because of the lawsuit that happened a while back. BMW got slapped with a court order or something..
I don't have any issues as of right now. So no need to sell the car.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:03 PM   #15
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I put all new brakes, cooling system, VANOS, and OFHG on it before buying it I still have spent $1770 on it in 7 months. That means I have been spending $250 a month just on maintenance items and I do ALL MY OWN WORK!
Sure $250 over 7 months, but are you going to be touching those items again anytime soon? My ZHP cost me a decent amount in maintenance up front (rotors/pads, cooling system, belts, pulleys, vanos, vcg, etc etc.) but only because I was proactive with the maintenance as were you. However this doesn't mean the car will cost us $250/month for the life of the car.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:07 PM   #16
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OP buying another car is also a chore and a hassle. I think you should "suffer" through you current BMW. The e46 is an older car so there are more parts that need replacing it is not different than any other car. The e46 however is vet easy to work on and the engineers had mechanics in mind as the placement of everything makes sense! I watched a Audi timing belt replacement and omg it looked awful. Like a seven hour job. Check out vw, Audi, and Volvo repairs...they suck and the engine compartment is impossible to work on. Just stick with what you have stop trying to complicate your life.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:16 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercForHire View Post
doshu please help me with something.
What model and year is your car?

Is this true?
This was 2000 323CI, it was over 2 years a go, but I swear I had so many people contact me asking me for those TIS documents (not sure where they are now)

But the document explained how repairs should be handled on all E46s not just 99 and 2000, and it went on to explain anything over 20mm (if memory servers me) should be completely repaired, mine had 37mm in two locations. Head tech said, they had maybe 50 people coming on the day of the deadline for the free inspection.

At the time BMW NA was sued about the sub-frame and its condition and for reimbursing people. I remember even calling the lawyer that was assigned by the court for people that had this issue, but that was for reimbursing repairs already done.

BMW of course swept everything under the rug. There was never a recall. We had a thread or two here and bimmerforums that had thousands of posts. At the rate e46s sold you can imagine how many people had the problem. BMW said many things but never admitted any design flaws, even after court ordered extension for sub-frame repairs, which to my knowledge they didnt openly release the date to people. They told everyone free checks were over, and everyone assumed repairs were over too. And when I called them, they literally played dumb.

No body even remembers it now, but yeah, if you see the crack and the fact that only M3s really have a slightly different design, and that they sell sub-frame reinforcement kits, you know its a real deal.

Last edited by doshu; 07-06-2012 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:21 PM   #18
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Sorry for thread jacking OP I will shut up
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:29 PM   #19
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a used E46 is expensive to PROPERLY maintain. Sure, you can let stuff go, but then the ride quality and reliability suck. Just make sure you get a GOOD used one.
This.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:32 PM   #20
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Thanks for all the replies! I've got a similar thread going on on e90post, and a lot of former e46 guys have good stuff to say about them. That being said, it's always easier to look back and think how much you loved a car, when you're in something new. Ask me now how much i loved my 1990 Toyota Celica haha! But it seems the e46s are viewed as reliable cars by past and (many) current owners.

To answer someone's question, I am not under warranty anymore. I did pick the car apart for defects before it expired though, as I was planning on keeping my car for a very long time, up until about two days ago. I had a DSC module, transfer case servo, sunroof cassette, lifters (due to ticking) all replaced under warranty. This would make the car appear to be problematic, however I think most of these issues being caught early would help keep larger issues from popping up later (and when I would have to pay for them). One other thing is I'm growing weary of the x-drive. I just don't feel like my car drives the way it should. Plus I have one cupped tire due to an alignment issue (fixed now) and I'm faced with replacing all four tires so as not to upset the transfer case. I bought it because we had a couple big snows in KC a while back, and I'm not allowed to call-in to my cubicle sales job (again, quitting ASAP!) but it didn't snow at all last year. So I'm thinking of switching to RWD and getting a good set of snow tires. That combined with making my own schedule should suffice, I think.

So, either way I'm going to be DIYing maintenance on a bimmer, so that's not the main concern. Some of the stories of being stranded are what make me nervous. Though it's obviously a slight concern with my current car, as well. I do have a coworker who drove his 325ci while overheating, and had to get a new engine. He's had nothing but problems, but also did no preventative maintenance. and he opened the radiator cap while it was hot and burned his face. So that's the extent of his car knowledge. Worst case scenario, I guess I've got free roadside assistance.

At least e46s still have spare tires!

I'm going to keep my eyes open for the right one, I think. Thanks again, keep your feedback coming!
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