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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 10-28-2012, 04:35 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 150
My Ride: 2002 325xi-sport pkg
making my 2003 XI with 95K new again... against my will

I'm writing this post to share what happened / is happening to me so that other folks can possibly learn (something) from it....whatever that is...

I Picked up my 2002 325xi auto for a good price last month. The body is in great shape and everything appeared all stock (bonus to me). I took it for a test drive and everything drove well (10 minute town / country drive). klunking noise up front though, sounded like a swaybar bushing. Bought the car becasue it was a fair price and my cousins (who drive bmw's) said I would be happy.

Drive it to work for a week (highway driving), noticed a vibration at speed.

After a week I pulled it in for servicing / maintenance and it's been up on stands ever since... almost 3 weeks in my garage and still up.

I needed a stereo with bluetooth, so got that installed.... so far so good....

Then I decided to fix the klunking and do maintenance / fluids while I had it in the shop.

Jacked up the front and looked at the front suspension, needed new swaybar links. Pushed on the front of the car and it was way too bouncy... looked like original struts... so at 95K miles time for new Bilstien's and mounts.. parts ordered

While at it I shook on front suspension to check for balljoint wear. Wayyy too much movement in bushings, camber of tires changed significantly when jacked off the ground.. parts ordered. (upgraded bushings, new suspension arm, new ball jonts).

Started to install new struts in the rear first (now car up on 4 jack stands). Noticed rear brakes are shot (rotors are worn too).... blew that off. Noticed that right rear spring was broken... back to the internet and this site... Eibach's ordered.

Got Eibach's in the mail and I installed rear struts and springs.. looked at brakes again and stopped denying they are shot.. ordering them tomorrow.

Started front suspension drivers side Saturday. Discovered torn CV boot, checked both axles (significant play).. Down to NAPA for rebuilt replacements (they had them in stock). Strut rebuild went OK, Axle replacement sucked until I figured it out.

After this maintenance I'll have essentially a new suspension and brakes. What started as a sway bar mount and struts ( known issues when purchased) has expanded into much more work. ... if that friggan cooling system that everyone complains about goes in the next 10K miles I just might blow more than a head-gasket

So I figure that when a car manufacturer makes a car with a 100K mile warranty and 100K mile major service intervals everything aligns to fail at about the same point... and nobody maintains them because "they don't have to" (except folks here who do preventative maintenance).

motto of the story: Just because it drives well, doesn't mean it is well... a BMW can drive susprisingly well with lots of minor things wrong. If you dont have the ability to do this stuff yourself, please get a good pre-purchase inspection or buy something with lots of new receipts

Looking forward to getting the new Bimmer on the road

Last edited by bikesandcars; 10-28-2012 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:32 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Reading, PA
Posts: 180
My Ride: 2003, 325 XIT
Just buy a used BMW with 140K and all the problem will have been fixed. I bought mine at !10K and had to do all the stuff you mentioned and more. You might as well get a fuel pump (they die with no warning) and fuel filter, a water pump, starter, and some vacuum lines. Lots of good DIY's on the forums. Oh yeah and a new clutch and dual flywheel
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:14 AM   #3
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My Ride: 2008 X3, 6 Speed
Just wait until you realize that your diff bushing is shot and keep hearing a thump.

Or that your rear axles need new grease or are leaking..
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:43 AM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 150
My Ride: 2002 325xi-sport pkg
Adding those components to the watch list, thanks

I'm actually being positive about it. Even though it hurts now, those parts should be good for another 100K.

Took my wife's 2011 mazda 3 out for a drive the same time I got the xi.. the XI still drove better with 4x the miles and all those issues. I can't wait to drive it with eibach's, new struts, and hawk brake pads Trying to stay positive.
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:51 AM   #5
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Posts: 282
My Ride: 2005 M3
C'mon man, you *knew* what's up with these cars? Didn't ya? Be honest, I bet you did. But hey, I feel your pain. In any case, you did good in fixing your sled.
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:56 AM   #6
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Location: Minnesnowta
Posts: 3,672
My Ride: 4cyl of fury
First of all, really nice work.

Second of all, please at least replace the waterpump and explosion tank. You should be able to tell if the radiator hoses are good or not, mine were fine when I replaced my set up. I replaced the upper hose simply because I had it off the car anyway, the lower is such a bastard to get off that I left it on there. You can replace the thermostat too in order to save yourself having to drain the system twice when it goes (mine went at ~110k).

Third, have you checked for any oil leaks? With the condition of the rest of the car, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find that the valve cover and oil filter housing gaskets shot. Also, change the oil and all drive line fluids before you drive it any more.

Lastly, the reason all this stuff fails at 100k is that is the expected life of the components in your car. The new ones will last for another 100k before they also poop out. Except for the brakes obviously.

Welcome to BMW ownership!
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:15 AM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 150
My Ride: 2002 325xi-sport pkg
Originally Posted by lucky_doggg7 View Post
C'mon man, you *knew* what's up with these cars? Didn't ya? Be honest
Honestly, no.. but I went into BMW ownership "knowing" generalities and not specifics. In general they are a solid car with many positives and bullet proof drivetrains... The details of cooling systems and oil leaks I was ignorant about. I like a project and learning new cars so I was Ok with taking the leap on minimal knowledge.

Every car needs maintenance at 100K, and I find the BMW well thought out and relatively easy to work on. I also like that some parts are suprisingly cheap (like reman axles, brakes, etc). Every make / model has it's issues... the fact that you can get a whole coolant kit including radiator for less than $400 is actually quite good.

I think what makes the BMW maintenance hurt more is the higher buy-in price and the inconsistancy in quality... some items are very high quality... but they can't build an expansion tank.... it's less frustrating if you drive an econo-box where nothing is high quality.

My VR6 Jetta is still going strong at 245K with the original axles, transmission (never changed fluid), radiator, hoses, etc etc. Swapped in a 50K mile engine at 120K because the timing chain went (weak part on that auto). Everything small is failing (comfort modules, etc) but I could probably take it past 300K.

I'm going to do the cooling system at the first sign of failure, but hopefully i can stretch it out a few thousand miles.

Last edited by bikesandcars; 10-29-2012 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #8
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Reading, PA
Posts: 180
My Ride: 2003, 325 XIT
Be careful with cheap axle remans, in the end they aren't cheap unless you get lucky and get a remand GNK Lobro (OE). I had to re-replace the cheap axles after ~20K with new GKN's. Oh and I loved my VR6 too just a blast to drive, I would have kept it going except it rotted out
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:29 PM   #9
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 51
My Ride: BMW 325 xi
Welcome to the forum! I'm in similar shoes- I bought mine 6 months ago with 95K miles. Changed all the fluids but so far, no problems except for a leaky valve cover, which I'll replace over the holidays. Like others have said, these are great cars. Hang in there and after the first snow it will all be worthwhile!!
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:22 PM   #10
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Location: Washington, DC
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My Ride: '01 325xi, '73 2002
Originally Posted by bikesandcars View Post
Started front suspension drivers side Saturday. Discovered torn CV boot, checked both axles (significant play).. Down to NAPA for rebuilt replacements (they had them in stock). Strut rebuild went OK, Axle replacement sucked until I figured it out.
These cars can be a nightmare, huh? I've replaced just about everything you've mentioned. See my notes here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...5UFJIaUE#gid=0.

I will say that GKN axles are the only way to go. I've tried the cheaper reman axles, but they haven't lasted beyond 20-30K. People might offer different stories, but I don't think they're a good idea. I just installed the GKN's and they feel great; time will tell if they're worth the price.
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Old 11-02-2012, 04:54 PM   #11
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: New England
Posts: 301
My Ride: 323i Vert, 330xi
I have 80k and have replaced all that you have mentioned with the acception of the ball joints (i'm sure that will be soon). I also fear the fuel pump and expansion tank... But as with any car things can just go without warning, so no need on worrying about it unless you have to.

I don't understand why there is so many common flaws with the is generation 3 series. I havent even got to 100k yet... I'll agree that I can very picky with cars, but even I'm left scratching my head wondering why I have had to address so many issues since taking ownership....
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