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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 12-09-2016, 01:46 AM   #1
YoitsTmac
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E46 Fanatics Leak/Issue/Performance/Buyer Starter Guide

Hello guys! I've been on the forums with my E46 for about 20 months now. I started here knowing absolutely nothing, and have learned a lot through my own threads and by reading others. A lot of people tell new users to use the search, but I think a better option would be a thread they can return to as a "starting place," to help new users or people with new questions find answers in threads that pertain to them. This is incomplete! So help me make it great for the next guy

Subcategories:
-Don't own an E46?
-buying and finding parts
-Something is wrong with my engine
-Something else is wrong with my E46/transmission talk
-Oil consumption and cooling information
-I'm looking to make my car handle better
-I want my car to be more powerful
-BMW aesthetic upgrades (steering wheel, LED lights, refinishing, etc.)
-programming/geek tech info (including reading codes)

Ask small/dumb/quick questions here. Please. PLEASE. for the love of god, don't make the 9 millionth thread saying you want to know how to make your 323 faster than a Bugatti Chiron for the price of 20 McNuggets

E46 INFORMATION THREAD - parts/mods/DIY/OIL, soon to be integrated

Most DIY's can be found here.

Don't own an E46?
Read this buyers guide
Be aware of the cooling system issues
The subframe falls off? Good read with photos and by the people who make the kit
You should know what these are, and that these cars are full of them, and that they all fail
Jacking points: There is a small circle on early cars, and a black pad later cars where you jack the car in the front. In the back, jack the car up by the rear subframe, the thing holding the differential. There are four "pads" on the sides, and that's where you put jack stands.
You'll need tools...lots of them. This, this and this are mandatory. You may want a T-torx set later (these are the ones I got) and a trim remover (also have this). This will make you set for 90% of jobs. This is my torque wrench for you spec junkies.

Buying and finding parts:
There are a number of retailers to buy parts at. I personally recommend buying from FCPEuro. I've had excellent customer support there, shipping is fast and reasonable, and they offer a lifetime warranty, even on wear items. They are sometimes more expensive, but they price match anything in your cart if you give them a link. The second most popular is ECS Tuning, which typically offer an advantage when it comes to performance parts like polyurethane bushings and strut bars, etc. There are other vendors such as pelican parts, thebmwpartsstore and more.
-trying to find a part number? Enter your VIN here. This website, RealOEM, is your best friend. If you can't find it here, Google the name of the part, find an ECS or FCP link and get the part number from there
-I need/want a part that usually doesn't go "bad": buy it from a partout here. Lots of awesome deals. Wish I knew about this when I signed on. You can buy from a recycler here
-How do I know if a part from another car will fit my car? Use the method mentioned in the first bullet, and then enter that part number into RealOEM. It will tell you all the other cars that share that part.

Something is wrong with the engine?
My car is leaking: here's the most common leaks and where to look
---good terms to search: VANOS line, OFHG, CCV DIY <(these are quite common)
My E46 won't start
I want to learn more about my fuel pump: Great place to start. If it hasn't been replaced, it's only a matter of time. Also should think about replacing the fuel filter
My car is idling funny/ I have misfires: you should start here. If it's none of that, any codes probably hold the answer
Think you have a vacuum leak? good place to start (P0171, P0174)
I have a check engine light. No one will help you until you read codes. Get this
Engine stutters at an 2800rpm: See what others have done
Would love a suspension issue thread if anyone has a link. I'd use mine but I replaced everything

Something else is wrong with my car/transmission talk:
This is where it is
Windows don't work? It's your window regulator
What fluid does my GM transmission take?: Dexron III-VI. No debating
Don't have a GM transmission? See what fluid to use
-List of fluids to buy by a trusted member
Manual transmission fluid change
Automatic to manual transmission? 5-Speed DIY or 6-Speed DIY
Refresh your manual shifter

Suspension information:
I have suspension issues: Welcome to my living nightmare. If you can shake the wheel left and right, it's probably your tie rods or front control arm bushings(FCAB's). You can check out your FCAB's by seeing if the control arm moves.
Here's my suspension guide
The rear of my car creaks over bumps
Got some vibrations or clunks while going straight? Could be your flex disk or center support bearing


Oil consumption and cooling system information: Although I would highly suggest you read Mango's cooling system guide, you should know that the most common issue to overheating is the expansion take failure. It often gets a hairline crack so thin that it can't be seen. Under no circumstances should you let the car overheat unless you enjoy buying new engines or replacing a head gasket. Overheating is essentially beginning once the coolant needle starts going to the right from center (The coolant gauge is buffered, so it's actually 115C+ when it starts moving more). The second most common issue is Wahler thermostats leak from their electrical connection. With overheating or coolant leaks, these are great places to start.

Read the best cooling guide out here
How to bleed the cooling system
Info about operating temperatures
Are you burning oil and have no leaks (even CCV)? Try this
You can also try this if you don't need smog

I'm looking to make my car handle better:
You should enter this with an understand of how springs and shocks work, and what roll bars do. Then come back
Get more caster with BMW parts
Worn rubber slows you down, so refresh your suspension
If you're buying used BMW springs, here's a guide
Coilover's DIY (could use an update!!)
Learn about what makes a good brake setup
Picking up a used roll bar?
Good post on different rotor/pad combos: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpos...ostcount=39847
Brake upgrade guide for Non-M's!

I want my car to be more powerful:
Automatic cars should do this (electric fan swap)
Non 330's should do this for more power at the top end (manifold swap)
A differential swap with a higher ratio will allow you to accelerate quicker, read this for results
If you don't have smog to worry about, check this out

BMW aesthetic upgrades
M3 parts on a non-M
I bet you want LED Tail lights or LED Backup lights. I can't imbed videos, but you can search my channel for either of these. They are easy DIY's and I have links
Trying to retrofit an M3 or sport steering wheel? Read my full guide for upgrading
Check out all the E46 wheels. Yes, you can run square 245 68's.
Refinish your wheels/touch up curb rash with this thread

programming/geek tech info:
Information on OBD and reading codes
There's a hidden diagnostic menu built into your car, find it here
What programs can I program my car with?: PA Soft and NCS Expert Buy PA and the wire here
Get started with PA soft here
Ask your programming questions here
Reprogram your coolant gauge
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Last edited by YoitsTmac; Today at 12:17 AM. Reason: added brake upgrade guide
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:46 AM   #2
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Sticky this.
Very nice compilation you have here.
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:53 AM   #3
YoitsTmac
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Originally Posted by RangerDave View Post
Sticky this.
Very nice compilation you have here.
Thank you! That is the goal! Definitely need more links for suspension

Last edited by YoitsTmac; 12-09-2016 at 02:53 AM.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:32 AM   #4
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Cool!
One slight fix - your buy PA Soft link doesn't seem to work.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:39 AM   #5
The Snake
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Always great contributions to the forums- this is great!

Shoot me a message, let's catch up
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:31 PM   #6
hodgkinsc330ci
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Great work Tyler! This should help out some of the n00bies.

IMO, RealOEM is one of the most important tools you can use to find parts - especially helpful for the new guys. You should post a link

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[BMW Motors] Advertising has somehow convinced people that they're different. That they're made by magical Dachshunds who only eat special bratwursts made by virgins in an undisclosed magical spot inside of the black forest that can only be accessed via a special hydrogen powered BMW helicopter.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:40 PM   #7
lingon300k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoitsTmac View Post
Please. PLEASE. for the love of god, don't make the 9 millionth thread saying you want to know how to make your 323 faster than a Bugatti Chiron for the price of 20 McNuggets


Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerDave View Post
Sticky this.
Very nice compilation you have here.
Agreed.

This forum has heavily benefitted from having YoitsTmac as a member. Thanks for taking the time to write all this!

(Edit: I didn't even notice that my write-ups are on here. Thanks for including them!)

Last edited by lingon300k; 12-09-2016 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:47 PM   #8
Spannerhead
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Nice compilation!

That said, doesn't a lot of it duplicate the info in the "E46 INFORMATION THREAD" (some of which, admittedly, may need to be updated)? Just saying.

If the mods decide to sticky this thread, in the interest of not cluttering the top of the forum, I would vote to un-sticky the "OEM M3 PARTS ON NON-M - modding guide" thread. That could just be a link into the starter guide / info thread.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:49 PM   #9
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Nice compilation!

That said, doesn't a lot of it duplicate the info in the "E46 INFORMATION THREAD" (some of which, admittedly, may need to be updated)? Just saying.

If the mods decide to sticky this thread, in the interest of not cluttering the top of the forum, I would vote to un-sticky the "OEM M3 PARTS ON NON-M - modding guide" thread. That could just be a link into the starter guide / info thread.

Agreed.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:57 PM   #10
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all this stuff is in the sticky section already...
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:18 PM   #11
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Seriously.. Why? dumb thread is dumb.. Op probably made this thread because he thinks all his maintenance and repairs are up to date. There's already a thread on this, but wait I wanna be special and make the same thread again blah blah
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Old 12-09-2016, 06:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
Nice compilation!

That said, doesn't a lot of it duplicate the info in the "E46 INFORMATION THREAD" (some of which, admittedly, may need to be updated)? Just saying.

If the mods decide to sticky this thread, in the interest of not cluttering the top of the forum, I would vote to un-sticky the "OEM M3 PARTS ON NON-M - modding guide" thread. That could just be a link into the starter guide / info thread.
Yes!!!
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Old 12-09-2016, 07:47 PM   #13
YoitsTmac
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Cool!
One slight fix - your buy PA Soft link doesn't seem to work.
Fixed it. The website doesn't like Amazon links
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Snake View Post
Always great contributions to the forums- this is great!

Shoot me a message, let's catch up
Yes! Long overdue, you helped me so much with guiding me in the right direction for college. I am so thankful for that
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all this stuff is in the sticky section already...
And yet they get re-asked weekly because people don't know the answer is there. If this thread becomes stickied, members will get in the groove and seeing if there solution can be solved here before flooding the forums with threads

Quote:
Originally Posted by tks View Post
Seriously.. Why? dumb thread is dumb.. Op probably made this thread because he thinks all his maintenance and repairs are up to date. There's already a thread on this, but wait I wanna be special and make the same thread again blah blah
Look, when I came on here, I didn't know the questions to ask. I didn't know what a bushing was, I didn't know you could buy parts outside of a dealer (and I paid the price dearly), I didn't know where to get parts, and I didn't know where to get used parts. I've been on my own for the most part, there was no one to guide me into being into a fanatic. I hope the next person who knew as little as I did will be able to come here and be a bit more educated and end up paying less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
Nice compilation!

That said, doesn't a lot of it duplicate the info in the "E46 INFORMATION THREAD" (some of which, admittedly, may need to be updated)? Just saying.

If the mods decide to sticky this thread, in the interest of not cluttering the top of the forum, I would vote to un-sticky the "OEM M3 PARTS ON NON-M - modding guide" thread. That could just be a link into the starter guide / info thread.
Agree with both things you said. But as you said, it needs to be updated. I actually brought some links from there, here. I think this format is better because when you have an issue or a desired mod, you don't have to look through a long list, you can check a subcategory and find your answer quicker in my opinion.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:13 PM   #14
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You need to add the OBDFusion App and VeePeak interface as a MUST buy item. While BMW Scanner 1.4.0 has its uses, it SUCKS for driveability issues and on the later models it does not display Live/Realtime DME data.

Fuel pump info needs to be added as well.

Anyone that buys an E46 now, needs to replace the fuel pump if the pump history is unknown. If the pump has a screw drive hose clamp, you could assume it ws replaced, but then you are taking your chances.
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temp, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose temp switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299

Last edited by jfoj; 12-09-2016 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:29 PM   #15
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Nice of you to take some time doing this. Most of the stickies have been around for a decade or more I'm sure some updating is in order. It would be good to see some new areas for probs that have just come up in the past few years like none oe MAF and unavailability of some parts. I.e Bosch fan assembly.

They'll always be detractors.
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Old 12-10-2016, 01:29 AM   #16
YoitsTmac
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Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
You need to add the OBDFusion App and VeePeak interface as a MUST buy item. While BMW Scanner 1.4.0 has its uses, it SUCKS for driveability issues and on the later models it does not display Live/Realtime DME data.

Fuel pump info needs to be added as well.

Anyone that buys an E46 now, needs to replace the fuel pump if the pump history is unknown. If the pump has a screw drive hose clamp, you could assume it ws replaced, but then you are taking your chances.
Added the scanner. Do you have a thread in mind? I'm pretty sure fuel pump is in the no start thread. I was talking about this with Balidawg and he said he has a list of recommended maintenance at certain intervals. I think that would be better served there. Would love your thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW-North View Post
Nice of you to take some time doing this. Most of the stickies have been around for a decade or more I'm sure some updating is in order. It would be good to see some new areas for probs that have just come up in the past few years like none oe MAF and unavailability of some parts. I.e Bosch fan assembly.

They'll always be detractors.
Unfortunately I am unaware of these issues since I haven't had them myself. Can you PM a little more about it to me? If I know more I can add a thread and link
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Old 12-10-2016, 06:35 AM   #17
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Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

This is older info, however, it is still quite useful - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=967204
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temp, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose temp switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 12-10-2016, 08:05 PM   #18
YoitsTmac
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updated fjoj!
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Old 12-13-2016, 01:02 PM   #19
YoitsTmac
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Added steering wheel swap info. Can we sticky this? I plan on updating this regularly as I learn more

Edit: We're stickied!! Help me keep this thread "on it's feet"

Last edited by YoitsTmac; 12-13-2016 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 12-13-2016, 02:28 PM   #20
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Edit: We're stickied!! Help me keep this thread "on it's feet"
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