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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 03-18-2017, 01:31 PM   #1
eval
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E46 for a part-time employee in high school?

Hey guys,

I'm currently 17, almost done grade 12 (June 2017). I'm a part-time employee at a fairly popular fast food establishment (it sucks), with about 16-20 hours a week. I have a lot of money saved up and currently own a 2004 Jetta 1.8T that my mother bought for me on my 16th birthday. I've listed my Jetta for $6.5k CAD on Kijiji and have gotten a few interests already. I absolutely love E46's but the care for them is pretty crazy, bu this would be a car that I would keep for a really long time. And I thought my Jetta was a pain with maintenance costs. I'm not much of a DIYer, I can hardly change my own battery. I'm all for learning and looking at threads but there's a couple reasons that set me back: 1) I have no garage. I live in a townhouse with a dirt backyard. (We plan on building a garage in 2018). 2) I have no tools. It's just my mother and I, and as you probably can guess, she's not the best handyman out there. (I've heard the saying "buying tools is an investment", but I don't even know what to get.) I very rarely take my car to a mechanic and pay their labor costs unless it's something like a timing belt change or welding stuff. I have a few friends that are good with cars, but I can't be asking them for the rest of my life.

Now the price. My mom did buy my first car, which happened to be the car I really wanted. I handled the gas, maintenance, and everything else which will be the same case if I get this E46 or any other car. My car's great on gas which helps. I've come to know that E46s aren't that expensive to buy, but they're something to maintain. I plan on working my a$$ off in the summer for the city, probably somewhere @ 16/hr. Then off to a trade institution for school sometime in September.

Is it an ethical decision to buy an E46 given my situation? Should I just keep my Jetta and buy an E46 when it actually makes sense to?

My goal is to find a 01-05 325i or 330i sedan with something below 160km.

Thank you!

Last edited by eval; 03-18-2017 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:01 PM   #2
Chibo
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Keep the Jetta as you know its quirks. When the time is right, consider an E46 again.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:50 PM   #3
z3pilot99
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Go for it. Expect to learn a bunch, spend a decent amount amount on maintenance and look over your shoulder every time you get out of it and think damn that car is sweet. You have no other responsibilities. And, while they require more work than most cars they are easy to work on. YouTube and the forum will help you learn how to fix and maintain it. Follow the buyers guide and get a PPI. Just go into it knowing you'll have to work on it or pay a bunch. Try reading the book Memoirs of a hack mechanic.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:53 PM   #4
TobyB
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Quote:
Is it an ethical decision
?

It isn't a PRACTICAL decision, but you should do what you really want to do.
The maintenance on an E46 isn't bad for routine things, but the 'big lumps' are really big.
And sometimes the E46 will demand a big lump, and you have to feed it one. Price an auto transmission, for example.

In your shoes, I'd keep the car that works, and wait. But I drove a POS Chebby all through college,
and well into my working career, and then I replaced it with a POS Mitsubishi, and a 'play' car that didn't have to run.

t
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:47 PM   #5
OnTheFence
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Can you work on the car at friend's places?
If you are interested in learning about cars, then it may be a nice experience.
The BMW forums kick ass, and can help you bigtime.
You will slowly buy your tools and build it up.
But, if you just want a cool car and not be bothered to maintain it, then stick to a reliable car until you're older.
Do not buy a crappy cheap E46. It will cost you more in the longrun.
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:24 PM   #6
Knight
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Not into DIY. No garage. No tools.

I cannot, in good conscience, EVER recommend an E46 (or any old car) to someone in your shoes.

Seems like you are doing everything else right. Spare yourself the headache and focus on the more important things on your plate.

These cars can be made into reliable daily drivers, but you need to the time, funds and ability to do most of it yourself for it to be a worthwhile experience.
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:28 PM   #7
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I also think this would be a mistake, get a different car, please come back to BMW in a few years when you're more situated.
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:26 AM   #8
Megalocnus
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These cars are expensive for non-DIYers...
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:57 AM   #9
jealeman
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I would NOT recommend going for an E46 given your current situation. These are great cars provided they're maintained properly, however as another poster said, one lump can set you back horribly.

My son didn't get his first BMW until he turned 22 and graduated college. Granted this was last August and the 2002 325i he got with only 76K miles on it was owned and babied by friends of ours. He waited patiently driving a Honda Civic for years.

Be patient and stick with the Jetta for now. When the time is right you will join us owning one of the world's greatest automobiles.

Cheers!
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knight View Post
Not into DIY. No garage. No tools.



I cannot, in good conscience, EVER recommend an E46 (or any old car) to someone in your shoes.

+1 the parts for these cars arent expensive but if you dont DIY the labor will kill you. These are very easy cars to work on but the cheapest parts and gaskets etc can make the job go up into 800-1000 dollar on the labor side from all the parts you need to remove.


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Old 03-19-2017, 02:30 AM   #11
eval
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Thanks everyone. I'll probably just hold back until I'm settled down at a steady job and my Jetta breaks down.

And to clarify, I may not be a full-blown DIYer, but I'm not lazy. I'd happily learn how to do any sort of maintenance that could save me money, but given my restrictions it's just a little difficult.

Thanks again guys. I'll post again in a few years when stuff is figured out. :p
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Old 03-19-2017, 02:30 AM   #12
LeverThis
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+1 if you're not going to fix it yourself, it's hard to recommend these cars.

Read the "How screwed am i!??" thread for an extreme example of what can happen.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1124782
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Old 03-19-2017, 02:58 AM   #13
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An E46 is an amazingly reliable car as long as you know which nooks and crannies to look in, such as the cooling system, vanos, subframe, etc. I too am 18 with a part time job in senior year, and I am able to keep up with me car. Being our age with our jobs, you MUST be able to do all work on your car YOURSELF. That's the only way we can afford it. My best bet would to be have a good look around the forums for a pre purchase checklist to see which items yo check for wear or breakage on a candidate car, and chose the car in the best condition, and from there it's all learning, living, and a LOT of fun. I can confidently say I've had almost as much if not more fun working on my car than actually driving it.


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Old 03-19-2017, 07:45 AM   #14
OnTheFence
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What year and mileage is your Jetta?
And smart of you to find a forum and ask questions.
Good life skill.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:57 AM   #15
supremeBrandon
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If you want it, go for it. I'm in your shoes right now, senior in HS. I have a 330ci and work on my car myself, there fun and not too hard to work on


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Old 03-19-2017, 12:42 PM   #16
stahlgraue46
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Yeah, people rag on BMWs for being hard/expensive to work on, but I used to own a 2010 chevy malibu and they're not only way harder but more expensive to work in


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Old 03-19-2017, 01:32 PM   #17
eval
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E46 for a part-time employee in high school?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OnTheFence View Post
What year and mileage is your Jetta?
And smart of you to find a forum and ask questions.
Good life skill.


2004 with 94,000 km (~58k miles)


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Last edited by eval; 03-19-2017 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:39 PM   #18
eval
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E46 for a part-time employee in high school?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stahlgraue46 View Post
An E46 is an amazingly reliable car as long as you know which nooks and crannies to look in, such as the cooling system, vanos, subframe, etc. I too am 18 with a part time job in senior year, and I am able to keep up with me car. Being our age with our jobs, you MUST be able to do all work on your car YOURSELF. That's the only way we can afford it. My best bet would to be have a good look around the forums for a pre purchase checklist to see which items yo check for wear or breakage on a candidate car, and chose the car in the best condition, and from there it's all learning, living, and a LOT of fun. I can confidently say I've had almost as much if not more fun working on my car than actually driving it.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBrandon View Post
If you want it, go for it. I'm in your shoes right now, senior in HS. I have a 330ci and work on my car myself, there fun and not too hard to work on


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I'm tempted to now.. It's just finding the right 330/325i that's not further than 6 hours from Saskatchewan :/

Last edited by eval; 03-19-2017 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:41 PM   #19
OnTheFence
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I'd say stick with the car you've got. Nice low miles. Learn to fix it as you go. An E46 will be more a project with miles. The time is better with more age and money
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Old 03-19-2017, 02:24 PM   #20
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OP, these cars are really easy to work on, and I think to learn how to work on cars on ... if that makes sense grammatically ... it's just the lack of a workspace for you right now that makes it hard to recommend.

Ive owned two audi quattros before, an 1988 90q and a 2001 a4q 1.8t and the e46 I feel is WAY easier to work on. Easier/more room to access things and even parts price seem more economical than the vw/audi world (although some BMW parts are obscenely expensive, like $700 for a new side mirror motor with the ribbon style car cable, WTF??!).

So keep the dream alive, learn to DIY on the Jetta as much as you can, and make your move when ready. But I feel you do need a place you can put the car on jack stands for a period of time while you learn/work through the issues any new to you e46 will have.
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