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Old 03-29-2014, 08:52 AM   #1
menty
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Inspecting an M3

In the process of inspecting an M3.

What are the main things to look out for?

I understand that it would be ideal if the SMG pump was replaced sometime recently. What about VANOS issues? Obviously a good service history is a must.

Which garages in Sydney would be open/recommended for a PPI (especially to check the subframe)?

How often is Inspection II done? (last inspection 1 was done 30000kms ago)
Is there a guide for when services should be done?
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:10 AM   #2
SY$
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Check vehicle for vanos rattle,these tend to **** themselves espeically higher km cars. NUMBER 1 thing to check is rear subframe mountings and floor pan! Almost every (90%) of M3s ive worked on has floor plan cracks. Some minor and some severe but either way as soon as its cracked its cracked. If it is cracked expect to pay a large amount for repairs if you want the job done right. Recommended to take car for sales check at dealership or a workshop who is well known and trusted specifically with the subframe/floorplan issue

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Old 03-29-2014, 09:14 AM   #3
SY$
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Service goes oil,inspection 1,oil inspection 2. Then repeat

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Old 03-29-2014, 09:18 AM   #4
SY$
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Also check all bushings in the rear,trailing arm bushes goes all the time since everyone launches the m3 and drives it hard. Check front strut towers for mushrooming (common on all e46 models) aswell as the strut bar as these tend to snap off from the mountings themselves (have seen around 8~10) with broken strut bar.
Also is the car SMG or stick manual?

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Old 03-29-2014, 09:50 AM   #5
e34m5freak199
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man, you dont know what you in for.

ive got 2 s54's and love them, in order of game over to the norm

1. big end bearings, although recalls were performed they still fail, mine look ordinary even with regular changes. not a matter of if but when.
2. pickup and lower guide, then you may find dealers who completely stripped pickup bolts, thats me x2.
3. floor, again 100% a matter of when. a physical inspection will only reveal damage which is getting bad. with the sounds deadening and rear end in place, its extremely difficult/impossible to be sure. Again, this repair should be factored into the price, it will break. Reinforcement plates alone are not enough.
4. smg pump again will 100% fail. some last 200k others 20k. Often misdiagnosed.
5. vanos hub, cam bolts, upper guide, vanos seals and solenoid. i wouldnt say 100% will fail but common enough, again if hub or blots fail, cya later.

thats the main stuff, besides that all common wear and tear itesm. water pumps, steering lines and every single bush on an m3 flogs out, literally, from subframe to control arms. bmw's also leak like MOFO, s54's are no exception. from valve covers to rear main, cpv to sump. sh$t load of other stuff as well.

that all said, pickup one up with a good history and dropping 6-8k on it front to rear will equal 5+ years (provided it manual) of 8k rpm daily driving with little dramas and an experience which in terms of rawness and pure fun is difficult to match.

of you want someone in sydney, pm me i know just the place.

history is important obviously, additionally its also possible to bring up an electronic history including all faults codes ever recorded in the car, whether they are deleted or not. can be helpful.

Last edited by e34m5freak199; 03-29-2014 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 03-29-2014, 10:18 AM   #6
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I agree 100% with the above post!
The repairs carried out on e46 M3s is too long to list how ever they are still a good car imo if you maintain it,always repair what is needed and even carry out precautions before problems arise.
I highly suggest manual stick NOT smg. Smg is a peice of **** ,anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.
Make sure if floor has been repaired that it was done with correct parts needed and correct procedure. I have seen people weld the cracks or even put reenforcement plates on,pretty much a complete waste of time and money. A foam repair is a MUST!
Overall good cars but must be maintained,repaired correctly and by a trusted shop or person.
Also SMG = rubbish!
**** shift quality,terrible clutch slip points,smg pumps usually are the first things to go in them all the way up to 2nd gear synchros haha and i wonder why that is?
Stick with manual stick you wont regret it

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Old 03-29-2014, 10:35 AM   #7
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Subframe as mentioned, if it's cracked don't buy it, the cost of repair will shock you.
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:26 PM   #8
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Make sure it has an very well documented service history and that everything is up to date.

Mine has a 3-4mm hairline crack on the sub-frame mount and I have reinforced this with the TMS reinforcement plates. I monitor it regularly and so far so good. I think a lot of this comes down to how the owner has treated the car as well and a well documented service history to show this.

Things to look out for from my opinion:

- VANOS seals and overall condition of the VANOS unit
- Valve adjustments done correctly and according to schedule
- Cheap tyres (If the owner has thrown cheap tyres on it, be rest assured he's probably skimped out on other areas of the car ).
- Knock-off wheels (See above)
- If a manual, check the 2nd gear syncro. If it's very hard to select when cold, stay well away. You can't buy replacement parts for the gearbox and you would need to replace the whole thing.
- Check all suspension parts. Nothing worse than buying an M3 that won't drive straight and handle like it should.
- Check for any oil leaks.
- Check the diff for leaks and axle-shafts and boots
- Check the clutch. That's a bit of job to replace if it's cooked.


Personally speaking, my M3 has been very reliable and I spend no more than $2000 a year in maintenance ( I only drive about 5000kms-10000kms a year however). I've done track days and driven the car how it should be but I have never been abusive with it. Believe me, if you maintain this car, you will not have issues. Like anything, reliability has a lot to do with maintenance.

No major components have failed and the only things that would be considered major in my 8 years of ownership:
- Throttle position sensor failed
- Small hairline crack on the rear subframe mount
- Window regulator
- Exhaust mount bolt cracked

Everything else has been preventative maintenance or me just being picky.

It still puts a smile on my face and I've definitely had more happy moments with it than bad moments!

All the best.
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by M3_DU View Post
Personally speaking, my M3 has been very reliable and I spend no more than $2000 a year in maintenance ( I only drive about 5000kms-10000kms a year however). I've done track days and driven the car how it should be but I have never been abusive with it. Believe me, if you maintain this car, you will not have issues. Like anything, reliability has a lot to do with maintenance.
Spot on! As I'm currently selling my E46 M3 I've noticed that there are so many buyers out there who don't appreciate what can go wrong with these cars if they aren't maintained correctly. The very few that do aren't willing to part with the small amount extra for the work that has gone into it.
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:51 PM   #10
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All M boxes are notchy when cold
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:06 PM   #11
e34m5freak199
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3_DU View Post
Make sure it has an very well documented service history and that everything is up to date.

Mine has a 3-4mm hairline crack on the sub-frame mount and I have reinforced this with the TMS reinforcement plates. I monitor it regularly and so far so good. I think a lot of this comes down to how the owner has treated the car as well and a well documented service history to show this.

Things to look out for from my opinion:

- VANOS seals and overall condition of the VANOS unit
- Valve adjustments done correctly and according to schedule
- Cheap tyres (If the owner has thrown cheap tyres on it, be rest assured he's probably skimped out on other areas of the car ).
- Knock-off wheels (See above)
- If a manual, check the 2nd gear syncro. If it's very hard to select when cold, stay well away. You can't buy replacement parts for the gearbox and you would need to replace the whole thing.
- Check all suspension parts. Nothing worse than buying an M3 that won't drive straight and handle like it should.
- Check for any oil leaks.
- Check the diff for leaks and axle-shafts and boots
- Check the clutch. That's a bit of job to replace if it's cooked.


Personally speaking, my M3 has been very reliable and I spend no more than $2000 a year in maintenance ( I only drive about 5000kms-10000kms a year however). I've done track days and driven the car how it should be but I have never been abusive with it. Believe me, if you maintain this car, you will not have issues. Like anything, reliability has a lot to do with maintenance.

No major components have failed and the only things that would be considered major in my 8 years of ownership:
- Throttle position sensor failed
- Small hairline crack on the rear subframe mount
- Window regulator
- Exhaust mount bolt cracked

Everything else has been preventative maintenance or me just being picky.

It still puts a smile on my face and I've definitely had more happy moments with it than bad moments!

All the best.

there is no such thing as a small hairline crack on an e46 and a reinforcement kit is nothing more than a band aid solution. reddish motorsport in the uk do the most substantial repair i have seen, do your research. In my opinion there is no point owning an m3 if you cant regularly take it to 8k without thinking about your floor failing. Its a faulty and poorly engineered design, period. One would be extremely lucky to find a used m3 which has had a sub-frame repair done to what it should be.

contrary to popular belief the gearbox can be rebuild just like any other box, they are nothing special. Granted you cant buy parts from bmw and most box builders wont be used to a 50+ tonne 5th and 6th gear (just dont let them put heat on the mainshaft), anyway same goes with the diff.

vanos seals are a non issue, if they fail which they will, change them, just one of those things, same with all the oil leaks. Oil leaks are a bmw specialty, they all leak.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:39 AM   #12
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All M boxes are notchy when cold
Note that I said 'if it's very hard to select' and not 'notchy'. If you can't get it into second gear very well when it's cold, that usually means there is not much left of the 2nd gear syncro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by e34m5freak199 View Post

there is no such thing as a small hairline crack on an e46 and a reinforcement kit is nothing more than a band aid solution. reddish motorsport in the uk do the most substantial repair i have seen, do your research. In my opinion there is no point owning an m3 if you cant regularly take it to 8k without thinking about your floor failing. Its a faulty and poorly engineered design, period. One would be extremely lucky to find a used m3 which has had a sub-frame repair done to what it should be.

contrary to popular belief the gearbox can be rebuild just like any other box, they are nothing special. Granted you cant buy parts from bmw and most box builders wont be used to a 50+ tonne 5th and 6th gear (just dont let them put heat on the mainshaft), anyway same goes with the diff.

vanos seals are a non issue, if they fail which they will, change them, just one of those things, same with all the oil leaks. Oil leaks are a bmw specialty, they all leak.
Next time I am underneath my car I will take a photo for you to show you the small hairline crack. You're making it sound like every single E46 M3 out there has a sub issue. Granted that it was a major issue with this model, but I'd say not every single car out there has the sub frame issue. I noticed the small hairline crack after about 90,000kms and many track days and taking the car to 8,000rpm. The floor hasn't fallen out yet and it now has 126,000kms and the crack is the same size with the reinforcement plates.

Regarding rebuilding the gearbox, so how does one go about this if you can't by the parts from BMW for the gearbox?

Wouldn't say VANOS seals are a non-issue because that VANOS unit is sensitive and costly to replace. Again, I said to check this and change them to avoid future problems.

There are people who treat these cars with little respect in regards to maintenance and when something fails or breaks, they go around and start labeling the car as 'unreliable'. I do not wish for the OP to come across one of these cars or one of these owners.
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:28 AM   #13
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Lol every part for the gearbox is possible to buy from the dealership you do realise? I don't know what dealership or person told you otherwise.

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Old 03-30-2014, 04:37 AM   #14
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I agree M3_DU but didn't want someone that hasn't experienced for themselves to misdiagnose.
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:54 AM   #15
e34m5freak199
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Originally Posted by M3_DU View Post
Note that I said 'if it's very hard to select' and not 'notchy'. If you can't get it into second gear very well when it's cold, that usually means there is not much left of the 2nd gear syncro.



Next time I am underneath my car I will take a photo for you to show you the small hairline crack. You're making it sound like every single E46 M3 out there has a sub issue. Granted that it was a major issue with this model, but I'd say not every single car out there has the sub frame issue. I noticed the small hairline crack after about 90,000kms and many track days and taking the car to 8,000rpm. The floor hasn't fallen out yet and it now has 126,000kms and the crack is the same size with the reinforcement plates.

Regarding rebuilding the gearbox, so how does one go about this if you can't by the parts from BMW for the gearbox?

Wouldn't say VANOS seals are a non-issue because that VANOS unit is sensitive and costly to replace. Again, I said to check this and change them to avoid future problems.

There are people who treat these cars with little respect in regards to maintenance and when something fails or breaks, they go around and start labeling the car as 'unreliable'. I do not wish for the OP to come across one of these cars or one of these owners.
yes correct every single m3 has or will have a subframe failure. fact is most people dont know about it. your fix is nothing more than a band aid solution. Im not gettng into a discussion about subframes, besides what i have already said. if you yourself feel a hairline crack in conjunction with a rio kit and your driving habits is acceptable to you, best of luck with it.

re the box, there are various places in europe which supply parts. toyota unlike bmw also supply all the internal v160 components, most of which are the same, others different which can be modified to work. additionally there are 10+ companies in australia whome can make custom gears ratios and synchros at good rates. so its best we dont spread myths, your not american after all.

vanos unit itself is a non issue. seals are a simple job and besides turner sell reco units as new for half the cost of a good set of tyres. = non issue. Vanos hub, cam bolts and upper chain guide, well thats another story.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:56 AM   #16
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Hahaha ok firstly no not every single M3 will suffer subframe failure. Convertibles will not suffer from it unless for some reason they have had a rear end collision or similar. Also the 05-06 models have the same subframe used on convertibles so are a lot less likely to fail. I have an 02 and the subframe had a 5cm crack, got it reinforced by BEMW and the job they did was outstanding to say the least. They reinforced the subframe using more than just the plates (they have their own custom reinforment kit) and went above and beyond. Costs 3500 and even BMW Sydney inspected the car (prior to selling it for a potential buyer) and they said the job done on the subframe was amazing. No cracks or issues occurred in the 30,000kms I drove it.
Not all SMG boxes will fail and can be easily repaired/replaced if you take it to someone who knows what they are doing. They are great boxes and if you haven't owned one then you are in no place to comment. I loved SMG and comming from manuals most of my life I really enjoyed the SMG.
Everything else can be covered with regular maintenance or even preventative maintenance. Don't be scared off by what some of these over dramatic people are telling you. The only real expense with these cars that is guaranteed to cost you $$$ is the services.
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Old 03-30-2014, 07:12 AM   #17
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Hahaha ok firstly no not every single M3 will suffer subframe failure. Convertibles will not suffer from it unless for some reason they have had a rear end collision or similar. Also the 05-06 models have the same subframe used on convertibles so are a lot less likely to fail. I have an 02 and the subframe had a 5cm crack, got it reinforced by BEMW and the job they did was outstanding to say the least. They reinforced the subframe using more than just the plates (they have their own custom reinforment kit) and went above and beyond. Costs 3500 and even BMW Sydney inspected the car (prior to selling it for a potential buyer) and they said the job done on the subframe was amazing. No cracks or issues occurred in the 30,000kms I drove it.
Not all SMG boxes will fail and can be easily repaired/replaced if you take it to someone who knows what they are doing. They are great boxes and if you haven't owned one then you are in no place to comment. I loved SMG and comming from manuals most of my life I really enjoyed the SMG.
Everything else can be covered with regular maintenance or even preventative maintenance. Don't be scared off by what some of these over dramatic people are telling you. The only real expense with these cars that is guaranteed to cost you $$$ is the services.
is all i can say

it never ceases to amaze me at the knob factor of information available.

here is a vert for you cobba!


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Old 03-30-2014, 07:30 AM   #18
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is all i can say

it never ceases to amaze me at the knob factor of information available.

here is a vert for you cobba!

Haha ok so one vert? As I said it takes something special for a vert subframe to fail. If you know "that" much about M3s mate you will know vert subframe failure is very very uncommon.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=880389

You would also know that in 05-06 BMW attempted to rectify the subframe issue in coupes by using the 04.5+ covertible subframe which is why 05-06 coupes are less likely to suffer from it also.

And again what from my above info is wrong? SMG gearboxes are easily replaceable if needed and no they won't ALL fail. While it is a common problem know on M3s it doesn't mean it effects EVERY SINGLE ONE.

The remainder of things can be easily picked up with regular maintenance and proper care. I've been there and done it. Unless you have encounter these issues yourself and have undertaken methods to rectify them, I don't think you are in a position to downgrade others. It's pretty clear you a merely commenting on the countless number of threads I'm sure you have "read" through your "countless hours of research". Have you ever owned an E46 M3? No you haven't as I've read your "BMW history". But I'm sure from test driving a few that you know all about them right? One thing you are not acknowledging is that there will always be thread after thread for subframe and SMG failures, but you will never see a thread for subframes not cracking and SMG boxes not failing...why.... Because there is no need to post the positives, people only post the negatives and issues which make it seem like more of a "problem" then it really is. I know about 5-6 M3 owners which have never had a subframe or SMG issue, if it was really such a problem then wouldn't most of them encountered it? However I'm sure your next comment will be that you know someone who has encountered every single problem with an M3 or that "this guy and that guy" have had it.
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Old 03-30-2014, 07:40 AM   #19
e34m5freak199
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Haha ok so one vert? As I said it takes something special for a vert subframe to fail. If you know "that" much about M3s mate you will know vert subframe failure is very very uncommon.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=880389

You would also know that in 05-06 BMW attempted to rectify the subframe issue in coupes by using the 04.5+ covertible subframe which is why 05-06 coupes are less likely to suffer from it also.

And again what from my above info is wrong? SMG gearboxes are easily replaceable if needed and no they won't ALL fail. While it is a common problem know on M3s it doesn't mean it effects EVERY SINGLE ONE.

The remainder of things can be easily picked up with regular maintenance and proper care. I've been there and done it. Unless you have encounter these issues yourself and have undertaken methods to rectify them, I don't think you are in a position to downgrade others. It's pretty clear you a merely commenting on the countless number of threads I'm sure you have "read" through your "countless hours of research". Have you ever owned an E46 M3? No you haven't as I've read your "BMW history". But I'm sure from test driving a few that you know all about them right? One thing you are not acknowledging is that there will always be thread after thread for subframe and SMG failures, but you will never see a thread for subframes not cracking and SMG boxes not failing...why.... Because there is no need to post the positives, people only post the negatives and issues which make it seem like more of a "problem" then it really is. I know about 5-6 M3 owners which have never had a subframe or SMG issue, if it was really such a problem then wouldn't most of them encountered it? However I'm sure your next comment will be that you know someone who has encountered every single problem with an M3 or that "this guy and that guy" have had it.
let me put it to you this way, to assist in simplification. your a knob and not 1 thing you mention above is correct.

people like you are the exact reason people who do know, dont bother.

enough said.
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Old 03-30-2014, 07:57 AM   #20
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lets simplify this thread a bit:

find a car that you like and fits your budget

someone here will recommend (soon hopefully) a good place to carry a PPI

that good place will know ins and outs of what to look out for...

if its satisfactory then purchase the car

take pics and post on here

ps: whats your budget mate? couple of guys on here sellng their examples which have been greatly looked after. (Declan and Raj).
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