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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 04-09-2009, 10:37 PM   #1
shorty101
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Exclamation Going to look at a 02 e46 tomorrow... things to look for???

Going to look at a 2002 325i tomorrow... thought it was 01 but now hear its a 02... its silver with black interior automatic and has 110k miles on it... its a family friends car and all hes asking for it is 5k... sounds too good to be true with it retailing for around 10 to 12k

so let me know guys what all should i look for...problems? added options? on the car?? all i know of for now is to look for cracks in the rear mount wall area...

thanks to all that can help
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:42 PM   #2
jeffro3000
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everything you need to know is here:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index.php?title=BMW_E46

literally.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:48 PM   #3
neil1138
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Yep, the E46 Wiki ftw. My diy is even in there! Section 17, random I know.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:04 PM   #4
shorty101
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read it... didnt see what i was looking for

what known problems should i look for, or look at when looking over one of these
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:10 PM   #5
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here are a few items that I had trouble with on my '02 325i

- Window regulators (clicking or popping sounds- not good)
- alternator/ charging system
- sway bar links. clunking sounds over bumps.
- random HVAC fan speed - the resistor needed replacement in mine.
- the dreaded "cricket" sound with the main HVAC blower fan-- mine comes and goes. The fix can be quite $$$ for this.
-oil seperator
-valve cover leakage (oil leakage)
-wipers not working


Good luck and be sure to have a trusted mechanic check it over completely
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:18 PM   #6
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rear subframe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:22 PM   #7
sprintman
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Automatic?? The car has failed ispection even before you start.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:23 PM   #8
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Spend $50-$100 and have a BMW Indy shop inspect the car. Well worth the money, and you will know what you are getting into.
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:29 PM   #9
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What type of oil should I use?
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:35 PM   #10
Agarde
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check if it has accident(paint work).. 2002 325i is not that expensive at 110k, however i dont think you can even get it to 5k at a dealer auction(talking about a straight car).
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by SD 328I View Post
Spend $50-$100 and have a BMW Indy shop inspect the car. Well worth the money, and you will know what you are getting into.
i'd agree with this one..
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:50 PM   #12
shorty101
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I know I should look over all these things and trust me i will... even if it needs alittle work... 5k for a 10 to 12k dollar car isnt that bad...

thanks for all the help guys
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:53 PM   #13
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Unless its a once in a lifetime deal.. I wouldn't even go look at it bro. Its has 110k miles and is a auto..look up reverse failure.. you'll get a lot of threads on this. And subframe issues.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:07 AM   #14
shorty101
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i already read about those things reverse and the subframe... if the reverse was soo bad there would be a US recall on it and witht he subframe i looked at the posts and years and its mostly 2000's and earlier... i read at other places that it was fixed after 2001... if reverse would have stopped working i think it would have now...
i was quoted 1,800 not to replace the transmission but to fit the reverse part of it... and hear the subframe can be fixed for around 4000 to 5000 hell i can reinforce it for a few hundred... anyway if these 2 things were to go bad id still be close to cutting even... the owner is more or less best friends (for 15 or so years now) with my father so i doubt he'd rip me off... his other toy is a 06 911 carerra and doesnt really find time to drive the bmw anymore...

Last edited by shorty101; 04-10-2009 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:12 AM   #15
shorty101
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Originally Posted by Agarde View Post
check if it has accident(paint work).. 2002 325i is not that expensive at 110k, however i dont think you can even get it to 5k at a dealer auction(talking about a straight car).

yeah... from what he told me it has a clean title... ill look it over get the vin and check the history online and at the bmw dealership... ill report here later when ive got all the info...
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:33 AM   #16
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Unless its a once in a lifetime deal.. I wouldn't even go look at it bro. Its has 110k miles and is a auto..look up reverse failure.. you'll get a lot of threads on this. And subframe issues.
i dont think that either no reserve or subframe issues exist on 2002 and later.. they mostly fixed at 2001, but some still had it...

any bmw over 100k is risky in terms of tranny(auto)... some can drive till 200k, some have problems.. as long as you can carry the risk that's ok.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shorty101 View Post
read it... didnt see what i was looking for

what known problems should i look for, or look at when looking over one of these
you obviously did not read it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerWiki

What should I look out for?

The E46 doesn't have many significant problem areas; however these cars are VERY sensitive to maintenance. If you are going to buy a used E46, avoid cars without a good maintenance and repair history. Luckily, the E46 had free maintenance until 36,000 or 50,000 miles (depending on year), so most early maintenance was performed by BMW dealers. Any dealer should be able to provide the service history with just the last seven digits of the VIN.

Below are some frequently occuring and well known issues:

* Window regulators fail. The windows will then either make clicking noises as they go up/down (sign of a failing regulator) or not operate at all possibly leaving your window partially or fully open. This is an extremely common failure and aclear weakspot of the E46. Out of warranty, expect the parts to cost $150 per door for the front and $100 per door for the rear PLUS $500 - $750 per door for labor. Some owners had success asking BMW NA to cover all or a portion of the cost for this design defect even when the vehicle was out of warranty.
* Tail lamp wiring faults. The updated E46 sedan (from 9/01 to 3/05 production) wiring harness has a design defect with grounding wires for the rear lighting that are too small and are made of poor quality materials, thus leading to wiring harness failure due to overheating. As stated in BMW's TSB, "Customers may complain that one of the rear lights is inoperative. CAUSE: Minor corrosion at the 8-pin rear lamp connector creates high resistance causing damage to the connector housing. CORRECTION: Repair the damaged wire(s) and replace damaged connector housing. Install additional ground wires to both left and right rear lamps." This can be easily confirmed by careful examination of the rear lamp wiring connectors which are usually melted. Symptoms include a "burned out bulb" warning in the instrument panel and (intermittently) completely inoperative rear lamp cluster(s). While BMW has a TSB for this problem, many have occurred out of warranty leading to arguments with the dealer (automotive lighting standards are Federally legislated, yet BMW refuses to repair this design defect once the cars are out of warranty). BMW dealers expect $350-$400, or more, PER SIDE to make the tail lamps work. As a result, check for a NHTSA recall (or a class-action lawsuit against BMW) before you pay for repairs. There are many threads on this problem; see the BMW TIS (search for SIB 63 03 06 if the attached link is inop)here. This problem was not limited to US market as you can read here. Cheaper DIY repairs can also be found on a variety of web forums, although your results may vary; here is one: here .
* The cooling system will eventually fail catastrophically due to a disintegrating water pump bearing. When this occurs all coolant is lost within seconds and the engine will overheat instantly (remember, these cars have only a total of ~2 gallons of coolant). A much better water pump than the stock/OEM unit is available from EMP Steward, but it's pricey ($200) compared to stock ($70). Other items on the cooling system that should be considered maintenance items since they will likely/eventually fail are the plastic/electric thermostat and the coolant reservoir. Therefore, preventative cooling system maintenance replacing these items every 60k to 80k miles is strongly advised. If an engine is allowed to seriously overheat the repair costs can reach several thousand dollars because of warped cylinder heads.
* VANOS unit wear and failure. This was already the case with the B52 engines in the E36, but it's much easier to repair on the E46's B54 engines since the timing chains do not have to be removed. This defect is mostly related to the Buna o-rings in the unit's control pistons which due to heat induced hardening allow excessive oil bypass, thus leading to less accurate control of camshaft timing. Fluctuating idle or stalling can also be signs of this problem. Depending on maintenance this can already occur at 50K miles. If this defect occurs, there is a noticeable rattle in the engine from the VANOS unit, often around 2,000 rpm and low rpm performance will be affected. Repair is actually relatively easy and a true DIY for someone who has basic skills. Replacing the Buna o-rings with higher quality Viton rings in the VANOS unit will fix the issue. Better yet Dr. Vanos sells complete rebuild and blue printed VANOS units that are even better than new OEM BMW units and Beisan Systems sells the above mentioned Viton seal/o-ring DIY kits. Cam sensors (intake and exhaust) on the VANOS unit are also prone to fail and as small as they are, they are expensive ($100+). The exhaust sensor is usually the first to fail and that occurs often right around 100K miles. It has been proven that ONLY OEM BMW sensors should be installed during repair since all aftermarket units are not that compatible and of lower quality. VANOS units on ZHP cars are especially failure prone for undetermined reasons. Common opinion is that this is related to the more aggressive camshaft profiles.
* There are many reports of cracked or torn subframe mounting points. Most often the two rear mounting points below the trunk floor are affected. This occurs almost exclusively on the early E46 323i/328i models. BMW later improved the subframe mounting points in the trunk floor of the car and in later E46 325i/330i this problem seems to be absent. This problem seems to be so frequent in early E46 cars that a check before buying a 323i/328i IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST! Repairs are very expensive and difficult since the rear axle and subfram have to be removed and the unibody frame and mounting points have to be welded. Recurring stress cracking often occurs even after a repair has been made. You can find more information as well as what it looks like in these threads: Thread 1 Thread 2 Thread 3
* Many E46 models have erratic HVAC fan speed condition wherein the instrument panel display indicates a set constant fan speed, yet the fan changes speed on a 1hz rate (constantly up and down), or fails to come on at all. This is almost always results from failure of defective original Final Stage Resistors (FSR) whose design provided insufficient heat sink surface area. The improved design FSR's can be purchased for ~$60 to $80 from a wide variety of vendors; installation threads abound.
* Front control arm bushings tend to fail after 40-60k miles. You can replace them with Powerflex bushings from Bimmerworld for $149 (pre-pressed into new carriers).
* There was a recall for failure-prone Bremi ignition coils. Symptoms include multiple yet intermittent "cylinder misfire" OBD-II codes, among with other difficult to diagnose problems. A dealer can tell you if this TSB/recall has been performed in which all six Bremi coils were replaced. The following build date & VIN ranges were affected by this recall:
o E46 with M54/M56 from 09/02 up to 12/04 production date.
o 325i KL58793 - KL62880, NH02298 - NH05784, PD00558 - PD01068
o 325iA KL78812 - KL89995, KR24002 - KR32361, PD56824 - PD58282, NJ21783 - NJ47934, NJ80013 - NJ96910
o 325Ci JY96097 - JY98108, PC99012 - PC99995
o 325CiA PL00001 - PL04548, PG60108 - PG62814
o 325Cic JY43694 - JY44229, PG97089 - PG98243
o 325CicA PG88872 - PG92999, PL24020 - PL31534
o 325iT EZ15376 - EZ15633
o 325iTA PC11346 - PC12725
o 325xi PF58422 - PF62576
o 325xiA PH86839 - PH90969, PM52033 - PM59296, PR06010 - PR12874
o 325xiT PE91490 - PE92062
o 325xiTA PF01600 - PF04589
o 325iA SULEV KP78010 - KP87556, PH30108 - PH36104
o 325CiA SULEV PJ15045 - PJ16347, JT20009 - JT22530
o 325iTA SULEV PJ00063 - PJ00924
o 330i KM02321 - KM07066
o 330iA KM24352 - KM36386
o 330Ci PD95092 - PD97653, JU28717 - JU45159
o 330CiA PL10037 - PL14136, PH02210 - PH05245
o 330Cic EV90090 - EV90753, PJ94042 - PJ95840
o 330CicA JU95942 - JU99831, PL40018 - PL46594
o 330xi PG09391 - PG11594
o 330xiA PG20116 - PG23990, PN30039 - PN35923
* There was a technical service bulletin for fading FM stereo reception on cars with navigation with the BM53 tuner. The fix is to replace the BM53 tuner in the trunk. Reference service measure #B65-209-04 with your dealer.
* There was a technical service bulletin for a 4000RPM power dip on cars equipped with the ZHP Performance Package. The fix is to send the car's DME to New Jersey for reprogramming. Reference service bulletin # SIB 12 17 05 with your dealer - More info here: http://www.linquist.net/motorsports/bmw/sib121705.txt
* There was a recall of the electric radiator cooling fan on a wide variety of BMW models, to include many early E46's. The problem could result in an engine compartment electrical fire several minutes after the engine was shut off. Several cars (and homes) were destroyed by the resulting fires.
* The sunroof shade track/rails are prone to failure. The sunroof will sometimes fail to operate in the heat on older models.
* The interior weather stripping above the coupe doors often falls down after a few years. Easily glued into place. (Some even fell down before the cars were sold new.)
* There was a technical service bulletin for an erratic idle with possible stalling. Reference service measure #B12-207-0 with your dealer.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:47 AM   #18
BMW_Stu
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dont get it if it has:

yellowish frothy goo under the oil cap
clunking from the rear
automatic transmission
yellow dot on the dash
makes strange noises
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:54 AM   #19
shorty101
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saw those... wasnt sure how to check those things and if there were any more to check that was not posted... im not sure bmw would see the vanos problem checking the vehicle over (unless there's that rattle) thanks again anything else not covered please reply
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:06 AM   #20
jeffro3000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afrothunderr86 View Post
dont get it if it has:

yellowish frothy goo under the oil cap
clunking from the rear
automatic transmission
yellow dot on the dash
makes strange noises
I had my clunk fixed for $250. be more specific.
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