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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 10-07-2010, 01:59 PM   #1
Kenlake
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On the verge....

of purchasing my first BMW. A '99 328i that was purchased new by a friend. It's got approx.147,000mi on the odometer, but hasn't been a daily driver for close to a year now. I'm not too clear on the mods, but do know that is has dealer-installed aftermarket wheels, cold air intake and exhaust.
There is something that's puzzling me however. When we spoke on the phone earlier this week I inquired about the subframe recall and he stated that he had taken the car in for the inspection and was denied based on the modifications (I know this sounds ludicrous since the mods were dealer-installed) the car had. In turn, he took it to have the repairs performed at a local body/frame shop. Later on he was notified about the class action suit & ruling, and he is now sending the receipts, etc in for reimbursement. What puzzles me is he said the repairs were around $1,500. I'm under the impression, from reading accounts on here and elsewhere, that the repairs should be in the neighborhood of $4-5,000. Is there any known technique to backup his claim?

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Old 10-07-2010, 02:02 PM   #2
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find out what "repairs" were performed. There are varying degrees of subframe damage and repairs necessary to fix them.

Hope everything works out and welcome to the board!
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:19 PM   #3
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Thank you, sir. He lives around an hour away from me, so I'm waiting til this weekend so I can go up and have plenty of daylight to give her a thorough lookover and also go over all the records, etc.
I've tried to temper my hopes/ideas about this car until I get a better knowledge of it's history and current condition, but that's tough.


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Old 10-07-2010, 03:23 PM   #4
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Hopefully some shop in Ky didn't just weld it. That's what it sounds like to me if it only cost $1500
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:41 PM   #5
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willsbma-That's what I'm hoping against. It really steams me that the dealer refused to cover the replacement in the first place. As a sidenote, the ownership of this dealer has since changed hands. We even discussed him taking the car back to the dealer for another inspection, however he is on vacation 1,000 mi away right now as well as the looming cut-off date.

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Old 10-07-2010, 03:44 PM   #6
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Hopefully some shop in Ky didn't just weld it. That's what it sounds like to me if it only cost $1500
The floor is a $600 part, so of course it wasn't that...it was two squares welded underneath...no filler epoxy...look in corner of trunk...remove side wall cover on battery side...look between shock tower and spare tire well for some evidence of foam...doubtful...though ask him to fax the receipts...

But, knowing the shop might help...but if you can see a couple of squares of metal and can identify poor welding, then I think you have to pass...

My '99 328i just got the repair...and I got mine with 140K...so if you read my posts from early on, you'll get a very good idea of what to expect.

I've actually had it very good reliability wise...she hasn't failed me once...though my ignorance did once...

Anyway, I have done a bit and am ocd and like things correct...and pretty much have it...but I'm not adding up the bills...I do not want to know.

Also don't know what you know about cars, but it'll get pricey if you don't diy stuff, so whatever you pay for the car, figure about the same for repairing over a couple of years...if you're lucky!

Just be careful, and find trusted mechanic...if you are not one yourself...to look really closely at it...know the parts you need to look at yourself...get good led flashlight and trust your instincts about the car. Get the right one, you'll never drive another car...the wrong one...not so much!

HTH

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...and odd that bmw installed stuff that kicked it out of the class...interesting.
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:08 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the info Doug. I'm definitely no ASE certified mechanic, but I've owned enough POS's to be dangerous. Haha. No, really, I've driven a Jeep TJ for 5 years now that I've done everything on it besides the motor replacement (previous owner must've never changed the oil from the looks of the cylinder head) and a ring & pinion replacement. I'm a warranty manager at a trucking company so I've got plenty of help with tools, advice, etc. when it comes down to it. I'll be looking over the 328 with a fine toothed comb and even moreso with the details you provided above. Much appreciated.


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Old 02-23-2011, 07:28 PM   #8
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almost 5 month later bump.......After the 328 has sit at an indy shop since the beginning of November without being looked at (apparently the owner of the shop is a family friend and he's getting a deal, hence the extremely low priority of the inspection) my friend has contacted me extremely frustrated with them & has offered to take some $$$ of the price if I'm interested in the car as is. The only known issue with the car is a leaking fuel line that was revealed when it was moved onto the rollback for transport. I'm having a tough time deciding whether to take it or leave it at the indy until an inspection is performed. Any thoughts out there? Thanks in advance guys
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:35 PM   #9
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Depends on the price, is it worth the hassle of a potential future subframe problem coupled with the current problems? If not, there are plenty others to look at.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:05 PM   #10
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You're absolutely right. Basically I'm looking at getting a one-owner e46 with a few known issues for $4500. The bonus with this car is that he'll finance it for me. Good friend & huge selling point. Decisions, decisions
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:21 PM   #11
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subframe is not that expensive. Any shop can do it for around 1500. With that amount I would buy a new tranny. I hope yours is manual. good luck
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:25 PM   #12
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You're absolutely right. Basically I'm looking at getting a one-owner e46 with a few known issues for $4500. The bonus with this car is that he'll finance it for me. Good friend & huge selling point. Decisions, decisions
That might be a bit hard getting one for that price unless of course it's from that friend of yours that hooks you up. I got my 99 323i for 6,900 after tax title and registration and it's problem free. I've had it almost 6 months now and all I've done is change the oil and diff fluid. She's been perfect. Perfect e46's are out there you just have to look hard. Then look HARDER.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:41 PM   #13
Kenlake
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subframe is not that expensive. Any shop can do it for around 1500. With that amount I would buy a new tranny. I hope yours is manual. good luck
Yes, it's a manual. The subframe has been repaired but I've just want to make sure it was repaired with one of the approved methods.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:43 PM   #14
Kenlake
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That might be a bit hard getting one for that price unless of course it's from that friend of yours that hooks you up. I got my 99 323i for 6,900 after tax title and registration and it's problem free. I've had it almost 6 months now and all I've done is change the oil and diff fluid. She's been perfect. Perfect e46's are out there you just have to look hard. Then look HARDER.
Sorry, I should've worded that better. $4500 is what he's asking for it. Yes, he's an old friend I've known for 15 years now. Only major repair I'm aware of is a clutch replacement 15,000-20,000 miles ago.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:46 PM   #15
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Usually subframe repair is not very expansive at all. A few welds and a set of reinforcement plates, thats all to it. $1500 even seems a bit much to me as I had my rear subframe reinforced for $700 Plates included(I had no damage, I did it just in case) by the most reputable shop in my area, which has done over 120 subframe repairs in its history.

However, if a subframe is ripped/torn beyond repair, it will be very expensive to say the least to fix the problem. Dealerships are taught to replace the whole rear subfloor when its beyond repair, which will set them back at least 5k, due to labor charges. They are also taught to GLUE the subfloor when a customer had only a few visible cracks. Dealerships will NEVER weld the existing crack, if any are present, they will glue the cracks. They have a special glue that they'll inject in the cracked area, given they estimate its repairable. Other, independent shops will simply weld the cracks.

If you are really worried about the subframe, you can simply ask any BMW dealer for an inspection, I think it'll cost you like 100bucks or so. Just ask them to inspect it and give you a written statement about it. Or ask the seller to take teh car for pre purchase inspection at a shop that YOU CHOOSE.
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:04 AM   #16
Kenlake
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Just got a msg and the car is supposed to be pulled into the shop today......not holding my breath though. I'm headed up Saturday morning early to put my hands and eyes on it before I decide anything final. Thanks for all the advice guys! I'll post back with theirs/my findings.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:31 PM   #17
Kenlake
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Back after a visit to check the car out. Interesting & frustrating is how I'd sum the trip up.

Here's a not-so-good pic of the car just to get a frame of reference.



After jumping the car to get it started, (turns out, it hasn't been in the shop yet) the aforementioned fuel leak turned out to be horrendous, right under the driver's side door maybe 1/2 way to the middle of the car. I immediately shut it off & the decision was made to repair it before we go further.

Here's a couple of pics of the trunk where dmax had said to inspect the repair work done on the subframe. I'll be the first to admit, I'm not really sure what this picture reveals about a possible subframe repair. Any opinions?




A dissapointing discovery I found was that the engine bay & trunk were the cleanest parts of the car. I can't imagine owning an E46 and having the interior/exterior as dirty as this was. Maybe I'm too picky, but I don't think so.


I'm awaiting the service records & the repair of the fuel leak before going forward, but during my conversation with the owner (friend) I inquired about previous repairs. He replied that the only thing he knew of for certain that has been replaced was the clutch. I quizzed him about the water pump, radiator, etc. i.e. all the cooling system components I've learned are suspect from my research on here. His reply was "None of that has been replaced". Well, after perusing the leather bound container which contains the owners' manual I found a few service receipts that told a small bit of the history. At 37,xxx miles the car was taken in for repairs/upgrades where the thermostat & housing were replaced under a svc. bulletin. (That's one strike for my friend not knowing what the F he's talking about) At the same time, he apparently had a Dinan cold-air intake, Stage 2 chip & exhaust installed to the tune of $2,000.
There were other service receipts, but it was all misc. stuff like tail light wiring repair & license plate repair (WTF?) Hopefully, when I receive the service records more light will be shed on it's history. However, his statement regarding no major components being replaced seemed to gain a tad bit (read:extremely small) of believability when I saw this:

I could be wrong but that is the original alternator with a 1998 date code, correct?

All in all, there's several things that I will have to address if/when I do purchase the car. Both back tires need replacing pretty soon, if not all 4. Both front parking light lenses are cracked. As mentioned before, it needs a major cleaning inside & out. The window tint looks like complete dammit and the e-brake is inoperable.

I'll be back as the story progresses, although the ending is still cloudy and without a clear resolution. (Haven't even got to drive it yet! ) Thank you all for your comments, suggestions and general advice in this endeavor.
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Old 02-28-2011, 11:29 AM   #18
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