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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 09-29-2011, 05:10 PM   #1
rtstrider
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Gulf Coast
Posts: 4
My Ride: '03 330XI
2nd major 330XI repair in 1 month

So guys this is my first post. I have never had a car EVER that has cost as much to repair/maintain as much as the 2003 330XI. I bought this car back early August and have already spent over $1.8k in repairs (control arms, coolant system overhaul due to coolant leak, tune up) and wanted to know your opinion's. I am possibly looking at selling the car already because I've had two Lexus in a row (93 ES300, 03 IS300) that had almost zero issues and both had close to 200k miles on them when I got rid of them. Now I talked to the mechanic and he stated with Bimmers that when you fix one problem, 10 more will gradually show up and so on. I am trying my best to keep this car but I cannot afford the repairs. Do you guys think I should be good to go for awhile?

P.S. I do not know the prior maintanence history of this car so I cannot honestly judge the quality/build of BMW's off of this one car so don't think I'm stating that BMW's are junk. I'm just posting my experience, which has been subpar so far. Also I do not know if the VANOS unit has had the maintanence (or swap) performed on it either.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:42 PM   #2
TR4G-
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My Ride: '01 325xi
Well basically as everyone will tell you, yes these are expensive cars to maintain. However, if you DIY you can save loads of money. I got my 01 325 xi with ~155k miles this past October and so far this is what i have done:
-replaced radiator --> mechanic quoted me 500. I bought the radiator from pelican parts for 140 and did it myself. Also replaced the upper radiator hose while i was at it (~26 dollars)
-took my car in for a check up because I had a rattle around 2k RPMs and mechanic listed the following:
*both sway bar end links need replacing ($150) --> bought OEM links from pelican parts for around 30 bucks a pop and swapped em out. No problem (using this site as a guide)
*both front outer CV boots need to be replaced and repacked ($750) --> bought CV boot kits from pelican parts for i think 25-30 bucks a piece? this was by far the most time consuming fix, but using this website i got it done perfectly (required removal of from outer axles, and complete disassembly of outer joints)
*both rear struts (not coils) need to be replaced ($750 for both struts) --> looking at my car records, the rear coils were 30k miles old, but the fronts were originals, as were my shocks, so I figured i might as well get new front struts and coils while i did the rear struts. But that would have cost 1500 for the struts alone, and then even more for the front coils. So instead I splurged and bought KW V1 Coilovers for 1400 and installed them myself...saved a fair amount as opposed to using the shop to refresh my front and rear suspension
*secondary air pump mounts broken, need to be replaced ($150) --> these parts were literally $1.75 a piece and i needed 2. Took me 20 minutes to replace these....
-now I am looking at doing the 60 dollar vanos repair kit from beisan systems because my car has a pretty rough idle.....

moral of the story, is if you get your hands dirty you will save LOADS of money, and gain tons of experience. I personally love my car and think i will pursue something in the automotive industry in my future (CS major). With regards to more problems popping up, yes it is an old car and things will break that need fixing, however the weak points of e46s are the cooling system, outer CV boots, among a few other things....(still new to bmws myself). One thing i am terrified of however is how many threads I see here with people complaining of noises they (nor their mechanics) can properly identify. That could be a money pit, but the rule of thumb is, if you take care of your car and do some preventive maintenance, it will last well over the 250k mark

keep in mind i am a college student at 20 years old....so Im not super experienced, but after joining this community of enthusiasts i am now

Last edited by TR4G-; 09-29-2011 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:54 PM   #3
rtstrider
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My Ride: '03 330XI
Yeah I typically diy everything on my car, however, between moving and work hours I just dont have any time to. Other than what I've spent on it I can honestly say the way this car drives blow's both of my old Lexus out of the water! In a good way of course
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #4
jasonbimmer
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here is how I look at it. if you love driving it, then its worth maintaining it. I dont want a kitchen appliance that lasts forever. no one would say oh yes, I love driving this microwave oven.
besides, your bmw is more complicated than the two lexus you had, more parts means more things to break down.

Last edited by jasonbimmer; 09-29-2011 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:08 PM   #5
rtstrider
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Very true jason. Bear in mind I bought this car blindly, which was bad on my part. I bought this because I loved how it drove. So I guess I will keep it for now
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:22 PM   #6
jasonbimmer
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Originally Posted by rtstrider View Post
Very true jason. Bear in mind I bought this car blindly, which was bad on my part. I bought this because I loved how it drove. So I guess I will keep it for now
start learning working on it. you'll learn alot.
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:27 PM   #7
rtstrider
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I def plan on starting doing the simple stuff as in Oil changes...and working my way up with this car
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Old 09-30-2011, 11:01 AM   #8
TiAgXi
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At 100,000 miles these cars require a lot of attention. Pretty much the entire front end needs replacement/maintenance. The cooling system also needs to be replaced and there are a handful of other items to pay attention to (e.g. CCV, DISA, MAF, random sensors, etc.). On top of all that, you've got regular maintenance, your second inspection II at 120,000 miles and your stock suspension is pretty much worn out, even if you don't "need" to replace it. Some stuff is "optional" meaning that you can sacrifice ride quality to save some money and still have a car that is reliable.

I'd guess that parts for everything you need/want are going to run you around $2000 to $2500. If you can DIY, that's not terrible. If you have to pay someone to do the work, you'll probably have to double that figure, maybe more.

My conclusion: an aging european luxury car is a bad option if you can't DIY. And even if you DIY, the car will reach a point where it won't make financial sense to keep it running in tip-top condition.

I know I won't be keeping my car more than another 2-3 years b/c I will not be willing to put in the kind of cash necessary to keep the car nice at 200,000 miles.

Unless there is something in particular that you enjoy about the e46 -- something above and beyond any old car -- then you're better off in a lexus/acura/toyota/honda/etc.

Last edited by TiAgXi; 09-30-2011 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:15 PM   #9
Ivanhoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TR4G- View Post
Well basically as everyone will tell you, yes these are expensive cars to maintain. However, if you DIY you can save loads of money. I got my 01 325 xi with ~155k miles this past October and so far this is what i have done:
-replaced radiator --> mechanic quoted me 500. I bought the radiator from pelican parts for 140 and did it myself. Also replaced the upper radiator hose while i was at it (~26 dollars)
-took my car in for a check up because I had a rattle around 2k RPMs and mechanic listed the following:
*both sway bar end links need replacing ($150) --> bought OEM links from pelican parts for around 30 bucks a pop and swapped em out. No problem (using this site as a guide)
*both front outer CV boots need to be replaced and repacked ($750) --> bought CV boot kits from pelican parts for i think 25-30 bucks a piece? this was by far the most time consuming fix, but using this website i got it done perfectly (required removal of from outer axles, and complete disassembly of outer joints)
*both rear struts (not coils) need to be replaced ($750 for both struts) --> looking at my car records, the rear coils were 30k miles old, but the fronts were originals, as were my shocks, so I figured i might as well get new front struts and coils while i did the rear struts. But that would have cost 1500 for the struts alone, and then even more for the front coils. So instead I splurged and bought KW V1 Coilovers for 1400 and installed them myself...saved a fair amount as opposed to using the shop to refresh my front and rear suspension
*secondary air pump mounts broken, need to be replaced ($150) --> these parts were literally $1.75 a piece and i needed 2. Took me 20 minutes to replace these....
-now I am looking at doing the 60 dollar vanos repair kit from beisan systems because my car has a pretty rough idle.....

moral of the story, is if you get your hands dirty you will save LOADS of money, and gain tons of experience. I personally love my car and think i will pursue something in the automotive industry in my future (CS major). With regards to more problems popping up, yes it is an old car and things will break that need fixing, however the weak points of e46s are the cooling system, outer CV boots, among a few other things....(still new to bmws myself). One thing i am terrified of however is how many threads I see here with people complaining of noises they (nor their mechanics) can properly identify. That could be a money pit, but the rule of thumb is, if you take care of your car and do some preventive maintenance, it will last well over the 250k mark

keep in mind i am a college student at 20 years old....so Im not super experienced, but after joining this community of enthusiasts i am now
What a good advice.

You are not alone, I bougth one for my son ( 328i 1.999 ) and several months ago get one for me ( 330xi 2005), my son's car ask for some same things as TR4G's car and do it myself, even my son's complaining I had fun repairing this things and of course save a lot of money if you want to keep alive a Bimmer
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:51 PM   #10
BLAU III
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Posts: 660
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TR4G- View Post
Well basically as everyone will tell you, yes these are expensive cars to maintain. However, if you DIY you can save loads of money. I got my 01 325 xi with ~155k miles this past October and so far this is what i have done:
-replaced radiator --> mechanic quoted me 500. I bought the radiator from pelican parts for 140 and did it myself. Also replaced the upper radiator hose while i was at it (~26 dollars)
-took my car in for a check up because I had a rattle around 2k RPMs and mechanic listed the following:
*both sway bar end links need replacing ($150) --> bought OEM links from pelican parts for around 30 bucks a pop and swapped em out. No problem (using this site as a guide)
*both front outer CV boots need to be replaced and repacked ($750) --> bought CV boot kits from pelican parts for i think 25-30 bucks a piece? this was by far the most time consuming fix, but using this website i got it done perfectly (required removal of from outer axles, and complete disassembly of outer joints)
*both rear struts (not coils) need to be replaced ($750 for both struts) --> looking at my car records, the rear coils were 30k miles old, but the fronts were originals, as were my shocks, so I figured i might as well get new front struts and coils while i did the rear struts. But that would have cost 1500 for the struts alone, and then even more for the front coils. So instead I splurged and bought KW V1 Coilovers for 1400 and installed them myself...saved a fair amount as opposed to using the shop to refresh my front and rear suspension
*secondary air pump mounts broken, need to be replaced ($150) --> these parts were literally $1.75 a piece and i needed 2. Took me 20 minutes to replace these....
-now I am looking at doing the 60 dollar vanos repair kit from beisan systems because my car has a pretty rough idle.....

moral of the story, is if you get your hands dirty you will save LOADS of money, and gain tons of experience. I personally love my car and think i will pursue something in the automotive industry in my future (CS major). With regards to more problems popping up, yes it is an old car and things will break that need fixing, however the weak points of e46s are the cooling system, outer CV boots, among a few other things....(still new to bmws myself). One thing i am terrified of however is how many threads I see here with people complaining of noises they (nor their mechanics) can properly identify. That could be a money pit, but the rule of thumb is, if you take care of your car and do some preventive maintenance, it will last well over the 250k mark

keep in mind i am a college student at 20 years old....so Im not super experienced, but after joining this community of enthusiasts i am now
Do you mind taking a picture of the air pump brackets? The canister that is on the pass side of my engine is loose. the dealership said it was going to be 800+ to repair....
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:58 PM   #11
jasonbimmer
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Originally Posted by BLAU III View Post
Do you mind taking a picture of the air pump brackets? The canister that is on the pass side of my engine is loose. the dealership said it was going to be 800+ to repair....
its just three rubber bases that are broken.
I have one broken. its only $1 part.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:53 PM   #12
luke1213
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Originally Posted by jasonbimmer View Post
its just three rubber bases that are broken.
I have one broken. its only $1 part.
mine are broken too. does anyone know the part number for them? does pelican parts sale them?
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:07 PM   #13
jasonbimmer
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Originally Posted by luke1213 View Post
mine are broken too. does anyone know the part number for them? does pelican parts sale them?
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-330...ump/ES2091333/

ok, maybe not $1
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:11 PM   #14
dmax
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OP,

FYI, Control arms with bushings...maybe $4-500; entire cooling system $300; tune up (plugs and filters...around $100-150 depending on what they did). So right there is $1000 in savings to buy all the tools and equipment you need to do all your own work (almost), with a bit of savings left over.

Also, btw, it is one of few cars that you could keep on the road for many hundreds of thousands of miles. As you diy, and keep the car for a long time, the cost of ownership starts making much more sense!
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