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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 12-05-2014, 12:33 PM   #1
NickyRozaeE46
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Buying my first bmw e46

I'm going to buy a bmw 325i 5spd tommorow afternoon and was wondering what are some weak spots I should look at before purchasing ? It's a 2002!

I know the steering doesn't feel heavy like most german cars is there a reason for that? Or normal for this model
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:44 PM   #2
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http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1007722

One of the first threads in this section.
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:44 PM   #3
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For the steering it can be worn control arms/bushings, worn steering coupler, etc.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:01 PM   #4
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not trying to be rude or short, but OP, please do yourself and your wallet a huge favor and thoroughly read the link posted above. e46's are hugely entertaining and reliable IF they've been maintained properly or you plan on overhauling everything after you purchase it. If you are not in a position to do this (it's gonna cost you a few grand) or you're stretching your budget to buy the car and you are not in a position to do the work yourself, you might want to pass on it.

PPI will be your best friend. Spend the money up front and it can save you thousands on the back end.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:10 PM   #5
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I did months of research before I bought mine. You have less than 1 day to familiarize yourself with the car. Make sure you have a spare $3k-$4k to make the car reliable again, otherwise it will be a long and arduous road to get the car up to par.
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The E46s are the Knights of the chessboard. They can outmaneuver the other, more powerful pieces on the board. They aren't the King or Queen of the garage, but they are the first piece that you want to move.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:24 PM   #6
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I did months of research before I bought mine. You have less than 1 day to familiarize yourself with the car. Make sure you have a spare $3k-$4k to make the car reliable again, otherwise it will be a long and arduous road to get the car up to par.
This^^^^

OP, these numbers are no joke! You are going to spend at least half of that up front just to make it reliable enough to safely drive on a daily basis, you can nickel dime the rest for things like suspension refresh, and cosmetic crap like headlight lenses and headliner replacement etc. afterwards. But in the end you WILL spend close to 3 grand your first year and that assumes you do all the labor yourself.

No way around this without being left on the side of the road.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:35 PM   #7
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And I've spent lets say 6k in 6years and it's worth it. I freaking love my car and it drives flawlessly.
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Old 12-05-2014, 02:37 PM   #8
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This^^^^
OP, these numbers are no joke! You are going to spend at least half of that up front just to make it reliable enough to safely drive on a daily basis, you can nickel dime the rest for things like suspension refresh, and cosmetic crap like headlight lenses and headliner replacement etc. afterwards. But in the end you WILL spend close to 3 grand your first year and that assumes you do all the labor yourself.
No way around this without being left on the side of the road.

really so every E46 that is bought used has never had any parts replaced or are reliable/safe?
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Old 12-05-2014, 02:57 PM   #9
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really so every E46 that is bought used has never had any parts replaced or are reliable/safe?
I'd err to the side of "yes." Now, I don't believe every E46 on the market is a run-down moneypit. But there's a reason the cars are dumped at around the 100k mile mark, as that's when most things need to be replaced on this car. 95% of the people who own this car would take it to a dealer/shop, find out it costs much more money than they thought, then dump the car for a new Civic or Corolla without replacing a thing. People who have done the refreshing themselves would more than likely sell it private party stating what they have done, because they know they can fetch a higher price.

OP, you gotta make sure you know what to look for. Mango's "So you just bought your E46" post (seen here) is probably the best thing for a crash course on what should be done when you just purchased the car. Now, you don't have to replace everything, but most is recommended and are common failure points for these older cars.

Just spend the little upfront for a PrePurchase Inspection and figure out if it is worth it. Plain and simple.
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Old 12-05-2014, 03:11 PM   #10
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really so every E46 that is bought used has never had any parts replaced or are reliable/safe?
Obviously no and I'm not even one that replaces everything because the forum says I'm "supposed to" (My Expansion tank was replaced in 2010 according to the stamp on it, so I'm not gonna replace it just because I bough the car in 2013 and honestly I've only dumped maybe $1,500.00 into mine) especially now that I've had my car a while and have a good feel for what's good and what's on it's way out. However things that will leave you stranded and potentially in a "unsafe" situation such as your fuel pump, and cooling system if original should be addressed. Especially the cooling system since that could ruin your engine.

And in addition lets be honest, a lot if not most people that could afford to buy these new, likely dumped them when things started wearing out then bought another or a different new car. So it's pretty safe to say that unless you buy it from a fanatic, it's gonna have a worn out Guibo and CSB, shocks, struts, various bushings, control arms etc. Because in whole typically (fanatics aside) no one ever replaces that stuff unless it fails an inspection because of it.


So as it's already been said, unless you are getting one of these mainly to "look cool", then toss it after a year (I know that happens a lot too ha ha), I think it's a reasonable amount of money to expect to pay for the purpose of getting it back up to snuff. And once that's done, you basically have a $30-$40,000 car for 10 grand'ish that feels like new and isn't gonna give you any serious issues for a good 5-10 years.

Last edited by addam03E46; 12-05-2014 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 12-05-2014, 03:56 PM   #11
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The entire transmission, including Clutch, flywheel, and slave cylinder has just been replaced. I have also recently replaced all known "trouble spots" for this car, including the Valve cover gasket and vapor barriers in all 4 doors.


That is a list of things he has gotten done in the passed 2 months or so. The car felt nice to drive and I have been researching a lot on it and decided I would post in here. the sunroof on the car does not work nor does the windsheild cleaner.
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Old 12-05-2014, 04:07 PM   #12
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If you're serious about buying the car have a PPI done. Why was the entire transmission replaced.
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Old 12-05-2014, 05:25 PM   #13
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have the rear subframe mounting points checked for cracking and the usual items checked in a PPI (Pre Purchase Inspection)
these will save you from buying a car that needs expensive repairs. it can also be used in your favor to bring down the price (if the items are basic inexpensive repairs that don't keep you from buying in the first place)

if it will need some expensive repairs and you can't get the price down alot because of it then walk away. don't make the mistake of being a buyer who has excitement of having the car over ride the sense to look for another one.
there are a lot of E46s around. better to find a good one than settle for a bad one. because the car may be good looking, but if it's at the mechanics shop broken down getting fixed who cares how pretty it is on the outside.
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Old 12-05-2014, 06:55 PM   #14
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I would encourage you to test drive a few E46's before buying one. Drive at least 5 so that you can have a good feel for what they should really drive and sound like. The amount of really bad condition E46's I've looked at before I ran in to my beautiful 325i was scary. Do a lot of research by watching a ton of DIY videos, and reading about what goes wrong in these cars so that when you go out to look at a car you are thinking of buying you know what to check for. Whatever you do, don't fall for the very first E46 you see, check out way more than just one!!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NickyRozaeE46 View Post
The entire transmission, including Clutch, flywheel, and slave cylinder has just been replaced. I have also recently replaced all known "trouble spots" for this car, including the Valve cover gasket and vapor barriers in all 4 doors.


That is a list of things he has gotten done in the passed 2 months or so. The car felt nice to drive and I have been researching a lot on it and decided I would post in here. the sunroof on the car does not work nor does the windsheild cleaner.
why was the transmission replaced? A manual transmission will last 100's of thousands of miles. They are pretty bullet proof. The first thing I would question when someone tells me they replaced the transmission is the mileage.

why replace the vapor barriers on the doors? Unless work was done inside the doors, the barriers should be intact for several years.

Like others have said, a PPI by a BMW dealer or BMW mechanic is incredibly cheap insurance.
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:29 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by NickyRozaeE46 View Post
I'm going to buy a bmw 325i 5spd tommorow afternoon and was wondering what are some weak spots I should look at before purchasing ?
read post #1 here before you buy the car rather than finding out afterward you rushed into a very expensive mistake. I know it requires restraint, but we've done what we can to warn you.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=vulnerable
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickyRozaeE46 View Post
The entire transmission, including Clutch, flywheel, and slave cylinder has just been replaced. I have also recently replaced all known "trouble spots" for this car, including the Valve cover gasket and vapor barriers in all 4 doors.


That is a list of things he has gotten done in the passed 2 months or so. The car felt nice to drive and I have been researching a lot on it and decided I would post in here. the sunroof on the car does not work nor does the windsheild cleaner.
I get clutch, flywheel, and slave cylinder, but why the whole transmission? I don't see a reason to replace the whole thing unless the gears were stripped, and if the gears were stripped, that's definitely a red flag.

In any case, I feel you have a decent grasp of what you're getting yourself into. Read Mango's post to tie up any loose ends or gaps in knowledge. If you got a fair price for the e46, then power to you . My advice is to get very familiar with the car and learn how to DIY. Not only will your wallet thank you, but it's very rewarding.
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:00 PM   #18
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OP, dont jump to decisions and shop around...

How bad would you feel with your 325i if in a month after your purchase you find a 330i going for the same price, in better condition than your car, with more of the features you want... all while you've just began dumping money by the thousand into your cooling system, suspension, window regulators, and other plastic parts in general?

If you want to enjoy your car, dont do a halfassed job at purchasing it.
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