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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 11-04-2012, 03:23 PM   #1
tjyak50
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New e46 Buyer / Questions & Impressions

I am actively shopping, driving and comparing e46 Coupes (automatic) and have some observations and questions if anybody has time to address some new buyer questions.

1) Slight trans shudder.
Drove a 50k mile 330Ci (6 speed Step) that exhibited a very slight shudder on acceleration up to about 30mph. Hard to even tell except I am picky. This scary? Rare? Common? Maybe it was less once the car warmed up.

2) Fluids.
Drove a 2006 325Ci and on cursory inspection the engine oil was barely reading on the dipsitck, the Coolant could not be seen down in that well below the cap and the ATF was reading below, or maybe right at the bottom of the stick. Car hadn't been driven in a few days. Nothing unusual about fluid levels on the e46 is there?

3) LCA bushing.
Same 2006 325Ci listed above, made a clunk when tapping breaks, looked out window and the FL tire moved when tapping brakes. I can see the Rear LCA bushing totally loose, can move it around just by pushing tire. THose bushings common replacement items?

4) Front Camber Adjustment?
On one very low mile car I noticed the paint under the 3 nuts on top of the front strut housings was shifted. Both L & R front struts had the camber adjusted. Are there slots under those stock nuts? Or did somebody have to make slots? None of the other 5 e46 cars had any adjustment there.

Looking forward to joining the e46 Club. Getting close to finding the perfect car.
Tj
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Old 11-04-2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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It's good ure being detailed oriented and will be sure to find something food this way.

Sorry cant help u much else - the car with low fluids doesn't sound good

Jerky/shudder tranny not good either.

Good luck!
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:17 PM   #3
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Thanks. Its hard to know what is "Normal or Expected" for me. Owned 3 Bmw before but they were new, under warranty.
On my 1988 Mercedes (w126c) for example; rough idle, 2-3 flare, hard warm start and bouncy rear-end are all normal and expected problems.

Adding this used e46 Coupe as a 4th car to the stable and I expecting to keep it forever.
I will be doing all the maintenance, so it takes on a slightly different level of investigation.

Looking at a $15,000 used car with no oil, coolant or ATF and a front wheel that can be moved forward and back 2 inches with a blown control arm bushing and a seller that "never noticed" makes the hunt easier. Except that it was a REALLY sharp car and actually drove great..
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:46 PM   #4
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... and the ATF was reading below, or maybe right at the bottom of the stick. ...
Tj
That was the power steering fluid level that you checked. (It does use ATF.) There is no way to check the transmission fluid level without crawling under the car with a wrench.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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Oh, yea. Good point, thank you.

I have been reading in detail about the transmision and fluid situation.
I should have put 2 and 2 together.

Tj
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:28 PM   #6
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I looked at a 2001 E46 and swear the ABS system was located in that void forward of the passenger behind the 1st firewall.
But on others that area is empty.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:41 PM   #7
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Don't forget general things like well kept interior - can be expensive to fix - if the owner has no clue - then prolly stay away
Hard to find these days - but a 1 owner vehicle can be a gd bet
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:21 PM   #8
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If I may inquire on a few other items.
1) 2 of the 10 e46 autos I have driven exhibited a very slight "shudder" or "judder" in mild acceleration from about 10 to 30mph. Quite mild and hard to even discern over tire noise and road NVH.
One was a 60k miles 6 speed, the other a 106k miles 5 speed.
Do other operators notice this? I tend to be hypersensitive to things, so many may not notice.
Maybe also due to these cars being for sale and not driven as regularly?

2) Wind noise from windshield area- One of my absolute pet peeves (if air can get in, so can water!).

Does this broken trim piece by windshield wipers have a sealing function, or just cosmetic?
Click image for larger version

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To me this seems like it might be a replacement windshield which may have not been sealed properly.
Click image for larger version

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Old 11-12-2012, 12:29 PM   #9
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Everything you mentioned is common and needs to be replaced. Any E46 (or any used BMW for that matter) will need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Factor in an additional $3,500-$5,500 or MORE if you are picky as you say you are. For the next three years, you'll be purchasing parts every weekend. The list would probably be 50 pages long. Also steps are 5-speed.

Oh and don't bother with an automatic. You'll be dissapointed forever.
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:42 PM   #10
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prepare your wallet
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:45 PM   #11
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330 6 sp auto hmm sound like an smg
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:50 PM   #12
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Can't be all that much worse than my MB w126. If you do your own work and have other cars for backup the repairs and upgrades are not all that bad. With 2 airplanes and 4 cars you learn to work on things and keep them in good shape!

6 speed was just a regular auto, not SMG. This will be the DD for my partner and he previously had an e46 stick and an e90 automatic. Learned to love the BMW automatic and with a 40 minute daily commute in Phoenix the Auto is the choice this round.

Thanks for the help. The hunt continues until the right car is found which is usually a pretty obvious sensation.
Tj
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:04 PM   #13
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Everything you mentioned is common and needs to be replaced. Any E46 (or any used BMW for that matter) will need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Factor in an additional $3,500-$5,500 or MORE if you are picky as you say you are. For the next three years, you'll be purchasing parts every weekend. The list would probably be 50 pages long. Also steps are 5-speed.

Oh and don't bother with an automatic. You'll be dissapointed forever.
Mango posts like this is the reason you lost credibility among regular members on this forum. Generic advice such as 'build from the ground up' is akin to telling my girlfriend to 'do a full makeover to land a starring role in Hollywood'


Go thru the OP's numbered questions and post sensible advice to each one of them. I know you can
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:40 PM   #14
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Can't be all that much worse than my MB w126. If you do your own work and have other cars for backup the repairs and upgrades are not all that bad. With 2 airplanes and 4 cars you learn to work on things and keep them in good shape!

6 speed was just a regular auto, not SMG. This will be the DD for my partner and he previously had an e46 stick and an e90 automatic. Learned to love the BMW automatic and with a 40 minute daily commute in Phoenix the Auto is the choice this round.

Thanks for the help. The hunt continues until the right car is found which is usually a pretty obvious sensation.
Tj
6 speed auto non SMG is not possible.

I think the interior says a lot about a car. If the inside is clean and the fabrics are in good shape, that shows the PO took care of it. A crappy interior means the other parts of the car were probably also neglected. A good interior doesn't gauruntee a good car mechanically, but I would definitely run from a car with a **** interior.

All E46s are going to have problems. You will spend money right after you buy it on even the most perfect looking car.

As for things to look for, it sounds like you have probably bought a car before. You aren't going to get burned. I would just add that there should be absolutely no slop in the steering whatsoever. All the cars you look at will have loose steering. BMWs come with perfect steering from the factory and you'll want to replace some of the front suspension and the RTABs to get it back. Also, listen for blown speakers.

Also, I have an automatic. I am happy with it thus far, but I hear no real good things about it. At least try to get a car made after March 2003. This will get you the GM transmission. Anyway, I don't think auto failues on this car are much higher than any other car provided you have the fluid changed regularly. Unfortunately, an indy shop will charge over $600 for a fluid change, so this is a must DIY unless you enjoy getting raped. If I bought another E46, I'd get a manual, but I don't have anything in the name of traffic on my 30 minute commute in bum**** alabama/georgia.

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Old 11-12-2012, 01:54 PM   #15
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Thank you.
It must have been an earlier year, having looked at so many they all blend togother so I keep a spreadsheet at home to help me keep track. Everyone of them seems to need LCA bushings and some trim stuff and then its just the same old treadmill of preventative and repair maintenance. The Cooling stuff is clearly a high priority, as well as getting into the tranny.

At least the O2 sensors seem easy to reach. I was surprised how roomy the Z4 engine compartment is to the e46.

My goal with this thread is to get a little help on what is "Normal Problems" and what are "abnormal problems". I can deal with Normal, just don't want to buy a car with abnormal.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:37 PM   #16
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Thank you.
It must have been an earlier year, having looked at so many they all blend togother so I keep a spreadsheet at home to help me keep track. Everyone of them seems to need LCA bushings and some trim stuff and then its just the same old treadmill of preventative and repair maintenance. The Cooling stuff is clearly a high priority, as well as getting into the tranny.

At least the O2 sensors seem easy to reach. I was surprised how roomy the Z4 engine compartment is to the e46.

My goal with this thread is to get a little help on what is "Normal Problems" and what are "abnormal problems". I can deal with Normal, just don't want to buy a car with abnormal.
Looks like you have the normal problems figured out.

Suspension bushings and ball joints
Steering flex coupler
Driveshaft flex disc (guibo), may be the source of those vibrations, its a $50 part
Valve cover gasket leaking oil
vacuum lines cracking
intake boots cracking
VANOS seals/rattling
cooling system expansion tank, water pump, theromostat, hoses, fan blades
Crank Case vent valve
blown shocks
bad wheel bearings (fronts are easy DIY, rear is harder)
worn pulleys/noisy bearings

These are almost all of the common and easy to DIY repair problems. None of these are expensive individually, but they add up to a few grand if you do all of them. I'm just doing them as I get time/money to do it or if it's non critical I'll wait a bit. My pullies started making noise yesterday so I'm going to do those after my tierods methinks. Also I'm gonna convert to the electric fan.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:08 PM   #17
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All that stuff and more is in my sig. See it, do it all on whatever car you get.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:23 PM   #18
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330 6 sp auto hmm sound like an smg
Confused. I have driven one and many ads showing Steptronic 6 speed auto e46 cars.
They weren't SMG. Are you saying there are no 6sp Steptronic autos?

I swear that late 2006 325ci showed up to 6 when driven with the selector to the left. And accelerating it felt like an extra shift down low compared to another car.
I must be mistaken, or misremembering the e90.

Many are advertised as e46 6 SP Steptronics, perhaps they are confusing from the 2006 e90
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:17 PM   #19
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Purchase complete. Thanks all for help.
Details to follow.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:17 PM   #20
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Congrats - wat did u get ? Specs?
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