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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 11-08-2014, 02:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 18
Yearly and long term maintenance...

Brand new guy here with a few questions, but first a little background...
I am looking at buying a xi wagon as my first BMW because I live in northern MI and our winters can be harsh. I am a wines/liquor sales representative, so I spend my days behind the wheel, doing +\- 100miles a day. This car will also be the road trip machine for my wife, the dogs and I.

So, yearly maintenance costs...what am I looking at? I do not have the tools or space to do my own(there is a BMW dealer here in town along with a respected certified BMW mechanic).

Can anyone ballpark what I can anticipate spending in a "normal" year?

What about tune ups? Frequency & cost?

Mileage based maintenance- at what intervals does the manufacturer recommend them? What is done at each? Can they be done by a certified mechanic or is it dealer only?

Any general tips you can give if you where to do it all over again?

Anything I should be on guard for when shopping for my x drive wagon?

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Old 11-08-2014, 04:44 PM   #2
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My Ride: 330xi MT, mustang gt
around $1500 a year on maintenance to take decent care of it.
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Old 11-09-2014, 07:20 PM   #3
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If you are doing that much driving in crappy conditions, I recommend you look for a truck/SUV of some sort. XI is good but it'll be expensive to run.
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Old 11-10-2014, 06:30 PM   #4
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My Ride: 03 325XI Sprt Prem
Here is a maintenance checklist. Also search for Oil Service, Inspection I and Inspection II. Those are the intervals.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BMW Service_Checklist_2003_US.pdf (22.3 KB, 158 views)

2003 325XI 5-speed ZSP ZPP
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:22 PM   #5
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Figure three oil changes, a tire, a front axle, a suspension component, brake parts, plus an engine gasket will be needed each year. On average. DIY would be $800/year. Indy is $2000/year. Dealer is $3,500/year. On average. Ballparked.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:45 PM   #6
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Location: Wisconsin
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My Ride: 03 325xi 98 328is
In the last 2 1/2 years I've spent $2800+ and I do all my own work, and I'm sure I've missed a few things. Battery, alternator, starter, fuel pump, axle, window regulators, OFHG, end links, PS line, brakes and oil changes.
2003 325xi auto Stahlgrau almost modless, just lots of new parts. 1998 328is 5sp lowered, X-brace, Sparco strut brace, HIDs and almost everything blacked out
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:40 AM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 205
My Ride: 05 545i & 03 325xi
I would never buy one for that type of driving. These old cars are expensive on upkeep. If it was new then that would be a different story, but your already looking at a 10 year old car.

Get something sensible like a Toyota that you can run hard and it will keep going.

Just my 2 cents.


Last edited by jjp735i; 01-02-2015 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:56 PM   #8
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My Ride: 330xi
how many miles do you currently have?

i used to drive 100+ miles a day, my maintenance cost at was around the 2k.... but now that i do most the work myself prob 1k a year...

>>These old cars are expensive on upkeep.

i just did a stage 0 tune up at 200k, and my car runs like new... i think if your proactive replace stuff before it breaks down, cooling system, etc. and do it yourself its really not bad.

you can buy used e46 for like 7k + 2-3k to upgrade parts... you got a decent ride that would last you a while..
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Old 01-02-2015, 01:47 PM   #9
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Sounds like good advice so far. The iX wagon can be a great vehicle for all seasons. If I was on a budget/couldn't tolerate higher than average upkeep/didn't appreciate BMW handling and performance, I'd be setting my sights on an AWD Subaru or something similar.

In looking for a wagon, I'd target lo-miles examples with few owners and solid service history. At ~100k some stuff just wears out. Shocks/struts, suspension components, cooling system, starter motor, window regulators, particular oil leaks, particular vacuum leaks, etc. So plan for that, or look for examples where it's already been done and the owner got fed up after completing all of the work.

Normally you want to avoid the dealer for service work. It's good that you have one local for parts and the occasional special need, but a good independent shop will serve you well.

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Old 01-02-2015, 02:48 PM   #10
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The cost of maintenance for these cars is ridiculous in my estimation. I've had Audi's and Mercedes before my current 325xi that have had issues, but nothing like this.
Luckily my best friend is an amazing tech that does all my work at a fraction of the cost, and even he is getting tired of seeing my car in the shop. He told me if the CCV or starter goes we'll just burn it and make an insurance claim ;( joking.

B.reak M.y W.allet indeed.

Last edited by Damocles74; 01-02-2015 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 01-03-2015, 02:53 PM   #11
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My Ride: 325XiT 5MT
got an 02 XIT and driven it for approximately 40,000 miles for the last 2 years and had done all the preventive maintenance myself and to date had spent $4,100 on just parts alone with a potential cost going up to $4,600 for little things i want to replace but not detrimental to the car's drivability. But have to say i love driving the car

Last edited by Rice4bfast; 01-03-2015 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 01-03-2015, 03:56 PM   #12
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Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 596
My Ride: 2002 330Ci
Original Owner: August 2002- November 2009 (0- 60,295)

Customer Pay Total = $2694.50
Warranty Total = $2483.48
Int Total = $699.39

Oil and filter changes, carbon filter, oil level sensor, thermostat, coolant, brake fluid, tires, secure window regulator cable, center console, Inspection I, window regulator, sunroof repair (cassette) water pump, replace battery. Not a complete list.

Me: November 2009- Present (61,320- 74,4xx)

$4304 (includes main things but is not all inclusive).

Yearly oil and filter changes, trunk tail light assembly, final stage resistor, secondary air pump lines, coolant, radiator hose, expansion tank and cap, water pump, multi rib belt, various bulbs, tires, front control arm bushings, battery, alignment, air filter, disa, belts, pulley, tensioner, brake fluid flush.

To do list: oil filter housing gasket, valve cover gasket, ccv, Beisan Systems vanos upgrade, suspension refresh. Also, fuel pump and another thermostat.

This is just my experience, but it is worth it.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:46 AM   #13
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Honestly They aren't terrible upkeep wise, but you have to really know what you're looking at and the condition of the car before you purchase and that's the difficult part. Everything stated by everyone above is more or less correct, I say more or less because the required maintenance is on a car to car basis. When I bought my 03 325xi, the thing drove decently and was the right price. It was a little tired so I figured I could get it and fix the few problems and be good to go for small $$. Whatever you buy make sure you know the maintenance history... I've had mine for about a year now and have had to address everything below...

Replaced front control arm bushings
Replaced front sway bar end links
Replaced front control arms
Replaced Tie rods inner and outer
Replaced steering rack boots
Replaced front strut bearings
New front left caliper
Replaced rotors
Replaced pads
Replaced pad wear sensors
Replaced valve cover gasket
Replaced spark plug gaskets
Installed various missing trim and clip pieces
Replaced washer fluid pump
Replaced headlight washer pump
Cleaned ICV
New front left door (original was missing inner vapor guard, so the rain gutters in the door didn't work properly and lead to door rusting out at the bottom)
Replaced door seals
Replaced diver's door vapor barrier
Replaced driver's door wiring loom
Bodywork (kept up with rust repair, not that there was much of anything to begin with)
Replaced arm rest (old one had cracked and tearing leather)
Replaced rear ball joints
Replaced lower trailing arm bushing with ball joints (better handling and ride, this is the setup the M3 uses, and the ball joints don't fatigue as quickly as the bushings)
Installed Meyle high durability rear trailing arm bushings
Installed rear trailing arm bushing limiters (these are small sleeves that go between the bushing and the bracket on each side that limit the flex of the bushing, giving longer bushing life as well as improving handling significantly without having to use those terrible harsh polyflex bushings)
Replaced rear left trailing arm (the original may/may not have had any issues, it may have just been the trailing arm bushings causing the issue but just in case I replaced both. The problem was that I couldn't get the toe angle in spec when trying to get the car aligned. Now that it's been replaced, no issues)
Replaced parking brake shoes
Replaced rear left half shaft and bolts
Replaced rear springs
Completed missing pieces from tool kit
CCV replaced with cold weather version including all hoses and tubes attached to it (the crank case vent valve is notorious on these cars for freezing up in the cold weather and failing, the cold weather version is insulated, making sure this won't happen)
Oil changed every 3000 miles with castol syntec 5w30
Replaced blower motor resistor
Replaced plugs (NGK platinum)
Seafoamed combustion chamber, crank case, gas tank.
Replaced upper and lower intake boots (old ones were brittle and ripped when changing the ccv)
Replaced the oil filter housing gasket (major source of oil leak on these cars, if you have a leak, most of the time this is the culprit)
Changed out the drivetrain fluids. (the transfer case, transmission, and differentials all claim the gear oil/atf is lifetime, which if you have any automotive experience, you know this is BS.)
Replaced the original, beat up halogen headlight assemblies with a xenon canbus system.
Installed Nokya super yellow fog light.
Installed Umnitza Predator Orion V2 angel eyes.
Replaced the cabin air filter
Replaced the engine air filter
Rebuilt the VANOS unit. (the orings inside this unit were made of inferior materials and fail at about 80k or so)

I know alot of these things didn't "have" to be done, but honestly the name of the game is staying on top of the maintenance and addressing it before it becomes a problem. I've spent a ton getting this thing where it needs to be and there is still plenty more to do and plenty more to spend doing it. lol I just want to make sure you realize what comes with buying a used one of these... GREAT cars, they just need love lol and you NEED to make sure they were given it by their previous owners.
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:54 PM   #14
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^ lol, congrats on your brand new E46 BMW!

I'd love to hear what your definition of terrible is if "They aren't terrible upkeep wise".
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:26 PM   #15
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really adding nothing to the discussion here... but i heard from tow truck drivers that it is about clearance above the ground rather than the fact that it is an AWD. how is the xi wagon holding up against snow in MI

Originally Posted by Penguin Koolaid View Post
I've never heard of a woman wanting more than she actually deserved. Never.
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