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E46 Engine Swaps
Replacing your motor? From direct replacements to more exoctic engines, if it's going under the hood of an E46 3 Series this is the forum to discuss it.

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Old 10-17-2019, 08:50 PM   #1
323ciBMDoubleU
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Best Replacement Engine

Just confirmed today I have a blown head gasket. What's the best engine to replace with without having to do a huge amount of modification and maybe possibly gaining some more horsepower. Also if reflashing DME during process is that a dealer job or can be done by myself? The current car is 2000 323ci m52tu motor manual. Thanks
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Old 10-20-2019, 04:50 PM   #2
bremerd1
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I think that question depends on a large number of factors...

-Budget (primary consideration).
-Are you planning to keep the car long-term (say, more than 3 years)?
-Who is doing the work? (If you are doing it yourself, this can be a fairly inexpensive thing. A 'general repair' shop can do it without the DME changes for about a grand, some even less).
-What do you want from the engine replacement (speed? power? track toy?)

You can drop mad money in a older car: If you are planning on keeping it long-term, then money may be a non-issue (it was for me on my '00 323Ci). The '00 323's came with MS42 on the DME. Active Autowerke can tune that DME. You can tune it to run any of the M52tu or M54 engines.

If you are willing to swap the intake, a M54B25 would be a easy swap with very little or even no tuning, and most general repair shops could handle this pretty easy. A shop that is familiar with the e46 platform (and can apply AA or other vendor DME tunes) could handle making the M54b30 work in the car if you re-used the 323 intake. (You'd lose performance that way [small intake], but it would be an improvement that leaves options for upgrades later). A M52tub28 would be a pretty easy swap, and only minor tuning on the existing DME needed (it's DME ran the MS41 software, and from what I understand, you can start/drive the car using the existing DME with no updates).

If it's a 'toy', and you plan on keeping it (and budget isn't an issue), you can do a M54b30 with a supercharger, or simply swap in a LS drivetrain. (I have the LS swap in progress on a '03 325Ci, and am planning a supercharger for the '00 323Ci (Hyde Motor Works)).

If you are just looking to get the car going (minimal budget), I had an engine (M54b25) put in the '03 325Ci (also M54b25) just so I could move it around and teach my kids to drive a stick. I gave $1400 for the engine (with a year warranty - it was $1200 for the engine, and $200 for the warranty), and had it installed for $1000. I didn't 'look' for a deal, or shop around: I simply went to a local well-established junkyard, and told'em what I wanted. A M54b30 will be a little more money. Keep in mind the engines are getting old, and you'd be better to replace hard-to-get-to parts while the replacement engine is out: the under-intake coolant pipe, rear main seal, and plastic bits tend to self destruct due to heat and age, and are easy to get to with the motor out. A valeo clutch and flywheel kit (~$500) on a stick would be a good thing to do with the engine out.

I've seen e46 engines locally on craigslist for $500 (with craigslist, you pays ya money, and takes ya chances....)

If I did this and was on a budget, I'd do a M52tub28 (from a junkyard that offered a warranty), do all the necessary plastic bits replacement, replace the clutch, replace the waterpump, and drive it. It'll be about 4K to do it (with no effort on your part - all done by a shop). You'd have to keep the car for ~3 years to make it worthwhile.

Dan B

Last edited by bremerd1; 10-20-2019 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 10-23-2019, 11:50 AM   #3
rg1220
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bremerd1 View Post
Keep in mind the engines are getting old, and you'd be better to replace hard-to-get-to parts while the replacement engine is out: the under-intake coolant pipe, rear main seal, and plastic bits tend to self destruct due to heat and age, and are easy to get to with the motor out. A valeo clutch and flywheel kit (~$500) on a stick would be a good thing to do with the engine out
And definitely don't forget about the oil pan gasket. It's only a matter of time before it leaks and for a $25 part, doing it with the engine out will save you considerable time and money.
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