Originally Posted by TF3N
I just bought an E46 in the summer (4 door) so I feel my insight is pretty relevant here.
Folding Rear Seats
I bought the lowest KM, best riding car I could find within my budget. I ended up in a 2002 325i(non-sport) 5speed with under 120k for $9700(taxes in).
If I had to do it again? I'd probably pay a little more and get one with the sports package.
It costs a MINIMUM of $700-$1000 to find sport seats in *great shape*, and about $500 for a sport steering wheel with airbag(again, in good shape). That's a minimum of $1300 plus you have to factor in travel and install time.... The $1500-$2000 premium for a well kept car with the sport package is definitely worth it IMO. Also, the sports package is much tighter than the base model. Although this goes out the window if you plan on installing a set of coilovers or upgraded suspension.
I've talked to a few E46 owners with over 175,000KM who have never replaced the cooling system and they've been fine - I've also read stories of them going bad under 100,000km so this one's really a gamble. I'm replacing my whole system this spring for peace of mind - I would definitely recommend any new owner do the same.
As far as regulators go, they have been known to fail without warning. I've also heard that they start to get weak or slow a few weeks before they give up. My opinion? Just assume they will go and have $300 set aside for when they do.
The 330 is quite a bit faster than the 325, so it may be a good idea to hold out for one if you're into speed. Although the 325 is a fun car to drive, it is definitely not fast. I personally didn't care, but I feel it's worth noting.
You'll love the E46 - it's the best balance of style, performance/ride, comfort, and cost of ownership under $20,000 IMO.
Anyways, that's my $0.02. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.
I would change cooling at 100k... You can tell its about to go if you see something like steam or smoke coming from under the hood. (dont ask... Trust me)
I would skip sport seats... Use that money to upgrade your suspension.
After the first year then go for sport seats if you really must have it.
Sept 2002 to 2005 is the range you want... I THINK fold down started in 2004...
Get the 330... Anyone who gets a 325 usually wishes they got a 330...
If you can get one that was maintained at one of the dealerships or even better if you can buy from there you are in good shape. Just dont do any maintenance or repairs at the dealership aka stealership.