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Old 09-18-2011, 12:30 AM   #1
moto-menace
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please shed some light on the E46

I need a new car and I'm considering an E46. It will be an all season ride. That being said, I think I would prefer an xi but not hell bent on it. I don't want anything below a 325. I have a bunch of questions so I'll ask a few here and other than that I just want to gather some general opinions/advice before I go shopping. Are there any years/models known to be problematic that I should stay away from? what's up with the facelift? did that only happen on 325's?..(personally I think the 01's looked better with the headlights that look like the M3's) Is there a year when they received significant upgrades I should take into consideration? and is everything interchangeable/retrofittable among all e46 model years such as the led tail lights etc ?

Any and all thoughts appreciated.
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:05 AM   #2
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I would personally consider MY2002/10 and newer... Alot more features were pre-wired into those cars.

As for maintenance... you need to show it the love that it needs, and expect the unexpected to happen.

320i is better on gas, but a "weak" car.
325i is middle ground and common.
330i is sweeeeeeeeeeeeet!
M is heavenly.

Parts differ from model to model and year to year. (google search and you'll see...)
Most parts work for an 325i.
XI vehicles have more specific parts as they are ALL WHEEL DRIVE.

The main thing you want:
Low KMs as possible.
Research all the problems that could happen and rough cost. $$$
A car that was WELL maintained.
And the best price possible.

Post up your thoughts on a car here, and you'll generally get good feed back from the group.
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:06 AM   #3
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This page covers quite a bit of stuff:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index.php?title=BMW_E46
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:19 AM   #4
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The facelift came in 02 for sedans, 04 for coupes and never for the M3's but were made all the way to 06. Go for a lower milage, all original car with all records. Be careful with rebuild cars, or multiple owners. US and Quebec cars are not to be trusted in most cases....
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:49 AM   #5
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I personally prefer the look of the pre-facelift better

330s had the bigger brakes, etc and IMO just the right amount of power

Having an xi IS awesome in the winter, but a lot of parts (especially suspension) are more expensive/harder to come by, and they're REALLY high sitting

With good snow tires and some rwd experience I hear the non-xis are not shabby in snow either -- that said with awesome snow tires my xi is unbeatable :p

Maintenance wise -- be prepared issues aren't as easy as an e30/36 lol-- 46s need TLC (and $$$)
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:04 PM   #6
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Cool, thanks guys. I'll post some ads off auto trader that caught my attention..I forgot to mention originally I had hoped to keep within the $10 G range but depending on the feedback I get here, I may have to increase my budget.

heres a few ads, most are 200 000km + is that too high or if its well maintained is that fine? (I have yet to actually go and see any of these cars)

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S.../25_11508557_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/19_4425261_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/5_11702726_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/5_11306072_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S.../25_11452279_/
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moto-menace View Post
Cool, thanks guys. I'll post some ads off auto trader that caught my attention..I forgot to mention originally I had hoped to keep within the $10 G range but depending on the feedback I get here, I may have to increase my budget.

heres a few ads, most are 200 000km + is that too high or if its well maintained is that fine? (I have yet to actually go and see any of these cars)

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S.../25_11508557_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/19_4425261_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/5_11702726_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S...o/5_11306072_/

http://www.autotrader.ca/a/BMW/3%20S.../25_11452279_/


A well maintained high milage car is better then a low milage car that sits. Cars are meant to be driven, not to sit in a garage. My friends 94 325is that has 290k and just goes in for oil changes and the odd thing here or there.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:31 PM   #8
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If they have proof of the maintenance, then it should be okay. There's a lot of preventative stuff that should be done by 200K, like water pump, thermostat, coolant resevoir, powersteering resevoir/filter, idler/tension pulleys, transmission and diff fluid, suspension bushings, etc.
It's almost better getting a car that hasn't had all that stuff done for cheaper, then doing it yourself to make sure it's been done right.

As for winter driving, you don't need an Xi. With a decent set of winter tires you'll be fine. I've never had an issue, except if you get cocky and try to go through snow drifts that are too deep, but an Xi won't help you if you're beached.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:09 AM   #9
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Looks like Kijiji may have some better deals :

http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehi...AdIdZ313419117

http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehi...AdIdZ313624061

http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehi...AdIdZ301327900
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:26 AM   #10
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^^The red coupe was painted, pretty bad match...Cheap but looks neglected...
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:44 AM   #11
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Almost forgot, go for the 330. You'll regret not having the extra power, bigger brakes and the 6spd transmission. I certainly do in my 325. But at the time it was $20K vs $30K.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
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^^The red coupe was painted, pretty bad match...Cheap but looks neglected...
You mean the 330i in Hamilton right?
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:20 AM   #13
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Yeah from my experience, focus on service records, if the owner claims they have them, look through them, ensure maintenance items are taken care of such as:

1. - Check the wiper motors on e46 - crazy expensive to fix - part alone is $300-400
1. when the cooling system was refreshed (accs belts, fans, rad, coolant flush)
2. is it still the original clutch and if so how much milage does it have
3. What condition are the shifter bushings in (if your going for a manual)
4. Turn the aux fan to low - and check if it squirlly
5. roll down the windows and check if the exhaust heat shield is cracked
6. Window motors
7. Open the trunk and check for bubbling under the rubber
8. When was the suspension done, ball joints, control arms, bushings, springs, shocks/ struts in that order

That should give you a fairly long list. But be patient...these cars all look amazing when shopping then u buy it and u realize what u truly bought.

Yeah and hold out for a 330 u won't regret it - ull pay a bit more but its worth it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:24 AM   #14
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Other items to look for are cracked/loose door weather stripping, loose/poorly repaired door/window trim (the adhesive always dries up in the summer heat and comes loose), subframe cracking is a big repair and not uncommon.
If you want to know more about any issue, just search for each of them, there will be many threads.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:51 PM   #15
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Thanks guys for the continued input. Very helpful insight. I would have thought to check alot of that stuff but not all of it..Subframe cracking? yikes! where exactly do I inspect for that? I'll research that forsure..I am definitely leaning towards a 330 unless I come accross a good deal on a nice xi but ultimately it will all come down to what seems to be the best car/deal
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