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Old 09-26-2012, 05:27 PM   #1
T.O. Realtor
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New owner looking for advice

Hey guys,

I'm about to go shopping for a used 3 series and I'm trying to decide which model to go after but I don't know the main differences, aside from the engine.

Are there any years to avoid between 99-05? I have a friend who is a wholesaler going to auctions for me over the next few days so I want to be as specific as possible.

Thanks and I hope to be part of the family soon!

-Scott
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:35 PM   #2
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Wow.. thats one helluva question!

We can write a thousand pages on all the info you requested!

You need to be specific here:

1. What is your budget
2. There's a big difference from a 99 car and a 05 E46. I would say go late E46 as much as possible or jump into the E90 scene if you can swing it.
3. In terms of "avoiding" cars.. There's not much you can do. Each year have their own gremlins and issues and despite your best efforts you might buy a lemon. Such is life. The one piece of advice anyone can give you for ANY car is to avoid first generation cars as much as possible (ie. buying a car in the first year it was introduced)
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:13 PM   #3
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Most e46's have the same 8-10 common issues and straight forward fixes. Each series like 320-325-330 and so on offer differing advantages like power,suspension and so on. Nothing incredibly important to avoid really besides DO NOT drive the car once over heating!

As stated they all have gremlins, expect that but if properly serviced (do not follow bmw service indicators of 25000) youll be fine.

Good luck and here's to hoping buying a car unseen/scanned or looked over first doesnt cost you. You could quite easily save $XXXX and just as easily spend $XXXX in needed repair. Frankly I would not go this route but it is your money.
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:31 PM   #4
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Stick with anything made AFTER 2002/10 (October). Mainly the Facelift bmws...
Find a car that was relatively MAINTAINED well and the kms were not killed on it.
Depending on your budget... if you can swing it, I would go 330i/330xi... I have a 325i, and I love it, but i feel like i should have got the 330i/xi for more HP.

BMWDouche (gawd, every time I read that i laugh!) has a good point about going with the E90s... their price point is coming down, and the maintenance is getting better...

Do your homework.
These 2 links helped me out a BUNCH!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index.php?title=BMW_E46
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=882732

Peace!
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:10 PM   #5
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Ironically I would still take a e46 facelift over a first or second year e90, the quality has become less than desired shall we say lol And personally not lovin that style.
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Old 09-27-2012, 01:36 AM   #6
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A clean 325 is always better then a shitty 330! No 2 used cars are the same, so try to get a GOOD car. No point in getting a higher model that will give you problems!
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blakneto View Post
Stick with anything made AFTER 2002/10 (October). Mainly the Facelift bmws...
Find a car that was relatively MAINTAINED well and the kms were not killed on it.
Depending on your budget... if you can swing it, I would go 330i/330xi... I have a 325i, and I love it, but i feel like i should have got the 330i/xi for more HP.

BMWDouche (gawd, every time I read that i laugh!) has a good point about going with the E90s... their price point is coming down, and the maintenance is getting better...

Do your homework.
These 2 links helped me out a BUNCH!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index.php?title=BMW_E46
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=882732

Peace!
+1 I love my 325 but more HP is always good lol!

Also - try and get the Sport package, it's a nice added touch with upgraded steering wheel, seats, suspension etc. It will also increase resale value if you end up needing to sell it ever.

GL with sale, I love my E46
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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++ what Eurostyle said.

1) Get the cleanest looking car without visible paint work done (look at body panel seams for tape lines, uneven fitment etc.)

2) If there's ANY rust, walk away. An unmolested OEM paint job will deter rust with the factory galvanizing paint process.

3) Stick with a facelift E46 <'02. 330i preferably... once you take that 1st on-ramp with the car, you'll be yearning for the power to pull away strong.

4) If you take the plunge for an E90, STAY AWAY FROM ANYTHING MADE IN 2006!! First year run on this chassis has nothing but problems (make no wonder BMW changed all the motors 1yr later in '07).

5) IMO, don't bother with XI models (all wheel drive). They suck way more gas than a 2WD and that AWD will only help you get OUT of the ditch in snowy winter days (the few that we have!) after you've over-confidently put it in... won't help you steer or brake in slippery conditions.

6) Last word of advise. If you do go for an older E46 ('99-'00), don't get the automatic transmission. It's built by GM and way under-engineered for the helf of the chassis (I blew mine and found out many others had similar experiences).
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Last edited by GeMc; 09-27-2012 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:07 PM   #9
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e90 cars... yah before I got my e46 325i, I looked at a bunch of 2006/2007 e90 323/325/328 and i was SHOCKED at how shitty those cars have ended up in less than 10 years. Personally, I am waiting for the facelift e90 cars to see how they hold up and their price point.

All very very good points...
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:22 PM   #10
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Wow.. You guys are amazing! Such helpful information..

I'm 100% going to get a 2003/2004 325/328. Are the main differences just the engine size? Do they both offer the sport package?
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:43 PM   #11
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Nothing wrong with a facelift XI, gas mileage is just fine and pulling off from a dead stop in deep snow or icy conditions all the time doesnt hurt either When I had my 325 rwd obviously each stop was ar roll just to keep momentum at most stops lol

Around town driving I see 500-550 km to a tank and highway run to quebec this year past got 700+ out of a tank before I decided to pull off and eat/gas. Not incredible numbers but decent.

XI's will after 80000-120000+ km decide to cost you front boot(s) and shafts though, only extra cost I can see so far and every week at the shop with our routine customer xi owners. Same thing on the odd X5's but the dealer parts costs are a major rip off so shop it around, or call Eurostyle!
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:02 PM   #12
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The guy that bought my 01 330xi is tracking it to this day with 480,000km on it. I dont know what you guys are talkin about but as someone said .. every used car is different and i am very confident in a BMW E46 engine (no matter which one) as long as it was taken care of.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:38 PM   #13
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2003/2004/2005 are good...
If you can get the sport package even better! (i don't have it)
As many bells and whistles you can get (power seats/memory seats/heated seats/2 Keys/Sunroof/Heated mirrors/memory mirrors/power mirrors/, Maintained by a BMW dealership if possible, or have RMP/Stance have a look at it, as close to 100k if possible...

One of the thing i benefited greatly on was joining MaxBimmer, and LEARNING about my e46. When stuff happens, i am not so "ignorant" when i take it to the mechanic.
I had the dreaded coolant hose leaks/expansion tank explosion... i had the parts bought before the blew up, but i was able to basically tell the mechanic what was wrong and where to start...
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.O. Realtor View Post
Wow.. You guys are amazing! Such helpful information..

I'm 100% going to get a 2003/2004 325/328. Are the main differences just the engine size? Do they both offer the sport package?
02+ you can only get the 320/325/330...the 323/328 was only 99-00. Most models come with optional sport package (altho never seen a sport 320).

If you find a super clean 323 dont underestimate it; engine is the same size as the 325, just a name change! (both 2.5L)
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blades View Post
The guy that bought my 01 330xi is tracking it to this day with 480,000km on it. I dont know what you guys are talkin about but as someone said .. every used car is different and i am very confident in a BMW E46 engine (no matter which one) as long as it was taken care of.
+1 I still have my pre-F e46, the 3rd DD car in my stable. Among the family driving it, it has just crossed the 100K km of daily use since we bought it at 80K km.. it now has 180k KM. Only issue was the common cooling system prob, FCAB.. That's it.

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