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Old 07-29-2013, 03:27 AM   #1
Danny51
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First Car/Daily Driver E30, E36 or E46?

Hey guys, been lurkin this forum for a while, decided to finally register since I'm now looking to purchase my first car !

Now I've been going back and forth between E30, E36, and E46 for a while and am still have troubles deciding. To my understanding

E30

Easy to work on
Lowest Cost of Ownership
Least maintenance required

E36

Worst on reliability of the 3
Highest Cost of ownership

E46

Newest and most comfortable (to me)
Moderately high cost of ownership
More electronics and such therefore harder to DIY

Now this is just from some basic research and Ive never owned any of these 3 cars so Im sure you guys can correct me If im wrong on something. Of the 3 I honestly prefer the E46 the most, the exterior look, the interior, the newer feel and look. Also to my understanding its pretty expensive upkeep ! Now what would you guys recommend to me of the 3 and why ? I'm hoping to keep costs down with some DIY, and dont want constant problems and issues.

Please dont recommend a anything other then the 3 listed, I do pretty much have my mind set on BMW. Im hoping to purchase an E90 in a couple of years once I have gained enough driving experience and feel Id be responsible enough to own one..

Thanks, Hope to hear from you guys soon !
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:15 AM   #2
Ceeker
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You just answered your own question.....

the e46 isn't an expensive car to maintain. My bmw tech friends tell me it is close to reliability to the e30. With the common problem eliminated such as squealing tensioner, window regulators and control arms and bushing. There really isn't much more required for upkeep. This is what I have learned...unless someone knows more.

Later model e36 are pretty good. early models are a bag of shit.

Now e30's? my specialty..they can also be a nightmare if you happen upon one not maintained well.

however; because of technology, sure they are easy to work on and you can DIY most of the stuff. but they do come with their inherent problems.

To find one in relatively decent shape today will cost you 5K plus. To find on in avg condition 2-3 requiring some work. finding one to pass the emission test is also tricky.
anything above 87 requires it. many at that stage in life have over 300k and as such may require a new cat.

Just my two cents worth and opinion. :-)
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:31 AM   #3
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Welcome and good luck in this process it should be an exciting time!
A couple more questions that will help flush things out:

How much DIY experience do you have? How much time are you willing to spend learning that stuff, how much are you planning to do yourself? Do you have any resources like a work space, tools, or experienced friend that can lend a hand?

What is your budget? Both for the initial purchase and ownership costs.

I have had a few e30s and an e46 and all have had DD duties. I'm pretty comfortable with many things e36 as well. In terms of DIY, yes e30 is easy peasy and probably presents the best learning opportunity in that regard. E36 wouldn't be much worse. E46 starts to gain complexity a bit more, but there are many resources to help out if you're willing to spend time and some effort.

Cost-wise, right now there won't be a ton of difference between the 3. You should be able to get a clean-ish 325 of any those series for 5k or less. On the topic of cleanliness-- it is crucial (especially if you're going to attempt DIY work) that the car is in good condition. DIY is much easier if it is maintenance and not repair-oriented. Plus, dealing with super rusty areas all the time sucks and gets frustrating.

In terms of a DD, they're all good cars but pick what you want to be driving all the time. If you like e46s, give them a few more points when you look at them. And you're right, they are a bit more comfortable and convenient to drive around every day.

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Old 07-29-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
SiR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny51 View Post

E36

Worst on reliability of the 3
Highest Cost of ownership
lol no

basically the older the car(generally) the more it will cost you to upkeep since it will have older parts that need replacing...unless you find a gem thats already had that work done for you.

If you dont have much diy experience you may want to find the newest e46 you can afford that will give you some time to drive and learn to wrench(if that interests you)

if you pay the dealer to work on any of them you will get hosed. go to an indy shop for more reasonable work if you go that route...but really wrenching yourself is obviously the cheapest.

part prices are comparable across all models. Not really that bad at all.


but really even e46 is "old" now so its going to come down to deciding exactly the body you want and then finding the best example you can afford. A neglected e46 will be a pos compared to a well kept e30 or e36...or vice versa.

You are "buying the owner" too when shopping for a car so keep that in mind. Any of them that have been well kept will be fine. They all have a their issues to watch out for, and it will boil down to specific examples more so than a generational thing.
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Last edited by SiR; 07-29-2013 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 07-29-2013, 12:10 PM   #5
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the differences you've pointed out between e30 and e36 are not relevant.

parts for both are relatively inexpensive
the reliability of both is similar(ly good, IMO)
you can work on both DIY

if i were you, i'd get an e30 or e36
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses guys ! Seems to be pretty reasonable choices for either of the 3. I found an ad that caught my attention, it is a 2002 325i, 130k, Fully loaded (Premium sound system, Xenon, Sunroof), and the Seller is quite confident that the car is mechanically great. He says it was well maintained, and recently put in a new clutch. Hes also going to take it to a mechanic with me If I decide to go with the car, so it makes me more comfortable how confident he is in the shape of the car. Only thing to point out is that there is a littlee bit of rust on rear left panel. Price : $5400, To me that seems like a pretty good deal for the KM on it, but let me know what you guys think !
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Old 07-29-2013, 03:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cormier View Post
Welcome and good luck in this process it should be an exciting time!
A couple more questions that will help flush things out:

How much DIY experience do you have? How much time are you willing to spend learning that stuff, how much are you planning to do yourself? Do you have any resources like a work space, tools, or experienced friend that can lend a hand?

What is your budget? Both for the initial purchase and ownership costs.

I have had a few e30s and an e46 and all have had DD duties. I'm pretty comfortable with many things e36 as well. In terms of DIY, yes e30 is easy peasy and probably presents the best learning opportunity in that regard. E36 wouldn't be much worse. E46 starts to gain complexity a bit more, but there are many resources to help out if you're willing to spend time and some effort.

Cost-wise, right now there won't be a ton of difference between the 3. You should be able to get a clean-ish 325 of any those series for 5k or less. On the topic of cleanliness-- it is crucial (especially if you're going to attempt DIY work) that the car is in good condition. DIY is much easier if it is maintenance and not repair-oriented. Plus, dealing with super rusty areas all the time sucks and gets frustrating.

In terms of a DD, they're all good cars but pick what you want to be driving all the time. If you like e46s, give them a few more points when you look at them. And you're right, they are a bit more comfortable and convenient to drive around every day.

Post up links to any ads you're considering!

Hey Cormier We were PMing and it says your messGe box is full, dont know how else to contact you !
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Old 07-29-2013, 06:01 PM   #8
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:43 AM   #9
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130k and new clutch? I'm at 170k, tracking/autocrossing and still on stock clutch. I guess they were rough on the clutch (and didn't remove the CDV).
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:59 AM   #10
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So basically you are asking to choose between apples, oranges and bananas!

If we are realistic, at this point a clean E36 would be the most reliable out of all. E30's are too old and rusted, E46's are "too complicated"...

Driving an E30 is NOTHING even close to driving an E46. Best thing to do is test drive all of them, and see what you would LOVE to DD.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:10 AM   #11
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Again thanks for all the responses guys ! I seem to be edging more towards the E36 now... My original mindset was had to be under 200k, but what do you guys think is a safe amount of Km on the car? Or is that not even the focus, rather how well it was taken care of
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:06 AM   #12
SiR
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Originally Posted by Danny51 View Post
Or is that not even the focus, rather how well it was taken care of
yes that means way more than the km's unless you are talking way high end mileage.

Id take a well cared for e36 with 220k on it before a neglected e46 with 140k on it.

You should get out there and test drive some of them so you have a feel for what you are looking for.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabela View Post
130k and new clutch? I'm at 170k, tracking/autocrossing and still on stock clutch. I guess they were rough on the clutch (and didn't remove the CDV).
Haha, you think thats bad? My black E46 went through TWO clutches within 152k! I think after the second one wore out, thats when the PO gave up on it, and thats where I came in to save it!
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