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Old 05-27-2016, 10:11 AM   #1
3seriess
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Exclamation 16 year old in need of advice



alright so I'm new here and have little knowledge of e46 bmws. I have a budget of $4,500 and am looking for a 1999-2004 Bmw 3 series. I for sure don't want a 320i and it has to be under 250,000 kms and also I don't want a sedan unless it already has sport rims or any nice rims on, it also it has to be automatic because my mom wont let me get manual so I'm fine with that. I'm avoiding audi because they seem to have horrible reliability and I like Infiniti but I don't think there as good as bmws in terms of quality only. Will the bmw just be a money pit? I just need it for a few years.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:19 AM   #2
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Yes, it will be a money pit unless you are able to do maintenance yourself.
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Old 05-28-2016, 09:27 AM   #3
3seriess
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Originally Posted by jabela View Post
Yes, it will be a money pit unless you are able to do maintenance yourself.
i understand an older bmw may need some work hopefully under $1000 to get it in good condition but once thats done shouldnt everything be okay? i read that the E46 is really reliable compared to audi. As long as the car doesnt consistently give me issues then i dont see why i shouldnt go for it. Does
your car consistently give you issues? how much a year do
you think you spend on maintenance?
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Old 05-28-2016, 09:40 AM   #4
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It all depends on the particular car--saying that E46s are more reliable than Audis, for instance, is a bit of a logical fallacy. You may end up buying a lemon E46, or a super-reliable Audi. Likewise, to ask whether $1000 will make the car 'okay' is an impossible question to answer.

The general rule when buying a used car is to buy the best you can afford. That usually means service history and pre-emptive mainenance. Unfortunately at your budget you're likely looking at something at the lower end of the market.

There's nothing wrong with that per se. I would suggest you find a car with as little rust as possible, and at least basic records--oil changes, auto filter changes, etc. Coolant system refresh would be nice, if not be ready to do it. I would always buy a better-maintained higher-KMs car than a low-KM car with so service docs. A good PPI is a must, so that you know what to expect. That way, you can have a reasonable expectation of what it'll cost you to bring up to snuff, and ultimately to maintain.

As I learned when I bought my first car (it cost much less that what you budget), most mechanical things can be fixed. Rust is a bigger problem. I would invest a couple of hundred dollars in a good tool kit and a few afternoons reading forums and service manuals (Bentley manuals are pretty good). You'll quickly develop your mechanical skills, especially if you try most of the work yourself. The return on that investment is priceless.

At the end of the day, these are 11-16 year old BMWs and require maintenance and parts as such--brakes, filters and the like are 2-4x more expensive than your average Civic or Corolla. That said, they are good machines and they're a pleasure to drive. Parts can be found cheaply if you spend some time looking.

Good luck!
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Old 05-28-2016, 07:08 PM   #5
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Totally agree with TSI... he's pretty much said it all.
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Old 05-28-2016, 09:49 PM   #6
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both can be money pits. Depends on what you find. You caaaan find really decent ones of both for 4.5g...be patient....

you want one that looks nice (no rust ie) but drives nice with no maintenance? i think itll be hard because the car you'll probably find will have around 200km, which is when there is always something poping up.

Also if your about the car life, get bmw, tons of DIY for everything that goes wrong. Well documented. More than audi I would argue. And convince your mom manual drivers are better drivers
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:25 AM   #7
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I was once in your shoes, well, except the driving automatic part. Got my fits BMW for haft the going price with 320K, thinking I would need a new engine soon. Fortunate for me it was the E30 days, and you cant kill those things...But I did all my work, at home, with basic tools. 19 years later, and a "few" cars in, I regret nothing! lol Just like everything else in life; if you want something bad enough, GO get it...and don't let anything stop you.
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:10 PM   #8
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Good info here.....doing your own maintenance/repairs will save you a ton of dough and you will learn too. Are you good with tools?

There are a lot of knowledgeable ppl on this board and others. If you need help with the wrenching, I'd be happy to guide you.

Now - the autobox..... I get what you said about your mom. Auto boxes wear out and are expensive to rebuild. I think it's a big risk on a high mileage car. You can swap it in/out on your driveway to save some dough but it will be thousands to get it rebuilt. Maybe $1000 for a junkyard tranny with unknown history.....

On the other hand, a stick will rarely go bad. If you're easy on the clutch, even that can last a hell of a long time. My wagon has 500,000 km on it - original clutch. Ok, the linkages are worn and the shifter is sloppy but I'm too lazy to fix that.
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Old 05-30-2016, 12:48 PM   #9
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To the original poster:

Honestly, if you don't give a s**t about the driving dynamics / appearance that came from the factory, these cars can be pretty close to standard cost to keep running. You will need to become an online shopper though. Local parts prices are much higher most of the time.

If you're a perfectionist, like me, you'll start burning your wallet pretty quickly.
The engine will last you. It's all the external components that will break.

Cooling system refresh is mandatory.
Suspension will likely need replacing.
Trim inside is expensive to buy new, and flimsy.
The car has a bunch of stupid issues, like subframes and window regulators.

You'll be spending more on premium gas as well.

$4500 won't get you a very good example of an E46.

Quote:
Originally Posted by windwagen View Post
On the other hand, a stick will rarely go bad. If you're easy on the clutch, even that can last a hell of a long time. My wagon has 500,000 km on it - original clutch. Ok, the linkages are worn and the shifter is sloppy but I'm too lazy to fix that.
Check the price of a new dual-mass flywheel.
That's almost a mandatory replacement when doing a clutch job on these cars. Only other option is a Valeo single mass conversion kit.

On a manual you will have more issues with the Flex Joint, CSB, tranny mounts, on top of the shifter bushings.

Not to mention the 5th gear detent problem on these cars, witch requires transmission removal for repair.


A replacement auto tranny can be had for under $500, with warranty.
No point in spending thousands repairing an old one.
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Old 05-30-2016, 01:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3seriess View Post
i understand an older bmw may need some work hopefully under $1000 to get it in good condition but once thats done shouldnt everything be okay? i read that the E46 is really reliable compared to audi. As long as the car doesnt consistently give me issues then i dont see why i shouldnt go for it. Does
your car consistently give you issues? how much a year do
you think you spend on maintenance?
Saying BMWs are better than Audi's in reliability isn't saying much. Audi's seem to have much worse/costly issues.

As others mentioned BMWs can be nearly as bad, as can any car from any manufacturer. The issue is that German brands have more technology to go wrong when compared to Toyota. Also parts and labour are more expensive with German brands, though Ford and Toyota labour rates are getting pretty high as well.

Buying parts online/from the USA and doing the work yourself is key to keeping costs down.
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Old 06-01-2016, 02:45 PM   #11
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Changed My Mind...

thanks EVERYONE for all the useful info but ive changed my mind. If im going to be spending a lot of money in repairs i would like to be doing it on something i really really like. I noticed theres a lot of variety for BMW X5 1999-2004 For under 5000. Im definately going to look more into that as i LOVE those suvs.
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Old 06-01-2016, 02:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 3seriess View Post
thanks EVERYONE for all the useful info but ive changed my mind. If im going to be spending a lot of money in repairs i would like to be doing it on something i really really like. I noticed theres a lot of variety for BMW X5 1999-2004 For under 5000. Im definately going to look more into that as i LOVE those suvs.
Uh, what? That's a horrible idea, as bad as it sounds. Take everything you were expecting to spend and triple it then.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:14 PM   #13
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I've been in the BMW game a while now. I've owned a number of BMWs as well as close friends of mine. If there is one thing I've learned it's that a bimmer on a budget is not a good idea. All of the cheep parts people put into BMWs just to keep them running is exactly why it's next to impossible to find a clean e36 these days. e46 is starting to follow suit. I'm a car guy so I can't stand to drive something that isn't clean and functioning properly. So many out there cut corners to save on inevitable maintenance costs which is the reason for the plethora of molested bimmers for sale.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:25 PM   #14
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I've been in the BMW game a while now. I've owned a number of BMWs as well as close friends of mine. If there is one thing I've learned it's that a bimmer on a budget is not a good idea. All of the cheep parts people put into BMWs just to keep them running is exactly why it's next to impossible to find a clean e36 these days. e46 is starting to follow suit. I'm a car guy so I can't stand to drive something that isn't clean and functioning properly. So many out there cut corners to save on inevitable maintenance costs which is the reason for the plethora of molested bimmers for sale.
lmaooo... So i dont see why would anyone who isnt filthy rich buy a bmw? I guess i wont be looking at bmws and will continue to look at Lexus GS300 and. Infiniti g35 which is probably way cheaper to own, Instead... Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:35 PM   #15
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You don't have to be filthy rich to own a BMW. However, I am speaking from experience that friends of mine have found themselves in over their head very quickly with older BMWs. As a result the car sort of gets pieced together with the cheapest possible parts.
Everyone has a preference, and to me I'd rather drive something clean and in good shape than something more exotic that is in rough shape.
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