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Old 09-08-2008, 07:38 PM   #1
mecheng
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Question Buying a 3 series... advice

So before flamming me, I did do a search but nothing was as specific as some of the questions I have. Having been a loyal Honda driver (used to own a SR-V Prelude and now own a Acura Integra), I am now ready to step up to a more luxurious vehicle. My requirements are sporty luxury, decent fuel economy and possibly a convertible.

My original list was Boxster, 350Z, M3, A4, 3 series, TL. I took the Boxster and 350Z off the list because I might regret not having 2 rear seats. I recently took the M3 off this list because of the outrageous insurance cost and poor fuel economy. So I知 left w/ the A4, 3 series and TL. I知 swaying toward the 3 series because the A4 has poor reliability ratings although the 1.8T has good fuel economy. As for the TL, it is a great car but I think I知 ready to try out a German vehicle. Mostly everything I read about the 3 series was positive, it may not have the near perfect reliability ratings of the Acuras but it is pretty good. I知 willing to make some sacrifices for the German feel and nameplate.

So, I致e done some research and I知 looking at the 2001-2005 3 series because in 2001 they bumped up the horsepower and hopefully worked the bugs out. My questions are:

1)The EPA fuel economy ratings on www.fueleconomy.gov for the 325 and 330 are the same, can this be true in real world driving?
2)Is one engine more reliable than the other?
3)Is their anything I should look out for in this generation of 3 series?
4)Does the engine burn oil? After going through this problem w/ my H22A Prelude, I never want to do it again. It burned oil from day one, although it never gave me a problem, it was just a 祖haracteristic of the engine one I do not want again.
5)Coupe vs. sedan, is their any differences?
6)Which models came w/ the sport suspension, I want this. Does it only come in the coupe and if so which years.
7)Briefly, I致e also considering the previous generation 328, how does it compare to the 1999 + models?

Thanks for any input, it is appreciated.
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Old 09-08-2008, 10:45 PM   #2
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1) 325 will still get better fuel economy, particularly in the city. 330s with the 6speed (mid-2003 and up) will get fairly similar highway mileage.
2) there should be no difference
3)there are some problems, mainly due to lack of maintenance. if your really considering buying the car, get it checked out by a mechanic that deals with bmw
4) no it should not
5) not really, it depends on your preference for space, etc
6) the "Sport" package came with it
7) just get a 330!!

check this wiki for the e46, it has anything and everything you'd like to know
http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index.php?title=BMW_E46
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:54 AM   #3
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Agree with point #7 made above. However it should be noted that a lot of 330's and I believe 325's (correct me if im wrong) do burn oil. I've read up alot on this and have come to the conclusion that a lot of 330's, even the M3's, burn oil. I prefer the term "consume" oil.

My 330 consumes approximately 0.5L / 2000 km.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:59 AM   #4
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I agree!! Go with a 330i they are RARE to find with low km, but it is worth every penny you can't go wrong with a 330i....Look around and u will find one...
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StikiGreenZ View Post
Agree with point #7 made above. However it should be noted that a lot of 330's and I believe 325's (correct me if im wrong) do burn oil. I've read up alot on this and have come to the conclusion that a lot of 330's, even the M3's, burn oil. I prefer the term "consume" oil.

My 330 consumes approximately 0.5L / 2000 km.
I think it's just the 330's that consume oil. My dad's 325 doesnt burn a drop, but my bros 330 burns. Generally it burns when we push it a lot between oil changes. We've never had to top it off. My h22 integra also burns, so I know what you mean, but my brothers 330 burns less.
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Old 09-09-2008, 11:02 AM   #6
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1)The EPA fuel economy ratings on www.fueleconomy.gov for the 325 and 330 are the same, can this be true in real world driving?
Both the 325 and 330 are great on gas. 325i on the highway will easily get 8L/100KM.
2)Is one engine more reliable than the other?
Stay with the 02 and up cars. The engines are better (325 and 330). It is also the face lifted cars, and more of the common problems have been fixed. There are a lot of common problems though.
3)Is their anything I should look out for in this generation of 3 series?
There are problems with these vehicles, and it's NOT due to a lack of maintenance; just poor design out of the box.

- Vanos (top end of engine) will go after 120K or so. Have it checked out. Make sure the engine doesn't sound like a little diesel engine. Youtube vanons issues. "Dr. Vanos" has a fix for this.

- Front Control Arms. Just like the e30 and e36, the front end is weak. Hopefully the control arms were already replaced under warranty.

- Window Regulators. Make sure they all work, and smoothly.

- Autos have Transmission problems. Stick with a Manual. Clutch bearings do go early one these though.

- There are more common issues, which usually occur when the car has lower mileage (like when you buy it brand new). Most of the issues get replaced under warranty. It's just a pain to have the car in the shop all the time. Once fixed, it does get better. My car has been great now, but was in the shop a lot getting all the common issues replaced under warranty. I'm a gentle driver by the way.

4)Does the engine burn oil? After going through this problem w/ my H22A Prelude, I never want to do it again. It burned oil from day one, although it never gave me a problem, it was just a ‘characteristic’ of the engine… one I do not want again.
330's do burn oil. BMW Canada claims, it is acceptable to burn up to 0.7L of OIL/1,000KM. That is complete BS, but this is their tolerance. A lot of people do have to add one bottle every 5000-10,000KM. 325i's Do not burn oil in general. Mine does NOT consume any oil; I do know of several 330's that do burn oil.

5)Coupe vs. sedan, is their any differences?
Sedan is probably more practical, but the coupe looks better. Better suspension on the coupe when you compare base to base models.

7)Briefly, I’ve also considering the previous generation 328, how does it compare to the 1999 + models?
Get an e46 325i or 330i. e36's are getting too old now. Do you self a favour and test drive a 2005-2006 Acura TL, 6spd Manual as well. It is also a great car. I prefer the TL over my e46 now. I'm going to enjoy the improved reliability. A G35 Sedan, although RWD, does not drive as nice as the TL.

Last edited by dtthiaga; 09-09-2008 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 09-09-2008, 11:43 AM   #7
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get a coupe! i prefer the preface lift, which were 2003 and before. The year i recommend for coupe would be the 2003. All coupe came with sport suspension. Some maybe have different trim options though. When i was shopping for a e46, i had to choose between a 2004 325ci and a 2003 330ci, both same price, i went with the '03 330ci, best choice ever. However since i got the 330ci, now i wanna upgrade to a e46 m3
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:10 PM   #8
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I appreciate all the responses! My Prelude used to burn 0.5L every 1000km which can get really annoying having to constantly worry about the oil level. Honda stated this was perfectly normal and althought I sold it with 300,000km and it still pulled hard, not something I want to do again. I will have to drive both the 325 and 330 cars and see if its worth the agrevation.

The article ImolaZHP posted was very useful. It mentions a ZPP performance package, is it worth to narrow down my search for cars w/ this option? I do like my cars on the sporty side. In the same scenerio, is the 6sp worth the search for vs the 5sp? (No slush box for me).

As for the problems, they seem like 'bugs' more than anything. I'm an engineer so I'm mechanically inclined enough to sort through them.

The article mentions synthetic oil only, is this a strict requirement?

thanks for the input! The porcupine joke doesn't hold its weight I guess.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:56 PM   #9
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ZPP is the premium package, you're talking about the ZHP package/M-performance. ZHPs are generally harder to find, but if you do find one in good condition i'd jump on it, it's worth it! (Theres practically a cult behind them on bimmerfest.com)

as for the oil question.. synthetic only.
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel View Post
I think it's just the 330's that consume oil. My dad's 325 doesnt burn a drop, but my bros 330 burns. Generally it burns when we push it a lot between oil changes. We've never had to top it off. My h22 integra also burns, so I know what you mean, but my brothers 330 burns less.
no i usually kill a quart between oil changes and the light comes on. i'm in a 325xi
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Old 09-13-2008, 06:10 AM   #11
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You'll be very happy once you get into the seat of your future E46 330i

I was in a JDM GSR before getting into an '01 330i, and I was very pleased. The 330s are quite sporty and you won't be sacrificing driving pleasure with this move.

I had a sedan, and if you're upgrading from an Integra to a bimmer for size, I'd suggest doing the same.

If you want a coupe, get an M3

p.s. if you want that thing to handle like the integra get sway bars<--- best mod EVER
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:48 PM   #12
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Ok so I drove a 330i convert and 325i and yes I did notice the power difference. Both cars were quiet, smooth power delivery, and nice steering feel. What I didn't like was the shifter feel, the throws are very long but I guess I'm spoiled coming from a direct shift transmission on my Integra. I will try to find a sport suspension model. The base model suspension does an excellent job of absorbing bumps and potholes.

I sat in the back seat of the coupe and it was quite roomy and good headroom unlike my Integra and Prelude. The syling on the coupe is worth the sacrifice in room. The coupes are so damn sexy.

I also drove a A4 1.8T 2004 sport model w/ the sport suspension. I was surprisingly very impressed, nicer interior than the BMW. It also had good steering feel and road comfort, suspension was nice and tight. You would never know it was a 4 cylinder, good and smooth power delivery. I couldn't tell it only had 170hp. It felt quicker than the 325, not as quick as the 330i. I heard the 2002+ models are pretty good.
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:28 AM   #13
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Have a 2001 325i, bought it brand new 7 years ago and it still drives perfectly. Very little maintenance for me. Only nagging issue was the steering started to feel a little loose over time (oem sport suspension), but this has been fixed easily. Never had a single issue with the engine. I think this was one of the best models they made. (not being bias because I have one, it's low service history speaks for itself)

As for interior, these older cars feel heavier and more solid, not like some of the newer ones which have that cheap plastic feel.
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