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E46 FAQ by Kris Linqusit Last updated 08/14/01
E46 BMW Frequently Asked Questions
by Kris Linquist

hosted by e46fanatics.com

The FAQ is never complete. If you have anything to contribute, please email me.

Jump to [intro] / [pricing] / [cleaning] / [maintenance] / [options] / [accessories & aftermarket] / [what is?] / [problems] / [links]

Introduction / Changes

Q: What is an E46?
A: Each BMW body style is assigned a two digit number preceeded by "E". The "E" stands for "Entwicklung", the German word for development. The E46 is the body style for:
The E46 is the body style for: 1999: 323i, 328i
2000: All 323 & 328s
2001+: All 325s, 330s, and the M3 Coupe and M3 Convertible (There are no plans for an E46 M3 Sedan nor Touring).

The E46 M3 started production in March 2001 and has 333 SAE horsepower. Check the E46 M3 board for more details.

Laguna Seca blue (aka LSB or 'Smurf' blue) demos started to hit dealer lots in the Spring of 2001.

Q: What are the production dates and model info for 2001?
A: 330's started production in June of 2000 and 325's started in September of 2000. MY2001 ends at the end of August 2001 for all E46s.

Q: What are the production dates and model info for 2002?
A: Production of MY2002 begins for all E46 models in September of 2001. All 2001 models will carry over to MY2002. Significant changes from MY2001 include styling changes, availability of bi-xenon headlamps on all models, white indicator lights in sport package cars, in-dash CD player available at no extra charge, Harman Kardon sound system standard in 330s, automatic climate control standard in 325s, and availability of Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) in M3s after November of 2001.

Q: BMW replaced the 323 and 328?
A: The 325 and 330 have already replaced the 323 and 328, respectively.

Q: What are the official SAE HP/Torque numbers for the US-bound 325 & 330s?
A: The 325 has 184hp @5900rpm and 175lb/ft of [email protected]
The 330 has 225hp and 214lb/ft of torque.

Here's everything you wanted to know about the new M54 (3.0 & 2.5L) engine. Keep in mind that 231bhp = ~225 US SAE HP.

Q: Are there any differences between 1999 and 2000 cars?
A: All year 2000 cars come standard with DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) rather than ASC. Also, For year 2000 cars produced after September 10, the following changes will be implemented (per Bulletin #00-3-7 26-Jul-99):
  • Power seats with driver's seat memory upgraded to include exterior mirror memory.
  • Radios will have clock function; as a result, an onboard computer function and the time can be displayed at the same time.
  • Child seat tether anchorages added as standard equipment.
  • Center console buttons redesigned.
  • New key design
  • New wheel 15" alloy wheels on the 323i.
  • Passenger side mirror park-assist. If you have power seats and the side mirror switch is in the LEFT position, then the mirror will tilt down when the car is put into reverse.
    Note- The exteriors of the cars have not changed.

    Q: What are the main differences between the 2000 323i and 328i??
  • A: HP/Torque 323i has 170hp/181ft-lb; 328i has 193hp/206ft-lb. BMWNA figures, of course. Most estimates hold both engines to be a bit stronger than that.
  • 323i has a Getrag transmission, 328i has a ZF transmission.
  • Rear diffrential ratio is 3.11 on the manual 323i and 2.93 on the 328i automatic and the 328i.
  • The 328i gets a forged vs. cast crankshaft in the 323i. (Turbo consideration...)
  • The 328i gets larger brake rotors 11.8" in front; 11.6" in rear. The 323i gets smaller brake rotors 11.3" in front; 10.9" in rear. Just for reference, an E36 M3 has 12.4" in front; 12.3" in rear.
  • The 323i's content was vastly improved for 2000 with the addition of the Sport-Premium Package (now you can get niceties like reading lamps in an "entry-level" 323i)
  • The 328i gets Chrome and body-color detail trim. The 323i gets black.
  • The 328i gets 4-way power lumbar support. The 323i gets fixed lumbar.
  • The 328i gets front seatback storage nets. The 323i non-sport seatsgets none.
  • The 328i gets brushed aluminum interior trim; the 323i gets glossy gray.
  • The 328i gets an interior electric trunk release; the 323i gets none.
  • The 328i gets rain-sensing windshield wipers in it's Premium Package. The 323i gets none in any package.

    Q: What are the exterior differences between the two cars?
    A: The 328 has the following:
  • Chrome crosshatch front grille
  • Chrome trim around windows
  • Body piece above front license plate is painted to body color

    Q: What are the differences between the 2000 328 and the 2001 330?
    A: Here is a partial list:
  • New 3.0L engine
  • Duel exhaust all the way to muffler
  • New sport steering wheel
  • 17" rims are standard
  • Brakes are 1" larger
  • Headlight washer jets standard on cold-weather package
  • Silver trim around headlights
  • "Updated" steering (more power assist) *Note: Due to customer feedback, there was a midyear change back to a system with less boost, although more than 323s and 328s had.
  • Coupes get titanium front spoiler trim

    Q: What are the March 1, 2001 changes?
    A: See archive link from Jon S. (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w04/19962.html)

    Q: What are the anticipated changes for the MY 2002's?
    A: Significant changes from MY2001 include styling changes, availability of bi-xenon headlamps on all models, white indicator lights in sport package cars, in-dash CD player available at no extra charge, Harman Kardon sound system standard in 330s, automatic climate control standard in 325s, and availability of Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) in M3s after November of 2001. A more detailed list of these changes and others can be found using this link: (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w29/92998.html)

    Q: Are all E46s manufactured in Germany?
    A: All E46s except the 325i are manufactured in one of three production facilities in Germany. Some 325s (Sedan only) are assembled in South Africa. For a map of the three German production plants as well as the port which ships BMWs to North America, see the following link: (http://www.bmwnation.com/members/ausgang/Germany%20Map.jpg)

    Pricing / Ordering

    Q: I paid $xx,xxx for my car. Did I pay a good price? A: Instead of asking yourself (or asking bimmer.org) if xx,xxx was a good price, calculate what you paid over invoice. Make sure to include the invoice price on all of your options. A "good deal" on a "fairly common" car is $1500-2500 over invoice. On brand new models or rarer cars, MSRP may be considered all you can get.

    Q: How should I negotiate prices for a car?
    A: Use the Rizzo Method! Click here for details.

    Q: Has the pricing on the 330 been released yet?
    A: Yes! Go HERE.

    Q: Has the pricing on the 325 been released yet?
    A: Yes! Go HERE.

    Q: Where can I used 323 & 328 pricing?
    A: There are many sources including edmunds.com, kbb.com, and carpoint.msn.com.

    Q: Does the dealer really pay the invoice price?
    A: BMW dealers typically DO pay the invoice price. The dealer holdback was eliminated in 2000. Dealers earn a significant portion of their income via CSI scores obtained from independent surveys conducted after your purchase. (Hence, their frequent pleas that you rate them 'excellent' when asked.)

    Q: I'm interested in European delivery. Where can I find more information on it?
    A: Click here for cpick's European Delivery FAQ.

    Q: My dealer is trying to charge me extra fees. Is this a BMW policy?
    A: If the dealer is in a major metropolitan area, they must charge you a "MACO" or "DAG" fee. This covers local advertising fees, and is usually $200-$500. Any other fees that you are getting charged for are being charged by the dealer, and are most likely 100% profit. Also there is sometimes an "application and system fees" that is normally included in the invoice price.

    Q: Is there anything I should insist on before signing the papers?
    A: Floormats! E46s do not come with them.. and they cost around $80-120. Insist that your dealer include them. (some dealers DO include them automatically)

    Q: Is there any type of pick up checklist?
    A: Here's Jerry's very extensive E46 pickup checklist!

    Q: Is the BMW Financial Services finance rate negotiable?
    A: There is a "buy" rate and a "sell" rate in automotive financing. The buy rate varies by lender and can be influenced by (among other things)applicant's previous credit history, credit bureau "risk score", down payment (loan-to-value ratio), ...etc. The dealer earns "finance reserve" on the point spread between the bank's buy rate and the rate at which the deal is written.

    Q: If I finance through BMWFS, how long is the rate lock good for?
    A: The rate lock is good for 60 days from the expiration date of the prevailing rate bulletin that is in effect at the time of the approval. What does that mean? Most rate bulletins are normally in effect for 60 days. So if you get approved early when the rate bulletin is released, you could have your rate locked for as much as 120 days. An example: A 6.5% rate bulletin is released on April 1 and lasts through May 31 (expiration date). If you get approval on April 1, you are locked in not only until May 31, but an additional 60 days after the May 31 expiration date for a total of about 120 days.

    Q: How do I calculate my own lease payment?
    The depreciation calculation is simply obtained by first calculating the residual - multiply the M.S.R.P. by the published percentage offered by the leasing company (e.g. BMWFS 65% for 15k/yr 328i)... Next, subtract the residual from the adjusted cap cost which is the "selling price" (+) the bank fee and luxury tax (if applicable)(-)any cap reduction. Then simply divide that amount by the term of the lease to obtain the "monthly" depreciation.

    The "rent charge" calculation is also very simple. Just add the adjusted cap cost and the residual, and multiply that sum by the lease money factor(e.g. .00305). That product is the monthly rent charge. Now add the depreciation and the rent and you have the base monthly payment! All that's left is the monthly tax, based on your county of residence.

    Carlos Perez wrote this Excel spreadsheet to calculate it for you: lease.xls. Thanks Carlos!

    Q: When a car a deal is reached and a car is ordered, what is the typical down payment ?
    A: The average down payment is either $500 or $1000. The dealership would like to get $1000 but in almost all cases will accept a check for $500. Repeat customers at certain dealerships have been known to put nothing down but this is the exception rather than the rule.

    Q: What is the corporate rebate program?
    A: The corporate rebate was a program that BMW offers to employees of medium to large sized companies who participated in the program. This program has been discontinued as of 10/31/2000.

    Q: What is the BMWCCA rebate program?
    A: The BMW Car Club of America discount is generally the same amount as the Corporate Discount. They cannot be combined. You must be a member of the BMWCCA for one year previous to buying the car to get your discount. The CCA costs $35/year to join and includes a subscription to their magazine, Roundel. Membership also qualifies you to receive up to a 20% discount on parts and accessories from certain dealers. Click here to be taken to www.bmwcca.org.

    Q: I hear that people in other countries (Canada, Germany) can get BMWs with whatever option combinations they want. Can I get this here?
    A: Other countries have the BMW Individual Program and are able to order all options "ala carte". Unfortunately for the US, this program has not been adopted. However, there are a few "no-cost special orders" available for the E46's. See options section.

    Q: Should I get an extended warranty? (and other warranty questions)
    A: 1) how much does the extended warranty cost? Is the price negotiable?

    "Service contracts" vary in price according to length and level of coverage, as well as by "deductible". Most definitely, the price is negotiable. The cost of the service contract is also dependent on who the provider is.

    2) Can I buy the policy through any dealer or only from the dealer that I bought the car from?

    Service contracts can be purchased from any dealer...

    3) Can I get repairs done at any dealer in the country?

    Generally speaking, the repair doesn't even have to be performed by a "dealer" per se... The only requirement (in most cases) is that the repair is performed by a reputable licensed repair facility... As a general rule, "deductibles" are usually lower, or are waived if the repair is performed by the selling dealer.

    4) Is the policy underwritten by a 3rd party or BMW?

    Unfortunately, service contracts for BMW's are only (at this time) administered by a 3rd party... :-(

    5) What happens if this third party company goes bankrupt, does the dealership take over the policy?

    Unfortunately, no... If the company goes bankrupt, you will probably lose your money... This has happened before. Make sure that you select a solid one.

    6) How long do you have after buying the car to decide on buying the extended warranty?

    You have up until there is a minmum of 1 month, *and* 1,000 miles remaining on the original factory warranty...

    7) Is the only variable between buying the policy now instead of at the end of the allowable period the possibility that the price of the policy might go up? If so, how much have prices been going up recently.

    The advantage of getting one early is obviously financial... If you buy one with the car, the cost can be included (i.e. financed) right in with the rest of the deal, and included in your monthly payments. There is also the issue of an "eligibility surcharge" that gets applied at various levels or intervals... Lastly, they do go up in price regularly... The last price increase I saw was on the order of several hundred dollars... Because service contracts are "transferable", and build "future value" it may make sense for some buyers to get one. If you are going to get one, the sooner the better... One thing is a given fact: they will go up in price... Think of them as a hedge against inflation. "Lock-in" future repairs at today's costs...

    The bottom line is that if you plan on keeping the car for a long time (beyond the 4-year factory warranty period), you might want to look into this further.
    -- Jon Shafer

    Q: What does it mean to order a car? How does it work? What happens at my dealer/at BMW in Germany when I order a car?
    A: Almost all cars (see * below) are "custom ordered" cars. All BMW dealers are 'allocated' a certain number of production slots for their cars. The initial allocation for any given month occurs about 5-6 weeks prior to that month's start of production.

    Initially, the dealer orders each car with a set of options/color combinations that they think will be popular and sell well. Up to a certain point ('Status 112') in time before the car is made, the specs on the car are still fully changeable (list of status codes here [existing link]). This is where the "ordering process" fits in.

    Customer arrives at dealer with a certain set of options/color combos in mind, and there just aren't cars that are close enough to your specs that are available, either on the lot, as dealer trades, or already ordered and coming to the dealer soon, etc. What the dealer does is *change* the options they previously ordered on one of their allocated production slots to the exact specs that the customer wants. Ideally, this would be the next available production slot that is still changeable, and that has not yet been sold to someone else who also ordered a car. At times of very high demand though, (like when the E46 or M3 was first introduced), production slots were sold out for several months into the future.

    So now there is a car scheduled for production with exactly the set of options/colors/etc. that you want. The production slot on the dealer's allocation list is uniquely identified by its "production number". WHEN WRITING YOUR DEPOSIT CHECK TO THE DEALER, WRITE THE PRODUCTION NUMBER ON THE CHECK! This now means that there's a production slot (and hence a car) "with your name on it". A good dealer will also enter your name in the 'customer name' field of Vehicle Inquiry Report.

    Before the car is built, the dealer will be able to tell you in which week of the calendar year the car will be produced, but not the day of the week. A couple of days before the car is produced, they should be able to tell you the VIN, and once it has been made, they should be able to tell you the exact production date.

    After the car has been made, it might have to wait a couple of days at the factory to be put on a train, which takes it to Bremerhaven, where it will be loaded onto a ship (probably Wallenius) to be taken to the US. (or you could choose European Delivery.) The time between your exact production date and when your car is loaded on a Wallenius ship in Bremerhaven ranges from about 7 to 14 days, with the average being around 10 days.

    Once your car has been placed on a ship, your dealer should be able to tell you the name of the vessel. You can then see when that vessel will arrive by going to Wallenius's vessel schedule web page (http://www.wlna.com/vescols.htm). Note: Occasionally Wallenius will 'rent' space on other non-Wallenius ships to keep up with demand. Email Wallenius with your VIN# if you can't seem to find your ship and they can give you arrival details.

    If you are on the West coast, your car will arrive at Port Hueneme in Oxnard, CA. If you are on the East coast, your car will arrive through either Port Jersey/Newark, NJ or the port of Charleston, SC depending on which region your dealer is in. For a map depicting the regions served by each port, use this link: (http://www.bmwnation.com/members/ausgang/BMWPORTS.jpg)

    After it arrives at the dock, it is taken to the VPC (Vehicle Preparation Center). The time it spends at the VPC depends on the flow (volume) of cars arriving. Sometimes, a ship comes in with a light load, and the VPC can crank them out in a day or two.. On the other hand, it can take as long as a week if a couple ships arrive close together. Sometimes the weather at sea can slow a ship and lead to two ships docking on the same day. Most importantly, a "sold order" is marked status code Priority #1, which in plain English means such vehicles get processed first to enable them to get to dealers ASAP. Priority #1 vehicles include "sold order", European Delivery, and Diplomat vehicles.

    It will be approximately 40 days from shipping date to delivery date if you are on the West coast and 30 days if you are on the East coast.

    * The exception here are the "seed units" of a brand new model, where BMW will send a certain number of cars with configurations they choose to the dealers so that every dealer has one or two of the latest and greatest model to let people test drive them before the new model becomes widely available. The most recent "seed units" were the LSB M3 coupes in March/April 2001, and the next ones will likely be the restyled sedans in late September 2001.

    Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of ordering a car?
    A: Advantages:
  • You get *exactly* what you wanted.
  • You *may* be able to get a better price -- the dealer knows they'll sell the car the day it arrives, i.e. no flooring or financing costs, etc.

  • For some ---- the wait is torture. For the rest of us, it's much worse.

    Q: Is there any way to 'track' where my car is without calling my dealer?
    A: Not really. Call or visit your BMW Retail Center and ask them to see a copy of their "DCS2000 Vehicle Availability Report", or have a copy faxed to you. Your car should be easy to spot on the list. Production Status Code number (if #150, then they should be able to provide you with the last 7 digits of the VIN), production number, and, of course your name together with order priority code (should be #1=Sold!!). They should be able to print this out for you. The availability report is updated on a daily basis, 6 days a week.

    If you have your VIN, you can track your car status through BMW Owner's Circle. However, this information on that site tends to be about a week or so old.

    For a list of status codes and what they mean, click here.

    Q: What is Car / Key Memory and how do I set it?
    A: Car and Key Memory is a group of preferences programmed by the dealer upon delivery of your vehicle. The dealer should give you a form to fill out when you pick up your car (or perhaps a day or two in advance) that you use to indicate your preferences for various settings. These can only be set by the dealer, but you can return to the dealer to have them changed as often as you want. Note that the initial setting incurs no additional cost, but the dealer may charge you for changes made later. For official BMW car/key options form, follow this link: (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w07/38285.html)

    Q: I have my VIN. What does it mean?
    A: The VIN consists of 17 digits.
    AN3325i SA built
    3United States model
    8Restraint System
    3 or 4Dual, de-powered airbags
    9Check digit
    10Model year
    11Assembly plant
    NSouth Africa (currently 325i's only)
    12-17Serial number
    6 digit serial number


    Q: What do should I use, How do I….regarding cleaning/maintenance of my car?
    A: You can see many cleaning tips at Car Care Online.com and Autopia Car Care.

    Q: What is the best product to use on leather?
    A: Lexol makes a great leather cleaner and a leather conditioner.

    Q: How can I clean scuff marks off of my black leather?
    A: Michael "IronMike" Huoh on A4.ORG discovered that you can mix lexol with a brand of shoe polish that will make black leather look new again. View this entry on the AudiWorld FAQ.

    Q: Ugh! Why are my wheels getting so dirty?
    A: It is common for E46's to "shed" lots of brake dust. Some of us are out there cleaning our rims once or twice a week. If you wax your rims the same way you wax the rest of your car, it will be a lot easier to clean them.

    More cleaning tips:
    The following links are text written by Thomas Nast. Many of people consider this the "bible" of car detailing techniques using Meguiars products.

    The New World According to Meguiar's
    Waxing Technique


    Q: What is the very first thing you should do the day you take delivery? A: Read Your Owner's Manual, and watch any videos you have been provided. If this is your first BMW, you will find that many, many questions can be answered by reading the owner's manual. Failure to check your owner's manual before posting a question on-line will likely result in at least one (and maybe many) responses like this: "RTFOM!" Downloadable owner's manuals in pdf format are available through the Owner's Circle as a free service of BMW NA.

    Q: What are the details of the break-in period?
    A: YThe first 200-300 miles are critical to wear patterns in brakes and tires, so be mindful. For the sake of the engine and differential, you should not exceed 4500RPM or 100MPH for the first 1200 miles. Try not to use cruise control and vary your speeds and RPMs. On cars with a manual transmission, use engine braking as much as possible. This can also be done with the 'steptronic' in manual mode.

    Q: Should I really wait 15,000 miles before my first oil change like BMW recommends?
    A: There has been much debate on this issue. Many believe that the 15,000 mile interval was more of a marketing move than an engineering move. Others have suggested that today's synthetic oil really can effectively lubricate the engine for 15,000 miles. All scheduled oil changes are free up to the 45,000 mile mark. If you decide to have your dealer perform a non-scheduled oil change (at the 7500 mile mark, for example), it will probably cost you $50-60. Make sure to tell your dealer NOT to reset the service indicator.

    BMW has acknowledged that the present oil filter used in the E46 model vehicles (as well as other model and engines) will not necessarily last the desired 15,000 miles as required for extended oil service changes.

    The filter's filtering media has been known to become brittle and break apart due to the heat and pressure generated over time. This allows pieces of the filter media to be passed throughout the engine's lubrication system as well as possibly clog the smaller oil passages and contaminate the engine oil itself. Also, it had been noted that quite often the engine's oil looked to be far less than desireable at 15,000 miles when the filter failed due to the continued passing of the media itself and because there was no filtering of the oil to remove the normal contaminates found in the engine's oil.

    BMW mechanics have reported this information to the "Round Table" (a BMW information sharing team) that this is a commonly seen problem.

    BMW has a new filter which replaces this previously used filter. This new BMW filter is designed to last the required 15,000 miles without failing thereby offering protection for the extended oil service schedule changes of 15,000 miles.

    Next time you go in for your oil service, make sure your service department is aware of the new oil filter (part number 11-42-7-509-430).

    Q: What type of oil should I use?
    A: The BMW manual recommends BMW 5W-30 High Performance Synthetic Oil, Castrol/Mobil 1/Valvoline SynTech synthetic, and allows use of other synthetics provided they meet the specification API SH or higher.

    Q: Help! I can't find the oil filter!
    A: If you open up the hood, you will see a cap labeled "25 nm" near the front of the car staring up at you. Unscrew it and you will find the filter. You should always buy an OEM oil filter from your BMW dealer. It will come with a required O-ring.

    Q: Where can I get an E46 repair manual?
    A:For a few years BMW published most of their repair literature on microfiche; now it's on CD. To use the CDs, you need an IBM PC compatible. The repair manual CD (for E36, E38, E39, and E46) is called the Technical Information Systems CD, costs about $110, and contains repair information, technical data, torque data, and a complete up-to-date collection of bulletins. The repair instructions include instructions for scheduled maintenance procedures. They are are overall quite comprehensive and are well illustrated, but they do assume basic proficiency. The software allows you to print out instructions, so you don't need to keep a PC in the garage.

    The software's interface isn't that good, but once you get used to it and to where various information is located, it's good enough.

    Ordering information Part Number TIS. Requires 486 or higher Windows 3.X OR 95 Computer, CD Rom drive, 4MB RAM, 10MB free hard drive space.

    The new source for these CDs is Central Letter Shop, 800.695.0079 (voice), 877.695.0079 (fax).

    The Parts CD (which covers all cars from 74-2000) is $126. Part number is SD92-148.
    The TIS CD covers E36, E46, E38, E39, E31, E53. It costs $154. Part number is 01 57 9 788 607 (177).
    Both CDs are updated as much as once a month. When you order, they'll send you the latest version.

    Bentley Publishers are close to releasing their famous manual. It's part number B301. Check www.bentleypublishers.com for pricing and status.


    Q: Are there any special order options that I can get that are not listed in any brochures as available?
    A: Yes! See below: Certain special orders cannot be directly ordered through the dealer's computer ordering system. They will need to contact BMW NA directly (or the regional manager) and BMW NA will manually insert the order into their order system. Once the order is placed, make sure your dealer prints out a copy of the DCS inquiry report to confirm the special order option made it.

    There is also a possibility to get other colors that are not normally available (other than exclusive M3 colors). The typical cost is about $2000. Contact your dealer directly for this option. Q: Is the Harman Kardon audio upgrade worth it?
    A: This is up to the individual. If you're used to a $2000 aftermarket audio system, the HK upgrade will sound poor. If you're used to hearing the stock stereo on a '92 Chevy Beretta, it will sound outstanding! (ask me how I know)

    Take your favorite CD down to your BMW dealer and pop it in a car with (then without) the Harman Kardon system and decide for yourself.

    Here's a great writeup on the HK system by Eric Foster

    Q: Are the Xenon lights worth it?
    A: Some consider Xenons a fad, others would not imagine driving a car without them. There is no doubt that Xenons are much brighter, although BMW's standard headlights are some of the best in the industry. If a Xenon headlamp "burns out," it may be expensive to fix. The replacement cost will most likely come down significantly as more and more auto manufacturers start offering them.

    There are aftermarket xenons available but it will not have the self leveling feature of the factory xenons.

    Q: The sport package has a stiffer suspension. Does this make the ride harsh? (Note: Coupes and 330i's (now) come standard with sport suspension)
    A: The suspension is stiff, but the balance between ride comfort and stiffness is perfect. The sport seats are also very comfortable. I have never seen a post on bimmer.org where someone regretted getting the sport package (although there have been many that wish they had!).

    Q: What's the size (diameter) difference between the different sway bar manufacturers?
    SP Stock24mm/20mm
    Dinan24mm/22 mm

    Q: The sport package comes with larger, high-performance tires. It snows where I live. Will I be OK?
    A: Performance tires + rear wheel drive = NOT fun in the snow. Traction control helps a lot, but it's not enough. If you are in a snowy climate and opt to get the sport package, it is highly recommended that you get a second set of rims and snow tires. Remember- If you have a 328i/328Ci, you'll have to get 16" rims as your extras- 15" rims will not fit over the front brakes of the 328. Same goes for the 330's except that you'll have to deal with 17" rims. Here are some recommendations on snow tires:
  • Bridgestone Blizzak MZ 01 - Good on ice, snow. Squirmy on dry/salted pavement. Special tread compound goes to only half tread depth - after that, it's just an OK 4-season tire. Wears very quickly. (MZ 02 is older, no 16" size)
  • Michelin Arctic Alpin - good dry/salted handling, good on snow/ice, wears well.
  • Yoko Guardex 600 - several online recommendations
  • Dunlop Graspic - several online recommendations
  • Scandinavian (Finnish) snow tires known for excellent snow traction, good dry handling and good wear.
  • Nokia Hakkapeliitta 1 - Aggressive-tread deep snow, wet
  • Nokia Hakkapeliitta 2 - highly siped, good snow, wet; better on dry pavement
  • Nokia Hakkapeliitta NRW - Hi-performance snow - best dry, good wet, good snow

    Note that BMW states that you should NOT use snow chains on the 328/330 17" rims.

    Go to TireRack for pricing information.

    Q: How does the leatherette look?
    A: Many people are very pleased with the leatherette. The leatherette lacks the leather smell and it is easier to maintain. Most passengers will think you have leather! Once again, take a trip down to your BMW dealer and compare the two.

    Q: What is SMG or SSG?
    A: SMG is sequential manual gearbox. In a nutshell, it is a manual tranny without a clutch pedal. It does not incorporate the dreaded torque converter (which sucks up HP). See here (http://www.bmw.com/bmwe/pulse/bmwm/innovations/index.html) for more details. As of today, it will only be offered in the M3 starting sometime late this year (November 2001) and will have an approximate cost of $2700 MSRP.

    Accessories / Aftermarket

    Q: What are the best places to get accessories?
    A: Try Cutter Motors, Pacific BMW or Circle BMW for the best prices.

    Q: I really like the aluminum trim. Can I order it.. and can I install it myself?
    A: Vicky wrote a GREAT page describing everything you need to do to install the aluminum trim. Visit Vicky's great
    E46 mod page here (dead link sort of, missing some pics but text is still available for part 1, part 2 is dead.
    Looking for a new install instructions, maybe use FSB's site for rear trim install and Vicky's for dash, shifter)!


    Steering wheel trim install: Link here (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w08/45892.html)

    Ebrake install: In a nutshell, pull up on the ebrake boot (it is secured by spring clips only) and pull it over the handle. Clip the wire tie at the base and push the boot back towards the base (i.e. towards the back of the car). Remove old ebrake handle by pulling. Try heating the handle with a hair dryer to loosen the glue if it doesn't come off easily. Put new ebrake handle on and reverse the process as above.

    Shift knob install - A quote from past archives, "Pull hard straight up. Don't look at the knob as you'll probably knock yourself out when the knob releases." For manual trannys, it will help if you put the shifter into 2nd gear.

    For 325/330's, you cannot remove the accelerator pedal. You have to drill holes in the pedal and install the new aluminum pedal over the current plastic pedal.

    Q: I heard that you can replace the current sport steering wheel (3-spoke) with the new M3 steering wheel. Give me info!
    A: Check out the DIY section in Michael C's nice website, www.BMW330Ci.com.

    Q: I would like to mount a radar detector into my E46. Where can I tap into the power?
    A: There are two places that you can tap into power- Either the universal transmitter power in the roof center console or the cell phone power. Below is an example of one of each.

    View Kris Linquist's Valentine 1 installation
    View Donald Granger's Passport 7500 installation

    Q: What alarms can I get for my E46?
    A: The BMW alarm is p/n 65-73-9-416-520 Note: This P/N does NOT work on the convertible (MSRP $300, $220 from PacificBMW.com). This includes a high-powered siren, trunk/hood protection, interior motion sensor and tilt sensor. It will also flash the "clown nose" LED located on the bottom of the rearview mirror.
    Other alarms (such as Clifford) can be installed as well. If your installer needs a
    wiring diagram for one, select a model year: 1999 2000.

    Q: Can I install the BMW alarm myself?
    A: Yes. Even people with almost no mechanical skills should be able to do it in under an hour. The two tools required are a 10mm hex bit and a T-30 Torx bit. Installation instructions can be found here. Note: After installation, you will have to take your car to a BMW dealer to get the alarm 'activated.' Most dealers will charge a fee, but it is usually minimal. It should only take them 20 minutes to activate the alarm.

    Check out James Russo's alarm install page

    If the threaded insert is missing, a cage nut is required, which might be missing from your kit, if you
    ask your dealer for it they would give it to you. The part number for this cage nut is 32411095443. It's rectangular (about 1" X 2") nut with a theaded hole in the center.

    Q: There is no audio or visual cues when I remotely look my doors if I don't have an alarm. Is there any way to get a visual confirmation or the "clown nose thingy" to blink?
    A: Yes. Here's how:
    1) Have your dealer hook up the shop computer (MODIC) to the car.
    2) Go to the "Anti-Theft" activation section.
    3) Activate the alarm, but uncheck the "DWA" option.

    After this is done, your corner light should blink once when locked and twice when unlocked remotely. In addition, the clown nose will blink when car is locked just as if an alarm was present.

    Contrary to the previous version of the FAQ, there are no permanent fault codes that are generated for the latest E46's (at least for MY2001's and later) by programming this option.

    Q: How can I test my BMW alarm?
    A: The tilt/motion sensors do not work until 30-40 seconds after the doors have been locked. To test the alarm, roll down your windows then lock the car. After waiting a minute or so, stick your hand in the window. The motion sensor should set the alarm off.

    Q: Can I install the Universal Transmitter myself?
    A: Yes. Here's installation information from Carl T. Greenan. Also visit (http://www.homelink.com/programming/programming.html) for programming instructions.

    Q: How do I install the cd changer?
    A: installation information from Dave Heckendorf.
    KO's installation (sedan w/ NAV)

    Q: How easy is it to upgrade the stereo/speakers?
    A: Great write-ups:
    Information by Cameron Moir.
    David Bagby's stereo upgrade saga

    Q: Is there a non-smoker package I can order?
    A: Yes. Here's the information provided by Joseph Koral: Non-Smoker Package Info.

    Q: What wheel/tire sizes can I go to on my E46?
    A: Several people have successfully installed 18" wheels on their E46's, however it is unlikely that this improves performance over a 17" wheel. The advantages of a larger wheel are better steering response and aesthetics. The disadvantages are greater unsprung weight (may affect suspension response) and greater rotational momentum/inertia, i.e. acceleration and braking will suffer. Typically a +1 treatment yields good results (in cases of a car with sport suspension but 16" wheels, going to 18" may also work for you). I would recommend against putting 18" wheels on a non-sport E46 however as the suspension is not designed for that. The E46 can accommodate tire widths up to 235mm in the front and 255mm in the rear. Remember to keep your overall diameter the same! This means go from 225/50-16 to 225/45-17 not 225/50-17.

    Q: What performance accessories are available?
    A: Dinan has both software, exhausts and cold-air intakes (CAI) available for the 323 and 328. In addition, Dinan has software for the steptronic trannys. This software reduces the shift lag when using the manual mode and drops to 1st gear when stopped.

    Jim Conforti will have both CAI and software available soon (been forever….). One major advantage to Jim C's software that it can be reversible, meaning that an owner can install or remove the software returning the car to stock programming.

    Currently, only Dinan has software and CAI for the 330's in production.

    ECIS now has CAI systems available for 323s, 325s, 328s, and 330s.

    Check out www.dinanbmw.com, www.ecisbmw.com and www.sharkinjector.com for the latest info and details.

    There are also a few supercharger manufacturers for the 323/328's but have not been popular due to the extra stress put on the engine and lack of warranty coverage.

    Q: My car is supposed to be pre-wired for a cellular phone. Where can I get it?
    A: The CPT7000 phone and installation kit from BMW have been released as of October, 2000 by BMW. The phone is a Motorola StarTac phone with custom firmware for use with the BMW installation kit. The phone and installation kit are available from your BMW dealer, or one of the online BMW dealers. The online dealers usually offer discounts below MSRP for these kits.

    Q: Can I use my own Motorola StarTac phone with the CPT7000 installation kit from BMW?
    A: No, the firmware necessary is only available with the BMW branded version of the phone.

    Q: What is the CPT8000 phone and where can I get it?
    A: This phone and installation kit has been discussed on the net, and is supposed to be released by BMW in the near future. The latest date for release as of November, 2000 was for "Spring 2001". The phone is rumored to provide voice recognition in addition to the current CPT7000 features.

    Q: I'd like to hook my current cell phone into my car. Can I do this.
    A: Ryan Akana successfully wired his Nokia 6190 into his car and used the proclip holder. View his installation here.

    View Larry Boyers' Startac installation site (http://how.to/startac)

    Q: I heard I can get a strip to replace my front license plate bracket.
    A: Correct. You can order it from any BMW dealer- Part number 51-11-8-195-304 - list price: $16.20. Here's a picture of my car with the front strip installed: Picture.

    Q: Isn't it illegal not to have a front plate in many states?
    A: Sure is. I have been pulled over both in California and Ohio for other reasons, and the police officer never fails to mention that it is illegal not to have a front plate on the car, but I have never been ticketed for it.
    One person reported that in Santa Cruz, CA, he was ticketed for not having a front plate while PARKED.

    Misc. What is? Where is? How Do I?

    Q: Who is "Ginger"?
    A: Ginger is rumored to be a conglomeration of a group of customer relations people from BMW NA who monitor bimmer.org. Ginger's posts are signified as his/her signature in RED. Alan (board admin) has given "her" the ability to post her signature in red. One note: Ginger's latest posts (week of April 2) have been labeled as "BMW NA Customer Relations". Most of her posts tend to be very vague and recommend that they contact BMW NA through the Owner's Circle or their phone number about their issue.

    Q: How do I change the speed-sensitive volume control setting?
    A: This feature allows you to decrease the speed sensitive volume with the HK system as well as put your radio in different country modes (such as Europe mode). This doesn't work on all radio options, but give it a shot:

    On cars without NAV

    First, don't be driving while doing this procedure.

    Turn the radio off then on again. Dont touch any button except the 'm' button - the button you use to tune the radio frequency manually. Press and hold the 'm' button for TEN seconds or until the display changes. IIRC, it shows the serial number of the unit. Normally when you press 'm', the display will reflect that by replacing 'ST' (stereo tuning) with 'm'. When holding the 'm' button for this procedure, the display should not do this - you will continue to see 'ST' for the ten seconds.

    Now if the display has changed, you are in a configure mode on the radio. If you press the '+' or '-' button you change modes. The mode you want will display as "GAL (1-6)". This mode allows you to adjust the speed-sensitive volume control. Use the radio preset buttons 1-6 to set the amount of volume change you want at speed. Setting 1 is the smallest change, 6 is the highest.

    I use 1 with the windows closed, and 4 when it's a nice day and I drive with the windows open which makes for a lot of ambient noise at speed. The car is so quiet with the windows closed that setting 1 is plenty. On my car the default setting from the factory was 3 and it bugged me too.

    Then turn the radio OFF to save the settings. Turn it back on and go for a drive to test it. The other semi-useful test mode will tell you the signal strength of any give station from 0 to 15 (highest). Use the preset buttons to change stations in the mode. This capability is probably used in the automatic tuning funtion in the radio.

    On cars with NAV

    Get in the car, close the door, and turn the ignition to position 1 (accessory. As soon as the monitor comes on, press and hold the RDS button for aprox 12 sec. Using the arrow keys, near the Tone and Select buttons, scroll to heading "GAL" (German acronym for speed depandant volume) The default setting will be displayed. To change, use the number keys 1-6, 1 being less increase, 6 being maximum.

    Q: There appears to be some sort of sensor/light right beside my headlight switch. What is this?
    A: It is a light sensor which effects how brightly the on board computer and radio lights are displayed. To test it out by getting in your car at night, starting it, turning on the headlights, then taking the flashlight out of the glove compartment and shining it at the sensor. The displays mentioned above should become much brighter.

    Q: Where can I get update cds or cds for different regions for my navigation system?
    A: Click here to be taken to the BMW section on www.navtech.com

    Q: What is the red knob below the rear-view mirror?
    A: This is commonly referred to as the "clown nose". It houses a LED that flashes when the alarm is armed (IF you have the alarm installed). For cars without the premium package (which includes the auto-dimming rear view), it also functions as the dimming lever- Just twist it!


    Q: Help! My "Service engine soon" light just came on!
    A: Check to make sure that your gas cap is screwed on tight. If not, the SES light will be on for the next few days.
    If your gas cap IS tight, take your car into the dealer and get it checked out.

    Q: My car is almost brand new, but at times it seems to operate with the temperature well above the normal range. (Or has overheated) What is causing this?
    A: First, it is NOT normal for your car to operate with a temperature in the 'red' zone. Do not drive your car any further than is necessary to get to a safe place to pull over if this happens to you. You may find that turning off the A/C and turning the heat 'On' full blast will help cool the engine until you can safely pull over. Continued driving with the temp in the red zone risks serious engine damage and perhaps even a fire. Certain MY2001 vehicles were equipped with faulty Siemens auxiliary cooling fans. BMW NA has initiated a recall to replace suspect fans. For the latest information on the extent of the recall, use this link: ( There have been no reports of this problem with vehicles equipped with Bosch aux fans.

    Q: When I brake at high speeds, my steering wheel vibrates.
    A: Many people have reported this problem for MY2000 cars and earlier. It seems to develop after a few thousand miles. There was a TSB released which I believe replaced front control arms and rotors. There were mixed reviews on whether this fix resolved the problem. There hasn't been many reports of this problem on MY2001 cars so it appears to be fixed.

    Q: After it has rained, my windows make a loud squeaking noise when they go up.
    A: This has been reported by a few, and they took their cars into a dealer for a window regulator or motor to be replaced.

    Q: Sometimes my sunroof doesn't open or close.
    A: It seems that the new E46s have an odd sunroof problem, where the car's electronics "lose" or "forget" its sunroof position initialization. The problem is most likely not the switch!

    To fix the sunroof, note the position of the roof (closed, open, or tilted). Let's use the "tilted" as our example. Press and hold the sunroof switch in the tilted position (i.e. press the switch straight up). Hold it for 20 seconds- This should reinitilize and it should work properly now.

    Q: I have an E46 Coupe with the HK system, and I can only find 10 speakers, not 12.
    A: The coupe DOES have 12 speakers. There are two speakers located under one of the grilles in the door.

    Q: Ugh!!! My E46 engine suddenly lost all its power while I was cruising down the street.
    A: A few reported that while driving as usual, the DSC and engine light would appear and the engine would not rev on demand. BMW had released Tech Service Bulletin addressing this problem on E46 and E39 in February, 99. The solution to it is to replace the throttle body which BMW refers to as an MDK.

    Q: What other bizarre problems have been reported?
    A: In one person's Y2K car, they were driving along and the DSC light came on, then the car immediately lost power.

    Here's another problem reported by Lorenz:
    After somewhat hard driving, I'd pull into my garage and turn off the car. The oil can light on the dash (the one that turns red during the power-on self test, i.e. when you turn the key from off into position II) would turn *yellow* and stay on for about 20-30 seconds. This is after I turned the car off and removed the key. Putting the key back in and turning it into position II, then removing the key, would turn the oil light off immediately.

    This was due to the fact that my oil level was slightly low. Driving the car hard probably caused some of the oil to be distributed in the engine, and the oil sensor found a "low oil level". Topping up the oil (under warranty at the dealer) fixed the problem.

    NOTE If your oil light comes on while driving the car (it did not in my case), the manual says to PULL OVER AND STOP DRIVING IMMEDIATELY to avoid engine damage.

    For MY2001 cars, there seems to be a possible thermostat problem. See this link from Fred M. for details (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w08/42092.html)

    Auxillary fans have been also reported to go out. If possible, don't drive it any further than to your nearest dealership.

    Note to those alarmists: Bimmer.org participants/onlookers are a very small percentage of total E46 owners. What you see here on the board are a vocal few (with good reason) who have problems. Bimmer.org is has been a place where people can air out their E46 problems and commiserate with those who have the same problems. Taken that only a small fraction (guestamate of <5%) of owners frequent this board and then those "few" who report these problems calculate to a very small %.

    Q: My car starts beeping at me when I hit a certain speed! What's wrong??
    A: The navigation system has this option. To disable it, hit the menu button, then use the round dial (not the volume switch, the one on the right side) to select on board computer and then push down on the dial. Once you're in the OBC screen, rotate the dial until you highlight the limit, then push down the dial again. Now you can change the limit or disable it completely.

    Q: My front windows squeak when raising them! What can I do?
    A: Try some Gummi-Pfledge! Gummi-Pfledge is a BMW rubber care product. A 2.1 ounce tube part # 82 14 9 407 015 retails for $7.50. It protects and takes care of rubber items. It prevents door weatherstrips from freezing up in winter and keeps the rubber pliable. I cleaned the strips with Spray-Nine prior to appling. Although it comes with its own applicator, using my forefinger was the way to go. Applied sparingly as recommended, one tube should last for years. See a picture of the tube here.

    Q: My windows don't seem to be sealing at the top- When I go over bumps in the road, I hear it "creak" or "pop"
    A: There is a technical service bulletin that BMW has for this. Take your car into your local service center and they will replace the window regulators.

    Q: What's up with the steering for cars produced between June and December 2000?
    A: BMW marketing had feedback that said that their cars took too much effort to turn the wheel in slow speed situations, i.e. parking. BMW modified the steering rack and system to decrease the steering effort. Those owners who have had extensive experience with E36's (previous generation 3 series) or pre June 2000 cars have stated that there was also a resulting loss of road feel through the steering wheel. Many of these board members have dubbed the "new" steering feel equipped cars as the "Ultimate Parking Machine".

    Various owners have stated that the only E46's spared this steering boost and loss in road feel are those equipped with the all wheel drive option (i.e. Xi's).

    Current rumors state that the steering rack was modified again starting in Jan. 1, 2001 and that the "old" steering was phased in. Some E46s produced between Jan and April may or may not have the "old" steering. If you are unsure, check out post April 2001 cars and compare steering feel. See this post from "Ginger" and Jon S. (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w08/41754.html) & (http://www.bimmer.org/3series/messages/archive/msgsy2001w10/55279.html). Those with post-April 1, 2001 have stated that the steering feel was indeed not pre-June 2000 feel, but somewhere in between the "new" (June-Dec 2000) and the old (pre-June 2000). The post April 2001 steering has been dubbed as the "new-new" steering. This change was a direct result of feedback through bimmer.org members posting on the E46 board and direct contact with BMW NA. So our voice does count!

    So the current terminology is:
    "old" feel: pre-June 2000 build
    "new" feel: June through December 2000 and some Jan-April 2001
    "new-new" feel: post April 2001
    "retrofit" feel: early retrofit "pilot" run participants have stated that the retrofit feels somewhere between the "new-new" and the "old" feel.

    Q: What is the 'steering retrofit'?
    A: In response to consumer feedback, BMW NA initiated a program to satisfy owners of MY2001 E46s who prefer less boost in the power steering system. These owners maintain that a loss of 'feel' was associated with the newer systems which had more boost than MY2000 and earlier E46s. Intitially, BMW NA maintained a list of owners who would be interested in changing their steering racks for systems with less boost. People who have called in to have their name added to a list of persons interested in a retrofit back in Jan/Feb began to be contacted starting the week of April 16, 2001 en masse. BMW NA is going through the list and contacting those with 323/325 and 330's that were produced between June and December 2000, and is offering a one-time free-of-charge changeover to a less boosted steering system.

    BMWNA has been very clear on the statements to those contacted. They typically cover the following items:
    • Steering rack and components will be replaced with pre-June 2000 components at no charge.
    • You have your choice of BMW centers to install the retrofit.
    • BMWNA will contact your chose center to give them the details and parts needed for the retrofit. BMWNA requests a couple of days before you try to schedule an appointment with your center.
    • BMWNA makes it very clear that the retrofit will make steering more difficult at lower speeds.
    There has been some confusion as to whether June-Dec 2000 325's and post Jan 2001 cars with "new-new" feel were eligible for the retrofit. Latest news is that the post Jan 325/330's are eligible due to the phase in started in Jan 2001. "New-new" feel cars might be and will be evaluated on a case by case basis according to some sources.

    Tips, Tidbits, and Misc car-related links

    You should put a pair of gardening gloves in your spare wheel well. You think you have a lot of brake dust on the OUTSIDE of the wheels, you should see how much is on the INSIDE when you have to change your tire!

    Read all about BMW keys here

    Horsepower vs. Torque explained

    Shifting techniques

    ASC+T Explained

  • ©2001 Kristopher Linquist and many other BMW enthusiasts!
    Thank you to the following people for submitting information: Lenn Hann, Joanne Macek, Chris White, Jon Shafer, Peter Stefanske, Brad Lavis, Michael "IronMike" Huoh on A4.ORG, Carlos Perez, Joseph Koral, Rudy Poussot, Bert Roseberry, Jim Heisler, Ryan Akana, Carl Greenen, Dave Heckendorf, Jeff Dinkins, Cameron Moir, Matt G., Jack Marc W., Lorenz Redlefsen, Glenn Rankin, Glask, VonBimmerhead, Vicky, Theodore Kapela, Dave S., Donald Granger, Jerry, Alain Perreaud, Ko, Mike W., Richard (Mr Mugman), Thomas Nast, David Bagby, Eric Foster, cpick, Ausgang, Bob Ng

    (Note: If you want your 'nickname' instead of your real name here [or vice-versa], feel free to email me :))