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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 01-02-2020, 02:44 PM   #41
Mwags
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Stop making me want a e90, Efthreeoh. I've also heard good things about the stoutness of the n52 and e90.

Main reason I want an e46 right now is that I wrecked the rear quarter panel on my e36 . I love my car but it's just not worth the expense to get it fixed, so I feel like maybe it's time to try an e46. I've driven a few before and the ergonomics were good and the steering feedback was really nice. I like the styling, engines seem reliable enough, still possible to find them with manuals, and overall seem like a well-rounded do-it-all type of car. And they're super cheap now with tons of diy help on the interwebs.
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:30 PM   #42
bendoscopy
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My Ride: 330Ci M + 320Ci
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- The coupe is a beautiful design, particularly from the side
- The engine is a pleasure and a joy to work on
- The cabin design in one of the best of the 20th Century
- The driving experience is incredibly pleasing

And perhaps the most rewarding thing is the learning experience that you get when sticking with the same platform. I'm sure there will be more E46s in my future and I value the knowledge I've gained and being able to put it into practice. Most people I know lease soulless cars, can't lift the hood, and give them back after 18 months. Where's the fun in that?
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BMW E46 330Ci M-Sport 2001 topasblau/grau 110k miles
BMW E46 320Ci Sport 2002 topasblau/hellbeige 125k miles


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Old 01-03-2020, 09:39 AM   #43
mega_stihl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bendoscopy View Post
- The coupe is a beautiful design, particularly from the side
- The engine is a pleasure and a joy to work on
- The cabin design in one of the best of the 20th Century
- The driving experience is incredibly pleasing

And perhaps the most rewarding thing is the learning experience that you get when sticking with the same platform. I'm sure there will be more E46s in my future and I value the knowledge I've gained and being able to put it into practice. Most people I know lease soulless cars, can't lift the hood, and give them back after 18 months. Where's the fun in that?
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Old 01-03-2020, 10:50 AM   #44
Archbid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wfx32 View Post
good point that there is more space to work in the E90, but i like that the E46 is a smaller more compact car.

what do you think of the argument that BMW is engineering these cars to be more complex and failure-prone? say for example everything going turbo instead of naturally aspirated.
Everyone is going with smaller engines and turbo because it is the most effective way to meet emission and mpg requirements.
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Old 01-03-2020, 10:53 AM   #45
Archbid
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It is still a mostly analog experience With a manual transmission and a soft top, but I still have backup sensors, airbags, and a backup camera.
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Old 01-03-2020, 11:04 AM   #46
Chris C
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I still like driving my 2001 325ci 5 speed manual transmission car. That's about it. It's not fast enough or powerful enough to get away from me and I always feel in control. It's also one of the most comfortable cars I have that I can take on a nice long road trip and it gets decent gas mileage given it's age. With the help of this site I can wrench on the car and keep it going. I do need to take care of some interior issues (e.g. sagging cloth and lining separating from side cushioning) that are a bit embarrassing. I could get a new car but again I still enjoy my 2001 325ci.
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Old 01-03-2020, 01:12 PM   #47
De Sisti
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My Ride: 320d SE Touring
My sister offered it to me at a bargain price (and I was going through a mid-life crisis, as I would never have thought
about buying one)
. I was also able to sell my SEAT Arosa in the same week, so the decision was made easy. My local
indy mechanic thinks it's in good condition and has been looked after well.

My only concern is getting rear-ended by some driver not paying attention, thus rendering my car uneconomical to repair
from an insurance company point of view.
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Old 01-03-2020, 01:52 PM   #48
Jackson42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
So I'm a 30-year BMW enthusiast much like you. I maintain and repair my own cars also. I built a fully-equipped shop on my property for the primary purpose of maintaining automobiles. The oldest BMW in my fleet is my wife's 1997 Z3 M44, which we bought new. It's recently reached 190,000 miles. The youngest is a E86 Z4 N52 that just reached 100,000 last month. My E46 330cic is a 2005 that I recently acquired from a coworker; I wasn't looking for one. It too just reached 100,000 miles.

But I have to completely disagree with the bolded statement. I've been wrenching on BMWs since the E21. My 2006 E90 just passed 385,000 miles and I bought the E90 new, ordered it in fact. While the E90 with the turbo N54/N55 can be problematic, an E90 with a N52 is a tank and very DIY'able. In fact I'd make a case, based on my limited exposure to the E46 so far, that the E90 is easier to maintain than an E46 with an M54. The newer BMWs interface well with aftermarket diagnostic software tools. I find my E46 is very similar in the level of tech vs. my E90 (both cars are adaptive HID, non-NAV and sport package with manual transmissions). The N52 VANOS setup is far simpler than an M54 and there is less intake/CCV plumbing on the N52, which means less vacuum failures. The driveline aft of the bellhousing is pretty much standard BMW fare between the two chassis. There is more room in the engine bay of the E90 vs. the E46, which makes it slightly easier to perform common maintenance tasks.

Just wanted to clear that up in case any member's here are considering an E90. The N52 version of the E90 is an excellent example of a BMW sports sedan and the last of the traditional breed. The E90 is on par in toughness and reliability as the E30 (which I also owned for 18 years and 257,000 miles).
I'll bow to your more extensive experience with the E90 platform; my time under the hood with them is limited, but I've not enjoyed working on them that much. I'll agree that the M54 CCV is a kludge. The M56 cars solve that problem but create a new one with the lack of replacement diaphragms, and the non-replaceable fuel pump is just short of criminal. I've seen otherwise good M56 cars go to scrap because of fuel pump failure. The fuel pump in my E30 went 504,000 miles before it wore out, and it was a 45-minute job to replace it. Against those two extremes, how does the fuel system hold up on the E90s?
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Old 01-03-2020, 03:37 PM   #49
cwarel
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Got 330ci coupe with turbo building engine for 1000whp ATM will see if it blows or goes 9's. and a 4 door 325ci manual with 3.0 engine in it with m50 manifold exhaust and 50 shot best daily i ever had. Gonna keep the 2 for a while . Thinking of trading 4 door for an x5. Its fun beating 2015 subies without a turbo or nos.
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:43 AM   #50
325ciLover
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Let's not forget somehow even with the infamous problems with oil consumption, we still hold on to the e46. After purchasing my first e46, I struggled for 2 years with the consumption. Finally, I said f it, I love the car for so many reasons, and I was at peace. Then I found the Bavarian mod and th rest is history.

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Old 01-04-2020, 02:41 AM   #51
Dogthebountyhunter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo31 View Post
Because I like repairing old German ****.

LOL! Just kidding.

The E46 is the last BMW I really like. I like the exterior of some of the newer ones, but after the E46, IMHO BMW interiors look generic, and frankly, ugly (remember, IMHO). A couple of people have mentioned timeless looks, and to some degree, that's true, but not completely. I think it's starting to show its age, but I still love it. I fall into the category of someone who could afford something else. Since I don't like modern Bimmers, a Tesla Model 3 is probably the only alternative I think I'd consider.

Now, after having George Hill do a 330i conversion to my car (along with swapping the 5MT for a 6MT), I really couldn't be happier. I'm driving exactly the car I want to be driving.
I feel you, I think I am going to get a Tesla for my first brand new car one day
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Old 01-04-2020, 03:32 AM   #52
Hansie
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My Ride: e46 330i touring 01
Here in Europe the e46 are cheap and (used) parts are even cheaper. Nobody wants to steal it so insurance is low too.
Driving my 330 touring in full M trim I s still a great joy,nice handling and the car feels and moves how I like it.
300.000km and after the hot catch can set up no oil consumption anymore.
I did look at some e90 to buy but especially the interior doesn't do it for me. The later f30 is better but I miss the straight NA six in the front. The turbo versions are too complicated.
The e90 M3 V8 sedan are an option but too expensive for what it is.
I hate that my oxford green touring chassis isn't good enough to use for a full M3 upgrade, that would be my dream car.
I'm searching the internet to find a e46 M3 touring but these project are hard to find here or not my taste.
So gonna buy new tires for my green crocodile next week and put another 100k km to it.
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:02 PM   #53
GMTBend
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Last of the ownable 3ers!
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:11 PM   #54
glwillia
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My Ride: 2002 530i
Don't have an E46 any more but do have an E39 530i, so basically the same arguments apply re: why do you still drive an E46. I haven't really liked any 5-series since, and it's the perfect blend of analog driving experience with modern comfort and features. Also it's paid for, not going to depreciate any more, and mine only has 74k miles so it'll still last a long time to come. I used to have an E46 330Ci, but sold it and bought this E39 from a local BMWCCA member because I wanted a 4-door.
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:17 PM   #55
Bird-Dog
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My Ride: 2004 330Cic ZHP
I like it. That's it. And that's all there needs to be to it.

On my second one. Bought an "almost new" CPO 325Ci convertible in 2005 that I drove for 8 years, then sold it to upgrade to a 330Ci ZHP convertible a little over 6 years ago.

I have nothing against new cars. I'd happily buy a 440i convertible if I needed a new car. But this one's paid for, been well taken care of, and doesn't show any signs of dying anytime soon.
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:27 PM   #56
NYRhockey
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Why do you drive an E46 ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by glwillia View Post
Don't have an E46 any more but do have an E39 530i, so basically the same arguments apply re: why do you still drive an E46. I haven't really liked any 5-series since, and it's the perfect blend of analog driving experience with modern comfort and features. Also it's paid for, not going to depreciate any more, and mine only has 74k miles so it'll still last a long time to come. I used to have an E46 330Ci, but sold it and bought this E39 from a local BMWCCA member because I wanted a 4-door.


The E39 is a gorgeous car. Already having a 4dr e46 makes owning an e39 kinda redundant but would still like one.

What BMW did with the 5 series after that is criminal. The E60 is as ugly and bloated as we have seen in the 17 years since it came out.


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Last edited by NYRhockey; 01-07-2020 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:43 PM   #57
TerraPhantm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYRhockey View Post
The E39 is a gorgeous car. Already having a 4dr e46 makes owning an e39 kinda redundant but would still like one.

What BMW did with the 5 series after that is criminal. The E60 is as ugly and bloated as we have seen in the 17 years since it came out.


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It's really a shame how ugly the E60 is because mechanically it's probably the best handling 5er to date.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:24 AM   #58
Andy325is
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I daily drive my E30 318is with an M44 (California legal OBD2 TLEV swap). I get to drive Mom's E46 Touring sometimes. It's a good Mom car and good for anyone who wants a little more modern car, but can still be worked on yourself. We thought about looking for a newer car for her, but it helps her out a lot if I can do the work. An E91 probably would have been fine, but it's kind of ugly and doesn't have a dipstick which is so dumb. The E46 looks great and still feels like a classic BMW. The new BMWs may as well be made in Asia. They look like a Honda or anything else. And they've gotten so bloated like a greedy fat capitalist. The new 3er is bigger than an old 5er.
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Old 01-08-2020, 07:49 AM   #59
JonL
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My Ride: 2004 325Xi
Year: 2004
Model: 325Xi
Transmission: Auto
I bought a 2004 325xi in August. As a former mechanical engineer and auto mechanic before that, I appreciate good engineering in a car.

I hadn't set out to buy a BMW. I'd been driving a 1987 Mercedes 190D for almost 20 years, and really appreciated the simplicity and economy of ownership that car afforded me. It still looked remarkably good, but it was unfortunately rusting badly and the interior was deteriorating. It was also becoming difficult to get parts. (I needed a rear muffler and the only one I could find was in Australia, had it shipped from there!)

Driving a naturally aspirated diesel for so long, obviously fast acceleration isn't a priority for me. I'm on a pretty tight budget, so a more modern diesel (my preference) was out of my range. I was looking mostly for a four cylinder, two wheel drive Mercedes C class. I was using Craig's List, Offer Up, and Facebook Marketplace as my primary sources, but kept seeing junk and dealing with flakes, driving as much as an hour away only to have the seller not show up. One day I saw a nice looking '04 325xi for sale walking distance from my house. It had been on FB Marketplace for 10 months. It was in my budget, had low miles, was in very good cosmetic condition for its age, had good tires, and drove well. I would have preferred two wheel drive for mechanical simplicity, and I would have preferred lower fuel consumption (more for carbon footprint than operating cost - I only drive about 5000 miles/year), but it was a really nice car and a significant upgrade (in image LOL!) from my old Benz. It wasn't perfect (see particulars below), but not bad... and a bargain at $2300.

So to sum up why I drive an E46... It was happenstance that I found a nice car in my price range in my neighborhood. I appreciate the way it drives and the way it looks.

Particulars as-purchased:
2004 325xi
Mileage: 107,000
Issues:
Intermittent fault codes and weak performance when active (still working on this... fairly certain it's a faulty MAF sensor - it's a Cardone reman unit that came in the car)
Foggy rear view mirror
Two tiny rust patches on right rear quarter panel
Numerous unobtrusive small areas of "missing" paint (don't know how to describe this, was told it might be caused by sap)
Numerous very unobtrusive very shallow "dings" (hail damage?)
Foggy headlights
Broken clips on grille inserts
Missing belly pan
Discovered after purchase:
1/2 broken coil on one rear spring (car still feels great on the road, going to ignore this for now)

Car has been reasonably well maintained, with service records, but workmanship not all of highest caliber (reman MAF sensor was listed as a BMW unit and priced accordingly on invoice).
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:25 PM   #60
Sykriss
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Looks great, handles great, fairly inexpensive to buy, there are RWD and AWD drivetrain options (which is all anyone should ever need), parts are inexpensive, they're mostly easy to work on, huge aftermarket support and tons of free documentation available for the platform. The engines make nice linear power, sound great, are stout enough to reliably handle a bit of boost in stock form, and are reliable with basic maintenance that any other car would and should get. Sure, they have their common issues, but the vast majority are easily tracked down and fixed. Also, they have a great balance of digital and analog systems. Every generation after the E46 has tons and tons of electronics, which makes them a lot more complicated to DIY. As far as the auto hate goes, truth be told, the auto box (at least, the 5L50) isn't as garbage as every manual driver on here says, having driven and owning an auto and two manual E46s. It's way better than the four speed in my old Volvo, shifts quickly when you need it to, and the variable TC makes gear engagements very smooth. Sport manual feels like a manual, just with a TC, and the slight shift lag is easily manageable. I will say that I'm not a huge fan of the big gearing difference between third and fourth, though. Overall, the E46 is simply an incredibly well rounded platform, and for the prices they commonly go for, is a value hard to match, in my opinion.

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