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The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 03-26-2020, 09:12 PM   #1
gbagby02
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New owner of 04 M3, what to expect?

Hey guys, I'm a proud new owner(1 week) of an M3, finally(after a decade of dreaming). Have owned an 'O5 X5 for 2 yrs. now. And did the cooling system, after the radiator and expansion tank popped on me at 120k miles. Plus one wheel bearing. And I have a continual parasitic battery drain. Oh well. I still enjoy the car.
LOVE the power, speed, lumbar support, looks, handling, and sound of the M!
It has 100K. I feel overwhelmed with anxiety, concerning expense and catastrophic engine/rear end failure potential. Is this normal, ha?

I've spent hours over the last 6 mos. watching videos and reading forums about the E46 M3(and the Audi S4/RS4). I bought it for $14K. Which with, nothing really done, was a little high I guess. Carfax had about 30 service records. Basically oil changes.
No new rod bearings, clutch, vanos, or rear main subframe repair(that I know of) What have I got myself into?
I hear a rubbing/groaning noise in the back end of the car doing slow circles in a parking lot. Both when turning left and right. Guessing bushings of some kind...rear trailing arm, strut, subframe?
There's a shimmy in my shoulders at highway speeds. Imbalanced rear tires? But they are new. Conti DWS tires. Something else causing this?

Road feels bumpy. Assuming that shocks and bushings need replacing?
Fcabs, endlinks(whatever they are), Rtabs, and are these things I can/should do myself?
I can turn a wrench. Have moderate experience.
Is the bearing and vanos rebuild kit something I can do? I called a M specialist shop and they said it would be about $2000.00 for each fix!!
Since I don't have $6K at my disposal, I had the brilliant idea I could do these. I mean what kind of time can I expect each to take and how difficult is it? And will I need a lot of special tools? Currently, I only have ramps and jacks and basic tools.

I changed the oil and filter with Castrol Edge 10w60. And I saved some of the old oil to send it in to determine how worn the bearings are. Is this a very accurate test? And who does it? I live in NC.
My mirror is drooping. Googled a place in TX that does that repair for $99. Any suggestions?
A/C isn't very cold. But the clutch is spinning. Guessing just needs a recharge?
Tension strings on inside of convertible top(liner)are torn. Both sides. Found a kit at ECS for about $50. $90 at dealer. Looks like that's the cost for only one side. I might just try to find some black nylon cord and tie a knot/extension on it. That would be cost effective. Not sure exactly how to do it yet. I know, convertible. But, the hardtops are SO expensive now. And I still have an M, ahhh.
Any and all advice/experience will be GREATLY appreciated!!
Thanks, Greg
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:19 PM   #2
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Good news, bearing problems are WAY overrated. My 85k bearings I was under the impression would be worn... My fingernail didn't catch much but slight bumps which are normal. Almost completely smooth. Don't stress on that. What's the service history on carfax say?

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Old 03-27-2020, 08:23 AM   #3
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You've gotten into an expensive car sir. This is pretty much identical to what I did. So I'm sorry to tell you this but if you want to repair it and fix the majors it's going to cost you. Here's what I have done for reference.

Vanos, this has been taken care of by me. I rented the timing tools, and purchased a kit online to repair from besians. I also ordered an upgraded hub from turbo toy which allowed we to sell my original hub on the forums. Final cost of the repair. 500. To take it to a shop. 1000 bucks probably

Rod bearings. Your best bet is to do an oil anaylsis and to send it to Blackstone. While this isn't a great way of telling failure points. It is one of the only ways. Trendable data is way better but single data points can provide a good reference. If it shows positive for copper. And I mean any copper. It's probably time to change them. If your good at wrenching and have a weekend it will cost you 800 bucks. From a shop 1200-2000 sounds right

Subframe. Well anyone who knows these cars so it doesn't matter age, how well it's taken care of, or miles. If it's not done.... Do it. The underside plates are no longer an acceptable form of repair. The topside must be done as we to fully secure the rear. Look into CMP auto engineering as they have probably the best all in one solution available. I took two semesters of welding, purchased the kit and am doing as much as I can to the rear of the car. After all is said an done. It's going to cost me 3k and about 90 hours of labor. I do have a fully restored, repaired and repainted rear end though. A quote for 4k for the full job is not unreasonable.


I have to say. It's been great fun learning on this car. The repairs have challenged me each step of the way and it really rewarding to get the job done yourself. If you have the time and patients why not do the repairs yourself

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Old 03-27-2020, 05:10 PM   #4
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starting working on the problem areas piece by piece before the mods, i.e cooling system refresh, subframe, vanos and etc if you are a d.i.y you tube will be your friend tons of info on there...
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Old 03-27-2020, 06:50 PM   #5
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Did you get a pre-purchase inspection? That is your starting point.


Waiting for things to fail is the expensive route.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:35 PM   #6
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What everyone else said. Groaning noise is more than likely your differential going bad. The shake on highway is either tires, alignment, or bad suspension. Rtabs (rear trailing arm bushings) and rear broken springs cause highway shakes a lot when bad. But it could be anything suspension or even driveline related

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Old 03-27-2020, 10:53 PM   #7
gbagby02
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Hey and thanks for your input. Carfax has 5 or 6 oil changes. Mirror replaced. Door handle. PS hose. Output shaft seal at 80k. Nothing about the bearings, clutch, vanos, or frame.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:57 PM   #8
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Thanks. I don't plan on any mods. But I will drive it like I stole it And I want it to not make noises that shouldn't be there. I'm all about preventative maintenance. Within my budget, that is.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:02 PM   #9
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As for a PPI, I spoke with the shop(Euroenvy) who specialize in Ms. And they did one about 6 mos ago. Said, they didn't see any cracks on the frame. And nothing really stuck out except the rearview mirror. Fluids and cooling system are my next plan. And if the groan I hear in the rear while turning in slow circles is diff related. Then I wonder if a fluid change will solve/help it? Or would it be a waste of money? Could my differential really be toast at 100k? The carfax reads that the output shaft seal was replaced at 80K...
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Old 03-28-2020, 07:08 AM   #10
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Open your wallet, when I bought mine @ 128k I had my shop drop the entire rear subframe and weld reinforcement plates, the mounts were cracked. At the same time all the rear bushings were replaced and konis installed at all 4 corners. The rear diff., axles and entire driveshaft lasted 198k, only the rubber guidbo and CSB on the driveshaft were needed at 140k. When you do the entire cooling system use an all aluminum radiator and electris fan, silicon hoses. The list goes on and on, expect to spend about 10k bringing it up to a proper level.
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Old 03-28-2020, 07:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by gbagby02 View Post
As for a PPI, I spoke with the shop(Euroenvy) who specialize in Ms. And they did one about 6 mos ago. Said, they didn't see any cracks on the frame. And nothing really stuck out except the rearview mirror. Fluids and cooling system are my next plan. And if the groan I hear in the rear while turning in slow circles is diff related. Then I wonder if a fluid change will solve/help it? Or would it be a waste of money? Could my differential really be toast at 100k? The carfax reads that the output shaft seal was replaced at 80K...
You really can't tell if the subframe is crack unless you drop the rear end. You can hold off but if you're doing hard launches and driving it like you stole it. Realize it's a ticking time bomb

A fluid change on everything should be your first step. Google inspection II service. It will outline what is needed. Use OEM fluids! Redline is great equivalent. It may solve the issue you are having if someone put the wrong fluid in or underfilled it.

As for the cooling system. Skip the silicone hoses and all the upgrades and just stick with OEM. it's lasted the car this long...

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Old 03-28-2020, 12:26 PM   #12
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Thanks again for everyone's replies. It's helping to calm my feelings of being overwhelmed with it all. I gotcha on the, can't tell if subframe is cracked unless dropping rear end, that'll have to be on hold for a little while. I'm only driving the car on the weekends for right now. The shop I spoke with about doing the rear(EuroMpire near Charlotte, NC) said it'd be around $3K to weld plates and replace the RCABs.
I'll google inspection II, like you suggested. I checked out the DIY section here. It has quite a few, but I thought it'd have way more DIYs. Roger that on using OEM parts.
So I guess: new upper/lower coolant hoses, WP(with or without metal impeller?), thermostat, coolant expansion tank... are what I need to replace?
How about the radiator(plastic flanges cracking)?
And what about all the different pulleys?
Also, I've noticed that my a/c isn't that cold. But the a/c clutch is spinning when the a/c button is on. Does that mean I only need to buy a refill can and recharge it?
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Old 03-28-2020, 02:37 PM   #13
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As for a PPI, I spoke with the shop(Euroenvy) who specialize in Ms. And they did one about 6 mos ago. Said, they didn't see any cracks on the frame. And nothing really stuck out except the rearview mirror. Fluids and cooling system are my next plan. And if the groan I hear in the rear while turning in slow circles is diff related. Then I wonder if a fluid change will solve/help it? Or would it be a waste of money? Could my differential really be toast at 100k? The carfax reads that the output shaft seal was replaced at 80K...

Well...thats not a PPI. But you (and your wallet) will come to understand that soon enough.


Change your diff fluid with OE fluid. Not something else - OEM.


Then go out on a large open parking lot and do slow figure 8s, reversing direction every other one. Ten of them.
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Old 03-28-2020, 08:17 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gbagby02 View Post
Thanks again for everyone's replies. It's helping to calm my feelings of being overwhelmed with it all. I gotcha on the, can't tell if subframe is cracked unless dropping rear end, that'll have to be on hold for a little while. I'm only driving the car on the weekends for right now. The shop I spoke with about doing the rear(EuroMpire near Charlotte, NC) said it'd be around $3K to weld plates and replace the RCABs.
I'll google inspection II, like you suggested. I checked out the DIY section here. It has quite a few, but I thought it'd have way more DIYs. Roger that on using OEM parts.
So I guess: new upper/lower coolant hoses, WP(with or without metal impeller?), thermostat, coolant expansion tank... are what I need to replace?
How about the radiator(plastic flanges cracking)?
And what about all the different pulleys?
Also, I've noticed that my a/c isn't that cold. But the a/c clutch is spinning when the a/c button is on. Does that mean I only need to buy a refill can and recharge it?
This isn't a Non M so the water pump is less of an issue and the expansion tank isn't prone to exploding.

Take the belt of and spin all the pulleys. Check the play in your water pump and see if it spins freely at all. No pulley should spin for more than a second and definitely not spin freely.

A/C systems are sealed and if the clutch is clamping then there's probably a leak. To find the leak you'll need to get dye put into the system and use a UV light so see it easily. Before spending money to throw away on a leaking A/C system, do a quick visual on all the hose and see if something was rubbing. Hopefully it's not a rock in the condenser.

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Old 03-29-2020, 06:33 PM   #15
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Gotta tell ya I saw this car today and it was previously owned by someone that maybe drove this car on weekends only. It is barely broke in. Everything I looked at was clean and rust free. OP found a nice car, enjoy!
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Old 04-07-2020, 02:20 AM   #16
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As for a PPI, I spoke with the shop(Euroenvy) who specialize in Ms. And they did one about 6 mos ago. Said, they didn't see any cracks on the frame. And nothing really stuck out except the rearview mirror. Fluids and cooling system are my next plan. And if the groan I hear in the rear while turning in slow circles is diff related. Then I wonder if a fluid change will solve/help it? Or would it be a waste of money? Could my differential really be toast at 100k? The carfax reads that the output shaft seal was replaced at 80K...
Change the fluid. It may help a little or for a while but it will come back. Chances are you need a diff. The differentials in these cars aren't the best. I had 3 put it while still under warranty. At 100k right now this one's been bad for a while now.

Also rod bearing issues are not over rated. Mine were toast at 100k even with the recall done at 30k. Vanos solenoids were toast and whole unit definitely needed a rebuild. Subframe wasn't cracked but still getting it reinforced.

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Old 04-07-2020, 02:28 AM   #17
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Don't use ac charge cans. Ac system should be moisture and air free, when attaching and detaching thoes cans you're adding air and moisture which causes damage to the ac system. Get it evacuated and recharged and checked for leaks by an ac pro or make your own kit with manifold gauges and a vacuum pump. More money now, a lot less down the line when expensive ac components break.

As for the coolant and pulleys, it all depends how much you want to go in. Some people just replace what's bad. Get the coolant system pressure tested, and replace what's leaking. If it's not overheating that's all it "needs" besides a full coolant flush which never hurts. Make sure to use bmw or valvoline blue coolant and nothing else. With your pulleys check for free play with the belt off and if there's no noises when engines running you're good.
If you want to replace what commonly fails so you can have peace of mind then,
In cooling system the expansion tank, hose to the tank, upper and lower radiator houses, thermostat and gasket, lower coolant temp sensor, waterpump with a metal propeller and radiator if you want to shell the extra 500+
With the pulleys new idler, tensioner assembly, ac tensioner and both belts.


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Old 04-07-2020, 09:31 PM   #18
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I agree with most folks here. Change all fluids first, steering, oil, brake, rear diff, coolant etc, then I would look at the suspension. Donít freak on rod bearings, vanos; or sub frame, the engine is stronger than you think. The oil analysis will tell you something about the health of the engine. Address one problem at a time. You will be fine.


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Old 04-07-2020, 09:56 PM   #19
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Hey, and thanks again for all the knowledge and advice.
I mailed my rearview mirror off to radar-mirror to get repaired($99). Seems like a decent price.
My seatbelt buckle was on backwards for some reason. Was able to fold and pull the belt through it, so it lays flat and the correct orientation on my chest now
I also bought fishing sinkers and reattached my broken conv.top,liner strings. About 30 mins. Left top in position. It's the small things in life, ha.

I also mailed in an oil sample to Blackstone. Waiting to hear back this week on analysis(any copper presence), related to what state my rod bearings are in.

I'm concerned about the exhaust hub tabs breaking off and that bolt head breaking off(cam bolt?) or backing off. Do either of these make/cause a noise or cause a MIL to indicate they're going soon?

I ordered fluids from ECS tuning to replace: 2 Diff. drain plugs w/orings (wasn't sure if the o-rings on the old ones would leak?)
2 liters of LiquiMoly 75W140(supposed to have a friction modifier)---- Rear Diff. fluid
2 qts Redline MT 75W90---Trans. Diff. fluid
1 qt. CHF hydraulic---------- PS fluid
1 ltr Ate SL6 ---------------Brake fluid

Wow, I was unaware that using the cans of A/C recharge would introduce moisture and air into my system and ruin it. I bought a can of A/C Pro from Walmart, but haven't put it in yet. Phew!
Any idea what a indy/AC shop charges to have the system evacuated and recharged and check for leaks? Or would the stealership be reasonable for that? I know, dumb to ask, but...

As for the pulleys, I will check them for play and free-spinning. They don't make any noise yet. At least I don't think so. I can't say I'm that familiar with the different pulleys sounds. Think there are like 5 or 6 total right?
I plan on replacing what you suggested, except the radiator? The metal/plastic OE type is like $300. And the all alum. is like $500! As it is all the other stuff will be hundreds.
I saw ECS has 1, 2, and 3 level maintenance kits. They look thorough. Just need to save up money.

I've only driven the car a few hundred miles so far. Kind of scared too, ha? Before changing fluids and, and, and...

Btw, how serious an issue is the fuel pump? I read someone mentioned the 100k marker being time to replace it. On ECS, they sell a fuel pump, but also a jet pump. Should both be replaced? That's like another $500. Geez, I need a beer.
And the fuel filter I guess should be replaced as well?
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Old 04-08-2020, 08:43 PM   #20
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Should I replace the fuel pump, fuel "jet" pump, and fuel filter at 100k miles?
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