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Don't let scare stories scare you.
All used cars need maintenance, and it's not just mileage, but age.

Have $3k saved for possible repairs to sort out the new car.
Then allocate $2k a year for repairs to play it safe.
Some years, it will need no repairs.

Always pay more for a nicer car.
Do not buy a "cheap" car that is a turd.
Nicer car is always cheaper in the long run.

Posting questions on a forum shows you are resourceful.
Do you have interest in doing basic repairs and buying some tools? That also helps.

If possible, bring it to his BMW shop and get it inspected to save unseen surprised.
Very good information. I'd like to add if the car doesn't need repairs, don't spend that $2K on something else. Roll that money over to the next year for repairs. The following year you may need more than $2K in repairs. If you end up not needing the money for repairs, you'll begin to accumulate enough money for a different car if you lose interest in your current car and want something different. I wish you luck in your car search.
 

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I have rebuilt 3 convertibles. In each case, the struts were gone. And in each case, the front end rubbed on concrete curbs.

When I replaced, no rubbing.

I am doing another in about a week. If you would like, I can measure before and after.
Did you replace springs too? I have seen gas shocks/struts sometimes affect height but not hydraulic.
 

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2004 330Ci Vert - 6sp Manual
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Feels like one of the guides here mentioned to expect one of these to cost 7500 - 10000 to be fully sorted, and to expect any deals below those prices to be made up for in replacement parts or repairs. With what's listed as being sorted already and its mileage, seems like OP is probably good to go for a little while but not off the hook. The recommendations to have a repair stash are a really smart idea

I just got a 2004 330cic with 195k on it for $4500 - that's a whole different ballgame than OP. Bought it knowing full well that it would need work - and that was the point for me. I wanted to work on it. I'm in it probably $2200 for necessary repairs, another $1200 in fun stuff while I was in there, and close to $400 in tools and expense items I didn't have (mainly a quality impact wrench).

All that got me new oil pan gasket, rebuilt the OFH, m3 engine mounts, trans mounts, Dr Vanos, sensors near the vanos, new VCG, spark plugs, new LCAs, TMS monoball FCABs, TMS front and rear sway bars, full tie rod set, RTABs with limiters, replacement DISA, upper and lower intake boots, fuel filter, oil change, oil filter, cabin filter, trans fluid, diff oil, alignment, new AGM battery, custom exhaust (was straight-piped at purchase, now has magnaflows), and new windshield wipers. While my car and OPs are very different in how much they've been driven, I still have ended up right in the middle of that 7500-10000 range, which is obviously very anecdotal, but may lend some truth to what one of these truly "costs" between purchase price and getting it in good operating condition. Just put 300miles on it on a day trip with not a single issue or concern. Still need to patch a spot on the floorpan, refresh the shifter (or short shift kit), some mild PDR, and I'd like to replace the cheap coilover set that was already on mine, but none of those are actively damaging anything. You can't tell the car has over 100k on it at this point, much less nearly 200k.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Did you replace springs too? I have seen gas shocks/struts sometimes affect height but not hydraulic.
I know what you are saying, and intuitively I agree with you.

But no, I never replaced any of the springs and it definitely affected the height. I am not smart enough to explain why, I just have first-hand experience that it did.
 

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Get a good PPI. And if it checks out in terms of solid, but just needs some love buy it fast. That’s a low price on a quickly appreciating car. If you have to put another $2k in it would still be a good value with those low(er) miles.

Do know though, ZHP ownership is a bit dicey in terms of insurance. If the car is totaled you may struggle to get reimbursement over normal 330iC value.
 

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Feels like one of the guides here mentioned to expect one of these to cost 7500 - 10000 to be fully sorted, and to expect any deals below those prices to be made up for in replacement parts or repairs. With what's listed as being sorted already and its mileage, seems like OP is probably good to go for a little while but not off the hook. The recommendations to have a repair stash are a really smart idea

I just got a 2004 330cic with 195k on it for $4500 - that's a whole different ballgame than OP. Bought it knowing full well that it would need work - and that was the point for me. I wanted to work on it. I'm in it probably $2200 for necessary repairs, another $1200 in fun stuff while I was in there, and close to $400 in tools and expense items I didn't have (mainly a quality impact wrench).

All that got me new oil pan gasket, rebuilt the OFH, m3 engine mounts, trans mounts, Dr Vanos, sensors near the vanos, new VCG, spark plugs, new LCAs, TMS monoball FCABs, TMS front and rear sway bars, full tie rod set, RTABs with limiters, replacement DISA, upper and lower intake boots, fuel filter, oil change, oil filter, cabin filter, trans fluid, diff oil, alignment, new AGM battery, custom exhaust (was straight-piped at purchase, now has magnaflows), and new windshield wipers. While my car and OPs are very different in how much they've been driven, I still have ended up right in the middle of that 7500-10000 range, which is obviously very anecdotal, but may lend some truth to what one of these truly "costs" between purchase price and getting it in good operating condition. Just put 300miles on it on a day trip with not a single issue or concern. Still need to patch a spot on the floorpan, refresh the shifter (or short shift kit), some mild PDR, and I'd like to replace the cheap coilover set that was already on mine, but none of those are actively damaging anything. You can't tell the car has over 100k on it at this point, much less nearly 200k.
I just bought an '04 ZHP with 172k on it. Found myself in the same boat. Structural damage, needs lots of work.
Bought at $2.7k, already about $2k deep in total repairs (brakes & rotors included, with full cosmetic upgrades). Still haven't addressed structural damage.

So worth it. Not even mad. Going to use your post as reference for future repairs. (y)
 

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I am not sure the OP's car is a ZHP...I don't think he said either way, and we haven't seen a VIN.

ZHP is nice, and I have one, but it doesn't make it an M3
 

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Did you replace springs too? I have seen gas shocks/struts sometimes affect height but not hydraulic.
I just replaced original Sachs front struts on 330ci very at 205k mi. It went from -.25 in. of wheel gap to 1.75 in. of wheel gap. I kept original springs and mounting apparatus, even bump stop (as still intact).
 

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Hell no. Convertibles look like shit. The top looks like a tent
You can get removable hardtops for the verts and have the best of both worlds. Personally I think these look better than factory hardtops. 2001 330ci manual with sport package Paid 4500 for it with 85K miles. Another $1000 for the used matching color hardtop later.

909198
 

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Hello,

I am new to this forum. I have found 2004 330CI manual Convertible with 72K miles. No accidents or damage on CarFax. Regular oil changes completed... Here are the things that have been done to it in terms of maintenance in last 23k miles:

Oxygen Sensor
Battery
Thermostat and Outlet
Radiator Reserve Tank
4 way alignment
Front Thrust Rod Bushings
Rear Brakes
Driver's Side Airbag (recall)
Passengers side Xenon Light
Driver's side fog lamp
Engine Drive Belts
Coolant hose w/ temperature sensor
Valve cover gaskets

Thoughts? Do you believe this would be a good buy? Seems to me most of the big ticket items have been taken care of in order to last another 30k or so....

Sincerely,
Elliot smith
Sounds like an excellent car if the body is straight and the interior is together. Original paint would be nice, actually a prerequisite for me. Make sure the top, windows, AC, heat all work properly. Also the cruise control. Make sure the engine coolant temperature runs at 12 o’clock. I have a 2004 M3 convertible which has been almost bulletproof. Best to buy a car in good condition as parts and labor are expensive. Good luck!
 

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$7k your getting taxed. I wouldn’t pay kore than $5k for one. Just picked up one with 98k for $4k clean title. Everything works but the HVAC which is a $30 resistor fix.
909202
 

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I paid $8000 for a 71K 2004 330cic 6 speed convertible, so I think that is a very reasonable and good price.
They are surprisingly hard to find with the manual, I live in Portland, OR and had to go all the way down to the bay area to find one and drive it back. It was an enjoyable 700+ mile drive.
 

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I paid $8000 for a 71K 2004 330cic 6 speed convertible, so I think that is a very reasonable and good price.
They are surprisingly hard to find with the manual, I live in Portland, OR and had to go all the way down to the bay area to find one and drive it back. It was an enjoyable 700+ mile drive.
Same experience here. It was a pick 3 of 4 scenario. If you want (1)E46, (2)330, (3)Convertible, and (4)6-speed Manual it's really hard to find all 4 of those together. Take away any of those 4 choices, and there's a LOT of options. Within 500 miles of my location, there were 6 choices that I found on the standard online sources, and only 1 car was less than $9k. It also happened to be 90 miles away, so I pulled the trigger.
 

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$7k your getting taxed. I wouldn’t pay kore than $5k for one. Just picked up one with 98k for $4k clean title. Everything works but the HVAC which is a $30 resistor fix. View attachment 909202
Why do you own a car trailer?

Do you think getting a manua e46l with under 100k for $4k is the norm or an exception outlier?
 

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Why do you own a car trailer?

Do you think getting a manua e46l with under 100k for $4k is the norm or an exception outlier?
that’s a uhaul rental.

Under $4k is pretty low for anything you can drive home at purchase, almost regardless of what kind of car it is. I got mine under $5k with almost double the miles, and it leaked about 3-4 ounces of oil per day until I fixed it.

FWIW, autotrader shows 1 result in the US for 3 series under $4k with less than 100k miles. Private party sales may be lower, but no, those conditions being met is not the norm.
 

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that’s a uhaul rental.

Under $4k is pretty low for anything you can drive home at purchase, almost regardless of what kind of car it is. I got mine under $5k with almost double the miles, and it leaked about 3-4 ounces of oil per day until I fixed it.

FWIW, autotrader shows 1 result in the US for 3 series under $4k with less than 100k miles. Private party sales may be lower, but no, those conditions being met is not the norm.
When I was shopping for one in 2017, there was a local 2004 car in mystic blue, blue top and beige interior. The car had about double the miles, ~140k and had some issues like oil leaks, shocks, and other tatty aspects. The ownership/maint records were non existent. I went back and forth with the owner, he was kind of a jerk and rather rude thinking he had such a great car and any reasonable offers I made him were insults. He came back to me a couple times and I had the car taken to a local shop to have it looked at which revealed numerous issues, perhaps none super major, but still needing to be dealt with. He was still not listening to my offers so I went with the car in Oakland. Later after it was too late he came back with lower price, like 5k or 4500.

But I am certainly glad I got the car I did, records, no issues except with the mirror adjustment (which I still haven't fixed). Its clean with records, even underneath it was super clean. The previous owner spent a lot of money on it. Outside of a set of new tires and changing the oil myself, I haven't had to do anything to it for the 3 years and 10K miles since getting it. I did purchase all the coolant system parts to do the preventative maint but still haven't gotten around to it and there has been no evidence of any leaks or issues.

Purchasing a well kept car with maint records has been worth it to me, since I was more interested in driving than a project car.
 

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Purchasing a well kept car with maint records has been worth it to me, since I was more interested in driving than a project car.
absolutely, and I think that context is very important to remember. I was specifically looking for a project car since I had finished building my 4runner daily driver. If I had needed a new to me daily driver, I would have gone with a low mileage e90 or a much better maintained e46 than I bought. I don’t plan on doing over 7k miles annually on the e46, and I honestly wouldn’t mind to need to learn to weld or learn to swap the engine in my e46, so its maintenance history is not incredibly important. That’s a massive mindset difference than needing to buy a reliable vehicle for commuting. I would have been disappointed if there wasn’t anything to wrench on in my car!
 
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