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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Little background...22 years old, new to forum, huge driving enthusiast, never owned a BMW, looking to buy a 325Ci. Simple.
I currently own a Ford explorer and I hate it, it's a lemon but I've done a few repairs to make it manageable, but by no means is it a pleasure to drive. (For a driving enthusiast anyway). It was bought for me by my parents for my first car when I was 16. I am planning on giving this jeep to my brother for his fist car, and getting a different car for myself. I want something that I love driving, and I've always loved the BMW 325ci.
My request, is for you current owners to explain the difference in owning the 325ci (in terms of reliability, cost of ownership, etc) to other more traditional options like an Accord, or Toyota Camry of the same year range (2000-2003). My family seems to think you have to be an attorney or doctor to own an e46. The idea of owning a "BMW" freaks them out. They think they're unreliable, expensive, pieces of junk that rich people enjoy wasting money on. Which is funny because they both drive cars that are constantly having problems, but they still insist are reliable brands. Their thought process is "If my old Nissan Altima is having this many problems, I can't imagine how many problems BMWs have! Whoo, glad I didn't waste my money on one of those!"

They insist on me spending the same amount of money to buy a nissan or a ford. Which would be fine of I could find a 240sx or a mustang GT in good condition for the same price as a 325ci. I do almost all maintenance myself btw. I think the misconception of "you have to be rich to own a BMW" comes from people that have very little knowledge about working on cars or simply don't want to do the work themselves, so they have to take their car to the shop for everything. Duhhh of course a BMW cost more when it's taken to a shop, everything's more expensive in a shop. Sorry for the rant, but like I said, please explain to me in detail, the difference in owning an e46 and a name brand like ford.
 

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what's you budget, and can you drive a manual?

i've had two e46 330Ci, both have been fun to drive and neither had major expenses. i do maintenance myself.

if you find a well maintained e46 you'll be off to a good start. take a look around the forums and see what's what.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My budget is 5000 max. And yes I can drive manual, and love driving manual in certain cars but I don't want a manual in a bmw unless it's an M series. I read the entire "first time buyers guide" and it was great. But the author mentioned something about $4000 a year in maintenance costs for a daily driver. I have a hard time believing owners spend nearly $300 dollars a month on maintenance alone, doesn't sound right, and if that is true about the e46 then that's a deal breaker for me just for how ridiculous that would be. I've found a few in my area for about $5000 or less. One in specific is a 325ci $4900 with 120k.
 

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My budget is 5000 max. And yes I can drive manual, and love driving manual in certain cars but I don't want a manual in a bmw unless it's an M series. I read the entire "first time buyers guide" and it was great. But the author mentioned something about $4000 a year in maintenance costs for a daily driver. I have a hard time believing owners spend nearly $300 dollars a month on maintenance alone, doesn't sound right, and if that is true about the e46 then that's a deal breaker for me just for how ridiculous that would be. I've found a few in my area for about $5000 or less. One in specific is a 325ci $4900 with 120k.
Its no where near that. If you nibble on preventative maintenance then you might be looking at 1-2k the first year. Mine cost 5k and it has been a great car so far. It was well maintained by the po.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I guess to sum up my question, just describe your e46 ownership experience as detailed as you can. Don't use statistics or biases, or average, round numbered maintenance costs. Just explain YOUR story of owning an e46. Including prices and issues you've ran into while owning it. I would much rather hear people's stories, than to just trust a "star rating" on some car reviewing website.
 

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Guess which car I prefer. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its no where near that. If you nibble on preventative maintenance then you might be looking at 1-2k the first year. Mine cost 5k and it has been a great car so far. It was well maintained by the po.
That's more the price I was thinking, how many miles did yours have on it when purchased?
 

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Haha I really would prefer a 5.0. Just for the "BAD MOTHA****A" factor. (Think pulp fiction) but I also want something I can drive everyday that still offers an engaging experience.
LOL. I'll tell you this, a STOCK 5.0 with a T56(6-speed trans) will get 30+ MPG's and they'll take the beating all day and start right up every time. Trust me, I daily drove my Mustang for 2 years straight, 7 hour trips no problem. Not once has it been on a tow truck since I owned it(3 years now) and I've had my E46 for about 9 months and it's been on a tow truck once. Don't mean to talk down on E46 or any BMW but I've done maintenance on my E46 and I swear every stock part I buy is like just a few bucks shy of buying the aftermarket part for my Mustang. I hope to sell my E46 maybe this year and get me a new Coyote for a daily driver.
 

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My budget is 5000 max. And yes I can drive manual, and love driving manual in certain cars but I don't want a manual in a bmw unless it's an M series. I read the entire "first time buyers guide" and it was great. But the author mentioned something about $4000 a year in maintenance costs for a daily driver. I have a hard time believing owners spend nearly $300 dollars a month on maintenance alone, doesn't sound right, and if that is true about the e46 then that's a deal breaker for me just for how ridiculous that would be. I've found a few in my area for about $5000 or less. One in specific is a 325ci $4900 with 120k.
that 325 may be trouble free for 30K miles or maybe you need cam position sensors, or a new disa, or lose a coolant hose, who knows... but if your budget is 5K i would either make sure you the car is a gem, or save a few k over the next months to do maintenance. a "lemon" explorer beats a broken down bimmer.
 

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Any bmw you can afford with around 100K miles...well maintained...will need, easily, a thousand dollars in the first year or two. Double that if you really want to maintain it...triple it if you want it driving and handling really well.

I got mine with 140K miles on it. It's now at 260K miles...and I've easily spent $7,000 or more on it...much in the first two years...and it would have been more if I didn't learn how to do a lot of the work myself.

So now I have an almost perfect machine...and it's been that way for years. Oh, btw, I had the dealer do my subframe repair for free under the settlement...which bill would have been another $5,000.

Don't spend your $5,000 on a bmw. Spend $3000 on it and the $2,000 might get it decently handling within a year or so...plus or minus. But, the car you buy at around 100K miles or a little more, won't have had anything done to it but oil and filters...unless the owner can show you receipts...unless he or she can show you the subframe was repaired...properly.

You'll need lots of work...though you might not know quite how much since you're coming from a jeep. This is all ballpark. If you read my threads, you'll see what I did and when I did it.

Cooling system, brakes, tires...just that is a thousand if you diy it. It 'can' be the cheapest brand you'll ever own if you look at it long term and rebuild it slowly to factory condition.

Oh...your saying that you wouldn't get a manual unless it's an M3 sounds sort of ill informed. If you can drive a manual, you should get it in any car you get. You can't afford an M3 on your budget. Get an auto bmw non-M and you'll be missing out on a lot. I'm on original clutch still, btw.

Read fanatics more and you'll get a better idea of what you're getting into.
 

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Since you have a working vehicle, I suggest you really take your time shopping for the right car. A BMW that has been well maintained over it's life will probably provide you with years of reliable transportation. But I think these cars are more susceptible to breakdowns if they've been neglected than, say, a same year and mileage Honda. My well maintained '04 325ci has not cost more to maintain than my '04 Accord (except I buy really great tires for the Bimmer, because racecar). So, find a car with complete maintanance records, get a pre-purchace inspection from a qualified BMW tech, and trust your gut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
that 325 may be trouble free for 30K miles or maybe you need cam position sensors, or a new disa, or lose a coolant hose, who knows... but if your budget is 5K i would either make sure you the car is a gem, or save a few k over the next months to do maintenance. a "lemon" explorer beats a broken down bimmer.
Good point.:confused:
 

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Bought my 330i ZHP about 1/2 a year ago.

Soon after buying it, changed the coolant, water pump and thermostat.
Cost me around $300

Changed the transmission fluid a bit later, another $60 or so

Recently did the spark plugs, $180


So far, really happy with it. Great car to drive.

I think it very important to find them in decent shape. Like any car really.

If you can do most maintenance yourself, it will likely be a good car to own. The straight six engine allows easy access to most things. Unlike the V engines.
 

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My request, is for you current owners to explain the difference in owning the 325ci (in terms of reliability, cost of ownership, etc) to other more traditional options like an Accord, or Toyota Camry of the same year range (2000-2003).
Upkeeping a 325ci will be more expensive than upkeeping an Accord or Camry.

Reliability (as in chances that the car will/will not strand you) will depend on how you upkeep it (specifically, preventative maintenance and how long you delay it).
Fact: My e46 has been more reliable than my friends camry (XV30), because the guy and the previous owner neglected the camry (to the point of no maintenance whatsoever, whilst driving on flat tires with seized calipers). The camry had half the mileage of my car and was several years newer.

The failure modes of the e46 are well documented, so by doing preventative maintenance and being wise while finding a good car you will have a reliable e46.

My family seems to think you have to be an attorney or doctor to own an e46. The idea of owning a "BMW" freaks them out. They think they're unreliable, expensive, pieces of junk that rich people enjoy wasting money on.
LOL, back in Russkyland every second 20-some year old kid with any sort of job had an old BMW or Mercedes. Most of them didnt even have their own place by the time they bought their car. Mind you cars are more expensive there than they are here, and wages are much lower. The owner of a brand new 760i will not be of the same demographic as the owner of a E36 325is.
Old BMW owner =/= new BMW owner

They insist on me spending the same amount of money to buy a nissan or a ford. Which would be fine of I could find a 240sx or a mustang GT in good condition for the same price as a 325ci.
Id be more comfortable buying an e46 with my last money than a 240SX.

I would be even more comfortable with saving some more money, and then having a larger choice of cars to chose from, and some money set aside for PM.

But if you enjoy spirited driving and are just itching to spend those 5K, I would recommend an E36. And one with a clutch pedal. If that still scares you, get a Miata.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Any bmw you can afford with around 100K miles...well maintained...will need, easily, a thousand dollars in the first year or two. Double that if you really want to maintain it...triple it if you want it driving and handling really well.

I got mine with 140K miles on it. It's now at 260K miles...and I've easily spent $7,000 or more on it...much in the first two years...and it would have been more if I didn't learn how to do a lot of the work myself.

So now I have an almost perfect machine...and it's been that way for years. Oh, btw, I had the dealer do my subframe repair for free under the settlement...which bill would have been another $5,000.

Don't spend your $5,000 on a bmw. Spend $3000 on it and the $2,000 might get it decently handling within a year or so...plus or minus. But, the car you buy at around 100K miles or a little more, won't have had anything done to it but oil and filters...unless the owner can show you receipts...unless he or she can show you the subframe was repaired...properly.

You'll need lots of work...though you might not know quite how much since you're coming from a jeep. This is all ballpark. If you read my threads, you'll see what I did and when I did it.

Cooling system, brakes, tires...just that is a thousand if you diy it. It 'can' be the cheapest brand you'll ever own if you look at it long term and rebuild it slowly to factory condition.

Oh...your saying that you wouldn't get a manual unless it's an M3 sounds sort of ill informed. If you can drive a manual, you should get it in any car you get. You can't afford an M3 on your budget. Get an auto bmw non-M and you'll be missing out on a lot. I'm on original clutch still, btw.

Read fanatics more and you'll get a better idea of what you're getting into.
Roger that Dmax. And about the whole "manual/automatic" thing, I just enjoy the simplicity and convenience of an automatic. Don't get me wrong, I love driving manually and I'm good at it. But I can't for the life of me, drive calmly while behind the wheel of a manual car. I feel obligated to cause hell. And that's why I love manual cars. But that's also why I don't want one as a daily driver, I feel like I would ruin that feeling. And that's just personal preference. But manual cars are something to be savored for me.
 

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You'll have both more fun and more control with a manual...also less expense, better gas mileage, easier time getting out the fan to work on the engine...every way you look at it.

I almost always run to 5-6K rpm in 1st and 2nd to get to speed. Rolling through toll booths in 2nd...all the way up to 69 mph...nothing wrong with that and the car loves it...so do I. I'm an old guy...won't think of an auto until I lose my leg function. Lots of autos here seem to have issues...changing fluid requires dropping oil pan...but more than anything...it's an auto. You'll lose most of the reason for bothering with a bmw if you don't go manual. There's no question in my mind that's what you should get if you get any car and really know how to drive a manual...and in 10-15 years you might get really good at it! Just saying!
 

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Not gonna read the responses. I'll just give you my advice.
Buy an e46 with records. Meaning everything that's been done to it. I'd personally look for a 328 or 330 rather than a 325.
If you don't work on it yourself it will be very expensive. A brake job at the dealer is around $1400 I believe. But yourself it's not expensive.

Suspensions need replaced. At this age they're blown. All bushings need done. Cooling system needs done. Power steering system needs new lines. Probably leaking oil from valve cover gasket or oil pan gasket.

Here's the deal. These are GREAT cars. But when they die, they die hard. If someone doesn't maintain it it's going down hill fast. On the other hand, if you get a well maintained one, it will likely be the best car you ever own. Even reliability wise. Bmw engines last absolutely forever. And if you maintain everything else, you'll be worry free.

The name of the game is maintenance. There's a member named mango on here who has some good info in his signature. Search for him. Make a check list of everything he mentions. And when searching for a good car, look for those things to have been replaced. And if they haven't, they need to be.

Not a lot of people put value in a car with spot on maintenance and records. And then after the purchase they realize they need thousands in repairs.

Do it right the first time and find a well sorted model.


Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
 

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Soon after buying it, changed the coolant, water pump and thermostat.
Cost me around $300
Changed the transmission fluid a bit later, another $60 or so

Recently did the spark plugs, $180
Do you mean the coolant, water pump and thermostat cost you $100?

When did spark plugs become $30 each? :hmm:
 
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