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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a 2003 325i a few months ago. Only 67k miles, and nearly perfect inside and out. I'm in love! It's my first BMW ever, but I've always loved the e46. Previous owner dressed it up like the 330i ZHP, but its just a 325i underneath.

Is it worth spending $$ to tune it up, or just enjoy my first e46 until I can afford the e46 M3 that I've always wanted?

I'd like to try to increase hp to about 250-270. But might instead focus on enhancing the driving experience (suspension/brakes), and maybe delete a resonator in the exhaust to let it sing a bit. Thoughts? Is it worth it? Thanks!
 

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The only way to get that much hp is with forced induction. Catless headers will get you ~+15hp but that's it. No tune on a stock engine will give you that much power
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I was looking at turbo and exhaust mods, but again, I just don't know if it's worth it. The car is in such good condition, I wonder if it's best to mod this out, or eventually invest in an M3.
 

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Yeah, I was looking at turbo and exhaust mods, but again, I just don't know if it's worth it. The car is in such good condition, I wonder if it's best to mod this out, or eventually invest in an M3.
A goodish turbo setup (CX racing kit, ebay turbo, wideband, tuning) is about $2k+. It's definitely a fun experience when you're done
 

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Personally I would recommend enjoying your car, and spending the time and money on maintenance. In my experience, these are a great ride but it does take some time and bit of money keeping them that way. You likely have control arms, tie rods, RTABs, shocks, struts, and brakes in the not too distant future. And perhaps CCV and cooling system in next 30-40k miles. Of course, YMMV. And depends on what makes you happy and what you're willing to spend. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Personally I would recommend enjoying your car, and spending the time and money on maintenance. In my experience, these are a great ride but it does take some time and bit of money keeping them that way. You likely have control arms, tie rods, RTABs, shocks, struts, and brakes in the not too distant future. And perhaps CCV and cooling system in next 30-40k miles. Of course, YMMV. And depends on what makes you happy and what you're willing to spend. Enjoy!
I already replaced the entire cooling system, vacuum lines, CCV, and a few other odds and ends. Nothing was wrong with them (yet), but I heard they are common problems, so I preemptively replaced it all. You're probably right about the suspension components though. I can upgrade them as they go bad. I would love to have more hp, but suspension upgrades can be just as rewarding and fun, while also being more realistic.

So far the car has been really easy to work on, but I haven't touched any suspension pieces yet. Any advice on what to expect, good products, or watch out for?
 

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Ironman
01 330iT 6MT, 98 M Roadster
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The answer to can you (not the question you asked), is yes.

Is it worth it? Not by a long shot. Far too many alternate solutions that are far too cost effective.
 

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I already replaced the entire cooling system, vacuum lines, CCV, and a few other odds and ends. Nothing was wrong with them (yet), but I heard they are common problems, so I preemptively replaced it all. You're probably right about the suspension components though. I can upgrade them as they go bad. I would love to have more hp, but suspension upgrades can be just as rewarding and fun, while also being more realistic.

So far the car has been really easy to work on, but I haven't touched any suspension pieces yet. Any advice on what to expect, good products, or watch out for?
Sounds like you're on your way. I did front suspension in 2012 so a little hazt. Believe bmw control arm bushings are not replaceable and that you'll need new control arms. Think i went Meryle replacements. Outside that, have strong preference for oem parts; get factory fit and quality at aftermarket price. When doing suspenion you'll likely also want to replace RTABs (rent a tool to extract)followed by 4wheel alignment. Also prefer refreshing other parts in area while doing maintenance/repair; saves lots of labor and never been stranded. Working on replacing engine bay and suspension rubber (hoses, bushings, orings, etc.) over last couple years; almost there and switching to some interior refurb. In addition to abundance of help and repair info, lots of info on what's likely to break and when. GL
 

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Sorry, thats what I meant by tune, not just an electronic tune.
Ah okay. Apart from power, you can look into upgraded suspension components, consider an M3 subframe (I think it's better than a stock one), M3 brakes, engine swap or forced induction after your suspension is set.
This is how I look at it:
Stock 325 vs stock 330. Both have worn out suspension so if you replace with OE, there's no upgrade BUT you do have the opportunity to upgrade which will be equal to or better than the 330, which is what I'm gonna do. My shocks and struts are stock but for replacement I'm gonna buy a good set of coilovers or something similar which would be an upgrade over a stock 330. For the most part, everything between a 325 and 330 suspension and brake wise can be upgraded to eqaul or better. after that, the only thing lacking is the engine which could be swapped and/or forced induction
 

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This is coming from an older perspective, so take it as that.

I really appreciate older cars that are in perfect condition and unmodified. Or, tastefully modified. So many nice cars have been destroyed by tuning. When I see a 15-30 year old car that is in pristine, original (or near to it) condition, I really get excited. I saw a bright red early 80's E30 the other day that was stunning. It did have nice wheels on it and looked like it was lowered just a tad, but other than that it was super clean and super stock. It was stunning.

I take pride in my 02 325Xi. 220k miles and it is like new inside and out. When I rebuilt the suspension I installed some Powerflex poly bushings, upgraded Koni adjustables, and lowered the front to give it the same stance as a STOCK 325i (the Xi's front ends were higher due to the AWD system). I also installed a quick shifter on the 5MT transmission, some LED halos, and a Valeo SMF swap. But other than those, the car is stock. Unless someone knew what they were looking at they would not know.

I can not tell you how many people come up to me and compliment the car. It is not fast and will not win any drag races when faced with modern mini vans, but it is fun, reliable (very reliable), and looks fantastic. It is something to be proud of.

Since you are asking for opinions, mine would be to not destroy a clean car. If you want to build something wicked, find a good car that is in less than perfect shape and have fun with that one. Super clean E46's are getting more rare. Get yours into as close to as new condition as you can do. Sure, when rebuilding the suspension, make some upgrades. But don't slam it to the ground, install super low profile tires, loud fart can exhausts, and engine go fast stuff that will keep the car in the garage more than it is out on the road. Take pride in having such a clean "survivor" car. Take pride that everything works perfectly on such an old car. Have a BMW classic that you would not be worried to drive coast to coast. Who knows, maybe some day even the 325 E46's will start appreciating in value if they are super clean.

This is mine, 220,000 miles on it at the time of the photos:

 

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“worth” is a relative term that varies for each person.
with that said to hit that target HP you’d need to FI. at this point in the life of and value of the E46 325 I would say no. this coming from a fanatic who had a full build SC and LSD added to his 323Ci.

I would suggest getting a lower ratio diff and maybe a few other mods and call it a day. Otherwise sell, buy a M3.
 

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Just improve how it drives. Cheapish things you can do are 1) sway bars, these thing sway like crazy and you can get a set to eliminate that for like $300 2) get Z4M front control arm bushings. It will make the steering better than a Porsche. There's a guy on here who will make a set in our lollipops for $100 shipped 3) change your fluids especially the transmission 4) bring back your stock horsepower. There are YouTube videos on this 5) change out rear control arm bushings to M3 ones. This will prevents the car front squatting so bad when you take off and feels better 6) get a shorter shift knob if you have a manual.

That's about all that's worth doing to it. A limited slip diff with in a slightly higher differential would make it a ton of fun and you could go drift it and chuck it into corners but that's about $1200.

Forced induction is about $5000 and for that... Just buy an M3.

I have done all the above except forced induction to my car and it's so tight now that a stock M3, though faster by the numbers, feels like mush in comparison and isn't nearly as fun as my car.

Feel free to PM if you have any questions. I did all the research to find the cheap stuff to just make an e46 more fun. You can only use so much power on the street. Track days are crazy expensive. E46 is all you need

Sent from my VS988 using E46Fanatics mobile app
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everybody for the input. This was really helpful! I'm going to focus on subtle upgrades to the suspension as replacements are needed, and just try to keep the drivetrain clean and happy. I think this will keep the look and ride that I love, but make the 325 just a little more fun to drive.
 

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//Binary is in my DNA
2002 BMW 325i
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Thanks everybody for the input. This was really helpful! I'm going to focus on subtle upgrades to the suspension as replacements are needed, and just try to keep the drivetrain clean and happy. I think this will keep the look and ride that I love, but make the 325 just a little more fun to drive.
Good plan moving forward. Enjoy your car.

I did add a Dinan stage 1 flash to my DME and EGS on my 325i. Removal of the speed limiter and a slightly more aggressive ignition timing map were the gains on the DME and quicker shifts at higher RPM points were the gains on the EGS. Not a huge power difference but it is definitely noticeable.

The best part is when I open my hood, it looks completely stock. Besides if you wanted a muscle car you would have bought one in the first place. :thumbup:

 

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2003 M3 6MT Slicktop
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2) get Z4M front control arm bushings. It will make the steering better than a Porsche.
5) change out rear control arm bushings to M3 ones. This will prevents the car front squatting so bad when you take off and feels better
6) get a shorter shift knob if you have a manual.
Offset bushings have trade offs. won’t make steering better than a Porsche. if so great why didn’t ///M put them on E46 M3 :idea: they’ve been around since E30 M3 days.
Please explain how M3 rear bushings prevent “squatting”?

Not a bad list but not sure your reasoning behind them :hi:
 

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Just improve how it drives. Cheapish things you can do are 1) sway bars, these thing sway like crazy and you can get a set to eliminate that for like $300 2) get Z4M front control arm bushings. It will make the steering better than a Porsche. There's a guy on here who will make a set in our lollipops for $100 shipped 3) change your fluids especially the transmission 4) bring back your stock horsepower. There are YouTube videos on this 5) change out rear control arm bushings to M3 ones. This will prevents the car front squatting so bad when you take off and feels better 6) get a shorter shift knob if you have a manual.

That's about all that's worth doing to it. A limited slip diff with in a slightly higher differential would make it a ton of fun and you could go drift it and chuck it into corners but that's about $1200.

Forced induction is about $5000 and for that... Just buy an M3.

I have done all the above except forced induction to my car and it's so tight now that a stock M3, though faster by the numbers, feels like mush in comparison and isn't nearly as fun as my car.

Feel free to PM if you have any questions. I did all the research to find the cheap stuff to just make an e46 more fun. You can only use so much power on the street. Track days are crazy expensive. E46 is all you need

Sent from my VS988 using E46Fanatics mobile app
I’m doing research on my rear end squatting everytime i put it in Drive and stumbled upon your post. You say the rear control arm bushings is what causes the squatting? I had a mechanic say it was the rear shocks. Please any help would be appreciated
 

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Offset bushings have trade offs. won’t make steering better than a Porsche. if so great why didn’t ///M put them on E46 M3 :idea: they’ve been around since E30 M3 days.
Please explain how M3 rear bushings prevent “squatting”?

Not a bad list but not sure your reasoning behind them :hi:
Yes I know the threads 2 years old...... but notice there's no answer.
 

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I’m doing research on my rear end squatting everytime i put it in Drive and stumbled upon your post. You say the rear control arm bushings is what causes the squatting? I had a mechanic say it was the rear shocks. Please any help would be appreciated
It's usually the rest tailing arm bushing. You can put an M3 bushing in there. If your shocks are done then that cause also cause squatting. Replace them both. The shock is easy to do. The RTAB is a bit of a PITA
 

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2003 M3 6MT Slicktop
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Yes I know the threads 2 years old...... but notice there's no answer.
firmer M3 trailing arm bushings are for squirm or the toe changes of the arms under power. the “squat” is the back dipping from weight transferring to back on rwd take-off. the springs and shocks deal with the back squatting/dipping.
 
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