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I’ll NEVER WANT OR OWN ANOTHER e46 xi in my life. I had one for a few months and it was aaaagh ok-ish till things started to go bad in rapid succession.

Changed the front passenger axle and control arm w/bushing. What a PITA. Then bottomed out in a huge pot hole and cracked the engine!!! Smh

I also have a reg RWD coupe (for yrs) and never had issues in inclement weather. f
For those that fret rwd in snow/heavy rain simple: just don’t drive like a douche!! I did drive with a shovel during snow season for parking tho.

For example:
That oil pain and design makes the gasket job more tedious. For those that dont know, you have to remove the pass side axle to get the pan off as well as dropping the sub frame & the engine bay brace which is a Must piece if equipment/tool for that repair. As opposed to the RWD, just the engine bracing, sub frame drop, unbolt and bam!

Another example: the design of the fron suspension is more costly for no damn reason if you asked me.
AWD: control arm, inner ball joint and then the bushings (which almost never come pre pressed into their ‘lollipop’ carriers) all sold seperately
RWD: control arms have both inner and outer balljoints in the arm itself and the bushings are now mostly sold with their carriers (lollipops).

I’d discourage anyone wanting to buy one!

Aside from having all 4 wheels propelling at the same time what are the PROS you can come uo with?


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Well, I came from Subaru land with a 98 outback and put 100 miles a day on my car in all weather conditions kinda making AWD a necessity. Big but though, this AWD system isn't even in the same league as that of Subaru. It is still helpful, especially on the highway but I got stuck a couple times in my driveway with the BMW in stuff that I believe the Subaru wouldn't have had a problem with.
That being said, I probably wont buy another BMW of any kind. The electronics flat out suck, just started having the trifecta light problem which puts the car in limp home mode whenever it happens, looks to be a problem with the TB or probably the engine harness. The real problem is with it going into limp home mode, I mean really BMW? There is no reason for it and I am not sure I could even limp it home when it happens, I would be stranded. Dont get me wrong, I do enjoy driving it, fun car but overall my Outback was a much better car.
 

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I'd take a slightly differing viewpoint. Our 330xi had some needs when we bought it, but I expected that going in, to a degree. There is no doubt, an older BMW can be a needy auto to own if it has not been properly maintained through the years. The e46 330xi is a tank, not as refined as a period Audi torsion system or Porsche AWD system. They are a decent value on the used market. The AWD system is a tad agricultural, but has proven quite well here in the PNW winters. Every manufacturer has it's "ism's", including Subaru. We've had an Outback and a newer Crosstrek, both are garbage. The build quality and reliability is terrible. The interior and sound system in our old 330xi is 10x nicer then the new Crosstrek in the family.
These cars are getting some age and miles on them. They need some infrastructure put into them, which most don't do.
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I replaced both my CVs in my driveway, with minimal tools, in only 4 hours. And that's with the OEM jack. In my experience, mine's been really easy to work on, with a few exceptions (intake boot, cough). As for the AWD system, I've never had a problem with it. I drive in Eastern Oregon a lot, on ice, snow, gravel and mud, and never had a problem. It's even been really good for autocross. Sure, it's all open diffs, but I haven't had it hold me back. I'm sorry you've have that experience with your xi, but I think they're actually really sensible vehicles with a good, though primitive, AWD design.

Just my $0.02
 

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Meh. I've had no issue with the design. Compared to similar aged nissan/subaru I've found that the design is far and away better.

Let's talk about this:
That oil pain and design makes the gasket job more tedious. For those that dont know, you have to remove the pass side axle to get the pan off as well as dropping the sub frame & the engine bay brace which is a Must piece if equipment/tool for that repair. As opposed to the RWD, just the engine bracing, sub frame drop, unbolt and bam!

The control arm bushings are trivial with a press. IMO they aren't much different from working on the e30 lollipops.
I'm sorry, are you comparing front end maintenance of AWD vs RWD as your justification? My $60 engine support doesn't offend me.
It seems you're talking about the oil pan gasket. I've done the job, it's not bad at all once the axles are out up front (which is not related to RWD at all) then drop the front diff and replace the seals.
With a support bar it's nothing.
Finally, you're complaining about cost of parts for the rarer version of the car vs the more popular and thus cheaper to maintain car?

I live in the mountains, RWD would be stuck on my slanted gravel driveway. Even with a LSD.

Yes, if you only deal with random inclement weather go with a RWD and good tires.
If you deal with say... snow in May (That is today for me), no, it won't be a good idea.
 

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If i could do fat peels in mine, i'd be a happy man. Other than that i have 0 complaints. I feel very confident on the road in pretty much every weather scenario, and my drivetrain is pretty well taken care of. I can agree that it's pretty beat that the Xi is considered more of a 'premium' when shopping for parts. Theirs no denying that the RWD E46 suspension components are cheaper.

Overall it's my fun zippy mom car.
 

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I welded the transfer case ring & sun gears, removed the front drive shaft, and bam, RWD wagon.
No more AWD horrific clunking with an aging transfer case and constant front axle replacement, and my MPG went up, faster off the line, quieter, and oversteer in the wet!
 

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If there is no need to drive nonchalantly in low traction situations, then there is no need for added service required for more than one wheel drive. Otherwise, it is what it is - more complicated = more parts to service.

Joe M in WV
 

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Of course an AWD car is a bigger PITA for the DIYer, its always the tradeoff of weight + maintenance for what a good amount of people can justify. Good winter tires will always beat AWD though, true, and for our cars it's a very primitive open diff system...major step back from the e30 ix. Kinda half assed on the e46 if you ask me, BMW just did it for the people who wanted it. You gotta pay to play.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If there is no need to drive nonchalantly in low traction situations, then there is no need for added service required for more than one wheel drive. Otherwise, it is what it is - more complicated = more parts to service.

Joe M in WV


Well said, now I concur all the way!


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I have more complaints about the cooling system than the AWD.


Haa haa the cooling system is suspect for all our e46’s. However, unless you semi bullet proof it with for example: mishimotos full metal radiator and expansion tanks, along with silicone hoses, and metal upgrade pulley. Ecen then you still have to wirry about the water pump and therm.


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I live in Maryland, my first car was a 325xi 5 speed. Sure there are better AWD systems out there but it really isn't bad. Always got me where I needed to go and never left me stranded. The only downside IMO is additional maintenance over the RWD e46s (i.e. replacing axle boots when the are dry rotted and about to tear rather than waiting for CV to go bad) and slightly worse MPGs. I drive a 330ci 6 speed now and although I enjoy the extra MPGs out of the 6 speed I do miss the AWD system of the xi
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I live in Maryland, my first car was a 325xi 5 speed. Sure there are better AWD systems out there but it really isn't bad. Always got me where I needed to go and never left me stranded. The only downside IMO is additional maintenance over the RWD e46s (i.e. replacing axle boots when the are dry rotted and about to tear rather than waiting for CV to go bad) and slightly worse MPGs. I drive a 330ci 6 speed now and although I enjoy the extra MPGs out of the 6 speed I do miss the AWD system of the xi


Hahaha oh yes, i see you’re slighty on the No xi crew lol, and what about the 2 shifter bushings that are needed for a refresh? Like wtf really? Different wheel sensors, and list continues. Idk what the dudes in Munich were thinking on this one.


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I welded the transfer case ring & sun gears, removed the front drive shaft, and bam, RWD wagon.
No more AWD horrific clunking with an aging transfer case and constant front axle replacement, and my MPG went up, faster off the line, quieter, and oversteer in the wet!


I wish I could do that to my 05 xi it’s the second xi I’ve owned at the second to give me some annoying AWD problems. I don’t know wether it’s my drive shaft guibo or transfer case or what is causing the car to be stuck. I previously changed the center bearing on my drive shaft which resolves the clanking noise, but once I got back on the road I could still fell the whole car shake while accelerating. Then one day while parking into my drive way it wouldn’t shift into park or drive at all. Only thing I get is a nasty grinding noise when I put it in park but the e brake is still necessary.
 

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Find my rant on here. My car was dealer owned and then CPO. There’s absolutely no reason for the issues this car has except, poor materials. The design and engineering doesn’t help with the repairs.

My next car will be electric.


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mine got me out of a snow drift that was up to the top of my liscense plate! if i didnt live in CO id probably buy RWD but since im here its logical to have awd, yes its more work but IMO its worth it.....here at least
 

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mine got me out of a snow drift that was up to the top of my liscense plate! if i didnt live in CO id probably buy RWD but since im here its logical to have awd, yes its more work but IMO its worth it.....here at least
Having the higher suspension is a benefit...I can drive over curbs, potholes without a second glance
 
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