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2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!
I just bought this 2002 325Ci with 147k miles on it. I paid 2300 bucks for it and thought it was a decent deal. I knew when i bought it that it had either an oil leak or was burning oil, the HVAC didn't work, most the dash lights were on and it needed what would end up being a front driver wheel bearing.

TL;DR: Tell me I am not crazy or surround me with your crazy so I don't feel bad about "burning" money
911414

Looks pretty good, aye? Anyway I've had 6 other BMWs but they were all under warranty. I bought this with the vague intent of it being a project, after buying it, it became a little less vague. I have since replaced a fuse and got the HVAC working and eliminated 3 of the dash lights. I ordered a new A to C pillar roof trim piece and a new trunk handle as one side is falling off. After registering it, aforementioned parts and the forthcoming details of an inspection report, i am about 3k into it already. The inspection report is where it gets tricky for me and makes me rethink my decision.
Here are the deets:
INSPECTION RESULTS

-Front tire tread 9/32

-Rear tire tread 8/32

-Front brake pads 25%

-Rear brake pads 20%

-All 4 brake rotors are extremely corroded, recommend

front and rear brake pads and rotors

-Battery test 89%

-Brake fluid over 4% h2o, recommend brake fluid flush

-Air bag light is on

-ABS light flickers

-Check engine light is on

-Cabin air filter is filthy

-Oil cap leaks oil

-Valve cover gasket major oil leaks

-Oil filter housing leaking oil

-Both front lower control arm ball joints have play

-Both front lower control arm bushings are cracked

-Front strut upper mounts are worn out

-Rear shock upper mounts are worn out

-Transmission seams to be on its last leg, fault code for

gear monitoring recorded

-Engine oil level was 1 quart low, topped off



Quote for the following repairs minus the brakes, which i would do myself, though i have only done them once on an accord many moons ago, it can't be all that different.

Wheel bearing = $610
Valve Cover Gasket = $476
PCV Valve & hoses = $990 - i verified the engine isn't junked due to the bad valve
Air Intake Boot = $184
Oil Cap = $17
Oil Filter Housing Re Seal = $621

So basically another 2900 bucks putting me at $5900 all in by the time these repairs are complete. Which I don't find is that bad really, though i liked it a lot more when it was 3k. Either way, after all that work, ill still need new brakes, suspension parts and what they are saying is a transmission "on its last leg" though that one is a little hard to believe as i have driven it at least 7 times since buying it and the transmission seemed like one of its best parts. I do not think the place i have taken it is trying to pull one over on me, they get raving reviews on the interwebs and the guy seems legit.

If you made it this far, i guess i am just looking for your thoughts as current e46 owners based on what i have above. I have not authorized the work and am considering selling it for whatever i can get for it, but am leaning more towards keeping it. Before the shock of the 5k repair bill I was getting excited about the things i would do to the interior and so on. To be clear this isn't intended to be a daily, i have an new stupid Ford for that, this is just a nostalgic fun car for the weekends/garage ornament. Anyway, I truly appreciate ANY and all thoughts you may have for me!
Thank you,
Greg
 

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2004 330Ci 85k miles
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12,348 Posts
You don‘t want to pay somone to fix an E46, it’s just not economical.
DIY on the other hand is, and brings a sense of accomplishment and joy every time you drive the car.
Keep in mind these cars were $40k+ when new, so maintenance isn’t on the cheapy cheap.
My biased opinion is that you end up with a very good car when properly restored, for way less money than a new car that won’t handle as well.

BTW, it looks like yours has the uncommon and desired MTech I body trim package? Post a pic of the front end to confirm.
 

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Do as much DIY as you can but you need to find a good, non-dealer BMW specialist and make him your friend.

As Bali noted, these cars aren't cheap to maintain. But you have a list of deferred maintenance that can be attacked over time to spread out the $$.

You did buy an 18yr old witn nearly 150k miles without a pre-purchase inspection.

I assume a car like that will take $2000 upfront (after purchase cost ), and $1,000-$1,500 in annual maintenance thereafter - some years less...This assumes you do all the work yourself. Do this and you will enjoy it for years to come, particularly if there is no rust.

It sounds like an auto transmission. If it is working properly, I would suggest a trans fluid change ...which is tricky and HAS to be done exactly by the book.
 

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I have worked on several aging vehicles and would counter the E46 is actually fairly cheap to maintain unless you get into serious issues or want go fast parts, plus it's actually fairly easy to work on (my reference points are old Jags and muscle cars). Admittedly, the act of actually servicing the car to catch up poor maintenance or to cover for a lot of mileage is a fair amount of cash outlay at once for a daily driver.
If you have it as a toy second or third car, somehow it's easier to rationalize the expense.
 

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'04 325i, '02 325iT
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634 Posts
All of those jobs you listed are DIY friendly and you could probably bust those out in a weekend if you were motivated. Here are a few prices for just the parts and you'll see how most of the cost is in the labor. Do the work yourself and you'll not only save a bunch of money but you'll learn a lot in the process and get to know how your car works.

If you're already doing the brakes swapping the front wheel bearing is an extra 15 minutes on top of that while you're in there.

Wheel bearing: $87.50

Valve cover gasket Kit: $100
(Make sure you double check the production month on your car for the correct kit. Change is 9/2002)

CCV Kit: (Includes Air Intake Boot) $158

Oil Filter Housing Gasket Kit: $84 (Actual gasket alone is less than $5)

The crank case vent valve and oil filter housing gasket are all in the same location and could be done together since it's a lot of shared labor / removal of similar parts in the engine bay. Same goes for the valve cover gasket.

The ABS light is most likely a wheel speed sensor. (Around $50 but you can get them for 5 bucks from a junk yard car)
 

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2002 325Ci
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8 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
You don‘t want to pay somone to fix an E46, it’s just not economical.
DIY on the other hand is, and brings a sense of accomplishment and joy every time you drive the car.
Keep in mind these cars were $40k+ when new, so maintenance isn’t on the cheapy cheap.
My biased opinion is that you end up with a very good car when properly restored, for way less money than a new car that won’t handle as well.

BTW, it looks like yours has the uncommon and desired MTech I body trim package? Post a pic of the front end to confirm.
Hey BaliDawg,
Thanks for the reply. I am quickly getting there with the DIY option/necessity to not break the bank, and as you said the personal satisfaction of doing so would be cool, especially considering in my 40 years I've mostly just done brakes. The age of youtube def helps with my confidence level and "demystifying" auto repair. I had 4 E9x, 2 sedans, 1 wagon and 1 coupe, the coupe being my favorite car of all time. My X3 35i being a close second, well maybe not that close, it was just fast and i liked that. Anyway, i LOVE the way this car looks and drives. It reminds me of high school and my entire life wanting a BMW. Here is a pic of the front. I have already "fixed" the small middle trim piece a bit and now just has that small crack on the bottom left as pictured. This is on my list of things to address but not that high up at this time.
Does this confirm or debunk your theory? I am guess you might be correct given my search for a new one so far.
911467
 

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Registered
2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #7
Do as much DIY as you can but you need to find a good, non-dealer BMW specialist and make him your friend.

As Bali noted, these cars aren't cheap to maintain. But you have a list of deferred maintenance that can be attacked over time to spread out the $$.

You did buy an 18yr old witn nearly 150k miles without a pre-purchase inspection.

I assume a car like that will take $2000 upfront (after purchase cost ), and $1,000-$1,500 in annual maintenance thereafter - some years less...This assumes you do all the work yourself. Do this and you will enjoy it for years to come, particularly if there is no rust.

It sounds like an auto transmission. If it is working properly, I would suggest a trans fluid change ...which is tricky and HAS to be done exactly by the book.

Howdy Effduration,
Yep, DIY is my new goal/hobby. I am moving east a few hundred miles at the beginning of next year and will have a bigger garage and opportunity to make friends with a BMW specialist.

Yep, I *mostlty knew what i was getting into when i bought this without an inspection, well maybe about 1500-2000 less than i thought, but like i said i love it and is a new hobby, a slightly expensive one but its not as expensive as a new one, which i don't love yet. I am about 6k into it now all things considered. I can easily justify $1000-$1500 a year on parts and keeping me busy to have this car. I take a little solace in the condition of the body as that seems like a bit less DIY, or at least to do it correctly.

I will look into the fluid change. The guy that has it now said the transmission threw a gear monitoring code so i am a little weary of that but i have read somewhere else that the fluid change can help stave off replacement in this situation. Though the transmission feels great to me so i am hoping its a fluke and i won't have to worry about that for a wile.
 

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2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #8
I have worked on several aging vehicles and would counter the E46 is actually fairly cheap to maintain unless you get into serious issues or want go fast parts, plus it's actually fairly easy to work on (my reference points are old Jags and muscle cars). Admittedly, the act of actually servicing the car to catch up poor maintenance or to cover for a lot of mileage is a fair amount of cash outlay at once for a daily driver.
If you have it as a toy second or third car, somehow it's easier to rationalize the expense.
Yo JustJohn, Thanks for the input, i am quickly getting more comfortable with the idea of doing a lot of the things i want done on my own. i think in the beginning ill steer clear of major engine/transmission stuff and focus on brakes/suspension/interior/etc. I will say that having a warrantied daily driver makes doing the work myself on this old BMW just about stress free, which i never really considered. If it just so happens to take me a week and a half to complete a brake job (though not sure why it would) i don't need to worry about getting anywhere during that time.
 

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Registered
2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #9
All of those jobs you listed are DIY friendly and you could probably bust those out in a weekend if you were motivated. Here are a few prices for just the parts and you'll see how most of the cost is in the labor. Do the work yourself and you'll not only save a bunch of money but you'll learn a lot in the process and get to know how your car works.

If you're already doing the brakes swapping the front wheel bearing is an extra 15 minutes on top of that while you're in there.

Wheel bearing: $87.50

Valve cover gasket Kit: $100
(Make sure you double check the production month on your car for the correct kit. Change is 9/2002)

CCV Kit: (Includes Air Intake Boot) $158

Oil Filter Housing Gasket Kit: $84 (Actual valve cover gasket is less than $5)

The crank case vent valve and oil filter housing gasket are all in the same location and could be done together since it's a lot of shared labor / removal of similar parts in the engine bay. Same goes for the valve cover gasket.

The ABS light is most likely a wheel speed sensor. (Around $50 but you can get them for 5 bucks from a junk yard car)
Hey Mark!
Thanks for all the info! this rocks. Looks like you prefer fcpeuro, i had not heard of them yet. I have ordered from ECS already, just a roof trim piece and new handle for the trunk. Have any experience with them as far as critical parts? I am being a baby and having half the work done including the currently bad bearing. I just wanted to get it to a place that i could drive it on occasion and enjoy it while i do more work to it. I will do the other bearings when i do the brakes, will get on the suspension once i have a bigger garage early next year and otherwise just keep on learning and doing. I think i do have a bad or going bad sensor because when i bought the car the traction/abs and brake lights were all on. For some reason when i replaced fuse 28 they all went away and now just the abs light flickers yellow. the guy that has it said its throwing a modulator code. I am going to see what happens after the bearing is done and the engine is all sealed up. I realize those are mostly wildly unrelated but one can hope. Either way though i figure i can just do all the sensors when i do the brakes, yeah.
 

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As others have mentioned DIY is your friend with an older BMW. This site is wonderful. As you've already experienced this site has a great group of people that are very helpful. The site also has many DIY write ups. If you have the right tools, patience, and can follow directions, then you can take care of most of the items you mentioned yourself. People like fcpeuro because of the lifetime warranty on parts purchased from them (FCP Euro Lifetime Auto Parts Replacement Guarantee | FCP Euro). Good luck with your wrenching.
 

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2004 BMW 330 M Package 306km
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I hope you have a lot of fun working on this vehicle your self you must have tools if your willing to put everything else into it. To be honest the novelty will never wear off but it definitely looks nicer park when ITs running and cosmetically in good condition.
 

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'04 325i, '02 325iT
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I see Chris C already linked to the FCP Euro warranty. That is the main reason I'm a fan of buying parts through FCP vs elsewhere. I also buy parts from ECS Tuning, Turner Motersports and a few other places if it's a part that isn't likely to ever need replacement again. It helps to check around to see where parts are least expensive but even if it's a few bucks more at FCP I'll usually buy there since they have free replacements for life.

EDIT:

Also, if you haven't searched around in your area for Pick n Pull salvage yards, that is another great source for used parts. I don't buy used wear items like brakes/belts/hoses etc. but for parts like sensors, electrical connectors, clips, switches, trim pieces, interior parts, etc. it's a great way to go vs buying new. I replaced the radio in my car for 20 bucks when the volume knob broke, and got a mint hood for my sedan for $60 when the clear coat started failing. I've also replaced tail lights, SAP valve, window switches, HVAC control panel, and rear view mirror to name a few other things.

A lot of the stuff you can find at the salvage yard are upgrades over your current equipment, for example swapping a later style HVAC panel, radio with aux input capabilities, and rear view mirror with auto dimming / compass and homelink garage door opener. There are a few parts like the rear view mirrors that can be swapped in from later E90 model BMW's to add features your car may not have had from the factory. You can also add a stand alone homelink garage door opener to your overhead console next to the sunroof controls if your car doesn't already have one. Those were popular on the E39 5 series and are prewired on most E46 so all you need to do is knock out the blanking plate and plug it in.
 

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If it makes you feel any better, I’ve probably spent around 10k in maintenance and mods the last 5 years. But only because I’m too busy to diy and live in an apartment that won’t allow mech work in the garage. I’ve probably done the equivalent of 5k in work (all diy) the previous 10 years of ownership when I was in college and starting my career.

Sometimes I wish I picked up an M3 a few years ago when prices bottomed out. I love my car though...owned it half my life now.
 

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2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #14
As others have mentioned DIY is your friend with an older BMW. This site is wonderful. As you've already experienced this site has a great group of people that are very helpful. The site also has many DIY write ups. If you have the right tools, patience, and can follow directions, then you can take care of most of the items you mentioned yourself. People like fcpeuro because of the lifetime warranty on parts purchased from them (FCP Euro Lifetime Auto Parts Replacement Guarantee | FCP Euro). Good luck with your wrenching.

Hey Chris,
You are correct. This site is filled with great people that have already been quite helpful, including you. I mostly expected no response or less than polite ones. I don't know why but glad I didn't.
Thanks for the luck, i'm probably going to need it.... ;)
 

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2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #15
I see Chris C already linked to the FCP Euro warranty. That is the main reason I'm a fan of buying parts through FCP vs elsewhere. I also buy parts from ECS Tuning, Turner Motersports and a few other places if it's a part that isn't likely to ever need replacement again. It helps to check around to see where parts are least expensive but even if it's a few bucks more at FCP I'll usually buy there since they have free replacements for life.

EDIT:

Also, if you haven't searched around in your area for Pick n Pull salvage yards, that is another great source for used parts. I don't buy used wear items like brakes/belts/hoses etc. but for parts like sensors, electrical connectors, clips, switches, trim pieces, interior parts, etc. it's a great way to go vs buying new. I replaced the radio in my car for 20 bucks when the volume knob broke, and got a mint hood for my sedan for $60 when the clear coat started failing. I've also replaced tail lights, SAP valve, window switches, HVAC control panel, and rear view mirror to name a few other things.

A lot of the stuff you can find at the salvage yard are upgrades over your current equipment, for example swapping a later style HVAC panel, radio with aux input capabilities, and rear view mirror with auto dimming / compass and homelink garage door opener. There are a few parts like the rear view mirrors that can be swapped in from later E90 model BMW's to add features your car may not have had from the factory. You can also add a stand alone homelink garage door opener to your overhead console next to the sunroof controls if your car doesn't already have one. Those were popular on the E39 5 series and are prewired on most E46 so all you need to do is knock out the blanking plate and plug it in.
Once again, thanks for all the great info! I will check out Turner. I did find a couple salvage yards around here, one has my car in grey that i am going to try and see if i can gank some interior trim pieces out of. I didn't even think of the homelink but would love to add that even though i won't be driving it all that often. The stock radio with aux is also appealing, I have also been looking at aftermarket double din units that are made to look stock and give me the carplay, this is just on the way bottom of the list. I kinda want to upgrade my daily driver sound before this one. My list just keeps growing though!
thanks again!
 

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2002 325Ci
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Discussion Starter #16
I hope you have a lot of fun working on this vehicle your self you must have tools if your willing to put everything else into it. To be honest the novelty will never wear off but it definitely looks nicer park when ITs running and cosmetically in good condition.
Hey Kolonel,
Thanks for the warm wishes! its funny you say that, it hasn't been that long and i know for sure the novelty hasn't warn off yet but more surprisingly no buyers remorse. It will be even better once i get it back from the shop, detail the interior and enjoy it a little before i start any big projects of my own.
 
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