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Funny I've owned my e46 for over 3 years and never once have used the auto setting. I guess I'm a control freak.

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the auto system in the e46 and other bmws is quite impressive compared to any other car i've owned, including modern cars. it will maintain the temp, by controlling the fan location and air temp, regardless of what you do with the dial. so basically, you want the car to be 70 degrees always, but the sun is on you so it feels hot, dial the center dial to cold. now it's raining, you're wet, and it feels a little cold, turn the dial to warm, and your car stays at 70, but you can feel more comfortable. it's amazing i wish home HVAC somehow worked like this.
 

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the auto system in the e46 and other bmws is quite impressive compared to any other car i've owned, including modern cars. it will maintain the temp, by controlling the fan location and air temp, regardless of what you do with the dial. so basically, you want the car to be 70 degrees always, but the sun is on you so it feels hot, dial the center dial to cold. now it's raining, you're wet, and it feels a little cold, turn the dial to warm, and your car stays at 70, but you can feel more comfortable. it's amazing i wish home HVAC somehow worked like this.
I'll have give the auto setting a chance. Since the pandemic, the poor girl doesn't get driven much. Last big trip I took with her was in February to Boston. That was right after I replaced the pinion seal.

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AUTO. My E36 did not have an Auto setting, so I used the dash/floor vent combination. On my E53 and E93, I might use MAX for a few minutes to get the car cooled down, then switch to Auto.
 
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