Buying a used BMW 3 series E46 – 1998-2005, Common Issues, Engines types

Buying a used BMW 3 series E46 – 1998-2005, Common Issues, Engines types

[Music] BMW 3-series e 46 a small BMW with big problems now this is not that case this 3-series is surprisingly well-built and also reliable enough however as the other used cars this can also have some bigger or smaller issues so let’s check it out more closely this 3-series was made from 1998 to 2005 the build quality of this car is very good the interior can really withstand a lot and it can look great even after 300 or 400 thousand kilometers the exterior can have problem with rust mainly on the bottom of the doors or on the fenders there is sometimes problem with the central locking system electronic accelerator heated seats window regulators passenger seat occupancy sensor and the ABS DST sensors there can be also problem in the hand brake air conditioning system or with the water pump you should change the water pump every 100,000 kilometers there can be also water leaking into the interior mainly if the car is equipped with sunroof the 3-series can be equipped with the standard suspension or with the factory sport suspension the sport suspension is fantastic on high quality roads however it can’t withstand a lot mainly on bad roads the good thing is that the car has great handling even on standard suspension I would recommend buying a car from 2000 or the facelifted version from 2001 I would recommend finding a car which is well equipped because the standard equipment is really poor for example the 3-series can have GPS navigation analog TV toner heated front seats electrically adjustable front seats optional front sport seats Harman Kardon sound system automatic climate control and so on you can choose various engine types in this car but I will talk about only the best engines from the petrol engines I would recommend the 2.5 liter 6 cylinder which has 192 horsepower this engine is common in the facelifted version then there is the 2.8 liter out of 6 cylinder engine which has 193 horsepower the most powerful end in the e46 is a three litre six cylinder which is 231 horsepower from the diesel engines I would recommend the three litre six cylinder which is from 184 to 204 horsepower all the engine is a timing chain but it can sometimes be worth even after three hundred thousand kilometres so you have to pay attention to this you can choose between manual or the automatic gearbox the manual gearbox is reliable then you can choose the SMG sequential gearbox which is not very reliable and expensive to fix then there is the conventional automatic transmission the gearbox can have electronic or magnetic problems so we have to check it before buying you should change the oil in the automatic gearbox every 60,000 kilometers before buying two new suspension parts bearings electronic parts the car should ride quietly so it shouldn’t make rattling squeaking or humming noises I also check the gaps between the body panels they should be even on the left and on the right side too I hope that this information are helpful enough if you have some questions write them into comments don’t forget to Like subscribe or comment thanks for watching [Music]

About the Author: Michael Flood


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  2. having owned a bmw e46 for almost a year now I will never buy another bmw. Nothing is easy to access and the engineering does not make sense. Save some money and buy Vag group car easy to service and repair

  3. I had a 2004 320i for 4 years. Overall very reliable car, but ive changed waterpump at 135000 km, starter, rear suspension, tightened the handbrake pretty often….. other than that good car…

  4. I have a 2001 330ci and I've never had any of these problems. Except for the sunroof getting jammed but that's an easy fix. It's all about how you take care of and maintain your car. ?

  5. What do you think about the 2004 BMW 320i? I found a great deal in my area and would like to know how reliable it is.

  6. I have replaced so much on this car . just did fuel pump now need rack and pinion. I have a 2002 325ci 165k miles. everything seems to have gone wrong

  7. BMW. is. best owners. should do. good. service. go. Companies. or. see. good. people make sure. have. guaranty. on. job. if can. don't. live. car ower. .ight. in. shop. they. stilling. part.

  8. i had e46 before. loved the car… drove it almost 188k miles. graet car, fun to drive, i loved it. except it was a POS unreliable and always breaking down. maybe it was a lemon idk but i put up with it because of attachment and YES i did do all the maintenence

  9. Great video. My husband and I got a 1999 2.8 manual model. Engine is solid, doesn't touch oil like the smaller petrol ones. Interior build quality is very good, there's no cracking noise even on very bad roads. Seats are comfortable for long journeys. There are some issues though, since it's a now older car. You have to be prepared to change a lot of parts in it. There is one factory defect you have to be aware of especially if you live in a warmer climate. There is a sensor that activates the fan in the front and it's not very well isolated (may be fixed in facelift models, not sure). The little box that it's in is going to leak eventually. The fan won't turn on and the car is going to start overheating. Also, regarding the sound, speakers are very good, but the amp (it's in the back) can be faulty (radio and cds not turning on every time or playing for a little while and stopping by themselves). There are some cheap multimedias and stuff like that in car morgues (at least in Eastern Europe). Get one with a built in amp and get somebody who knows what he's doing to connect them for you. Central locking as mentioned in the video, can be problematic. Fenders also get rusty indeed. All in all great car with an awesome retro feel to it, love the way it looks, it handles great.

  10. I'm getting my first car in a few weeks… and I'm thinking of the BMW 330ci 04.
    would you say it's a good first car? i know nothing about cars tbh but i like the way this one looks =-)

  11. Hey tnx for your video… i want to get a 320ci 2000 … plz tell me whats you think and it will be my first car. I need your valuable opinions

  12. Why don't you recommend the 320d? Also, what is a mileage I should aim for when buying this car? Until now, I've been looking at the 150 000 – 175 000 km models from 2002+

  13. I 've used a W202 c200 compressor for a year which I sold, it was such an efficient car. Right now I am confused between buying a 2000 model W202 c280 v6 and an e46 2003 bmw 330xi. Need your advice much especially with the e46 as regards the most reliable among the e46 series.

  14. Someone is selling me a BMW 320i 2002 automatic with 287000km on it.. What should I check for? I tried it and seems to run good , but I know nothing about cars.

  15. My dad bought an '04 325xi new back in 2004, to this day, other than a few minor issues (window regulator, heated seats), its running great. He has worked hard to maintain it. I was 3 years old when he bought it, I'm 17 now. I have my license now, it's a blast to drive with great power and handling. It will be mine next year 🙂

  16. I'm searching for a good one now. Unfortunately and weird enough I can't find a single one with a complete maintenance historie..

  17. I was thinking about purchasing a 2003 bmw 325i 3 series that has about 168000 miles for 3000 dollars is it worth it?

  18. 320d (150bhp) 2002 purchased at 130,000 miles and I can tell you that after owning this car for less than 9 months and 30,000 miles driven I had to spend €5000 on maintenance.
    Turbo,T/Chain, Drive shaft bearings,crankshaft pulley, rear suspension kit,boost pressure sensor, full brake system front, control arms,differential and water pump. Money Pit , I'm going back to VAG. NEVER BMW AGAIN !!!!

  19. I have to add, that the e46, was actually made in 2006, as well, as a coupe convertible. This is a common area of misinformation. I have a 2006, and i oftwn have a difficult time even getting the correct replacement parts, so now when im placing an order, I have to say that I have a 2005, so that i don't get parts for the newer model, because they will not be for the e46. ?

  20. Is it same to assume that M3s have more durable parts (i.e not plastic impellars?) since they're more performance orientated – and therefore alot more reliable, or is the parts commonality similar to base E46 models?

  21. Looking at these 3 cars, what do you think? whats the main things i should look out for before buying? and which would be better to last me few years?
    2002 BMW 530i Sport E39 (160,000km) – $6000
    2003 BMW 530i High-line Executive E39 (180,000km) – $7000
    2004 BMW 330Ci E46 (160,000km) – $9000

  22. Many owners of these cars have neglected to perform an engine cooling system drain/flush/fill every two or three years. The aluminum radiator corrodes and leaks, and it's expensive to replace. I've regularly changed my car's coolant, so this has not been a problem. I've had to replace all four window lifts, but this was easy to do myself. Also, the VANOS sensor, DIY for about $60. I bought the car new almost 17 years ago, and it's otherwise been ruggedly reliable. It's needed only the regular maintenance. Only 68K original miles, so far. I have no plans to trade or sell.

  23. Im considering to buy a e46 has to be a 330ci or 330D ( this one will be 300HP) but i dont know which one i should choose? Which one is more reliable?

  24. I may get my first car from my Dad. He has a customer who sells his 330i from 1998 with 240 000km. I hope it is in a good condition, so hyped for my first ever own car! ?

  25. Idk what to buy. E90 or E46.

    E90 is more modern.
    E46 looks good but dated.

    E46 has more "soul" and reminds me of childhood NFS most wanted.

    E90 reminds me how jealous I felt everytime I saw someone in it.

    E46 feels better. I like hearing the "noise" and is cheaper.

    E90 a few years newer and might be more reliable because of that and also has more "creature comforts".

  26. I will be 100% honest now! Soo I buyed e46 330d 184hp for 3,000€ but litery for one year I spend 4,000€ more only for problems… and it cost me to get it right 7000€ and after all this I sold her for 4,500€ … so yeah.. the diesel's cars have much more problems but are faster and more economical

  27. BMW are cheap shitty cars. They look very cool, but it’s a damn shame that they have so many problems. I had an E46 and it was an absolute piece of junk

  28. So I bought a 325i ran ok normal driving. Then I decided to floor it got to 6000rpm and motor just went into safe mode barely running a 15 mph turn of. Car and started again everything working fine until again i floored it and again back to under twenty with the car Erving between 800 and 1100 rpm Wow good thing a got it cheap

  29. I have a 04 320i . has been a great car, just hit 140k. low mileage yes for a 15 yr old car. The question I have is regarding the life time tranny fluid. should it be changed or not..I've heard both sides whether to change or not…comments?

  30. Olyan létezik hogy 325i de pre-facelift kaszniban? Most hírdetnek egyet hahun… valamiért azt hittem a 325i mind cicalámpás már

  31. You forgot to mention this:

    1. Have your VIN, call your BMW dealer and give them your VIN so they can see if front driver and passenger airbags are changed or not because E46-E39 cars are affected by this. The airbag company TAKATA had factory fault/design with shoot metal pieces to the driver’s and passenger’s face when activated. Instant 200km/h straight to your face.

    2. For manual transmissions only, put any gear in, try move the gear knob sideways if it moves a lot it means your gear knob rubber bushings are tired and needs a permanent vacation. Control the clutch if it slips or not.

    3. Subframe issue. Too much torque for the car to handle. I think this issue was fixed when the facelift came.

    4. Oil consumption. If you drive like my grandma, ignore this. If you wanna drive like a maniac which we all do, if the cabin start stink burnt oil you know the piston rings needs replacement. PUT M52 rings on your M54 engines, much stronger than M54 piston rings.

    5. For AT only, torque converter could slip.

    6. Coolant expansion tank is made of shit plastic, it will die very early.

    7. Vacuum leak.

    8. Check VANOS, watch closely how the car acts under 3.5k rpm. If it’s lazy and the owner says he didn’t touch it, you need to replace your VANOS.

    9. It’s always good to do a PC diagnostic control if you have hidden fault codes.

    Keep doing videos

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