Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Messages

Advanced

Seeking input on E36 and E46 cars...

Posted by Archeo-peteriX 
October 31, 2011 09:57PM
More and more; I am realizing that another BMW is in my future.

For sure; I can't afford a new one; heck, I can't even afford anew Hyundai sad smiley

So, my search will involve 1995 and newer E36 models and 2000 to 2003 E46 models.
Around here; I can have just about any of the 318i models or the E46 323i and some earlier 325i E46 machines for $8000 or a lot less.

I'm looking for feedback from any of our forum friends who have or have had either body style.
Cab has an E46; Rick(his daughter) had an E36 with the M44 power plant; jaffar has an E36 and I know others also have one or the other as well as our beloved E30s.

How do these newer cars stand up from a reliability point of view?
rkj
October 31, 2011 10:27PM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
More and more; I am realizing that another BMW is in my future.

For sure; I can't afford a new one; heck, I can't even afford anew Hyundai sad smiley

So, my search will involve 1995 and newer E36 models and 2000 to 2003 E46 models.
Around here; I can have just about any of the 318i models or the E46 323i and some earlier 325i E46 machines for $8000 or a lot less.

I'm looking for feedback from any of our forum friends who have or have had either body style.
Cab has an E46; Rick(his daughter) had an E36 with the M44 power plant; jaffar has an E36 and I know others also have one or the other as well as our beloved E30s.

How do these newer cars stand up from a reliability point of view?

A few thoughts on the 318ti is that you have to have a stick and the reason the car works so well is the light weight. A normal (full size) 318 is not as good but I wouldn't turn a nice one down if it was a stick car.

Ours had around 100k when it was totaled by a deer and still was a strong runner with many years ahead of it. I truly adored that car Peter.
October 31, 2011 10:36PM
I kind of like this one...

It's a 1998 with less than 150,000 km( ~90k miles)

or this one...


It's a 2002 320i(2.2litre) with only 125,000km(~78Kmiles) and it's under $8K.

The E46s have even better fuel economy than the E36 which was a big improvement over the E30.

Hopefully Cab will chime in with his documented fuel usage charts for the E46 smiling smiley
November 01, 2011 12:04AM
One of my sons has an E-36 and it has been very reliable. He put it on the track a few times just for fun. The only weak area is the interior side panels. They came loose from the body and have to be glued back in place. Otherwise very comfortable and economical.

The E-46 I am not familiar with except to drive one once. Very nice driver.

Bob in Everett
November 01, 2011 03:14AM
I got a 2003 E46 320d (d for devil's fuel), bought it in May 2010 with 121.000 km and currently has 187.000 km. Drives great! Had no issues except for a broken exhaust (known issue). Mine has the M-pack but would not recommend that as it costs a bit more (lower fuel economy, expensive tyres).
I've got a fuel consumption log, but I guess you never got the diesel over there.
November 01, 2011 09:16AM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Hopefully Cab will chime in with his documented fuel usage charts for the E46 smiling smiley

You'll be disappointed with my fuel experience. First of all, we have the Xi, and the wagon, and neither of those are good for fuel economy. Add to that the fact that BMW NA only brought the 325XiT and you have a bit of an overburdened engine lugging around the heaviest E46. The only way to make our car heavier would be with an automatic, but IIRC it still weighs in somewhere around 3600 pounds (you'll have to convert that to stone yourself, I don't have that conversion factor handy:mrgreen:).

Anyway, I do have all the records from every fill up we've ever done, but I'm about 6 years behind in entering it into the spreadsheet, so I can't give you a detailed breakdown. I can give you anecdotal information that the OBC almost always reports somewhere around 22-24 mpg. I reset the OBC every time I fill it, but Mrs. Cab doesn't always reset it. But that's about what we get. I would expect a lighter weight RWD model to do better. However, as you said, my E30 got around 22 mpg (US, not Canadian, naturally) with the chip and the fact that I drove it fairly aggressively, and it's quite a bit lighter than the E46, so the newer car does do quite a bit better just to get the same approximate consumption rate.

As for the rest of the car, it has been good, I'd say. Not spectacular, but we have never been completely stranded by anything. Bear in mind that is has so many more electronic doo-dads than the E30, so many more opportunities for failure. Every major-ish repair so far was covered either by the initial the extended CPO warranty. Those repairs included the following that I can remember off the top of my head.

  • A blown out LF CV boot with corresponding lube all over the inside of the wheel (they replaced both front half-shafts under warranty).
  • Broken rear springs. The car remained functional, just a little lower and clunkier. I noticed this when the RR spring broke, I looked under there at the time and it was fresh clean metal indicating a recent break. I looked on the LR side and found that spring had broken at some earlier time, the metal was all rusted over. Both breaks were on the bottom coil of the spring, so they still had enough left to support the car. Anyway, both were replaced under warranty.
  • We had a leaky something or other on the RF wheel. I don't remember what it was, but there was too much oil/lube under there for my liking once when I did a winter tire changeover, took it in and they replaced something. I'll have to look up in the log what it was.
  • I had them replace the radio amplifier, because the AM reception was horrible (and it was under warranty), but that didn't fix anything. I think the antenna is just awful.

I've done one full brake job (the car currently has ~96k miles), and while I know that rotors don't warp, the car is seriously shaking right now under braking at highway speeds. There is plenty of pad left, and I am pretty sure that the rotors are no longer uniformly thick. I have new rotors to install but haven't had the chance to put them on yet. I plan to do that when I install the winter wheels (which will be very soon).

There is also a smell of coolant from time to time and the coolant level goes down way too fast for everything to be normal. Tech Talk in Roundel has led me to understand that basically the whole cooling system in the E46 is piss-poor, and that right around my mileage one should do pretty much an entire replacement. I haven't found the leak yet, but I suspect it is at the pump/thermostat. The OE pump has plastic impellers and is known to fail. The replacement pump is metal and much more robust. I've priced out the replacement and it'll be around $350 for the parts to do the whole job, $200-ish if I don't replace the radiator. But word is that the radiator sucks, that the connectors in and out are plastic and eventually fail under temperature. So I'll probably do that whole thing in the spring.

The AC pretty much stopped working his summer. I'm thinking that it will need a new compressor, but haven't yet had it looked at. That's something I won't attempt myself.

I also think that many/most of the rubber bits and struts/shocks are up for renewal soon. But that is all to be expected with close to 100k miles and 8 years in New England, IMO.

So after all that bad news, the good stuff. We absolutely love the car, although with two kids and all their accoutrements, it's gotten pretty small on us. I think if we hang on to it long enough, it will get slightly bigger again as they outgrow the enormous car seats. I'm not a big fan of the AWD, I'd much rather have RWD with snow tires, but I guess it gives some measure of confidence (which isn't always a good thing in bad conditions). We do use snow tires anyway, unlike most of the rest of the fools around here who believe that AWD is the answer to all ills. It's comfortable, relatively fun to drive, and despite what I said above, I think the fuel mileage is not awful. It's certainly better than many other family vehicles, except something like a minivan would give us substantially more room inside at a possible cost of worse mileage.

If I were driving an E46 myself, I'd be very happy with a 328i, coupe or sedan. I'd prefer it to be more of a stripper than the Premium/Sport/AWD/leather/etc model that I have. I'd prefer a RWD manual wagon, personally, but those are very hard to find, especially around here. I was lucky to find one with a stick at all, and to do that I had to go with the AWD and all the luxury bits (except for nav system, I was lucky to avoid that).

There have been no major structural issues or mechanical problems. Most of the issues I've had I consider to be relatively routine, and thus acceptable. Buying an older car like you'd be doing, any major issues should be shaken out by now, so make sure that the wear items like bushings/suspension/etc are in good shape (or just consider replacing them to be part of the initial cost - kind of like an M20 timing belt), and keep an eye out for the cooling system and AC that I mentioned above. The engine is good, the drivetrain is strong, although as always I'd recommend a stick. Get one with manual seats (I don't think manual windows were even available - maybe in Canada, I don't know) and few of the geegaws, and you should have yourself a pretty good car.

Best of luck, feel free to ask any specific questions you have that I might be able to answer.

Cab
1990 325i(s)
2004 325XiT
November 01, 2011 01:39PM
Quote
Michiel 318iS
I got a 2003 E46 320d (d for devil's fuel), bought it in May 2010 with 121.000 km and currently has 187.000 km. Drives great! Had no issues except for a broken exhaust (known issue). Mine has the M-pack but would not recommend that as it costs a bit more (lower fuel economy, expensive tyres).
I've got a fuel consumption log, but I guess you never got the diesel over there.

My sister had a 1998 320d, E46 silver.
It was a great car, and lasted her good but it was starting to show it's age, with some electronic glitches with central locks and airbags, then the engine let go, water in the oil. New head gasket, and turbo problems. Rebuilt turbo and two years later (this summer) the engine seized. She had a used engine installed and traded it for the new model 318d, year 2008. So far she's happy with it.

As for the e36, the interior tends to fall apart. Where I work there is one 316i 1995, with countless km on the odo, the interior is a shame, the engine ran out of oil and was replaced, other than that (and is enough!) it runs fine. If it was treated with care, perhaps it would be in much better condition and if taken care properly the engine would never be ruined (it ran fine before).
If you want a project, get a cheap e36 and be prepared to rebuild the interior, brakes, suspension, and the usual suspects in old cars, or get one after the owner do all that.
The e46 still cost a bit when in good shape, but should be much newer and last you longer.

JP
rkj
November 01, 2011 04:38PM
I would spend the most money you can Peter, and get the best car to start with. You have a car to drive so take your time and find a good one, that's what I'm doing.
November 01, 2011 06:08PM
Quote
rkj
I would spend the most money you can Peter...
Of course you would, being Peters money...! :laugh:

Just kidding. I understood, time is on Peter's side, and he is talking about getting a new car for a while now and taking his time.
After all, what good is to buy a car if one don't like it, or can't use it?
The new 3 series will eventually press the price of the actual series down, so no reason to rush things.
November 01, 2011 09:58PM
Thanks Cab; that will all be very helpful in my search.

How are the kids and Molly?
Got any recent pics of the munchkins?
November 01, 2011 10:05PM
Quote
Jose Pinto
Quote
rkj
I would spend the most money you can Peter...
Of course you would, being Peters money...! :laugh:

Just kidding. I understood, time is on Peter's side, and he is talking about getting a new car for a while now and taking his time.
After all, what good is to buy a car if one don't like it, or can't use it?
The new 3 series will eventually press the price of the actual series down, so no reason to rush things.

Jose,
You and Rick are right; I do have time and I intend to make the most of it.
I will end up with the most car for the least money :dance:

My biggest problem right now is deciding how much money I'm really willing to put into a newer vehicle vs doing some of the things needed around the house.
I think that; if I'm smart about it; I can have both. With my woodworking experience and industry contacts; I should be able to save a lot on things like flooring and cabinetry. I'm willing to do my own painting so that can save a lot of money.

Gee, if I'm going to do all this house stuff; I'll need a truck :wall:

Please, somebody give me the winning lottery numbers :lol:
November 02, 2011 07:51AM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Quote
Jose Pinto
Quote
rkj
I would spend the most money you can Peter...
Of course you would, being Peters money...! :laugh:

Just kidding. I understood, time is on Peter's side, and he is talking about getting a new car for a while now and taking his time.
After all, what good is to buy a car if one don't like it, or can't use it?
The new 3 series will eventually press the price of the actual series down, so no reason to rush things.

Jose,
You and Rick are right; I do have time and I intend to make the most of it.
I will end up with the most car for the least money :dance:

My biggest problem right now is deciding how much money I'm really willing to put into a newer vehicle vs doing some of the things needed around the house.
I think that; if I'm smart about it; I can have both. With my woodworking experience and industry contacts; I should be able to save a lot on things like flooring and cabinetry. I'm willing to do my own painting so that can save a lot of money.

Gee, if I'm going to do all this house stuff; I'll need a truck :wall:

Please, somebody give me the winning lottery numbers :lol:

Perhaps you may keep the truck for a while, and sell it latter instead of trading it in for the "new" car.
Selling used cars is more and more done over internet ads, and used car dealers will geve much less for an used old car than you can get from the buyer.

On the other hand, I painted my house several times, moved home, and did some other stuff and never needed to own a flat bed truck to do so.
My father has a van i can borrow at times (together with his help) or if I hadn't, I coulod allways rent one for a day if needed be.
In fact, from the two cars we have at home I am considering to keep just one runing and do away with one insurance, maintenace, etc.
This to say the Citroen is again "en pane" like the french say...
November 02, 2011 09:08AM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Thanks Cab; that will all be very helpful in my search.

How are the kids and Molly?
Got any recent pics of the munchkins?

Everyone is good, considering the power outage we're in the midst of right now. They're saying estimated restoration tonight sometime, so we're hopeful.

I have some recent pics on my site over at cabtreadway dot com. It's not updated every day or anything, but I try to get something up there every now and then.

Cab
1990 325i(s)
2004 325XiT
November 02, 2011 12:33PM
Easy: get a decent car and a trailer
November 02, 2011 06:46PM
A person has more friends when he owns a truck. :biggrin:

Bob in Everett
November 03, 2011 02:09PM
If property is related to friendship, it is no real friendship!
November 03, 2011 11:25PM
I was saying the same thing... indirectly.

Bob in Everett
November 04, 2011 12:25PM
Quote
Bob in Everett
A person has more friends when he owns a truck. :biggrin:

May work better owning a swimming pool a give parties!
The "Great Gatsby" style, or Berlusconi way...
:cool2:
November 04, 2011 08:38PM
Been there and done that with the pool two times over many years. The pool is a lot more work and a lot less fun than a truck. Everyone of my children fell into the deep end when they were toddlers and gave us a scare even though we had our eyes on them the whole time. They do not make a sound when they go in and not much of a splash either.

I will take the truck any day.

Bob in Everett
November 04, 2011 10:28PM
You and Mrs Cab have two very adorable kids.
I sometimes miss those days when my girls were at that age but I can always look at the old photo albums when I forget who they looked smiling smiley

Your blog will be a keepsake for them smiling smiley
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

Online Users

Guests: 3
Record Number of Users: 3 on September 29, 2015
Record Number of Guests: 109 on June 08, 2017