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Most reliable E46 model?
08-08-2018, 07:04 PM
Post: #1
Most reliable E46 model?
Which E46 model is the most reliable?
The one with the least problems or that is built very well?
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08-08-2018, 07:42 PM
Post: #2
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 07:04 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model is the most reliable?
The one with the least problems or that is built very well?

i did quite a bit of research on my 330 before i bought it... especially with regards to reliability, cost of ownership, common issues etc. i left the M3 out, as i wasnt looking at it at all.

in the end, i narrowed it down to the 325, and the 330 being the best ones. their engines are pretty similar and are quite solid if maintenance is done. 318's have valve stem leaking issues.. i have read about this in the 320 too.

325/330 also dont have issues with subframe cracking (which the 323 and 328 did). the auto gearbox's in the 325 and 330 are the ZF 5HP19's.. which are okay too.

as mentioned, i ended up going with the 330. but in general.. the 325 and 330 were the later cars in the E46 line, so i think they got most of the platform issues sorted out by the time they were brought to the showroom.
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08-08-2018, 07:56 PM
Post: #3
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 07:42 PM)kilotango Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:04 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model is the most reliable?
The one with the least problems or that is built very well?

i did quite a bit of research on my 330 before i bought it... especially with regards to reliability, cost of ownership, common issues etc. i left the M3 out, as i wasnt looking at it at all.

in the end, i narrowed it down to the 325, and the 330 being the best ones. their engines are pretty similar and are quite solid if maintenance is done. 318's have valve stem leaking issues.. i have read about this in the 320 too.

325/330 also dont have issues with subframe cracking (which the 323 and 328 did). the auto gearbox's in the 325 and 330 are the ZF 5HP19's.. which are okay too.

as mentioned, i ended up going with the 330. but in general.. the 325 and 330 were the later cars in the E46 line, so i think they got most of the platform issues sorted out by the time they were brought to the showroom.

Thanks for the helpful reply

How is the fuel consumption on your 330i?
With 6 cylinder engines, i'm worried about that.
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08-08-2018, 08:23 PM
Post: #4
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 07:56 PM)MHN Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:42 PM)kilotango Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:04 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model is the most reliable?
The one with the least problems or that is built very well?
-----

Thanks for the helpful reply

How is the fuel consumption on your 330i?
With 6 cylinder engines, i'm worried about that.

np, btw i have no idea about the E46 diesels, but hopefully someone else can chime in there about those.

around town, im getting between 11-14L/100 km's. i do drive pretty hard, and in a not so economical way. plus mine is an auto, where i have the A/C on most of the time smile bounce

i have read that the smaller straight 6's (320, 323, 325 and 328) are as heavy on fuel, but without the power or torque of a 3.0L engine.
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08-08-2018, 08:23 PM
Post: #5
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
In all honesty if you're looking for a reliable car expecting low maintenance costs and low fuel consumption, a 15 year old BMW is not for you. Don't get me wrong - they are truly epic cars. Just be prepared to spend a bit to look after it properly.

Whilst the E46 was brilliantly well built and the 6 cylinder petrols will outlast most modern BMW engines, they are not cheap to keep on the road any longer. Anyone who says otherwise has been neglecting their car in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

However, if you plan on spending a relatively decent amount every year (estimate anything from R10k - R20k at least) on once off refurbishment on some items (E.g. cooling system, all engine gaskets, suspension parts, etc), you'll be driving one of the most reliable cars on the road that will take you to 1 million km's...

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08-08-2018, 08:59 PM
Post: #6
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 08:23 PM)msm Wrote:  In all honesty if you're looking for a reliable car expecting low maintenance costs and low fuel consumption, a 15 year old BMW is not for you. Don't get me wrong - they are truly epic cars. Just be prepared to spend a bit to look after it properly.

Whilst the E46 was brilliantly well built and the 6 cylinder petrols will outlast most modern BMW engines, they are not cheap to keep on the road any longer. Anyone who says otherwise has been neglecting their car in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

However, if you plan on spending a relatively decent amount every year (estimate anything from R10k - R20k at least) on once off refurbishment on some items (E.g. cooling system, all engine gaskets, suspension parts, etc), you'll be driving one of the most reliable cars on the road that will take you to 1 million km's...

Which E46 model would you recommend though?
Should I consider an E90 or are those worse in terms of reliability?
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08-08-2018, 09:12 PM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2018 09:21 PM by KPM_330.)
Post: #7
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
None of the above choices would work for you. As stated, these cars are getting on in years and if fuel consumption alone worries you, basic maintenance is probably gonna set you back more than the autobox rebuild, that has you worried. From your myriad of posts, it seems that you are looking to spend the bare minimum on acquiring either car, so any examples in that price range will need work.

My advice would be to consider a solid Japanese car or a marque known for cheaper maintenance/running costs. BMW's are definitely more expensive when things go wrong, consider it teutonic tax.. ultimately, you will do what you desire so all the best. My only hope is you don't buy a lemon and complain BMW's are horrible, expensive, unreliable cars. You really do get what you pay for, mostly.

Oh, and a quick search on the forum would yield most of the answers you require, no need to make so many (repeated) threads.

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08-08-2018, 09:19 PM
Post: #8
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 08:59 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model would you recommend though?
Should I consider an E90 or are those worse in terms of reliability?

E90 seems to have a different set of issues - so in some places it's more reliable, in others it's worse. However, by virtue of being newer, they are generally easier to find in good condition. Just avoid the 320i. There's quite a few old threads on the forum on the pros and cons of the E90s - you just need to search a bit.

As for the E46, would suggest sticking to the 6 cylinder models. Either petrol or diesel. The best car would one where you buy from a previous owner that can prove he spent some effort in terms of maintenance. A well kept 325i will be better than a neglected 330i or vice versa.

Auto gearboxes seem to be a hit and miss. Some don't have any issues at any mileage. Some need a rebuild before 150k KM. If you can, try to find a manual to avoid issues.

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08-08-2018, 09:45 PM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2018 09:52 PM by MHN.)
Post: #9
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 09:12 PM)KPM_330 Wrote:  None of the above choices would work for you. As stated, these cars are getting on in years and if fuel consumption alone worries you, basic maintenance is probably gonna set you back more than the autobox rebuild, that has you worried. From your myriad of posts, it seems that you are looking to spend the bare minimum on acquiring either car, so any examples in that price range will need work.

My advice would be to consider a solid Japanese car or a marque known for cheaper maintenance/running costs. BMW's are definitely more expensive when things go wrong, consider it teutonic tax.. ultimately, you will do what you desire so all the best. My only hope is you don't buy a lemon and complain BMW's are horrible, expensive, unreliable cars. You really do get what you pay for, mostly.

Oh, and a quick search on the forum would yield most of the answers you require, no need to make so many (repeated) threads.

I'm looking at getting a 318i that was well maintained and has decent mileage. The fuel consumption is fine on that model.

I really do love the car a lot. I've driven 3 of them. I really enjoy driving, so I don't mind maintaining it.

I've been looking for 2 months online for one, they range between 45 and 65k. The cleanest and lowest mileage ones go for 55-65k. I missed out on those because they get sold very very fast.

I think it's worth it considering those prices

(08-08-2018 09:19 PM)msm Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 08:59 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model would you recommend though?
Should I consider an E90 or are those worse in terms of reliability?

E90 seems to have a different set of issues - so in some places it's more reliable, in others it's worse. However, by virtue of being newer, they are generally easier to find in good condition. Just avoid the 320i. There's quite a few old threads on the forum on the pros and cons of the E90s - you just need to search a bit.

As for the E46, would suggest sticking to the 6 cylinder models. Either petrol or diesel. The best car would one where you buy from a previous owner that can prove he spent some effort in terms of maintenance. A well kept 325i will be better than a neglected 330i or vice versa.

Auto gearboxes seem to be a hit and miss. Some don't have any issues at any mileage. Some need a rebuild before 150k KM. If you can, try to find a manual to avoid issues.

I've heard the 320d E90 is good?
It's hard to find the 325i's and 330i's

I don't mind fixing the gearbox though.
I was mainly looking at a 318i
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09-08-2018, 06:33 AM
Post: #10
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 08:23 PM)msm Wrote:  In all honesty if you're looking for a reliable car expecting low maintenance costs and low fuel consumption, a 15 year old BMW is not for you. Don't get me wrong - they are truly epic cars. Just be prepared to spend a bit to look after it properly.

Whilst the E46 was brilliantly well built and the 6 cylinder petrols will outlast most modern BMW engines, they are not cheap to keep on the road any longer. Anyone who says otherwise has been neglecting their car in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

However, if you plan on spending a relatively decent amount every year (estimate anything from R10k - R20k at least) on once off refurbishment on some items (E.g. cooling system, all engine gaskets, suspension parts, etc), you'll be driving one of the most reliable cars on the road that will take you to 1 million km's...

^^ This is the real advice!

That said, had a E46 318i with the N42 engine. Sure it had the valve stem issue (very easy fix nowadays), but it never gave me trouble. However, I spent enough on it each year to keep it in good standing. Good fuel economy for its time, considering its a 2003 car. Was reliable and a pleasure to drive.

The 330s just is so much more fun to drive...when they work! But I find they also a lot more expensive to maintain, even if i don't have to do valve stem seals on them, they have more expensive repairs required atm Fencelook

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09-08-2018, 08:43 AM (This post was last modified: 09-08-2018 08:44 AM by kilotango.)
Post: #11
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(09-08-2018 06:33 AM)Tinuva Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 08:23 PM)msm Wrote:  -------

^^ This is the real advice!

That said, had a E46 318i with the N42 engine. Sure it had the valve stem issue (very easy fix nowadays), but it never gave me trouble. However, I spent enough on it each year to keep it in good standing. Good fuel economy for its time, considering its a 2003 car. Was reliable and a pleasure to drive.

The 330s just is so much more fun to drive...when they work! But I find they also a lot more expensive to maintain, even if i don't have to do valve stem seals on them, they have more expensive repairs required atm Fencelook

i've had a 330 now for about 6 years. yes... it is expensive to maintain, BUT, i say its expensive = changing the usual things like shocks, tyres, servicing (filters, oil) and all the general stuff.

for specific 330 issues, i cant think of any.

besides the usual m52/M54 probs of redoing the vanos seals, changing the oil filter housing gasket, replacing power steering pump and replacing the intake boots. the M54 engines are pretty good, as long as the cooling systems are maintained and the oils+ filters changed on time.

the other most expensive job was getting all wheel bearings done + the subframe/diff bushings replaced along with the centre bearing and flex disk... though this will apply to even a 318 at some stage.

there's just so much more value in a E46 330 than a E46 318 if the price difference isnt much between the two.
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10-08-2018, 08:32 AM
Post: #12
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
I'd go for a 330i, 330d or facelift 320d in the E46.
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10-08-2018, 12:06 PM
Post: #13
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(10-08-2018 08:32 AM)yush1 Wrote:  I'd go for a 330i, 330d or facelift 320d in the E46.

I agree,those are all great choices. The main thing would be to make sure that the car you buy has full service history,otherwise maintenance could get very expensive very quickly.

My e46 FL 320d made sure that I never overlook a full service history againdunno anymore

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10-08-2018, 12:36 PM (This post was last modified: 10-08-2018 12:39 PM by Rotinaj.)
Post: #14
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
Firstly 15-20y old BMW will not be cheap to run maintenance wise.

Secondly anything with a M52/M54 will be a the only place to start.

Autoboxes will fail and cost 20k to repair, a clutch and flywheel replacement will cost slightly less.

If you are intent on this, ensure you have more than the basic DIY skill level and a reasonably equiped toolbox. IE torx/breakerbars,wheel ramps etc etc.

My E46 320i (M52) i believe is now pushing 300 000km with it's 4th owner , me being the 3rd, my mates mom being the 2nd and some fella from KZN the first. It still runs sweet as a 6 last time i spoke to the owner. I rebuilt the cooling system in my time, and the shocks and the PVCC , owner 4 redid the control arms and a few other things. It cost in upkeep over 4 years probably 50k.

It was a well kept and neat example of the Breed. John from Leo Haese looked over it during it's tenure with owner 2. Was even reasonably economical even with the short ratio rear diff. I
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10-08-2018, 12:45 PM
Post: #15
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
E46 330d Auto 250k km

Replaced all shocks and mounts
Front control arms and bushes
Rear diff bush
Prop guibo and bearing
EGR thermostat
Turbo mainfold replaced from aluminum to cast iron
Expansion tank and cap
Crank damper puller
Vacuum pump
Engine mounts

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10-08-2018, 12:56 PM
Post: #16
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
I echo the sentiments of M&M and Tinuva.

E46s are all old now, and you should be willing to spend about R20k on the initial catch up of maintenance, and then at least R10k annually thereafter. They are wonderful cars, but you must be realistic about what it will cost to own them.

If you're ok with kind of ownership budget and can afford it, then spend your efforts on buying the cleanest/best/most well maintained example you can find, as you want to the least amount of maintenance backlog possible to deal with. It is always cheaper to spend more on the initial purchase than to try and restore a cheaper offering in the market that has some neglect.

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10-08-2018, 01:27 PM
Post: #17
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
just remember though...with that block..all it takes is one overheating moment to ruin things...check compression

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10-08-2018, 03:26 PM
Post: #18
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(10-08-2018 12:36 PM)Rotinaj Wrote:  Firstly 15-20y old BMW will not be cheap to run maintenance wise.

Secondly anything with a M52/M54 will be a the only place to start.

Autoboxes will fail and cost 20k to repair, a clutch and flywheel replacement will cost slightly less.

If you are intent on this, ensure you have more than the basic DIY skill level and a reasonably equiped toolbox. IE torx/breakerbars,wheel ramps etc etc.

My E46 320i (M52) i believe is now pushing 300 000km with it's 4th owner , me being the 3rd, my mates mom being the 2nd and some fella from KZN the first. It still runs sweet as a 6 last time i spoke to the owner. I rebuilt the cooling system in my time, and the shocks and the PVCC , owner 4 redid the control arms and a few other things. It cost in upkeep over 4 years probably 50k.

It was a well kept and neat example of the Breed. John from Leo Haese looked over it during it's tenure with owner 2. Was even reasonably economical even with the short ratio rear diff. I

these E46's are so well documented online, its unreal. so many times when i experienced some problem or issue, just a quick google with the symptoms would bring up a list of DIY's, forum posts, youtube videos, you name it.

being German, they seem to fail reliably, in that the issues happen across borders in exactly the same way. this for me has been a real great benefit of owning such a popular model of BMW.
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11-08-2018, 07:32 PM (This post was last modified: 11-08-2018 07:39 PM by MHN.)
Post: #19
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(08-08-2018 08:23 PM)kilotango Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:56 PM)MHN Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:42 PM)kilotango Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 07:04 PM)MHN Wrote:  Which E46 model is the most reliable?
The one with the least problems or that is built very well?
-----

Thanks for the helpful reply

How is the fuel consumption on your 330i?
With 6 cylinder engines, i'm worried about that.

np, btw i have no idea about the E46 diesels, but hopefully someone else can chime in there about those.

around town, im getting between 11-14L/100 km's. i do drive pretty hard, and in a not so economical way. plus mine is an auto, where i have the A/C on most of the time smile bounce

i have read that the smaller straight 6's (320, 323, 325 and 328) are as heavy on fuel, but without the power or torque of a 3.0L engine.

I'll consider a 325i. I doubt I'd find a 330i, since its extremely rare.

So far, I've only heard good things about the 325i, now I just need to find a clean/low mileage one, which will be tough

(09-08-2018 08:43 AM)kilotango Wrote:  
(09-08-2018 06:33 AM)Tinuva Wrote:  
(08-08-2018 08:23 PM)msm Wrote:  -------

^^ This is the real advice!

That said, had a E46 318i with the N42 engine. Sure it had the valve stem issue (very easy fix nowadays), but it never gave me trouble. However, I spent enough on it each year to keep it in good standing. Good fuel economy for its time, considering its a 2003 car. Was reliable and a pleasure to drive.

The 330s just is so much more fun to drive...when they work! But I find they also a lot more expensive to maintain, even if i don't have to do valve stem seals on them, they have more expensive repairs required atm Fencelook

i've had a 330 now for about 6 years. yes... it is expensive to maintain, BUT, i say its expensive = changing the usual things like shocks, tyres, servicing (filters, oil) and all the general stuff.

for specific 330 issues, i cant think of any.

besides the usual m52/M54 probs of redoing the vanos seals, changing the oil filter housing gasket, replacing power steering pump and replacing the intake boots. the M54 engines are pretty good, as long as the cooling systems are maintained and the oils+ filters changed on time.

the other most expensive job was getting all wheel bearings done + the subframe/diff bushings replaced along with the centre bearing and flex disk... though this will apply to even a 318 at some stage.

there's just so much more value in a E46 330 than a E46 318 if the price difference isnt much between the two.

I agree. Since the price difference is so small. I might as well go all-out with which model I pick.

I'm considering the 325i since 330i's are really hard to find.

(10-08-2018 08:32 AM)yush1 Wrote:  I'd go for a 330i, 330d or facelift 320d in the E46.

And what about a 325i ?
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11-08-2018, 08:27 PM
Post: #20
RE: Most reliable E46 model?
(11-08-2018 07:32 PM)MHN Wrote:  I'll consider a 325i. I doubt I'd find a 330i, since its extremely rare.
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/ite...4608967947

Looks like a worthy 325i. Need to inspect it first though!

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03 BMW E46 318i N42 Manual Sold
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