BMW 3-series E46 Review – The BMW 3-Series is the benchmark of its class, or so they say. That’s correct. Great handling. This generation (E46) originated in 1998. This model is getting old, but back then it was a great handling car with RWD. A huge upgrade compared to its predecessor in safety, satnav, airbags; a more adult car. I think they took a big leap forward. The engines. Of course, this generation 3-Series has a lot of straight-6 engines. Starting with the 320i. Great diesels too; BMW did that very well. Relatively a lot of power and good economy.
BMW 3-series E46 Review
ENGINES gasoline ENGINES diesel There are a lot of 3-Series of this generation for sale on AutoScout. About 1,500, including the coupe, convertible and wagon or “touring” (sounds more fancy). Most cars have a gasoline engine. Only 17% has a diesel; LPG 4%. LPG is rare, but the number of gasoline 3-Series stands out. Compared to the diesels, that is. Over 1/5 of the cars has an automatic gearbox. Body styles are divided as such: 50% sedan (another surprise), 20% wagon. Then there are the convertible, coupe and compact (predecessor of the BMW 1-Series). All take about 10%. Prices start at 1,500 euros, but that won’t buy you a fresh car. PRICES minimum, average, maximum Things to watch out for. Don’t be put off by the number of problems you may find. This is a loved car, so there’s a lot of info on the Internet, worthy of encyclopedias.
Every problem already documented has its advantages. There are a lot of how-tos how to solve certain issues or make upgrades. A lot is known about the problems of these cars. Don’t forget they can be 16 years old. Look at the overall state of the car. There are specific things to look for. Things that may wear faster than you’d like, e.g. the headlights. They can weather, which isn’t great for the light output. There’s also the condition of the interior. Door panels and front seats may show wear. Rust isn’t a very big issue, but there are some spots to check. The trunk lid of the wagon (like this one), doors and rain gutters. The electronics aren’t bullet proof, so make sure you check everything. Electric windows as well. The mechanism isn’t very durable. Satnav, audio system, make sure everything works. Especially because of its age. Then there’s something with the central locking module.
The GM5 module may be dying or dead when the central locking won’t work properly. Often other functions will fail as well, so check it out. You can check the suspension as well. Wishbones, rubbers, torque arms, etc. They wear faster than usual, so listen for rattling and vibrations when driving over bumps. It may indicate they need changing. Another important thing, especially with versions with more torque or power such as the 330d: the suspension of the rear axle isn’t very sturdy. This may tear, which is a serious problem. You can check this by removing the carpet in the trunk and look for crazing or cracks. The water pump is another feared problem. The bearings aren’t great, so you should preemptively change the water pump every 62,000 miles.
If you don’t and the water pump dies, there’s no more cooling. Most engines don’t like that and you’ll have serious issues. The gasoline engines are known for leakages at the thermostat. All plastic parts, connectors, radiators– Especially when they get older. So check it. Keep an eye on it when you bought one. Some diesels have a high mileage, so you’ll have to change some parts. You can find a lot about that, but we won’t call it a weakness. One important thing: the intake of modern BMW diesels has swirl flaps.
The swirl flaps from this period were not sturdy enough. They can break off. The swirl flap gets sucked into the engine. It’s a piece of metal, so it’s not good when that happens. You’ll have a damaged engine. How bad depends on where the flap ends up, but it can be very expensive. Remove the swirl flaps or have it done by a specialist. If they’re still there, because most of the time they’ve been removed already.
A familiar thing with the automatic gearbox in these videos: BMW says it has life-time long oil, so you won’t have to change it. That’s nonsense. As is known for every other brand. Make sure you change that oil once in a while, preferably give the sump a flush. It’ll make sure to remove the junk. It’ll prevent and solve small problems. We found this car at Damme Auto’s, a great choice for the car-loving family man. It’s a wagon, the 330i with manual gearbox, so great to drive. THIS CAR Thanks to Damme Auto’s Subs – Maru (BMW 3-series E46 Review)