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      01-30-2010, 04:29 PM   #1
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Just bought an e46, what to expect?

Oh no, I've basically just bought a car without driving one first. Put down the deposit, but havent driven it or any other e46 M3 yet (car is not local). I know it must be good because I know what mine is like (e92 M3) and everyone says the e46 was (is?) a great car. I'm going a little on trust here!

It is a 2003.5 manual tranny convertible, so I guess I'll assume there are some rattles and light wear. I looked into the service history, and its PERFECT - oil was done early, and even Inspection 1 was done, subframe was checked. The car has 35K miles.

I guess at the core will be a slightly lighter feeling car with less power but still high revving. The e46 still seems to have a nice 0-60 time. But from a driving perspective is what I'm really interested in knowing. I searched a bit, but I am wondering what people's perspectives are on the two cars. I'm assuming there are a lot of e46 M3 converts here. So, what should I expect?
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      01-30-2010, 05:30 PM   #2
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Like any E46 M3 you'll notice the brakes are a bit weaker (even weaker than my Z4 M) and the exhaust has a distinct rasp in the upper rpm region. The vert is 350 lbs. heavier than the coupe so that absorbs some thrust. But top up or down it's a blast. Tight, small, beautiful to look at, and top down the sound of the motor at full tilt is intoxicating. You should check into the ESS DME software to enhance the power. You can even raise the rev limiter and erase the speed limiter with the software. I've only had mine since Oct but plan to install KW V2s this year to improve ride quality and street cornering and at some point I'll improve the brakes. Check to make sure you don't have any subframe issues and depending on the miles you may want to consider new RTABs.

If you want to get some power back, you can always go to the Euro header and/or swap out the final drive ratio to the 3.91 or 4.10. The 3.91 is what the car should have come with. 3.62 is too tall which is why acceleration is what it is. With a 4.10 it's every bit as quick as your E92 M3.

Enjoy the better fuel economy!
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      01-30-2010, 10:16 PM   #3
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This car had inspection 1 done about 3000 miles ago, and I would expect they look for the rear subframe then, so I'm not too worried there. I think its too little miles for RTAB as well.

The dealer told me to look at the seam to the outer side of the front strut tower mounts to see if there was any separation there. Apparently its common, but I havent heard about this on the forums yet. I guess you have to drop the motor to fix those welds, so its really pricey.

He also said to check the springs by running my hand under there to see if its cracked off. I guess the z4s have this issue as well.

Anything else to check while I'm there looking it over?! It looks like a perfect car so far. Not a scratch on it!
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Last edited by Subw00er; 01-30-2010 at 10:40 PM.
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      01-31-2010, 12:50 AM   #4
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Nice find, the E46 rocks. I don't know about the convertible, but IMO, the coupe is even more fun and tactile than the E9x (at the sacrifice of total speed, grip, and comfort). The convertible will probably be a little heavier than your E92 coupe.

Expect to replace your RTAB's relatively soon (within 20-30k miles). Without fresh RTAB's, your car won't hold an alignment properly causing strange handling and fast tire wear.
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      01-31-2010, 01:01 PM   #5
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My experience is with an '02 SMG Coupe. The E46 M3 rides rougher at low speeds than the E9X. I recall that the Dinan suspension was actually supposed improve the ride. They are great road cars with plenty of power and great handling (more understeer than the E9x I think). The engine sounds great from inside the car (contrasting with the raspy sound outside the car). Be sure to change your transmission oil and probably the diff oil too roughly every 30K miles. When the cars were new a lot of people complained about clunks from the rear end/transmission (normal). Convertible owners complained about squeaks and rattles from the top. The Roadfly E46 M3 board was the place to be in the early 2000's. It's a good place to look for comments about the cars.

Good luck.
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      02-09-2010, 10:08 PM   #6
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Saying goodbye to my E46 back in September was hard. It is a GREAT car. Although in my opinion is a completely different car than the E92. Much more torque in the low gears, the E46 just begs you to step on the gas while the E92 is more refined and is more of a GT car. Enjoy !!!!!!!!!!!!
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      02-09-2010, 10:16 PM   #7
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E46 kicked ass!! Great buy.
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      02-12-2010, 12:29 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input..
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      02-12-2010, 10:08 AM   #9
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i think you can expect loads of fun
great buy, especially the convertible!

Pat
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      03-29-2010, 05:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RevFreak14 View Post
Saying goodbye to my E46 back in September was hard. It is a GREAT car. Although in my opinion is a completely different car than the E92. Much more torque in the low gears, the E46 just begs you to step on the gas while the E92 is more refined and is more of a GT car. Enjoy !!!!!!!!!!!!
yep yep what he said, bought an 04 Vert back in September last year, love every second driving it. I bought mine with 34k miles, 6 speeds, imola red/black.
Car came with 19'' wheels after market, IMO it was too rough for daily drive so I bought a set of VMR CSL Reps. 18'' ... smoother ride now
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      04-18-2010, 11:43 PM   #11
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Just pray that you dont have any sub-frame damage. Coolant, thermometer, and hoses are your main concern.
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      04-18-2010, 11:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramtin32i View Post
Just pray that you dont have any sub-frame damage. Coolant, thermometer, and hoses are your main concern.
Did 2003.5 verts have the subframe issue? It was fixed by then, right?
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      04-19-2010, 12:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Did 2003.5 verts have the subframe issue? It was fixed by then, right?
They didnt but doesnt mean all the facelifts dont. It was mainly the pre-facelifts that were triggered with this problem. You have until June to get it inspected by the dealership for free. Id make an appointment asap!
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      04-19-2010, 03:35 AM   #14
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Your RTAB would be about due now for sure. Factor in an alternator at about 45-50k miles. Rotors will need doing especially on the front if not already. My VANOS went at 40 odd thousand miles, but that is rare.

They are great cars, but all reports the E46 M3 is a teenager to drive, whereas the E9X is a grown up adult.

Good luck with it.
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      04-23-2010, 01:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RevFreak14 View Post
..... It is a GREAT car. Although in my opinion is a completely different car than the E92. Much more torque in the low gears, the E46 just begs you to step on the gas while the E92 is more refined and is more of a GT car. Enjoy !!!!!!!!!!!!
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      05-02-2010, 02:51 PM   #16
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My dad had an e46 vert (see sig), and I drove it every couple weeks and the car ROCKS.

No squeaks or rattles after 35k miles, car did feel more edgy over bumps but that was to be expected.

Can't compare it to an e92 M because mine will be here on Tuesday!! Overall it is an absolute blast to drive, a looker with the top down, and produces that awesome raspy high-pitched wail at WOT.

Gas mileage supposedly MUCH better also.
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      05-05-2010, 08:01 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subw00er View Post
Oh no, I've basically just bought a car without driving one first. Put down the deposit, but havent driven it or any other e46 M3 yet (car is not local). I know it must be good because I know what mine is like (e92 M3) and everyone says the e46 was (is?) a great car. I'm going a little on trust here!

It is a 2003.5 manual tranny convertible, so I guess I'll assume there are some rattles and light wear. I looked into the service history, and its PERFECT - oil was done early, and even Inspection 1 was done, subframe was checked. The car has 35K miles.

I guess at the core will be a slightly lighter feeling car with less power but still high revving. The e46 still seems to have a nice 0-60 time. But from a driving perspective is what I'm really interested in knowing. I searched a bit, but I am wondering what people's perspectives are on the two cars. I'm assuming there are a lot of e46 M3 converts here. So, what should I expect?
Ironically, because you're 46 is a vert and your 92 is a coupe, your 92 is actually going to be lighter than the 46
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      05-05-2010, 08:47 AM   #18
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Funny. It actually feels it too!
I'm enjoying the new e46 btw. Its a perfect car. It felt a little squishy in the rear, but some new rear bushings sorted that and it feels perfect now. That repair hurt though.. $400 with an alignment at the dealer! Well, at least I know it was done right.
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      05-17-2010, 12:04 AM   #19
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You will like it, just keep up on the Maintenance (Valve adjustment etc). I found that the E46 M was very easy to throw around the track, however the E92 is much more refined... but with the addition of some suspension mods (KW V2) 3.91 diff you will absolutely love your E46. I Might be upgrading to an E92 shortly
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