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      06-05-2011, 02:26 PM   #1
emanresu
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How to inspect used E46?

Hi guys,

First and foremost, I would like to say I love this forum! I've been reading various beemer (beamer?) forums for about two years and I figured I'd join one.
And to make my joining the forum complete, I figure it's time for me to join the BMW club and get one!

So it's come down to these two cars: E46 M3 (SMG), or E92 335i. I know this has been discussed many times, so I won't ask any of you to weigh in on it. I do need assistance in one thing though: how should I inspect these cars? Especially the M3, since I know nothing about it.

I found a good deal the other day: red on red 2003 M3 coupe with 36K miles for $21K. So I went to check it out. When I got there, I noticed it had some scratches, but I didn't mind. Then I saw that some of the body panels (trunk and rear wheel arch) were off by a few millimeters. The trunk handle was hanging off a little, I think that's an easy fix though. None of these things bothered me much except the body panel misalignment because I thought that it might be a sign of a crash.

Then I got inside. The inside was pretty clean. The owner said he didn't drive it for 2.5 years, which seems fishy. He said he didn't know anything about the car, so I was on my own with the SMG. After a little messing around with it, I got it started (unfortunately I haven't learned manual yet ).

Once I started driving, the engine seemed to buck a lot. I could feel the cut of power when it shifted (which I assume is normal because of the clutch, correct?). It also seemed kind of slow.
I haven't driven another M3 to compare it to, so can you guys tell me anything I should know or look for? Should I stay away from the car?

Also, when I called BMW with the VIN, he said it has had 6 recalls. He also said I shouldn't be worried about them since they have been fixed. Is this true?

Thanks in advance for all the help you guys have given and sorry if I asked dumb questions or put my thread in the wrong section. Don't flame too much!
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      06-05-2011, 02:36 PM   #2
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I sold mine it was a silver 2002 (sold last spring). My recommendation would be to take it to a BMW dealer and have them do the inspection. Based on the results you will know what repairs if any are required. In my case a spring had to be replaced.

This will run you around $200- so if you are serious in the purchase that is the best and only way to go, at the same time it will give you the upper hand to negotiate a better price.

BTW the e46 is a wonderful machine
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      06-05-2011, 02:46 PM   #3
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ask the owner if it ever had any type of recalls or problems in his experience, if he flat out lies to you about the recalls you already confirmed with BMW then you know it's a fishy deal and you should walk away...

regardless of that though, i think you should walk away anyways.

don't let your lust for the vehicle cloud your better judgement.
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      06-05-2011, 03:30 PM   #4
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I say gey the 335i since it's your first bmw!then you can buy the e92 m3 maybe..but if you're going with the e46 you should take it to a bmw dealer to check it out, cause it could have hiden issues that are extremly expensive to repaire!!and about the red m3 that u tested..don't buy it..M3 is fast
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      06-05-2011, 06:05 PM   #5
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Check vanos seals, subframe for cracks, drive it for smoothness, and loud ticking on engine
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      06-06-2011, 08:39 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys.
How do I check VANOS seals?
I would take it to a dealer, but all the nearby dealers said they don't do checks on used cars.

assinizar, why do you say that since it's my first BMW I should get the 335i? Just wondering. I probably will end up getting it though, because no matter how much I want to pretend like I'm a REAL car fanatic, I don't even know how to drive manual. So the 335i makes more sense for me (it's more comfortable and faster). Hopefully I can learn a little later in my life. Buy a cheap Mazda or OLD M3.

Everytime I see another E46 M3 though, a little part of me will hate my decision after seeing, and hearing, just how wonderful it looks, and sounds.
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      06-06-2011, 09:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
So the 335i makes more sense for me (it's more comfortable and faster)
I have had an E46 M3 and a 335i. I never felt the 335i was faster. A lot of people think the 335 has more low end torque, but once you get the M3 over 6000 rpm's, you really feel the power.

As far as comfort goes, the 335i wins by a large margin.

I miss my E46 every day. However, I often forget that I ever owned a 335i.
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      06-07-2011, 12:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
Thanks for the advice guys.
How do I check VANOS seals?
I would take it to a dealer, but all the nearby dealers said they don't do checks on used cars.

assinizar, why do you say that since it's my first BMW I should get the 335i? Just wondering. I probably will end up getting it though, because no matter how much I want to pretend like I'm a REAL car fanatic, I don't even know how to drive manual. So the 335i makes more sense for me (it's more comfortable and faster). Hopefully I can learn a little later in my life. Buy a cheap Mazda or OLD M3.

Everytime I see another E46 M3 though, a little part of me will hate my decision after seeing, and hearing, just how wonderful it looks, and sounds.
I honestly forgot how to check for VANOS, but google it, there are plenty threads
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      06-07-2011, 08:58 PM   #9
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You've made me strongly reconsider my choices ThunderMoose. If somebody who has an E92 M3 misses his E46, there's gotta be something I'm missing there.
I do want this car to be memorable, plus I feel like there won't be another chance to buy a good E46 in the future.
Did you have SMG or manual? Also, was it your daily driver ThunderMoose?
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      06-08-2011, 01:40 AM   #10
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hello, just a bit of advice. I own an E46 M3 too, and it is a fun car to drive. However, check the VANOS before you buy the car. I got a problem with the vanos in my E46 M3, and ended up to pay around 3k to fix it. Hope this helps you
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