Need Some Advice !
Hello all im Jkba, currently I drive a 1998 5-speed Honda Prelude (Built Turbo) (I know some of you guys may hate honda :doh ) Anyways, im on the verge of selling my car, and im looking for something a little more practical and stock, Ive always loved Bimmer and considered getting one in the past before my Honda, but seems like this time around is the right time for it. (Also the fact that no other Make of vehicles appeal to me & my needs !)
So long story short, im looking at 3 Different BMW right now, and thought I would make a much better decision with the advice of actual bimmer owners.
Thing's Im looking for - Practicality, Decent Stock Speed as well as comfort.
Now for my 3 choices... :drive2
1 - 2002 E46 325Ci - Electric Red exterior, Tan interior, 5 speed, 90k Miles, Almost Spotless - 9,500$ USD
2 - 2000 E39 540i 4.4 v8 -Metallic Grey Exterior, Grey interior, M Sport Package, 6 Speed, 103k Miles, Pretty Clean, just seems like a few things around the car are loose (which brings me to assume there was some fixing up going on) - 8,995$ USD
3 - 1999 E39 540i 4.4 v8 - Silver Exterior, Black Interior, M Sport Package, 6 speed, 66k Miles, Cleaner then the 2000 (2nd choice), little dings in the interior nothing serious, Stock Tints(I think), and a tad bit of i think clear coat peeling on the rims, again nothing serious - 9,995$ USD
Now I've been reading and researching a bit on these cars, the v8 mileage doesn't bother me since my current car runs pretty rich :S so if anything ill still have better milage with a stock v8 lol, ive also heard about the E39 having lousy cooling systems, now on the 2000 540i I seen the radiator had a few dings in it, the belt/pully seemed a bit old, as for the 1999 540i the radiator was still seemed greatly intact with no dings, belts and hoses seemed very intact as well.
As for the 325CI its the newest and cleanest of the three, but i feel the 325 may just be too slow for me going down from a turbo car. On the other hands driving the 6sped V8 5 series is more enjoyable and pulls you back to your seat :rock.
So with this information provided, what would you guys suggest me to look into buying?
Welcome to United Bimmer
First, all three of the cars your looking at have known cooling system issues. Ask for a service history of the vehicle. If it hasnt been done yet, several components of the cooling system will need to be replaced. As well the V8's arent as reliable as the I6's, and over time require more care. All three cars are DIY capable so you can fix almost all the problems yourself.
Starting with the E46, known issues incluude parts of the cooling system being made of plastic which becomes brittle and cracks over time. The thermostat housing, coolant expansion tank, and water pump are all failure points around the 90-100k mark. Its not that expensive to fix, and runs about $500 to get the upgraded components to prevent failure. One other issue is some E46's were made with an LF20 Power steering pump. This pump had a design flaw and will eventually fail. You can easily upgrade to an LF30 pump which is a higher pressure pump and provides a better steering response. I just did this for a friend in his 2004 320i and it took less then 3 hours.
The E39 has a few more known issues then the E46, including the cooling system. One of them bieng the Self Leveling Suspension. If the car is equpped with it, it can be a pain to have it fixed should problems develop. In addition the V8's are known for oil leaks at the back manifold gasket. Easy fix, but a pain to do because of tight space.
I would nix the second one. You say things are "loose". To me this indicates less then proper service work, or it was beat on. Out of the three i would choose the E46. Im a sucker for red, and it seems to be in better shape based on your description.
Regardless of what car you choose, their is an absolute wealth of information available on both cars. Their is more aftermarket support for the E46 if your interested in modding it.
I'm partial to the E39's myself. I love a good 3 series, but the 5 just has better road manners and a bit more interior room.
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