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E46 General discussion and technical help for 1999-2004 3 series cars.

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Old 10-14-2012, 11:36 PM   #1
Dathaeus

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Time for replacement model

Sadly my E36 has problems where the repair bill will far outweigh the value. I love my 328i but I think its time for a replacement.

I have been shopping around basically for an E46 with a manual transmission, and preferably a sports package, or an M3 (which I know is probably more expensive and harder driven). I am not totally averted to a 5 series but not likely.

My current car's value will probably be about $2k, maybe less if deducted for the problems it may have. I want to keep my initial bill for a new purchase at 10k or lower.

I am just asking for some advice on the best way to approach this. My current knowledge/have dones:

- Checked out every online seller (eBay, autotrade, cars, kbb, etc.,etc...) and found some possibilities, but a lot of them are kinda far from me (like 60+ miles) and a lot of them dont have any return policy no matter what
- I would prefer a place with trade ins, make the whole thing easy
- I do not have a mechanic that will come with me to check out the car and cant afford to hire a stranger, let alone I may not even want the car I see with him
- Someone suggested getting a car broker to search for me?
- What models of E46 are the best? I know this 328i w/sports package has been a dream so far for over a decade... I do like speed, so I probably will never be getting a 325 convertible if you know what I mean
- Dont care if sedan or coupe, but still leaning towards sedan

Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
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Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
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Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-15-2012, 09:13 AM   #2
Manolito

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1997 328 is a great car (I own two of them) but if the one you have needs that much work, you probably won't find anyone who wants it or will take it as trade in. Donating to charity is probably your bast bet.

I cannot suggest an M3 if budget is any consideration, and M3s that are not thrashed command high prices,

In general, it is best to get a BMW that has a few years of production behind it. That means you are looking at a 2004-2005 e46. I own two 2004 e46s. The bad news is that you will spend close to 10k and will likely end up with a car with nearly as many miles on it as the one you are getting rid of. Also, unless it has a fresh cooling system in it, you will be looking at another $1000 in plastic cooling system parts real soon.

If speed is any consideration at all, you absolutely want a 330 rather than a 325. The performance difference is more than the numbers would suggest. I have one of each. Both my cars have the performance package and the ride is pretty harsh. The '97 did not need a performance package to hug the road, but if you got the performance package, it was still a comfortable car, except for those rock-hard seats. On an e46 with performance package, you will find that "smooth quiet ride" is your number one criteria when you are buying tires.

The e46s are slightly lower maintenance as the miles add up. They fixed a number of the chronic flaws in the e36, but the e46s are not built as solidly as the e36. When you are working on them, the components and assembly on the e36 looks more like a Mercedes, while the e46 looks a lot more like a Japanese car.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:05 AM   #3
Dathaeus

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
1997 328 is a great car (I own two of them) but if the one you have needs that much work, you probably won't find anyone who wants it or will take it as trade in. Donating to charity is probably your bast bet.

I cannot suggest an M3 if budget is any consideration, and M3s that are not thrashed command high prices,

In general, it is best to get a BMW that has a few years of production behind it. That means you are looking at a 2004-2005 e46. I own two 2004 e46s. The bad news is that you will spend close to 10k and will likely end up with a car with nearly as many miles on it as the one you are getting rid of. Also, unless it has a fresh cooling system in it, you will be looking at another $1000 in plastic cooling system parts real soon.

If speed is any consideration at all, you absolutely want a 330 rather than a 325. The performance difference is more than the numbers would suggest. I have one of each. Both my cars have the performance package and the ride is pretty harsh. The '97 did not need a performance package to hug the road, but if you got the performance package, it was still a comfortable car, except for those rock-hard seats. On an e46 with performance package, you will find that "smooth quiet ride" is your number one criteria when you are buying tires.

The e46s are slightly lower maintenance as the miles add up. They fixed a number of the chronic flaws in the e36, but the e46s are not built as solidly as the e36. When you are working on them, the components and assembly on the e36 looks more like a Mercedes, while the e46 looks a lot more like a Japanese car.
Thanks tons for the great info, exactly what I was looking for. Yes, I love my 328i, what an awesome car. Even with the sports package the suspension has gotten soft, almost feels like a caddy recently on some slopes on the highway, not a good feeling. But you saying even with the KBB value of like $2-3000, no good? I would think if selling privately, would be great for a like a high school boy's first car or a young professional etc... But there were a couple of people asking details about it for a trade in. I'd trade it in I guess even if I get anything over $1k for it, right?

Ya, I am afraid the M3 is out of the question, just threw it out there just in case, but probably not a wise choice.

Yes, I was looking at anything from 2002-2006 or so. I wanted less than 100k definitely though, or I feel like it would actually be better to just start working on my current car. Funny, almost every car selling states "a/c ice cold" lol... yes this is in FL so....

I know the 330 is the better car for performance, but you know, it is heck hard to find one in manual for a decent price (older model)... most are 325's and it seems manuals are much harder to find, but I really hate auto's... I feel like the rock and hell on either side of me right now.

I just saw this one on autotrader... I am sadly thinking if I want the manual so badly, I may have to give up on the 330 or 328...

Listing
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2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-15-2012, 10:35 PM   #4
Manolito

Name: Manolito
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Rate My Car: 338 / 340
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I insisted on a manual tranny wagon. Preferably white, preferably a 5 series. I looked for a year. I found only one manual 5 series wagon in all that time, and it was snapped up by an employee of the Range Rover dealership that took it in trade.

I ended up with a white 325 manual wagon with 100k miles on it. I like it, but it is half as fast as the 328 I gave my daughter, yet gets 3 mpg lower mileage. The poor mileage is because of the low speed rear end that they put in the 325 e46 wagon and convertible.

I passed over several beautiful manual tranny 528 and 530 sedans. Sometimes I think I should have snagged one of those instead. A 528 with a fold-down rear seat would hold about as much as my 325 wagon.
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:42 AM   #5
Dathaeus

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
I insisted on a manual tranny wagon. Preferably white, preferably a 5 series. I looked for a year. I found only one manual 5 series wagon in all that time, and it was snapped up by an employee of the Range Rover dealership that took it in trade.

I ended up with a white 325 manual wagon with 100k miles on it. I like it, but it is half as fast as the 328 I gave my daughter, yet gets 3 mpg lower mileage. The poor mileage is because of the low speed rear end that they put in the 325 e46 wagon and convertible.

I passed over several beautiful manual tranny 528 and 530 sedans. Sometimes I think I should have snagged one of those instead. A 528 with a fold-down rear seat would hold about as much as my 325 wagon.
Manual wagon? That cant be a popular choice, lol... I think u r the first I heard who was looking for that.. and I thought my job was hard. Why did u pass on the 5 series, too big or gas mileage?

I have seen a few good 5 series as well, but I am nervous because I know most of them were not built as good as the 3 series to drive hard and they dont handle as well and gas mileage... unless u need the space, which I dont right now, I feel like a 5 series is a downgrade for the price, but I wont pass it up if there is a good one near me... do they come with sports packages also? I really do put a premium on performance no matter the price range. I hate the cars that drive like a boat.
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2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-16-2012, 08:42 AM   #6
Manolito

Name: Manolito
Title: Member
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Sacramento
Rate My Car: 338 / 340
Your Ride: (2) '97 328s; '04 330; '04 325iT
There is a sport package in the 5-series, but it is more of an appearance package than a suspension package. There is not a dramatic difference in ride and cabin noise level like there is with the e46 3-Series.

I wanted a wagon because I don't own a pickup and I need a way to move stuff occasionally. I used to own a manual tranny 240 Volvo wagon. Not fast, but a great car.

As for handling, that is always a subjective call, but I have never heard a complaint about the handling of a 5-series. I am less interested in the overall size of the car because I am 60 years old and have put many miles on everything from a dirt bike to an 18 wheeler.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
Dathaeus

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
There is a sport package in the 5-series, but it is more of an appearance package than a suspension package. There is not a dramatic difference in ride and cabin noise level like there is with the e46 3-Series.

I wanted a wagon because I don't own a pickup and I need a way to move stuff occasionally. I used to own a manual tranny 240 Volvo wagon. Not fast, but a great car.
Ah ok makes sense....

I found this and it has really piqued my interest, even though its a few hours away, I have a friend there who may be able to check it out for me....

BMW

So if this guy seems legit, what is the process to heighten my chances of simply driving up there and swapping cars and driving the new one down? Do I ask him to email me the maintenance reports and carfax, and then if all looks good, I go up there, take the car to a local dealer, inspect (how much approx?) and if no major work needed, pay and drive home?
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2003 ZHP 4dr
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Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-16-2012, 04:09 PM   #8
Dathaeus

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"I attached the carfax report. I have been driving this one myself for a few weeks and just love it. We fully serviced this car ourselves with fully synthetic oil, factory original belts and tensioners, oil filter, cabin air filter, headlight lenses, intake manifold runner, also known as adjuster unit, brake pads, rotors, and pad sensors, the cowl panel, Bosch wiper blade set, clutch kit, control arm bushings set, rear differential bushing, door lock cylinder, and a few more cosmetic things. This one will last you a long time. I promise you, this car will make you happy."

Words from the seller for the ZHP (details again below). I took a look at the carfax but it really didn say much, or I dont know how to look at it. I am guessing I will still need a PPI? I have no experience with this so any "professional" opinion would be appreciated, i.e., something smells fishy or sounds good so far?

CARFAX
__________________________________

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?car_id=330404353

VEHICLE INFORMATION
Make: BMW
Model: 330i
Year: 2003
Price: $10,900

Mileage: 149,745
Body Style: Sedan
Color: Gray
Cylinders: 6 Cylinder Gasoline
Transmission: Manual
Doors: Four Door
Stereo: Harman Kardon Sound Sys
VIN: WBAEV53443KM04072
Stock ID: M04072
Description: Very unique 2003 BMW 330i ZHP. Grey on black. You are looking at a rare BMW for an amazing price. Car features ZHP package, which means up graded factory suspensions, up graded engine performance, six speed manual transmission with short shifter, cold air intake, and BMW M-Tech II aerodynamic package. Carbon fiber insert replace the wood grain, cloth seats with all power options and premium sound and xenon lights. Ice cold dual a/c will keep you cool and 18 inch sport alloys on track. For safety it comes with ABS, traction control, and six airbags. This car was made as a daily driver and weekend track car. Highly responsive engine and curve eating suspension. Must warn you, this car is very addictive and a lot of fun to drive. Fully serviced and ready to perform. Test drive it now and make it yours. J.C. Motors of Orlando, Inc. is a family owned and operated dealership with over 16 years of experience in the used car business. Our friendly staff will
answer all your questions. We are known for quality cars and specialize in BMWs. Additionally; we offer a large selection of foreign and domestic Cars, Trucks, Vans, and Suvs. All our cars are inspected and properly serviced. We offer various types of financing. Make the right choice and get a safe and reliable car from us. For more information call now 407-888-0035 or visit us at jcmotorsonline.com 16 years at the same location 5485 S. Orange Blossom Trail. Orlando, FL 32839
Trim: Sedan
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2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-17-2012, 09:12 AM   #9
Manolito

Name: Manolito
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Location: Sacramento
Rate My Car: 338 / 340
Your Ride: (2) '97 328s; '04 330; '04 325iT
A 330 ZHP is a highly desirable car. They say that they just spent about $3k in parts, all routine stuff for a car of this age and miles. It was pretty early to need a clutch. If the cooling system is relatively fresh, you MAY drive it the next five years with almost no repair.

It is still a little scary to invest that much money in a car with as many miles as the one you are getting rid of. In general, I recommend BMWs with over 100k miles only to people who have tools and like to do their own work. Is that you? You definitely want to invest in a Bentley Manual for e46, and a code reader. Expect to have plastic parts breakage in the window regulators and the sunroof sliders, but that stuff is not expensive and not hard to fix, just annoying.

If you have ever worked on the sunroof of your e36, you will find the e46 sunroof to be more cheaply made but much easier to work on.

Also, at 140k miles, if the fuel pump has not been replaced, it is about due. If you hear it buzzing, or the car starts to sputter below 1/4 tank, particularly on long uphill grades, get a fuel pump. Very easy to replace but a little dangerous.

Last edited by Manolito; 10-17-2012 at 09:16 AM..
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:48 AM   #10
Dathaeus

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
A 330 ZHP is a highly desirable car. They say that they just spent about $3k in parts, all routine stuff for a car of this age and miles. It was pretty early to need a clutch. If the cooling system is relatively fresh, you MAY drive it the next five years with almost no repair.

It is still a little scary to invest that much money in a car with as many miles as the one you are getting rid of. In general, I recommend BMWs with over 100k miles only to people who have tools and like to do their own work. Is that you? You definitely want to invest in a Bentley Manual for e46, and a code reader. Expect to have plastic parts breakage in the window regulators and the sunroof sliders, but that stuff is not expensive and not hard to fix, just annoying.

If you have ever worked on the sunroof of your e36, you will find the e46 sunroof to be more cheaply made but much easier to work on.

Also, at 140k miles, if the fuel pump has not been replaced, it is about due. If you hear it buzzing, or the car starts to sputter below 1/4 tank, particularly on long uphill grades, get a fuel pump. Very easy to replace but a little dangerous.
Yes I heard the same thing about the ZHP, it seems like a capable downgrade from an M3, esp at this price point. I actually replaced my clutch at like 100k, but then again I was popping it a bit so I cant complain.

You know, every time I bring up the mileage thing to some other enthusiasts, the overwhelming response is always a "So what? Why r u so concerned with mileage, its a BMW." Honestly I dont mind the little things, since I have found a nice indy within 3 blocks of my work, its perfect. Which means even though I am mechanically inclined, at this point, with no time, I am much more likely to pay someone I like for some work than spend double the time struggling with it myself. I love cars, but at this point I have no desire to learn and be my own mechanic only because of time constraints. (Also my community doesnt allow car repairs outside our homes, so anything that needs to be jacked up, I'll be looking for more compensations)

Thanks for the detailed response... I think from what u said I am still positive on this one as opposed to some other guy much closer to me claiming to sell a 3 series with an "M package" but when I asked him if it were a ZHP, he said, "no" and also "no" to carfax, etc.... and that was it... wth... I doubt that will be a pleasing buy experience.

As far as the purchasing process, someone told me also that the steering wheel is not the original... with that and whatever else you stated, do u think its wise to try to negotiate something before I make the drive up, or just risk it all and get up there and negotiate in person and risk driving back down without the new car if he doesnt budge? Also I guess I should still get the PPI when I am up there?

Thanks again!
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2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-17-2012, 10:01 AM   #11
Manolito

Name: Manolito
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Your Ride: (2) '97 328s; '04 330; '04 325iT
That is a standard 330 steering wheel. Most Ms have the suede leather wrapping on the wheel. I don't know of that was part of the ZHP package or not. You might be able to find other ZHPs on AutoTrader or Cars.com and see if they have suede wheel wrapping. If the wheel is not right, check the VIN and make sure it is really a ZHP.

One other thing - on an early 330 with extra HP and a stick shift, be sure to check in the trunk for cracking of the body where the rear carriage bolts on. That will tell you something about how hard the car has been driven. If you plan to drift the car, you would probably prefer to find one that had cracked and been well repaired, as it would be stronger than original. Google it and you will find pictures and a video of this cracking problem.

Last edited by Manolito; 10-17-2012 at 10:03 AM..
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:10 AM   #12
Dathaeus

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
That is a standard 330 steering wheel. Most Ms have the suede leather wrapping on the wheel. I don't know of that was part of the ZHP package or not. You might be able to find other ZHPs on AutoTrader or Cars.com and see if they have suede wheel wrapping. If the wheel is not right, check the VIN and make sure it is really a ZHP.

One other thing - on an early 330 with extra HP and a stick shift, be sure to check in the trunk for cracking of the body where the rear carriage bolts on. That will tell you something about how hard the car has been driven. If you plan to drift the car, you would probably prefer to find one that had cracked and been well repaired, as it would be stronger than original. Google it and you will find pictures and a video of this cracking problem.
I had heard the standard one is the suede one, and it seems the bottom spoke is supposed to be one solid piece and not 2 thin ones, with the "M" logo on it... that the suede one had a problem with wearing out too quick so older ones may have them replaced... just thought that might be another negotiating point? All other indications seem to point that it is a ZHP, but then again what do I know, lol...

Wow u r ridiculous, I guess I found the right guy to answer these questions! Thats a great point but honestly not sure how much I will be driftiing in the near future, and if I did get the op and have enough money to spend on them tires, I wouldnt worry about fixing them cracks myself! But maybe I should just check anyways to see if there is a crack that HASNT been fixed, that would definitely be a negotiating point that most people would not check. Can u see that crack despite the carpet/covers in the trunk? Or do you mean like in the e36 where the spare goes, u can just lift the cover and see?

If you ever in South FL to race at Moroso/Palm Beach Raceway, let me know, I'll buy u a couple of beers and we go racing.
__________________
__________________
2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-17-2012, 11:51 PM   #13
Manolito

Name: Manolito
Title: Member
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Sacramento
Rate My Car: 338 / 340
Your Ride: (2) '97 328s; '04 330; '04 325iT
If you Google e46 crack or e46 subframe crack, you will find dozens of posts. There is a 3-part video on YouTube on how to repair the problem.

The pictures on the web and the videos are mostly M3s that people have thrashed. One of the YouTube videos is a 330. As I mentioned, I own two e46s, and I know several guys at work who own them and my sister had one. 325s, 330s, and Ms. All are daily drivers, no track cars, and I have never personally seen one crack.
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:09 AM   #14
Dathaeus

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Also what it seems like from the carfax is, Canadian... seems like it is actually an M-sport, NOT a ZHP, agreed?
If so, is this an M-sport I or II? And I thought even the M sport II doesnt have a 6800 redline nor does it have the HP bump... so at best this is a 330i with a slightly stiffer suspension and some fake trimmings? Seems like there is some more negotiation to do, although now I have been researching the ZHP, I feel like thats what I really want, unless this also has 225 HP.
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2003 ZHP 4dr
115,000 miles
Tires: BBS 17" rims
Hankook Ventus V12
Front: 225/45ZR
Rear: 255/40ZR



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Old 10-18-2012, 09:14 AM   #15
Manolito

Name: Manolito
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Rate My Car: 338 / 340
Your Ride: (2) '97 328s; '04 330; '04 325iT
I had a hard time reading that CarFax on my screen, but I think there are places on the web where you can decode the VIN and get the original configuration of the car.

I am not familiar with the trim packages, but I have observed various pieces of 'M' trim on factory cars. My wife's '04 330i has factory M wheels on it.

What I want is a ZHP engine in my little wagon..................
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