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RE: PH buying guide: BMW M3 (E46)

RE: PH buying guide: BMW M3 (E46)

Author
Discussion

Darren61

75 posts

79 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
quotequote all
I keep coming back to Pistonheads classifieds, looking at the E46 listings. They are truly a great bargain performance car. I think it will have to be my next step from a Renaultsport Megane R26 (which has been a bit of a money pit over the last 12 months) but for those complaining about running costs, its a simple solution, buy a golf wink

garos

826 posts

82 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
quotequote all
They do seem very well priced, I was originally and still am considering a 330ci convertible for a planned roadtrip but the M3 convertible 04/05 year is very close in price, obviously the running costs are responsible for this but amazing that these cars are available for around 8k.

Stingercut

217 posts

90 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
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Bogracer said:
This is still one of the finest driving machines you can buy at any price. I have friend who is a development race driver for Ferrari for many years. He does lots miles all over Europe. What does he drive and old e46 M3. I also have a client that trades in and races the finest cars in the world, F40's, Enzo's, Vyron's . . . etc the world's best job? What do they rate above all cars and drive day to day? Yep you guessed it an M3 CSL!

What a superb and reassuring post. I have had the chance to drive a few and be a passenger in some special cars but my E46 manual M3 vert is a very nice place to be and a great all rounder. It's fast, gives 37 mpg on the motorway, has 4 proper seats, is well made with nice design touches and it turns heads.

Myself I love them.

Me too. It's just a shame they have dropped in value so much.

andyman_2006

496 posts

113 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
quotequote all
leon9191 said:
Dont the rear sub-frames crack quite abit? Didnt spot that in ur guide, also no mention of service and running costs, little service is circa £600 and a major £1000. Pretty important for a guide to mention that sort of thing surely?
BMW do offer a 'good will' repair on any rear subframe issues up-to the car being 10 years old.

Car can be checked on a ramp, and also on the inside of the boot under the carpet, the forums have guides with pictures.

as for service costs:

BMW Main dealer on the 4plus scheme (now called bmw M value i think)

oil service £169 castrol edge 10w 60 oil
inspection 1 £369 inc valve clearance checks
inspection 2 £699 inc valve clearance checks

these were prices supplied in the BMW car club GB magazine, and are offered by scotthall BMW Leeds, other dealers offer similar deals.

during my 5 years of ownership I've replaced/changed the following:

-Tyres (fronts and rears) continental conti 3 M3, front £210 each fitted, and rear £220 each fitted.
-Alternator £520 fitted, inc all belts changed
-Air con re-gas (twice) @ £39 a time
-Headlight level arm -crap plastic part attached to right side suspension, levels lights -£18
-Rear RTAB's (twice!) £90 each time both sides
-Rear coil springs x2, £80 each.
-Battery, replaced with a bosche silver-line £100
-2 sets of plugs (£21 each)done at insp 2 service
-6 coil packs @ £40 each (replaces crap BREMI coils) now Bosche ones.
-Mass air flow meter @ £185
-Front and Rear pads, replaced with EBC red stuff @ £100 front, £65 rear -much better than bmw own and don't produce dust at all!!
-Rear discs @ £250 fitted
-Exhaust System,from the cats back...factory system costs £1000 and is only mild steel (fails where the centre fits the rear section)(centre and back box) I fitted a Milltek centre, and scorpion rear box £800 inc fitting
-Had wheels re-diamond cut recently, used Pristine wheels, and the service was 1st class, the finish also 1st class! £560 all in, and inc a repair of 2 wheels each had a flat spot, re-fitted tyres and car kept at the dealers for 3 days, well worth the wait!
-changed the wipers, to FLAT Aero ones, work better at speed. £20 pair.

Have also had the VANOS checked, both at BMW (using the extended VANOS test on the OBD system) and also mechanically, by Steve (Mr VANOS) in Darlington,who checked for the bolt loosening issue (well know problem) if they snap its goodbye engine. Mine were all fine thankfully.

http://www.mrvanos.com/

I think the next things on my list of jobs to do are:

-Poly bush the front and rear -will put an end to any RTAB and wishbone problems.
-And a Custom Remap, and dyno session to make better use of the stainless exhaust and pipercross panel filter.

I use main Dealers for the services, but due to Dealer Labour rates @ £125 an hour, i buy parts from dealers, and use a local garage to fit them, non of the parts I've had fitted were exactly specialist, and no real reason to use the main dealer for replacing parts like rear bushes, springs, brakes or anything like that.

I use an Indy BMW specialist, or local trusted garage who also MOT the car.

Worth a mention is wheel alignment, not any old place can align the M3, it needs a dealer, or a body shop who use a 'hunter' aligner. costs about £100 plus vat.

http://www.bmwland.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10...

I'd probably swerve clear of a car priced at £6-7K it will no doubt fair bit of work doing to bring up to good condition.

These cars are a very quick, and good handling, are very good all rounders and very usable every day. although that said mines now a weekend toy.

Good luck and happy buying!!

andyman_2006

496 posts

113 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
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adybird said:
I have been looking at these for a while now I am still un sure though (running costs and horror stories ) are putting me off but as they say you only live once . Either gonna be an m3 or S4
Hi, Its gotta be an M3, not an S4 surley? Besides, RS4 is a better comparison to the M3?

S4 is a good car, just a bit souless!

andy


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knighty007

18 posts

153 months

Sunday 1st July 2012
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Luckily for me I have owned a E46 CSL, I got married and sold it to fund a building project, this car was just AWESOME it flattered me whenever I took anyone for a quick spin around the block, I then got my wife a V8 S4 you could call it souless but it had a modified exhaust that just sounded so sweet, that had to go to pay for my double garage. I then got a "standard" E46 M3, ok not as awesome as the CSL but still a great car, had the normal things go wrong coil packs, coil springs, tracked it a couple of times put in yellow pagids and decent fluid never had an issue, sold it last year planned to buy a GT3 but that didnt happen.
So now looking again for a petrol fix as my e30 M3 Lotec turbo is still unwell, torn e46 or S4 probably like most 4 wheel drive its a 60/40 split in favour of the E46 even in standard form they flatter and do return late 20s to the gallon the S4 even driven like a nun was low 20s.

Anyway I would say dont be scared by the horror stories the cars are great as a famous sports brand says "JUST DO IT"

Miguel

1,030 posts

188 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
"North American-bound M3s were saddled with a detuned engine producing 333hp, but we'll concentrate on Euro-spec models in this guide."

The Euro-spec models were rated at 343 PS which converts to 338 hp. The US model was rated at 333 hp. A five horsepower loss in a car that puts out well over 300 is not an issue. I once drove the four hundred pound heavier convertible, and even though it was "saddled with a detuned engine," since I'm in the US, it still performed extremely well and just exploded (in the good sense) every time it went over 4000 RPM.

If you want to say that a US model BMW M3 was truly saddled with significantly less power, then you should mention the E36 M3, which had 240 hp in the US in both 3.0 L and 3.2 L versions, rather than the 286 PS (282 hp) and 321 PS (317 hp)of the Euro-spec cars. Those engines, however, were not merely detuned. They were more like larger displacement versions of BMW's regular baby-six engine with a conventional, single throttle body head, instead of the M-head with six throttle bodies.

BalhamBadger

1,141 posts

96 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Lots of threads recently on e46 M3s - interest seems to be on the increase. Has the market reached the bottom or is there still some way to go?? Either way I'm looking to get one ASAP..

fozluvscars

150 posts

67 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
I've lusted after one of these for years but now the price has dropped, it appears to be the car choice for some of the local naughty boys. Not sure if i'd like the attention...

bennyboysvuk

3,420 posts

171 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Millsy Esq said:
I'm not sure there's a better daily performance car out there (snowy days aside!).
That said, when I had it, I put some winter tyres only on the rear of my M3 and it handled snow brilliantly. Well it got traction anyway, which was 99% of the battle.

St John Smythe

6,003 posts

140 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Miguel said:
"North American-bound M3s were saddled with a detuned engine producing 333hp, but we'll concentrate on Euro-spec models in this guide."

The Euro-spec models were rated at 343 PS which converts to 338 hp. The US model was rated at 333 hp. A five horsepower loss in a car that puts out well over 300 is not an issue. I once drove the four hundred pound heavier convertible, and even though it was "saddled with a detuned engine," since I'm in the US, it still performed extremely well and just exploded (in the good sense) every time it went over 4000 RPM.

If you want to say that a US model BMW M3 was truly saddled with significantly less power, then you should mention the E36 M3, which had 240 hp in the US in both 3.0 L and 3.2 L versions, rather than the 286 PS (282 hp) and 321 PS (317 hp)of the Euro-spec cars. Those engines, however, were not merely detuned. They were more like larger displacement versions of BMW's regular baby-six engine with a conventional, single throttle body head, instead of the M-head with six throttle bodies.
Top bearding smile

anything fast

983 posts

87 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Great cars. but do not:

buy from from any trader who operates from home
with no service history
one that has been 'remapped'
one with big rims and low suspension
do not buy from following areas:
Luton, Birmingham or anywhere in Middx like, harrow, wembley etc..

Pref buy one from private seller in somewhere leafy

I have helped 3 friends by M3's of this ilk and all I can say is dont waste your time on dogs..

MikeM3Power

249 posts

89 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Will definately be my next car, well still battling it out between CLK500/55, CL500, M3 and 645CI but I think it will win smile

Had a E36 evo SMG and loved it when it worked but unfortunately spent over 80% of its life with me not working due to the SMG faults.
Always always wanted the E46 M3.

So keeping a close eye on it and hope to be getting one very early next year.

@ Anything fast. Why avoid Luton, Birmingham or anywhere in Middx like, harrow, wembley etc?

The rest makes sense and i never buy any car that has had additional work done on it, like sometimes even a blackened grill is a turn off for me.

BalhamBadger

1,141 posts

96 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
All this carbon fibre tat some owners add to their cars really puts me off. Carbon fibre grill, carbon fibre vents, carbon badges etc etc. Looks pap.

TrickyTrevM5

223 posts

109 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
Driving with the back seats down makes a fantastic noise.

An emergency stop gets me far too well acquainted with my set of golf clubs that sit in the boot though !!!!

Old rule of thumb for 911s holds true here - buy the most expensive car with the lowest mileage and best providence you can within your budget.

Then set aside a couple of grand for non- routine stuff and you're about right.

They are great cars but top end cars. They cost a lot to run so go in eyes open

Loved the guide alisdair.

Cheers

Trev

D200

456 posts

70 months

Monday 2nd July 2012
quotequote all
I am considering buying an E46 M3 but also really fancy an E39 M5.

Would an E39 M5 be a better long term buy than an E46 M3?

Possibly the E39 M5 being the last manual M5 [in the UK anyway] do you think as a long term ‘keeper’ prospect would the M5 be the better bet? And there was a lot less M5’s sold than E46 M3’s – and certainly a lot less for sale in the classifieds.

For running costs and maintenance would an M5 cost much more than an E46 to run?

The mpg difference, from what I read in loads of guides, is just couple of MPG’s. So the fueling costs between them will be next to nothing if you doing relatively low miles – i.e. about 7000 miles a year, so it’s more general maintenance and upkeep

£9k seems you can get good example of either car. I know they are totally different cars but they are also similar in lots of ways too - I love them both and am finding it hard to decide which would be the best buy

andyman_2006

496 posts

113 months

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
quotequote all
D200 said:
I am considering buying an E46 M3 but also really fancy an E39 M5.

Would an E39 M5 be a better long term buy than an E46 M3?

Possibly the E39 M5 being the last manual M5 [in the UK anyway] do you think as a long term ‘keeper’ prospect would the M5 be the better bet? And there was a lot less M5’s sold than E46 M3’s – and certainly a lot less for sale in the classifieds.

For running costs and maintenance would an M5 cost much more than an E46 to run?

The mpg difference, from what I read in loads of guides, is just couple of MPG’s. So the fueling costs between them will be next to nothing if you doing relatively low miles – i.e. about 7000 miles a year, so it’s more general maintenance and upkeep

£9k seems you can get good example of either car. I know they are totally different cars but they are also similar in lots of ways too - I love them both and am finding it hard to decide which would be the best buy
Well i'm biased!! so E46 M3, but i also love the look of the E39 M5.....choices!

Running costs wise, in my bmw mag on the last main dealer service list i saw, M5 was cheaper on the bigger services than the m3. Also tyres cheaper on M5, as it runs 18" wheels, most M3 are running on the 19" options.

Interior on the E39 is pretty much same as E46 M3, but car is bigger and heavier, and also suffers VANOS issues.... as i said in my other post, Mr Vanos Steve(who runs a E39 M5 as his daily car) can check these over, and if you need any info he's also rebuilt his own, so i'm sure he can advise on what other bits to look for also.

www.mrvanos.com

Heres the current BMW service prices, M5 being some fair bit cheaper.

http://www.bmw.co.uk/bmwuk/owner/service_value/mca...

As for resale and future keeper....well each to their own, cant beat a seca blue M3 for rare, and an estoril blue M5 also rare. Other colour is Imola red, looks nice on both, and again rare.

old top gear test..e39 M5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agKyva3fIkI

Enjoy the hunt! buy both!! :-)

Andy

D200

456 posts

70 months

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
quotequote all
andyman_2006 said:
Well i'm biased!! so E46 M3, but i also love the look of the E39 M5.....choices!

Running costs wise, in my bmw mag on the last main dealer service list i saw, M5 was cheaper on the bigger services than the m3. Also tyres cheaper on M5, as it runs 18" wheels, most M3 are running on the 19" options.

Interior on the E39 is pretty much same as E46 M3, but car is bigger and heavier, and also suffers VANOS issues.... as i said in my other post, Mr Vanos Steve(who runs a E39 M5 as his daily car) can check these over, and if you need any info he's also rebuilt his own, so i'm sure he can advise on what other bits to look for also.

www.mrvanos.com

Heres the current BMW service prices, M5 being some fair bit cheaper.

http://www.bmw.co.uk/bmwuk/owner/service_value/mca...

As for resale and future keeper....well each to their own, cant beat a seca blue M3 for rare, and an estoril blue M5 also rare. Other colour is Imola red, looks nice on both, and again rare.

old top gear test..e39 M5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agKyva3fIkI

Enjoy the hunt! buy both!! :-)

Andy
Yeah, it a case of you be more than happy with either. And then if you drove past the other you would think should you have bought the other and would you prefer it- and the only solution to that, as you said, is to buy both!


anything fast

983 posts

87 months

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
quotequote all
MikeM3Power said:
Will definately be my next car, well still battling it out between CLK500/55, CL500, M3 and 645CI but I think it will win smile

Had a E36 evo SMG and loved it when it worked but unfortunately spent over 80% of its life with me not working due to the SMG faults.
Always always wanted the E46 M3.

So keeping a close eye on it and hope to be getting one very early next year.

@ Anything fast. Why avoid Luton, Birmingham or anywhere in Middx like, harrow, wembley etc?

The rest makes sense and i never buy any car that has had additional work done on it, like sometimes even a blackened grill is a turn off for me.
Reason to avoid such areas is that have helped 3 friends by M3's over the last few years and in total I have looked at around 15 cars, 12 of which were rubbish, cat c and cat d repaired, some owned by blatant drug dealers, other thrashed and stty examples (all were in areas mentioned above) other cars we called I just put the phone down when I found out they were in Luton etc... waste of time

My advice is when looking at car, look long and hard at the owner before your decide on the car....

take your time, the examples we got in the end were all private sales, all 100 % honest cars bought from mature owners, and all three cars are going still going strong..

pSyCoSiS

2,205 posts

128 months

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
quotequote all
I love the E46 M3 - and it has one of the most distinctive sounds at hight revs.

However, I would probably go for an E39 M5 over one.

Just a beefier, more muscular looking machine.

More room inside, better quality interiorand a rarer sight on the UK roads.

Each to their own, though!