2004 BMW 3 Series E46 2.0 4 cylinder N46B20


Unreliable but fun!


* N46B20 Engine *

PCV valve gone.

Intake cam sensor faulty.

ABS/DSC sensor faulty.

Tappet cover gasket leaking.

Vanos seal o-rings leaking.

Timing chain tensioner seal leaking.

General Comments:

First of all, I'll let you all know this car is made in South Africa (maybe that's why it's got so many problems?).

I bought this car thinking I'd be buying 'German Engineering" that is reliable. Well it's not! I've never owned a car where it has given trouble at 76 000km! The Pulsar we have has done over 150 000km... no trouble, and we have a Commodore that has done 400 000km with only a bit of fuel leaks nearing 375 000km. So I don't see why these cars have to be so unreliable. Front control arms are going to go as well.

Besides the reliability, the car is BEAUTIFUL to drive. Yes, you hear squeaks here and there, but the BMW is good to drive when you take it out for a mountain drive. The build quality of the dash is just unbeatable.

I know others with OLDER models that are experiencing fantastic reliability. So if you want to enjoy the legendary E46 handling and reliability... get an older one. The N46B20 engine has TERRIBLE reliability in my opinion!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st January, 2013

22nd Jan 2013, 12:43

You've only owned it for about 6,000 km. Sensors go - shouldn't, but they do. Owned my E46 Compact since 65K, had a bad coil after first 2 months... and now has done just over 100K with not a single problem. Just change the sensors and that gasket and keep driving it; it may have been there, but the previous owner didn't bother. You'll be fine.

Oh - by any chance is it a Singapore import? They seem to give more problems (regardless of car brand) than Japanese market ones. All RHD E46 sedans, from what I know, including those in the UK, are ex-South Africa (possible exception being the bigger engine 3-Series). Mine, a Compact, happens to be from the Regensburg factory in Germany (can tell by the VIN). NZ-new, but has a few more rattles than my friends' South African E46.

2004 BMW 3 Series 318ti Compact 1.8


This car is like a moody teenager. Sometimes it's great and other times you just want to strangle it


Well, well, well...

Some kind of oil leak cost $1,000 to fix.

Leaked coolant cost $380 to fix.

And around an hour ago, it started steaming. Turns out something has gone wrong with that coolant thing again. I dropped it in at our mechanic (who is a family friend), and got a ride home.

General Comments:

This car is a beautiful smooth drive, nice to look at, and is very roomy. All the fittings seem to be of a very high quality.

I bought this vehicle because we were having a lot of issues with the Toyota Camry that we owned previously. This vehicle has given quite a bit of grief as well. I have a few friends with BMW's, and they have always raved on about how reliable they are. Unfortunately this one hasn't been too great.

Might be time to buy a Peugeot 206 or something. I think it is time to end my eight month relationship with BMW.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd June, 2012

22nd Jun 2012, 20:21

Take it to a different mechanic, preferably one that specialises in European cars.

I've had my 318ti now for almost 2 years, got it at 65K, and now at 93K, the only problem I had was one of the coils early on, and nothing since.

A friend had their '94 320i from 2003 with 65K, traded it in this year at 145K for another BMW, never stranded them. Another bought a 320i against my advice with 129K, sold it at almost 200K and admitted they were neglectful of maintenance, still didn't give any problems.

Luck of the draw, sure, but take it to someone who fully understands the workings of the car. It may run on a similar principle as a Japanese or Australian car, but it's the little things that may get missed out by those unfamiliar with it.