2000 BMW 3 Series 318i 1.9 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

A bigger engine is better

Faults:

Head gasket went at 67000 miles. New gasket and head skimmed.

Expansion tank blew.

Very bad oil leak at 80000 miles.

MAF sensor replaced.

Cam sensor replaced.

Odd squeaks from both front doors.

New complete exhaust as the old one rotted from the inside out (too short journeys on my behalf).

General Comments:

I bought this car after owning (a long time ago) a 318 E36 model, which was a great car. I am afraid that this E46 is a different story. As soon as I get one problem fixed, the next one comes along.

Just replaced the exhaust with cat, and now hoping it will run without too many problems, and I'll get a few months of enjoyable driving.

Apart from the issues, it is very comfortable and fun to drive. Only has 118 BHP and is not the fastest on power, but when okay it will cruise all day at the national speed limit, being smooth and not too loud.

I am a BMW fan (God knows why?) and I will be keeping this little car as long as I can.

6 cylinders would have been better (next one!).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd May, 2013

2000 BMW 3 Series 323ci 2.5 straight 6 from North America

Summary:

There is a reason why they're called the ULTIMATE driving machines

Faults:

So far I have not experienced any problems with my car. In fact all I have had to do was fill it with gas and drive. I do have some minor gripes, but they are to be expected from a car of this age and mileage.

1. Sometimes the sunroof acts goofy when I attempt to close it; it will get close to closing, then retract back to open. When this does happen, I just give it a few more minutes to make up its mind.

2. Power steering fluid sometimes overflows from the canister. I've had this checked, and was told that this is pretty common because of the design of the lid. I keep an eye on it, and have never had to refill it.

3. Sometimes I notice a very faint burning smell. I took it to a BMW specialist, who found a very small leak around the seal. He advised me not to worry about it, because the leak is very small. According to him "It would take about 6 months for a half of a quart to leak out." I haven't experienced any spills in the driveway, so I'm trusting his knowledge, all while saving up some 'future repair cash'.

General Comments:

This is my 6th car and 1st BMW/European vehicle. My 04 Maxima was stolen, so after my insurance paid the lein holder, I decided to use the leftover cash to buy something straight out instead of financing. While I have appreciated the strengths of my previous vehicles, nothing has put a smile on my face like my 323. I bought this vehicle from its original owner, who had always had it serviced by BMW, and they had the paperwork to prove it. Not to mention the original window sticker, all of the manuals, CDs, and keys. And I got it well below KBB and NADA estimates :)

It handles like a dream, and the gas mileage is great. I love that it is so well balanced, and driving this car for me is intuitive. I find myself just going for random drives all of the time.

Although this is a coupe and I am 6 feet tall, I have no complaints about space. Keep in mind that I don't have any children, and I'm usually in the car by myself with the occasional 1 or 2 passengers. I have been able to travel comfortably with 4 people in the vehicle for long trips.

The sport suspension may be a bit too stiff for some, but it's just right for me. Not too soft, not too firm, you can drive this thing on rough city streets and not pay for it with back spasms later. You're talking to guy that drove a 00 Mustang for four trouble free years. However it was not nearly as comfortable.

I must admit that I had apprehensions, because my 04 Maxima had a larger engine and about 100 more horses. Let me tell you, the power from the 2.5 is more than adequate, so don't let numbers fool you into thinking that the 3 won't move. If it's not quick enough, you can always upgrade parts or get an M3 ;)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th April, 2011

8th Apr 2011, 19:58

Congrats on your purchase.

As a fellow E46 3er owner myself, I can vouch for most of your comments.

These cars are simply fabulous for those who like driving. They may not be the fastest in class, nor produce the quickest 0 - 60 mph / 100 kmh times, but their overall performance is not caught wanting. Where they revel is when the road starts to duck and wind. Few - if any - other rival models come close.

The straight six is fabulously smooth (though it does like to drink when pressed), and lets out an addictive yowl when you floor it. However, they are a trifle short on low and mid range torque, so you either have to use kickdown if it's an auto, or downshift through that delectable stick to get the best out of them.

Your sunroof gripe is nothing unusual - had a friend with the same model with the same issue. He just let it be, and used just the sunshade and tilt facility rather than go to the expense of having the roof and motor looked at.

Finally, if you think your detuned 2.5 is great, wait till you try the 330i or even the 330d. The latter provides real shove at low to mid range and can also be wound up like a good petrol unit, though it does lack the accompanying soundtrack. However, it is a lot more frugal on fuel.