2001 BMW 3 Series 330i Sport Package 3.0 inline 6 from North America

Summary:

Made for real drivers. Loves maintenance

Faults:

- Replaced serpentine belt and idler pulley.

- Replaced fuel pump (for good measure).

- Replaced windshield washer pump and grommet.

- Replaced cracked coolant expansion tank.

- Replaced thermostat.

- Replaced power steering supply hose.

- Replaced leaking radiator cap.

- Replaced worn front control arms (because at this car's age, the bushings don't come separately anymore).

- Replaced broken factory plastic impeller water pump with a more durable aftermarket metal impeller water pump.

- Replaced driver side window regulator with more durable aftermarket one. ***NOTE*** these things go like crazy on these cars. The factory window regs are a metal wire on a plastic spool that eventually cuts through and breaks. Pieces of s**t!!! All window regs were replaced by the previous owner and are already all on their way out again.

- Replaced driver's side xenon bulb ($250).

VEHICLE PURCHASE PRICE: $8,000 CAD.

TOTAL REPAIR COST: est $4,500 - $5,000 CAD.

General Comments:

I purchased this car at a point in its life where many wear and tear items began to go. In other words, the seller saved herself a lot of money, and I was the one that ended up spending it.

If you have owned a modern day BMW, you'll be well aware of the electrical gremlins that seem to come and go as they please. Be it headlights or tail lights that flicker on and off, or dash lights that dance around at their leisure. If you're accustomed to Honda and Toyota reliability, then the first few months of BMW ownership will likely scare the s**t out of you. Gone are the days where you get into your car with complete peace of mind, knowing you can just turn the key and go.

That said, I haven't driven a sedan that has given me more enjoyment than my 4 door, standard transmission, 330i with its factory sport package. There's a reason they call them the Ultimate Driving Machines. Forget front wheel drive, you don't need it. The safety nannies in this rear wheel drive car will keep you on the road in the worst of conditions, granted you have the right tires. I have more confidence and control in this during winter, than I did in my 2001 VW Jetta (FWD). This safety is both a good and a bad thing, because the differential will not allow you to spin the tires, which takes a lot of the fun out of sporty driving. These cars have nearly 50/50 weight distribution, which makes for unbelievably confident cornering. The standard transmission shifts beautifully, and the pedals are set up perfectly for heel-toe driving when you want to be Ralf Schumacher.

The fact that these cars even come in automatic is a waste. They beg to be driven, and they'll cater to you all day long. In the last two months, I've put a solid 16,000 kilometres of all driving conditions on this car (I live in Canada). Now that all the old wear and tear parts are taken care of, it just needs its oil changes and it's a happy car. The smiles it puts on my face outweigh the hardships it caused me in the beginning.

The E46 3 series is a timelessly classic BMW design, and I will hold onto it for life, to remind myself of the days where cars were still relatively simple, small, and provided excellent driver feedback.

It truly is the Ultimate Driving Machine, but be prepared for ownership, because it is equally the ultimate maintenance machine. Do your homework, find one that was well cared for with all said parts replaced, buy it in standard, and enjoy in good health.

- Robin

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th May, 2014

2001 BMW 3 Series 330i 3.0 litre from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Love it!

Faults:

Before I got the car, I know the valve gasket cover was done.

Suspension - all bushes and a tie rod replaced.

The emissions control light comes on randomly, and each time I take it to the dealer, it seems to go out as soon as I have booked the car in :/

Interior plastics seem to scratch easily, and once they do, they look crap.

Stainless steel exhaust tip fell off. I could not for the life of me wrench the second one away, so I've got no idea how the first one managed to make its way off.

The alternator also failed.

Passenger door jam on the passenger's door broke.

I expect the shocks will all need doing soon.

General Comments:

Firstly, the car handles beautifully for a family sedan. With the 3 litre engine it has plenty of power (for what I need). It's not a born again racing machine, but it was never meant to be. The ASC also steps in when needed, and isn't too intrusive.

I get really good fuel economy in the 330i; it actually uses less gas than a friend's V5 Golf. I can get from Auckland to Turangi and back (800kms) on a tank without the fuel light coming on, and that is with 2 adults and ski gear for a weekend.

The interior is another strong point for this car. It's comfortable and has a few luxury features like heated electric leather seats, sunroof, climate control, ski bag load through etc. It has 6 airbags, which gives a bit of security should I screw up at some stage. Everything is where it instinctively should be, except the boot release button, which is tucked away up by the bonnet release lever.

I like the 'small things' this car has that set it apart from the competition. It has a first aid kit, warning triangle, flashlight, tool kit etc. I know I will probably never use these things, but it's always there in case I do.

The exterior is in great condition with only one minor scrape to the front right bumper (right down low so I can't see it, and don't really see much point in getting it fixed). It has the M Sport package, so nicely lowered on decent factory alloys. I also have the optional xenon lights, which look quite cool.

When I'm on the open road, I love this car. It's fast, quiet and comfortable. I don't want journeys to end. When it needs something else fixed, I can't help but worry about how much it will cost.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th April, 2012

13th Apr 2012, 19:29

They're pretty good cars. Just make sure that when you take it for its first service with you, that the mechanic checks the water pump. If it has a plastic impeller, you're best to replace it as they simply snap off the spindle rather than wear out gradually. Oh, and replace the thermostat. Both as precautions; I'd do it every 5 years or so.

I've got a 3 series Compact of the same age, and I couldn't believe that even with its weight (only 15 kg lighter than the sedan) and a 1.8-litre engine with only 115 bhp thereabouts, my car isn't gutless. It helps though that I have the rare manual gearbox. Still, with yours having a 6-cylinder engine, that can only be much better than mine.