- 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.
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.