2003 BMW 3 Series Reviews

2003 BMW 3 Series E46 Touring 325i from South Africa

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
Engine and transmission 325i Manual
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 1 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
1.0 / 10
Distance when acquired100000 miles
Most recent distance140000 miles
Previous carBMW 3 Series

Summary:

Only buy this car if you are willing to spend a lot

Faults:

Gearbox had to be replaced.

Alternator had to be replaced.

Rear bulb had to be replaced.

Knock on the spark plug.

Water system had to be replaced, because the car was overheating. Replaced the radiator as well, plus pump, clutch fan, thermostat.

Petrol pump replaced 2 times already.

The clutch fan blade lost control due to the dying water pump. Then the blade hit the radiator, water container and lot of things in the bonnet, including the bonnet itself. It has a crack on top, so I must replace it as well.

General Comments:

It's a nice and comfortable car, but the Steptronic gearbox is nonsense in these cars. I've been fixing it until I realized I'm wasting a lot of money. My mechanic decided we should convert it to manual. Limp safe mode on the Steptronic has been pain. Now better since I have the 6 speed manual.

I've only put 40k km on the car, but I've spent heavily, with 2 years of ownership already. I hope everything will be back to normal. Every time I begin to enjoy it, I experience some fault. Now that I've invested in this car, let me see the next coming 2 years.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 2nd October, 2013

2003 BMW 3 Series Individual 330i from South Africa

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 330i Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.3 / 10
Distance when acquired123000 kilometres
Most recent distance155000 kilometres
Previous carVolkswagen Golf

Summary:

Great all-rounder

Faults:

The FSU of the aircon went at +- 140 000. This is a common fault, and was very cheap to repair.

General Comments:

Amazing motorway cruiser.

Great driving position.

Great noise. Had it for 3 years now, and still love driving at night (or whenever it's quiet) with the windows down and the radio off.

Linear power delivery with great chassis. Great everyday torque as I usually pull off in 2nd, unless on a hill or having fun.

Great fun to drive with exceptional steering feel.

Surprisingly frugal when not stuck in traffic.

Great build quality.

Suspension bit firm at times - I love it, but passengers have commented.

Gearbox slightly sticky going into 5th when cold - maybe mine's just wearing. 3rd also slightly vague sometimes.

Definitely a car for driving fans, not people that just want to 'get there'.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th June, 2012

21st Jan 2014, 04:03

Steptronic can give problems anytime from 100 000 km.

2003 BMW 3 Series 2.0 turbo diesel from Norway

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 2.0 turbo diesel Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 3 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.0 / 10
Distance when acquired146000 kilometres
Most recent distance152000 kilometres
Previous carVolvo 460

Summary:

I wish I never bought this car

Faults:

Torque converter replaced at 147 000 km.

Transmission serviced several times.

CD changer broken, radio doesn't work.

Headlight motors broken.

Climate control doesn't work.

Driver's seat belt replaced.

Airbag errors.

General Comments:

I think everything that could've gone wrong with this car has gone wrong. Since the day I bought it, the problems began with the torque converter and the transmission.

The transmission was changed in summer 2011 just before I bought it, and it has been serviced 3 times after that. Still the car shifts like it was 50 years old. When changing into drive, the engine stalls, the car barely idles when cold, and it doesn't always start on winter mornings.

The car has a Webasto installed. This is superb for cold Norwegian winters, but it drains the battery and makes some loud strange noises.

The handling is OK. The car has the Comfort package with good sport seats.

The diesel was probably a bad choice for me, since I only use it for driving around town.

The parking brake is rubbish, and can't be fixed.

It has spent more time at the dealer than on the road.

I have taken really good care of it, and have driven it carefully. If I knew that this car would have this many problems, I would have just kept my old Volvo.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th February, 2012

2003 BMW 3 Series 320D 2.0 turbo diesel from South Africa

Model year2004
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 2.0 turbo diesel Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired100261 kilometres
Most recent distance122451 kilometres
Previous carToyota Corolla

Summary:

Fairly reliable and economical car

Faults:

Intermittent indicator failure at 110,000km.

Front and rear brakes and rotors replaced at 120,000km. According to the dealer service history, the rotors only last 60,000km.

Leather seats wear too quickly, even with meticulous care.

General Comments:

Strange noise coming from the differential when driving the car hard, especially when changing to 2nd gear.

Great handling, and it stops as well as it goes.

Interior cabin is functional, and all buttons and levers work.

Economy is average when driven in traffic - approximately 7.8 litres per 100km, except when driving hard, then 9 litres per 100km. Long distance driving using the cruise control is exceptional - 3 to 4 litres per 100km, and easily does over 1200km per tank.

Seats uncomfortable for a tall person, especially on a long journey.

Rear leg room non-existent, except for small children.

The boot is very small, and to make matters worse, the back seats do not fold down.

Overall, a good car, which could do with more interior space.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 21st December, 2011

17th Nov 2012, 13:24

I am the reviewer of this car. It is now on 135000km and going well. Oil filter housing 'exploded' upon oil service! Replaced oil housing (which included a new BMW OEM oil filter). BMW dealer agreed that the E46 models have a weak housing due to cost cutting measures after the E36 models (which have an aluminium housing). The E46 diesels have a PLASTIC oil housing, which does not last, especially in the hot Africa sun! The car is otherwise very frugal, and requires little maintenance, albeit expensive.

19th Nov 2013, 02:17

The car has failed! Turbo blew at 148,500 km and luckily no engine damage. This in spite of an oil service every 10,000 km (engine has no oil after 12,000 km) and the BMW 15,000 km service is simply a joke. Upon further inspection, this vehicle already had its turbo replaced once before (NOT indicated on BMW service history!). Waiting for the next expensive part to break on the car. Will probably trade it in for something Japanese...

Average review marks: 7.8 / 10, based on 25 reviews