2004 BMW 3 Series 330xi AWD 3.0 from North America


- Ball joint developed play, and replaced the lower control arms.

- Rear coil springs broke (common problem among E46 models).

- Strut tower deformed (common problem among E46 models).

- Replaced front CV drive shafts (this is AWD).

- Replaced steering rack boots (torn) and tie rods (seized).

- Replaced power steering reservoir housing gasket (was leaking oil).

- Replaced VANOS oil line and copper gaskets (was leaking oil).

- Replaced windshield washer pump and strainer (was leaking washer fluid).

- Replaced coolant tank (cracked).

General Comments:

I bought this car for its AWD as I live on a hill which gets quite a bit of snow in the winter. Since I already had an E46 330ci convertible, which I bought new, I decided to get another BMW E46. I bought the 330xi cheap ($5200) which had 128,000 miles, fully expecting I would need to spend some time fixing it before driving it daily.

Overall, this is a great car to drive, once the major items are fixed. With a fixed torque split between front and rear wheel (37-63), it's got great traction on rainy and snowy roads.

Reliability-wise, it's not on the same level as my Toyotas. Several unexpected things have gone wrong, such as broken rear coil springs and deformed strut towers (which evidently are common for the E46 models). I find it incredible that BMW would have such design/manufacturing/sourcing flaws. If I didn't do most of the repairs myself, it would be too expensive to own after a certain age.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th December, 2015

2004 BMW 3 Series E46 2.0 4 cylinder N46B20 from Australia and New Zealand


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.