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Thread: 325i Wagon as a daily?

  1. #1
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    325i Wagon as a daily?

    trying to find myself a more suitable daily driver. I currently daily a 2006 F250 crew cab, but its usually just myself driving, which is a total waste of fuel and vehicle. The thing gets 13.5mpg if I keep my foot out of it on the 20 min commute. I found a manual transmission E46 wagon kinda local but it got away, but I ran across a 2001 325i touring with the sport package and an auto. Looks to be in great shape with ~160k miles. It would be a no-kidding daily driver. My weekend toy is an 01 M5. Am I crazy to try to go for this as a daily? I don't have issues with basic DIY stuff (reference my weekend toy), but more invasive projects are tough due to limited spare time on the weekend. I can commit a day to getting some DIY work done on a car, but beyond that it will be a struggle and probably drive me to an indy shop.

  2. #2
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    My wife has an E46 sport wagon - 325i with an automatic - as a daily driver, and I can tell you it is both fun and practical. Keep in mind, however, that even the newest E46 cars are over ten years old, and time takes its toll on any car. Make sure the cooling system is in good condition, and if there aren't receipts to prove it has already been done, replace the entire cooling system, especially the two plastic water pipes that are up under the intake manifold. This engine, being entirely light alloy, is totally intolerant of overheating. Doing an entire cooling system refresh isn't beyond the capability of a competent DIY person, but one needs to be organized and methodical to do it right. Total cost for good-quality parts is around $800; plan on it taking two weekends.

  3. #3
    dworthy's Avatar
    dworthy is offline Wagon meister :) BMW Tech Expert
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    +1

    The bane of these cars is the cooling system. Also the valve cover like to turn from rubber into plastic and start to leak. The next place that will leak is the Oil Filter Housing (OFH). This stuff you can do in the driveway, and don't take a lot of special tools either. Once my winter beater finally won't pass inspection, it will be heading to the junkyard and I will get the wife a new car so the wagon will be my next winter car/daily.
    Darin
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  4. #4
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    Echoing what the guys have already said, the E46 wagon is a great DD as long as you stay on top of maintenance.

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  5. #5
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    My only is an 03 three wagon. If you already own an in-line, they are all pretty much under the same in maintenance. Wagons use a GM auto transmission that it's BMW specified transmission fluid has been no longer available for a decade or so. Use of an alternate 'Dexron 6' in these GM transmissions, has many critics on the BMW forums. As a result, I will not change out my factory (lifetime) BMW (texaco) atf! My transmission performs normal..now at 127k...I'm leaving well enough alone!
    Last edited by Eaglesail; 02-05-2018 at 01:51 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eaglesail View Post
    My only is an 03 three wagon. If you already own an in-line, they are all pretty much under the same in maintenance. Wagons use a GM auto transmission that it's BMW specified transmission fluid has been no longer available for a decade or so. Use of an alternate 'Dexron 6' in these GM transmissions, has many critics on the BMW forums. As a result, I will not change out my factory (lifetime) BMW (texaco) atf! My transmission performs normal..now at 127k...I'm leaving well enough alone!
    There were numerous automatics used in this series - ours is a ZF 5HP19. For all the talk about "can't replace the transmission fluid," why does the TIS tell us how to do it, and give us the specification for the transmission fluid? Cross-reference that number, and Valvoline High-Mileage Dexron/Mercon synthetic pops up as a suitable fluid. It's also affordable - available at WalMart. Works just fine. I did a flush and filter on ours at 160,000 miles and was pleasantly surprised to find the fluid in very good condition - not burnt, no sludge whatsoever in the pan, and no metal particles stuck to the magnets. That doesn't mean that it didn't need to be changed, however.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson42 View Post
    There were numerous automatics used in this series - ours is a ZF 5HP19. For all the talk about "can't replace the transmission fluid," why does the TIS tell us how to do it, and give us the specification for the transmission fluid? Cross-reference that number, and Valvoline High-Mileage Dexron/Mercon synthetic pops up as a suitable fluid. It's also affordable - available at WalMart. Works just fine. I did a flush and filter on ours at 160,000 miles and was pleasantly surprised to find the fluid in very good condition - not burnt, no sludge whatsoever in the pan, and no metal particles stuck to the magnets. That doesn't mean that it didn't need to be changed, however.
    Haven't you heard? Its the only fluid on the planet that doesn't degrade over time with use! MAGIC!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhurley34 View Post
    Haven't you heard? Its the only fluid on the planet that doesn't degrade over time with use! MAGIC!
    LMAO! I think the BMW marketing wonks probably figured the fluid would last longer than the rest of the car would, hence the "lifetime" comment. They hadn't counted on a bunch of fanatics like us determined to make these cars last forever!

  9. #9
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    Nah, it's kind of the other way around, thusly: "lifetime fill" transmissions are so named bcuz when they go, that's the end of life for the car as they are too expensive to fix.
    Charlie

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honolulu View Post
    Nah, it's kind of the other way around, thusly: "lifetime fill" transmissions are so named bcuz when they go, that's the end of life for the car as they are too expensive to fix.
    Man, that has the painful ring of truth to it! I am starting to see E46s in wrecking yards that have no damage on them - something let go, (cooling system, transmission? Seems to me we've been talking about these on this thread...) rendering them more expensive to repair than they are worth. By the way, from the list of cars you've got, you may be the only guy on the forum whose stable of cars is older than mine! How many miles to you have on your E30? I've got 512,000 on mine.

  11. #11
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    Ended up buying a manual transmission 325iT a couple weeks back. Needed a clutch, but that's about it. One owner with comprehensive maintenance records. Thanks for the advice!

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