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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Maryland
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    01 330ci

    Question Would you recommend an E53 3.0 for occasional towing?

    TL;DR: I need a daily I can tow my track car with ~6x a year. Would you recommend an E53? Is a manual 3.0 inadequate for that?

    My brother goes to track events with me and has been taking both our cars on his 2 car open trailer, but we are looking to get an enclosed trailer and 2 car enclosed trailers are way more expensive. I hydrolocked the engine on my 330xi during some flooding (apparantly water below my ankles can hydrolock an e46) and USAA offered me less than 3k and wont let me buy it back :/. I'm going to try and get 4k for it since they took money off the estimate for it being a 6 speed manual?! Just need to send them comps and hopefully get a little bit closer to what its really worth. Now that I am looking for a new car my brother is pushing me to get something I can tow with.

    My budget is ~4k (would prefer to be less than $3k as I'm in school and don't have time to work so I need some budget reserved for repairs/maintenance)

    I would love to get a 6 speed E53 3.0 as I know the M54 really well and have every specialty tool you'd need for one. Plus the I just really like the M54, my track car had over 500k miles on its original engine before I replaced it. I also really dont want to be stuck with dailying an automatic, but that will probably be a reality.
    I've seen some people say that they tow with their 3.0 E53 fairly often, but I think it just wont have the guts to do a very good job at it. There are a few 5 speeds and one 6 speed in my area I could probably get for 3-3.5k.

    Second option is a V8 E53 through dealer auctions for ~2-3k. I could even get a 4.8is for ~3500 after shipping from Denver. I guess this is where I want to know if you'd recommend getting one. I'm sketched out about getting automatic one, as I know you are lucky to get more than 150k out of an auto E46 and it seems like the E53 transmissions (especially the ones mated to the N62) are no better. And then if I get an M62 E53 I will likely have to do the timing chains and guides which my brother described as one of the worst jobs he has done, and he has done almost anything you could think of. From what I can see the N62 is not a very good option.

    My third option which is probably the most practical option is to go with a early 2000s GM truck. I just feel like I will dread dailying that, and other than the escalade I think they are all kinda ugly.

    I was going to post this on xoutpost but I have a new account and wont be able to post for a week.

    Thanks for any help!
    Last edited by eddyfb; 10-08-2018 at 12:41 AM.

    01 330ci track car | 04 6MT 330xi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Vancouver
    Posts
    156
    My Cars
    2001 530i, 2007 X5 3.0si
    Typically advise to someone posing a question like this is to avoid BMW's if you may be short on cash for future repairs (which will occur). But if you buy right, can DIY, and have luck on your side, you may do alright.

    If the 3.0 X5 has the tow rating you need, get it. Just know that they are thirsty beasts that take 91 octane and aren't very quick.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Ca
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    2,443
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    2001 525it
    No v-8's. 3.0 engine, there not great at towing pretty short wheel base

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Maryland
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    01 330ci
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisMelnyk View Post
    Typically advise to someone posing a question like this is to avoid BMW's if you may be short on cash for future repairs (which will occur). But if you buy right, can DIY, and have luck on your side, you may do alright.

    If the 3.0 X5 has the tow rating you need, get it. Just know that they are thirsty beasts that take 91 octane and aren't very quick.
    Quote Originally Posted by jclausen View Post
    No v-8's. 3.0 engine, there not great at towing pretty short wheel base
    I'm very very well versed in E46s, I had my track car torn down beyond this: https://imgur.com/a/bWOx5Wi . I can DIY anything. The 3.0 (with M/T) is rated for the exact same amount as the 4.4, 4.6is, and 4.8is. Most people say while it is still rated for 6,000 lbs, it doesn't have the guts to do it well. But then there are a few people who say that they tow all the time with it and it does fine. I guess I was just hoping someone on here would have experience.

    I think unless I can get a definitive answer I will be getting a short wheel base escalade. I just would really prefer something more fun to drive every day than that.

    I just got approved on xoutpost, so I will be posting this there too now.

    01 330ci track car | 04 6MT 330xi

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    30,908
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    97 328i Vert, 98 M3 Vert
    I’m no expert on e53 but I’ve owned a bunch of e36s and I currently daily my 2004 330 vert. The m54 is a great engine. My only concern is that it’s slightly under powered for the X5. With that being said there are millions of happy X5 3.0 owners out there. Since you’re only towing 6 times a year you should be ok. I just test drive a 4.4 and even that powerful v8 felt a little under powered.

    These are are very popular cars. If you don’t like the 3.0 you won’t have any trouble selling it. I’m very doubtful that 3.0 will be able to haul a 2 car trailer though.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    denver, co
    Posts
    38
    My Cars
    E30 Vert, XJ Jeep
    "My budget is ~4k (would prefer to be less than $3k as I'm in school and don't have time to work so I need some budget reserved for repairs/maintenance)"

    This line contradicts E53 ownership.

    Honestly, go with a chevy or something with a 350. Trannies are junk on e53s, I wouldn't tow a paperclip with my X. Deep pockets or a big tool box are the only way to get through E53 ownership. Fun to drive yes, but kind of a PITA for the rest of it.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Maryland
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    01 330ci
    Quote Originally Posted by smokeyyank View Post
    "My budget is ~4k (would prefer to be less than $3k as I'm in school and don't have time to work so I need some budget reserved for repairs/maintenance)"

    This line contradicts E53 ownership.

    Honestly, go with a chevy or something with a 350. Trannies are junk on e53s, I wouldn't tow a paperclip with my X. Deep pockets or a big tool box are the only way to get through E53 ownership. Fun to drive yes, but kind of a PITA for the rest of it.

    Yeah, I've got the deep toolbox and access to dealer auctions where I can get a decent E53 for easily less than 2k. Still probably going to end up with something GM.

    01 330ci track car | 04 6MT 330xi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    5,419
    My Cars
    2017 Ram 2500d
    Just get a 1500 truck and call it a day. There's no such thing as a cheap BMW.
    BMW Level 1 Master Technician

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