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Thread: Looking for used E46 M3 - have some questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    2012 BMW 328i X-drive

    Looking for used E46 M3 - have some questions

    Hey there,

    I've been casually considering exchanging my 2012 328i X-drive with ~51,500 miles for a 2005/6 E46 M3 with SMG - love the paddle shifters - and wanted your thoughts and opinions. My 328 is a beautiful car in excellent condition, alpine white with saddle brown interior, has everything but a back-up camera, is a garage kept, occasional fair-weather driver (not a daily driver) and the M3 would occupy the same role. I love the E46 M3 for all the reasons we know about and am aware of most of the major potential issues with them (SMG hydraulic pump, rear sub frame issue) but please enlighten me to any other potential issues.

    I don't want to finance anything since this is a "toy" so I'd like to use the 13-14k that I can get for my 328i to purchase an E46 M3 (with a lot more miles!) which is doable since they are situated at a very similar price point according to KBB. Online prices across the USA seem to be all over the place even for high mileage M3s. A lot of dealers and some private sellers are obviously gouging but there are enough deals to be had in my price range. According to my reading, the lowest hanging fruit/cheapest option are the convertible SMG E46 M3s which I'm totally fine with. The question is, are they worth getting rid of my low-mileage 328 for? Thanks!!

    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    2001 525it
    I would not get an smg car, I would not get a convertible, cowl shake while driving. The m label will increases the prices for all parts over a regular car you have to adjust the valves on the m3 engine. Older car will need work. Get a pre purchase inspection

  3. #3
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    I agree. I wouldn't get a convertible, nor would I buy an SMG. The rod bearings will need to be replaced if they haven't already been done.
    ASE and BMW Master Certified Technician

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclausen View Post
    I would not get an smg car, I would not get a convertible, cowl shake while driving. The m label will increases the prices for all parts over a regular car you have to adjust the valves on the m3 engine. Older car will need work. Get a pre purchase inspection
    Ok, thanks. So the exchange is worth it you just recommend that I avoid an SMG/convertible. My business partner is a BMW enthusiast and said the same thing. He has an '05 e46 M3 convertible with the 6-speed manual and told me to avoid the SMG transmission and admitted that the hard tops are lighter and therefore more desirable. I love the hard tops and can drive a manual so no problem there. My next question is mileage. At 15-18 years old, a reasonably priced example with under 90,000 miles is tough to find so how big of an issue are high mileage cars? Should I steer clear of cars over a certain number of miles? Thanks!

    Mike
    Last edited by BMWFAN1973; 08-05-2020 at 07:38 PM.

  5. #5
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    Not necessarily, just be ready to have the rod bearings replaced ASAP unless you have a record of them being done already. And condition of the vehicle should be obvious. Iím youíre youíll be able to tell a well maintained car vs an abused one.


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    ASE and BMW Master Certified Technician

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    08 E90M3; 99 E36M3 Turbo
    You will likely have more ó and more expensive ó maintenance and repairs, but I assume you expect that. I donít know the E46M3 that well, but rear subframe, vanos, and valve adjustments come to mind. To me, it would be totally worth paying for because it is a reasonably fast, good handling car with an engine that makes great sounds and revs to 8000 rpm.

    What you have now is just a grocery getter and I would recommend keeping it as a daily driver/winter beater companion to the M3 that will likely sit in the garage 90% of the time based on what you write, if you can afford to. The 2012 328is one of the last naturally aspirated inline 6 motors and is relatively simple to maintain, spare from the AWD being in the way on your xdrive example.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    You will likely have more ó and more expensive ó maintenance and repairs, but I assume you expect that. I donít know the E46M3 that well, but rear subframe, vanos, and valve adjustments come to mind. To me, it would be totally worth paying for because it is a reasonably fast, good handling car with an engine that makes great sounds and revs to 8000 rpm.

    What you have now is just a grocery getter and I would recommend keeping it as a daily driver/winter beater companion to the M3 that will likely sit in the garage 90% of the time based on what you write, if you can afford to. The 2012 328is one of the last naturally aspirated inline 6 motors and is relatively simple to maintain, spare from the AWD being in the way on your xdrive example.
    Yes, I'm ok with the increased maintenance and repair issues a 15-year old car brings with it (within reason) but I think I'm going to hold out for a lower mileage example in order to mitigate some of that risk. I've read about those same well-known issues with the e46 M3 and will have whatever car I choose inspected primary to purchase. I agree, as I wrestle with the idea of exchanging the 328 for an older but much higher model M3, I can't help to think it is a worthwhile trade although I am somewhat concerned that there are so many people selling them and that they all seem to have had multiple owners. Are people not happy with them long term?

    Unfortunately, I need to sell my 328 to fund the purchase of the e46 M3 so I won't be able to keep it. I have a full size AWD SUV as my daily driver so transportation is not a problem. Thanks for the insight.

    Mike

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