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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    Having watched my golf game get worse over the years, I've decided to take up a different (and hopefully more satisfying) summer hobby this year - Autocross. I'm taking my first class this weekend, the Windy City CCA-sponsored school.

    I'm wondering if anyone with more experience can help me with any tips for prepping the car (2002 330i - no SP). I have the Goodyear all season 17" tires and fill them at the recommended 33f/38r. My gut tells me that this is not going to be optimal for AutoX. Any suggestions?

  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038

    I would recommend not destroying the all-seasons and instead using a relatively inexpensive summer tire. (tell me your size and I'll suggest a few.)

    There are autocross and roadrace specific tires, but I wouldn't use those at this point-- you will learn just fine on performance summer tires and they'll last longer. I have autocrossed and done track days on both types of tires, so I'm not just tossing this out as a best guess.

    If it's in budget your best bet would be an additional set of wheels with your summer tires on them. If not, you can mount/dismount tires on your stock wheels twice a year but may quickly realize that if you stick with this very soon you'd have paid for an inexpensive set of wheels anyway.

    If your club allows it, definitely do take along a passenger who has some good autocross experience and ride with them too. Walk the course with them and even if you've raced before listen to the theory on lines... autocross is a bit different than any other motorsport.

    I still get out a few times a year but don't do it as a regular hobby... too much time & money for <5 minutes of seat time per weekend.

  • mxpro738mxpro738 Posts: 59

    Thanks for the feedback... which I find useful.

  • mxpro738mxpro738 Posts: 59
    My current understanding is that the air bag on a "3" does not have a cut-off switch. As an alternative, is it possible to disable it by pulling a fuse in the box?

    Thanks in advance.
  • leenelsonmdleenelsonmd Posts: 208
    Sorry my message above was interrupted. -- MDX is a nice vehicle, but there is no doubt that a road trip to Austin will be twice as nice in a 3 series.

    Throw the bike in the back and maybe an oak tree too. Have fun. Don't get a ticket.

    hgeyer: My first autocross was a couple of weeks ago. I agree with locke above if you can swing some cheaper summer tires then I would probably do this. I could not do this because although it may be rational, it would have required a measureable investment and my wife would have been pretty reluctant to allow this. I was lucky that she even allowed me to drive in it. In this regard, if you go with your stock tires I would put at least 44 in the front and probably 42 in the rear. This will definitely help protect the lateral tread. Some might rec even more than this, but this should be a reasonable start.

    brave1: "Yeah officer, I had to hurry and get this tree back to Houston -- it needs water pretty bad and in my estimation the root ball has reached a critical mass within the pot and I think it needs to be planted STAT if it is going to make it. I am talking life and death for this plant sir."--I would probably start with this and see what develops.
    You can't cruise on HWY 71 at 100mph without a radar detector. In my experience on the 150mile trip to Austin there are usually about 2-3 speed traps along the way and you can be sure that they do not tolerate speeds that exceed 10-15mph over the limit (the limit is usually 65-70mph). (Usually you can get away with the limit plus 10mph). The V1 has definitely paid for itself on this trip alone.

    As an example of how tough the Texas DPS can be, one time I was cruising along at about 75mph (in my old E36 325) with a Toyota Camry containing a typical family of 4. Both of us came up on a DPS vehicle (speed limit 70mph) and I slowed down to about 74mph and the Camry (over about a 5 mile stretch) passed the DPS officer (who was going about 74-75mph) at about 76mph. The Camry drove beside him for at least 3-4 miles and then slowly eased in front of him and not 500 yards after passing him, the lights came on and to my shock and amazement the Camry was pulled over. I could not believe it -- the Camry was barely speeding and had the most innocent appearing people inside. I guess I learned a lesson -- I will not pass a law enforcement vehicle unless I can do it within 2-3mph of the speed limit.
  • mxpro738mxpro738 Posts: 59
    I believe that, not too long ago, Car_man guessed that BMW might be coming out with some improved financing rates in early April. Has anyone seen anything newsworthy?

    Thanks in advance.
  • killer3killer3 Posts: 13
    I am over 6'6" tall, and have just recently moved down from a five series (528) to a 330i. For the driver the 330i actually seems a little more comfortable than the 530i, with a little more leg room, and better seat adjustments. That said I really preffer the five series because the seats are a little wider (and I do not have a wide butt, 200lbs right now), I can put someone in the seat behind me and the five series seems more stable (if a little slower) than the 330i. Also the doors seem heavier. I do like that the fold-down seats come with the cold weather package on the 3, but miss my old heated steering wheel. With respect to 325 v. 330, for most people the 325 is fast enough, but if you feel the need to race folks at stoplights, the 330i is for you. I actually preffered 325's road manners which seemd to hurt my kidneys a little less (you cannot get the 330i without the sport suspension), but at the time (four months ago) the difference in monthly lease price for otherwise comparable cars was about $5 a month... but now they have extended the better terms to the 325 also. BTW a friend said yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article on automaker's sales promotions and he claimed the 525 recently was reduced by $60 a month on a lease.
  • mrl11777mrl11777 Posts: 154
    Yesterday's Wall St Journal had an article about the automakers trying to keep buyers coming. GM is offering 0% for 5 years, BMW 2.9% for (I think) 3 years and lease deals.
  • mrl11777mrl11777 Posts: 154
    and you fit in a 3er? It can't have a moonroof. I'm six-three and fit comfortably but with nothing to spare. How do you do it?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I'm right at 6'0" and I fit just fine in either a 3 or a 5. :) As for fitting between a 5 and a 3, perhaps how the seats set on the floor. They are height adjustable... so it should allow for a variety of configurations.

    As for the 325 vs 330, I think of it more of a x25 vs x30. I have the 325xi and I wouldn't have considered anything but a manual for that engine. When I consider a 3.0 litre engine, I could probably go either way. My 325 manual more than does it for me, so a 330 manual would certainly get up and go. The numbers mentioned above seem to prove that (to me at least).

    In my considerations for a 5, if I end up with a 525, it will be a manual. If I can convince my wife that the car is really heavier and 'needs' the 3.0, there will be some room for negotiation on the tranny. I still prefer manual and she isn't too wild about the step.

    Just my .012 (.02 adjusted for a bad economy).

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Funny thing about the 5-Series, there is a (little known) clip snapped onto each track for the drivers&#146; seat, and said clips limit the rearward travel of said seat. When I picked my car up in Munich last April, I initially set my seat to roughly match the position that I had in my (then current, now former) 328i, however, even at 5' 8", I was tempted to remove the clips to allow for more leg room. Oddly enough, when my car got here stateside, I found a new/far more comfortable seating position with the seat about 1/2" above the clips.

    FWIW, if I'm not mistaken, with the clips removed, the 5er has a lot more leg room than a 3er, with them in place, the 3er wins by a something less than an inch.

    Best Regards,
  • mrl11777mrl11777 Posts: 154
    and head room is not the problem for little guys and women. Once you hit six feet and over, though, many car makers make it difficult to fit in their products. I wonder why, after so many years of offering them, that sun/moonroofs knock almost 3 inches out of the headroom from even large cars. At least BMW give the headroom measurments for there cars both ways in their lit and website.

    For the premium above the price of a 3, I was disappointed that there was almost no difference in the amount of room in a 5. The car is almost a foot longer -- is it all just bumper?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Don't forget, the 5-Series needs to be able to accommodate three different V8 engines (3.5, 4.4 and 5.0), none of which will easily fit in the E46 engine bay. In addition, the design of the E39 is at least three years older than the E46, and when the 5er came out, it really was noticeably larger than the older E36 3er.

    Best Regards,
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038

    the 3.5L used in the older 5 series was an inline six... a high-revving, 310HP inline six.

    I think there is a 4.0L V8 though.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    BMW does in fact product a 3.5 Liter V8, they just don't sell it here in the states. They do however sell a 535i with a V8 in the UK, check out the following link:,2053,COUK|016-015-5-L- - - I-535i%20Sport-DATASHEET_MOD-0,00.html

    Admittedly the 3.5 V8 has only 14 BHP (245 vs. 231, about 6% more) more than our beloved 3.0 I6, however, it has an extra 45 Nm of torque (345 vs. 300, about 15% more). Assuming that I understand this all correctly, the 535i should have noticeably more low end grunt than a 530i, however, on the top end, the difference will be relatively minor.

    Best Regards,
  • fomentarfomentar Posts: 49
    I have noticed that when driving in rain or snow, that upon initially applying brakes they have a disconcertingly weak feel until they "dry", for lack of a better description. Is this normal for BMW brakes? I have not experienced wet brake fade of this magnitude before, in other cars, and I am guessing/hoping that the collective BMW knowledge here can dispell my concerns or tell me to "run" to my service department...

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I too have experienced a momentary hesitation before the brakes "Grab" and you start to slow down. Having said that, I have noticed this phenomena on any number of cars from Europe, not just BMWs. The worst offender was my 1995 VR6 Passat GLX in the cold/wet conditions. I did occasionally notice it on my former 328i as well, and to a lesser degree on my current 530i. When I worked for MB-USA (mid 1990s), I noticed it on virtually all of their cars that I drove during that nasty 1995/1996 winter we had in northern NJ.

    I have never fussed about this problem because I have always assumed that the rotors were cold, and back when I was first learning to "Turn a wrench", the guys who were my mentors (all trained no later than WWII) always warned that "The higher the metallic content in the brake pad compound, the hotter the brake surfaces need to be to generate good stopping power." On guy told me a story about a truck that he used to drive that had full Metallic pads, and how he used to drive with the brake pedal partially depressed for the first few miles after starting it up for the first time on cold winter mornings.

    Best Regards,
  • dan_bmwdan_bmw Posts: 29
    I drove both cars with the std trans and Auto. Additionally I drove the 525i and the 530i (both automatics). There was a big diference in total performance and even more so with the 5 series (the used 530i was very quick). I chose the 330i and I am anxiously awaiting delivery of a 6 speed, Orient blue, gray leather, PP, HS, with Xenon's at the end of April. I am so psyched.

    The 325i is a sweet car and I really liked the way it runs. If I was really strapped (and there have been times that I was)for the $3.5K (net after features). I would be fine with the 325i with the PP and sports package. If I was getting an xi snowplow I would probably get the 325 because the extra xi weight kind of negates 330i's performance advantages. Now if your like me and you love the feel and sound of a higher performance engine at the higher ranges of performance, there is the difference. The 330 gives you almost a second better - 6.3(6sp) vs 7.1(5sp)to 60 than the 325 and the on the roll acceleration through the gears is far superior. Besides the 17 in., HK and other 330i frills, the engine is the reason you want the 330. There is a pretty big difference when you get on it. As you know your talking a 1/2 liter and a 41 HP increase. Plus you get the six speed. Hell soldier, huff and puff and get the 330.

  • white6white6 Posts: 588
    After "building" my car on this morning, I found that the lease price decreased by $6 per month from yesterday's "build." This would tell me they have changed some variables in regards to leases. Based on my "build" msrp of $39,370 (330Ci), and backing out the numbers on a 36-month lease, I think I have deciphered a 63% residual and .00235 money factor (10,000 miles) and 60%/.00235 (15,000 miles). I think the money factor was reduced from .00245 to arrive at this change. Of course, their website numbers are usually conservatively posted; i.e. seems like BMW Financial actually offers better deals than what is available on their website to the general population.
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    Two years ago, I calculated the difference for the engine alone to be closer to $4,400, plus you are forced to pay another $400 or so for upgrades that some of us don't need - see link below.

    KarenS "BMW 3-Series Owners: FAQ" Jun 1, 2001 12:46pm

    I doubt the numbers have changed much since then. Once you rev up the 325, it is more than adequate for street driving and fine for the track, at least for me. The ECIS CAI that I installed for $350 takes care of the low-end lack of grunt, throttle response throughout the torque band, and esp. the engine sound, which has a lot more growl than the 330 now. The $4,400 will give you a car that is faster in a straight line but not much else when compared to a 325i SP with a CAI. Also, I don't want staggered tires on my car - I'd much rather have the same size all around. The difference of 41 ponies is somewhat countered by a much more aggressive gearing in the 325. It's all about tradeoffs but if I had to do it all over, I'd get the 325i SP again. The money you save will buy you a lot of driving schools, which ultimately will make you a faster driver if that's what you're striving to achieve.

    disclaimer: My 'Service Engine Soon' light has been on since shortly after I installed the ECIS CAI, although there has been no impact on drivability whatsoever.
  • genie1genie1 Posts: 398
    Hi guys! It's been a while...just wanted to say hello. I've still got the 3er...and am really glad I got the snows last year coz' I certainly needed them here in TO.

    She runs beautifully and has been trouble free. Can't wait for warmer temps so I can get back to nicer tires and twisty roads. :)

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I haven't seen a post of yours since shortly after you got back from Goa (of course my being absent for 6 months might have something to do with that). Ditto on the snows, we needed them real bad here in NH this winter, in fact, I would not have gotten up my driveway this very morning without them. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • genie1genie1 Posts: 398
    Goa...that was so last year. :) This season's vacation was spent shopping in London...yummy!

    I've been busy working on my business...doesn't leave much time to post, unfortunately.

    I skipped several months of posts, but the first one I caught up on today was your post re. your broken leg, before skipping to the end. How is that? Better I hope?
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    mxpro738's post #22512 that started the 325 vs 330 discussion was about a 325Xi auto vs a 330Ci SP 5-speed. He said after test driving these two cars, he couldn't feel much difference.

    If you can't tell the difference, the choice is simple -- get the 325Xi. If you can't afford the 330, get the 325. If you can afford the 330, but don't think it's worth the extra money, get the 325.

    I can't explain mxpro738's test drive experience. Most people that compared a 325Xi auto to a 330Ci 5-speed would feel a huge difference in power. Maybe the test drive was not thorough or hard enough, or maybe the 330i had a weak engine.

    I agree a 325i 5-speed has adequate power. If you're comparing this to a 330i 5-speed, the choice is less clear. The 325i is a lot cheaper. Personally I liked the 330i, but I can see why many are satisfied with a 325i 5-speed.

    However for me personally I draw the line at the 325i auto -- it's a nice car but just feels too slow for my taste. For some reason the auto saps the power on a 325i more than a 330i. Lots of people are happy with a 325i auto, and that's great. For me it wasn't enough power.

    Re a 325i auto vs a 330i 5-speed, I've driven both back to back several times, and (to me) there's just a huge difference. It's far more than the acceleration specs indicate. Maybe it's the 330i's low rpm torque, I don't know.

    I can't explain why mxpro738 didn't feel this difference, especially with the additional weight and driveline loss of the Xi. My advice is carefully test drive both cars again before buying. Make sure you thoroughly exercise them under the same conditions.

    If he's satisifed with the 325Xi, then by all means get it -- don't get a more expensive 330i just because someone on a forum says to. However make sure the test drive is sufficiently thorough to ensure 325Xi has sufficient power for your taste.

    A separate issue is sport vs non-sport (also a factor in 325Xi vs 330Ci SP). Personally I think the sport package, esp the seats and wheels are a must have. From a suspension standpoint, a non-sport 325Xi would feel very different from a 330i SP. That doesn't mean the SP is better for everybody. My 330i SP rides somewhat firmer and tramlines significantly more than 325i non-sports I've driven. My 330i SP requires more frequent steering correction when on the freeway, due to slight "hunting" left/right. This is typical of wider, lower-profile tires. You get used to it, and to me the faster steering response, improved grip, and M68 wheels are worth it. But it again illustrates the need for a thorough test drive over various road surfaces, not just a quick spin around the block.

    So to me the lowest cost acceptable configuration would be a 325i SP 5-speed. I think that's a great car. If the choice was truly between a 325Xi auto sedan vs a 330Ci SP 5-speed, and I didn't need 4 doors, the 330iCi would be the easy choice. If the cost was too high, I'd look for a 325i SP 5-speed, not get the 325Xi auto.

    Yet another issue is AWD vs RWD. This is further magnified by the SP having summer tires. Car and Drive had a good article about AWD vs 2WD here: If you had a SP car and live in a snow region you'd usually need to use winter tires in the cold season.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Nice to hear from you again. Hope the business is going well. I haven't been posting much either. I've been working a lot of hours to make the down payment on my first place.

    Tires make such a difference on the car. Now that I have S-03s installed, I don't have to worry about wet traction.
  • denkdenk Posts: 75
    Does anyone by any chance know the TSB # for the well-known gas pedal fix. I have the part numbers for the pedal module and adapter plate from previous postings, but the service guy asked me if I knew the TSB #. He also said he wasn't aware of this problem which has me worried that when I take it in next week they will say they can't find the TSB.
  • walter12walter12 Posts: 30
    I find it strange that the dealership does not know the TSB. I just had my 325Ci throttle fixed without having to tell them where to find the information. If you need to do so, Edmunds has a quick summary of each recall and TSB under your specific automobile. Find your year and model BMW and then click under maintenance on the left hand side of the screen. You'll get all the info you need. Good luck with your dealership.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,386
    A lot of guys who own Preludes also praise these tires and the amount that they better the handling. They must work magic on an amazing handling car like the 3er. I'm thinking of picking up a set when my stockies wear out especially since I'm going to buy some winter tires for my Prelude for next winter (even though the current winter won't seem to leave).

    Shipo: My Aunt in Salem tells me they got an additional 5 inches of the white stuff last night. I hope you didn't take your snows off yet:)

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • cnorthrupcnorthrup Posts: 74
    SI bulletin: 35 01 02

    E46 with M54 and S54 produced from 06/00 up to 06/02.

    module is vin specific.

    the pedal will be a different part # for auto or standard.

    Dealer should be able to pull the info up.

    3 or 4 months ago I had it done on my '02 330i step. They ordered the part and had it the next day. 10 minute swap.
  • denkdenk Posts: 75
    Thanks very much for the info. I agree that the dealer shouln't have to ask the customer for this kind of information but as is so often the case, it seems that the folks on this board are better informed than the dealers about so many things.
    Hopefully, the service people will find the service bulletin but just in case they try to blow the problem off I'll be prepared.
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