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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • On multi-lane roads in Mpls/St. Paul, the DOT started posting "Slower Traffic use Right Lane" signs, which raised hope that the slow left-lane problem might get better and also raised much discussion in the newspapers and on the radio about speeding, the "right" to drive slow in the left lane, etc.

    As far as I can tell, none of the slow drivers in the left lane have noticed the signs!
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    Did someone flash on the board? I missed it - I hope she was cute. In my experience, people are likely to get offended by a fast-lane flasher, so when I catch up from behind, I keep a safe distance and I give them ~ 3 sec to move over to the right once they've had a clear opportunity to do so. If they don't, I signal, gas it, and quickly pass on the right.

    I had my car in for an oil change today and I asked the dealer if they recommend that I top off the battery with distilled water. Their response was that the battery is sealed and it doesn't need any maintenance...

    NPR is left of center as far as media reporting but I've never thought of them as misinformed. As with anything else, with politics you can present the same facts in a different enough light so that the end result would be different. I judge political commentary relative to the news source.

    Profit margins - I'll be happy if BMW AG makes good money. Making $200 per car does not seem like a viable long-term business model. Let consumers decide what's a fair price - it's not like auto manufacturers are forcing you to buy an SUV at a 10-grand profit margin?!?

    "Maybe people confused "New England" with "England", and decide to travel on the left. : )" That's a real good one!! And very true around here in the Boston area.

    Dave - We have ~ 180 cars at the autoX - roughly half are BMWs. There are ~ 20 cars in my class.
  • mjvchicagomjvchicago Posts: 149
    My sights have been set on a late model 3 series as my next car purchase and I'm wondering what the consensus is on the best year model to purchase. I'm most interested in 1980s models just because I want to keep my cost under $2500. Any thoughts out there on what year was the best performer, what problems there might have been and what year they were fixed (if at all)? Basically I want to find a late model BMW and baby it. Any words of advice would be appreiated!
  • abc246abc246 Posts: 305
    I finally drove what I thought would be my dream car, a brand new 330i. The car had 43 miles on it and looked great. I am currently a non-BMW owner, but lust the German quality engineering in the suspension, engine, and body. I own a Silverado 4x4, Blazer 4x4, and a DeVille.

    When I drove the BMW I was able to take it to very high speeds and press it through corners and it handled great. The engine is very smooth. This car had the auto tranny and it shift perfectly. There were no rattles (very important). Excellent brakes with very good feel.

    So what was the problem? The ride. It was the worst I have ever experienced in a car. It was flat out brutal. I could feel EVERY bump on what looked like a smooth road! On a road with bumps the rear of the car kick over every one. My 4x4 pickup truck rides better. What a disappointment. I though BMW had the ride/handling formula down perfect, but I guess not.
  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    Please stay away from any old BMW 3 series, review consumer reports per particular model year you are considering.

    My '91 318i cost me about $5000 in misc breakdown repairs in only 9 months! My experience is not uncommon.

    The $2500 you plan to spend on a used car is just the beginning when you buy BMW.
  • white6white6 Posts: 588
    I am just about ready to "pull the trigger" and order a 2004 330Ci (black/black ette, sport, step, myrtlewood trim). MSRP is $39,370. Local dealer (Oklahoma City) offered $15,500 for my trade-in and wants MSRP plus $150 for mats and is marking up BMW Financial lease money factor significantly. 36-month, 10,000 mile lease, with no money down, $589 month. Fortunately, Oklahoma doesn't charge tax on leases over 30 days. I'm paying tag, excise tax, etc. up front. Dealer in Wichita Falls, Texas, offered $17,000 for my trade, and $528 month for the same car and terms. $3,700 difference! And they are marking up the money factor, too, but are knocking off $1,400 from MSRP (sales price of $37,970). Of course, once I get down there to consumate the deal they could fail to come through on what they have promised... in which case I am starting over since I don't think I could do business (regardless of the price) with folks that flat-out lie. My question is... do you guys think this is an OK deal on a 2004 special order? Any comments/suggestions about ordering a car? Anyone in Texas have any experience with this dealer?
  • beemer4mebeemer4me Posts: 42
    Hi all, been asking this question on other threads but don't seem to be getting a response. Has anyone tried the Costco car buying program and was it as straightforward as they claim it to be? I want to save hours of negotiating and am willing to settle for paying the $250 over dealer cost if there is no monkey business in the invoice...
  • kominskykominsky Posts: 850
    Has anyone else had a brake fluid change done under the Maintenance Program. I paid to have mine changed a couple of weeks ago and my service manager just called to tell me they were crediting my account the $77 since he just learned he could submit it to the program. Brave, I singled you out in the subject since I know you've had yours done a couple of times already
  • tcn2ktcn2k Posts: 277
    Got my brake fluid flush two weeks ago.
  • kominskykominsky Posts: 850
    In rereading my above post, my intention wasn't very clear... even to me, and I wrote it. It was meant as a 'heads-up' to be sure people were aware that this should be covered under the maintenance program. Even my service manager didn't realize it, initially.
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    Re feeling every bump, in general the 3-series has an excellent ride/handling tradeoff. There are several possible explanations for your experience:

    - The car you drove may have had the sport package, which includes 17 inch, low profile tires. These will ride somewhat firmer than the standard tires.

    - The car you drove may have had the optional 18 inch, very low profile tires. These will ride even firmer than the normal sport package 17 inch tires.

    - You're used to the ride of your 4x4 and DeVille, so the 330i seemed rough by comparison. This difference would be magnified if you transitioned from a Deville to a 330i sport package with optional 18 inch wheels.

    I suggest you take another test drive, and make sure it's a non-sport 330i. It will still handle very well, and the ride may be closer to your taste.
  • chashoangchashoang Posts: 19
    Can anyone please advise on which radar detector is worthy to go in my 2002 330ci, a good place to purchase it, how much it would cost, and how easy the install would be to make it look nice (and if not, should I have a pro do it and what is that cost?). I remember there being a post about the V1 and others but don't want to search again. The same question applies for a set of Front, Side and Back Clears. I think the dealer wanted around $350.00 with installation for the Clears.

    thanks all,
  • walter12walter12 Posts: 30
    I also had my brake fluid changed under the program. However, it came about when I asked if I needed to have my brake fluid changed because my car was two years old (01 325Ci). The dealership didn't tell me, but certainly knew about it. As part of that conversation, I was told that the program will change coolant at the 3 year mark.

    By the way, the service manager was knowledgeable and courteous. However as in any business, we need to be proactive on our behalf.
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    Most people think the two best radar detectors are the Valentine 1 and Escort Passport 8500. The Valentine has a reputation for being the best, but a few people who have used both simultaneously side-by-side say there's not much difference, overall. For details see:

    The Valentine has directional arrows, which is nice. It also has a dedicated rear sensor. Some tests show it has slightly greater sensitivity than the Passport. However it's only available mail order and the price is $400, and the concealed display is $40.

    The people who have used both sometimes report the Passport seems to have slightly better false signal rejection. It's $300, which includes the concealed display. It's available at local car specialty stores. Infrequently you'll see it discounted to about $270.

    See for user reviews of each.

    Re mounting location, the minimum you want is a hard wired installation. This is vastly better than using a cigarette lighter cord. Mounted up high, just to the left of rear view mirror, it's hard to see from outside the car, especially the rear.

    An interesting new option is the cordless Escort Solo S2. Usually cordless detectors aren't as good as a corded one, but allegedly this one is better. Whether it's equal to a corded Passport 8500, I don't know.

    There's a fancy Valentine remote mount, whereby the detector itself is in the center brake light housing, and the remote display is integrated into the rear view mirror. It's about $200. See

    Note a radar detector doesn't let you drive without regard to speed limits. They're of very limited use against laser radar (Lidar). If you're the first car hit by instant on radar, forget it. The main benefit is for those doing lots of freeway driving in a range of traffic densities: too heavy and traffic is moving too slow. Too light and there aren't enough cars ahead to trigger the radar trap. If you're going way over the speed limit you risk being identified visually.

    A detector will let you cruise along with the faster traffic, at a safe speed, and in most cases give you sufficient advance warning to avoid being singled out of the group.
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    One more thing -- by "hard wired installation" this doesn't mean the detector cannot be removed. It simply refers to having a dedicated power cord, usually coming from the sun visor or the head liner. Properly installed, it's only about 2 inches long. Both Valentine and Escort have inexpensive wiring kits for this. You can do it yourself, or a car specialty shop will usually do it for a nominal fee. The detector can be removed/installed in about 5 sec. You leave the suction cup mount on the window, just push the detector in place and plug in the power connector. When not in use the power cord is easily concealable -- just slide the short 2 in. cord above the sun visor or back into the head liner.
  • mg330cimg330ci Posts: 162
    The BMW 3 series is a sports car. In order to achieve the improve handling required by a sports car, the suspension needs to be made stiffer.

    A more compliant suspension causes the car to bounce, lean, wooble and be less agile.

    The change from driving those linguini bouncy SUVs to a BMW is dramatic, and since you have become used to its handling and don't need dramamine anymore, the change is rather dramatic.

    The vast majority of BMW owners on this board are actually looking for this type of stiffer suspension setup.

    Perhaps, the sporty handling of a BMW is not what you really are looking for. Perhaps you would be happier driving some of the competition cars that are more compliant, like the MB320, or the Acura TL, or Volvo or Audi A4, even 6. The Lexus IS300 and Infinity will provide a similar sporty/stiffer ride.
  • voxfuzzvoxfuzz Posts: 1

    Anyone know if there is a running in period for the 2003 325 automatic? I called the dealership and they said they didn't "think so". Thanks for the info.

  • bmw323isbmw323is Posts: 410
    Dan, don't know what you mean by "running in", but if you mean a new car break-in period, it is 1,200 miles for the BMW.
  • newguy14newguy14 Posts: 5
    Sorry to bust in with a new topic but I'm looking for some help. I'm thinking of buying my first BMW. Specifically a 2000 328i. Can someone explain the different packages that came with this car and what is in each package. Thanks!
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    I've had the brake fluid flushed twice but I had to pay both times. The first time I needed it, the car was less than two years old and the second time I needed it (just a month ago), the car already had 36K+ miles and the maintenance was out. The rule is that you qualify for it under the maintenance program after two years of ownership but only as long as the car has less than 36K miles. I paid ~ $85-90 for each flush. I've been thinking of getting a pressure bleeder ($50) and doing it myself next time, we'll see...
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    BMW AG must be doing something seriously wrong if DeVille owners are looking to switch to a 3-series, lol... Some E36 M3 owners actually claim they can feel through the steering wheel when they go over a pea-sized piece of gravel - that must be a little unsettling for unsuspecting new buyers.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Ignore the advice of the Geo-driving "expert". The E30(1984-1991 Three Series) is still held in high regard by thousands of BMW enthusiasts. The best bang for the buck would be a 325is; the only real down side is that the M20 "small six" engine has a timing belt which must be changed every 60K miles. I'd avoid the '84-'85 318i as well as the 325e. The 1991 318is is a sweet car, but make sure the 1.8 engine had the profile gasket replaced with a post-1994 gasket. In any event, the real key to the wise purchase of an older Bimmer is to insist on complete service records as well as having the car checked out by a good BMW mechanic. BMWs of that vintage require bi-annual coolant changes and a brake fluid change every year. If these and other service requirements have not been followed, walk away. An abused/neglected BMW is no bargain. Check out particularly the links and the classified ads. And remember that a majority of "experts" on BMW repair costs base their moronic opinions on second or third hand information-they usually can't spell"BMW", much less own one...;)
  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I sold my Geo recently after 5 reliable years. Currently driving a new Pontiac. I must admit the Geo Prizm was a much better car than my 318 that I owned and hated for 9 months.

    I'm not an expert, I'm just a guy who has a bad opinion of BMW. I will continue to post my bad opinions here. I'm not trolling when I stick to the facts.

    I hate BMW.
  • hippo168hippo168 Posts: 115
    On Apr 16, 2003, 9:08am, you said on the Acura TSX board the following...

    "I'm going to go over the BMW 3 series discussion and claim the Hyundai Elantra is better than the BMW 325; of course I don't believe such a claim, I just like to what kind of rebuttal I get."

    Trolling or not, you lost all your credibility right there.

    btw, don't even reply, this is my last post to you.
  • CrevelsCrevels Posts: 37

    Continue to read and learn much from this group. Thanks for the information and insight. Often don't have anything to post that hasn't been said before, so I just read along. 1 month and 1,400 miles on my CPO 330Ci and truly enjoying every minute of it.

    I installed the UGO last weekend and it took about 30 minutes. Anyone thinking of doing it shouldn't be concerned. There are great instructions at I was concerned about cutting the cover, but the installation went flawless. Now my question, I'm thinking of getting the BMW 6-disc changer for the trunk. Has anyone installed one themselves and how difficult was it?

    '02 CPO 330Ci
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "I'm just a guy who has a bad opinion of BMW. I will continue to post my bad opinions here."

    You bought a 6 year old used car with 80,000 miles, and you didn't have it checked out by a mechanic first...

    I wouldn't buy a 6 year old BMW, Lexus, or ANY car without a mechanics approval. You should accept responsibility for your actions and stop blaming BMW for your failure.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I believe this quote from Dilbert is appropriate:
    "Argue with an idiot and he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience."
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Folks, let's just skip this issue and help someone who really is asking for help. :-)

    newguy14 Apr 24, 2003 10:55pm
  • mrl11777mrl11777 Posts: 154
    Another piece of cake job. If your car already has the bracket then it will take you about 30 minutes, and that includes getting a cup of coffee. Much less complcated than doing the UGDO (nothing to cut). Bought mine from for $315 total (unit, adapter and shipping).
  • seivwrigseivwrig Posts: 388
    "FWIW: In Great Britain, the traffic on the Ms is great. The right hand lane is exclusively for passing and it is great to see people pass and move over repeatedly -- like playing leap frog. The flow is great and everyone keeps their cool. Unfortunately we are not as civilized."

    I have to disagree here. I have driven around the M25 and a couple sprints up and down the M1. The right land lane is not exclusive for passing. The UK also has obnoxious drivers. Driving on the motorways in the UK sucks. The French toll roads are better.

    To make matters worse, after driving in Europe, there seems to be a stereotype of BMW drivers. Sometimes, if you don't watch it, you will find yourself as part of that stereotype.

    Headlight flashing-I find this to be more the case in the US, then my limited 6 days in Germany. I have never had headlight flashed at me in Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Wales or England except in Germany from a car coming the opposite direction. The Xenons must have blinded him. In Germany, you will see people use their left indicator.
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