BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair

silvernubirasilvernubira Member Posts: 59
edited May 2019 in BMW
I have a 2000 323i with 5-speed manual transmission which had a "rear clunk" from the first day. I am curious to see if many 5-speed manual E46s have a similar problem. Let me explain the problem (by the way this is an intermittent problem, ie., it does not happen all the time; but occurs may be 70 to 80 % of the time): when I shift gears and let the clutch go, I hear a clunk or thud or "thunk" from the rear (probably from somewhere in the vicinity of rear axle). If I release the clutch quickly, the sound is loud. If I release the clutch very slowly (slipping the clutch), I still hear the clunk.

I do not know if this is related or not but when the car is stationary and I shift gears, I hear some clicking noises from the rear (I think the sound comes from the same area).

My final question is directed to those who had noisy (clicking, chattering) driver's seat belt tensioner and had the tensioner replaced. Does the replacement of the tensioner solve the problem or the new tensioner is noisy like the original one?

I asked BMWNA about these problems ( Owner's Circle) about ten days ago. Even though they claim that they respond in one day, I have not heard from them yet.

Thank you in advance to those who respond.

P.S. Silver Nubira is my wife's car!


  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    First of course, is your dealership... take it in and talk to your service advisor.. ask to drive another example, and to drive your car and the other with a mechanic. I'm pretty sure that they'll do this for you, or at least my service advisor would.

    The second place to check is with the E-46 owners on I have an E-36, and I've found the board quite helpful. If this is a common problem, odds are high that someone there will have some experience, and, hopefully, an answer for you....good luck
  • robert1100robert1100 Member Posts: 5
    I'm new to BMW cars. So here is a stupid question. What is E36/E46? Thanks.
  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    E46 is the factory designation for the most recent version of the 3-series cars. E36 was the version just before.

    Most car companies have code letters for their models. For instance, the Golf/Jetta/New Beetle are built on what VW calls the A4 chassis. Camaros anf Firebirds ride on the F-Body chassis by GM, etc.

    Maintenance & epair Message Board
  • stokdgsstokdgs Member Posts: 65
    I have an '01 325I with 5 spd and I dont hear any noise when shifting gears and I just drove it 4k miles. Hope you took it in right away because I think you have a clutch adjustment type of problem. Hear that there is an little switch in the line to help "soften" the clutch engagement and that some shops take it out because it interferes with "spirited" driving/shifting.
    Im not thrilled with the long throw shifter anyway, so Im going to probably take it out and get a UUC motorwerks short shifter and maybe at that time, remove the little switch too. Hope you get your baby all sorted out.
  • missionvmissionv Member Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a 2001 330Ci coupe and have had to replace the windshield twice due to tiny rocks flying up and causing cracks in the glass. Has anyone else experienced this? The dealership is saying it is the way I drive, however with all the other imports/domestics I've driven - This has never occurred.
  • stokdgsstokdgs Member Posts: 65
    Just drove my '01 325I 4k miles from NorCal to Texas and back, got hit with alot of things, including rocks, and never made even a mark on the glass. I avoided being behind big trucks, etc., that are notorious for throwing rocks, etc, and didnt have a problem one.
    Dont understand how dealer says its the way you drive, think glass especially windshields has to be by law a certain thickness with a plastic layer inbetween (the "safety" feature so it wont shatter in a million pieces).
    Dont know of anyone else having similar problems, probably just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.. Hope this goes away for you..
    Ive treated all my glass for years with a product called Rain-X which fills in all the microscopic pores in glass with a film that makes the surface very slick so alot of things that heretofore would smack the glass hard, may bounce off instead. Maybe this will help somewhat. It doesnt build up or make the glass less clear, does wonders on raindrops, at speed they just shear off and you dont have to use wipers as much..Available everywhere, I saw it at a Raleys/Bel-Air Supermarket.
    Good luck!
  • paulae1paulae1 Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2001 330xi, and so far, no problem with the windshield. But a friend bought a BMW SUV, and within a month had to have the windshield replaced because of a huge crack. She swears she does not recall being hit by a rock or anything else, just minor road grit. She has not been doing any mountain driving, just city and suburban driving in the NYC metro area.
  • alanmakcaalanmakca Member Posts: 12
    Fragile windshields may be indicative of more serious problems... Recurring or "sudden" cracks may be a sign of structural problems with the car. A friend of mine had an Acura that kept "breaking" windshields until it was determined that the uniframe was misaligned and causing undue stress at certain points along the glass. This is bad news... get it checked out!
  • jnatkinjnatkin Member Posts: 2
    I'm looking at the 325xi specifically because of the AWD option (it's already been a bad Chicago winter). Does anyone have any opinions regarding the AWD option as I believe it's relatively new to BMW. I noted 1 post with concerns about other problems relating to AWD. Is it's power deferential (something like 33%-front, 67%-rear) normal for AWD vehicles. Thanks for any help.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    BMW has been selling AWD drive cars since the 1988 325iX. That said, the new system differs from the original in several ways. The 33/67 power differential was selected by BMW in order to retain the "feel" and handling characteristics of a RWD vehicle. I prefer this as I absolutely detest FWD in all but the smallest econobox. Long term reliability should not be a problem. There are scores of 88-91 iX owners in BMW CCA who swear by them. I would not be concerned.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    If you want to go in snow, get a 4 Wheel drive with decent ground clearance. I'm sure the AWD gives better handling. But do you really need to do turns at 75 mph. The gasoline penalty has got to be horrendous and this energy shortage is here to stay. At least with 4WD you can go out of it. I have always owned a 4WD vehicle since 1978 and if you think you get bettter than 10-15 miles per gallon when you are in 4WD, even with a 4 cyl you are mistaken. I know you'll do better in AWD but not a hole lot. There are to many pieces-parts rotating. Just another unbiased opinion.

  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    City/Highway mileage for the 325xi AWD sedan is 19/27 for the manual and 18/25 for the slushbox. The 325i 2WD numbers are 20/29 and 19/27; about a 1.5mpg penalty overall. FWIW, my wife's ASC equipped 2WD 3er has no trouble with snow up to about 10". And as nice as my Pathfinder SE drives, I'll take the 3er in a minute if I have a choice. And yes I HAVE to "do" corners at 75 mph.
  • jnatkinjnatkin Member Posts: 2
    Appreciate the input
  • vo_danhvo_danh Member Posts: 5
    I have a 1999 328i automatic model, and it had the similar "clunking" noise coming from the back. The first time I brought the car into the BMW dealer/service, one of the advisers said that it is a BMW-known problem and there is no fix yet for it. Overtime I got very irritated with the noise and thought that the adviser's explaination was not appropriate, so I brought the car back and had the supervisor test drive it. He then ordered for me a so-called "transmission kit", and later on had the problem fixed for me. In the paperwork it was written that the "output (transmission - I think) flange" was worn out and it had to be replaced. You should bring your car into the shop and tell them about the problem, and if necessary, my message. Good luck!
  • silvernubirasilvernubira Member Posts: 59
    I talked to a couple of BMW dealers about the "rear clunk" I am having. The service manager of the dealer where I bought my car did not have any clue about what is going on. The service manager at a second BMW dealer was familiar with the auto transmission output flange problems but he did not know anything about the manual transmission rear clunk. He also said that the output flange repair kit is applicable only to auto transmission cars.
  • ccotenjccotenj Member Posts: 610
    could the problem the previous two posters describe be guibo related?

  • diablediable Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 328i and I had my windshield replaced after a few rock hit it on the highway. I was going about 80 mph, but I don't think its my driving style because I drove the same speed before in my old car and never had a problem I had a 99 accord coupe. I didn't go through BMW to replace the glass, but I do know that most people including those working at BMW don't know much about cars, or simply talk out of there [non-permissible content removed]. I had the worst service at BMW

    PS. I really really don't think that BMW have flexing frames to make the windshield break.. This is by far the most rigid car I ever owned, and I but a new one every year.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Yep. Could also be the center driveshaft bearing.
  • michaelg5michaelg5 Member Posts: 13
    Sometimes it's the off-center drive shaft bearing.
  • glenn325glenn325 Member Posts: 1
    I have a '95 325I with 70K miles on it. Has run great until last few hundred miles. Noticing that when stepping on the accelerator to enter freeway, pass, go up hills... that the transmission seems to rapidly shift up and down between 4 and 3rd gears until you back off on the accelerator. Have had it checked at 2 dealerships (electronically) and just recently had fluid/filter changed and pan looked at etc. Nothing found wrong. Anyone have any ideas on what's up with this? BMW dealership(s) seems to have no answers...
  • bentley6bentley6 Member Posts: 5
    I own a 99 323 auto (yeh I know I have 2 teenage girls).
    Car is great other than having to have done a complete brake job front and rear at 20k, and the dealer having repaired a floor leak(airbag recall) and ball joints due to sqeaking.
    I complained to BMW Canada about the brakes and got the usual explanation about driving habits etc etc which I don't buy.
    I have owned 5 volvo's and never had to do a complete brake job as described with such short service.
    When having my other car (Volvo 850) serviced at an independant garage who also does a lot of BMW work, they explained the dealers don't want any complaints if they resurface so they figure if you own a bimmer you can pay the extra coin. Mechanic also say's BMW's are known for ball joint problems....comments.....other than that great vehicle everything BMW promises
  • vo_danhvo_danh Member Posts: 5
    I own a 1999 328I model. It must have been more than five times that the engine would not start when I tried to turn it on with any of the keys (main, valet, spare, etc.). What happened was that the engine acted as though there was no power (dead battery) and that it just sat silence, and then would start up after several tries. It seems as though there is a communication problem between the microchip embedded inside the key and the car's microprocessor. BMW service advisors told me that they can only take a look at the problem when the car is actually in the won't-start mode. This means that the next time when the car does not start I'd have to have it towed into the shop.
    Have anyone out there been experiencing this problem?
  • sumomansumoman Member Posts: 1
    I received my 330i sedan a few days ago -- I must say that I now love this car! The only gripe I have is that I wish I didn't upgrade to the Harmon Kardon sound system -- it's a waste of money. I would have gotten expoentially more value by putting in my own custom system cheaper and with more "oomph".

    The Harmon Kardon system doesn't even come close to the clarity and range of the factory-installed Bose system in my previous car, a Nissan Maxima. The BMW system lacks midrange precision and has a truly horrible bass range. Even my old Toyota Corolla in college sounded better. We've all paid a pretty penny for our BMWs -- I wish they had put as much effort into the sound system as they have into the superb driving experience.
  • traumamctraumamc Member Posts: 3
    I just bought a 2001 330ci with a manual transmission. If the car is going slowly, usually when I am in 1st gear, and I put in the clutch I can hear and feel a big clunk in the back. I took it to my dealership and was able to make the car repeat the problem for my service advisor. He told me that it is part of the BMW experience!!! If anyone has any information regarding a fix please post it. I think it makes the car feel really cheap and is a little embarrassing.

  • siustsiust Member Posts: 2
    I have 328Ci with low-profile sport tires and when I started the car this evening, I found the steering in both directions suddenly turned very hard. I suspected the tires are under-pressure but it didn't help after I pumped air into them.

    I need some advices...
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Is the power steering pump belt still on?
  • siustsiust Member Posts: 2
    I have 328Ci with low-profile sport tires and when I started the car this evening, I found the steering in both directions suddenly turned very hard. I suspected the tires are under-pressure but it didn't help after I pumped air into them.

    I need some advices...
  • maexmaex Member Posts: 1
    I purchased a 2000 323cic with the HK system. I too found that it was lacking, especially with the top down at highway speeds. I complained to the dealer several time and was told that this is a weakness in the BMW line. The dealer said that I could have gotten a better system aftermarket. But, a few weeks ago, I got a call from my salesman reporting that BMW has instructed dealers to replace the amp "on customer complaint". He had already ordered one for me and it has been installed. Quite a difference!
  • ageeks1ageeks1 Member Posts: 2
    I live in Central New York, major snow country. I need a car that will go in the snow and up a fairly steep driveway. Will the 325xi (awd) do it? Will the 325i (with 4 snows get around just as well)?
  • weedmanweedman Member Posts: 1
    Any idea whether the amp upgrade that was described above is standard equipment on 325s being manufactured now? Just ordered my BMW and would like to hear that it's coming with the good amp!
  • petencalifpetencalif Member Posts: 1
    My 1996 328is has developed a strange gurgling/rattling noise that is originating from within the dashboard instrument module. Sounds like a speedometer cable but the noise occurs when the car is moving or stopped and when the engine is on or off. In fact, the car can be parked for days and the noise still continues. It began maybe 6 months ago at about 40,000 mi. and has been getting steadily worse until it is now very annoying. My local dealer claims to have not seen this before and tells me my only option is to replace the entire module, a part costing around $700.

    Has anyone experienced this problem and does any one think I might have a shot at getting BMW to take care of the expense? Otherwise its a great machine.
  • niwdeniwde Member Posts: 4
    Your message regarding the "clunking" noise/sensation coming from the rear of your manual tran 330ci really got my attention. I am about to order a 330ci. Have you received any other info about this problem. As you stated, you were able to duplicate this for your BMW service advisor. When it happened, were you driving the car or were they? Please don't take this as an insult, I absolutely do not mean it that way, but, could it possibly be the means with which you are operating the manual gearbox?
  • silvernubirasilvernubira Member Posts: 59
    I have the same "clunk." See message #1 if you have not done so. Two or three months ago there were a couple of discussions on the "rear clunk" on E46 board, too. I wonder this clunk is the reason why E46 clutch has the CDV?
  • niwdeniwde Member Posts: 4
    Sorry, I did not read message #1. My message was just a thought. Besides, I felt that traumamc's service advisor, when explaining the clunking noise,(part of the "BMW experience") was either uneducated when it comes to customer service or just plain sarcastic. Both characteristics very unbecoming for a BMW representative.
  • traumamctraumamc Member Posts: 3
    The clunking noise occurred while I was driving, but it also occurred when the head technician got behind the wheel. No offense taken about the way I drive. This is my first manual car and I am still learning. But I have had several people drive my car, many with over 30 years experience with manuals and the problem occurred for them as well. You are the first to respond to my post, so as of yet I don't know of any solution. If you can test drive a manual, this could just be an issue with my car. Hope this helps.
  • silvernubirasilvernubira Member Posts: 59
    E46 clutch is very tricky if I release the clutch pedal quickly, the clutch may slip drastically since CDV limits the movement of the disc and the pressure plate. I have been driving nothing but manual transmission cars since 1960s and E46 is NOT the one with best clutch (1988 Accord is!). When I am easy on the clutch it engages properly.

    I wonder if this "rear clunk" is generated by by some problem in the rear suspension since when one engages the clutch, rear suspension is subjected to a sudden loading.

    I have not taken the car to my dealer yet (hoping that the noise will disappear by itself!). But based on my previous experience with a local Toyota dealer I know that service advisors or managers are generally not interested in work that reqire locating noises, etc. because usually they are not reimbursed for the time they spend for locating the cause of such noises. Instead, they turn deaf and cannot hear noises or they say that such noises are "normal."
  • vo_danhvo_danh Member Posts: 5
    -My car has auto transmission, so I don't know if the clunking noise I've experienced is similar to the one you have with manual trans. A few months ago I had this rear clunking noise problem and it took me a while to finally get it fixed by the dealer shop. What they did was replace a "torn-out output flange".
    -Both of the front and rear brakes have been replaced (pads and rotors), as recommended by the dealer shop after inspection, with the odometer read at around 34K. That was unbelievable!
    -Car would not start. It started out randomly/rarely months ago and gradually became more frequently. The dealer shop replaced the "control box" in the instrument cluster and also found a "loose cable that was not making proper contact". After this fix, the car would start up all the time, but the odometer read about 8K miles less then when I brought the car into the shop. Now, the car has just been fixed. They told me that there was a bulletin from the manufacturer stating that if the battery is disconnected the odometer reading will reduce, and it will keeps on reducing each time the battery is disconnected, until it reaches 0 miles (I figured they must have disconnected the battery when they replaced the "control box"). They also told me that the bulletin does describe necessary steps to re-program the odometer (something like that) so that it won't change the next time the battery is disconnected. Seems like a power loss would cause the odometer to go beserk, on cars that have not been serviced for such a bulletin.
    Have anyone out there ever heard of such a thing? If indeed there is a bulletin, why that has not been a "recall" as it sounds like a serious defect problem? Or did the service advisor bullsh*t me? The "BMW Experience" I've had is all but wonderful.
  • magraymagray Member Posts: 1
    I just had new front pads and rotors put on my wife's 2000 328I after 18000 miles. Unbelievable! When I asked the service rep at the dealer how this was possible I got the usual talk about driving habits and so on. I really like this car but if I have to look forward to new brakes every year or so, well maybe BMW won't be my next car.
  • keelbumpkeelbump Member Posts: 3
    I just bought my first BMW 528i 97. I really love the way the car drives.
    I am concerned about the automatic transmission though. When the car first started in
    cold weather, I typically drive with caution and keep a light touch on the gas.
    1st and 2nd gear seem to shift around 2K RPMs but when it comes time to go from
    3rd to D it won't shift until the RPM have reached about 3500. This seems really high
    Even if I let off the gas doing 35 MPH it will not shift into the higher gears.

    Is this a feature or a problem? WHen the car warms up the shifting still seems hard
    from 3rd to D but not at low speeds. I think the car is still under factory warranty.
    It's in service date in 6/97 and is has 35K miles.

    Has anyone had a similar experience with their car and what did you do?

  • jayonejayone Member Posts: 25
    hey Im nearing the end of my lease on my 99 323i. I wish i knew about this place sooner. Overall i would rate my experience a very pleasureable one. I even tried extending my lease for 24 additional months , however they wanted more than a new one, so i opted not to. The only problems on my car were: airbag recalls, the central locking button failed- replaced.Have 34000 miles changed braked twice at about $370 each visit. Thermostat failed causing engine light to go on-fixed.Brakes where kind of squeeqing when i first got car had them looked at, noise went away for a while, returned then eventually dissappeared-for now. Overall these were minor problems that were fixed. Braked were a bit expensive but overall rated - very good.
  • niwdeniwde Member Posts: 4
    Concerning all the problems people have been posting, ranging from "clunking" noises coming from the transmission to premature brake pad wear. I'm wondering, why haven't I read anything regarding these chronic problems in respectable magazines like Car & Driver or Motor Trend? It seems to me that these reviews, written about the BMW 3 series cars, could not speak more highly of this model BMW. In addition, they seem to state that all other manufacturers base their efforts on BMW's achievements with the 3 series to develop a car that can compare in the same class. Plus, the writers that test these cars put these cars through extensive evaluations to expose their weaknesses. It just seems that if there were problems that were inherent to the E46, they would have been revealed by resources in the automotive enthusiast press. I'm not saying that the E46 is suppose to be a perfect car. I would just like to read an article from a source that I "trust" to confirm the unsettling problems several people seem to be experiencing.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    I NEVER had a BMW need front brakes more often than every 25,000 miles- and that was on a tracked M6. Also, the rotors should last through two sets of pads. Two data points: My 1995 E36 (which sees the track a couple of times per year) just got it's first set of new front pads at 58,000 miles. My wife's 48,000 mile 1998 E36 is still on the first set. Sorry, but I must side with the dealer on this one.
  • rascal8rascal8 Member Posts: 54
    People tend to post on these message boards when they have problems with their cars. When I owned my 2000 Celica I frequented the Celica message boards and the people who posted were the ones with the problems, and the Celica is NOT a troublesome car. If I had a problem with my car I would probably go to the message boards first to find a hopefully easy answer or to comiserate, wouldn't you. Sorry, I cannot recommend a truly subjective source. I have asked this question myself in the past. Consumer Reports (the most anal of car magazines) gives the 325 a very high reliability rating though.
  • ccotenjccotenj Member Posts: 610
    *somebody* is riding the brakes... 1995 e36 here with 83K and still on first set of pads/rotors...

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    There are often too many variables to make an accurate assessment of whether an owner's complaint is "chronic" or not....driving habits, weather, quality of dealer service, quality of replacement parts, etc.

    For instance, in San Francisco certain Fords need new brake pads every 6 weeks....but they are taxicabs and the hills are steep and the drivers aggressive, so there you go....perfect explanation.

    Another case--some people burn out clutches, others (like me) have never burned out a clutch in their lives. How is that explained?

    This is NOT to say that BMWs don't have chronic problems...some models definitely have...but it's not something that a car magazine is likely to best, they only drive one or two cars of a certain type, and they aren't about to make a sweeping generalization based on that slim evidence.

    It would be better to look at, say, Road and Track's owner surveys....if say, 10% of the owners of 528s reported a transmission glitch, that would definitely point to something. But if 2% do, I wouldn't think that is an indication of a chronic problem.

    More like a statistical probability....on every car made by humans, some are going to screw is inevitable as death and taxes.
  • vo_danhvo_danh Member Posts: 5
    To div2 and ccotenj,
    Would you know if there's any difference on brakes between your 95 and the new-body style (99 and later) models? If there is a difference, or if you don't know, wouldn't it be unfair to make such comparison? It seems difficult for me to be convinced that it is "driving habit" that's causing the brakes to get worn out so soon. Personally, I don't think my driving habit has really changed for the past 15+ years - if anything, I am driving much less aggressive now that I am older than years ago. My other car, a 95 Mazda Millenia S (supercharged) has more than 50K miles yet still no sign of needing new brakes. My previous cars, Nissan Maxima and Acura Legend, never needed new brakes (not even pads) before 50K.

    To rascal8,
    True. After all, this is a "BMW 3-Series (E46) Problem" forum, and so if you don't find people complain about their car's problems here I am not sure what else you would find them. However, keep in mind that not ALL people who have problems would go in here and post them up or share them with us. Statistics should not exist here. Thus, understandably, the problems I have had with my car might be one-owner specific. That's so unfortunate!

    Question for all: How do they actually survey and/or evaluate cars? Do they actually take on many different kinds of roads, under all kinds of weather, traffic, loadings, etc.? Do they actually drive stop-and-go, shift-and-park, all the stuff an ordinary driver would have to go through everyday? Do they actually do all that over and over again, racking the mileage well pass 30K or so? Lastly, can you be so sure that they are not biased, eventhough they claim that they are not? (yeah, you'd probably say that...they better not b/c their reputation is on the line!). What would be a better evaluator then yourself, the one who's actually owning and driving the car everyday?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Did you happen to notice whether the magazines which published favorable revues also happened to have large color ads from the manufacturers of the same vehicles?
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Well, my experience with BMWs is limited, but I do know that my wife's '98 has the same front brakes as an E46. And I still think that if you wear out a set of E46 front pads and rotors in 18,000 miles, it almost certainly has to be due to driver error.
  • rascal8rascal8 Member Posts: 54
    I do like the Edmunds long-term reviews. They performed a long-term review of my departed 2000 Celica. I sold the car within a year for basically the same reasons/problems the review indicated (noise, tricky clutch, etc). Although, there were plenty of very subjective opinions in the review. I guess you have to learn to weed out some stuff and come up with some general conclusions. As far as reported problems these reviews are of limited value; after all it is ONE car and statistics are not considered.
  • ccotenjccotenj Member Posts: 610
    yup, i really don't think you are qualified to be offering opinions on this subject. much less me.... :)

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