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BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I don't think this is the car for your particular needs, given that your livelihood depends on absolute no-fail operation.

    the price is retail, this model is "okay" in terms of reliability, but 25K a year is 500 miles a week, to say nothing of your pleasure use. This means you'd have to keep the car tip-top, and really almost a bit of overkill for maintenance. This might prove to be more than you wish to spend.

    It would be a nice car for all that driving, though.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    My take in it is this: if it has a stick shift, go for it, if it has the problematic automatic (that loses reverse gear), take a pass.

    Best regards,
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,193
    Yep, shipo nailed it.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • I think you all saved me a lot of agrevation. Thank You. I am not going for it.
  • dongadonga Posts: 9
    New to owning BMW. We are deciding between a the 2005 with 30K miles or the 2004 with 17K miles. Looked at CR and 2005 has better reliability ratings? Need feedback from owners! Would you buy extended warranty?
    Thank You!
  • dongadonga Posts: 9
    How much are does a tune up cost? What other costs have you had for repairs after 30K miles?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,193
    The E46 3 Series has proven to be durable and reliable. The six cylinders need a water pump at 60K intervals but other than that there really aren't any major problems. The difference between the CR 2004 and 2005 reliability numbers is just statistical noise. I also recommend that you have the car inspected by a good BMW tech. The E46 3er is a great car, and there are enough of them around that you can afford to be selective. As for maintenance and repair, here's a brief overview:

    On an E46 some services are determined by time, some by mileage, and some by the on-board Service Interval(SI) system(which calculates service based on driving conditions).
    The time based services are: Brake Fluid(every 2 years) and Coolant(every 3 years)
    The mileage based services are: Spark Plugs, ATF, and Oxygen Sensors(every 100K miles for all three).
    The SI system has 3 levels of service: Oil Service, Inspection I, and Inspection II. An Oil Service is called for at 15K intervals(or every year, whichever comes first). It is just an oil change. It costs $80-$125
    The Inspection I rolls up at 30K; it is an oil change, a cabin air filter change, and a comprehensive inspection of the car. Figure $250-$300
    Inspection II occurs around 60K and is essentially an Inspection I + an engine air filter change. Costs average $400-$500

    If you are planning on flipping the car in a couple of years I'd just follow the BMW schedule. However if you're going to hang on to it for a while I'd advise changing the transmission fluid(slushbox OR manual) every 60K at least. Ditto for the final drive oil. If you take your 3er to the track I'd reduce those mileage intervals by 50%. I change the engine oil on my 3er at 7.5K intervals due to the fact that it sees the track every so often and my wife's X3 chews up its oil in less than 9K miles(based on used oil analysis). Some people go 15K without any problem but I'm not one of them.

    As for an extendeed warranty, I just don't think it's worth it. Stick whatever you were going to pay for it in a money market account and just self insure.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • uncletouncleto Posts: 45
    I have a 2001 3251x wagon w/ 6000mls on it. im planning to open the door panel and check the vapor barrier. do i need to be concern on the side airbag. ive seen some photos on some bimmers being taken apart the door panel but not sure if they mention about taking off the battery or thse are older models. needs some advice before i venture on this. any inputs will be appreciated.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,193
    The airbag stays on the door. Just use common sense and work around it.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • rob140rob140 Posts: 13
    our 2002 does same thing. Did you ever find out the problem?


  • gdudegdude Posts: 4

    Can any of you guys recommend an internet site that I can purchase parts for my BMW e46 body? I'm actually looking for a radiator assembly and an auxilliary fan.

    Thanks much
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Bavarian Auto Parts
  • I've always favored
  • gdudegdude Posts: 4
    Thanks for the replies. Do you guys have any feedbacks on the quality of their services?
  • jajjaj Posts: 55
    I'd appreciate any suggestions here please:

    2004 325 xi, manual trans, with a low frequency rumbling noise that I hear at idle. At times it seems to be transmitted from front to back along the driver's side under the cabin. Dealer checked it out, replaced two pulleys and belts, but no effect. Noise stops the instant the engine is turned off, but does not change with increased revs. On occasion the car will go a while without making the noise.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas.

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I've never had any problems with Bavarian. I needed a plastic insert for the door - where the door handle sits for my '87 E30, and they had that part. Also bought rear shocks, the mounting plates, and other hardware from them.

    I've heard Pelican is good also - just have never used them personally.

    If I need something that's not really BMW specific, I've been using Rock Auto a lot.
  • I will be purchasing a CPO 2006 330i this weekend and am considering purchasing the $1800 maintenance program to cover wear items like brake pads, oil changes etc. through the CPO warranty (6 years/100,000 mi. total). There are 35k miles on the car and it has been in service for 3 years already, so basically the plan would cover me for 2 years and roughly 25,000 mi/yr (about $900/yr).

    I don't really see how this would be worth it, but I am hoping to gather some empirical evidence as to annual routine maintenance costs from e90 3-series. I love to do maintenance on my own vehicles, but I find I don't really have time any more.

  • skobolaskobola Miami, FLPosts: 207
    I have a 2008 BMW 328 sedan with BMW Assist, and sometimes the voice command unit does not recognize not only the names but the plain words like "yes" or "no". Does anyone else have had such a problem, and if so, what is the suggested action that I should take. I know that I will have to go to the service, but they usually cannot see the problem, and this problem will likely not show when I bring it to them, as it is sporadic. However, it is very annoying when it happens, as I am driving at the time and cannot use my phone hands-free capability. Please, let me know. Thank you.
  • paddy159paddy159 Posts: 9
    Anybody know where I can get one?
    I'm not real impressed with the techs in the dealerships. Tried three different dealers and convinced that none of their maintenance staff can do anything without the computer telling them what to do. Logic, common sense and experience don't seem to be a part of the picture. Computer diags are great, but the computer only sees what it's programming and sensors tell it.
    Roseville BMW - Messed up everything they touched and failed to fix extremely simple problems. Did things like tried the same fix three times even when the first attempt didn't fix the problem. Purchased with 100,000 mile maintenance agreement because I got lazy (1st mistake). They didn't even inform me that all four tires were wearing on the inside edge and I trusted them to at least get the simple stuff like that right (2nd mistake), they didn't even though my wife took the car in to complain about the tire pressure warning coming up frequently. Turns out the warning was apparently happening because the tires were worn down to the belts on the inside edge. They never mentioned this and they had the car in their shop more than a dozen times.
    Concord BMW, service writer tried to tell me the inside tire wear was the tradeoff you make for better performance.
    Niello BMW performed alignment to fix the inside wear, subsequently wore on the outside tread. Wondering if they screwed up the alignment. Just got new tires (not run-flats). We'll see how they wear. Took the car to Niello for the passenger air bag recall, still get the airbag warning and Niello says it's because the SAS is messed up. Incidentally, that (SAS, steering attitude sensor) was one of the things Roseville was supposed to have fixed. Also, I don't see why the SAS would prevent the airbag warning from resetting if the recall was done properly.
  • paddy159paddy159 Posts: 9
    Can't help with that problem, but, if you are still under warranty, make sure the fact you reported the problem gets documented. Get paperwork that specifically states what the problem you reported is and keep it. Intermittent problems are hard to find and could become a hard failure further down the line, like after the warranty expires.
  • rob140rob140 Posts: 13
    the am radio fades out within 2 to 5 minutes . the fm and cd player work fine. Sometimes I can hit the dash and it comes back on. Sometimes I can cut radio off and back on and it will work again for awhile. Do I need a new radio? I have the business cd radio with steering wheel controls in 2002 325i.
  • amvamv Posts: 6
    When turning the ignition it sounds like it is releasing air for about 10 seconds towards the back of the car. Any advice as to what this could be?
  • cbharvestcbharvest Posts: 4
    Hi, I just got a used 2003, 325i, with 69,000 miles, and no service records. To me, it runs great, but I read about all the maintenance issues, and I'd like to stay on top of them if possible. What should I do first to establish a baseline for future service? What should I watch out for? Will a light come on and tell me the water pump was fried (as in never replaced for some reason), or that something else like bushings are ready to go? I love the car, but am a little nervous about keeping it on the road. Thanks.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Take it to your local dealer, and they will be able to tell you what service the car had for the first 4yr/50K miles, as the service is included for whoever owned it (so, most likely was completed).

    If they serviced the car at a BMW dealer after the maintenance plan expired, they'll have those records, as well.

    If the Inspection II was completed at the dealer (60K service), then you won't have much to do... But, you'll need to find that out, first.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • cbharvestcbharvest Posts: 4
    Thanks. Unfortunately, it wasn't from a local dealer. Two owners, one in NC and one in VA, and I'm in MD. Is there a database that BMW keeps with the vin numbers and their service? Otherwise, is there a way to know if the water pump needs replacing or do I just wait until it breaks down? Gosh, I hate to even think about that!
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Yeah... if you can prove ownership of the car, then any BMW dealer can pull the service records by VIN...

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • uncletouncleto Posts: 45
    I know this is common to BMW. do i need to open and check the fluid and make sure im not loosing a lot and refill if need be. im scared to open it that i wont be able to cap it back. anyone who had this same problem and was able to fix it will give me a movtivation to do it also. all i need is an o-ring and some rubber to hand tight the cap. any imputs will be much appreciated. thanks in advance.
  • luckybellyluckybelly Posts: 15
    Most likely the leakage you are referring to is a ventbreather hole on the screw on dipstick.. This is normal and doesn't need to be repaired.
    However it is common for p/s fluid to leak from hoses connected to the reservoir tank. For this you will need to replace the hose that is leaking. One hose is going to P/S pump and that one does not need special tool to unscrew from pump. The other is connected to the radiator. But it is not simple you will need a special tool. Special tool is for disconnecting one of the hose that is going to radiator and other to the reservoir tank.
    I recommend letting a professional repair shop that works on BMWs handle this so they do not damage the hose or the radiator.
    Special tool is not expensive but many do not know about it and may damage your radiator.
    Good luck - :)
  • uncletouncleto Posts: 45
    Thanks for the info. anyway, i dont see any leakage coming from any of the 2 hoses. its just greasy coming from the cap and outside of the reservoir, a friend told me once i open the cap make sure to put new o-ring and discard the old one. just waiting to get one including a p/s fluid. just wondering what kind of p/s fluid should i use. can i get a generic or a BMW. thanks again for the imput.
  • luckybellyluckybelly Posts: 15
    Check the cap, it lists the type of fluid recommended, most likely it will say "ATF" if that is the case you should use any "Dexron III" auto trans fluid available at local auto parts store. Brand name is not necessary but use reputable name to avoid getting some unknown fluid. It may list "CHF 11" or mineral oil, if it lists that, then you need specially marked fluid CHF 11S available through most VW/Audi dealers in addition to the BMW dealer.
    It is a good preventive maintenance to get the p/s fluid flushed every 30k miles. Though, BMW does not promote this service, it would be a inexpensive service ($50-$75) to get done and save you leakage issues in future. New fluid will have conditioners and detergents built in to provide you with long life with minimal expense.
    And changing o-ring is nice but not required. Unless you notice leakage from the cap area.
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