BMW 3-Series: FAQ

Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
edited March 2014 in BMW
This discussion is for BMW 3-series owners to post frequently asked questions and answers, if you have them!

Owner's Clubs


  • brave1heartbrave1heart Member Posts: 2,698
    Here are the numbers from BMWNA (all MSRP and 325i with options added to approximate the 330i):

    MSRP $36,310
    Includes Sport Package - $1,200
    and destination charge

    MSRP $31,430
    Includes Sport Package - $1,400
    Power front seats with driver memory - $945
    On-board computer - $300
    Harman Kardon premium sound system - $675
    and destination charge


    Let's look at the rest of the differences:
    fog lights and automatic climate control system are standard on the 325i, as is cruise control; front center armrest is around $130; Other differences: titanium headlight surrounds, titanium front grille and chrome exhaust tail pipes, aluminum ringed gauges in cockpit, upgraded interior lighting, aluminum interior trim - how much is this gimicky shiny stuff worth, maybe $300? That's 300+130=$430. Subtract that from 4,880 and you get $4,450 for the engine. Oh, OK, I have not counted the fake M badging - $50 you say?

    Objective Answer: $4,400 for the engine ALONE

    End of objective discussion

    Subjective discussion:
    For me personally, I do NOT want the power front seats with driver memory - $945. I like to be able to move the seat around fast. Comes very handy when cleaning the car and you need to move the seat and even when you are switching drivers. I'll get power seats when I'm 70 years old. I don't want the armrest either beacuse it gets in my way when switching gears, especially switching fast. I always keep both hands on the wheel and I have no use for the armrest anyhow. Gimicky shiny stuff: some of it's fine but I would not pay to get it.
    Fake M badging? Puuulease. And I do like the Star 44 wheels that are on the 325i SP better than any other 3-series. Actually better than any other wheels except for the Avus style wheels from the Audi S8 and S4.

    So here's my personal difference:
    4,880 was the standard difference I calculated above
    +945 power seats
    +130 armrest
    +300 gimicky shiny stuff
    +50 fake M badging
    $6,305 - the money I would have to pay to get the engine, which is the only thing I'd really like to have from the 330i that I do not have in the 325i. Oh, and 5% or more sales tax on $6,305, that would be about $315 for a total difference of $6,620.

    Please, people, the 330i is a better car than the 325i but I would not pay that premium over the 325i to get it. Or be jealous of the people that do. Enjoy it, whatever Bimmer you are driving :o)
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Try posting your question in this discussion on the M&R board. There is a Town Hall member, 0patience, who may be able to help you.

    Technical Service Bulletins

    Owner's Clubs
  • bmwagonmasterbmwagonmaster Member Posts: 150
    I read in the June 2001 BMW CCA Roundel that there's an official Service Bulletin 72 01 01 (March 2001) about the B-pillar seat belt mount "click" noticed by some regular posters. The cause is a plastic spacer ring and the replacement part is 72 11 1 978 983, to be covered under warranty.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    I know, we all have to convince outselves that we got the best car built. ;)

  • 2ndbmwconv2ndbmwconv Member Posts: 1
    Can I use any synthetic oil brand when and if I need to add oil?

    Just took my 330icc to have the "Service Engine Soon Light" turned off. The service advisor checked the oil while I was there. It was half way to the mark where I should add oil. There are only 3,000 miles on the car. He suggested I buy a quart at the parts desk and just keep it on hand in case. I probably will do so when I go back to pick up the car. I don't want to do anything which would harm the car or void the warranty.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this subject?
  • bmwagonmasterbmwagonmaster Member Posts: 150
    Sorry, I can't answer your question, but you should probably post your question on the 3-series Sedan Board to get a quicker reply. Join us!
  • brucec35brucec35 Member Posts: 246
    It's hard to disagree with those numbers. I'm steamed too at the exorbitant price premium of the 330 over the 325. But, that said, it's hard to put a price on spending $35,000 on a car that you aren't happy with because you consider it too sluggish for your driving tastes. Is the 325i adequte? Yes, it's surprisingly strong for day to day use. But for that "feel it in your gut" acceleration, you'll have to spend the extra money or pick one up used. A 330i coupe with leatherette seats, the sports package, and nothing else would be quite a screamer, and not that bad on price. Not a lot of luxury frills, but a smooth ride, great handling, good looks, and lots of safety are luxuries today when you have to spend $50,000 plus to "have it all" in a car. The 'bang-for-the-buck' cars like the Acura CL/TL type S lack something in styling, refinement, and ride.
  • ferlandferland Member Posts: 1
    I was curious about the 15,000 miles between oil changes that the salesman person mentioned. Can the 325i really go 15,000 without needing it oil changed. Even with synthetic this sounds ridiculous.
  • cstarke1cstarke1 Member Posts: 5
    I was told by two different BMW service managers that the engines can, indeed, go 15,000 miles (or 2 years) between oil changes. This applies only to engines that use synthetic oil. However, there is no harm done if you want to change the oil sooner. But if your car is still under the 3/36 free maintenance schedule, don't bring it in sooner than 15,000 miles or they'll charge you for it. I brought my car to a place that has synthetic oil and it cost $50; the BMW dealer said they would also do a diagnostic and the whole thing would have run about $400.
  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    I have a '94 325i with auto. About a week ago, the check coolant light came on. It was low so I put in to the full mark. When I crawled down to check, I noticed coolant dripping down from the are behind the fan belt and the timing chain. Does this mean I may have a leaking water pump? Can I still drive it for a few days without danger being stranded on highway. The radiator was replaced by dealer a little over a year ago. I like to have some ideas before going to the dealer for service. Just had Oxygen sensor, transmission downshift switch and ball joints replaced two months ago by dealer. Appreciate any help for this mechanically challenged owner. Thanks.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    Well, here's my thinking. I got a '97 328 vs a similar vintage 325. The extra power is one factor, more so because i live in the mountians, and in the thin air going uphill it's nice to have all the oomph you can get. The top end of the engines is similar, but low-end the 328 has considerably more power--if that is important depends on you, of course.

    You do get some extras; you got the m3 shifter + clutch ( very nice ) you got bigger brakes + brake vents, and a few more standard features that made the move from 325 to 328 look more reasonable. And used, there's even less of a difference, which is the way i got my car.

  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Yep, sounds like a water pump. Fix it NOW! It will only get worse and possibly cause additional damage. It sounds like you are in need of a good BMW independent shop. If you have to keep running to a dealer to fix the problems you are looking at big $$$ in the long term. Join BMW CCA and you will quickly get wired in with folks who can recommend some decent independents. Check out:
  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    Appreciate your advice and definitely I'll try to find a competent mechanic that knows BMW. Made an appointment with one for the possible water pump problem for Wednesday. Love the handling of car but dismayed by the cost of maintenance.
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Member Posts: 2,698
  • coolbretcoolbret Member Posts: 13
    Hey, I was wondering if anybody bought a special order 3 series this year, and the time frame that it took from order to delivery. I ordered a 325Ci on May 25, according to the website it was done assembly on July 6, and has been sitting in Germany since then waiting to be shipped. So i was just curious what anybody else's timeline was like, since I'm impatient and want my car :-) Thanks!
  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    I stopped by today to confirm my appointment with the repair shop for the leaking coolant problem. The mechanic told me it could take a couple days for the job, since it is difficult to get at the water pump (I thought the 94 model doesn't have the timing belt, so it was not that hard to replace the water pump). Then he added that the problem might also be a blown head gasket and that would be a big problem. The leak is actually relatively small. Does a blown head gasket create a bigger leak? Also this leak started quite recently (about two weeks ago at most) and the temperature gauge has never gone beyond the center line, so the engine has never experienced overheat problem. Please advise me if the mechanic made any sense in his speculations on the matter. I just like to at least carry out a discussion with him tomorrow with some intelligence. Thanks a lot for your help.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Does that mechanic even know how to spell BMW??? ;) The water pump is a really easy job; you don't even have to pull the radiator. See for yourself:

    The DOHC four cylinders up through about mid 1994 had a profile gasket that could leak like you described, but not the sixes. It could also be the thermostat housing. If yours is plastic it may have cracked. Metal replacements are available. Let me know what happens.
  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    Somehow I wasn't able to get into the Edmunds site early morning, so I dropped off the car at the garage without the benefit of information from your post. I did get in late morning before the mechanic called me at work at noon. He identified the water pump leak and told me he would also replace the thermostat (almost exactly the same as mentioned in the link you posted) and he actually gave me an estimate of $350 for the work. I thought it was more than reasonable. I just picked up the car and everything seems to be in good order. May be I have finally found an honest mechanic I can rely on for my BMW. He also told me he used BMW parts. Thank you for the information in your posts which helped me to understand and evaluate his work on my car.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    I'm glad everything worked out. I just got worried when the guy said the pump was hard to access. It sounds like a pretty fair deal. You should be set for another 80,000+ miles. What kind of coolant are you using? I strongly recommend BMW's home brew. Good stuff and you only have to change it every three years.
  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    Since I never mentioned in my posts the mileage of my car and you said in your last post that it would be good now for another 80,000+ miles. My car's current mileage is exactly 80750! You do know even how long certain parts on BMW last! Incredible.
    While he said he used BMW parts, I think he meant the water pump and the thermostat, not the coolant. I can double check on this. I appreciate your help very much.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Lucky guess on my part. Happy to help. Enjoy your car. Don't worry too much about the coolant, just change it out in one or two years and you'll be fine.
  • bornagainbornagain Member Posts: 38
    Now you're going to give him a big head! Maybe he'll started charging :)))
  • bmwnewbiebmwnewbie Member Posts: 2
    I'm interested in purchasing a 2001 325ci but I like the rims on the 330ci. Does anyone know where I can get these? How about after market? Can anyone also suggest any other cool rims to get and where? how much will it end up costing me? What should I do with the stock ones that are on the car now. Will the dealer trade it in?

    Also I like the way the lower grill (where the fog lights are) stands out on the 330cibetter because it's painted silver rather than black. Has anyone heard of painting it?

    Any cool sites to get aftermarket goods for the 3series?

    I'm getting a sweet deal on the 325 or I would go for the 330.

  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531

    It may be heresy here, but i'm sort-of anti-mod. I could spend 2-3K on mods, but i'd rather invest that money and spend 3-5K more buying a faster car next time.

  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Not to mention that few drivers schools will make you MUCH faster than $2-3K of mods could ever hope to.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    Also an excellent point.

    I do know people with well over 10K in mods that have never been to any driving school at all; who don't know oversteer from unsersteer.

  • rhmassrhmass Member Posts: 263
    I was very appreciative for the advice I received last time on the water pump problem with the 94'.
    Now I am looking for opinion on the oldest of the three cars I own, a 86' 325e which basically is used by my son when he comes home for school vacations. We also use it for short errands around town like taking leaves or trash to the town dump. The car has been meticulously maintained. Both timing bell and four new brakes were put in about 5000 miles ago and coolant and brake flush done a month ago. Synthetic oil has always been used for oil chage. Car runs well. A couple weeks ago I noticed grinding noise coming out when I turned the steering wheel and upon checking found the power steering fluid was almost empty. I bought some PS fluid and put it in and the noise went away and it steers fine. However, the leak continues and now I almost have to put in fluid every week.
    I checked with an independent mechanic, he told me the "power steering rack" needs replacement and a non-BMW part replacement will cost me between $800 to $1000. I called my BMW service manager who I have known for many years because I have my three BMWs serviced there. He told me on the phone that if the rack needs replacement, it will be around $1300.
    Do you think the price quoted is around the ball park and what is your opinion to fix such a old car, albeit is still in very good condition, at this price. I almost feel stupid to spend this much money, but somehow my boys and myself all somehow quite attached to our first BMW! Sorry for the long posting and thanks in advance for your rational thoughts.
  • iam0378iam0378 Member Posts: 10
    I have had my '02 330Ci for a week and there is a pull to the right, as the car would appear to be out of alignment. I noticed it the day after I bought it, but was unable to take it in for a few days. Momentum BMW in Houston told me initially the tires had incorrect pressures between the front and rear, which should correct the problem--it didn't. I took it back the next day and a different service advisor said BMW designs their cars with a pull to the right "so as to get the car off the road in case the driver falls asleep."

    I don't buy it. My friend has a 2001 325i with 7K miles and is perfectly aligned.

    Is there any truth to this? Thanks for the help.
  • brubin1brubin1 Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know how to change the clock (part of the radio)? I have a 2001 325xi sportwagon. I first thought that the owners manual told me to go to the radio manual and the radio manual sent me back to the owners manual. Then I saw more information on the owners manual page and tried to follow directions. These pointed to a knob on the front dash that I couldn't do anything with, even though I was in the first ignition position. I have not found this manual helpful on any issue. Help! Thanks.
  • seligerseliger Member Posts: 5
    Anyone had any experience in buying a new or used BMW in Canada? I am planning to buy a new or late model used 3 series conv. and have had trouble finding the right car in the right color in WA. Dealers in BC have a much greater selection than WA dealers.

  • jfedor1jfedor1 Member Posts: 39
    Press the computer button until the time is shown on the dash display, then turn the right nob (closest to the tac) left or right to adjust the time.

  • bigos3069bigos3069 Member Posts: 2
    Hello, this is my first time logged in. Am thinking of purchasing a used BMW 325 Convertable. Want to spend 15-20K Any thoughts on the best year in that dollar range? Consumer reports says the 94s are pretty good. I need an expert's opinion. Let me know. Please. Thanks

  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Well, for once CR is pretty much on target; the 92-93 3ers had quite a few teething problems. From 94 on you should be OK. The most chronic problem with a 325i of that vintage is the water pump; they used a plastic impeller that could disintegrate and clog up the cooling system. Most if not all cars have had the pumps replaced with all metal units, but if you're not sure, budget for a replacement- under $200 at a good independent shop. The key things I look for in a used BMW are a full service history and a clean pre-purchase inspection from a good BMW tech. The model you are looking for is fairly common so take your time and find a good one. They are pretty reliable and economical to run. The only problem is that a 3er will almost certainly spoil you to the point that you will never settle for less again...
  • bigos3069bigos3069 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the thoughts...I'll take a chance on getting spoiled...dave
  • lew12lew12 Member Posts: 2
    Does anyone know where I can view or print out technical service bulletins? I already know the specific TSB #. I tried but they charge for it. I also tried NHTSA's website but could not locate the TSB I'm interested in. Any ideas? Thanks
  • jsh139jsh139 Member Posts: 42
  • ajb723ajb723 Member Posts: 61
    Just picked up a new 330i. I would like to install a Valentine radar detector with direct wire connect and concealed display. Wondering if anyone has any experience with this.
  • bbell4bbell4 Member Posts: 34
    Has anyone bought a 325 and regretted not getting a 330?
  • eyeballseyeballs Member Posts: 5
    I need advice here. I have never owned a BMW but have heard about it (how they handle the curves, sporty look, etc.). I am thinking about buying either an M3 coupe, BMWX5 3.0 or 330 sedan. I test drove the x5 and the 330 but not the M3 and was impressed. I do have the money to buy either one but what I would like to know (based on your expert advice):

    1. Are they worth the money?
    2. Do they need to be taken to the shop alot for maintenance?
    3. Is maintenance expensive?

    I know the questions might sound stupid but I don't want to buy a car and then be paying out the butt to maintain a car or fix it every so often. One of the reasons I am asking this with all the good things about Bimmers I also have heard negative things about it as well. I want to drive a car that is pleasurable and exhilarating and dependable.

    Please give me honest advice . . . .I would appreciate it greatly!!! Ex: If you are a pro-Lexus person or other manufacturer and want to post to this site and rip bimmers just for the heck of it THEN GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.

    Also, if you have any websites that can point me to a direction I would appreciate it as well.

    Thanks a lot people!!
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    It's really hard to predict whether a car will be a good car ot not. How long do you want to own it? 3, 5, 7, 10 years or longer. Consumer Reports rates reliability. Whether you take any stock in them or not, at least they've made an attempt to codify reliability. Other than anecdotally I don't know anywhere else that has this information.

    Having owned two cars for over 10 years, I can say as they get older you have to dump money into them. Luxury performance cars optioned out will always require work, IMO, regardless of the manufacturer. Will the auto-tranny hold up? Same goes for sunroof, elctric heated mirrors, power seats, heated seats, cd player, computer chips, power door locks, HID headlights and engine all hold up?

    MY RWD 1984 Toyota Celica 5 speed with almost no power options, held up for 12 years with normal things breaking, like water pump, radiator, etc. But then there was nothing to go wrong in the car. My 1990 Ford Taurus toward the end required a lot of work, new radiator, several water pumps, several thermostats, alternator, and major work on the CV joints. But the engine and tranny held up. Same for the power seats, power locks, electric mirrors, air conditioner, and power windows.

    Whether or not a BMW will hold up is a crap-shoot. Not that BMW produces clunkers, but there are a lot of electrical things and a high-performance engine and tranny that needs tender loving care and lots of service if you drive the car like most people will drive it. And even if the company produces good cars, you may get a clunker. Also a hard-driven car will almost certainly go through brakes and tires sooner than a car that's driven less hard.

    Good luck with your decision. Sorry I don't have any hard and fast facts, but I leased my BMW 330i for the first time with the expectation of trying it out and see how it goes.

    edit - It was worth every penny.

  • purehtwopurehtwo Member Posts: 1
    I will be receiving my new BMW pretty soon, and
    would like to get a European License Plate
    for the front.
    Does anyone have suggestions on how and whereabout I can obtain the plate?

    Thanking you in advance for your knowledge.
  • nbbnbb Member Posts: 16
    I'm sure there are plenty of them on e-bay.
  • likalarlikalar Member Posts: 108
    Last year I sold my 328Coupe, which I loved, because I needed a fairly large wagon. After 6 months of owning a Saab 9-5 SE luxo wagon, it's in the paper For Sale. Great car, but front-end heavy in the corners and brakes like it's on skates. The 323/325 wagon is a bit small for me, but after that Coupe, I think it's the only wagon that will make me happy in the handling dept.... I've taken some bad hits in car depreciation this last year, (ok, I deserved it!) so a used one is what I'm searching for. Wish me luck!
    Larry in SF
  • amaxiamaxi Member Posts: 6
    I bought my 2000 4dr used ("program car") about a year ago. From day one (not from the test drive, unfortunately), I was shocked by the racket coming from the rear axle during shifting, especially into first and second. Trips to a couple of dealers and an independent shop were no help--I was told that nothing was wrong. I've owned several other makes with manual and never heard such noise. The only way to minimize this is to shift very, very deliberately, which takes the fun out of driving.
    Any input will be appreciated.
  • charlie59charlie59 Member Posts: 1
    My 2002 325i does not have the sport suspension on it. Can the BMW dealership install this? Does the sport suspension improve the handling alot?
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Unless you've had considerable driver training, you probably cannot exploit one third of your 3er's handling capability. Use your money to attend several BMW CCA driving schools and autocrosses. Hone your driving skills first- THEN start modifying your car. In any case, the cost to retrofit a new BMW Sport suspension will likely not be cost effective. Either find a take-off from someone who has upgraded their Sport 3er or buy a quality aftermarket kit from Bilstein, Dinan, Eibach, H&R, or Korman.
  • annabgoodannabgood Member Posts: 1
    is it true that rotors have to be replaced everytime the brakes need replacement? my 2001 323i (42k miles) is at the dealer's and i was told that i will soon need front brakes and new rotors. please advise. thanks.
  • jsh139jsh139 Member Posts: 42
    It depends. BMW does not recommend resurfacing the stock rotors on their cars. So, if your rotors are warped or pitted they will need replacing. For inspection II @ 38,000 miles, my car needed (among other things) all four rotors replaced. It all depends on your driving style, really.

  • lphantom7lphantom7 Member Posts: 3
    Does anyone know if the 3 series will get a redesign for the 2003 model year? I keep on hearing the 5 will be redesign but nothing on the 3.
  • marishsmarishs Member Posts: 1
    Can someone tell me the major differences between the 3 and the 5?
    They appear to be the same, except maybe for the overall size.
    I'm looking to buy one or the other, but want to know if I'd be missing
    something I get a 3, or vice-versa. Thanks.
This discussion has been closed.