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BMW 3-Series: FAQ



  • 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.

  • 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 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...
  • Thanks for the thoughts...I'll take a chance on getting spoiled...dave
  • lew12lew12 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
  • ajb723ajb723 Posts: 55
    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 Posts: 34
    Has anyone bought a 325 and regretted not getting a 330?
  • eyeballseyeballs 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 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 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 Posts: 16
    I'm sure there are plenty of them on e-bay.
  • likalarlikalar 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
  • likalarlikalar Posts: 108
    <<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>>
    (IMO) The 5 is heavier, somewhat bigger and somewhat plusher. If you'll be driving long distances with 3 others along, consider a 5. If you and a passenger often head out for the weekend on a winding road and you like a lighter, sportier handling car, consider the 3 series (ahhh, maybe the coupe?). Sounds like you owe yourself a test drive in both.
    P.S. Both are very well built, safe, and very, very capable (more so than most of the drivers that own them). I had (2) 5 series cars a few years back, and more recently (2) 3 series cars. I try other makes (goodbye, Saab), but keep coming back to BMW. Good luck in your search.
  • xiajia888xiajia888 Posts: 2
    I am in the process of purchasing a new BMW 325i. My dealer want to persuade me into the one with more options. The one I want to purchase is built in South Africa and my dealer said this fact usually will scare people away.

    Can anybody here share the experience about the 325i built in South Africa? I really do not have the idea of its difference with German built BMW. From percentage point of view, how many 325 are built in SA?

  • mikeg444mikeg444 Posts: 17
    I am in the market for a E30 (1989-1991) series BMW 325i/is and wanted some opinions from those who have owned such a car. I have been devoted to Honda and Toyota for 20 years but I really want a small fun car to drive back and forth to work (about 40 miles/day). Is the 325i really worth the extra $ in maintenance? And will it leave me stranded on the side of the highway one day? I am hoping to find one with less than 100k miles. Thoughts please???
  • vkwheelsvkwheels Posts: 218
    "Is it worth the extra maintenance?" You know the cost of maint with Honda/Toy's but it sounds like you've got an itch for something different. BMW will probably be more money, but it'd sure be fun! Will it leave you stranded? Hard to say, with proper maint & a careful mechanic, I don't think so. I am getting one soon & I hope not.
  • ttennttenn Posts: 11
    iam0378: I am having this problem with my Mitsu. I relpaced the 16inch rims with 18 inch wheels and 40 series rubber. It always pulls to the right. I have had it aligned by four shops, and the tires replaced to make sure it wasn't bad rubber. Putting the stock 16's back on resolved the pull. I don't know if it is the wheel not perfectly round/centered, lower profile tires allowing less flex of the sidewall making the 18s more likely to pull. I have heard this problem on other sport cars with low profile tires as well (C-32).

    Interesting that the pull is always to the right. Some say that the dome of the road causes the pull. However, if you drive down the wrong side of the road, the center dome would cause a pull to the left, where my car still pulls to the right (uphill over the dome).

    Anyone have an answer?
  • rghesselrghessel Posts: 122
    Does anyone have a 2002 3-series with Navigation? Just curious how well it works, how easy to use, etc. the BMW system is (I haven't heard good things about it...).

    I currently have a Lexus with Navigation and LOVE it (the Nav system...the car bores me to death which is why I looking at getting a 330i). I'm not interested in a debate on the merits of Navigation (been there, done that!)...just would like to know what people think of BMW's version.

    Also, does anyone know if it is scheduled to be upgraded to a DVD-based system (or otherwise improved) for 2003?
  • I am looking into the possibilty of purchasing a '92 318is. Having never owned a BMW before, I'm curious as to what I can reasonably expect my maintenance costs to average. I love these cars, and the one I have found is a gem, but are the older ones worth the upkeep, versus a similarly aged Honda or Toyota, which I'm also considering? I want something I can take pride in and something I can take care of, but something that will also take care of me. Is this car "the one"?
  • omega007omega007 Posts: 1
    I got my '02 325CI last weekend after 2 months plus waiting. It is a 5-spd coupe with sports package, xenon light, moonroof, and black leather. It runs great. I can't love it more.
    Well, as from my personal humble opinion, the power of 325 is pretty good with stick shift.
    Sports package is a must.
    BTW, does anyone know how to open the power windows by remote control? The manual tells that hold unlock button should do it. But it doesn't work. And aslo, seems the sports seat is maunal control one, is that mean no key memory function for the seats? Thanks.
  • hgeyerhgeyer Posts: 188
    For the 330i, I press the unlock button twice and hold it on the second pressing to open the windows.

    I noticed the same lack of key-based seat memory on my car the other day. Haven't found the answer however.
  • rshaw11rshaw11 Posts: 52
    The power windows won't open or close by remote, I understand it's a legal issue with cars delivered in the U.S. You can open or close all the windows, and moon roof, by putting the key in the driver's door lock and holding it in the lock or unlock position for about 5 seconds. The seat memory is something that you have to have the dealer program in the Key Memory. The dealer should give you one free Key & Car Memory programming session to setup thinks like Daytime Running Lights, Pathway Lighting, Door Auto Locking, and Driver's Seat Memory.
This discussion has been closed.