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BMW M3 Maintenance and Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,445
    Don't mess around, check the VIN # and do a CARFAX if you are suspicious of any modern car.

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  • e85fane85fan Posts: 9
    I have listed a Chrysler Master Engine Rebuild Kit and some reconditioned parts on E-Bay and I am getting very few lookers. Is there an auction site where I would get a better response?
  • phatcat1phatcat1 Posts: 5
    Hey Frank, I have a 2005 smg model coupe and I have had the same problem. I asked the dealer about it and we took a test drive. Basically he said that in sport mode that will happen and that it was a driver issue in terms of throttle control. Anyway as the car has aged it has gotten a little better but a cold start will make it jerk that way and the only way I get around it is by accelerating fully, which makes me look like a n jerk. I wonder if anyone else has this problem in 1st gear and how they get around it?
  • emkeeperemkeeper Posts: 1
    is it accurate to say the 06 M3 gets 16mpg city / 23mpg highway?
  • hey phatcat1!

    im not sure if i know exactly what you are talking about, but if you're talking aobut the jerking that occurs when driving slowly in 1st gear its because you need to switch into 2nd gear. if in manual mode thats easy to do, but in automatic, to switch, release the gas for about a second and press on it again this should allow the SMG transmission to switch to 2nd gear on its own.

    This happens because the car starts at an aggressive gear ratio, you can lower it by pressing on the down button of the button below the stick. When the gear ratio isn't at an aggressive setting it shouldn't ever jerk because you won't need to go up to high RPM's just for the car to switch.

    i just got an 03 M3 and noticed that same problem and thats how i got around it.

    if you dont understand something because i do realize that what i typed is kind of confusing so yeah, just e-mail me at

    bye, hope i was helpfup
  • tiananmentiananmen Posts: 1
    I am currently looking for a used M3 and found a 2003/SMG with ~37k miles. The production date is Feb/03 so it averages about 12k/year. My concern:

    - is the mileage high?
    - anything else you can think of that I should look out? Such as timing belt, brakes, etc. that may need significant repairs/replacement for a M3 with 37k miles?

    I don't have a user's manual so really don't know the maintenance schedule in terms of mileage.

  • asdftgyhasdftgyh Posts: 1
    I too am a novice to the M3 scene, but have been researching the cars for a few months now. I am interested in purchasing a 97-99 M3 in the near future. Are there any common problems, specific to M3s of those years, that I should look out for when inspecting a possible purchase? Thanks for the help.
  • stereolofistereolofi Posts: 1
    Phatcat1, I have a 02 M3 with SMG and have the same problem. Whenever first starting the car in the morning if is jumpy in first gear, with or without Sport mode on. I usually just drive in manual mode and from a stop, start out in 2nd gear. This works well while the car warms up. Hope that helps.

  • phatcat1phatcat1 Posts: 5
    Hey, thanks for the tip. I am getting this less and less as I drive the car more. I have had my car for almost a year now and Im not sure if its bc Ive broken the car/engine in or I'm learning how to drive it better! Enjoy those revs! ;)
  • red4manred4man Posts: 1

    My name is Clinton Redman and I have a 2001 E46 M3. I have had the car for 4 yrs from 28000km to 131 000km. I was away for 6 weeks on business. The car was parked at the airport, undercover. When I returned and floored it after 20 minutes, the problem first occurred. The car has been back to BMW 3 times and numerous tuning guys have looked at it, no solution. Various faults have shown up, but resetting them has not solved it. The added disadvantage of this problem is that the car feels extremely underpowered from 4000rpm when reset.

    Have you found a solution?
  • jjohnjohnjjohnjohn Posts: 24
    Hello All! I recently purchased a 2004 M3 with the SMG package. So far, so GREAT!... Sweet Ride!

    1.However, the previous owner barely drove this car and when I went to go purchase it, the battery was dead. We had to jump it! I was kind of hesitant about the condition of the battery, fearing it would stall on me in the future. After the purchase, I took it for a long drive, hoping it would kick some life back into the battery. I started it up the next day without a problem. Does anyone know if the condition of the battery has already been compromised since it was not driven so often - sitting for weeks straight in a garage. Would it be 'ok', or do I live with fear it will not start one day. Or just get a new battery??
    2. Does anyone have problems with radio reception? I am so disappointed the radio does not easily pick up radio stations compared to my 1998 528. I know a popular station in my area but the dang car does not pick it up! And I cannot tune the radio by each channel, because it surfs automatically to the strongest station. Very frustrating. Am I doing something wrong? Also, does anyone experience a delay when changing channels/stations when it is pre-set? There seems to be a half to one second delay when changing stations. My 528 is instant, no delay. Pretty disappointed. Any problems with my radio?
    3. How does the SPORT mode seem to provide more power when it is the same horses under the hood? Weird.
    4. For the life in me, I cannot program the garage door opener in the M3 to my garage. Can anyone help?

    Thanks all! I just got the car, so I just wanted to know everything about it. Thanks for any answers in advance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,445
    I can give you one tip. Never, ever charge up a completely dead battery by using only the alternator. I think you're fine, but if you did this a few times in the future and had early alternator failure, you'd know why.

    If a battery is completely, totally, utterly dead, then yes, it may have a shorter life span IMO.

    Next time this happens (hopefully never), get the battery charged and then have it properly load-tested for endurance.

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  • jjohnjohnjjohnjohn Posts: 24
    Does anyone know how to install after market alarm? I bought a LOADED used M3, but found out later, it does NOT have a factory alarm in it! Recomm. installing myself or at the dealers? Where would I order the part if I did install myself? Thanks
  • phatcat1phatcat1 Posts: 5
    hi guys. This may seem like a basic question but I'm new to "performance" cars. I have an 2005 smg m3 and I was wondering what u guys would do to squeeze the best acceleration out of it from a 1) stand still, 2) already moving ie 20 mph. what shift points would u aim for? And is it hard on the tranny and engine? would you downshift into a turn etc. ?
  • rprrpr Posts: 2
    Last summer I installed Kumho ECSTA MX's on my 1998 M3 front and back. It has 65K miles and I put them on about at 37K. I started hearing rumbling noises when the car was rolling a slow speeds about a month ago and the noise recently started getting louder. I put the car on a lift and notices that the inside of the rear and front tires are worn unevenly. Almost chunked up. They have lost of tread left except for the chunked up insides. What has caused the chunking. Is there and alignment problem front and back. The back tires are much worse then the front. Is there something wrong with my suspension? Any suggestions?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,207
    I don't have an M3, but 28K miles on the Kumhos signifies that they are just plain worn out..

    When you started hearing that noise about a month ago... they were probably down to the wear bars.. Now, you are pushing them past their useful life..

    The Ecstas are a budget summer performance tire.. You actually exceeded the mileage that most people get out of them.

    As far as the wear patterns? Rear tires on BMWs typically wear faster than the fronts, especially on the inside of the tires. The right rear is probably worn more than the left, as that is the default drive wheel. The front tires usually wear more on the outside, but if your fronts are worn unevenly (between left and right), then you may indeed have some alignment problems.

    I'd get new tires ASAP along with an alignment.

    Nice car!!



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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,445
    Optimum performance is all about watching your tachometer. There is a "sweet spot" in the tach range that is different for every car, but as a general rule you don't want to "short-shift" (shift before the engine revs have reached the power range), nor do you want to be running up to red line all the time, where you usually don't find the maximum power either.

    As for downshifting, a good rule is "don't select a lower gear unless you are going to use it for something". Just to power downshift into a stoplight is kinda silly.

    As for wear and tear, the M3 is a driver's car and unless you are reckless or very sloppy in your shifting, you can't hurt it. Probably the worst things you could do are 'clutch-dumping' (revving the car while stopped and just popping your foot off the clutch in first gear) or "compression-braking", where you downshift without matching the engine revs to the speed of the car...this gives you an abrupt braking action and jars the driveline badly (as well as possibly causing your car to go out of control if it is unbalanced in a turn).

    With such a great car, you're the kind of owner who would really enjoy, and benefit from, a one-day (or longer) driving course. A few days of training from experts will give you as much performance enhancement as $1,000 worth of equipment!!

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  • Thanks for a great answer to such a general question. I'd love to know if anyone has taken any good courses besides the ones offered by BMW. I chose to go for the smg version of the car which makes some things easier, but transitioning in 1st and 2nd are hell for some of my passengers. One of my friends, an S4 driver, says he gets nausea (hahaha!) I still love it though!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,445
    Lessee...don't you have an automatic mode on that transmission? Maybe you could switch to that to spare your passengers. Could be this is more BMWs fault than yours if the shifts are so rough.

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  • cd5818cd5818 Posts: 1
    I just bought a 1998 BMW M3 that has a factory alarm system. Every once and a while I will lock the car with the alarm, and when I go to discharge the alarm by pressing on the key fob, the alarm will not disarm. When I unlock the door with the key manually, and open the door, the alarm goes off. I thought it might have been the battery on the fob so I changed it, and I am still having that problem. Is there some trick to this that I don't know about? I can't find any information on it in the manual. Any help would be appreciated. This is becoming very annoying, especially when I can't get into the car. Thanks!
  • I got a flat last week on the RR of my 06'ZCP and the BMW Roadside will indeed provide you with a free tow only to the closest BMW dealer. They will not assist with the mobility kit because since M3s have no spare, they can only flatbed you. In my case, even in the center of Houston, they said 1 hour to get to me. They called me half-and-hour later and restated 45 minutes.By then my afternoon was in jeopardy of being shot, :( so I just followed the instructions with the M Mobility Kit air compressor and goo can, filled the tire back and hauled [non-permissible content removed] to Discount Tire, where I had purchased as soon as I bought the car the Road Hazard warranty. They inspected the tire, found the screw, but refrained to repair it because it was too close to the edge.They went ahead and special ordered a 255/35ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sport (darn, this is the 3rd time the right/passenger rear tire goes on me -twice on my previous ZHP and now on my ZCP). In the meantime, I 've been driving with my M-Mobility kit repaired tire, holding good pressure (35 psi on rears), and I have even take it to 110 mph (just a couple of days yesterday) :) .That's making me wonder if I shouldn't go ahead and keep it as spare. But I think I'll just follow the course of events, and get my brand new tire, (I already bought the M goo cannister, which is expendable -gotta have it ready for the next time) and kiss the repaired one goodbye. Someone told me the fix-a-flat repaired tire has a limited life, until the goo degenerates and you can never be sure, according to Murphy's law it will be flat/no good the day you actually need it. Besides, they need to use that rim where the air pressure monitor is currently installed (whoa Nelly, guess I read the M3 tire pressure monitoring system measures reduce circumference speed to detect loss of pressure, no sensors, anybody knows?), plus, the 19" rear, wider tire may not fit on the front wheel well if it were to be used there. I used to have the compact 17" spare on my previous ZHP (18"), same as LeatherZ sells. I only used it once, the original BMW jack is a POS, unstable as hell, had to borrow a Mazda scissors jack. So, I'm not thrilled with the prospect of changing tires. Mobility kit? It worked for me, your back in business (saves a ton of time) and if I would have not had the road hazard warranty, I now think I would have kept my repaired tire, until proved wrong. Hate to keep killing our planet with more junk to the any thoughts on keeping the repaired tire for spare yeah or nein? :confuse:
  • I purchased my bmw new. I had my windows tinted and since that time I have had squeaky windows. If I lower my windows a little bit the noise goes away. The dealership tells me the noise is coming from the tint. Has anyone else encountered this problem if so please let me know. I am thinking about removing the tint to see if the noise goes away.
  • People who car place ads frequently aren't knowledgeable about cars and inadvertantly advertise incorrect items. This may in fact not be an M3 at all. I once responded to a dealer's add on, which advertised a V6 3 series BMW. I congratulated them on havingthe only one ever made.
    Incidentally, BMW cars are Bimmers, not Beemers. Beemers are motorcycles. Most people get this wrong, but if you're into BMWs, you mightas well get it right. There is a BMW car magazine named Bimmer (not Beemer). Also, the bylaws of the BMWCCA clearly state that BMWs are Bimmers. Bavarian Autosports sells T-shirts that have pictures of a BMW motocycle and a BMW car on the front with the words Beemer and Bimmer under the respective pictures. Under that are the words "Any questions?".
  • I have a 2004 M3 SMG w/ only 13,000 miles. I don't drive it everyday. Does anyone know why my battery keeps draining so drastically when it is not driven for a few (4-5)days? I don't know of any other car that the battery drains so quickly. I had to get the car jumped multiple times to start. When I took it to the shop for a new battery. They say the battery is good?!?! How can the battery be 'good' if it keeps draining on its own? Thanks.
  • jmarounjmaroun Posts: 151

    Hmm, you've got an electrical problem.

    If the battery is indeed not leaky, there may be a constant current drainage from your battery when your car is off due to a faulty switch or some unknown path to ground.
    If no leakage exists, it may be that your alternator is not fully charging up your battery.

    I'm not a mechanic but, I'd check all three of the following: check the battery first (you say you already did this), check the alternator/battery charge-up, and also check if significant leakage exists when car is off even if alternator found to be bad..may also have a short which will make your alternator work harder all the time.

    Funny, I thought that's what computer monitoring systems were for. All of these faults are detectable and should be relayed to you via computer. For 60k car..I would expect this.

    Taking it to a dealer is probably your best bet.

    my 2 cent

    San Diego
  • Hi everyone,
    I am looking to purchase a used '98 or '99 M3 convertible. Can anyone give me some advice on what scheduled maintenance should have been done or what mechanical (or other) issues to watch out for? The cars in my price range have from 90,000 to 129,000 miles on them. Is there a need to have the timing belt changed at a particular interval, or the water pump or other major maintenance interval near those miles?

    I'm enthusiastic about the car, but do not have any BMW ownership experience.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

  • My 98 M3 sedan has no variable intermittent wiper. It goes slow (every 10 secs), medium, and fast. BMW says that model/year did not have variable intermittent wipers. Hard to believe when my 85 Toyota had it. What say ye? Any thoughts. Thanks, Frank
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,621
    My 98 M3 sedan has no variable intermittent wiper. It goes slow (every 10 secs), medium, and fast. BMW says that model/year did not have variable intermittent wipers.

    They are correct.

    Hard to believe when my 85 Toyota had it. What say ye? Any thoughts.

    I've owned a couple of e36 3ers and I never gave the three speed wipers a second thought. From my perspective, the only thing that can ruin an E36 M3 is an automatic transmission ;) The E46 3ers do have variable intermittent wipers, so you could always trade up. OTOH, I'm sure you can find more than a few 1985 Toyota owners who would be eager to swap you even for your M3 :P

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • whitem3whitem3 Posts: 12
    I have a 95 M3 (white-the finest color). I have owned it for 9 of it's 12 years, and I am still excited every spring when I take it out of storage. It has not had much maintenance, other than oil changes. It was carefully checked by a good(but not BMW) mechanic, who found it to be still excellent at 83,000 miles. I just had the transmission fluid changed. What maintenance should it be getting beyond oil changes? Somebody mentioned coolant, and brake fluid.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,621
    Change the coolant(using BMW coolant ONLY) every three years.
    Change brake fluid every two years using a quality DOT4 such as ATE Super Blue Racing. Flush it every year if you track it.
    Manual gearbox and final drive should get changed at @60,000 mile intervals(every second Inspection II). I'd suggest a quality synthetic Dexron II ATF for the gearbox, and a good synthetic 75W-140 GL-5 gear oil for the final drive. I use Royal Purple, but Amsoil, Mobil 1, Redline, and Valvoline make suitable equivalents. Again, I'd halve the frequency if I used the car at HPDEs.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

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