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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • jay108jay108 Posts: 52
    I think I've helped enough here.

    I'll be over at Pontiac if you care to follow.

    Happy motoring!
  • dan_bmwdan_bmw Posts: 29
    Well, here I am all pscyhed up about my new 330i which will be ready for delivery at my dealership on Monday afternoon. I took a test drive in all four BMW's that I was interested in. These included the 325i, 330i, 525i and the 530i. Now you kind of took a bit of the thrill out of what I have been waiting for since I ordered the car in late February. Was your experience really that negative? I did not get that impression but my test drive with the 330i was very short and limited. I was concerned about the ride but I was encouraged about all the other opinions I heard from other 330i owners in discussion. I guess I will find out for myself on Monday and if things are as bad as you say they are I will only have to put up with it for the 3 year lease. However, I'm betting that the 330i is not the car for you and I am going with the multitudes of 330i drivers that show an appreciation for this great car's handling, performance and excellance.
  • dan_bmwdan_bmw Posts: 29
    I may be mistaken but I believe that the 330i comes with the same sports suspension whether you order the sports Package or not. However, your point about the performance tires is well taken.
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    Yes the current 330i has the "sports" spring rates and shock valving, whether you order the sports package or not. However the tires make a big difference.

    The regular 330i has all season 205/50-17 tires. The 330i SP has lower profile, "staggered" summer performance 225/45-17 and 245/40-17 tires. Optional on the sport package are even lower profile, staggered summer performance 225/40-18 and 255/35-18 tires. I've driven 330is with all three tires back to back, and (to me) there's a significant difference.

    Yet another issue is new cars (which can include demos) often have over inflated tires. This can make the car even more jittery and harsh riding. My 330i was delivered with approx 40F & 45R psi in the tires. If abc246's demo car had tires like this, that would explain part of it.

    With even the regular 330i SP, and properly-inflated 17 in tires, I can see how someone long accustomed to older, softer riding American cars would initially find it somewhat firm.

    Although my 330i SP feels just right, at first it seemed a little firm and choppy. I wondered how on earth could anybody want the even firmer riding 18 in tires? But after a while I got used to it, and now it almost feels too soft on occasion. But it's really just right. The car is very responsive, handling-wise.

    To me the only negative thing is a slight tramlining and bump steer effect on some road surfaces. Many 330i SP owners report this, which varies with the exact road surface and tire type. It seems the Michelin Pilot Sport is a little worse in this regard, although it has better grip than the Continental ContiSportContacts. My car has the Contis.
  • bmw323isbmw323is Posts: 410
    Here are the packages available on the 2000 328i:

    Premium: leather seats, power lumbar adjustment in seats, wood trim, auto dimming mirror, rain sensing wipers, moonroof.

    Sport: 3 spoke multifunction steering wheel, 17 X 8 wheels with perf. tires, sport suspension, power seats.

    There is also a Sport/Premium package that combines both.
  • scipio1scipio1 Posts: 142
    The Sport Package definitely has a tighter suspension than non-SP configs. The new Performance Package even more so.

    To the test drive poster (I can't remember, are you transitioning from a DeVille?). It's likely just a case of expectations versus reality. The 330i undoubtedly has a tighter suspension than an SUV or large american car, and if that's not what you're looking for, then I'd second the poster who said a Mercedes 320 is probably a much better way to go than a BMW.

    Your post made me smile a bit though, because I found my 330i, even with the Sport Package, to be uninspiringly sedate. Do yourself a favor, take an M3 out for a spin. If you absolutely can't get used to the ride, put it behind you and forget you ever considered a BMW. If you can get to love it though, no words are capable of expressing the delight second gear can give you in a long, rising curved on-ramp.

    P.S. (If you think the E30/E36 M3s communicated the road feel, try the E46... wooooOOOOOOOOoooooo)
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Well, I've spent considerable seat time in all three and my favorite is still the E30 M3, followed by the E46. I prefer the M Coupe over any M3, however.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,685
    I don't think you can get it for $2500, but the '91 318is is a great pick.. I wouldn't go any earlier than that.. The 325e engines from the '80s had tractor-like gearing..



    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • mg330cimg330ci Posts: 162
    I believe it actually leans a little bit too much on tight turns, perhaps to remind the driver that the laws of physics still exist. Otherwise, is the perfect compromise (although I must confess never driven an M3, so my perception might change if I do)

    I encourage people not to buy a BMW just because of the name, but actually test drive all your alternatives.

    I bet you will be happier in a Lexus ES 300 sedan. From what you describe abc, this might be your perfect match: peaceful, sedate, complete disengagement from the road, absolute zero noise, etc
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    I'm surprised to hear that you prefer the E46 M3 over the E36 M3. I have not driven an E46 M3 and can't comment on it from personal experience but a lot of enthusiasts that have drive both prefer the E36 M3 and claim that the E46 is too isolated from the road. Maybe the perception is due to the fact that the E46's chassis is more rigid and that it is also heavier?!?
  • scipio1scipio1 Posts: 142
    I'm interested to know if they're comparing the Euro E36, which had a completely different engine (340 hp vs 240 for the US).

    I had a 1997 E36 M3 (US), which I absolutely adored. That car was my first BMW, and the torque added a huge amount of confidence on the hills of San Francisco as compared to the Acura Integra GS-R I traded out of.

    There's really no comparison between it and my new E46 however. The new M3 is simply a much more raw, extreme car than the E36. Overall, the E36 M3 more closely resembled my 2001 330i than it does the new M3. I wouldn't hesistate to commute the 45 miles to work in the E36, but am looking for a little "commuter" car to accompany the new M3.

    The suspension seems mostly comparable, but the bigger 18" tires (especially the fat ones in back) lend the ride a much rougher and "go-kart" feel than the E36, and the engine dynamics are completely different (it revs like a GS-R with torque, to 8000 rpm). The E36 engine revs much more closely to the 330i.

    I am going to check out the 330i performance package, which I suspect with the extra 10 hp, re-ratio'd gears and re-tuned suspension is going to be a very close replica to the old M3. Heck, if it's really compelling, I might even try to convince my wife it's the right car to replace the current sedan.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I'm still partial to the non-M E36s(though I MUCH prefer the E46 dashboard. But, as scipio1 noted, the E46 M3 is a mucn more visceral driving experience than the garden variety E46-never mind the E36 M3. Don't get me wrong, I love the E36 M3, but it just doesn't posess the "in your face" character of it's E30 and E46 bretheren.
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    I agree with the other posters. If after another test drive in a non-sport 330i, it's still too firm, consider (in this order) an Infiniti G35 (non-sport), an Acura 3.2TL or a Lexus ES300.

    This is in order from firmer/faster to softer/slower. But all are great cars.
  • leenelsonmdleenelsonmd Posts: 208
    Took the M3 to the church retreat this weekend. Stuffed it to the gills (Baby Jogger, Child Seat, Baby, Pak n Play, 2 suitcases, wife, fishing rod, cooler, 3 portable lawn chairs, Baby suitcase, Baby toys and some Beer -- necessary part of all church retreats). I then drove about 70 miles each way. Average speed 80.3 mph, OBC fuel efficiency 26.8mpg, top speed 95mph.

    I drove it about 3 miles down this dirt road. It handled great off road.

    The E46 M3 is stiff -- there is no doubt. It is not going to coddle your backside and you will be able to feel almost any imperfection in the road. Surprisingly though it has such powerful ability to damp bumps, you can actually safely travel much faster over road bumps and dips in it than in any Cadillac or even car based SUV. You will feel them more in the M3, but your tires will spend more time on the pavement and you will have more control than these other cars -- shipo correct me if the vocabulary is not right -- is damping the right word?

    Nevertheless, every single time you reach a sharp turn in the road and take it without braking in 3rd or with entry braking and apex accelleration in 2nd, you will just smile from the depths of your soul and you will realize why you love feeling the small imperfections in the road. The E46 does not isolate you from the road and your senses. (This is meant as a generalization for all of the E46 vehicles).

    E36 vs E46 M3. (I have driven both, but I own the E46) The E46 is twice the road racer that the E36 is. The torque is unbelievable, the handling is much tighter. 95% of those who drive both cars would strongly prefer the E46. That said, the E36 is a tremendous platform for autocrossing. In the Houston area, it seems that the serious autocrossers prefer the E36 because it has so much more oversteer than the E46. On a cone course, the E46 has a real tendency to push (understeer) and this is its downfall amoung those who are take autocrossing seriously. With that said, it seems that on most of the autocross courses here in town, the E36 M3 will be slightly faster than the E46. If you were to race the two cars on a traditional race track with larger radius turns and longer straightaways (with the opportunity to use more than 2nd gear), the E46 would not lose to the E36. Likewise, in a straight line, there is no competition.
  • rshaw11rshaw11 Posts: 52
    The spray pattern of my 325i windshield washer is way-off, too low and to one side. The spray nozzels are mounted in plastic and I can't see a way to adjust them. Does anyone know how to adjust the spray pattern? Thanks for all suggestions.
  • enforcerenforcer Posts: 40
    How do you manage to avoid slippage with a clutch on those SF hills?

    I am planning to plunk money down for a 3-series this winter. Would prefer the manual trans, but it seems the automatic would a better bet for handling the streets in Pacific Heights. And I found that the clutch on my prior BMWs tended to overheat in the all too frequent stop-and-go freeway traffic.
  • mg330cimg330ci Posts: 162
    The difference:

    WEIGHT!! of course
  • mg330cimg330ci Posts: 162
    At least consider SMG before going ahead with this sin (getting an automatic of course ;-) just a joke)
  • white6white6 Posts: 588
    I am going to be ordering any day now (2004 330Ci), and I am in a bit of a dilema. I am 6-3 and don't give a fig about having or paying for a moon roof. I much prefer having the extra headroom and knocking $1,000 off the price of the car. Question is: will I be crying when it's time to sell? If it is going to make it virtually impossible to sell in three years, I would be more likely to bite the thousand-dollar bullet now and save myself the hassle later. If I were leasing, this wouldn't be a problem, but I have decided to buy... so it is a consideration. Help?
  • Hi everyone!

    I love my 2001 325i (sport package, 225/17/45), but it's time to start searching for new tires. With over 31k on the Continentals, I'm betting that I'll need new skins by end of summer. Any suggestions? We live in the Bay Area (No. Calif.), and I drive it to SF 3-4 times a week. I want to stay with a fairly sticky tire that keeps the road, especially on slick SF streets and rainy freeways.

    Any suggestions would be great, though I'd like to keep this at or below $150 per tire.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Me, personally, I would rather have the sun-roof. That said, I have no clue what the average BMW buyer wants.

    However, one suggestion is to go to your local BMW dealer and count the number of 3 series with and without a sunroof. The ratio should give you some indication of the popularity or not of BMWs with sunroofs.
  • chile96chile96 Posts: 330
    I was recently told by a BMW salesman that the 3 most important things they look for when a car is being traded in is leather, sunroof, and automatic seats. Hope this helps.
  • scipio1scipio1 Posts: 142
    What I found was that in the M3, it was relatively easy to make the car "stick" with minimum slippage on moderate grade SF hills because of the incredible amount of torque (as compared to say a GS-R) and the relative linearity of the E36 M3 clutch. By comparison, the E46 M3's clutch is a lot trickier and would likely complicate the issue a bunch.

    Having said that, there are a number of hills in SF that you may be better off using a handbrake launch for (like when you're on the northern slope of Nob Hill waiting to get onto California).

    I lived in the Marina, and in North Beach before that, so for most drives there's almost nowhere you have to go that you can't benchmark a relatively less-aggressive route for (say, using Van Ness rather than Laguna). But the M3 gave me enough confidence that except for the most extreme hills (say, bumper-to-bumper up Telegraph Hill or up Pac Heights using Divisadero) you can engage first with very minimal strain on the clutch of an E36 M3.

    I actually found much more strain on the clutch of my Integra on a more moderate but sustained-traffic grade like when you sit in traffic on that long uphill going south on 101 in Marin just before you get back to the Golden Gate.

    Having said all that, one of the big reasons we bought the automatic 330i was because the hills are pretty intimidating, and my wife was starting to drive for the first time in almost 8 years. In doing so, we lost a huge amount of fun factor, but there's no doubt it lets you run up and down any hill in the city with complete inpunity.

    Bottom line, I'd say if you want the manual, San Fran is definitely livable with a moderate-torque car. You learn which streets are "easier" than others very quickly (no different than choosing a route for walking, after all), and I can probably count on 1 hand the number of times I found it necessary to do a hand-brake launch in 5 years.
  • scipio1scipio1 Posts: 142
    Do they make 3-series without moonroofs anymore? I thought they're built into all of them and included in the base price rather than even being an option.
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    Are you buying the car for yourself or for the person that will buy it from you in 3 years?!? Get what YOU like - there's a buyer for every 3-series out there. A lot depends on how the car is optioned. If it is optioned for luxury (leather, auto, wood, etc.), the sunroof will be more important. If it is optioned for sport (SP, manual, no power seats), the roof is still important (enthusiasts tend to like that open-air motoring feel) but you'll also find buyers who want a car without a sunroof because it adds ~ 60 lbs to the worst possible spot in the car or because they don't want to pay for it or because they want the extra couple of inches of head clearance. It's safe to say that a sunroof makes a car more marketable but so what - an average Honda Accord is even more marketable, as it will attract more buyers overall... Buy what YOU think you will enjoy.
  • scipio1scipio1 Posts: 142
    I asked this question elsewhere, but I thought I'd mention it here to what seems like a wider audience. Does anyone here use a radar detector, and do you feel it's helped? I read the website reviews and I also have a question that may seem common sense to anyone but me:

    Some people seem to make a concerted effort to "hide" their radar detector use from the police by reducing the visibility of its location and choosing detectors with high VG and Spectre counterdetection capability.

    Why is this? Radar detectors are legal everywhere but VA and DC right? Do you get more tickets if you are found to be using one? Thanks in advance, I know it's not exactly 3-series related. Maybe I'll restate my question: does using a visible radar detector in a 3-series increase your chances of being "Rodney King'ed" by the SFPD, LAPD or CHiPs?
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    Yes on all questions. Get the V1 with concealed display. You are probably more likely to get pulled over if a cop sees a R/D in your car. I've also had a ticket with R/D written on it in a state where it is legal to have it.
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    I found out that my Star 44s weigh ~ 27 lbs and that eliminating a pound in unsprung weight equates to reducing sprung weight by ~ 5 lbs. I've also seen 17" light wheels with reasonably good rigidity (690 kg) for < $300 and am looking into selling my 44s and getting lighter wheels. Can someone recommend a good light and rigid 17" wheel (possibly < $350)?
  • joes230joes230 Posts: 94
    I have a Passport 8500 in my 330i SP. It's mounted left of the rearview mirror. I have a hard-wired power cord, which plus into the unit via a tiny RJ-11 phone plug. The sight lines into the 330i from the rear, combined with the 8500's dimmable display make it almost invisible from the rear. From the front at pedestrian eyeball height, the windshield tint mostly covers it, yet it has a clear, untinted view of the road below. Standing beside the driver's door, you can't see it.

    Radar detectors are legal in all states except Virginia and DC, and the laws against them there are legally questionable. What radio frequencies you can legally receive is determined by the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which still stands today. According to that act, receiving what we today call X, K and Ka band RF is perfectly legal.

    That said, it only makes sense to be unobtrusive about detector mounting. You don't want fellow travelers seeing it then tailgaiting you. If you get stopped, you don't want it influencing whether the officer gives you a ticket.

    Re whether it's useful, you can't (nor should) drive totally without regard to speed limits. It's generally less useful in the city where trip distences are shorter, there are more non-radar microwave signals (hence false alarms), and driving fast contributes little to average trip times.

    That said, some cities have notorious urban radar traps, e.g. a 4-lane divided highway with a long gradual hill and a 25 mph speed limit. Cars tend to coast down the hill and cops sometimes wait concealed at the bottom and nab cars going 30 mph.

    Radar detectors are more useful on non-congested open freeways, where you drive longer distences at faster speeds. The US Interstate System was designed in the 1950s to safely support traffic at 75mph (with cars of the 50s), so under proper conditions it's not a safety issue to drive at this speed.

    Even with a high quality radar detector, you still have to watch the road, and can't drive lots faster than the average traffic without risk of getting caught. However you can prudently drive along *with* the faster traffic with decreased risk of being singled out for a mandatory contribution to the local municipalities tax base.
  • bmw323isbmw323is Posts: 410
    I am 6'3" also and ordered my car without the sunroof. Like Brave said, get what you like and don't let any salesperson tell you different. After a car is 4-5 years old, it won't make that much difference in resale (other than the value of the sunroof). I'd rather lose a couple of bucks at the time of selling the car than hit my head on the sunroof for all my years of ownership.
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