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BMW 3-Series 2005 and earlier



  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Rising prices and falling reliability"

    I don't know about you, but the prices of everything has risen. I bought my first car for $10K. As for falling reliability, their reliablity has been increasing over the long haul. Certainly no more bumpy than any manufacturer. Re: tranny and engine sludge.

    PS my friend just had his Toyota in not even a month ago for the ol' engine sludge problem.
  • I now have 40K trouble free miles on my 330i,sp,pp. I have owned many premium cars and I put this one right at the top of the list. No problems at all. Oh, and number one in fun factor.
  • My '02 325xi has 31K and still puts a smile on my face whenever I drive it. I've experienced three small problems (blown light bulb, a rattle with a faulty wood panel connector, worn our windshield wipers) all of which were taken care of under warranty. My dealer also offers "tires for life" and I'm on my second set.

    I, too, enjoyed the option of ordering my car exactly as I liked it (well, almost). My only gripe is that I could not order lumbar support for my 325 (I was told it wasn't even an option) and wasn't willing to pay the difference for the 330 to get it. Other than that, I like the ala carte approach.

    Gordonwd: You will not regret your decision to get your first Bimmer. Take the plunge, man. The water feels great!

    Shipo: We picked up our cars about the same time. How many miles does the 5er have now?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Given that I work from home about half the time, and my main client is now only 5 miles from home (the other is down in the NYC metro area, about 220 miles), even when I take the long way to work I don't generate too many miles. At this point, I have just over 18,000 on the clock with only fourteen months to go on my lease. Given its low mileage and my complste distaste of the new 5-Series, I am most probably going to buy it next year at lease end and keep it until I can justify a new 645Ci. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,564
    I can't speak for the value or costs in buying a BMW of that age, but I do have a recommendation on the model.

    1991 325is

    This was the final year for that body style. The 325is has the bigger of the two engines available, and has all the sport options including a little lip spoiler in the rear. It is only available in the two-door coupe. The '91 has nice small-looking bumpers and is really sporty looking. I saw one just this week when I was out getting lunch. The '90 may be identical, but I'm not sure.



    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    kdshapiro... Rising prices and falling reliability was primarily in reference to European marques like BMW, MB, Audi, and Jaguar. The initial onslaught of Acura, Lexus and Infiniti from about 1986-1992 forced these marques to hold down prices and improve quality. They did this for about 6 years or so. But then they decided to be at the leading edge of all things electronic, gizmos, and gadgets. BMW 8 Series led the charge. Just look what happened between 1992-1996 and from about 1998-2002. For reliability, just look at CR.

    Just compare prices and equipment for recent and current 325i/330i vs. G35, IS300, TSX, TL, etc. Value equation is moving against BMW. No wonder so many need to consider European Delivery, BMW CCA rebates, etc. Loaded '04 IS300 MSRP today is less expensive than it was in MY2001 and it now has side curtain airbags, memory seats, automatic locks, BA, auto-dimming rear-/sideview mirrors, and other things standard.

    The 330i Performance Pkg adds $3,900 to the base $35,495 price of a 330i sedan. And even it still doesn't have LSD! To get that you have to go to the $47,195 M3.

    Don't know about you, but I can't afford the $70K 6 or 7, nor a new $60K 545i. Might barely be able to afford the $52K or so 530i I see on dealer lots. But I couldn't imagine paying that much for a 3.0L engine. Rather have a Cadillac CTS-V (V8 & 6-speed manual) for same amount of mone, though an M3 would also be nice.
  • While I love my fairly new BMW, I wouldn't reccomend an old one for a winter rat. From reading these boards they seem more tempermental and expensive to maintain as they get older. Plus, the rear wheel drive -- while adequate with snows -- is not the best choice fo winter driving.

    I would reccomend an 6-8 year old Civic, Imprezza or Tercel, if you're thinking beater.

    My 2 cents.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Plus, the rear wheel drive -- while adequate with snows -- is not the best choice fo winter driving."

    Everything I could gather 4 snows on a RWD and 4 snows on a FWD, better snow handling goes to RWD.

    FWD better than RWD without snows. Having used to own RWD cars with snows, although not the modern miracles of today's technology, the RWD drive with snows was perfectly adequate.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Don't know about you, but I can't afford the $70K 6 or 7"

    Are you saying you could afford a $70K LS430 then because of the value? If I could afford a $70K car, the 7 series would be in my garage in a heartbeat not an LS430.

    If I could afford to spend up to $45K for a car, it would be a 3 series. If I could afford to spend up to $30K for a car, it would be an Accord or a 1-series.

    You vote with your dollars.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    kdshapiro... Nothing hidden there. I just couldn't afford the monthly payment tied to buying a $60-70K car. Even $50K is pushing it.

    But then again, ever notice how the percentage of cars leased is highly correlated to price? Remember reading somewhere that at one time something like 70-85% of all Jaguar XJs were leased. Who wants a $1200-1500 a month car payment on a depreciating asset?

    The next BMW for me might only be 1 Series, but even then it likely will be too expensive for what it offers and come with too many electronic gadgets and gizmos.

    The 3 Series isn't a good value once you push its MSRP over about $38K. If I had $40-45K to buy a car today, it would likely be either a Lexus GS300 (too bad it is only automatic) or VW Passat W8 4motion with 6-speed manual. But then I can't imagine spending more than $40K on a depreciating asset. (Most I've ever paid was about $36K, but that included the trade-in.)
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "ut then again, ever notice how the percentage of cars leased is highly correlated to price?"

    Know why they are leased? They are a tax deduction, the people can afford 'em and give 'em back in 3 years. That's why I lease mine.

    The 3 series isn't a good value if you look at it as any ol' engine, 4 tires and a steering wheel. As a matter of fact no car above $15K is worth it if that is your opinion. I would say the same is true for the new TL, G35 and the IS. For $10K more than the 330i you can get the CTS-V.

    I'd rather have the BMW, I'll even move over for you as you pass me.
  • rustyrrustyr Posts: 10
    My 2003 325i has under 4,000 mi. so I don't know what the future brings. But I've had no problems with the car except the automatic transmission shifted a bit oddly initially. They re-did the software in a matter of minutes and it's been perfect since. The only knock I have is the absence of the lumbar support. Otherwise, this little car performs incredibly in all respects. I can't wait to jump behind the wheel every time. Best car I've ever owned (vs. Volvo S60; Passat GLS, and other lesser vehicles previously).
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Mine has about 24K miles. I just brought it May '03 for the 15K service. Previously it was just in June '02 for a weatherstripping issue and Aug '02 for a quick consultation with the service advisor about some markings on the rim. I was there for about 10 minutes.

    I too don't what the future will bring. But I suspect if it's like any other car I've owned, past the warranty period the wallet will have to be opened. Except this vehicle is being given back, so it's the next owners issue.
  • memphis10memphis10 Posts: 161
    Has anyone out here purchased a '04 3 series (not M3) with SMG. Anyone, who has test driven one care to comment. Thx.
  • I need some help with my 328i BMW as I am not able to play the stereo after my battery went dead. It asks for CODE and I have no idea what it is (I had bought the car from someone a year ago).

    Can somebody please help how to come across this problem...any body faced it? I would really appreciate it.

    Also I went to BMW service and they are asking for $210 to replace the batter, but MTB would do it for $100. It should be fine wth MTB right?

  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    To top it all off, I read that the next 3-series will be ~ 5 inches longer than the E46. I think the 1-series will be closer in size to the E46 but you're probably right that it will be too gadgetized...If I were to buy a car today, I'd be looking at the Lancer Evo first. One of my colleagues got one - in addition to its incredible performance, it looks awesome in person, esp. if you could get rid of the coffee table sitting on its trunk.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    When you got the car didn't it come with a tag for the stereo? The dealer should be able to tell you how to reactivate the stereo. Maybe write BMW NA an email?
  • I need some help with my 328i BMW as I am not able to play the stereo after my battery went dead. It asks for CODE and I have no idea what it is (I had bought the car from someone a year ago).

    Can somebody please help how to come across this problem...any body faced it? I would really appreciate it.

    Also I went to BMW service and they are asking for $210 to replace the batter, but MTB would do it for $100. It should be fine wth MTB right?

  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    When older BMW radios are disconnected from their power source they require that a unique five digit code be entered using the numbered buttons on the faceplate. New owners are given cards containing the code. You might check your owners manual and related booklets to see if the cards are there or if the previous owner wrote them down. Otherwise you will have to pull the radio and get the serial number off of it. Any BMW dealership will then be able to give you the code-though they should require you to prove that you are the registered owner. You can remove the radio yourself by opening the two little doors on either side of the faceplate and loosening the screws behind them. You should really use the proper tool(available from several BMW vendors for less than $20) but an allen wrench of the same approximate size will do in a pinch-though be careful that you don't strip out the socket.
    As for batteries, many have found that BMW replacement batteries are not nearly as long lasting as the original battery(my 1995 3er has has it's original battery, as does my wife's 1997 5er). Most Bimwads I know have bought a DieHard or Interstate Mega-Tron to replace the OEM battery. The MTP-91 is a popular choice: P-91&mscssid=P07NX6N7KXPA9P14ENVX52AXXFVW3DEA&js=1
    Make sure that whatever battery you buy is fitted with a vent tube that hooks up to the vent hose in the trunk of your car; failing to do so will allow explosive gases to accumulate in your trunk. It's a simple D-I-Y job:
    1. Remove negative cable
    2. Remove positive cable
    3. Disconnect vent hose
    4. Remove old battery
    5. Clean cable terminals with a battery cleaning tool
    6. Install new battery
    7. Install vehicle vent hose
    8. Fit anti-corrosion washers over battery terminals
    9. Install positive terminal-DO NOT over tighten
    10. Install negative terminal(ditto)
    Regardless of what many believe, most so-called "maintenance free" batteries still need to be topped up with distilled water from time to time. Checking and topping up your battery every six months or so will greatly extend battery life.
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    I work for a company that is the world leader in automated, robotic paint systems for the auto industry. I talked to one of our experts about this. Yes, metallic paint does cost more than the solid colors. It is also more difficult to apply correctly, but this is all automated these days. Our guess was that it costs about $50/car more for the metallic paint-job, or $100 at the outside. So they take the opportunity to make some money off of this option.

    There's nothing inherently wrong about this -- it is apparently a European tradition. For instance, GM does not charge extra for metallic paint, but GM-owned Saab does charge for it even on cars sold in the U.S.

    They either get their money from you in the base price, or they get it in the options :-).
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,586
    Congrats on your car! Enjoy!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • Well we did it - ordered a new 330ci last night (SP, PP, heat seats, septronic, Xenon, titanium with black leather and black top). Are we nuts ? That car cost more than 2 new Miatas. we have never owned a BMW before and will be selling our 2000 TL which has been an absolutely terrific car in all respects (it has 33000 miles and is fun to drive although so smooth and predictable my wife got bored with it). Please - somebody tell me I am not crazy !
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Good luck with your car! Sounds like you did your homework. Might as well get the mask with the smile painted on it. :)
  • Hey folks,

    You were all helpful back in December when I contemplated getting winter tires for my '03 325i. I bought a set of Blizzaks, and the purchase was worth it.

    Regarding electrical problems, I have to report that my 3-series has been a pain. In the first month of ownership, the car refused to start and stranded me in CT(I live in NYC). The engine was turning over but not starting (not sure about the technical jargon here). I had to get the car towed and me, my sister, and 3-year old nephew had to ride shotgun in a tow truck to BMW CT. After a couple of days, the service people diagnosed some faulty computer behind the glovebox and replaced it.

    A couple of weeks ago, I'm driving down the road and started to smell a "burning" smell in the car. I had the car checked-out and was told twice that the car was "fine" and my driving style was too aggressive, and I was abusing the clutch. In my defense, I told BMW that I'm really not an aggressive driver, BUT the mechanic had the service people convinced that I was the problem and NOT the car. I brought the car back to the same dealer(VOB in Rockville, MD) for the third time last week b/c I could no longer deal with the smell. I dealt directly with the service manager and not one of the lemmings behind the counter. "Magically," they discovered that a bad wiring...once again behind the glovebox...was the cause of the offensive smell and they replaced the fusebox unit, etc. I can't begin to tell you folks how frustrating this ordeal was.

    Lastly, I got a letter from BMW regarding a recall of an electrical switch that's suppose to stop the windows from "pinching." My car was checked and wasn't part of the faulty lot. (at least a little good news)

    For the most part, I love my BMW(I've owned in the past) but now I wonder if I would have been better off with a G35 or Lexus. Perish the thought, right!?!
  • ss2u2ss2u2 Posts: 17
    I'm into my 2nd year of BMW ownership (330cic) and I want to thank everyone for sharing your knowledge/time. Great board and I enjoy reading it!
      My q's are: 1) correct ft/lbs of torque for lug
                  2) normal service interval for
                    a) antifreeze change and flush
                      (covered under warranty?)
                    b) brake fluid bleed and change
                      (covered under warranty?)
                  3) new BMW rotor thickness and re-
                     placement minimum

        tia, Steve
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Perish the thought, right!?! "

    They have had their share of problems as well, at least according to some of the posters on the G35 board.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The new spec is 88 lb-ft or 120 nm, contrary to what many Owner's Manuals (including mine) say.

    Best Regards,
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Shipo is correct on the lug bolt torque; as for your other questions-

    The coolant change interval is three years; use BMW coolant ONLY! Anyone that tells you some off-the-shelf brand is just as good is either misinformed, a liar, or an idiot-or possibly all three.

    Brake fluid gets changed every two years-though I would shorten that interval by 50%-75% if I tracked the car. Use only DOT 4 fluid; I like ATE Super Blue Racing Fluid, but other good choices include BMW Brake Fluid, Castrol LMA, and Valvoline Synpower.

    I don't have the rotor thickness specs, but I'll go out on a limb and state that I've always been able to make the rotor survive two sets of pads-at least on every BMW I've owned. That said, most dealers want to replace the rotors with every pad change on the theory that the rotor will wear down below the minimum thickness before the second set of pads is worn out. That may be true, but I suspect that the only way that could cause a problem would be if the car was driven very aggressively on the street and/or was being tracked.
  • rzep3rzep3 Posts: 7
    I swapped cars with 325Xi owner who is out of
    reach now. One thing wich drives me nuts is that the time (on the original BMW radio console) is not correct. How do I set the time ?
  • tenet1tenet1 Posts: 354
    There are 2 knobs (stalks, sticks??) on your odo display area. Take the one on the right and turn in clockwise and hold it in that position and the time will change. You can vary the speed at which the time changes by holding or releasing the stalk in the clockwise or anti-clockwise position. This will change the time on the radion and the OBC
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