3-Series (E46) – MY1998-2006

BMW M3 (E46)
BMW M3 (E46) – photo by Alexandre Prévot

BMW 3-Series (E46)

Engines

Problems

All Vehicles

  • Window regulators (easy to replace)
  • Cooling system in general (especially if fluid is not changed every two years), but specifically:
    • Radiator
    • Coolant expansion reservoir
  • Automatic transmissions can fail if fluid is not changed every 60k miles (despite BMW’s claim that they have “lifetime” transmission fluid)
  • Dead pixels on gauge cluster, radio, and climate control displays
  • Weak subframe mounts
  • Front ball joints
  • Avoid cars with the “SMG” automated manual transmission (available on 330i and M3), as they shift very rough

Certain Vehicles

  • MY02-03: Vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions may experience a delay of 2-30 seconds in shifting out of park (subject to TSB) – simply requires reprogramming of Electronic Gearbox Control module using the “manual entry” method
  • MY03 and earlier 328i and 330i with manual transmissions: Transmission may stick in 5th gear or reverse and/or may have a lack of shifter feel (subject to TSB) – attributed to gear selector shaft pins sticking due to a defective bushing