In this BMW E46 M3 buyer's guide I will cover the most important aspects of what you need to know before you purchase one of BMW's ultimate driving machines. The BMW E46 M3, production years 2000-2006, is arguably one of BMW's best performance cars. Its powertrain is a naturally aspirated 3.2L inline 6-cylinder engine with power output of 333 horses. Original retail price for this beast was around $80,000 brand new. With top of the line performance, handling, and luxury wrapped into one package it's no surprise that every brand new "M" line that BMW puts out into the market comes with a heavy price tag.
The good news is that this heavy price tag also comes with significant depreciation over the years. In addition to this, these cars tend to run well even past the 100,000 mile odometer mark. You can thank the German engineers at BMW for producing one of the best known naturally aspirated engines that comes with the E46 M3, the S54 motor. Road and Track magazine named the 2006 E46 M3 (SMG model), its favorite sports car of all time, in 2009.
Although you can purchase one of these high performance sports cars, for less than half the price they originally sold for, it's important to consider that these cars didn't come without potential issues that plagued a significant percentage of the 85,000+ models produced. It's important to do your due diligence and make sure you at least cover these 5 most important areas before moving forward with a purchase. It's also always good to have a certified professional mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing (PPI: Pre-purchase Inspection).
So let's begin:
One of the most common issues experienced by E46 M3 owners is the rear subframe tends to crack. This can be inspected by looking at where the rear suspension mounts connect to the chassis. Essentially the sheet metal tears away from the car, which can be very problematic, and expensive to fix. This must be inspected before purchasing this vehicle.
One important thing to note is that many of these BMW E46 M3s were repaired under a major recall that occurred after a class action lawsuit against BMW found the auto maker responsible for the defect. That said, in many cases you should be able to see the repair in the service records if the owner brought it in for the recall inspection.
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The VANOS is the variable valve timing system BMW engines use. Similar to the rear subframe issue, the VANOS had a recall as well. This was for a seal that affected the solenoid. Nothing major, but if it wasn't fixed and you purchased the car you can expect it to cost you $300-$500 to repair.
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This article was written by Eddie Morales of http://carsbyme.com.