M-Series (M1, M3, M5, M6)General M-Series Discussion - If it does not fit into a more specific M Category above, please place it in here. In addition, previously archived M-Series discussion is located in this section.
I am currently a Porsche owner, and I have to say, I adore my car. Its the first German car I've ever owned, and now I don't think I'll ever own anything but German cars again. However, I've run into a crossroads with my Porsche. My family is growing, and even though 99% of the time I am alone in my car, there are times when i wish my wife and 2 kids could go with me on my cruises. Also, my Porsche is an 85' model. I've had zero problems with it....like none...but I want something a little more modern. And my last problem is...I need to go faster.
So, I'm thinking my solution is an M3. I want to stay sporty without a "sports car", I want a 4 door saloon, and I want fun to drive. I don't care for Audi, and a Mercedes is a little too.... high brow(?) for me. I really like the looks of the newer BMWs, and have really never heard anything bad about them. I really want an M5, but they're a little out of my price range. So, I've narrowed it down to the M3
So now here's where I turn to the Forum. I know nothing about BMWs other than what I've seen on Top Gear and my general internet searching.
Can you guys (and girls) fill me in on the details? Whats the difference between the e36 and e46? Whats up with the "valve adjustment" I've seen everyone talking about? What are typical problems with them? How fast are they? trackable? Websites with performance parts? How easy are they to mod? Whats the deal with the m3 conversion cars? 100,000 is nothing to a Porsche, how do BMWs handle the miles?... just spill your guts!
I'm a mechanic so I'm looking for some technical information. I do all of my own maintenance, and would even like a 2000 - 05 M3 in good shape with a blown headgasket or some other mechanical problem. Thats how I bought my Porsche, and it was a fantastic investment.
I've used the search (The porsche forum is the same format as this one, so I'm used to navigating in here) but its hard to find general information. The search is very specific and unforgiving.
Thank you all for reading and responding to my long ass 1st post,
Mark. First off, Welcome. Now to tackle your questions...
The difference between an e36 and e46 is age. E36 is '92-'98 IIRC. e46 goes from '99- (i think)'03. Many say that the e36 ///M3 s the definitive ///m to own, and the aftermarket parts supply is extensive.
Problems tend to be model specific, and since i'm a broke college guy who can't afford an ///M, i really wouln't know.
As far as mileage is concerned, there are well maintained BMW's on this site that are at close to 250-275k
Well that's what i can answer. Hope it helps!
R.I.P fast 6
Two wheels or Four, I'm happy as long as the throttle is pinned.
The 2000 Model year M3 came out in 1999. The early e46 M3's had engine 'issues' = blowing up. The e46 M3 engine is a high strung engine that redlines at 8000 RPM . At first these early year e46's were being repaired but the engines kept blowing up. The problem related to faulty oil pumps and eventually led to a recall. Your best bet is a 2003 and up.
As the new M3 has hit the market the e46's have taken a dip in the used car market so you may get lucky and pick up a good car with 40 - 50K miles for relatively cheap.
I fell in love with the e46 M3 during BMW driver training events and have just recently acquired a 2004 and the first thing I did was lower the redline to 7500. It is not a four door, it does have child seat anchors (no kids yet for me but soon...) so I understand your plight.
The e46 M3 goes like stink (333 BHP) and has proven to be reliable. If you do track the car you'll need to keep the suspension tuned and an eye on the rear suspension components, top plates, shock mounts and sub-frame assembly.
The e36 M3, my first love, is a great car but low mileage specimens are becoming harder and harder to find. I've found a few but they've been modified, pimped and beaten to all hell. The aftermarket and the following is huge and you'll never have a problem finding support for it.
With some tweaks and a few mods an e46 will surprise you. Here is a link that may give you more insight on M3's if you haven't already seen it:
Welcome I think you would enjoy an E46 ///M3. Being that you are a mechanic, I think that you will really have a ball with an engine that won several engine of the year awards, the s54. The valve adjustment comes down to BMW going new old school and using mechanical lifters instead of hydraulic to reduce mass in the valve mechanism in order to help achieve a higher revving engine. People usually do a valve adjustment every 30k miles or so. There is plenty of info about the engine and the valve adjustment procedure itself online.
If I were you, I would test drive a few and do plenty of research. I think you will like what you learn about BMW and the M3 in particular.
As far as how BMWs take mileage -- the first 100,000 miles are just to get you started. I have a 1996 3 series with 218,000 miles on it with an engine that still purrs like a kitty and enjoys being redlined.
I am interested in an early 00's car (00' - 05') and I did know about the rod bearing problem, but you say they also had other problems? Would you not recommend a car in this age range....even if it had had the recall problems fixed?
Also, how much power can be had from an e36 engine (without forced induction). Can you tweek it enough to get close to the newer e46 engine?
My price range is between 20 and 25k. I don't think I could afford anything newer than 05 (unless I could find one with a fixable problem), but I don't want the miles that go with a car older than 00'. There are tons of cars for sale in my price range......but I don't want the motor to shell because of their factory "problems"
One more question... Porsche's blocks are all aluminum. Even the cylinder walls. The aluminum is mixed with silicon to make it durable enough to have a piston run up and down it 7,000 times a min. They are so durable infact that there are engine with close to 300k miles on them, and have almost no loss in compression. Its a fantastic design.
Does BMW do the same with their engines, or do they have iron cylinder sleeves?
4 door saloons were not availible in the e46 m3 model, and were only availible on the e36 m3 model in 97 and 98, unfortunately some 65-70% of all 4 door models were automatic. They are difficult to track down, harder to find in manual, and older. If you don't mind only having 2 doors then the e46 m3 sounds like a great solution for you.
E36 M3's can be modified without forced induction to compete with the e46 m3's. The e36 m3's are not nearly as electronically dependent and are lighter than the e46, but the e46 is very precise and a fun car to drive. E46 is expensive to mod, e36's are cheaper in comparison. An e36 m3 2 door has a very small backseat. I hate ever sitting back there. The e46 m3 has a decent sized back seat I don't mind for casual driving.
Avoid 00/01 m3's because of the rod bearing recall issues.
Here's also something silly to consider when buying a car off private party sellers. When you sit int he car and check out the radio. Pay attention to what their presets are. Is it Jazz music or Heavy Metal headbanger music. Just something to consider when you are trying to learn how a car had been treated by it's previous owner.
I'm still torn between the e36 and e46. I like the "not as electronically dependent" e36, because I do like to tinker and modify my cars, and its alot easier to do with less computer control. The e46 however is just plain awesome lol. I can see that I'm going to have to compromise on my 4 doors, but thats fine for the moment. My kids are still small, and any back seat is more than what my porsche offers.
I'm going to start test driving some cars, and that should make my decision.
As far as the reliability of a BMW I have only good things to say, I have an E36 325i with almost 200k miles and It has spent its life on salty roads in Wisconsin and has hardly any rust, I just rebuilt the engine and I'm hoping for another 200k
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