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Advice on E46 330i or 330d buying/ownership


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#1 RichJ72

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:12 PM

Hi all, new to the forum and looking for some advice and insight into 3-series buying/ownership.

For the last four years I have been driving around in a 1.6 litre Vauxhall Astra :o (yes, I know what you’re going to say!) - due to other spending priorities and therefore requiring a more economical means of transport (getting married, buying a new house and having a baby certainly had an effect on the finances! :punched:).

Prior to this I had a MkIV Golf R32, which was a joy to drive and I was really sorry to let this car go. At the time the missus had only just passed her driving test and so anything with decent performance was just out of the question due to the high cost of insurance and tight budget (hence the 1.6 Astra :().

Given the drop in used car prices over the last few months I have started to look around for a “driver’s car” with decent performance that would still be able to haul around all the paraphernalia that comes with the family, but could be enjoyed when the mood takes me.

I am seriously considering an E46 3-series and currently leaning towards either a 330i Sport or a 330d Sport (in saloon or even touring form). My head is asking “can I afford it”, but my heart says “go for it!”. I was pleasantly surprised when I did a search for the best insurance quote for a 330i and it came back as £360 (which is only £130 more than the Astra). But I’m a bit wary of the running costs, particularly if I get a car that has any problems and could end up with some high bills. What to do!

My budget is around £8K and it would seem that this could get me an ’03 Plate 330i Sport. This one looks like a pretty good deal from a BMW dealer:

Approved Used BMW

Any advice/comments on the following would be much appreciated (it’s a long list so I hope you’ll bear with me) :

-Gearbox - Manual or Auto? My preference would be for a manual from a driving enjoyment and mpg point of view but most of the cars around seem to have an auto box. What’s the SSG/Tiptronic option like?
-I’ve seen a few cars around but most seem to have high mileages and I would like to get something with around 50 to 60K on the clock. Is high mileage an issue on these cars? Any thoughts?
-Where to buy? BMW Approved Used / Independent Dealer / Private – any thoughts? The BMW warranty would give peace of mind, but is it worth the premium over the other options?
-Which model? I’m leaning toward the 330i due to its lovely straight six petrol engine, but it seems that the 330d is very good for a diesel too and would give much better fuel economy (although I don’t do a high mileage)
-Any particular problems with these models? – heard some horror stories about turbos failing on the 330d, resulting in serious engine damage etc. :eek: - which has put me off this model slightly. How common is this - is this just scare mongering or is it a real issue?
-Running costs and servicing – obviously a BMW is going to cost more than a Ford/Vauxhall to run, but will have depreciated less when I come to sell. How do you find the real ownership costs?
-Best time to buy – are used prices still dropping or do you think they have bottomed out?
-How hard is the Sport suspension? Some of the reviews I’ve read have said that they prefer the suspension in the SE over the Sport. From a handling point of view is the Sport suspension worth it? Anyone with experience of this compared to a MKIV Golf R32?
-Wheels – some cars seem to have 18” MV Spoke wheels whereas others have 18” M sport spoke style wheels. Was a revised model brought out with different wheels or something?
-Any must have options? I would be looking for leather interior as a minimum as I don’t really like the way the standard seats look. What’s the difference between Nappa leather and Montana leather? I would also like xenons, but could live without them if a car doesn't have them.

Wow – that turned out to be a lot of questions! I don’t expect to get answers to everything, but any advice would be really helpful.

Cheers +++:beer:

Rich.

#2 swiller

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:43 PM

Hi mate, im no expert at all, but just bought a e90 330i se very recently, after driving an e46 318i for a few years. the 330d's seem to go for a lot more than the petrols. With petrol much cheaper than diesel, that doesnt make sense currently. You may be able to afford an e90. Have seen an e90 330i for 8799 with 80k on the clock on a 55 plate, manual. No leather or sat nav, but gives you an idea of what you could get. Probably motorway miles with 80k in 3 years. Ive never driven the e46 version, but i suspect that it may cost less to insure, but better fuel economy on the e90. With depreciation over a couple of years, the e90 may work out cheaper.
I have bought 2 beemers now from the same place. I would steer clear of bmw dealerships and go to a reputable car supermarket. car giant , autoquake are v good. My car was £12k but similar spec/mileage at bmw dealerships go for 20-30% more. have a search on cargiant for a 330i and u should find that 8799 example. and no i dont work for em. good luck in your quest.

#3 RichJ72

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:56 PM

Cheers swiller. +++

To be honest I hadn't considered the e90 as I thought this would be way above budget. You've got me wondering now! I'll have to do some sums to see whether I could stretch the budget a little more! :eek:

The price on the one you saw at Cargiant seems very good (even with 80K on the clock). I'm not completely sold with the look of the e90 in the SE trim though - looks a lot less sporty to me. How does it look in the "flesh"? What's the handling like in this spec? How does your current car compare with the e46 318i? I suppose I would need to drive it to see for myself, but any comments would be helpful.

What put's me off this particular car the most is the very high mileage (even if its motorway miles). I would be looking to keep the car for maybe 4 or 5 years, by which time it would be approaching around 125K on the clock. I suppose its too early to say what the new 330i is good for in terms of mileage? Is it a completely new engine or just a revised version of the engine in the e46?

All food for thought though!

Did you get a warranty with yours? Just looked on the Cargiant website and I could only see the optional AA warranty, which is going to be at extra cost of course.

#4 swiller

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 12:48 AM

Cheers swiller. +++

To be honest I hadn't considered the e90 as I thought this would be way above budget. You've got me wondering now! I'll have to do some sums to see whether I could stretch the budget a little more! :eek:

The price on the one you saw at Cargiant seems very good (even with 80K on the clock). I'm not completely sold with the look of the e90 in the SE trim though - looks a lot less sporty to me. How does it look in the "flesh"? What's the handling like in this spec? How does your current car compare with the e46 318i? I suppose I would need to drive it to see for myself, but any comments would be helpful.

What put's me off this particular car the most is the very high mileage (even if its motorway miles). I would be looking to keep the car for maybe 4 or 5 years, by which time it would be approaching around 125K on the clock. I suppose its too early to say what the new 330i is good for in terms of mileage? Is it a completely new engine or just a revised version of the engine in the e46?

All food for thought though!

Did you get a warranty with yours? Just looked on the Cargiant website and I could only see the optional AA warranty, which is going to be at extra cost of course.


Ay the se is lots less sporty in looks, which has its advantages in insurance terms and general nickability. But thats why it is cheaper than the m sport models. For me that means a bargain in terms of engineering .The 330i looks plusher than your ordinary 3 series with chrome grills and fancy things like spotlights on the doors.

Mileage wise, I ran my 2002 318ise to 160k miles and the engine needed no attention at all, original clutch , gearbox. So its just brakes , tryes and regular servicing. So BMW rarely get it wrong in the reliability dept. Im hoping to get 150k from mine without big worries.
On a 55 plate you should get a year of bmw warranty included. I wouldnt bother spending anything else on a warranty. Just ensure it has a full bmw service history and its as secure as you need.
It is a completely new engine with 255 bhp, compared to 220ish in the e46 330i i think. Made of titanium and aliminium, it is light and hailed as probably the best 3 litre engine on the market. And it revs and sounds incredible.
Performance wise, this will do 0-60 in 6.1 secs on a manual which is about a second slower than the quoted figs on an e46 m3 and the same as a current porsche boxter 2.7. Handling wise, its awesome and the brakes are just amazingly responsive. Worth a test drive.

#5 RichJ72

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:56 AM

Thanks swiller. Just compared insurance on a 55 plate 330i SE and it comes out the same at £363. I think tax is slighlty lower though due to less emissions from this engine.

What Car sent some mystery shoppers around the car supermarkets and their verdict on Cargiant wasn't that good :

What Car? guide to car supermarkets - Car Giant, London - What Car?

Its possible that their experience may not have been typical, but it does raise some questions (what with the car they looked at having been damaged and badly repaired, but no mention of this in the car's details). Anyone know where they source their cars from?

Anyone else with experience of Cargiant?

Any more comments on my initial post? What should I go for? 03 plate e46 330i Sport with around 50K on the clock (as per my post) or possibly 55 plate e90 330i SE with high mileage? :confused:

For comparison:

Approved Used BMW

Search 6-Speed BMW 330i 3.0 SE New Shape Saloon Petrol 8799. » Great Cheap Used Cars from the World's Largest Car Supermarket::Cargiant

Its a bit of a treck to London just to give this car a test drive. Maybe I will try to find a car more local to try for comparison. Anyone with further comments on the high mileage issue? I really don't want to be taking on a car that needs lots of bits replacing. I know this is always possible with a car, but surely higher mileage increases the risk right?

For me the look of the e46 330i Sport wins hands down. But the lure of a newer model with more space, better fuel consumption etc is making me wonder. What other improvements does the e90 offer over the e46? Any negatives with the e90? (apart from looks, which is subjective anyway)

#6 RichJ72

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 09:37 AM

On a 55 plate you should get a year of bmw warranty included. I wouldnt bother spending anything else on a warranty. Just ensure it has a full bmw service history and its as secure as you need.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the warranty on a 55 plate have already run out if it's a 3 year warranty, or am I missing something? E.g. if the car was registered in Oct 05, the warranty would expire Oct 08. I suppose if a car the car was registered in February 06 it could still have a few weeks left.

Anyone with any thoughts on buying a high mileage e90 330i SE? (e.g. 55 plate with 80K)

#7 swiller

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 12:37 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the warranty on a 55 plate have already run out if it's a 3 year warranty, or am I missing something? E.g. if the car was registered in Oct 05, the warranty would expire Oct 08. I suppose if a car the car was registered in February 06 it could still have a few weeks left.


Actually you are correct, i believe it is a 4 year warranty or 50k miles whichever comes first so on 80k its run out.

For the sake of an extra 30000 miles on a 3 year old car, it is probably a similar risk in terms of replacement parts that might go wrong vs an e46 version 3 years older. It would be worth checking when the brakes, service and spark plugs etc are due if you do decide to look at one. This can all be checked via the dashboard on the e90.

Yeah i read that review of cargiant and surprised me a bit. Never had any problems. Need to do the homework on models and mileages and inspect the car thoroughly to avoid any disappointment. Like anywhere i suppose. Buying process isnt great and its a round the block test drive but they sell over 1000 cars per week, which is a decent indicator of customer satisfaction and quality of cars. I steer clear of warranties and sundries as well as the finance deals. Thats where they make their money. (you dont get car tax, but you do get 7 days free insurance fully comp on all cars, which allows you to tax it straight away.)
However, if you have the wonga and just want to buy off the shelf, they are extremely good value for money. A 330i 55 plate with 80,000 on the clock for <9k is quite rare.

Worth a local test drive definately. Whatever the spec, its the engine and the drive that wins most over. Awesome car.

Check out this post which is a really excellent review..
http://www.tyresmoke...007-review.html


Anyways, i will shut up now and let someone else air their thoughts.

+++

#8 RichJ72

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 01:00 PM

For the sake of an extra 30000 miles on a 3 year old car, it is probably a similar risk in terms of replacement parts that might go wrong vs an e46 version 3 years older. It would be worth checking when the brakes, service and spark plugs etc are due if you do decide to look at one. This can all be checked via the dashboard on the e90.


Cheers again swiller. Good point. As you said before, as long as it has been serviced at the right time there shouldn't be any problems. How do you go about checking the dashboard for things that need servicing/replacing?

A 330i 55 plate with 80,000 on the clock for <9k is quite rare.


I'm hoping that they won't be too rare!

Worth a local test drive definately. Whatever the spec, its the engine and the drive that wins most over. Awesome car.

Check out this post which is a really excellent review..
http://www.tyresmoke...007-review.html


Yeah....looking for a local car that I could test drive at the moment! I had already read the review by CarMad and it certainly makes you want one!! Just need to test drive one for myself now and hopefully I will be just as impressed with the car

Anyways, i will shut up now and let someone else air their thoughts.

+++


Thanks again for your input swiller - much appreciated! :beer: It seems that no one else has an opinion to share! ;)

+++

#9 RichJ72

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 09:58 AM

Have seen an e90 330i for 8799 with 80k on the clock on a 55 plate, manual. No leather or sat nav, but gives you an idea of what you could get. Probably motorway miles with 80k in 3 years.


Ok, I have made enquiries about this car and it has a service history with 6 services, the last one at 71k. Having covered 80k in 3 years (probably mostly motorway / long journeys) would you expect that there woud be much that would need replacing on this car due to wear and tear? I know it depends on how it was driven and what kind of roads etc, but what do you think?

Would be really grateful for any input from those in the know, particularly those with experience of BMW ownership with higher mileage cars.

Cheers +++

Edited by RichJ72, 27 January 2009 - 10:01 AM.


#10 RichJ72

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 11:46 AM

Ok, I have made enquiries about this car and it has a service history with 6 services, the last one at 71k. Having covered 80k in 3 years (probably mostly motorway / long journeys) would you expect that there woud be much that would need replacing on this car due to wear and tear? I know it depends on how it was driven and what kind of roads etc, but what do you think?

Would be really grateful for any input from those in the know, particularly those with experience of BMW ownership with higher mileage cars.

Cheers +++


Just noticed they have dropped the price to £8,599 on this car now:

Search 6-Speed BMW 330i 3.0 SE New Shape Saloon Petrol 8599. » Great Cheap Used Cars from the World's Largest Car Supermarket::Cargiant

Must be getting desperate to move it on! I'm still not sure about the high mileage though. Can anyone help me out here? I really need the benefit of some wisdom and experience!

#11 swiller

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 10:06 PM

Just noticed they have dropped the price to £8,599 on this car now:

Search 6-Speed BMW 330i 3.0 SE New Shape Saloon Petrol 8599. » Great Cheap Used Cars from the World's Largest Car Supermarket::Cargiant

Must be getting desperate to move it on! I'm still not sure about the high mileage though. Can anyone help me out here? I really need the benefit of some wisdom and experience!


Ok, as no one else is replying, all i can say is that i bought an e46 2002 318ise with 100k on the clock in 2005 (from cargiant for £8.7k)and ran it another 60,000 miles . Apart from the usual brakes, discs, servicing, tyres, wipers etc. I spent the following, all at trainer bmw in swansea - an official bmw dealer.

The coolant tank got a crack in it 110k (£100 inc fitting), one cylinder was misfiring at 145k, which was a cheap part and they replaced all of the parts in each cylinder (£200 inc fitting - apparently needed and recommended at 130-140k). Replacement alternator at 150k, (£250 recon inc fitting,). Engine warning light came on with reduced power at 130k, (£400 inc fitting and diagnosis). New bushes on suspension at 135k (200 inc fitting), new brake pipes at 158k (200 inc fitting).

So thats under £1500 on stuff that probably wouldnt need replacing on a newer car, or low mileage effort over 3 years. So expect some additional costs. I suspect age plays as an important part as the mileage in terms of maintenance costs. Have a few friends that are running 4-8 year old 3 and 5 series at well over 200k miles, with similar maintenance costs and replacement items.

In answer to the query on checking the tyre pressure, oil, etc on the dashboard, this is done via the indicator stick on a non i drive model. Its a littile dial in the middle of the stick which will guide you through menus and the button on the end of the stick acts as a select key.

I suspect the paintwork is not pristine on this one, which is maybe why it hasnt been sold. Probably a few chips on the bonnet, but some are fine with that...


Now i will shutup lol.

#12 RichJ72

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:45 AM

Ok, as no one else is replying, all i can say is that i bought an e46 2002 318ise with 100k on the clock in 2005 (from cargiant for £8.7k)and ran it another 60,000 miles . Apart from the usual brakes, discs, servicing, tyres, wipers etc. I spent the following, all at trainer bmw in swansea - an official bmw dealer.

The coolant tank got a crack in it 110k (£100 inc fitting), one cylinder was misfiring at 145k, which was a cheap part and they replaced all of the parts in each cylinder (£200 inc fitting - apparently needed and recommended at 130-140k). Replacement alternator at 150k, (£250 recon inc fitting,). Engine warning light came on with reduced power at 130k, (£400 inc fitting and diagnosis). New bushes on suspension at 135k (200 inc fitting), new brake pipes at 158k (200 inc fitting).

So thats under £1500 on stuff that probably wouldnt need replacing on a newer car, or low mileage effort over 3 years. So expect some additional costs. I suspect age plays as an important part as the mileage in terms of maintenance costs. Have a few friends that are running 4-8 year old 3 and 5 series at well over 200k miles, with similar maintenance costs and replacement items.

In answer to the query on checking the tyre pressure, oil, etc on the dashboard, this is done via the indicator stick on a non i drive model. Its a littile dial in the middle of the stick which will guide you through menus and the button on the end of the stick acts as a select key.

I suspect the paintwork is not pristine on this one, which is maybe why it hasnt been sold. Probably a few chips on the bonnet, but some are fine with that...


Now i will shutup lol.


Cheers again swiller :beer: You're input is really appreciated on this. +++

The costs you listed sound fairly reasonable given the age and mileage of your last car. Given what you've said I think I would consider a higher mileage car if the right one came up at the right price, but the one at cargiant isn't quite the right spec for me and I'm willing to wait and see what else comes up.

Thanks for the heads-up on checking the service stuff on the dash. Sounds fairly straight forward.

Having done a lot more reading and research I have now decided that I will look for an e90 330i SE instead of the e46 330i Sport. Cheers for the suggestion! For a difference of around £2.5K I could get a car that is 2 years younger and a newer model with quite a few improvements over the old one. The e90 is slowly starting to grow on me - I'm still not 100% sold on the looks, but I'm getting there!

I have just seen a 2005 e90 330i SE, Manual, 4 door saloon, full BMWSH, 47k miles, leather interior, front sport seats, M sport suspension, 18 inch ellipsoid spoke alloy wheels, advertised for £10,900 ono (private sale). Might be worth a look (looks good with these wheels IMO). What do you reckon to the price?

#13 RichJ72

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 04:09 PM

I have just seen a 2005 e90 330i SE, Manual, 4 door saloon, full BMWSH, 47k miles, leather interior, front sport seats, M sport suspension, 18 inch ellipsoid spoke alloy wheels, advertised for £10,900 ono (private sale). Might be worth a look (looks good with these wheels IMO). What do you reckon to the price?


Just noticed......this car is in Northern Ireland, so a bit out of the way.....although might be worth considering if the price was right.




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