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Discussion Starter #1
I am thinking about getting a 2003-04 M3 Coupe as a new DD but wanted some feedback from owners:

How reliable has it been?

Any common problems/issues that I should know about when shopping around?

I have heard a great deal about the cost of maintenance but no real numbers to go along with it... any real life numbers for repairs?

I'm sure I'll think of some more stuff but that's a decent starting point. I'm looking for a Carbon Black over Cinnamon leather, no SMG.
 

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Mine's been great. No real problems to speak of.

Edit: I did have two problems. The electronic fuel gauge malfunctioned and had to be replaced (after I ran out of gas twice). The clutch sensor that allows you to start the car went on the fritz.
 

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Had one (03 M3) for 4 years. Drove it 25,000 miles with no problems. Although my brakes did not need replacement during the time I owned the car, my dealer quoted me $2000 for a full brake job. These cars can be expensive to fix/maintain.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've checked out various M3 forums but the huge sigs and cluttered ad bars made them frustrating to look at. I figured I'd trim some of the annoyance and see what some fellow ETers thought.
 

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I had an 06 M3. Never gave me any grief. Common problems are the window regulators and body seals. The regulators are about 140 for parts and the body seals about 250 each side. The standard brakes fade easily and dust like crazy. The comp brakes are much better but are not available on 03-04. 01-02 had rod bearing issues. As far as maintenance, oil is about 9-12 dollars a liter and filters about 16. Brakes are 1k for all four corners, cabin filters are 65 and air filters 25. Tires are mucho expensivo from the dealer and are garbage anyways. Xenon bulbs are 200 from the dealer so best to go after market and foglamps are about 125 after you break them and you will eventually. The exhaust weighs 50 pounds and should be the first thing you chuck. On the interior, try to stay away from having sharp things in your pocket because the napa leather tears easily and costs a fortune. When shopping around, check to see if the headers were ever replaced. If so make sure they are not ebay headers otherwise you could have a stripped head. If they are superprints, make sure they are the V2 and were recently bought otherwise you will have cracks soon. Check for the intake. If a K&N cold air was used, check the MAF. They will foul MAFs. The best intake solution is just a streamline drop in filter or K&N panel filter. For the 6 speed, make sure a Clutch delay valve is present otherwise your tranny warranty is gone. They make the pedal feel suck but you can get them drilled out for like 20 bucks. The dealer just wants to verify that it's there. If the car has angel eyes, make sure they don't have the adaptive xenons otherwise it will be a pain because the rings will fall off the mounts(ask me how I know). Any other questions, feel free to ask.
 

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I had an 06 M3. Never gave me any grief. Common problems are the window regulators and body seals. The regulators are about 140 for parts and the body seals about 250 each side. The standard brakes fade easily and dust like crazy. The comp brakes are much better but are not available on 03-04. 01-02 had rod bearing issues. As far as maintenance, oil is about 9-12 dollars a liter and filters about 16. Brakes are 1k for all four corners, cabin filters are 65 and air filters 25. Tires are mucho expensivo from the dealer and are garbage anyways. Xenon bulbs are 200 from the dealer so best to go after market and foglamps are about 125 after you break them and you will eventually. The exhaust weighs 50 pounds and should be the first thing you chuck. On the interior, try to stay away from having sharp things in your pocket because the napa leather tears easily and costs a fortune. When shopping around, check to see if the headers were ever replaced. If so make sure they are not ebay headers otherwise you could have a stripped head. If they are superprints, make sure they are the V2 and were recently bought otherwise you will have cracks soon. Check for the intake. If a K&N cold air was used, check the MAF. They will foul MAFs. The best intake solution is just a streamline drop in filter or K&N panel filter. For the 6 speed, make sure a Clutch delay valve is present otherwise your tranny warranty is gone. They make the pedal feel suck but you can get them drilled out for like 20 bucks. The dealer just wants to verify that it's there. If the car has angel eyes, make sure they don't have the adaptive xenons otherwise it will be a pain because the rings will fall off the mounts(ask me how I know). Any other questions, feel free to ask.
Wow, what a write up! Well done. I had an E36 so I'm no help but I think he pretty well covered it.
 

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I have an '02 carbon black that I bought new. Had an issue with shoddy trim - replaced under warranty. Also had the somewhat maddening experience of 3 or 4 1200 mile break-ins, due to the bearing issue and not-quite fixes. That should be solved in all M3s now. I tracked it a few times prior to getting my Elise in '05 and the car has been driven from Florida to California to Newfoundland, etc. without any issues.
 

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You are part of a lotus forum so you will understand this:

Get a 99, its way lighter... super fun. The 01 and on, is fast, but a pig.
 

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Also check http://forum.e46fanatics.com/ CPO is a better option IMO with a few $ more $, they come with 6 yrs 100k miles full warrenty from the date of the original purchase.
DO NOT goto e46fanatics. That forum is garbage. Half of the people don't own M3s, the others don't know about M3s. M3forum.net is a better forum but with BMW forums, take everything everyone says with a grain of salt. If on e46fanatics, need a bottle of salt. CPO is a good idea but it will cost you 5k more and there is a 50 dollar deductable. CPO also does not cover a lot of things like the stereo and nav screen. On top of that, CPO does not cover cosmetic issues like the trim peeling and stuff like that. An 03-04 won't have a rod bearing issues and make sure you get the brushed or wood trim. The plastic will peel eventually and look like poop. If you need BMW hookups, just PM me. I can get OEM parts for you and I know a lot of people in the aftermarket world for just about anything you would ever need.
 

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You are part of a lotus forum so you will understand this:

Get a 99, its way lighter... super fun. The 01 and on, is fast, but a pig.
Don't listen to him. The e36 is marginally lighter. My friend's e36 came out at 32xx and my e46 came out at 34xx without stripping it. Just don't get a sunroof and chuck the stock exhaust. The S52 motor in the e36's is a dog compared to the S54 in the e46. On top of that, the e36 has subframe issues and will require you to weld in a reinforcement plate from turner motorsports. If you want truly a great M3. Get the E30 or a 95 e36 M3. The e30 is drop dead gorgeous and the 95 is OBD1 which will make power easier. The 95 is a 3.0 liter however. Or if you are truly in love with the e36 get a lightweight. The e46 M3 may feel like a pig but that is because the springs are a bit soft. It is a luxury car after all.
 

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DO NOT goto e46fanatics. That forum is garbage. Half of the people don't own M3s, the others don't know about M3s. M3forum.net is a better forum but with BMW forums, take everything everyone says with a grain of salt. If on e46fanatics, need a bottle of salt. CPO is a good idea but it will cost you 5k more and there is a 50 dollar deductable. CPO also does not cover a lot of things like the stereo and nav screen. On top of that, CPO does not cover cosmetic issues like the trim peeling and stuff like that. An 03-04 won't have a rod bearing issues and make sure you get the brushed or wood trim. The plastic will peel eventually and look like poop. If you need BMW hookups, just PM me. I can get OEM parts for you and I know a lot of people in the aftermarket world for just about anything you would ever need.
Well, I guess you really don't like their site... No disagreement there, their is garbage at every forum. But I am guessing there is still more M3 owner there then on this site (I could be wrong). Your $50 deductable comment on CPO is correct only after the original warranty has expired.
 

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... If you want truly a great M3. Get the E30 or a 95 e36 M3...
I agree... I have a '95 e36 M3 that I bought brand-new and it's been great. No sub-frame issues either. My wife thought I was going to sell it when I got the Elise... NOT. The M3 is my winter car and the Lotus is my summer car.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Lots of great info. My lease is up in July on my current hooptie so that's when I'll really be shopping. I just moved much closer to work (7 miles door to door) and it's a straight shot on i95 so I am really not terribly worried about winters anymore. I figure the M3 is a great mix of looks, comfort, and performance. The hard part is finding the color combo I have been dreaming about.

Silly question... I have been browsing and some cars have 18's with a lip and others have shiny, flat faced 19's. Do the 19's denote a sport package of some sort? Would a sport package change anything else about the car?
 

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Had an E46 M3 for the Praxis airspring development. Cant remember what year but probably 01-02 per a previous post. We bought the car used with about 30k miles. It was properly maintained by us. Rod bearings had been previously replaced. Motor expired while driving the speed limit on the highway. Rod bearing failure again. Ironically, the closest dealer to the failure was called "New Motors BMW". Entire motor was replaced under warranty. By the time we sold it, the synchros were shot and the trans was rather crunchy. Handling was more understeer than ANY VEHICLE I HAVE EVER DRIVEN! I have never driven a car where you can transition to limit handling, crank the steering to the stops, experience zero change in vehicle handling, and then return the steering back to the point of limit handling and continue with the corner. It had the peakiest handling I have ever experienced. Of course, the Praxis suspension fixed that because we were very smart. Ditching the OE Michelins in favor of the same size tires from another vendor (in our case Bridgestone) helped the understeer considerably. The dampers were really too stiff for street driving because the ride was so busy you couldnt even drink coffee while driving. Of course, the adjustable Praxis dampers fixed that too. Brakes were good and honestly the only car we DIDNT have to upgrade the brakes for track driving. The sway bar links failed too.

Our other BMW was an E46 330 Ci. It was in the shop about 5 times with stupid stuff...door rattles, broken flywheel, broken clutch, clicking valve lifters, bad ignition coils. All replaced under warranty. We eventually replaced the dual mass flywheel with standard flywheel out of an older 5 series.

In comparision, our Subaru WRX's had 5 times the street miles, 20 times the track miles, 100 times the track abuse (journalists), about 10 bent wheels due to said abuse and ......zero trips to the dealer and only one failed wheel bearing on our primary track car.

BMW's are wonderful to drive and the E46 M3 motor is a work of art, but I wouldnt say they are reliable. Just expect to have issues that need to be dealt with. At least the dealership service is excellent.

Just my .02.
 
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