BMW E46 3 Series Review Specs, Engine, History

Today we will present you the BMW E46 3 Series, a car that many young drivers dream of. Why? Because BMW puts forward outstanding performance, elegant sporty style, German technology and rear drive. All these features make this Bavarian car meet all the requirements of a new driver.

BMW E46 3 Series Review Specs Price Engine Problems Reliability

Jump To Article

E46 History

Production of the BMW E46 3 Series began in Munich in 1998, a year later 3 cars in a station wagon and a coupe started to go off the assembly line, a convertible appeared only in 2000. Customers can also choose a hatchback called Compact. In 2001, Germany underwent a facelift and the modernized E46 was produced until 2005.

E46 Version

The engine version offer was very rich, as there were as many as 21 variants with different drives:

  • 316i (105Hp)
  • 316i (116Hp)
  • 318d (115Hp)
  • 318i (118Hp)
  • 318i (143Hp)
  • 320d (136Hp)
  • 320d (150Hp)
  • 320i (150Hp)
  • 320i (170Hp)
  • 323i (170Hp)
  • 325i (192Hp)
  • 325i X (192Hp)
  • 328i (193Hp)
  • 330d (184Hp)
  • 330d (204Hp)
  • 330i (231Hp)
  • 330i X (231Hp)
  • 330Xd (184Hp)
  • 330Xd (204Hp)
  • M3 And M3 CSL (343Hp-360Hp)

E46 3 Series Problems & Reliability

One of the most common faults is a problem with the drivetrain, or rather the howling differential. In addition, some models of propeller shaft support are worn. On the other hand, the cooling system often fails in the gasoline version – pump failure and coolant leak. Engine oil leaks were also found on the E46. The E46’s front suspension, unfortunately, doesn’t perform well on Polish roads.

On pre-facelift cars, the rear wheel guidance system was also quite unreliable, where the rear beam support was damaged. Also, on many E46 models, the rear suspension springs break. If we buy a BMW 3 Series before modernization, we must also take into account the mechanism for removing the jamming window and the broken AC panel with automatic control.

Some users have also complained about the brake pads that wear out quickly and the light bulbs often go out. With a distance of about 150,000 km, the steering wheel was damaged. When choosing a convertible version, we recommend checking the condition of the roof and rear window material, which gets duller over time.

In conjunction with the most powerful engines, BMW is also offered with an optional electronically mounted 4-wheel drive called xDrive. The most recommended petrol engine is the 2.8 liter R6 with 193 horsepower, and the alternative 192 horsepower 2.5 liter engine. As for the diesel engine, it’s a good idea to choose a 136 or 150 hp 2 liter unit.

For those who prefer a more dynamic ride, the 330d version would be a good choice, which unfortunately is also a bit more burning. In this case, on average, we will use more than 8 liters of oil per 100 kilometers traveled.

People with slightly thicker wallets will be attracted by the top M3, sadly not the low maintenance version, but it does provide a lot of fun to drive. However, despite offering an attractive engine, great performance, and precise handling, this car is not without its shortcomings.


The BMW E46 3 Series is a pretty attractive proposition for people who like dynamic driving, but we must remember that driving fast also means wearing out the suspension components quickly. Unfortunately, possible repairs can be expensive.

Before buying this E46, it’s worth checking it carefully in terms of body, as there are many cars on the secondary market that have a bad past behind them. Any corrosion we can see indicates that the vehicle was most likely involved in an accident.

5/5 - (25 votes)

Leave a Comment