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      05-30-2022, 12:01 AM   #1
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New (to me) E46 daily overhaul/project

Hello all! I have always loved the E46 body style ever since I was a kid, it's just so well balanced design wise and loved the way they drove. I picked up this 2001 325i, Steel Grey (400) on grey leather, two owner local car. She has 145k on her M54 and is Steptronic (my weekend car is manual) with Sport Package, Premium, Xenons, Harmon Kardon (sounds bomb!). It isn't a rocket but it pulls nicely still and is definitely a momentum car in the canyons. It was well cared for California car with zero rust or anything like that- but since buying it I have done a TON of maintenance on her, and its turned into quite the fun project. I find it weird that I'm positing about an E46 in the "classic" forum but here we are, she isn't bad for 22 years old. It is a money pit for sure, but I adore it. Here's some of the stuff I've done and pics.

Currently have done:
-All fluids flushed and changed and filters (I mean all), yes, even the diff and AT which still shifts smooth as butter- or at least as smooth as that unit ever did
-Front suspension overhaul- new bushings, arms, ball joints, struts
-Rear suspension overhaul- new axle, wheel bearings, and shocks
-New Pirelli P Zero Nero GT tires and fresh alignment BMW KDS
-Xenons bulbs replaced, rear taillamps replaced to euro clears as well as side markers
-New seatbelt on driver side (typical retracting issue), replaced A and B pillars due to sagging material, had leather redyed and partially repaired, it wasn't in too bad of shape
-Cooling system redo- new t-stat, expansion tank, fan clutch, trans t-stat; tank vent valve due to random CEL, vanos oil feed line
-steering rack coupling, various hoses found to be leaking replaced
-exterior moulding replaced around exterior windows on driver side, new cowl moulding, underbody moulding
-window regulator driver side due to slow movement
-HVAC recharged
-motor mounts, fuel filter, spark plugs, coils, ambient temp sensor, new 12V battery BMW OEM
-new front brakes complete
-serpentine belt
-all four rims repaired
-OEM E46/E39 roof rack with generic Amazon faring that works wonders
-TOO MUCH TO MENTION. Also, the best part is that everything has a 2 year warranty. It honestly drives like a new car, it's outstanding.

-I still have stuff to do, paint the roof, etc. but in the end it's shaping up to be a beautiful clean example of an E46. I can't help but try and keep these on the road for as long as possible. I'm a coupe facelift fan, but I'm now seeing the beauty of the OG pre-facelift sedan vs. facelift sedan, there's a little more M3 vibe thrown in there on my lowley but enduring 325i.
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Last edited by M4_ZMT; 05-30-2022 at 12:12 AM..
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      05-30-2022, 04:11 AM   #2
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Looking lovely!
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      05-30-2022, 12:14 PM   #3
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Woah, awesome stuff. I have a 2004 320d with 467000km (290mi) on the ODO. It just refuses to give up, mechanically still sound. No issues at all. I am thinking of also making it a project to do a little bit of work on the car. It does need a bit of paint touch up here and there, roof lining getting loose in some places.
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      05-30-2022, 12:43 PM   #4
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Beautiful E46 and nicely optioned. Very clean and great condition too which is becoming rare these days. Enjoy it, I still miss mine.
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      05-30-2022, 01:05 PM   #5
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soo beautiful. Congrats!
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      05-30-2022, 03:01 PM   #6
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Looks lovely!
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      05-31-2022, 01:32 AM   #7
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Thank you everyone for the positive support and feedback! The BMW community and camaraderie are alive and well. I have a feeling this won't be my last E46. It unfortunately is hard to find one these days that isn't beat, or sometimes the low mileage ones are a bit sketchy as the engine has done a lot of sitting, sometimes the higher mileage, the more overhaul that's been done.

For the gentleman with the 290k E46, cheers to you! My E46 was manufactured in Rosslyn, SA. Enjoy in good health and cheers to all the well wishes.

Look forward to updating the thread as my project progresses.
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      05-31-2022, 02:58 PM   #8
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Very nice high quality example. You got a great one! Thanks for keeping it on the road!!
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      05-31-2022, 04:15 PM   #9
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Damn that's super clean for the miles. Love it.
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      05-31-2022, 05:48 PM   #10
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Very nice!

I am 100% with you on the E46. I had a 2002 325i that I traded in on a Mini Cooper. I constantly find myself wishing I had kept the 325i. I personally think it is one of the best looking cars BMW has made, and definitely the best looking sedan. It's just a timeless classic and still looks far better than almost everything produced today.

We are moving to Germany next month, and I have every intention of picking up a 330 coupe as quickly as I can!
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      06-18-2022, 08:11 AM   #11
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Love your car! Looks like it is in great condition. I have a 2003 330xi I have been working to restore. Agree, the style is something that is unique.
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      06-18-2022, 09:02 PM   #12
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Nice addition OP! I have a soft spot for the e46. A Titanium Silver 2.8L was my first new car purchase in 2000, and I'm holding on to it as long as I can. Still enjoying the 5spd.
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      07-26-2022, 06:41 PM   #13
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Sweet!
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      07-27-2022, 06:56 AM   #14
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Nice find. IMO the E46 is the best 3 series BMW ever built and they'll never top it. It's the perfect blend of everything.
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      07-27-2022, 12:54 PM   #15
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Some of my fondest memories were made in my e46 days. That chassis was a masterpiece, nice ride!
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      08-15-2022, 03:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by og_e46 View Post
Nice addition OP! I have a soft spot for the e46. A Titanium Silver 2.8L was my first new car purchase in 2000, and I'm holding on to it as long as I can. Still enjoying the 5spd.
Gorgeous E46! Keep her forever.

Thanks everyone for the support! Since last posting, I have done some more items, and spent way too much money on it (some done myself, but mostly at a BMW dealer) since I'm able to take advantage of the employe labor rate. BMW center warranty 24mo/unlimited miles on parts and labor is still best industry!
-alternator replacement preventative
-blower motor replacement (squeaky)
-intake boots upper and lower
-CCV rehose w/ all connecting pipes
-new DISA valve
-some more window regulator fun #e46life
-various pulleys, idle is so quiet now
-swapped myrtle wood trim and OEM shift knob, old one cracked/matteified
-center console storage cubbies, sunglasses holder
-washer pump for w/s

Here are some recent pics, he isn't perfect, but I sure am having fun with it and it's lovely M54.
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Last edited by M4_ZMT; 08-15-2022 at 03:53 AM..
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      08-16-2022, 02:43 PM   #17
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Looking good! Keep it up!
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      08-16-2022, 09:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M4_ZMT View Post
Gorgeous E46! Keep her forever.

Thank you! That's the plan. It's in the garage with the G80, and my son is already eyeing it. I have to fight my urge to turn it into a track car. LOL

BTW, we share the exact same interior trim combo. Keep up the nice work.
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      08-17-2022, 06:11 AM   #19
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Pro this is beautiful, many contracts to you, +1 for the interior condition. I loved it
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      08-17-2022, 01:36 PM   #20
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I don't remember seeing a center console that clean like ever, the rubbery coating on those black parts is always scratched. Considering the age and mileage the car is looking fantastic. Keep it up!
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      09-22-2022, 08:52 PM   #21
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Thanks everyone for the kind words and support!

Recent:
  • New OEM Bosch headlamp lenses and Hella foglamp housings/bulbs.
  • OEM grille, black and silver as the 325i originally came with, not sure- may go back to the 330i style chrome one...somehow seems to fit the Steel Grey better, unsure.
  • OEM white side markers. The cheapie ones turned yellow.
  • Removal of chrome exhaust tips, was making a reverb noise, weren't seated right hopefully...got a new set and will try to re-seat soon.

Crazy what a difference in the headlight throw! I feel much safer driving at night and they actually feel like Xenons now. I adjusted the beam nearly perfectly, however I need to still adjust the passenger side a bit more to the left, seems the wheel for that may be hidden on the side of the housing and I don't feel like taking it apart again just yet. It'll do for now and not blind oncoming traffic. Love that BMW still allowed you to replace the lens separately on E46. It's all still in the works, adjusting my imperfect bumper and I need a new headlamp bracket. Roof paint is coming soon. From 10 feet away it's beautiful!

M54 is still running like a top. No rocket but it's smooth and I'm fine with the way the Steptronic shifts...do I wish it were manual? Maybe...but for my use as a daily runaround, I'm loving it the way it is.
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      Yesterday, 05:27 AM   #22
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Nothing like fresh new headlights on an old car! Makes a huge difference.
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