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BMW began producing vehicles in the 1920s after experiencing success in making aircraft during World War I. The German automaker made a name for itself despite facing competition from luxury rivals like Mercedes-Benz. By the time the 20th century ended, BMW was on the E36, which was aging despite serving the automaker well. The company needed a new product to lead it into the 21st century, and the BMW E46 was born.

If you’re considering buying a BMW E46, here are a few facts you need to know about this BMW 3 Series generation.

How much is a BMW E46?

The BMW E46 is the fourth generation of the BMW 3 Series of compact luxury cars produced from 1997 to 2006. It’s the third iteration of the 3 Series, including the high-performance M3, introduced in 2000 and succeeded the E36 3 Series, which ended production in 2000.

The E46 has since become a classic, meaning finding one is nearly impossible. But if you do, it will likely put a dent in your pocket. The car fetches an average price of $26,000, and that’s for a model with plenty of miles on the odometer. A low-mileage E46 M3 might cost you more than a new M4. In 2019, a used E46 M3 sold for $110,106.

The beauty of the E46 is that it can be many things for different owners. Thanks to its numerous options and trims, the car was factory-customizable, providing utility as a daily driver.

How much horsepower does a BMW E46 have?

A side view of a silver E46 BMW M3
E46 BMW M3 | Getty Images

The sleek BMW M3 stunned the automotive world when the high-performance model debuted in 2000. It was not only stylish but also potent, packing a 3.2-liter S54 straight-six engine generating 333 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. It could zoom from 0 to 60 mph in just over five seconds. These numbers were ahead of their time and on par with today’s sports cars.

The BMW CSL’s redesigned engine produced 360 hp, allowing the car to sprint from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds. Meanwhile, the M3 GTR boasted a 4.0-liter V8 that harnessed 380 hp at 7,000 rpm.

BMW E46 life expectancy

The life expectancy of a BMW E46 is about 200,000 to 250,000 miles. There have been cases where an E46 lasted for 300,000 miles, with the most extreme being over 600,000. An E46’s life expectancy varies depending on driving style, maintenance, and location.

Routine services such as tire rotations, tune-ups, and oil changes can ensure more years of driving enjoyment. It also helps that BMW is known for its exceptional build quality, making the E46 one of the most reliable cars. Still, even with the utmost care to ensure you get more out of your vehicle, the E46 has some common problems.

BMW E46 common problems and years to avoid

RepairPal reports the most common BMW 328i problems include oil leaks from the lower engine area, firm or soft shifting of the automatic transmission, coolant loss due to a leak from the expansion tank, and multiple power steering hoses failing.

Experts recommend avoiding the 2000 model year due to suspension and cooling system issues. Miramar Speed Circuit notes the suspension in the 2000 model tends to wear out prematurely, resulting in handling problems and an uncomfortable ride. Moreover, the cooling system could develop leaks that might need frequent maintenance.


Why Are BMW E46 M3s So Expensive?