E46 "BMW" series: characteristics and reviews

"BMW" - one of the most famous German brands around the world. And one of the best-selling BMW cars - E46. BMWs of this series have been and still are popular with buyers for many reasons. Someone falls in love with the car at first sight, not riding, and someone, having tried once, cannot stop. There are many opinions on this subject, but all are unanimous with the statement: “Something touches something in this series.” Consider the main characteristics and features of these German "handsome".

A bit of history

Year of the car in the sedan - 1998. He replaced the outdated series E36. The very next year, in 1999, the station wagon and the E46 coupe appeared. "BMW" in this series were incredibly popular. In 2002, a record number of cars of this series was sold - more than half a million pieces. There were also cabriolet and hatchback bodies. And, of course, on the basis of the E46 produced a sports version with an index of "M3".

e46 BMW

Three years after the start of production, the E46 in the sedan was upgraded.When resting, the headlights and bumpers were changed, as well as other more advanced power units. Similar changes were made to other bodies of the popular series.

BMW 3 Series E46 existed until 2006. Then replaced the 90th series. The hatchback body turned out to be the most unpopular, followed by the "wagon". In general, this series of "BMW" was very successful. For all the time of existence in production, more than 3 million pieces were produced and sold. Production of the series went not only at the main plants in Germany, but also in South Africa, China, Egypt, Indonesia and even in Russia.

Variety of species by characteristics

A distinctive feature of BMW has always been a rich selection of modifications within the series. This was not an exception for E46. "BMW" in the sedan was the most popular, so for her choice of characteristics is especially great. Only the petrol variants of the E46 sedan were 12, plus 6 models were equipped with a diesel power unit. Such a great variety was determined, first of all, by a wide range of installed engines. The smallest volume of the engine of the third series "BMW" - 1.6 liters; and the largest - 3.3 liters.At the same time, the 3-liter petrol car has the highest power of 231 “horses”, the maximum speed of 250 km / h and the shortest acceleration time - up to 100 km / h in 6.5 seconds.

BMW e46 engines

If we take the station wagon body, then here we find 14 types of power units, which in total gives 17 varieties of “BMW E46”. The engines of cars vary in the range of 1.6-3.3 liters. The frisky engine for the station wagon is the same M54V30 with a power of 231 "horses", accelerating to a hundred in 6.8 seconds. It should be noted that this body, like the sedan, was not equipped with sports engines from the E46 M3 series. Two engines with a volume of 3.2 liters and capacities of 343 and 360 “horses”, respectively, were installed there. The more powerful of them could accelerate the car to 100 km / h in just 4.9 seconds.

The three remaining bodies of the series, namely the coupe, convertible and hatchback, carried the same set of engines under the hood. In this case, sports engines were placed on the coupe body - E46 M3, and the smaller unit (3.2 l) could stand on a convertible. Hatchback had the smallest set of engines installed. There could be installed either one of the three gasoline or one of the two turbo diesel options.

E46 Series Engines

A car of any brand can be described and characterized from different sides. Consider one of its main components, namely the engine. As for the 46 series "BMW", there were more than a dozen of them here.

The first cars of the series were equipped with a choice:

  • M43 on 105 and 118 "horses";
  • M52 capacity of 150, 170 and 193 liters. from.;
  • diesel M47 with 136 "horses" on board;
  • diesel M57 184 liters. from.

BMW E46 Sensors

After a couple of years, the cars went on restyling, and new engines appeared: the N42, N45, N46, M47N, M54 and M57N. The new generation of units was distinguished by high reliability with unchanged German quality. A separate position are the engines under the E46 M3 - S54 and S54N. Their sporty character is confirmed by 343 and 360 "horses", respectively. Aggressive sporty style was underlined by the general appearance of the M3 coupe. BMW E46 diesel, which could compete with many well-known brands of the same middle class, nevertheless lost to its petrol sports versions.

Gearbox for E46

Cars "BMW" described the series had to change gears both mechanical and automatic unit. And if with mechanical boxes everything is more or less clear, then as far as automatic transmissions are concerned, there are nuances. The fact is that if the unit was produced by the famous German company ZF, then everything is fine.These five-speed boxes have a great resource for trouble-free operation. Many of them do not provide for an oil change. But, as practice shows, the car falls into the hands of a motorist at the very time when the factory ends its operation in Germany.

The main rule in the operation of the automatic transmission is a timely replacement of oil, when worn, the box's torque converter should be changed, and if possible, it should not be overheated. It can be especially difficult with overheating, if a powerful 3-liter engine is installed on the car, it’s hot on the street and you want to drive. Just remember that overheating of the box significantly reduces the time of its operation, and sometimes leads to breakage.

In addition to the automatic transmission company ZF, installed box 5HP24 and GM5L40E. The latter had a lot of negative feedback, thanks to more “capricious” work and rapid wear of parts at high revs. Very often, it literally "ended" during high-speed maneuvers. There is such an automatic transmission on the earlier 4-cylinder "BMW" E46. Engines for such boxes are more suitable for low speed.

The quality of the chassis "BMW E46"

What can I say about the suspension E46? “BMW” was originally a durable car, and the elastic suspension on the front racks, and on the back of the levers only adds comfort and stability.Do not forget that all-wheel drive cars are mandatory in the 46 series. This is, of course, not SUVs, here the four-wheel drive plays the role of increased reliability when driving along snow-covered streets and good dirt surfaces of rural areas of European quality.

BMW 3 Series E46

What should pay attention to the chassis? The front-wheel drive rear-wheel drive E46 has a non-separable ball bearing, despite the fact that he himself practically does not wear out. The output here is to install a non-standard lever or to rework the existing one in such a way as to change the ball from all-wheel drive cars. In the full drive, the ball bearings of the problem front lever are immediately collapsible. Among the other elements of the front suspension in the risk zone get stabilizer, everything else - very reliable.

In the rear suspension things are even better. Here the ball, as well as the so-called floating silent blocks wear out occasionally. In order not to have problems with cardans and gearboxes, they are sufficiently inspected regularly. Oil in bridges as needed is added, and it is better to change it every 100 thousand km. Contrary to the prevailing opinion about non-replaceable oil, it is better to err.After all, in fact changing the oil is much cheaper than repairing the bridge.

Body questions on the E46

If you got into the BMW for the first time, there is a high probability that you will like everything. Especially noticeable contrast will turn out after a transplant from a domestic car. It is really very convenient here. At the same time everything looks as nice as it is used. The panel "BMW E46" is made of plastic, but quality plastic. Initially, in any configuration E46 is equipped with air conditioning and electric windows. For extra money, an even greater variety of options were installed. The panel "BMW E46" is made of plastic, but quality plastic.

BMW e46 panel

Everything would be just perfect if there were no weak points. And there are plenty of them in a new car. Let us consider the main points that should be paid special attention to when buying. One of the main problem areas, especially for cars before upgrading, is the fastening of the front shock absorber supports. With frequent driving on a bad road in these places due to constant voltage there is a strong wear and cracks. This is especially bad for the right cup, where the body number is stamped.

Another place where excessive wear and tear, up to breaking, can occur is the front anchorage at the rear subframe. Among the disadvantages of the body emit a small amount of space behind. Despite the fact that, compared with the previous body, E39, the place has become more, it is still not enough. Also small trunk, if we consider the E46 as a family car.

In general, the body "BMW E46", which is located above the photo, has a large margin of safety and long resists corrosion. Much more problems the car can bring on the electrical part.

Surprises on the "electrics" from E46

Like any other car from the "BMW", E46 has an advanced electrical system. There are a large number of sensors and electronic components. At the same time, strangely enough, wires occupy a weak place in the "wiring - sensor" system. The harness of the engine compartment is particularly affected. It happens that due to faulty wiring cooling fans fail. Therefore, in the case of the "BMW E46" sensors - not always the cause of failure. Before changing any electronic unit, you should carefully check the wiring.

BMW E46 Specs

Many problems can deliver "smart" ignition keys. They are at E46 two, the main and spare. The whole trick, from which you can suffer without knowing the nuances, is that the keys are charged only being in the ignition lock. The built-in battery is not supplied separately, plus after replacing the key, it is necessary to undergo initialization. All these events are expensive, so you should alternately use both keys, watching the level of charge.

In the cabin, the air conditioning control unit and the window and mirror control unit can fail. The stove "BMW E46" has a heater motor, which is also at risk. It may give the impression that the E46 is simply a “wreck” that should not even be considered. But it is not. The fact is that the “weak” places are indicated, most often failing. On a single machine, problems may not be at all. For example, the car was regularly serviced and kept in a warm garage.

How to choose the best option "BMW E46"

In order to find the best option for your beloved "BMW E46", reviews that exceed all expectations, you should know the following key points.

Bmw e46 reviews

1.Choosing the engine, it is better to give preference to the 6-cylinder units. At the same time, given that the more powerful the motor, the greater the likelihood of more severe exploitation. Do not be afraid of "eating up" the engine oil. For E46 with a run topping 0.5 liters of engine oil for every 1000 km is considered the norm. If the oil consumption increases, it is worth contacting the service. If possible, you should not choose a car with engines of the N series. These high-speed units, on the one hand, save fuel consumption. On the other hand, the engine is overheated, which leads to early repair.

2. Do BMW any brand should not be afraid of the automatic transmission. In some cases, an automatic transmission lasts longer than a manual one. Its reliability is really high, while the oil in the box should be changed. And you should pour only high-quality products. Repair of the box is poured into a round sum. And for the automatic version it may even be cheaper than for the "mechanics".

3. When choosing a car, do not rush. Knowing the options for weak points, you should explore all the possibilities and check the car in all possible conditions. To do this, try at the first inspection ride.Do not be afraid to ask "uncomfortable" questions. It is better to show yourself from a disadvantage than to get on an unprofitable car.

4. It is important to remember that there are practically no broken E46 series machines. Do not panic, body repair has not been canceled. However, the appearance may vary significantly on different models. Wheels on the "BMW E46", carbon inserts salons, various hanging decorations raise the already magnificent view of the car to a new level.

E46 owner reviews

There is still quite a bit of time left, and the BMW E46 will be considered a “classic.” For many, this fact has already happened. Despite this, the car is perfectly bought for everyday needs and hassle. Many who get behind the wheel of "BMW" for the first time, subsequently no longer part with this brand. Reviews of owners E46 differ quite strongly, but the general trend is directed to a positive direction.

BMW E46 diesel

According to real reviews, the "BMW E46", whose characteristics are quite real, resists corrosion very well. The galvanized body and the excellent properties of the paintwork allow the German “swallow” to exist for a long time in the harsh Russian conditions.Much worse road conditions carry electrical components and, in particular, wiring. It is not uncommon for the rear light housing in a car to change due to contact failure, and the lights in the same rear light continue to be used until the next contact replacement.

The main rule for the successful selection of a car, its long-term operation and the further writing of a positive review is that one should choose not the car, but its owner. The reliable, loving “iron horses” owners of the BMW E46 have a car that looks “100% full” and practically does not require investments. It is not uncommon for a purchased car to be used for a long time with only fuel and brake pad costs.

BMW e46 photo

As for fuel costs, BMW E46, depending on the engine, consumes from 5 to 14 liters per 100 km. In this case, a record low consumption of gasoline or diesel fuel show engines of 1.6 and 1.8 liters in volume when driving on the highway. Well, 3-liter riders in the city can consume up to 15 liters per 100 km. Real reviews also do not confirm the strong topping up of oil. 1 liter per 10,000 km, that's all what motorists face.Of course, there are also those who are very “tired” from the life of the BMW E46, in which the oil was changed at the wrong time. There topped up "motorboats" can be significant. But these machines are not so much.


The BMW E46 series has been extremely successful. Stylish design, comfortable and thoughtful interior, a large selection of engines and bodies provided the car with wide popularity not only at home, but also far beyond the borders. Car owners do not stop the shortcomings of the car associated with high mileage or age. Many people call this car the legendary classic from BMW. And in order to understand what he can really attract, it’s enough to take a ride in it.

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