Are fears justified buying 10yr old bmw 6 cyl turbocharged 3 series?

Choose Life

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I've heard nothing but big expensive problems come from these engines
Does anyone have experience with them at near 10 years age and is there anything to look for when buying?
I'm probably going to stay away but wondered how they've held over time
 

BlueV1

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That sounds like a little too much for a 10 year old... :p
I've got nothing useful here. Sorry.
 

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If you want a cool fast reliable old German car get a 05-06 Mercedes e55 amg or c55 amg

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A great idea
The problem I've ran into is financing cars beyond 10yrs 120k miles
But a stellar idea with the capital on hand
 

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It depends on a couple things. First, the car itself. In general, German cars are going to have some problems at 10 years. Some are better than others of course. Most people that I know, that buy German cars, say don’t go over 6 years old. That said, prevention is a must. You have to stay ahead of maintenance and repairs on an older German car or you be under water before you know it. The second factor is you. If you are a good mechanic and don’t mind taking on big repairs, it can be fun and is a lot less expensive. In general though, a German car at 10 years of age will be expensive to maintain properly.

And honestly, if you have to finance a 10 year old car, i would not suggest owning it.
 
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Choose Life

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If you can wrench, it's not too bad.
See I'm a moderate mechanic
I can do all the maintenance/brakes etc
What scares me is turbo or internal plenum failures
Do they tend to have electrical problems
Windows/sunroofs going out etc?
It shouldn't be difficult to get a solid ALP install with 2rx 1tx
 

meismyname

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So the good news is that BMWs have some of the best DIY writeups I've seen. Basically anything that can go wrong, you can find at least 3 articles and 2 youtube videos detailing how to replace the part. The N54 engine itself is really solid, even a bit overbuilt. People have switched to single turbo setups and gotten 700hp with a lot of lag on stock internals, not that I'd recommend it.

That being said, the N54 can have some issues. Set aside some money in a savings account to prepare for when something happens, and you'll be fine. Personally, when I upgrade, I'll be looking at the newer N55, as it has a few less problems and even better low end torque. For most models, they switched to the N55 in 2011.

Here's a list of things that can potentially happen with an N54, especially when tuned.
 

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So the good news is that BMWs have some of the best DIY writeups I've seen. Basically anything that can go wrong, you can find at least 3 articles and 2 youtube videos detailing how to replace the part. The N54 engine itself is really solid, even a bit overbuilt. People have switched to single turbo setups and gotten 700hp with a lot of lag on stock internals, not that I'd recommend it.

That being said, the N54 can have some issues. Set aside some money in a savings account to prepare for when something happens, and you'll be fine. Personally, when I upgrade, I'll be looking at the newer N55, as it has a few less problems and even better low end torque. For most models, they switched to the N55 in 2011.

Here's a list of things that can potentially happen with an N54, especially when tuned.
Yes that's one benefit is the loyal fan following and extensive write ups on YouTube
 

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Meismyname has a pretty damn solid handle on the older turbo bummers. Also anyone that can reference engines code probably knows what the hell they are talking about. I have an e46 M3 competition so I know the maintance required for older BMWs
My coworker just bought a 1m after looking at a bunch of 135s so we did a bit of reasearch to find out what he’s getting into.
Heavy hitters are turbo seals fuel pumps injectors and coil packs. The rest is maintenance maintenance maintenance.
And yes N55s are generally more reliable than N54 but the older engines respond to Mods better
If you can’t budget $1-2k a year to have a profesional do the work or do the work yourself look elsewhere
That being said clean 135s are on the rise and you’d have little to no depreciation over a few years of ownership.
My M3 is worth prbly $5k more than I paid for it 3 years ago.
 

mbsl500

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Scoll through the posts until you see the Car and Driver article.
The E36 M3 was the best handling car over $30K.
Nothing out handled it.

Note to mods:
If posting this link is against the rules, my apoligies. Please delete.
It was the only place I could find the article online.

 
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EightyFiveHundred

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@Choose Life what’s the goal with the 3 series? Daily driver? Driver’s events and high performance driving schools?

Lots of good advice regarding 10+ year old BMWs. At 10 years, you will likely need to address many of the rubber bits along the driveline and suspension, wheel bearings, etc...all of which is an easy DIY.
 

InsipidMonkey

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I have a N54 5-series and it is great. As long as you keep up on the maintenance, the N54 is a solid engine with a ton of tuning potential, DIY tutorials, and aftermarket parts.
Common failure points: high pressure fuel pump, early (pre index-12) injectors, electric water pump, various gaskets, carbon build-up in the intake.

The new versions of the HPFP, injectors, and water pump are all much more reliable, so once they are replaced you should be good. Carbon cleaning is offered at many BMW shops for ~$300 and is well worth it every 30-50k miles, but the buildup can be minimized with an oil catch can and upgraded PCV valve.

I have almost 160k on my N54 now and it is still rock solid and powerful. My only hesitation with a 3-series is since they tend to be cheaper sometimes previous owners skimp out on maintenance which will certainly come back to bite you down the road. If you can find a well maintained one with service records and all of the above repairs performed I wouldn't hesitate though. Great engine and great chassis, a ton of fun to drive.
 

mbsl500

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I have a N54 5-series and it is great. As long as you keep up on the maintenance, the N54 is a solid engine with a ton of tuning potential, DIY tutorials, and aftermarket parts.
Common failure points: high pressure fuel pump, early (pre index-12) injectors, electric water pump, various gaskets, carbon build-up in the intake.

The new versions of the HPFP, injectors, and water pump are all much more reliable, so once they are replaced you should be good. Carbon cleaning is offered at many BMW shops for ~$300 and is well worth it every 30-50k miles, but the buildup can be minimized with an oil catch can and upgraded PCV valve.

I have almost 160k on my N54 now and it is still rock solid and powerful. My only hesitation with a 3-series is since they tend to be cheaper sometimes previous owners skimp out on maintenance which will certainly come back to bite you down the road. If you can find a well maintained one with service records and all of the above repairs performed I wouldn't hesitate though. Great engine and great chassis, a ton of fun to drive.
Well cared for E36 M3's are rising in value.
Acoording to Haggarty, it's one of top cars to buy as an investment.
I searched for years to find a pristine example.
60k mile Estoral blue and the only thing that has been replaced were the interior lights (changed to led).
Runs and handles like brand new.
 
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auskip07

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do you have a second vehicle?
will this be your DD?
how deep is your savings?
Good at working on things?
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Well cared for E36 M3's are rising in value.
Acoording to Haggarty, it's one of top cars to buy as an investment.
I searched for years to find a pristine example.
60k mile Estoral blue and the only thing that has been replaced were the interior lights (changed to led).
Runs and handles like brand new.
if he plans on driving it i wouldnt consider it an investment.
 

Saussie

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I nearly bought an E36 a few years ago, but got put off by expensive plastic interior parts that get brittle and break. I don't mind spending money on mechanical stuff to keep it running sweet, but couldn't justify $300 for a second hand interior door card for E.g a 2 door coupe. Some of that stuff is rare here and bits like that don't really keep the car running mechanically. I do like BMW but think there is easier cars to deal with financially. That said, depends if you can find a nice clean one. I can't say what I bought instead as it will give away my vehicle, but I stayed in a similar realm and am really happy with my decision.
Your country is different though and I can't comment on the availability and price of spares where you are. Could be easier for you than me.
Australia and New Zealand have a bit of thinning in the ozone layer nearby. The U.V is immensely strong and destroys rubber and plastics well before its average lifespan elsewhere. Probably why things break prematurely or need replacing more often.
 
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mbsl500

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I nearly bought an E36 a few years ago, but got put off by expensive plastic interior parts that get brittle and break. I don't mind spending money on mechanical stuff to keep it running sweet, but couldn't justify $300 for a second hand interior door card for E.g a 2 door coupe. Some of that stuff is rare here and bits like that don't really keep the car running mechanically. I do like BMW but think there is easier cars to deal with financially. That said, depends if you can find a nice clean one. I can't say what I bought instead as it will give away my vehicle, but I stayed in a similar realm and am really happy with my decision.
Your country is different though and I can't comment on the availability and price of spares where you are. Could be easier for you than me.
Australia and New Zealand have a bit of thinning in the ozone layer nearby. The U.V is immensely strong and destroys rubber and plastics well before its average lifespan elsewhere. Probably why things break prematurely or need replacing more often.
My E36 M3.
Not a crack, scuff, lose part, zero flaws or bad rubber. It looks like it just came off the showroom floor....and it handles better than any sports car I have ever owed. And I've owned some really nice sports cars.
No idea why the pictures rotated...sorry.
 

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Decline

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E36 M3 is another solid buy. The USA engine isn’t as exotic as the rest of the world and there are still MANY examples still running well north of 200k. I really really want a manual 4 door techno violet. Mmmmmmm, technoviolet...with the M rain alcantara interior.
The problem with the older cars is you need to bring cash or get loan from Hagerty or lightstream.
I know a guy who bought an 2003.5 M3 with lightstream and the rate was good
 

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