BMW 3 Series longevity


I am looking to buy an older BMW 3 series. I see several from 2000 or 2001 with anywhere from 100K - 150K miles on them (usually 328model). How much longer is the engine expected to last on these cars? Are BMW’s a 200K+ car?

Thanks for any advice.

Just like with all other makes of car, maintenance is the key.

Like other European manufacturers, BMW specifies much longer oil change intervals than they did years ago. This may work in the long run IF owners consistently use the European-spec motor oil that is supposed to be used in these cars. If a Beemer owner decides to go 10k miles between oil changes, but uses the wrong type of oil, then a very serious sludging problem will take place in the engine. And, as good as BMW engines are, once there a serious sludge build-up is present, the long-term prospects for that engine are very poor.

Look for a vehicle that comes with maintenance records. Try to find out what type of motor oil was used. Have a prospective purchase vetted by a mechanic who is very familiar with BMWs. And, don’t rely on Carfax to tell you if a car has been well-maintained and is accident-free. More often than not, those Carfax reports omit more information than they include.

great pointers - thanks

BMW has not significantly changed their 6 cyl engine for about 20 years. The bugs are all worked out of that design. It has consistently been voted one of the 10 best engines in the world throughout its history.

They added VANOS on the intake cam about 1997 and on the other cam about 2000. Also about that time, they upped the displacement from 2.8 to 3.0 liters (i.e. 330 and 530 BMW models) by increasing the stroke slightly. That engine was developed for the X5 but seems to be an excellent sedan engine as well.

I have a '97 328 automatic with 170k miles on it, and a '97 328 manual with 245k miles on it, and an '04 330 with 80k miles on it.

The '97s have had virtually every part in their cooling systems replaced through the years. (radiator, thermostat, water pump, reservoir, hoses). The highest mileage '97 got a clutch at 175k miles and new rear wheel bearings at 225k miles. Both the '97s have gotten new struts and shocks, and several rubber parts that degraded over the 14 years and been replaced. None of these cars has ever had any engine/transmission work deeper than valve cover gaskets and water pumps. None of them has ever seen a tow truck.

The key is, I buy all these parts on-line and I put them on myself. My neighbors look at my driveway full of shiny BMWs and think I spend a fortune on cars. In fact, I spend less per mile driven than they spend on their Mazdas and Toyotas and Fords.

If you buy a 100k+ mile BMW and take it to the dealer for service, however, it will not be a cheap car to own.

Oh - correction. One of them has been towed, which was my most expensive repair to date. My daughter was out of town at college and managed to get her anti-theft immobilizer circuit locked out. She had it towed to the dealer. First they charged her $700 to put on a starter that she did not need. Then they told her the front ball joints were shot and the car was unsafe to drive unless she paid them $1000 for front end repairs. I told her to get her car out of there. I inspected the whole front end and found everything perfectly tight. Just to make sure I was not missing anything, I had a BMW specialty shop inspect the front end and he found it to be perfectly sound.

The engines are fine (if properly maintained), like most cars now, and 200k+ should be no problem. You will have a fair amount of maintenance to do, and other stuff will break, needing to be repaired.

The basic BMW engine is virtually unbreakable; however everything attached to it will require replacing somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 miles. The rest of the car is high maintenance as well.

I would budget a minimum of $2500 per year to keep it running and pray nothing major breaks.

It’s also difficult to get a BMW owner to be totally honest about the actual cost of running his car.

Definitivly not the engine that will be causing you to do work on the car, it is all the other systems. That being said the e-46 has been refered to as 'best car made" many times over by many different sources. It strikes me odd how people refer to a 2000 year model as “older”. My first car was a 57Chev followed by a 49 Chev pickup (in the early 70’s), now those were old. I drove the pickup until 1985.

Host of body and accessorie problems, but no worse than others. On thing I found about BMW, you need a large tool kit, car that demands the least tools, Honda for sure, (and I am no Honda fan).

The engine is the strongest part of these cars… It’s the transmission and electronics/emissions that will fail, turning them into money pits…

My 328is is at about 275k with no issues. The prior owner changed the oil every 5k miles along with other recommended repairs. We put coil overs on it and did a few track days with it and the temps and oil pressure never show a problem. We sneak by cars (it has solid brakes and handling) that have wheels that cost more than our whole car. Bang for the buck, it has been a great car. Open the hood and it looks new - great car. These cars love to be driven and hate to sit in the driveway unused. Even the AC and radio work great - knock on wood…