BMW sexy only skin deep?


2 questions:

1. I would like to know if the horror stories about the 1999 BMW Z3’s alleged sucky sub-frame are true?

2. If they are true, does the lawsuit for the E46 (BMW 3 series - which covers the same type of issue) also cover the Z3? I’ve run across several different websites with conflicting responses.

I’ve run across one that is for sale that looks beautiful. I haven’t had the chance to look at the frame myself, and intend to do so soon. I would like to know if the problem will be fixed by BMW or if I’ll have to do it myself, {with an extreme discount from the current owner}.



(Waiting to find out if BMW sexy is only skin deep in VA)

I think that we need to wait for our forum member, “oldschool”, to comment with some degree of authority. He worked as a BMW mechanic for several years, and he maintains contact with current BMW technicians.

Oldschool, are you out there?

Well…I don’t know about the frame but I just pulled up the TSB’s on the 99 Z3 and it took me a couple of minutes to count then all. I found over 270. Most vehicles have only a few for the most part. I would run from this vehicle and never look back. It seems to be a money pit of the highest order. It’s a shame because it is a very good looking vehicle.

Thanks Guys,

Looks like you saved me from a lot of grief. It would probably make a good track car - after the frame was tubed!
Too bad too! It’s an awfully sexy car. However, I think I am more disappointed in having the thought that a Hyundai made the same year is better built.
Thanks again.

OldSchool, if you have a different opinion please let me know.

I conclude that what you call a “sub-frame” issue really is an issue with the rear unibody on E-46’s? This issue just started to come to light when I left BMW in 2002.

That being said the z-3 is based upon the e-36 unibody not the e-46’s.

I do agree with misselman that the Z3 is a royal PITA. I don’t want to come down too hard on the Z3, many people really like their Z3’s. For me engine wise,transmission wise, no problem, it was just the dozens and dozens of other systems the cars had a tremendous amount of problems with.

Don’t get me wrong, the cars are great fun to drive, the M-versions were incredible performers but just many,many issues on the cars other systems.

I hated to get assigned a Z3, never made any money other than straight time on one since all my work was on these problem systems, but I can say it is the easiest car in the world to change the AC evaporator on (which usually is a dreaded job on other cars).This is just a minor mitigation for all the other things that are a real pain. BMW is a tough car too work on, but the more experience you get jobs that you dreaded can become second nature.

I have seen the unibody breakage on the e-46 personally, but never on the e-36 platform that the Z3 is based on, I have not “seen it all” by any means though.

Let me ask latter tonight, my Master Tech friend is getting a little hesitant to let me in on current BMW policy as he knows I post what is supposed to be “insider” type things, but lets see what he says.

I will await your information.
I have to admit that I don’t like the idea of the Z3 having so many problems. I am a European car nut and am disappointed, (but I do want the car!)

TSB =/= recall. Often times a TSB could be just that a new tool, or even a new method of changing something out like the spark plugs or something.

I have a friend with a 1980s Corvette. Every time it needed repairs, he’d be bummed out. That lasted until he rode a few blocks after picking it up. If you really like the car, the foibles will not matter too much.

I’ll let you know after I drive it tomorrow, and have it up on a lift!
However, I would like to know what your Master Tech friend has to say.

Find a BMW specialist and get the skinny on your prospect. Pay them for a check over and get a feel for common problems.

Having sex and welding defective sub-frames are two COMPLETELY different things. Some people fantasize about sex and BMW’s but that’s about as far as they get…

togacut,is your gender female? I hope so, Z3’s are commonly refered too as “Chick Cars”:slight_smile:

Any high end and high tech car is going to have more problems and more expensive ones than a normal garden slug type of car.
Sometimes you have to weigh the fun factor against the cost of the upkeep on something like this and decide if the offset is worth it to you.

Some neighbors of mine bought a new Z3 about 10 years ago and they still have it. They have had very very few problems with the car but luck also plays a part in this.

I have to disagree…
it depends on what she’s wearing while she’s welding.

Sorry D.O.M., I’m all male, with a certain intimidation factor operating in my favor…
I don’t think anyone would, (in their right mind) call me a chick. :wink:

Checked with my friend at BMW and the uni-body cracking issues never happened to the Z3 and since the e-46 campaign started he has done 4 cars, so the E-46 issue is serious but it is not so widespread.

When I saw my first one I did think it was a 1 in a million situation, guess it turned out to be a little worse.

I have seen this to a real small degree in the rear of F bodies (Camaro Firebird) all it did was cause some creaking not actual structural failure.

We have mutual feelings about distaste for the Z3 but thinks I complained about what I was dispatched too much, can you believe the nerve? Not every car can be a E-39 (this is the 5 series from about 1998-2004, very good car to both work on and make money on)

M5 E-39, best looking most exciting to drive BMW that I ever got my hands on.But the SMG equipped E-46’s were lots of fun,these were the "paddel shift"cars SMG=sequencial manual gearbox. I seem to think the Z3 Roadsters could be had with this transmission also.

Is this a 4 or a 6-cyl? The 6 would be my choice, gotta have the engine that ‘made’ BMW.

Just being curious but do you think there could be any correlation between the cracked cars and the locale; as in Rust Belt areas, etc.?

Texas, no 4cyl Z3’s BMW made only a few good 4 bangers (bad in the aspect of low power but the 4 cyl in the 2002 model and in the M3 E-30 were both winners), but OH what they did with the 6,and so many times. OK4450 my first view of the uni-body cracking was in Milwaukee and my friend works in AZ (where he repaired the 4) so it does not seem area dependent.This is a chain driven 6, but BMW did use the belt,many,many times.

What I would like to know is what plant the defect cars came out of. They were made in at least two places, Spartanburg here in the states (where is that Tenn?) and some place in South Africa, the South African E-46’s had wire chaff problems.

Thank you for the bit of info. I was just curious if road salt could be the underlying reason for this problem.

Someone I know in another city bought (several years ago) an '04 model car (Ford) with only 40k miles on it and this vehicle was immaculate both in and out. About 10k miles later the rear brakes needed to be replaced and it was discovered during this repair that this car also had what could be considered “mild” rust issues underneath.
Research showed this vehicle was originally sold in Michigan and had spent several years there before making its way to OK.