How much life left for my 2002 BMW M3?


How much more can I reasonably expect this car to last? I have an 2002 BMW M3 (e46 body style) that I bought 8 years ago with 60k miles. I used to make regular drives to visit my girlfriend who lived 360 miles away. So, almost all of my driving was freeway and commute miles. The car now has about 256,000 miles on it. I’ve replaced the gas relay and pump; struts, and window motors. But same engine and transmission. I’m still averaging 25 mpg and my mechanic says it’s the first Beemer he’s seen with no leaks! I do get the oil changed with hi-end synthetic 10-60 every 5-7,500 miles. Still get many compliments on the car and it runs like a champ. Feels like I still have full compression and acceleration is there. I know it will die someday, but what should I expect to get out of the car. I really enjoy driving it, but I know the economics won’t make sense (of putting large sums into it). I thought I’d keep it to 300k, but at this rate, it feels like it could run forever. I’m saving for a major repair or a new car. New car makes sense, but this car and I have been through a lot. Thank you for your time.

With no leaks and running good I’d drive it until the wheels fell off. I’m not a fan of four wheeled debt which depreciates rapidly.


And realize that any car properly maintained and not beat upon that was manufactured by anybody will pop out a few that’ll exceed normal expectations. Sometimes the planets just get into alignment. I’m sure there are even Vegas that are still running out there with no major surgery in their history. You may have just gotten the odd one that’ll run indefinitely.

Sincere best to you. I’d just keep on enjoying the BMW with a smile on my face.

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I agree with others, since you already own it and it runs well, just keep driving it until a major repair pops up and the economics of fixing a BMW will send it to the crusher.

My nephew often buys this type of car for his wife (who does not travel a lot out of town) and gets rid of them at the first major repair.

I’d keep driving it, highway miles count much less. How’s the cooling system? Replacing the radiator, water pump, and thermostat is a common maintenance requirement on this age BMW.

200K miles in 8yrs is a good amount. did you drive 25k miles in the last yr?

I am driving less now. Last year I drove about 15,000 miles.

Is 10-60 oil recommended for your engine by BMW? That’s an extreme wide range of viscosity. As I recall the wisdom is that the viscosity enhancers do not provide as much lubricity as the oil itself - so a viscosity range beyond what the carmaker recommends does no good, and possible harm.

Not to start another discussion of oils - just asking what BMW recommends.

Yes, that is the preferred viscosity for my car. Before I bought the car, I didn’t think an oil with that range existed. In fact, I even had a speed shop tell me it didn’t exist, until I brought an empty in with me. It runs about $12/quart. Even though BMW says I can go 15k miles between changes, I have had good luck switching it out around 7,500. Probably a waste of money, but it seems like cheap insurance. Now, here’s something I found strange. The car burns a quart at 7,500 miles. You can set your odometer to it. Been that way since day 1. It’s not throwing the oil-the engine is clean. And it’s not dripping the oil because the undercarriage isn’t dirty. At first I was worried, and now I just plan on it.

You got your money’s worth out of this car and still drives fine. That is impressive esp for a BMW.
I will keep driving it and see what happens, nobody can tell.
My only concern would be for when you need a replacement car, you have been spoiled by the handling and reliability of this car and it would be difficult to find a similar car. Most beemers are not know for their durability and then most reliable cars are not as fun.

The only thing I would add to @ok4450 and @the_same_mountainbike 's response is to consider setting aside some money ($100-$500 per month or more, depending on your preference) in a car replacement fund. Really anyone that doesn’t already have a car payment should do this; having a car with 200K+ miles just makes this inevitable car replacement much more of a reality and provides a little more motivation to follow through.
You asked what you could reasonably expect - I think you could expect another 5 years out of this car, but that doesn’t mean you should assume another 5 years.