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Old 03-01-2021, 09:37 AM   #1
Josh (PA)
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New little wagon

My wife believes it is time to update/upgrade our e46 wagon. For reference, its a 2003, we got it back in 2014 and it has served us well. My two daughters learned to drive on it, used it through their college years, it has served as our snow mobile and general beater. It currently has about 147k on it.

Over the weekend something hung up on it while my wife was driving it to get our daughter, who lives in downtown Philly. It pulled to the left and was shaking pretty badly. She had to pull over on I76 near Philly (super busy, kind of sketchy, not a good place for a woman alone on the side of the road). I think it may have just been a sticking brake caliper, but in any case it freaked her out and she has decided it is time for it to move on and us to have a more reliable beater. The issue went away sometime after she pulled over and hasn't come back since.

Some searching found this out in Pittsburgh (for those that don't want to click the link, its an '07 e90 n52 xit wagon w/ 60k miles).
https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-...ckType=listing

I am ambivalent to the swap. It looks like the e90 is a good deal. I pulled the carfax and it is super clean with a very good maintenance history. We will give our philly daughter the option of having the e46 for free if she takes over insurance. If that worked out, she'd keep it for a year (I'd still wrench on it to keep it running), then it would move to my son who will be 16.5 yrs old next summer. If she doesn't want to pay for insurance, I'm not sure what the next step would be for it.

Does anyone see any downsides (beside the e46 is a more fun car than the e90)? Anything I should know about n52s vs m54s?

On the one hand, the e46 is death by 1000 paper cuts in that it seems like something is always naggingly wrong. On the other, I spent a decent amount of time on it lately, and it seems to be running better than ever. I've put a couple hundred miles on it since my wife had the issue and have felt nothing wrong.
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Old 03-01-2021, 09:49 AM   #2
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I just don't know that I'd put a 14-year-old BMW into the category of "more reliable" anything. You could get a 5 year old Escape or CX-5 for that price
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:01 AM   #3
Josh (PA)
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I just don't know that I'd put a 14-year-old BMW into the category of "more reliable" anything. You could get a 5 year old Escape or CX-5 for that price
Thats a very fair point, but my wife has an affinity for small german wagons. I will do a little CX-5 shopping.
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:14 AM   #4
John V
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I agree... if "more reliable" is the goal I would not swap a "known" E46 to an unknown E90.

The N52 in non-hi-performance trim is a dud of an engine, even compared to the M54 which is a dud in its own right. And stuff like the electric water pump and the poor serviceability of the N52 makes me really sour on them.
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:28 AM   #5
Nick M3
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Yeah... Auto N52 E90s were not nice cars to drive. And not particularly reliable.

The ~$10k that you're spending to switch cars isn't getting you much, particularly in the context of all the other available non-beater vehicles.
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:43 AM   #6
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Our '11 328iT was good unladen, but that was with a stick. It really is low on torque for a slushy if it will hang around at under 2.5krpm, especially if you load it up.
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Old 03-01-2021, 11:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh (PA) View Post

Over the weekend something hung up on it while my wife was driving it to get our daughter, who lives in downtown Philly. It pulled to the left and was shaking pretty badly. She had to pull over on I76 near Philly (super busy, kind of sketchy, not a good place for a woman alone on the side of the road).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh (PA) View Post

We will give our philly daughter the option of having the e46 for free if she takes over insurance. If that worked out, she'd keep it for a year (I'd still wrench on it to keep it running), then it would move to my son who will be 16.5 yrs old next summer.
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On the one hand, the e46 is death by 1000 paper cuts in that it seems like something is always naggingly wrong.

Josh, after reading the top quote and the bottom quote is the middle quote really an option ?
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Old 03-01-2021, 11:40 AM   #8
John V
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Our '11 328iT was good unladen, but that was with a stick. It really is low on torque for a slushy if it will hang around at under 2.5krpm, especially if you load it up.
I wonder if Matt's had bigger issues, then, because I think his was a 328 and it was unbearably slow with a stick.
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Old 03-01-2021, 11:41 AM   #9
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Josh, after reading the top quote and the bottom quote is the middle quote really an option ?
This is a good point. Either the E46 is good / safe enough to keep as a beater, or it's not.
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Old 03-01-2021, 11:48 AM   #10
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I wonder if Matt's had bigger issues, then, because I think his was a 328 and it was unbearably slow with a stick.
N52s are not unbearably slow within reasonable context. And they have a lot of potential, given that BMW sold them up to 268hp.

Headers and N54 manifold and tune is apparently worth 50whp on a 28i. And people seem to have no issues revving them well into the 7s.

Of the non-M E9xes, I'd definitely want an N54. But the N52s aren't terrible. It's still not a great package with that auto, though. I spent a lot of time in 325/328 loaners and didn't like them at all.
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