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E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
11-07-2018, 06:45 PM
Post: #1
E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
Bought a beautiful 2003 model E46 318i (facelift) just over a year ago at a dealer. Full Service History. Probably paid a bit too much at R67k. Car was basically a 2 owner car, both previous owners probably doing long distance driving and really looking after the car. Bought the car with 232k km on odo and just after a service at Continental. Car now has 251k km showing. Due for a Service soon. I did however do the fresh oil (Castrol Edge) and filter thing on about 242k km. This 25k km Service intervals that BMW specifies just don't feel right too me!
Got a printout from Continental, and from that it clear the previous owner did not hesitate to replace rather than repair! Car really going well. No smoking/oil usage at all. The car too feels and drives like new! BMW quality that!!!
Fuel consumption is remarkably good, 7.4L/100km (13.5km/L) @ 140km/h. I even got that figure down to 6.9km/L (14.5km/L) @ 120km/h the other day! Town driving (small town, stop-start) is not so good at 10-11L/100km.
Remarkably good performance too, better than the pre-facelift E46 320i. Friend has one, and my 4 cylinder 2 litre engine definitely has more "go" than the 2 litre 6 cylinder engine with half the km reading mine has. The 2.2 litre engine in the facelift model is apparently a gem.
Getting to my question now! What kinda mileage can these 4 cylinder engines do before an overall? Mine is mostly used for the open road. Got a E12/8 518i as daily runner.[Image: 20171023-143_7731753429.jpg]
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12-07-2018, 07:53 AM
Post: #2
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
Nice write up.
And congrats man...

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12-07-2018, 10:51 AM
Post: #3
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
I'm glad you're doing well with the 318i. I've had one and from what others are experiencing, you should be experiencing the typical N42/N46 problems soon. These motors aren't reliable and require the typical N42 maintenance.
Furthermore, they're good engines. I could get similar fuel consumption with my car at that time.
Enjoy it.

HIS: E34 535i 1991, F30 320d 2015
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12-07-2018, 11:00 AM (This post was last modified: 12-07-2018 11:08 AM by KPM_330.)
Post: #4
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
Congrats, hope you have many miles of smiles. The E46 is a special car, enjoy!

From what I've heard, these aren't the most reliable engines with some common failure points that would need to be attended to, but some guys have been lucky with maintenance. At the age and mileage, some items to consider: the cooling system, oil gaskets (tappet cover, oil filter housing, sump), suspension parts (control arms especially) and pulleys/tensioners (with belts). Try and keep service intervals short, between 10k-15k I service mine every 10k.

@Ashiel has a high-miler facelift. Here is his thread: https://www.bmwfanatics.co.za/showthread.php?tid=69410

Current:

03' BMW 330i Sport (M) - Alpine White III

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17-07-2018, 10:02 AM
Post: #5
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
I had one, sold to my brother recently.

The one thing most people won't tell you, is the specific issues for the N42/46. These engines can go up to 500k KM easy.

The N42/46 inherits the same cooling system as the M54 6-cyl engines, so most of that part failures can happen too, but not 100% as catastrophic as on the M54 engines with their long heads.
Where these engines do have a specific issue, is the chain tensioner. The original tensioner will eventually lose tension, and then the chain starts running lose on the teeth, and eventually it will jump and you will have your catastrophic failure. It will also start running against the chain guides (plastic) and when the guides break, that will go into the rest of the engine and you can imagine what happen from there.

So preventative maintenance if you intend keeping long term:
1. If there is 1 thing you do, replace the chain tensioner with the new part. You can visually see if its the old or new one. The new one is bigger on the outside. Can be replaced easily DIY if you have a small torque wrench, and is prepared to remove some of the oil before doing it, so that you dont make a mess.
2. Chain and Chain guides eventually. For more, look at this blog: http://cpmcase.blogspot.com/2013/08/bmw-...nsion.html
3. Cooling system. Many things about this, but on this car the thermostat will eventually stay stuck open, ect. Usually if I lose coolant, 1st thing I do is get a pressure test done to find the leak and then replace faulty items in cooling system.

Above is all I really looked at on my 318i N42 that is specific to the N42. Other things, you can fix as they become a problem. You will also eventually get all the other E46 specific things, also more than enough guides for that on the internet.

The valvetronic engine was actually a very good step forward with the BMW engines for fuel consumption, much better than the stop-start for fuel saving in the newer cars.

Anyways, these are great cars, enjoy the ride Bluebiggrin

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01 BMW E46 330i 5-speed manual
03 BMW E46 318i N42 Manual
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Eben Bosman
17-07-2018, 10:54 PM
Post: #6
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
Don't trust that 25k km service interval. I've been told that half that is advisable.
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17-07-2018, 11:14 PM
Post: #7
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
(17-07-2018 10:54 PM)Jeremy.d Wrote:  Don't trust that 25k km service interval. I've been told that half that is advisable.

Did an oil (Castrol Edge) and filter change myself halfway through the 25k km service interval. Is due for a service in about 4k km and will then take the car to Continental in PE as both previous owners have done. The car is in exceptionally good condition for her age, really drives like a new car. Got an old E12/8 518i for town use.
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18-07-2018, 08:06 AM (This post was last modified: 18-07-2018 08:07 AM by Preshen14.)
Post: #8
RE: E46 facelift 318i reliability/issues?
My girlfriend's mum has an E46 318i that has 306 000km on it. She owns the car from brand new and has not even opened the head as yet, leave alone the bottom. She did not even do valve stem seals on it and its running perfect as we speak. No smoke, no oil, nothing.

So yes, there may be common problems on these motors but it is also how you maintain the vehicle. From reading what you have to say I am sure you will have trouble free and fun motoring, Enjoy & Congrads bud.

Current : 2004 E46 330i MtechII A/T
Stainless Exhaust | Decat | Coilovers

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