If you’re like our own Josh Shirk, you have taken advantage of the extremely affordable E46 330ci prices the market has seen lately. While exceptional examples are still selling for north of $5,000, you can pick up an E46 330ci for much, much less if you don’t mind doing a bit of work. However, work you will need to do. Here’s our list of maintenance services and repairs you’ll want to tackle if you picked up a ‘bargain’ E46 330ci.
Oil and Filters
As with any new to you purchase, we suggest your first move be replacing your oil and filters. That’s just good practice. However, you can always go a step further. We recommend you give your M54B30 an excellent refresh. You should first do a LIQUI MOLY Engine Flush. Just pour it in your oil filler on the valve cover with the old oil still in there when your engine is at operating temperature, let your car run for 15 or 20 minutes, and then drain your old oil and engine flush as you would normally.
After your engine flush, with your old oil drained, install an ECS magnetic drain plug so any suspended metal particles that may be in your engine will be trapped there where they can’t harm anything.
Lastly, fill your BMW back up with fresh LIQUI MOLY Leichtlauf oil, CERATEC, and replace your filter with a HENGST filter for the best possible engine protection to ensure your investment stays happy and healthy.
You knew it was coming. BMW cooling systems are notoriously weak. To prevent any future headaches, just grab out Assembled by ECS Cooling Service Kit. Replace your radiator, surge tank, coolant hoses, thermostat, water pump, and coolant if you don’t know the service history of your particular car. Even if you do, its generally best to just go ahead and refresh everything at once in order to ensure you’re safe and sound.
Replacing your brake rotors, pads, fluid, and even lines are critical. You should have checked your pad and rotor wear upon purchase, but if you didn’t, fear not! We have plenty of Assembled by ECS brake service kits for you to pick. We also suggest that you go ahead and flush your brake fluid since that needs to be done every two years. We have a handy tool to help you do it by yourself, too. Our Schwaben Brake Pressure Bleeder will make your life much easier when bleeding your brakes at home.
If you want to step it up, Exact-Fit Stainless Steel Brake Lines will help improve pedal feel and will replace your old rubber hoses. Lastly, our CSL big-brake upgrade for the front is a sure-fire way to improve your braking performance. The larger brakes offer a greater surface area and the two-piece floating rotor design will cut down on unsprung rotational weight.
If you have a manual transmission-equipped E46 330ci, your shifter is probably a little sloppy after over a decade of driving. Refresh your shifter with one of our shifter rebuild service kits or upgrade to the Turner Motorsport Double-Adjustable Short Shift Kit for an incredibly engaging sifter setup.
Regardless of what you choose, you should also go ahead and do your transmission and differential fluid service.
For Automatic E46, you need the Assembled by ECS Automatic Transmission Service Kit
For a Manual E46, you’ll want the Manual Transmission Service Kit.
Whichever E46 transmission you have, our Differential Service Kit will have your diff feeling fresh and new.
Lastly, we think these Schwaben tools will help you maintain your E46 as you continue to drive it, build it, and take it to a track.
Schwaben Camshaft Alignment Tool – this is necessary for your VANOS services or if you want to remove your cylinder head.
Schwaben Fluid Extractor – if you want to make your coolant or oil service as easy as possible, the fluid extractor will help you complete a coolant or oil service without ever lifting your car to drain it. It actually removes more oil than simply draining, since you are creating a vacuum that pulls it out rather than leaving it in all the valleys and crevices of your oil pan.
Schwaben Professional BMW Scan Tool – whether your car came with a check engine light on or your BMW suddenly illuminated it, the Schwaben Scan Tool will give you the easy diagnostic capabilities you need to trace your issue. It has tons of features, like coding and diagnostics, that makes it more than just a simple code reader.
Schwaben Brake Pressure Bleeder – We already mentioned this one, but you need it, so we’re going to mention it again. This pressure bleeder will introduce pressure into your brake system so you can fill and pressurize it with no pesky air bubbles left in. This is also the easiest way to bleed your brakes by yourself since you simply introduce the pressure, it draws the fluid from the bottle reservoir, and then you go one-by-one to each caliper and open the bleed screw until new brake fluid and no bubbles spit out.
With that, your first basic maintenance services are handled! Your E46 may need more than this, like attention to the interior, exterior, suspension, wheels, or tires, but we’ll cover that in future articles. For now, take solace that all the mechanical bits should be refreshed and happy while your garage will have all the tools you need to care for it during your entire ownership.