Before we purchased our M3, we ran the photos and info by BimmerWorld’s James Clay. His opinion: If we didn’t purchase the car, he wanted dibs on it.
He also offered to inspect the car after we got it, so after picking up the car in Knoxville, Tennessee, we headed east to BimmerWorld’s HQ in Dublin, Virginia. The drive went flawless. The car cruises effortlessly. We were in love by the time we hit the interstate.
Upon arriving James put the car up on the lift.
Prognosis: The car looks really, really clean.
As expected, some of the suspension bushings were cracked. They weren’t horrible, but it was time to replace them.
What about the rear subframe mounts? We had heard the stories about cracked unibodies and assorted other horrors. From what he could see, the rear subframe connection points looked good. Cracked unibodies are usually accompanied by destroyed bushings and abused cars, he said. Our bushings looked good.
The differential was weeping a tiny bit, but the car came with new side seals. That should be an easy fix.
Okay, what about the rod bearings, another E46 M3 issue? BMW upgraded the rods in 2003 and, fortunately, James didn’t hear any weird noises from our car’s bottom end. Still, he recommended that we do an oil analysis. Once we have that data, we can go from there. We purchased the car knowing that we might face that job, so mentally we’re prepared for it.
We left BimmerWorld with replacement Powerflex bushings for the front control arms and rear trailing arms. Powerflex also offers inserts for the rear subframe bushings. If the stock bushings aren’t bad, these inserts should maintain the status quo and save the rear subframe mounts. Plus installing the inserts takes much less time than dropping the subframe to replace the bushings. James felt that our car was a good candidate for this fix.
Until we get home and change the oil, his advice: Wait until the oil temperatures reach 150 degrees before applying a full load. For oil, he recommends Red Line: 15W50 as the specified 10W60 is too thick. More on that in a bit.
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