Assuming all recall work has been done and the usual things are okay look
carefully at the service intervals. Around 14K miles is the norm, a lot less
will indicate a very hard life. Most importantly the running in oil service
must be within 250 miles of recommended change, if not BMW won't even sell
the car themselves as "approved".
Another favourite is wear on the drivers side bolster, the leather is very
soft and wears easily and check the interior trim, especially door handles
Mechanically brakes are expensive so check the discs (rotors?) aren't up for
replacement, pads are cheap. Clutches don't seem to be a big issue on the
whole but obviously any signs of slip could mean a big bill. Check when the
next inspection II is due, that can be expensive, look at the service
history and ring a dealer to find out whats next. It could be the reason the
car is being sold. Obvious one but tyres need looking at. You don;t want to
buy a car and find you've got a 3K bill for brakes and tyres in week one.
It's well known that the dealers are rubbish but that goes with any
BMW. Apparently it's part of the "character" of the M3s that they run
poorly well cold, clonk and clunk on gearchanges and for the diff to
groan. You have to ask yourself if you can live with that.
Yep, hand (parking?) brake is totally useless. Sounds like a bag of nails
until the engine has warmed up properly. Needs to run on super unleaded
(high octane) to stop pinking, rough idle and stuttery acceleration.
Drivechain is noisy at low speed and clonky diff is pretty standard. If its
an SMG it sounds like someones hitting the diff with a hammer when you
change full throttle in S6.
Ride is jiggly at best and harsh at worst and 19" rims are a real pain to
get refurbed when you scuff them. Insurance and depreciation are killers and
so is 17mpg, the servicing costs and the threat of blown engines.
But then you take it out for a blast on quiet roads and all these things
pale into insignificance.
Actually, depreciation is really low. These things hold their value well due
to their cult status. Last year I shopped for a 1998 M3 sedan and low miles
ones in nice shape still had asking prices in the low to mid 20's.
Ridiculous, I thought, and bought an E46 zhp instead...right before BMW did
the $4500 incentives on new 2005's, crashing the resale of E46 sedans.
Unless the buyer absolutely HAS to have an M3, he should look at Subaru
STI's. every bit as fast and good handling as any M3, much better shift
linkage, much cheaper, more reliable, but with nowhere near the resale.
Here's another: BMW has had issues with their differentials. I'm not sure
which platform each issue belongs with but since I plan to "enjoy" this car,
I have been thinking about the diff, the issues and what could happen. This
M3 is in great shape, definitely well cared for, has 56k and the 6 speed.
What are the warning signs of a diff with problems? Anything on the outside
of the case I should be looking for, besides the obvious?
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