60k on a '98 car is LOW LOW mileage. Average mileage on cars
varies between 12-15k/year. Since the '98 was sold in '97, that
makes it 10 years old - and 120,000 to 150,000 miles would be
considered normal mileage on one.
IF you take care of the car - it will last a LONG time, it's
basically a bored-out 328i.. with better suspension. Weak points
are the cooling system - plan on replacing the radiator, water pump
and thermostat. Hoses last forever - plastic bits don't. No
other real problem points unless it's been owned by a kid who
beat on it. (NTTAWWT - but I wouldn't want it..) Brakes are
a bit more expensive than the 328 brakes, but no harder to DIY..
and figure at around 80,000 it would be a nice thing to have
new shocks/struts done.
60,000 on a '98 is not "high mileage."
Indeed, that kind of number is very desirable, as it is low mileage -- very
low. One should calculate a car's normal mileage at 12,000 per year for all
states except California, where the number is 15,000. A '98 model year car
is 9 years old today, give or take a few months. This car should have
108,000 (at 12k per year) to 135k (at 15k per year).
My '94 3 Series car lasted well over 225k miles before it met its demise in
an intesection at the hands of an ole woman with blue hair and a double-knit
pants suit. I see no reason for any well-loved BMW to get less than 300k
miles. That is, with proper care and maintenance, you should expect a life
that exceeds 300k miles.
Well, if I had an M<anything>, I would drive it in the same conservative
manner that I drive all of my other cars. I'm very confident that a "high
mileage" '98 that has 60k miles has been driven conservatively.
I have no problem estimating the life at somewhere in excess of 300k miles.
I do make a host of assumptions that may not be true for everybody, but they
would be true for me and I have to think that I am not the only sane person
with a fast car.
60k miles on a 10 year old car is not "medium - high mileage".
6k miles per year is very LOW.
With proper care the M3's engine can last as long as any BMW engine.
The question in any car buyer's mind should always be, how well was this
car treated by its prior owner(s)? M3's tend to attract younger, more
aggressive drivers. Just something to keep in mind...
I have 3 M3's I'm looking at, all 3 I did a Carfax on them.
The first one is a convertible soft top, 64k miles, but was in an
accident in the front (air bag deployed) and an accident in the rear
(no further info given in carfax report). The car was taken to a body
shop for evaluation after the fix (as reported on the carfax report).
It failed emissions one time. It later passed the day after (as
reported in carfax). I checked out the car at the dealership (local
trade at a Mazda dealership). Clean inside and out. However carfax
reports this has been through a few owners and sold a couple times at
auto auctions. The car looks fine inside and out, however the
accidents and multiple owners has me wary of buying it. The dealerhsip
is asking $14,700, with no warranty.
The second one is a 98 M3, convertible with the optional hard top, 64k
miles. Carfax reports no accidents, however from June 2003 to July
2006, the mileage went from 3,600 to 64,037.....that was a red light
to me to be wary and maybe avoid. The dealer is offering 30 days/3k
miles warranty. $14,995
The last one is a 98 M3 sedan, 66k miles, 1 owner (as reported by
carfax), no accidents, clean inside and out. 30 day/3k miles warranty.
The alternative option to a BMW M3 would be a 2001 Audi S4 hardtop,
47k miles, asking $21,000, from a local BMW dealership (was a trade
in). I didnt do a carfax on it yet, going to check it out this
I'm not into racing the car around hard but wanted to have the chance
to drive a "M3" sometime in my life without dishing out the $$$ for a
new one or at least drive a high performance car like the M3 or S4.
by the way, this would be a daily commuter, in the mid-Atlantic area
on the east coast of the US, where we get maybe like one major
snowstorm during the winter, some freezing rain in the winter,
ice....it rains average i would say...
appreaciate the comments.
I suspect there is a keystroke error here. But, assuming the car had less
than 4k miles when it was 5 years old, it went 20k miles per year for 3
years. My guess is that the car had 36k miles in '03. That makes the rest of
the miles work out okay.
This one looks like it deserves more of your time and effort.
It is most certainly NOT your error, sorry if it sounded like I said it was
your error. There was a keystroke error when the data was entered that you
If I am right, then this car sounds like a good one too, by the way.
did the 1998/99 M3 have engine problems that needed a recall? I saw
this article on MSN and will paraphrase what it said about the
"A general problem with this vehicle is the failure of the Intake Air
System. Problems due to leaks in the Intake Air System can result in a
poor running engine, and can cause the Malfunction Indicator Lamp to
illuminate. An occasional problem on this vehicle is the failure of
the Motronic Control Unit. Failure of the Motronic Control Unit is due
to water intrusion. This condition is identified in TSB #41 03 93. The
failures of the Intake Air System are not specific to any one part, so
the $ cost of repairs will vary. The cost to repair the Motronic
Control Unit is estimated at $1075 for parts and $26 for labor. All
prices are estimates based on $65 per flat rate hour and do not
include diagnostic time or any applicable sales tax."
here is the original article:
As with lots of things on MSN - it's inaccurate. The first year of the
E36 body style had problems with leakage into the ECU compartment under
the hood causing failure of the DME (motronic). This was fixed around
1993 or so..
As far as general failures of the Intake Air System - not common at all
unless someone installed a pieceofshit K&N filter - which contaminates
What you do watch for is cooling system problems - these are much more
common on this year/model - but can be preventively avoided by replacing
the radiator and water pump before they fail.
OK, pass on that one. You seem to have sopme better options (below)
I would not be alarmed at a car gaining 60k miles in 3 years. It only
means it was used as a commuter. I used to put 30k a year on my cars
when I was commuting via the interstate. Highways miles are the easiest
on the car.
I would go with this one because it is a sedan. I prefer these, though
they are not as sporty as the coupes. To me with the 4 door M3 you get
the best of both worlds (so long as it is NOT an automatic)
I'm not a big Audi fan. Never have been, never will be. Can't really
comment on the proposed S4
Although I mentioned that I would not shy away from one if the mileage
was commuter highway mileage, I would not intentionally buy an M3 as a
commuter car, unless your commute is a rural/suburban one. If you will
be driving in the city much the M3 is not the best tool, IMO.
I'd like an M3 as a second car and maybe a 530i w/ steptronic for the
daily commute. YMMV
If you read the technical Q/A column in The Roundel (club magazine of BMW
CCA http://www.bmwcca.org /) regularly, you will read that the columnist, a
very experienced independent BMW mechanic of remarkable candor about his
beloved brand, has a pretty low opinion of E36's. He says that the problem
was that the E36 was BMW's experiment at seeing how much they could shave in
terms of costs in building a small sedan and still get away with it. The
problem is that in some areas, that did not work and the cars are
trouble-prone. The rear shock tower tear-away is a classic example, as is
the silly plastic water pump impeller. The latter was dealt with by a recall
and redesign, the former was never dealt with in the E36 lifetime. So owners
get to deal with it. My recollection is fuzzy on this, but I think that the
M3's may have been reinforced, so the strut problem may not exist in that
He recommends the E46 as a better design, although not without its own
Before you buy the E36 M3, go try an E46 ZHP. Overall a better car and
extremely close to the E36 M3 in performance. I looked at a pristine 98 M3
with 29,000 miles when I was shopping two years ago and ended up getting a
2003 ZHP instead. There was little difference in acceleration/handling, and
the E46 had much better leg room for the driver.
Mike Miller is an ATTORNEY who thinks he knows about cars. He's not a
terribly successful attorney since he's still driving an E36.
As usual - he's wrong. There are quality problems with the E36 (the
plastic in the interior is troublesome around the glove-box door) - but
the driving force for most of what he considers economy moves was likely
weight. As safety engineering increases weight in some part of the car,
other parts are slimmed down in an attempt to keep from becoming grossly
Which has also been seen in the Z3 and now the E46 series. It's no new
news, and the E46 is not immune from it. The majority of cars that were
damaged had aftermarket suspension that cause stress on the suspension
mounting points that wasn't supposed to be there. On the Z3-Coupe (Z3
and M-Coupe) there is another problem - mostly caused by the increase in
power being transferred to the mounting points of the rear-differential.
The metal there simply wasn't strong enough.
I'm confused - neither of these was the subject of a "recall" and
redesign. Not even a BMW "campaign"..
It still exists on the E36/M3 - except the convertible, which was
reinforced to strengthen the body and resist twist. There are
double-and-triple layers of steel at those mounting points on the
convertible where single layer or at best - double was used on the coupe
Other than that - you're more or less right. I've owned both - and
prefer the E46 over the E36.. but the E36 was a pretty outstanding ride
in it's day and is still a fun car today.
Uh, the plastic impeller WAS a problem and there` was a recall/redesign.
When I was shopping for an E36 M3 I read a Road & Track Used Car Classic
piece and they said to make sure that if you bought one it had had` the
recall done or had the newer design.
If you are right about Mike Miller being an attorney, good for him, that
just makes the guy even more impressive. You look at the column he writes
each month, the number of questions he answers, the number of repeat (happy)
readers he helps...well, he clearly knows his stuff and has access to BMW
I doubt that he owns an E36 (based on his fairly low view of the series)
since recently he's mentioned that he bought an E46 325 coupe, new. To
paraphrase your term, as usual, you are wrong.
Man, you are on a roll. The stuff about the sub-frame tear being mostly on
modified cars is simply not true. There is a company that makes a business
of selling repair kits for this flaw. There was something about them in a
recent Roundel. They have done many cars (and yes early and maybe later
E46's do have it, too) and the link to customer mods does not exist.
Finally, never said an E36 was not a fun ride. It is, but anyone who wants
one should know that it has issues to watch out for and the E46 has some
advantages (and its own issues, granted).
I have been lucky with my E46 zhp and so far only one recall and a
replacement of the stupid alcantara steering wheel (free) has been required.
I know about the sun-roof issue (don't use it) and under-designed window
winders (minimize use). I cross my fingers about the shock mounts hoping
that mine is recent enough to not be affected. Hope it stays reliable, with
good care, until Bangle retires to that nursing home in Arizona and a
tasteful stylist takes over (Please God).
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