2003 to 2005 BMW 330CI or 325CI

Uber baghloli
Jun 3 19 Comments

How reliable are these years 3 series models if under 80k miles
Which one do you recommend 330 or 325.
I am open for 4 doors sedans as well.

I am not looking for newer models as i really like E46.


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TOP 19 Comments
  • Oracle iwantfang
    Don’t buy German cars man, they are full of maintenance issues
    Jun 3 0
  • Pandora Pkbu
    I've had 2006 328i. Up to this day, It remains my favorite car to drive for fun. Newer 3ers never got the same handling.

    As far as reliability, oh boy, get ready to spend big money. It was not reliable at all, I've had all sorts of problems. Mechanical, electronics, leaks. If you ever go to dealer for service be prepared to loose a small fortune.

    To give you some numbers:
    ~$2800 to replace front shocks. I ended up getting bilsteins that cost a fraction of that quote and come from the same factory and oem ones.

    Around 2k to replace the head radio unit.

    ~$200 to fix a flat tire. Why so expensive? The way to fix a flat on a BMW is to replace it with a new one. Stupid right? Run-flat tires they are called, come standard on all bimmers.

    Of course a sane person would never repair at a dealer and go somewhere else. But you still better diagnose the problem with the dealer, which means paying $300-400 each time you want to find out what's going on.
    Jun 3 4
    • Uber baghloli
      2006 is the first year of that generation
      I would assume 2004 and 2005 will be more reliable.
      Jun 4
    • Pandora Pkbu
      I mean bmw was never known to be a reliable car. Not Honda, Toyota level anyway. Sure 06 could have more issues than 05, but I won't expect 05 to be on par with Japanese cars.

      It seems like you're pretty sold on the idea of owning that car. If you have a bit of time and money, by all means go for it, it's a very fun car to drive.
      Jun 4
    • Uber baghloli
      Look, i already own japanese.
      I have avalon, rx 350, and land cruiser.
      Jun 4
    • Amazon / Eng Dude58
      The BMWs of that era can be very reliable. Just realize that they're getting old now and do preventative maintenance instead of waiting for a disaster on the side of the highway. For example I just replaced all of the cooling system on my 19-year-old, 50,000 mile E39. Not a thing was wrong with it but I know that the plastics get brittle over the two decades since it was built. So a few $100 in parts and I'm good to go for the next couple of decades. I had the work done for another couple hundred dollars because I would rather write a check than hang over the fender for a couple of hours.
      Jun 4
  • Amazon / Eng Dude58
    E46 rocks. The best looking of the three series. I have an e39 that is very similar but for the five series.

    Definitely get 2003 or later as the rear subframe is stronger. 330 better than 325 as the M54 3.0 is better than the M52 2.5 in many ways, not just displacement.

    If you can find a ZHP model. More fun than regular 330i but not crazy expensive like the M3. Many M goodies on the ZHP

    Rock on. The are many support groups to help you diagnose problems, advise preventative maintenance, help source parts.

    You can even buy several aftermarket Android head units to totally update the car's electronics for a few hundred dollars including phone pairing and a backup camera.

    These cars are very reliable and have fewer of the electronics as compared to newer cars that tend to provide more points of failure. The driving experience is more traditional BMW ultimate driving machine and less modern BMW which seems a bit more like a Toyota Avalon.

    Check out Mike Miller from the BMW car club of America. Also ask him for his long-term maintenance schedule to help your E46 live as long as possible.
    Jun 3 2
    • Uber baghloli
      I own an avalon. Since i dont drive it that much, hence i am going to ditch it in favor of 325 or 330. I have driven 325i, one of my relatives had it. It was fun. I think the 540i and e46 3 series has probably the best design. They havnt aged and still looks beautiful
      Jun 3
    • Samsung


      Stressed out but surviving
      They are pretty reliable cars without the earlier issue prone turbocharged models that came after and there are shops everywhere who can service your car on the cheap. Best is 330i if you can find one, esp in the coveted 6 spd manual
      Jun 5
  • Credit Karma mac83
    It is shitty car man. Buy new 240i
    Jun 3 1
    • Target / Eng tmDe33
      2 series is amazing
      Jun 3
  • ViaSat / Design mark1650
    What's the difference between a porcupine and a BMW?

    A porcupine has the pricks on the outside.
    Jun 4 0
  • Uber kettle
    I've had my my '01 330i since '03. Still primary car though I don't drive much. It's aging gracefully. At one point I did a cost per mile ownership calculation and it was not expensive. The hassle of maintaining is real but not necessarily expensive. It does still drive beautifully and I haven't bought a new car obviously. As to your question: I'd go 330. The engine is awesome. Also the stock wheels are still the best wheels on any BMW in the last 20 years IMO. Only car that is prettier is the 540i of the same era.
    Jun 3 0
  • Xilinx LKLA78
    I had 2 e46s, a 330ci manual and m3 manual. Both were very reliable. I sold the 2002 M3 in 2016, and it was still very reliable. However everything including routine maintenance and repairs are expensive. Tires were $300+per tire etc.
    Jun 3 0
  • Intel / Eng AQup26
    Between these 2, 330CI
    Jun 3 0
  • F5 Networks RRA
    They're both unreliable, OP.
    Jun 3 0
  • Uber baghloli
    I am not asking for commentary or your opinion about german cars
    Jun 3 0
  • Teledyne Technologies / Eng

    Teledyne Technologies Eng

    Nokia, Ericsson
    Check e46fanatics buying guide. I had a 2003 325i auto, it was nice, I did work on it a few weekends a year
    Jun 5 0
  • Amazon / Eng Dude58
    These are awesome cars, and while cheap to buy now they were expensive new and a bit more expensive to maintain, about 2-3x more expensive than maintaining a Toyota. Every thing costs more from 91+ gas to oil changes to tires to brakes to parts when one fails. On the plus side they have a loyal following and a cottage industry has sprung up to help maintain them. For example I just used Cheap-ABS.com when the ABS module on my E39 needed rebuilding
    Jun 3 0