E46 ///M3 FAQ by loki

Visit FAQ sponsor evosport for all your M3 aftermarket needs!

What can you get for your M3 from evosport? Click here!

Give your OEM NAV unit the gift of TV and other video options from the fine folks at NAV-TV.com!


Hopefully this FAQ will address most of the questions that are asked on a regular basis concerning the new BMW E46 M3 including options, colors, problems, etc. If you have any corrections or additions, feel free to email them to me.

Recent Updates (10.19.02)

Jason's M3 Engine Failure Website

Misc Articles and links

 M3 Photo/Video Links

Introduction / Changes

Q: What is an E46?

A: Each BMW body style is assigned a two digit number preceeded by "E". The "E" stands for "Entwicklung", the German word for development. The E46 is the body style designation for:


Q: What are the official HP/Torque numbers?

A: U.S. Spec M3's are rated at 333hp@7900rpm and 262lb/ft of torque@4900rpm. (SAE)

Euro Spec M3's are rated at 343hp@7900rpm and 269lb/ft of torque@4900rpm (DIN)

 The discrepancy in HP figures is based on 2 things, DIN-to-SAE conversion and the variation between Euro and US exhaust systems.


Q: What will change in MY2002?

A. MY2002 Option list has been released.

Differences include:

MY2002 cars wil begin production on 9/01, unfortunately still absent is two-tone leather interior (ala M5), alternative interior trim, and optional 19" wheels.


Q: What is SMG II?

A: SMG II (known as Sequential M Gertribe/Gearbox) is the successor to the original SMG option available on Euro-spec e36 M3's. BMW has taken the criticism on the original system and have rebuilt it to be more robust in every way over their first sequential transmission. Essentially it's a clutchless manual and has no torque-converter like a typical automatic/steptronic transmission. Similar to Ferrari's F1 system, the driver will have 2 paddles behind steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o'clock for upshifting and downshifting. A stick will be present where the 6-speed manual would typically be thus allowing the driver to select a full automatic shifting mode, manual shifting mode or reverse. A button below that will offer 11 different shifting characteristics you can choose from given any situation.

Note: Rumor has it that SMGII in the US will be offered with all 11modes for SMGII including S6 w/80ms shifts, however Launch Control, available everywhere else, will not be present.

BMW also released a brochure on SMG II as well, you can find a scanned version of that on DC's website.



Q: What about the M3 GTR/Lightweight/CLS?

A: As some of you might know, BMW is racing a new V8 M3 in the LeMans series this year and it utilizes a new 4.0L V8 engine. Due to LeMans ruling BMWAG needs to produce a limited number of these cars to qualify the vehicle for racing purposes.

UPDATE: The M3 CSL has been announced and displayed at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show, here are preliminary specs and photos:


Q: What about Chrome Shadow Exterior Paint?

A: The Chrome Shadow paint job shown on the M3 during it's original debut and subsequent Autoshow tours was specially developed and rumored to cost BMW $20,000. I have seen auto shows featuring the entire BMW line painted in this color so it's not a one off process. Currently there are no plans to make this color available for any of the BMW cars, however it is rumored that a very similar (and cheaper) color might be offered since there has been such a positive response to the Chrome Shadow color. One board member tracked down the manufacturer of the color but I've yet hear any results of the find, click HERE to see the thread. Also, should you be able to custom order a paint offered on another BMW, you might also want to check out a new Z3 color called "Sterling Gray" which has some properties similar to Chrome Shadow.


Pricing / Ordering

Q: What's the availability of the M3?

A: The e46 M3 is a high demand car. If you're not on a dealer's list right now and want to get on one at MSRP, you are looking at a 1-2 year wait depending on dealer size/allocation and policy. Currently some dealers are buying them at a premium from other dealerships and reselling them at higher prices, in this case a list may not be in effect and M3's can be had immediately for a premium. I suggest researching availability in your area by calling your local dealerships and asking how many they've been allocated per month thus far (to gauge when you might get one), and their pricing policy (preferrably at least MSRP). Alternatively there have been a number of M3's available in for sale at such places like the autotrader should you not be able to wait, be weary if it has been one of the Laguna Seca Blue demo cars or has alot of miles on it (100+), breaking in an engine is very important and the more miles it has, the less you may be sure how it was driven.



Q: What is a dealer allocation?

A: In brief (there's a more detailed explanation below) Every month, BMW dealers get a certain amount of cars they can "build" per month. Dealer allocations for the 46 M3 range from 3-5 for larger dealerships, 1-2 for medium dealerships, and smaller ones might see 1 every few months. Since production has been in effect for the past 3 months, knowing what your dealership has averaged over that time will give you a good estimate on when you would expect you car based on your "number" on their waiting list. Typically dealer allocations are released in the 4th week of every month and reflect allocations 2 months in advance (i.e. March allocation sheets reflect July builds/August deliveries).


Q: I paid $xx,xxx for my car. Did I pay a good price?

A: Instead of asking yourself (or asking bimmer.org) if xx,xxx was a good price, calculate what you paid over invoice. Make sure to include the invoice price on all of your options. A "good deal" on a "fairly common" car is $1500-2500 over invoice. On brand new models or rarer cars, MSRP may be considered all you can get. Click HERE for the official BMWNA pricing, or HERE for MSRP and Dealer Invoice pricing.


Q: How should I negotiate prices for a car?

A: Use the Rizzo Method! Click here for details.


Q: Does the dealer really pay the invoice price?

A: BMW dealers typically DO pay the invoice price. At the end of the month, they get a "dealer holdback" (cash back from BMW) based on their CSI (customer service index). Click HERE for the dealer invoice list on the M3 and it's options.


Q: I'm interested in European delivery. Where can I find more information on it?

A: Click HERE for cpick's European Delivery FAQ. Currently M3's are not eligible for the European discount as are other e46 3 series models, however they are available for European Delivery should you wish to do so at no discount.


Q: My dealer is trying to charge me extra fees. Is this a BMW policy?

A: If the dealer is in a major metropolitan area, they must charge you a "MACO" or "DAG" fee. This covers local advertising fees, and is usually $200-$500. Any other fees that you are getting charged for are being charged by the dealer, and are most likely 100% profit. Now that the M3's have been released in the U.S., "market adjustments" have been very common. These is NOT BMW policy and is merely the greed of the dealer to make more money on such a high demand car. Typical price gouging is currently anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. Bottom line, shop around.


Q: Is there anything I should insist on before signing the papers?

A: Floormats! E46s do not come with them.. and they cost around $80-100. Insist that your dealer include them. (some dealers DO include them automatically)


Q: Is there any type of pick up checklist?

A: Here's Jerry's very extensive E46 pickup checklist!


Q: Is the BMW Financial Services finance rate negotiable?

A: There is a "buy" rate and a "sell" rate in automotive financing. The buy rate varies by lender and can be influenced by (among other things)applicant's previous credit history, credit bureau "risk score", down payment (loan-to-value ratio), ...etc. The dealer earns "finance reserve" on the point spread between the bank's buy rate and the rate at which the deal is written.


Q: How do I calculate my own lease payment?

The depreciation calculation is simply obtained by first calculating the residual - multiply the M.S.R.P. by the published percentage offered by the leasing company (e.g. BMWFS 65% for 15k/yr 328i)... Next, subtract the residual from the adjusted cap cost which is the "selling price" (+) the bank fee and luxury tax (if applicable)(-)any cap reduction. Then simply divide that amount by the term of the lease to obtain the "monthly" depreciation.

The "rent charge" calculation is also very simple. Just add the adjusted cap cost and the residual, and multiply that sum by the lease money factor(e.g. .00305). That product is the monthly rent charge. Now add the depreciation and the rent and you have the base monthly payment! All that's left is the monthly tax, based on your county of residence.

Carlos Perez wrote this Excel spreadsheet to calculate it for you: lease.xls. Thanks Carlos!


Q: When a car a deal is reached and a car is ordered, what is the typical down payment ?

A: The average down payment is either $500 or $1000. The dealership would like to get $1000 but in almost all cases will accept a check for $500. Repeat customers at certain dealerships have been known to put nothing down but this is the exception rather than the rule. Make sure the deposit is refundable and always get your agreements in writing!


Q: What is the corporate rebate program?

A: The corporate rebate is a program that BMW offers to employees of companies who participate in the program. When the employee buys or leases a new BMW, he/she will receive the rebate.

Note: BMW is discontinuing the Corporate Rebate program. It will NOT be valid for ANY 2001 model cars or any 2000 model cars sold after 10/31/2000.


Q: What is the BMWCCA rebate program?

A: The BMW Car Club of America discount is generally the same amount as the Corporate Discount. They cannot be combined. You must be a member of the BMWCCA for one year previous to buying the car to get your discount. The CCA costs $35/year to join and includes a subscription to their magazine, Roundel. Membership also qualifies you to receive up to a 20% discount on parts and accessories from certain dealers. Click here to be taken to www.bmwcca.org. Currently there are no rebates on the e46 M3 through BMWCCA..


Q: I hear that people in other countries (Canada, Germany) can get BMWs with whatever option combinations they want. Can I get this here?

A: Currently BMWNA is not allowing anyone to customize their M3s by what is available in other countries or through BMW Individual. Current options available in other countries and not in the US include, 19" wheels, Topaz exterior color, Laguna Seca Blue interior, and Kiwi interior. Rumor has it that custom orders will be available later this year when production hits it's stride (possible MY'02 addition?).


Q: Should I get an extended warranty? (and other warranty questions)

A: 1) how much does the extended warranty cost? Is the price negotiable?

"Service contracts" vary in price according to length and level of coverage, as well as by "deductible". Most definitely, the price is negotiable. The cost of the service contract is also dependent on who the provider is.

2) Can I buy the policy through any dealer or only from the dealer that I bought the car from?

Service contracts can be purchased from any dealer...

3) Can I get repairs done at any dealer in the country?

Generally speaking, the repair doesn't even have to be performed by a "dealer" per se... The only requirement (in most cases) is that the repair is performed by a reputable licensed repair facility... As a general rule, "deductibles" are usually lower, or are waived if the repair is performed by the selling dealer.

4) Is the policy underwritten by a 3rd party or BMW?

Unfortunately, service contracts for BMW's are only (at this time) administered by a 3rd party... :-(

5) What happens if this third party company goes bankrupt, does the dealership take over the policy?

Unfortunately, no... If the company goes bankrupt, you will probably lose your money... This has happened before. Make sure that you select a solid one.

6) How long do you have after buying the car to decide on buying the extended warranty?

You have up until there is a minmum of 1 month, *and* 1,000 miles remaining on the original factory warranty...

7) Is the only variable between buying the policy now instead of at the end of the allowable period the possibility that the price of the policy might go up? If so, how much have prices been going up recently.

The advantage of getting one early is obviously financial... If you buy one with the car, the cost can be included (i.e. financed) right in with the rest of the deal, and included in your monthly payments. There is also the issue of an "eligibility surcharge" that gets applied at various levels or intervals... Lastly, they do go up in price regularly... The last price increase I saw was on the order of several hundred dollars... Because service contracts are "transferable", and build "future value" it may make sense for some buyers to get one. If you are going to get one, the sooner the better... One thing is a given fact: they will go up in price... Think of them as a hedge against inflation. "Lock-in" future repairs at today's costs...

The bottom line is that if you plan on keeping the car for a long time (beyond the 4-year factory warranty period), you might want to look into this further.
-- Jon Shafer

Q: What does it mean to order a car? How does it work? What happens at my dealer/at BMW in Germany when I order a car?

A: Technically, (almost, see * below) all cars are "ordered" cars. All BMW dealers are allocated a certain number of production slots for their cars.

Initially, the dealer orders each car with a set of options/color combinations that they think will be popular and sell well. Up to a certain point in time before the car is made, the specs on the car are still fully changeable (cf list of status codes here). This is where the "ordering process" fits in.

Customer arrives at dealer with a certain set of options/color combos in mind, and there just aren't cars that are close enough to your specs that are available, either on the lot, as dealer trades, or already ordered and coming to the dealer soon, etc. What the dealer does is to *change* the options they previously ordered on one of their allocated production slots to the exact specs that the customer wants. Ideally, this would be the next available production slot that is still changeable, and that has not yet been sold to someone else who also ordered a car. At times of very high demand, though (like when the E46 was first introduced), production slots were sold out for several months into the future.

So now there is a car scheduled for production with exactly the set of options/colors/etc. that you want. The production slot on the dealer's allocation list is uniquely identified by its "production number". WHEN WRITING YOUR DEPOSIT CHECK TO THE DEALER, WRITE THE PRODUCTION NUMBER ON THE CHECK! This now means that there's a production slot (and hence a car) "with your name on it".

Before the car is built, the dealer will be able to tell you in which week of the calendar year the car will be produced, but not the day of the week. A couple of days before the car is produced, they should be able to tell you teh VIN, and once it has been made, they should be able to tell you the exact production date.

After the car has been made, it might have to wait a couple of days at the factory to be put on a train, which takes it to Bremerhaven, where it will be loaded onto a ship (probably Wallenius) to be taken to the US. (or you could choose European Delivery.)

Once your car has been placed on a ship, your dealer should be able to tell you the name of the vessel. You can then see when that vessel will arrive by going to Wallenius's vessel scehdule web page. Note: Occasionally Wallenius will 'rent' space on other non-Wallenius ships to keep up with demand. Email Wallenius with your VIN# if you can't seem to find your ship and they can give you arrival details.

If you are on the West coast, your car will arrive at Port Hueneme in Oxnard, CA. If you are on the East coast, there are a few different ports it can arrive at. Please check Wallenius's web page for a list.

After it arrives at the dock, it is taken to the VPC (Vehicle Processing Center). The time it spends at the VPC depends on the flow (volume) of cars arriving. Sometimes, a ship comes in with a light load, and the V.P.C. can crank them out in a day or two... On the other hand, it can take as long as a week if a couple ships arrive close together. Most importantly, a "sold order" is marked status code priority #1, which in plain English means get this one to the dealer A.S.A.P.

It will be approximately 40 days from shipping date to delivery date if you are on the West coast and 30 days if you are on the East coast.

Here are some related links you may find interesting:

VonBimmerhead's BMW VPC pictures!

* The exception here are the "seed units" of a brand new model, where BMW will send a certain number of cars with configurations they choose to the dealers so that every dealer has one or two of the latest and greatest model to let people test drive them before the new model becomes widely available. As of October 1999, the next BMW models for which dealers are scheduled to receive "seed units" are the X5.

 Bruce from bimmer.org also mentions the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law that governs consumer product warranties. You can read more about it at these links:

Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

Cartalk dicussion on the use of aftermarket parts and Factory Warranty


Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of ordering a car?

A: Advantages:


Click HERE for ordering options for the e46 M3 Coupe & Cabriolet.

(note: Steel Grey Metallic was a last minute added exterior color and can be ordered with Gray, Black or Imola Red Leather Interior)


Q: Is there any way to 'track' where my car is without calling my dealer?

A: Yes. Call or visit your BMW Center and ask them to see a copy of their "DCS2000 Vehicle Availability Report." Your car should be easy to spot on the list. Production Status Code number (if #150, then they should be able to provide you with the last 7 digits of the VIN), production number, and, of course your name together with order priority code (should be #1=Sold!!). They should be able to print this out for you. The availability report is updated on a daily basis, 6 days a week. You can also check your status through BMWNA's customer service number (1-800-831-1117, option #3) or via the "Owners Circle" on BMW's website. You will need the "Production Number" of your ordered car for either one. Of note, the Owners Circle website often is lagging behind calling BMWNA directly.

1-800-831-1117, option #3



Q: What is Car / Key Memory and how do I set it?

A: Car and Key Memory is a group of preferences programmed by the dealer upon delivery of your vehicle. The dealer should give you a form to fill out when you pick up your car (or perhaps a day or two in advance) that you use to indicate your preferences for various settings. These can only be set by the dealer, but you can return to the dealer to have them changed as often as you want. Note that the initial setting incurrs no additional cost, but the dealer may charge you for changes made later. For a list of car/key options, click HERE.

Here is an updated version of the list.


Q: I have my VIN. What does it mean?

A: The VIN consists of 17 digits.















United States model


Restraint System

3 or 4

Dual, de-powered airbags


Check digit


Model year




Assembly plant














Serial number

6 digit serial number

M3 Photo gallery:

Here is a list of photo albums people have posted to the internet. I tried to pick a variety of color combinations represented in clear, well taken photos. Hopefully this will cut down on the "post pictures of such and such" we often see on the boards. Cars are listed by Exterior/Interior colors. More will be added as I find them.

Carbon Black:

Carbon Black/Laguna Seca Blue Coupe

Carbon Black/Cinnamon Cab 2

Carbon Black/Black Coupe http://www.isc-inc.net/m3.htm

Carbon Black/Cinnamon Cab 1

Carbon Black/Imola Coupe

Carbon Black/Black Cab

Carbon Black/Black Coupe

Titanium Silver

Ti-Silver/Imola w/BBS RCs

Ti-Silver/Cinnamon Coupe (more)

Ti-Silver/Gray Cab

TiSilver/Black w/19" OEM wheels (evopsort)

Ti-Silver/Black SMGII cab pics

Ti-Silver/Black w/19" BBS LMs

Ti-Silver/Cinnamon Cab

Ti-Silver/Black Coupe w/18% tint

Ti-Silver/Imola Coupe

Ti-Silver/Black Coupe

Hamann'd Ti-Silver/Black Coupe

Phoenix Yellow

Hamann Phoenix Yellow M3 Conv

Phoenix Yellow/Imola Red Coupe (more)

Phoenix Yellow/Kiwi Coupe

Phoenix Yellow/LSB Coupe (PIC1/PIC2)

Topaz Blue

Topaz /Gray Coupe

Topaz/LSB M3 w/19" OEM Wheels

Topaz Blue/Black Coupe

Topaz/Cinnamon Coupe

Topaz/Black Coupe

Topaz Blue/Gray Coupe

Topaz/Black Coupe w/SMGII (Euro model)

Topaz Blue/Cloth Coupe

Topaz Blue/Black w/OEM Aerokit wing and SSR GT3s

Topaz Blue/Gray SMGII Coupe

Steel Gray

Steel Gray/Imola Red Coupe w/SMGII

Steel Gray/Black Cab

Steel Gray/Black Coupe

Steel Gray/Black Coupe

Steel Gray/Cinnamon Cab

Jet Black

Jet Black/Imola Red Coupe w/e46 3 series OEM spoiler

Jet Black/Black Coupe 1

Hartge JetBlack/Black M3/H50 Convertible

Jet Black/Imola w/19" SSR GT3s

Jet Black/Black Coupe 2

Jet Black/Cinnamon Coupe

G Power's Jet Black/Imola Coupe

Jet Black/Black Coupe 3

Jet Black/Black Coupe 4

Imola Red

evosport's Imola/Black e46 M3

Imola Red/Imola Red Coupe

Imola Red/Black Cloth Inserts Coupe

Imola Red/Black Coupe 1

Imola Red/Black Coupe 2

Imola Red/Black Coupe 3 (yahoo pics)

Imola Red/Black w/HRE 540's

Oxford Green II

Oxford Green II/Cinnamon Coupe

Oxford Green II/Black Coupe

Alpine White

Alpine White/Black Coupe

Alpine White/Imola Red Coupe

Alpine White M3 w/17" winter tire setup

Alpine White/Black Coupe @ delivery

Alpine White/Black Coupe w/Alcantara

Alpine White/Imola Cab w/hardtop & SMGII

Laguna Seca Blue

Laguna Seca Blue/Grey Cab

Laguna Seca Blue/Gray Coupe

LSB/Gray Coupe w/Porsche GT3 seats

Laguna Seca Blue/Black SMGII Coupe

LSB/Black coupe w/SSR GT3's

Estoril Blue

Estorial Blue/Black Coupe

Estoril Blue/Black Coupe

Electric Red

Electric Red/Black coupe pics

Sterling Gray

Sterling Gray/Imola SMGII Coupe

Sterling Gray vs. Steel Gray

Avus Blue

Avus Blue/Black pics (more)

Multi-car Albums

Topaz/Black, Carbon Black/Black '02 Euro cars with new NAV, 19", SMG, Titan Trim.

PY/Blk Coupe, Alpine White/Blk Cab

BMWworld's wallpaper collection

Pics and Videos of Phoenix Yellow/Steel Gray

Carbon Black & Alpine White Coupe pics

Steve Beatty's Essen Motorshow pics

PY/Blk, Ti-Silver/Imola, Jet Black/Imola Coupes


Two-tone Black/Gray interior in coupe pics (more) (name)


AC Schnitzer S4 Sport @ IAA

Bertlesmann M3 cover

Hamann Laguna Seca II @ IAA

BMW Performance Center Delivery

Racing Dynamic's M3 @ IAA


Misc Articles

SMGII/PDC no extra cost article

Pics of Euro cross-drilled rotors

BMW CAR ACS S3 Sport review

Spartanburg delivery (Silver/Gray M3)

(reference) M5 Sterling Gray pics

Variety of aftermarket & OEM installs on TiSilver M3

AA M3 Exhaust

Personal review and pictures of H&R springs

Article on upcoming M3 CSL

Personal review and pictures of Eibach springs

Floorjack recommendations

Misc owner posted pictures

Hamann Laguna Seca II

Painted Kidney Grill Comparison

EVO blurb on M3 CSL

Tour of the VPC

Edmunds blurb on M3 CSL

BMW OEM 19" vs OEM 18" wheels (evosport)


ACS strut tower bar (evosport)

another successful M3 custom color order

M3 demo tent photo

M3 Touring photoshop picture

SMGII PDF (in german)

AutoExpress M3 GTR article

News on Dinan M3 Supercharger Kit

M3 GTR type kit by FloBmann Auto Design

Preliminary Dinan Supercharger news

M3 winter wheel and tire option thread (bmwm5.com)

M3 winter wheel and tire option thread (bimmer.org)

Alternative CD-Changer install

H&R coilover install on black M3

Dec Bimmer article on SMG II

Larbear's Brembo Brake thread

Anthracite/Cloth mixed interior (3 series)

Remus Exhaust on LSB Coupe

2002 M3 review by Canadian Driver

Bavarian Autosport Show 'n Shine M3 Pics

Alternative way to Dyno the E46 M3

Thread concerning SMGII in the U.S.

Pics of Supersprint Exhaust w/RS tips

M3 Keychain

Trip to Germany (part 1)

Contact # for US representative in Germany

Interior Cloth pic

Road & Track SMGII article

SMGII review from BMWnation

Stock H/K sub compared to aftermarket

Baby tether replacements

ACS Strut Tower Brace pics on Ti-Si

New Torx bolts for differential

ACS Aluminum Pedals

ACS Exhaust on Alpine White Coupe

Pic of UUC clutchstop

Bumper plugs for drilled front bumpers

Contact info for Bertelsmann M3 Car Cover

Launch Control available in US models (more) (more)

M3 Video Links:

Speedvision (wmv)

AutoLive (French/mpg)

Top Gear (Tiff Needle/mpg) HIRES 182mb / LORES 70mb

M3 Review (French/avi)

Motorweek (wmv)

M3 Review (Swedish/mpg)

M3 starting up, revving hard and turning off. (mpg)

BMWFILMS (no M3s but definitely worth watching!)

Best Motoring (in car footage)

Autocar SMG article

Motorweek review of M3/M3 Cab (mpg)

M3 CSL realvideo clip (realplayer)

Apina vs. H50 vs. M3 (mpg)

Edmunds M3 CSL VideoClip

Kelleners Exhaust clips

M3 CSL videoclip

BMW's Euro e46 M3 Coupe Website (includes photo gallery and original M3 flash teaser)

BMW North Amercia's M3 Coupe Page

BMW North America's M3 Convertible Page

BMW's e46 M3 Screensaver (mac/pc)


Q: What is the best product to use on leather?

A: Lexol makes a great leather cleaner and a leather conditioner. You can see many cleaning tips at Car Care Online.com and Autopia Car Care.


Q: How can I clean scuff marks off of my black leather?

A: Michael "IronMike" Huoh on A4.ORG discovered that you can mix lexol with a brand of shoe polish that will make black leather look new again. View this entry on the A4 FAQ.


Q: Ugh! Why are my wheels getting so dirty?

A: It is common for E46's to "shed" lots of brake dust. Some of us are out there cleaning our rims once or twice a week. If you wax your rims the same way you wax the rest of your car, it will be a lot easier to clean them.

The following links are text written by Thomas Nast. Many of people consider this the "bible" of car detailing techniques using Meguiars products.




Q: What are the details of the break-in period?

A: You should not exceed 5500RPM or 105MPH for the first 1200 miles. Try not to use cruise control and vary your speeds. Try to use engine braking as much as possible, this time is a good excuse to explore your favorite mountain roads!


Q: Should I really wait 15,000 miles before my first oil change like BMW recommends?

A: There has been much debate on this issue. Many believe that the 15,000 mile interval was more of a marketing move than an engineering move. Others have suggested that today's synthetic oil really can effectively lubricate the engine for 15,000 miles. All scheduled oil changes are free up to the 45,000 mile mark. If you decide to have your dealer perform a non-scheduled oil change (at the 7500 mile mark, for example), it will probably cost you $50-60. Make sure to tell your dealer NOT to reset the service indicator.

Late-breaking news... BMW has acknowledged that the present oil filter used in the E46 model vehicles (as well as other model and engines) will not necessarily last the desired 15,000 miles as required for extended oil service changes.

The filter's filtering media has been known to become brittle and break apart due to the heat and pressure generated over time. This allows pieces of the filter media to be passed throughout the engine's lubrication system as well as possibly clog the smaller oil passages and contaminate the engine oil itself. Also, it had been noted that quite often the engine's oil looked to be far less than desireable at 15,000 miles when the filter failed due to the continued passing of the media itself and because there was no filtering of the oil to remove the normal contaminates found in the engine's oil.

BMW mechanics have reported this information to the "Round Table" (a BMW information sharing team) that this is a commonly seen problem.

BMW has a new filter which replaces this previously used filter. This new BMW filter is designed to last the required 15,000 miles without failing thereby offering protection for the extended oil service schedule changes of 15,000 miles.

Next time you go in for your oil service, make sure your service department is aware of the new oil filter.

Q: What type of oil should I use?

A: Castrol TWS Motorsport 10W-60 Synthetic, and Castrol Formula RS 10W-60* Synthetic Oils





Q: Help! I can't find the oil filter!

A: If you open up the hood, you will see a cap labeled "25 nm" (this is the torque setting for the 12mm bolt) near the front of the car staring up at you. Unscrew it and you will find the filter. You should always buy an OEM oil filter from your BMW dealer. It will come with a required O-ring.


Q: How do I adjust the height of my headlights?

A: Headlight height adjustment article


Q: Where can I get an E46 repair manual?

A:For a few years BMW published most of their repair literature on microfiche; now it's on CD. To use the CDs, you need an IBM PC compatible. The repair manual CD (for E36, E38, E39, and E46) is called the Technical Information Systems CD, costs about $110, and contains repair information, technical data, torque data, and a complete up-to-date collection of bulletins. The repair instructions include instructions for scheduled maintenance procedures. They are are overall quite comprehensive and are well illustrated, but they do assume basic proficiency. The software allows you to print out instructions, so you don't need to keep a PC in the garage.

The software's interface isn't that good, but once you get used to it and to where various information is located, it's good enough.

Ordering information Part Number TIS. Requires 486 or higher Windows 3.X OR 95 Computer, CD Rom drive, 4MB RAM, 10MB free hard drive space.

The new source for these CDs is Central Letter Shop, 800.695.0079 (voice), 877.695.0079 (fax).

The Parts CD (which covers all cars from 74-2000) is $126. Part number is SD92-148.

The TIS CD covers E36, E46, E38, E39, E31, E53. It costs $154. Part number is 01 57 9 788 607 (177).

Both CDs are updated as much as once a month. When you order, they'll send you the latest version.

(unsure if the latest version will cover the M3)


S54 engine valve check and adjustment article



Q: Can I order special colors?

A: Yes! BMWNA is finally allowing people to place orders for special colors. Be persistent! Make your dealer ask, this is their job! Special order colors have been successfully placed by several people, expect about 2 weeks added to your expected wait time plus a $2000 fee.

Known special ordered colors for the E46 M3:

Email me if you've successfully placed an order for a special color not on the list and I'll add it.


Q: I want to get the Euro 19" rims, what is the ordering option code?

A: It's option code #792, "BMW M double spoke 67, 19" S0792 - 2,750.00 DM" (approx: $1,220.00)


Q: Are there any special order options that I can get that are not listed in any brochures as available?

A: Yes! One of them is the power rear sunshade. The option code is #415 and MSRP is $300, similar to the one in the 5 and 7 series, a fully automatic retractable shade is installed in the rear shelf and operated by a button added to the main console cluster.

 Here is a webpage that illustrates the process of ordering the sunshade, includes pictures and a movie.


Q: Is the Harman Kardon audio upgrade worth it?

A: This is up to the individual. If you're used to a $2000 aftermarket audio system, the HK upgrade will sound poor. If you're used to hearing the stock stereo on a '92 Chevy Beretta, it will sound outstanding! (ask me how I know)

Take your favorite CD down to your BMW dealer and pop it in a car with (then without) the Harman Kardon system and decide for yourself.

Here's a great writeup on the HK system by Eric Foster


Q: Are the Xenon lights worth it?

A: Some consider Xenons a fad, others would not imagine driving a car without them. There is no doubt that Xenons are much brighter, although BMW's standard headlights are some of the best in the industry. I have heard Xenons are covered under the normal BMW warranty and replacements have been performed on faulty units. As a $500 option, you must weigh if you will or will not regret getting them as an OEM kit is about $1,000 sans labor should you decide to retrofit them.

2002 models now feature "Bi-Xenons". Essentially they look the same as the 2001 models but the HIDs low beams now have the capability to be used as high beams. The old high beams are now used to flash.


Here are some additional Option codes for 2002 e46 cars, some which may be applicable the the e46 M3:

2002 3-Series ( E46 ) Option Codes

Accessories / Aftermarket

Q: I have the BMW NAV system, how do I get TV and other video options to play through it?

A: Visit the people at NAV-TV.com and choose the kit that fits your needs! Not only can you have television reception through your NAV screen, you can have it while in motion and/or connect a variety of multimedia devices such as DVD players or game consoles, all depending on what you desire.

A full review/pictures of an M3 install will be posted in the near future, stay tuned!


Q: What are the available BMW OEM Accessories?

A: Click here to see!


Q: I want to change the bulbs in my highbeams/foglights to be closer to color of my Xenon HIDs.

A: There's a variety of aftermarket bulb suppliers available, Raybrig, Polarg, PIAA and RAZO just to name a few of the more popular ones. Each make a "super-white" bulb that will a closer match to the HIDs than your stock bulbs. I recommend not going higher than the stock wattage, which is 55w. The above manufacturers make several "xenon" filled bulbs that burn brighter than standard 55w bulbs, so look or ask around!


Q: The M3 comes standard with 18" wheels. It snows where I live. Will I be OK?

A: Performance tires + rear wheel drive = NOT fun in the snow. Traction control helps a lot, but it's not enough. If you are in a snowy climate it is highly recommended that you get a second set of rims and snow tires. First deliveries in Europe occured last winter and as such many were fitted with the 17" M double spoke rims/tires of the 330's. Here are some possible snow tire selections:

* Bridgestone Blizzak MZ 01 - Good on ice, snow. Squirmy on dry/salted pavement. Special tread compound goes to only half tread depth - after that, it's just an OK 4-season tire. Wears very quickly. (MZ 02 is older, no 16" size)

* Michelin Arctic Alpin - good dry/salted handling, good on snow/ice, wears well.

* Yoko Guardex 600 - several online recommendations

* Dunlop Graspic - several online recommendations

* Scandinavian (Finnish) snow tires known for excellent snow traction, good dry handling and good wear.

* Nokia Hakkapeliitta 1 - Aggressive-tread deep snow, wet

* Nokia Hakkapeliitta 2 - highly siped, good snow, wet; better on dry pavement

* Nokia Hakkapeliitta NRW - Hi-performance snow - best dry, good wet, good snow

Note that BMW states that you should NOT use snow chains on the 328i 17" rims.

 M3 winter wheel and tire option thread (bmwm5.com)

M3 winter wheel and tire option thread (bimmer.org)


Q: I don't like the high gloss black trim, can I replace it?

Here is very informative installation page of trim (red leather in this case, but the same for any type).

Click here to see a post showing Titan Shadow trim pieces and here for a post of part numbers. (standard on all 2002 M3s)

Click here to see Larabear's Jet Black/Black M3 with Matte Chrome trim installed and BMW OEM aluminum pedals.


Q: What can I do about those hideous amber reflectors on the front bumper?

A: There are two alternatives if you don't like the look of the amber lenses on the front bumper. Since they utilize the same reflector found on the e46 Ci bumpers you can replace them with aftermarket clear reflectors, click HERE for a DIY guide. The second option is to get it painted the color of the car, a little bit more pricey but the results are also nice, here's an example on "Oscar" a LYM 328ci and another on Jim's Orient Blue 328ci.

Body colored reflectors can be purchased through the FAQ sponsor, evosport.


Q: I would like to mount a radar detector into my E46. Where can I tap into the power?

A: There are two places that you can tap into power- Either the universal transmitter power in the roof center console or the cell phone power. Below is an example of one of each.


Q: What alarms can I get for my E46?

A: The BMW alarm is p/n 65-73-9-416-520 Note: This P/N does NOT work on the convertible (MSRP $300, $220 from PacificBMW.com). This includes a high-powered siren, trunk/hood protection, interior motion sensor and tilt sensor. It will also flash the "clown nose" LED located on the bottom of the rearview mirror.
Other alarms (such as Clifford) can be installed as well. If your installer needs a
wiring diagram for one, select a model year: 2000.


Q: Can I install the BMW alarm myself?

A: Yes. Even people with almost no mechanical skills should be able to do it in under an hour. The two tools required are a 10mm hex bit and a T-30 Torx bit. Installation instructions can be found here. Note: After installation, you will have to take your car to a BMW dealer to get the alarm 'activated.' Most dealers will charge a fee, but it is usually minimal. It should only take them 20 minutes to activate the alarm.

Check out James Russo's alarm install page


Q: I'd like my clown nose to blink and my car to beep when locked without having the alarm installed. Can I do this?

A: Yes. The dealer has to do the following:

e "Clown Nose" flashes when you activate your alarm. Did you know that you can have it programmed to flash, d the amber lights blink off/on when you open/close the doors even though the alarm is NOT installed? Here's how: 1) Have your dealer hook up the shop computer to the car.

2) Go to the "Anit-Theft" activation section.

3) Activate the alarm, but uncheck the "DWA" option.


There are some consequences to doing this:

Activating the light is tricking the car's computer into thinking that the car has had an alarm installed. Consequently, fault codes are generated because the computer is searching for alarm data and can't find any... This will not affect the functionality of the vehicle until the car has some other electrical problem. When the car is hooked up to the diagnostic equipment at the BMW Center, the technician is going to pull up string after string of fault codes, and be unable diagnose whatever the problem is. At that point, the only solution will be to replace the car's computer -or- add an alarm in order to isolate the real fault codes... Sounds like a big headache just to have a blinking clown-nose thingy...


Q: How can I test my BMW alarm?

A: The tilt/motion sensors do not work until 30-40 seconds after the doors have been locked. To test the alarm, roll down your windows then lock the car. After waiting a minute or so, stick your hand in the window. The motion sensor should set the alarm off.


Q: Can I install the Universal Transmitter myself?

A: Yes. Here's installation information from Carl T. Greenan.


Q: How do I install the cd changer?

A: Installation information from Dave Heckendorf.
KO's installation (sedan w/ NAV)


Q: How easy is it to upgrade the stereo/speakers?

A: Great write-ups:

Information by Cameron Moir.
David Bagby's stereo upgrade saga


Q: Is there a non-smoker package I can order?

A: Yes. Here's the information provided by Joseph Koral: Non-Smoker Package Info.

Q: What performance accessories are available?

A: There are a number of third party tuners coming out with mods for the e46 M3, a list of the major players with complete kits include ACS, Hamann, Hartge and Nowalk (german Nowack site). I'm sure Racing Dynmaics and Hartge will also have M3 programs but none have been announced yet. ESS, a supplier of superchargers for e46 3 series cars, is currently developing a supercharger for the M3 with an estimated output of 400hp.


Q: My car is supposed to be pre-wired for a cellular phone. Where can I get it?

A: BMW currently only offers an analog cell phone at a very high price ($700+).

The wiring in the E46 will support the installation of the Digital StarTac phones. The catch here is that it will only work with the not yet released data capable StarTac. This phone should be released soon. The new install kit will be released around December. Even if you have your own digital, data capable StarTac it will need a special software upgrade to work with the steering wheel controls.


Q: I'd like to hook my current cell phone into my car. Can I do this.

A: Ryan Akana successfully wired his Nokia 6190 into his car and used the proclip holder. View his installation here.


Q: Isn't it illegal not to have a front plate in many states?

A: Check your local DMV on their policy for front license plates, most states require them and will often cite you a "fix-it" ticket to correct the infraction, or alternatively sometimes a small fine is imposed should you wish to plead "guilty".


Q: What aftermarket Air Filters can I used in my e46 M3?

A: K&N is a popular "drop-in" re-cleanable filter that is touted to having more airflow than stock air filters, and we all know more air is good. The part number is "33-2070" and will fit all e46 cars.

Misc. What is? Where is? How Do I?

Q: What is Alcantara?

A: Alcantara is a type of suede-like material and can be order as an optional insert for the seats, find everything you need to know about it here.

Order code: F2AT


Q: How do I change the speed-sensitive volume control setting?

A: This feature allows you to decrease the speed sensitive volume with the HK system as well as put your radio in different country modes (such as Europe mode). This doesn't work on all radio options, but give it a shot:

On cars without NAV

First, don't be driving while doing this procedure.

Turn the radio off then on again. Dont touch any button except the 'm' button - the button you use to tune the radio frequency manually. Press and hold the 'm' button for TEN seconds or until the display changes. IIRC, it shows the serial number of the unit. Normally when you press 'm', the display will reflect that by replacing 'ST' (stereo tuning) with 'm'. When holding the 'm' button for this procedure, the display should not do this - you will continue to see 'ST' for the ten seconds.

Now if the display has changed, you are in a configure mode on the radio. If you press the '+' or '-' button you change modes. The mode you want will display as "GAL (1-6)". This mode allows you to adjust the speed-sensitive volume control. Use the radio preset buttons 1-6 to set the amount of volume change you want at speed. Setting 1 is the smallest change, 6 is the highest.

I use 1 with the windows closed, and 4 when it's a nice day and I drive with the windows open which makes for a lot of ambient noise at speed. The car is so quiet with the windows closed that setting 1 is plenty. On my car the default setting from the factory was 3 and it bugged me too.

Then turn the radio OFF to save the settings. Turn it back on and go for a drive to test it. The other semi-useful test mode will tell you the signal strength of any give station from 0 to 15 (highest). Use the preset buttons to change stations in the mode. This capability is probably used in the automatic tuning funtion in the radio.

On cars with NAV

Get in the car, close the door, and turn the ignition to position 1 (accessory. As soon as the monitor comes on, press and hold the RDS button for aprox 12 sec. Using the arrow keys, near the Tone and Select buttons, scroll to heading "GAL" (German acronym for speed depandant volume) The default setting will be displayed. To change, use the number keys 1-6, 1 being less increase, 6 being maximum.

Additional comments for MY2002 M3s


Q: There appears to be some sort of sensor/light right beside my headlight switch. What is this?

A: It is a light sensor which effects how brightly the on board computer and radio lights are displayed. To test it out by getting in your car at night, starting it, turning on the headlights, then taking the flashlight out of the glove compartment and shining it at the sensor. The displays mentioned above should become much brighter.


Q: Where can I get update cds or cds for different regions for my navigation system?

A: www.navtech.com


Q: What is the red knob below the rear-view mirror?

A: This is commonly referred to as the "clown nose". It houses a LED that flashes when the alarm is armed (IF you have the alarm installed). For cars without the premium package (which includes the auto-dimming rear view), it also functions as the dimming lever- Just twist it!


Q: How do I remove the gas pedal?!

A: Follow 'Jim in Oregon's' instructions here.


Q: How do I remove my shift knob?

A: Pull straight up, very hard. Be careful not to knock yourself in the head with it when it does pop off! You will find a wire attached which illuminates the gearshift pattern.


Q: How fast does the e46 M3 lap Nurburgring/Nordschliefe in Germany?

A: This infamous circuit located in Germany is where BMW finely tuned the e46 M3 with countless laps and miles of high speed testing. Fastest lap recorded by BMW test drivers is 8min, 22secs according to Born-free.net.


Q: How can I remove those unslightly "Air-Bag" warning stickers on the sun visors?

A: Several people have used "Goof-Off Goo Remover" which can be found at your local automotive parts store, this product will easily and cleanly remove the labels from the visors.


Q: Do I need to do anything to correctly Dyno my E46 M3?

A: YES! The E46 M3's are similar to the E39 M5's in that a fuse needs to be removed in order for the car to be properly dyno'd. All you need to do is removed fuse #34 before putting the car on the Dyno yet others have stated a more complicated process is required. I will amend this section when I hear testimony (and see a dynochart) to what does work. Check this thread for the discussion.

Update: an easier method has been found, you can completely disable the DSC by pressing on the DSC button for approx 10secs. This will enable the car to run to redline while dynoing.


Q: I want to get aftermarket rims for my M3, what's the proper offset?

A: Stock offset is 47/26

Jason's M3 Engine Failure Website

Q: Is there suppose to be two beeps when my car has SMGII/PDC and the OEM alarm system?

A: No, this is NOT normal. Currently there is a bug in the software which enables TWO simutaneous but different beeping while the car is in reverse. Aside from the normal PDC proximity alert, there is an additional different beeping that happens constantly, regardless of how close anything is/isn't to your rear bumper. BMW is aware of this problem but does not have a software patch to fix this, supposedly they are working it for release in the near future... stay tuned.


Q: What is this I hear about a service recall?

A: All BMW's built around a specific time period in early 2001 have experienced spontaneous fires due to their fan assembly. BMW has issued a TSB on it, you might want to check and see if your car was built during the affected time period.

Autoweek Article (which includes BMW contact information)


Q: My window glass is distorted, what do I do?

A: This has been a problem on e46 cars, not only on the M3 but also previous/current models across the entire 3-series range. If you find your windsheild has any distortion, head down to your BMW center ASAP and get it replaced under warranty! I've seen this problem first hand and I found it very distracting while driving or being a passenger. My local BMW Center only needed one quick look to claim it under warranty and when questioned about the frequency of this happenning they stated that they've replaced several windsheilds before. Also note that there seems to be 3 different manufacturers for their windsheilds.


Q: What is the "CLUNK" problem I keep hearing about?

A: Some people have reported having a "clunking" sound in their transmission while shifting. One board member has an agreement with BMW to get his entire gearbox swapped out and replaced, that thread is here. Current rumor has BMW examining the problem and potentially performing a recall if there is a widespread problem. Others have stated that this is perfectly normal sound and has been present in their past M3s.


Q: What is the "RATTLE" I hear when accelerating?

A: The rattle seems normal on the cars and I've yet to hear of a specific fix regarding it from BMW. It often is heard only when the car is cold and tends to fade away once the M3 obtains normal operating temperature. Several people speculate that the sound is somewhere in the exhaust system, possibly the resonators.


Q: Help! My "Service engine soon" light just came on!

A: Check to make sure that your gas cap is screwed on tight. If not, the SES light will be on for the next few days.

If your gas cap IS tight, take your car into the dealer and get it checked out.


Q: When I brake at high speeds, my steering wheel vibrates.

A: Many people have reported this problem. It seems to develop after a few thousand miles. Rumor is that BMW may issue a recall on this matter in November.


Q: After it has rained, my windows make a loud squeaking noise when they go up.

A: This has been reported by a few, and they took their cars into a dealer for a window regulator or motor to be replaced. You might also want to try Gummi-Pfledge, a BMW rubber care product. A 2.1 ounce tube part # 82 14 9 407 015 retails for $7.50. It protects and takes care of rubber items. It prevents door weatherstrips from freezing up in winter and keeps the rubber pliable. I cleaned the strips with Spray-Nine prior to appling. Although it comes with its own applicator, using my forefinger was the way to go. Applied sparingly as recommended, one tube should last for years.

Update: BMW is currently redesigning the rubber window molding, it should be released in the first half of 2002, I'll post another followup as new is released.


Q: Sometimes my sunroof doesn't open or close.

A: It seems that the new E46s have an odd sunroof problem, where the car's electronics "lose" or "forget" its sunroof position initialization. The problem is most likely not the switch!

To fix the sunroof, note the position of the roof (closed, open, or tilted). Let's use the "tilted" as our example. Press and hold the sunroof switch in the tilted position (i.e. press the switch straight up). Hold it for 20 seconds- This should reinitilize and it should work properly now.

There is an official fix now for this problem. They have to downgrade the version of software that controls the sunroof (something like 3.1 down to 2.8). This was featured in the BMWCCA Roundel, just ask your service representative at your local BMW should you have this problem.


Q: I have an E46 Coupe with the HK system, and I can only find 10 speakers, not 12.

A: The coupe DOES have 12 speakers. There are two speakers located under one of the grilles in the door.


Q: What other bizarre problems have been reported?

A: In one person's Y2K car, they were driving along and the DSC light came on, then the car immediately lost power.

Here's another problem reported by Lorenz:

After somewhat hard driving, I'd pull into my garage and turn off the car. The oil can light on the dash (the one that turns red during the power-on self test, i.e. when you turn the key from off into position II) would turn *yellow* and stay on for about 20-30 seconds. This is after I turned the car off and removed the key. Putting the key back in and turning it into position II, then removing the key, would turn the oil light off immediately.

This was due to the fact that my oil level was slightly low. Driving the car hard probably caused some of the oil to be distributed in the engine, and the oil sensor found a "low oil level". Topping up the oil (under warranty at the dealer) fixed the problem.

NOTE If your oil light comes on while driving the car (it did not in my case), the manual says to PULL OVER AND STOP DRIVING IMMEDIATELY to avoid engine damage.


Q: My car starts beeping at me when I hit a certain speed! What's wrong??

A: The navigation system has this option. To disable it, hit the menu button, then use the round dial (not the volume switch, the one on the right side) to select on board computer and then push down on the dial. Once you're in the OBC screen, rotate the dial until you highlight the limit, then push down the dial again. Now you can change the limit or disable it completely.


Q: My windows don't seem to be sealing at the top- When I go over bumps in the road, I hear it "creak" or "pop"

A: There is a technical service bulletin that BMW has for this. Take your car into your local service center and they will replace the window regulators.

Tips, Tidbits, and Misc car-related links

M3 related websites

You could have the most expensive and fastest car ever available and still be the worst driver ever to sit behind the steering wheel. To better enjoy the driving experience and learn the full potential of your car and your abilities, here is a GREAT website to learn the techniques of high performance driving. But remember, nothing will replace hands on experience. I suggest attending a driving school and participating in local track days to learn firsthand the techniques you will get from either source.



Read all about BMW keys here

Horsepower vs. Torque explained

Aftermarket Wheel Weights

©2001 Marc Chu, Kristopher Linquist and his excellent E46 FAQ, plus many other BMW enthusiasts!

Thank you to the following people for submitting information: Lenn Hann, Joanne Macek, Chris White, Jon Shafer, Peter Stefanske, Brad Lavis, Michael "IronMike" Huoh on A4.ORG, Carlos Perez, Joseph Koral, Rudy Poussot, Bert Roseberry, Jim Heisler, Ryan Akana, Carl Greenen, Dave Heckendorf, Jeff Dinkins, Cameron Moir, Matt G., Jack Marc W., Lorenz Redlefsen, Glenn Rankin, Glask, VonBimmerhead, Vicky, Theodore Kapela, Dave S., Donald Granger, Jerry, Alain Perreaud, Ko, Mike W., Richard (Mr Mugman), Thomas Nast, David Bagby, Eric Foster, cpick, ABWC, David Wong