ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Sophisticated engines need proper maintenance. Even a cheap E46 needs to come with service history, otherwise the repair bills could quickly become expensive. If the VANOS system hasn’t been recently replaced (within 40,000km) keep $3000 aside. Overheating and head gasket failure have killed many BMWs and replacing a warped or cracked head and cooling system components can generate bills beyond $8000. Check the engine oil and under the filler cap for coolant contamination and listen for hissing or gurgling from the cooling system after driving. In a manual car back off sharply in second gear to hear any drive-line thumps and floor the throttle at 30-40km/h in top to reveal clutch slip. The five-speed automatic should upshift without jerkng.