BMW 330e 320e Hybrid Models Experiences

Our beloved BMW 3 series is available in the following hybrid petrol models:

  1. BMW 320e Touring
  2. BMW 330e Touring
  3. BMW 320e Sedan
  4. BMW 330e Sedan

BMW really struck a chord with its buyers when it introduced the 330e plug-in hybrid. The company estimates that a quarter of all 3-series buyers choose this model - no wonder, since it often comes up in lists for best hybrid cars.

BMW 320e and 330e

First, the 3-series is as we have come to expect, very nice to drive and class-leading - despite the battery. On the other hand, the claimed range of 57-62 km is so useful for electric driving alone that it will cover many drivers' commutes. This need not be a disadvantage if you do a lot of short trips.

bmw 320e 330eAnd finally, there is the XtraBoost feature that temporarily boosts the combined petrol-electric power by 41 extra horsepower.

You also get all the features we love about the standard BMW 3-series - its supportive seats, excellent roadholding, smartly understated design and a selection of technology that is advanced but user-friendly.

Its main German rival is the Mercedes-Benz C 300e.

What about power BMW 330e?

The BMW 330e combines the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine found in the regular 320i with an electric motor, neatly integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox.

The packaging is so good that the body is only 15 mm longer than the standard eight-speed automatic fitted elsewhere in the 3-series. Having the engine in this position is also good for efficiency, especially when it comes to regenerating braking energy.

The petrol engine produces 184 hp (the same as the 320i) and gets support from the electric motor, bringing output to 252 hp. Added to this is the impressive XtraBoost feature (temporarily 41 hp extra!).

How does XtraBoost work on the BMW 330e?

We were hoping for a button similar to Porsche's Sport Response. But in fact, it is just an additional part of the BMW Sport driving mode settings, and it is activated by selecting it and then firmly pressing the accelerator.

Since the jump to 293 hp is delivered entirely by an extra 41 hp jolt from the electric motor, the effect is quite impressive. So much so that BMW reckons it will give you twice as much 'power' from 20 km/h within a second as a similarly powerful fuel-engined car. The result? Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in no more than 5.9 seconds.

Exactly the kind of performance BMW buyers are probably looking for.

A joy on the road?

In short, absolutely. Wake it up by firmly pressing the right pedal, or leave it in Sport mode, and the 330e shoots forward and leaves everything behind it. Being a BMW, it also has the chassis composure to carry through that initial acceleration into corners without going off the road.

On paper, 0-100 km/h takes 5.8 seconds, but that doesn't quite do the effort in motion justice. On the motorway, it builds up speed faster than the 330d. But although the XtraBoost effect lasts only 10 seconds at a time, it is available even if you have already consumed the hybrid battery. 10 seconds seems long enough to us, how often do you need to accelerate for longer than that?

Is the BMW 330e a good hybrid car?

Yes, it is a very good choice for your money. The 330e has a claimed range of 57-62 km on electricity alone, and there is a wider range of features to make the most of this e-efficiency.

For example, you can set a target percentage of battery life you want to keep - perhaps to save it for when you are in a low-emission zone or to sneak up the drive without waking the neighbours - and the car will do its job.

Initial results with this were mixed (actually, if you start it up all the time, the batteries will inevitably drain ), but there is also an automatic setting, which works with the satellite navigation to select the most appropriate points on your route to put the battery in.

Moreover, you can manually activate all-electric mode, which allows the car to happily drive up to 140 km/h and cruise there until the remaining range runs out. However, don't expect to drive 60 km on electricity at that speed. And if all-electric range is your thing, the 330e is beaten by the Mercedes C 300e.

Are there any drawbacks?

Sure, the 330e is fast. But the four-cylinder engine sounds dull - with or without the extra dynamic acoustics activated in the Sport settings - and the weight of the hybrid's large drive battery is still noticeable. Compare the 330e to the 330i and you'll see what we mean. The 330e is 200 kilograms heavier than a 330i and although BMW has managed very well to disguise this extra weight, you do notice it.

Don't get us wrong, this is still a car that eats up a series of corners without blinking and hungers for more. It's just that a bit of the fun has disappeared in the process, as evidenced by the somewhat light and artificial feel of the steering (again, even in the heaviest Sport setting).

Any other problems?

The luggage compartment suffers because space is needed for the battery - and it is noticeable, because you will notice that the floor is bumpy when you go to throw in your luggage. The bulge is actually the fuel tank, which has been moved from its usual place under the seats to make room for the battery; the battery occupies this protruding position because it is heavier...

If we grade the impact of this, a standard 3-series sedan has 480 litres of boot space, while the 330e has just 375 litres. In the 330e Touring, you get 410 litres with the seats up, 1420 litres with folding - which is also quite a bit less than the 500/1500 litres you get in any other 3-series estate car.

The infotainment systems and digital displays have been updated during the facelift and the enlarged displays are a joy to use, thanks to the simple controls and sharp and clear display. The 330e's dials get hybrid-related display options, but apart from rearranging a few buttons on the centre console, this is the only difference in the passenger compartment.

BMW 330e charging time and fuel consumption

Typical PHEV eyebrows-in-the-lane things here - official fuel consumption for the 330e is 1.6-1.3 L/100 km (combined) and electric consumption 17.1-16 kWh/ 100 km. CO2 emissions are 30-36 g/km. You will have to do a lot of electric driving and mostly short trips to get close to those figures.

Let the 3 Series self-distribute its fuel and electricity during longer journeys, it provides fuel economy comparable to diesel. But to get the most out of it, you should also plug in the hybrid as often as possible between trips. Full charging time is 3 hours and 45 minutes with a BMW i Wallbox, or 5 hours and 40 minutes with a regular three-pole plug.

BMW 330e hybrid: verdict

The word that comes to mind most quickly here is 'impressive' - BMW's best-selling plug-in hybrid has lavish performance, extended electric range and some clever conveniences. No wonder it's such a popular model.

If you buy one to save tax, then you can rest assured that it is a thoroughly BMW and drives as it should. But keep in mind that if you are used to a 330d or 330i, this hybrid model feels a little less agile.

BMW e90/91 problems and buying advice

The BMW e90 was introduced in 2004 as a replacement for the successful e46 model. The new model had a more aggressive design, with a wider stance and larger wheels. The interior was also redesigned, with new materials and better ergonomics.

bmw e90 buying advice and problems

In 2004, the e90 was the new benchmark

Upon its introduction in 2004, the BMW e90 quickly became one of the Bavarian carmaker's most popular models. With its stylish design, powerful performance and advanced technology, the e90 set a new standard in the D-segment. In the years since its debut, the e90 has continued to evolve, adding even more advanced features that made it one of the most innovative cars at the time.

Examples of these innovations:

  • Connectivity features such as Bluetooth and USB integration

Today, these features are standard on most new cars, but back then they were advanced technologies that made it easier than ever to stay connected on the road.

  • Self-driving power

The latest generation of e90s are equipped with self-driving capabilities that allow them to park themselves and even change lanes automatically. This technology was still at an early stage, but was certainly innovative. 

  • Improved safety features

The e90 has always been a safe car, but recent generations have added even more safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. These systems help drivers avoid accidents by giving them information about their surroundings that they might not otherwise have.

Engines in the BMW e90/91

Like every BMW, this 3-series has a wide range of engines. From economical four-cylinders to the super fast M3 with an eight-cylinder. It came in both petrol and diesel, and a few more engines were added after the facelift in 2008. See the complete overview below:

The different versions of the E90/e91

The BMW E90 was available in different lines or packages with different features and specifications. Here is an overview of the main differences between the Business line, Executive line, M Sport line and High Executive line:

Business line:

The Business line is the standard package for the BMW E90. It includes basic features such as air conditioning, electric windows and a sound system. It can also include alloy wheels and a leather-clad steering wheel.

Executive line:

The Executive line is a step up from the Business line and includes extra features such as leather upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel and an upgraded sound system. It may also include larger alloy wheels, park distance control and a panoramic sunroof.

M Sport line:

The M Sport line is a performance package that includes a sports suspension, larger alloy wheels and sports seats with extra support. It also includes an M Sport steering wheel, M Sport body kit and M Sport wheels.

High Executive line:

The High Executive line is the top package for the BMW E90 and includes a range of luxury features such as leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded sound system and a full-colour head-up display. It can also include features such as park distance control, adaptive headlights and a larger infotainment display.

BMW 3 series e90 clocks

Petrol engines:

316i: 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with 122 hp

318i: 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 129 hp

320i: 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 156 hp

323i: 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine with 204 hp

325i: 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 218 hp

328i: 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 233 hp

330i: 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 272 hp

335i: 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo engine with 306 hp

M3: 4.0-litre V8 engine with 420 hp (only available in the E90 M3)

Diesel engines:

316d: 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 115 hp

318d: 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 143 hp

320d: 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 163 hp

325d: 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 197 hp

330d: 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 245 hp

335d: 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo engine with 286 hp

Please note that engine availability may depend on the region in which the car was sold and the year of manufacture of the car.

Engine problems N43, N45, and N46 (the 316, 318 and 320i)?

The BMW N43, N45, and N46 engines are known to have a number of potential issues. Here are some of the most common problems owners have reported:

  • Faulty timing chain: The timing chain in these engines is known to stretch and wear prematurely, which can lead to engine damage and expensive repairs. You often hear this during cold starts (rattling sound).
  • Vanos system failure: The Vanos system is responsible for controlling the variable valve timing in the engine. A failure in this system can lead to rough running, reduced power and higher fuel consumption.
  • Faulty high-pressure fuel pump: The high-pressure fuel pump in these engines has been known to fail, causing starting and driving problems.
  • Oil leaks: The N43, N45 and N46 engines are prone to oil leaks at the valve cover, oil filter housing and oil pan gasket.

The N43 in particular is known to be unreliable. This is in the post-2008 facelift model.

  • Cooling system problems: These engines are known for cooling system problems, including leakage from the radiator, water pump and thermostat housing.
  • Faulty ignition coils: The ignition coils in these engines can fail, causing ignition errors and engine running problems.

If you experience any of these problems with your BMW N43, N45 or N46 engine, it is important to have it diagnosed and repaired by a qualified BMW mechanic to avoid further damage and expensive repairs.

Engine problems N52, N53, N54 and N55 (6 cylinders)?

There are several known problems with the BMW N52, N53, N54 and N55 engines. Here are some of the most common problems:

  • High-pressure fuel pump failure: The high-pressure fuel pump in these engines may fail, causing starting and driving problems.
  • Faulty water pump: The water pump in these engines is prone to failure, which can lead to overheating and engine damage.
  • Vanos system failure: The Vanos system is responsible for controlling the variable valve timing in the engine. A failure in this system can lead to rough running, reduced power and higher fuel consumption.
  • Oil leaks: The N52, N53, N54 and N55 engines are prone to oil leaks at the valve cover, oil filter housing and oil pan gasket.
  • Faulty turbocharger (N54 and N55 engines): The N54 and N55 engines are equipped with turbochargers, which are known to break down and require replacement.
  • Ignition coil failure: The ignition coils in these engines can fail, leading to ignition errors and engine problems.
  • Carbon buildup: The N54 and N55 engines are prone to carbon buildup on the intake valves, which can lead to rough running, reduced power and higher fuel consumption.

If you experience any of these problems with your BMW N52, N53, N54 or N55 engine, it is important to have it diagnosed and repaired by a qualified BMW mechanic to avoid further damage and costly repairs.

Engine problems M47, M57 (diesel engines)

There are several known problems with the BMW M47 and M57 engines. Here are some of the most common problems:

  • Timing chain failure: The timing chain in these engines is known to stretch and wear prematurely, which can lead to engine damage and costly repairs.
  • Faulty turbocharger: The M47 and M57 engines are equipped with turbochargers, which are known to break down and need replacement.
  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF) blockage: The M47 and M57 engines are equipped with a DPF, which can become clogged and cause a range of problems, including reduced power, warning lights and higher fuel consumption.
  • Faulty high-pressure fuel pump: It is known that the high-pressure fuel pump in these engines can fail, causing starting and driving problems.
  • Faulty fuel injectors: The fuel injectors in these engines can fail, causing them to run rough and produce less power.
  • Faulty glow plugs: The glow plugs in diesel engines are prone to failure, especially in colder climates.

Sporty driving

The BMW E90 or E91 offers excellent handling thanks to its sporty suspension. This system consists of struts, lower wishbones, front and rear anti-roll bars and gas shock absorbers. This suspension system gives the E90 or E91 great body control without sacrificing comfort. Of course, the rear-wheel drive helps the sporty driving experience.

Advanced safety features.

In terms of safety, the BMW E90 or E91 is equipped with numerous advanced safety features. These features include airbags, ABS brakes, traction control and stability control. The E90 or E91 also comes standard with a tyre pressure monitoring system that alerts the driver when one or more tyres are underinflated. The NCAP score was 5 stars.

Fuel consumption

The BMW E90 or E91 is fuel-efficient thanks to its efficient engines and aerodynamic bodywork. With the four-cylinder petrol engines, you can average 1 in 14 with a normal driving style. The six cylinders are not too thirsty either, 1 in 12 can be achieved. Finally, the diesels are very fuel-efficient; the 320d can do 1:20 and the 330d averages 1:15.

BMW 3 series e90 problems

Final verdict.

The advantages of a BMW E90 or E91 outweigh the disadvantages, making it a good choice for anyone looking for a used car. Now, the main advantages of the E90 are its economical price, stylish design, powerful engines and different equipment levels. Moreover, the exterior design is sleek and elegant with robust features, while the interior offers a chic space with quality materials and modern technology. In terms of performance, the E90 is equipped with reliable engines that provide sporty handling and advanced safety features. Finally, fuel economy is good for a car of this size. All these factors make the BMW E90/E91 an excellent choice for a used car.

BMW 1 series problems

BMW first tried to conquer the hatchback market in 1994 with the 3-series compact, but this undervalued model could not match the sales figures of the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Golf. Fortunately, BMW was not discouraged and in 2004 launched the 3-series compact. Chris Bangle designed 1-series. It had to compete with the Audi A3 and the surprisingly popular Alfa Romeo 147.  

Rear-wheel drive 

While other hatchbacks have front- or four-wheel drive, the BMW 1-Series sends its power to the rear. As a result, it is more balanced and steers razor-sharp. Also, cars with rear-wheel drive have more traction. A disadvantage of this construction is that it takes up a lot of space, at the expense of the interior space. Although the Alfa Romeo 147 steered well, the BMW was the boss on twisty roads. 

Firmly sprung

The BMW 1 series has a firm suspension, which can cause it to bump on bad road surfaces. The car I drove had 18 inch rims and fairly wide tyres. The 1-series probably suffers less from this bump with the standard 16 inch rims. The firm adjustment is of course BMW and is beneficial to a sporty driving style. On the motorway, in my opinion the adjustment can be lived with, only when the road surface is bad, it is uncomfortable.  

The seats and seating position of the 1-series

Of course, this BMW came with different seats, from sport to comfort. We now review the standard variants and they give sufficient support and the seating area is long enough. In addition, there are enough seat and steering wheel adjustments to allow most people to find a comfortable driving position. The more expensive versions have electric adjustment of the seats including 5 memory options, easy when more people are driving the car.  

Problems and issues BMW 1-Series 

Advice for buyers What should I look for in a used BMW 1 Series hatchback?

Check the paperwork to make sure the car you are interested in has been regularly serviced. Also, always check the rims, if there is a lot of kerb damage, more parts may have suffered. 

Door handle problems

Make sure that the door handles return to their correct position when you release them - if they stick out, both the handle and the lock will have to be replaced to solve the problem.

1 Series Petrol

If you buy a petrol 1-series, listen carefully to the engine, does it run rough (diesel-like) or does the engine temperature ping and is there a petrol smell in the car? These signals can indicate a defect in the ignition coil.


Unfortunately, BMW has never quite succeeded in producing faultless gearboxes. If it is difficult to select the right gear or the gear shifts vibrate extremely (they all vibrate a little) when idling or driving, you should look further. Replacing a gearbox is, of course, an expensive affair.

Other problems:

  • ECUs of petrol engines failing, 
  • windows that slam shut, 
  • airbag faults 
  • generation of a warning light on the dashboard
  • problem with the electronic stability control, causing it to be disabled.

The 1 Series has been the subject of several recalls: for a problem with the rear axle, a problem with the power-assisted brakes, a possible fault with the side airbags and seatbelt pretensioners, and the risk of some diesels catching fire. In each case, however, the number of cars affected was small and the various repairs should have been completed by now.

Is a used BMW 1 Series reliable?

On average, the 1-Series has fewer electrical problems in its class and you will be unlucky if major engine, gearbox or suspension problems occur within the first 160,000 kilometres. After that it becomes a matter of good maintenance. Wear parts such as a clutch, shock absorbers and multiribbed belts are often worn out after 10 years.  

Which used BMW 1 Series should I buy?

The BMW 1 Series was originally only available as a five-door, but the three-door version arrived in 2007. This coincided with a mild facelift and the introduction of powerful yet economical engines.

The 113bhp 116i petrol model has just enough power, but was significantly improved in 2007 when the output was increased to 120bhp. However, the 118i with 127 PS (later 141 PS) is much spicier and the 120i is even better. The highlight of the range is the six-cylinder 130i, a little less economical of course and a little heavier in the nose. 

There are many more diesel-powered cars on the used market and the 118d with 120 hp (later 141 hp) is a great compromise between power and economy. It is even our favourite 1-Series.

From launch there was also the 161bhp (later 175bhp) 120d, which is powerful yet smooth. In mid-2007, the performance-oriented 201bhp 123d was introduced and in early 2009, the super-efficient 116d went on sale.


Although at first people had to get used to the design of the BMW 1-series, it has now become very popular with the general public. This is due to the aforementioned driving characteristics, the excellent engines and of course the image of this German brand. When buying an occasion, our preference is always for a car in its original state. This is especially true for the 1-Series; if it has rims that are too big or other upgrades that detract from the car, we usually don't buy it. Finally, it is nice to have access to bills of maintenance from the past. 

BMW 3 Series e46 problems and buying advice

BMW 3 Series E46 technology, problems and buying advice

The BMW E46 is the fourth generation of the 3-series and was to surpass the E36. This model was available as a sedan, coupe, touring, compact and convertible. The first year of production was 1997, but the first delivery was in 1998. The E46 received a facelift in 2001 and was taken out of production in 2006 with the arrival of the E90. This 3-series was expected to become the benchmark in the D-segment. As the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-class had been on the market for several years when the E46 was introduced, the BMW had a head start on these competitors. This lead made the 3-Series the benchmark in the D-segment. It actually only lost on the aspect of interior space. This is because BMW always strives for ideal weight distribution, which means that the engine is placed further back, at the expense of the interior space. Despite this shortcoming, the E46 became a huge sales success.       

The design of the E46 

The design of the E46 was not very daring; the car had to have good aerodynamics and an aggressive nose. Compared to the E36, this 3 series had more rounded lines and was more oriented towards the twenty-first century. After the facelift in 2001, the E46 got new lights, the bonnet was modified and the rear lights were redesigned. An outlier in the design was the compact model. It had a completely different nose and was a hatchback with folding rear seats. Many people did not like the compact and its sales were disappointing. The facelifted sedan and touring model, on the other hand, sold very well. 2002 was even the best year for sales of this BMW 3 series.     

The technology of the E46    

The predecessor of the E46, the E36 had the difficult task of succeeding the popular and very reliable E30. Although the E36 sold reasonably well, it was not a resounding sales success. The E46 was meant to be. The wheelbase was longer and the E46 had a lower standard ride height. In addition, this generation received adaptive headlights, more airbags such as side airbags and the possibility of a built-in navigation system.   

The engines of the E46

BMW is known for offering a huge range of engines with each model. The E46 is no exception. The first engine was the 316i, which produced 105 hp and had a capacity of 1,895 cc and was also used in the E36. This engine was also in the first generation 318i and produced 117 bhp through the modified DISA intake system. There were also the well-known 6-cylinder in-line engines that were also used in the E39. The smallest six-cylinder produced 150 bhp, and although this was not a streamer, it did deliver a nice constant power output over the entire rev range. 

The diesels delivered by BMW in this period were immediately the benchmark, fast, economical and quiet. Even the entry-level M47D20 It had a top speed of more than 200 km/h and with normal driving, almost 1 to 20. I myself had an E39 with this engine, sometimes it seemed impossible to empty the tank. If I drove a lot of motorway kilometres, the fuel consumption was 1 to 20, very impressive. What many people don't know is that this engine (the first generation) has no common rail system but is equipped with a unit injector. Besides this four cylinder diesel, there was the well known M57D30, this six cylinder was the fastest diesel on the market at the time and showed that a diesel could indeed be sporty, the torque of the engine seemed to go on forever and the top speed was over 220 km/h.      

The first E46 M3 was delivered from 2000 onwards. This icon had a six-cylinder engine with a capacity of 3,246 cc. The power was impressive, 338 hp and that without turbocharging! 

After the facelift, a few new engines were introduced. The 316i and 318i were replaced by the more modern N Series engines. These had more power and were more economical. 

Driving characteristics of the E46

The E46 was also the benchmark in the D-segment in terms of handling. The rear-wheel drive three-series was solid on the road and remained neutral for a long time. It has to be said that the suspension of the E46 was quite sporty, which not everyone could appreciate. A Mercedes C-Class for example was much more geared towards comfort, but in the corners it was no match for the E46. The driving part and the engines are fine, but the gear change mechanism falls short in my opinion. In my opinion, there is far too much space in the manual gearboxes and the strokes are long, which doesn't do justice to the character of the car. 

I have owned three different E46s, a 318i sedan, a 318td compact and 330d touring. And now you will probably be surprised, but I found the 318td compact to drive the best. This car is so stiff that (with the right tyres) it can go through the corner incredibly fast. The 330d touring has a great engine, but the nose is also quite heavy because of this engine. This pushes the nose a bit more to the outside. Finally, good shock absorbers (preferably original) are crucial for good handling.  

Common problems with the E46

An E46 is in comparison with, for example, a E60 reasonably "bulletproof", complicated electronics were not yet used in this 3 series. However, it is not completely faultless.
The overview below lists the most common errors:   

  • In petrol engines (especially the 4 cylinder engines), the valve cover and more specifically the valve cover gasket sometimes leak. You notice this by high oil consumption and an oil smell in the interior or under the bonnet. The part, the gasket, is not expensive, but a mechanic will spend a few hours on this job. Therefore, depending on your garage, it can be a costly repair. Most gaskets last about 60,000 km, so ask when you buy one when it was done.   
  • The window mechanism sometimes gives up the ghost. To fix this, the door panel has to be removed and sometimes a new motor has to be installed.
  • Coolant leaks are a regular occurrence with the E46. This is almost never caused by a head gasket leak. Usually there is a leak near the expansion tank. This expansion vessel can explode in exceptional cases, due to blockages. If this happens, it is important to stop the car immediately and not to continue driving. Installing a new expansion tank is not very expensive, but continuing to drive without coolant can cause your engine to die. This problem can also be caused by not replacing the water pump on time. It is not replaced frequently on BMWs, because they are driven by a distribution chain instead of a gearbox. timing belt. The water pump is often also replaced when the belt is changed, but this is not the case with BMW.  
  • Front suspension arms wear out faster than other models. If you drive over a threshold, you can hear it clearly
  • Wind noise at the front doors can indicate worn door rubbers. 
  • The air mass meter breaks down above average. You will notice this when the car runs irregularly and when it accelerates unevenly in certain revs. 
  • The E46 is not extremely susceptible to rust, but the wheel arches can suffer from it when they get older. Fortunately, there is plenty of sheet metal available and replacing a front mudguard is not very complicated.  
  • Especially the 320d from after the facelift sometimes gets problems with the turbo. Regular oil changes and letting the car cool down after a heavy load are crucial for the life of the turbo. 
  • The automatic gearbox can have problems with high mileage. This is especially true of the high-horsepower and high-torque variants, the 330d being an example. 

E46 buying advice  

Of course, there are a lot of clichés about buying a used car. Such as filled service books, not too many owners, no ones and twos on the number plate, etc. But as described, the E46 is (apart from a few blemishes) "bullit proof". 

Of course, every car needs maintenance after a certain period of time, and this is no different for an E46. There are also certain types of engines that experience more problems than average. The petrol versions from after the facelift have more problems with leaking valve cover gaskets. You can smell the oil in the interior or under the bonnet, and if there is a lot of oil leaking, the car may start to smoke. 

Try to find one in original condition, a 3 series with aftermarket parts like bumpers, sideskirts19 inch rims are often less well maintained. Finally, maintenance invoices are leading, completed maintenance booklets are not always representative.  

BMW 5 Series E60 / E61 technology, problems and buying advice

The BMW E60 (5 Series) had the difficult task of succeeding the famous E39. The E39 was the benchmark in the E-segment and was produced until 2003. In 2003, the E60/61 had to take over as the 5th generation of the 5 Series and hold its own against the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6, not an easy task. 

The design of the E60 

The E60 is nothing like its predecessor. The lines and the lights/grill are completely different. This resulted in two camps; one camp thought the model was hideous and did not fit in with BMW's model line, while the other camp thought the design was beautiful. It was immediately clear that BMW had chosen a different path and that the other models would have a similar design, which later became visible in the BMW 1-series. 

Although the design has been accepted by most BMW enthusiasts, in my opinion, this large mid-range car does require large rims of at least 17 inches (larger than 18-inch rims do not benefit the driving characteristics) and the M-package gives the car just that little bit more body.

The technology of the E60    

Compared to the E39, which was still fairly mechanical, the E60 was packed with electronics. This put this 5-series ahead of its competitors. Below is a list of these ingenious electronics: 

  • iDrive (the first BMW to be equipped with this system) 
  • Head-up display
  • Active cruise control 
  • Active steering 
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Dynamic Stability Control
  • Night Vision
  • Voice control

They are all beautiful pieces of technology, but they are also very sensitive to malfunctions, of course. These electronics can cause problems in older cars, which we will discuss later in this article. 

The engines of the E60

BMW is known for offering a huge range of engines with each model. The E60 is no exception. At the time of its introduction, only 6-cylinders were available, and among the petrol variants the entry-level version was a 520i. This engine had a 2171 cc capacity, 4 valves per cylinder and delivered 170 hp. Its top speed was well over 200 km/h, and acceleration from 0-100 km/h was achieved in 9 seconds. After the facelift in 2007, the 520i was delivered with a 4 cylinder. This engine had 163 hp and almost the same performance as the six-cylinder, but the six-cylinder had a better power output and was quieter. The consumption of the four-cylinder is much better. In addition to several types of six-cylinders, the E60 was also supplied with two eight-cylinders and in the legendary M5 there was even a V10 with more than 500 bhp. 

For the diesels, the same story applies to a certain extent; when they were first introduced, they were only available with six-cylinder diesels, and in 2003, the M57TUD30 (530d) was used. This delicious diesel produced 215 hp and had no less than 500 Nm of torque. In addition, this big diesel was fairly economical with diesel, making it a perfect mile-eater. From 2005, the 5-Series was also available with a four-cylinder diesel. This two-litre diesel produces 163 hp and, in combination with a manual gearbox, is extremely economical. Unfortunately, every car above 140 km/hr uses a lot more fuel. 

Driving characteristics of the E60

As expected, an E60 drives sublime when properly maintained. The suspension communicates well and you can steer the car precisely. When it's dry and you have a-brand tyres, the 5 series is like a railway train. When it's wet and you decide to switch off electronic aids, the E60 can surprise you, especially when you're not used to driving a rear wheel drive car. 

The maintenance point we will come to next is also important for the driving characteristics. Because an E60 has such a refined chassis, you'll immediately notice any defects. Imitation parts and C-brand tyres are also a bad idea, because they can ruin the essentially excellent driving characteristics. 

Common problems with the E60 

You probably already knew that the E60 is not faultless, so the most common problems are described below: 

  • Fuel related problems, there may be problems in the fuel pump. This can be noticed by reduced power and high consumption. This problem occurs especially in pre-facelift models. 
  • Suspension arm rubbers can be worn out, causing play, which is communicated by the chassis through a "thump thump" sound.
  • An automatic can cause problems if it is not maintained. 
  • With diesels, the well-known swirl flaps can break off. These are often removed as a preventive measure.
  • The 520d can get problems with the turbo at a later age. The 525d and 530d have virtually no problems with this (if driven normally and the turbo is allowed to cool down after a long drive, so the car is not immediately turned off). 
  • The E60 is susceptible to poor alignment, which can make the car feel strange. You can also see this in the unevenly worn tyres. 
  • A faulty iDrive can be costly to replace
  • A panoramic roof can start leaking as it gets older
  • In particular, the faster models such as the 535d and, of course, the M5, have complex technology and are therefore more susceptible to faulty maintenance. 

E60/E61 buying advice  

Of course, there are a lot of clichés when it comes to buying a used car. For example, filled service books, not too many owners, no ones and twos on the number plate, etc. 

In the case of an E60, the clichés are true - if this large mid-sized car is not serviced in time, you can end up with a lot of backlogs. The electronics in particular can sometimes cause problems. For this you really need to go to a specialist, because standard read-outs often do not get deep enough into the system. Buying an E60 with warning lights on is therefore not advisable. Especially since dealers understand that a car without malfunctions sells better and they have probably already tried to solve the problem. In addition, the maintenance history is important, and then invoices are preferable to filled-in maintenance booklets (which anyone can fill in).

Finally, it may or may not be sensible to insist on a 3-month guarantee. In many cases, any defects will become apparent within a few weeks. Yet this will be a challenge, because garage owners also know that an E60 can cause high unforeseen costs.