The Most Common BMW E46 Problems – UroTuning

The BMW E46 is still epic, nearly 25 years after its birth.

First introduced to the market in November 1997 and produced until 2006, it was available in sedan, coupé, convertible, station wagon, and hatchback body styling. To this day it is still a versatile car, and remains popular with fans of BMW tuning.

But what are the most common BMW E46 problems, and what BMW performance parts can you use to fix these issues? 

BMW E46 Brakes

You can imagine that the brakes take a beating as this is a performance car. The best way to avoid dulling brakes is to fit some quality European aftermarket parts, like the EBC Redstuff Ceramic Pad Set.  

The ceramic pads will allow you to stop on a dime.

These are better than the original BMW 3-Series set. According to the manufacturer of the pads, these brakes will stop 43 feet ahead of the stock kit. 


The VANOS camshaft hubs were fitted to BMW’s M52 and M54 engines and were responsible for variable valve timing – adjusting the timings of the cam and valves.

Think of VANOS as the BMW VTEC – allowing for high-revving motors. With this extra pressure, the piston seal O-rings are prone to fail. Losing power from your gorgeous BMW performance beast is not acceptable. 

If you suspect your car is losing power, it’s worth replacing the O-ring seals. 

BMW E46 Rod Bearings

On the E46 M3, there has been lots of talk about problems with rod bearings. This is caused by errors with sizing during the manufacture of these cars.

Owners who have lived through the 100k mile service will attest that it is critical to replace the rod bearings. 

If you’ve bought an E46 recently, it’s in your best interest to replace the rod bearing as soon as possible.

BMW E46 Subframe 

The E46 transfers all the power to the back wheels via the driveshaft and the rear differentials. Torque is also moved along this driveshaft into the rear differential, and into the subframe and chassis. 

This can cause major issues.  

Over many miles, this will weaken the subframe and crack it. Finding out whether your car has a cracked subframe takes a lot of work and requires removing the entire unit. 

But it’s worth the effort to ensure your BMW can rip it up. 

In regards to a fix, you can buy upgraded subframes.

Other Easier BMW E46 Problems 

As a vehicle edging towards being on the road for around 25 years, the usual issues such as lights, electrical, and interior lining will be a problem. 

But honestly, it is a solid base for BMW tuners to enjoy and race on track days.

And if you’re worried about sourcing the best European Aftermarket parts, Urotuning has the exact parts you need. 

Using our website is quick and straightforward when finding the exact aftermarket part you need.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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