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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/23/22 11:51 a.m.

And I think we can debate all day whether having to replace rod bearings at so many miles is okay or unacceptable. 

But as this data from Hagerty shows, rod bearing issues or not, there is demand for these cars. So, I figured, let's get and share some usable info on them. 

Slippery
Slippery PowerDork
11/23/22 12:06 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I think mine is in better than #4 condition ... yet you bring me $29k and I will put a bow on it and throw in an oil change and two extra set of wheels smiley

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/23/22 12:26 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

All those numbers are with no modifications.  Honestly don't know if they are at the crank or wheel though.

Those are crank numbers, figure 15-20% less at the wheels.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/23/22 12:26 p.m.

Although looks like some deals are out there as BaT sold a six-speed M3 with less than 100k for $16,250 this summer. Was that an anomaly or the new normal? 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/23/22 12:46 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Although looks like some deals are out there as BaT sold a six-speed M3 with less than 100k for $16,250 this summer. Was that an anomaly or the new normal? 

That one went cheap even by pre-pandemic standards.

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/23/22 1:35 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

Totally. I was waiting for the gotcha and didn't see one: clean title, no SMG conversion, no big issues. 

Sounds like the fact that a dealer sold the car for an individual caused an issue or something? 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/23/22 1:40 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Totally. I was waiting for the gotcha and didn't see one: clean title, no SMG conversion, no big issues. 

Sounds like the fact that a dealer sold the car for an individual caused an issue or something? 

I didn't dig all the way through the comments, but there was nothing obvious to me.  I guess sometimes auctions just fall flat like that, and that's what reserves are for?

I paid $15K for mine in 2018, but it had an SMG, the undesirable gray interior, and some cosmetic paint issues.  None of those were relevant to the race car build (it was going to get an E36 5-speed no matter what), and I was happy to pay $6-8K less than what a nice 6MT car would have cost.

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/23/22 1:43 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

Guess they can't all be winners. 

The lesson here: If you're on the hunt, keep a close eye on all sales because you might get lucky. 

Opti
Opti Dork
11/24/22 12:29 a.m.
ddavidv said:
Berck said:

Just... how is it that anyone finds it acceptable that any car built in the last 20 years wears out rod bearings faster than most cars wear out timing belts?

What he said.

Defenders of the Sacred Roundel seem to accept this as part of life but to me it's simply piss poor design. Couple this to all of the other things that fail on the E46 platform and you can keep 'em for yourself. 

Although I never cared enough about the E46 M3 to consider one given the problems, the E90 M3 always tickled my pickle, and I did do quite a bit of research on owning one over the last few years.

BEBearings seems to think the S65 bearing problem stems from too tight clearances, and large manufacturing tolerances. They have a page dedicated to it, and even though its incredibly dry, it was a very interesting read.

IIRC their findings led the OE supplier Clevite to write a paper on it. It was something like Nominal rod bearing clearance for an S65 was around .001 maybe .00125. Which is about half what a decent clearance would be in a performance motor. Add into the equation stacking from the large tolerance of the other parts and with everything in spec the actual rod bearing clearance could range from half the nominal clearance (probably a quarter of what would be considered decent) .0006 (explaining the super early less than 10K mile failures) to over .0021 (much closer to what youd want explaining the higher mileage cars not having bearing issues.) Also they speced a super thick oil which is terrible for super tight clearance, and you cant run a thin oil because those are terrible for high revving performance engines.

Take their findings with a grain of salt because they are trying to sell you bearings, but I think the info seemed pretty solid when I read it. Regardless Im firmly in the "design flaw" camp, which is said because I love the cars, but I just cant wrap my head around rod bearing being a maintenance item on an incredibly expensive to repair or replace engine.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/26/22 10:05 a.m.

In reply to Opti :

FWIW, I went into this knowing rod bearings were likely in the car's future. Part of these projects, though, is to learn more so we can then discuss it. 

More updates on the M3 to come as a box from BimmerWorld just arrived.  

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