I found this 2004 M3 at FC Auto in Falls Church, VA in November of 2011 with 102k miles on the clock. The car was in fair condition. The steering wheel was torn, the paint was dire need of polishing and the bumpers had stone chips everywhere. But the interior was clean and the car drove like a champ! I took the car over night and had it inspected by a local trusted mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. Besides the obvious, things you should look for on a used M3 are front and rear control arm bushings, rear subframe, vanos and with an SMG, transmission codes. Everything checked out fine so I decided to go through with the purchase.
DETAILED SERVICE RECORDS
Clearly you’re interested in my M3 so you should know I’ve logged all service records on Google Docs here. Anyone should be able to view this file. I was gong to make a table to display it here but that’s more work than I want to do right now.
Unlike my previous cars, the M3 was to be my daily driver and not see track time so I didn’t want to do any track mods. I wanted the car to be uniquely mine without losing any of it’s daily driver capabilities.
The first thing I did was replace the original torn leather steering wheel with an alcantara wrapped wheel from Coby Wheel down in Georgia. This is hands down my favorite mod to the M3. The wheel feels slightly thicker than a standard leather wheel however the alcantara is soft in your hands. It really does make driving an already incredible machine just that tiny bit better.
In the spring of 2012 I sourced an extra set of rear 18×9 wheels so that I could run a square wheel and tire setup for ease of tire rotation and for longer tire life. I’ve done this with all of my sports cars and wanted the same for my M3. Since the tires were low I went ahead and replaced them with Michelin Pilot Super Sports in 255/40 all around. These tires were crazy good for the street and later proved to have fantastic tread life too.
By late 2012 the stock shocks were toast so I purchased a set of Koni Yellows dampers and Eibach Sport springs. It was a good thing I bought the springs because when we removed the rear suspension we discovered the passenger side spring had actually snapped in half near the base. While we were on the suspension I did the “free camber mod” which involves pulling out three pins on the top of each front shock tower to gain an additional half degree of camber. At the same time I swapped the strut hats to gain a little more to ensure the front wheels tucked in nice and flush with the front fender lip. The result was negative three degrees. Tires were rotated every 5k miles or so and the Michelins wore evenly for thirty thousand miles.
With the Eibach springs and Koni dampers installed the car rode incredibly smooth and looked ridiculously good (in my opinion, at least). Don’t get me wrong, the suspension is still very firm and will jar over joints in the highway but overall the suspension feels like a million bucks. No more nose dive under heavy braking and much less squat under hard acceleration. On the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires it felt like I could stop from 60 in less than 100 ft. Squint as to not have your eyeballs sucked out.
For winter, I picked up a set of Dunlop Winter Sport tires in the factory staggered sizes. I had no problems getting around in snow or ice, even on steep hills. The M3 was more capable in the winter than my fiancé’s new Corolla. I am a firm believer in snow tires on sports cars and see no reason not to enjoy your car year round. The winter can be every bit as much fun as summer with the right equipment.
In summer of 2013 I started to notice the rear of the car felt a bit washy when exiting corners so I had all of the bushings inspected and found the culprit to be a bad rear ball joint. While I was there I also replaced the differential bushings, installed RTAB limiters from Vorschlag Motorsports, Turner Motorsport adjustable rear control arms and gave the car a fresh alignment.
Something about sunroofs I despise. In 2013 I purchased a carbon fiber sunroof delete panel from the Chad Nelson, RIP. I then sourced a non-sunroof headliner from a Competition package M3. These things are expensive but I got a great deal. Install was simple even though it took about half a day in the garage. The original sunroof and headliner now reside in my basement and ready to go with the car.
In April of 2014 the Michelin Pilot Super Sports finally needed replacing. Get this, they lasted thirty thousand miles! I was lucky to get fifteen thousand miles from a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2s. The 255/40/18’s rubbed the front fender liner near full lock so I decided to down size by 10mm and went with 245/40/18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires. I would have went with the Michelin Pilot Super Sports again but I had heard good things about the DWs and with a few discounts they were almost half the cost of the Michelins. Couldn’t pass it up. I was worried they would look too narrow on the car but nobody would ever know. They are still meaty and the tires no longer rub the front fender liner.
At the end of August I took the car to TTFS in Maryland to have the European headers installed along with a dyno tune from Frank Smith. My car put down 325 whp after the tune and Frank also threw in his SMG software which really made an improvement in drivability. The article is here if you want to read all about it. Unfortunately I never had the pleasure of tracking my M3 but it sure is a blast on the back roads. The SMG transmission really shines there. It practically reads my mind and does everything I would do at the exact moment I would have done it. If you buy the car you can reset the SMG DME to re-learn your personal driving style.
Got a flat tire the first week of October and ended up buying two new Continental DWS for the rear in the same 245/40/18 size. The DW’s wore down to 6/32nds after 9k miles. That’s about 1/32nd for every 3k miles. The following weekend I had the brake fluid flushed and installed four new rotors and pads. The Axxis Ultimate pads squeal a bit with light pedal pressure at slow speeds. It’s annoying and I probably wouldn’t go with these pads again for the street.
THE FAMILY CAR AND DAILY DRIVER
Starting a family is not at all why I’m selling the M3. In fact, the M3 is easier to load a baby seat in and out of than our 2012 Corolla. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!? Well, when you tilt the front seat forward, you can also angle it too for even more room. This makes accessibility to the back seats a breeze. It also means I can, with one hand, easily swing the car seat between the B pillar and front seat and slide it right in to position on the baby seat base. Oh, and with a rear facing baby seat behind the passenger there is still enough leg room up front for somebody six foot tall. The baby seat thing really is something overlooked.
As my daily driver in northern Virginia, the M3 sees tail lights 99% of the time. For this, the SMG transmission is a life saver. I’ve been averaging about nineteen miles per gallon during the week. On highway trips I see twentyfour or a bit more. You can track my M3 fill-ups on Fuelly.com. It’s a great service. I text my mileage and fuel consumption at each fill-up and Fuelly does all of the calculations and data logging.
Out of the twenty-three cars I’ve had, I’ve never owned a car this long. That speaks volumes for the M3. I’ve put almost fifty thousand miles on the car and have decided to look for something else for no other reason than wanting something new. The car had to be reliable. I’ve put almost $6k in maintenance in to it and I trust it to be reliable for any cross country trip.
Luckily nothing major here. The car was bumped twice in 2013. The first time was while sitting in traffic on an I-66 on-ramp and got tapped from behind by a Honda. The rear bumper was replaced and repainted. I have video and photos of the incident.
Then a few months later I was in 5 Guys enjoying a juicy burger with my family and a lady hit my car while backing out of her spot. Damage was very little but I managed to get the insurance company to replace the front bumper.
I haven’t checked CARFAX but I’m sure they are listed by now. Both repairs were done by Moor Cadillac in Chantilly, VA. I think I got lucky on both because I didn’t have to pay a dime and now my car looks like it just rolled off the show room floor. I’d give the exterior a solid 8 out of 10.
PRE PURCHASE INSPECTION
You are welcome to get a pre purchase inspection if you like. I’d recommend CoHo Automotive or RRT. My car is regularly inspected by myself on a lift with my good friend Sean (a master technician at a local shop). If you are to get an inspection you’ll find the rear passenger side axle is wet but not dripping – no reason to repair. Other bits include:
The wheels are curbed a little and the original wheels that came with the car must have been repainted because there are spots where paint is flaking off. It doesn’t bother me. It might bother you. They look good enough from ten feet away.
The leather interior is very good with little wear to show its age. Both front seats are heated and power. The driver’s seat has lumber. The navigation system has some dead pixels but works great and has been updated with the latest firmware but uses the old circa 2000 maps. New maps are available and I have a DVD with the new maps but it was laggy so I stopped using it. I also installed an auxiliary input. The original silver interior trim was bubbling so I found a set of the rare piano black trim. For the three dash pieces, my wife and I painted a splatter design in the BMW Motorsport colors. I have the three dash pieces in piano black too.
And the rear view mirror has that weird thing gong on. But other than that, your neighbor would never believe the odometer reading. Interior is a 6 out of 10 due to the mirror and dead pixels on the navigation screen.
MAKE MY M3 YOUR M3
My asking price is $13,000 OBO. It may be negotiable if I like you and trust the car is going to a good home. Email me — firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message below.
- No, I have never had an SMG problem. The SMG system has never been touched to my knowledge.
- Yes, there is a lien with North West Federal Credit Union. I have sold a half dozen cars that have had liens through this bank and they are very accommodating. The title is electronic and will be released to the DMV just a few hours after the loan is paid off. If we go to the bank in the morning then I may be able to get the title from the DMV that afternoon. Worst case, you have a bill of sale and the car and I ship the title overnight.
Please have no concerns about the process. If you were to buy a car on a Saturday afternoon the DMV wouldn’t be open to tag it until Monday anyway. Spend Sunday staring at your new beauty.
- 15mm rear spacers
- spare winter wheels and tires so no getting stuck on snow or ice
EXTRA THAT WILL COST YOU
- BMW factory roof rack base + bike mount.
- 200 Cell catted US section 1 pipe. Never installed.