Editorial

The E90 M3 Has Become So Cheap: Is It A Steal Or A Huge Gamble?

Before long, the E90 M3 may be available for under $20,000.

The E90 generation BMW M3 was built from 2008 to 2013. The E90 M3 came with a unique 4.0-liter S65 V8 producing 414 horsepower and screamed at over 8,000 rpm. That engine made this generation M3 one of our favorites and also one of the most unique. We have already said that we would rather buy a used E90 for around $35,000 than pay almost double for a new M3. However, after searching a few car listings, we found out that an E90 can be purchased for way less than first thought.

Without scouring every BMW forum online, the cheapest E90 M3s that we could find bottomed out at around $21,000. However, after sorting out a few cars with accident records or salvage titles, we realistically found a few 2008 examples in the $23,000 to $25,000 range. Some of these cars are nearing the 100,000 mile mark, but we were amazed at how many examples we found with less than 70,000 miles. We still think that these cars are an absolute bargain and that really makes us want to go out and buy one. However, buying a cheap German car can often leave you drowning in service bills, so is the M3 really a good deal or a nightmare waiting to happen?

Well, as with most used cars, there are a number of things that you should look for when shopping for an E90 M3. The biggest potential pitfall on these cars is the infamous rod bearing issue, which could cause the entire engine to seize resulting in a total loss. If you know your car has this issue, it's best to have it fixed before anything goes wrong.

You can check the rod bearing issue with an oil analysis and the parts to fix the issue cost around $750. A specialty shop will charge you around $2,000 for the service. If you manage to find a car that has already had this taken take of and you can confirm this with service records, we say you should jump on it.

The earlier E90 M3s are more susceptible to rod bearing failure as BMW made changes to the S65 engine later in the car's lifespan. The E90 was gradually updated with LED taillights and better electronics that you won't find on the 2008 model year. Taillights are an easy fix, but the iDrive navigation system will be far more difficult to replace. The 2009 M3 was given a much better version of iDrive with helpful buttons that surround the controller. 2008 M3s are stuck with the old system which relies on a simple home button and a clunky interface. We have a solution, buy one without the system. The M3 is an interesting car because it can be ordered in two ways.

You can add luxury features like rear sunshades, full leather seats, navigation, and electric everything or you could also order the M3 with manual seats, a cloth interior, and a simple six-speed manual transmission. The cheaper M3s that we found came in all different body styles including the sedan, coupe and convertible. We also found a nice mix of manual and DCT cars. If we were looking to buy one, we would suggest buying one with as few options as possible. The DCT in the E90 was pretty quick-shifting, but as the technology gets better, people may look back on the M3's transmission as being a little slow. We the manuals are more future-proof and probably better to own in the long run considering that these cars are getting up there in age and miles.

We would also skip iDrive because the system is already long out of date and will look even worse 10 years down the line. If you're careful, and purchase a nicely maintained car, we still think that a used E90 M3 has the potential to be an absolute gem.

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