Tips for Buying an E90 or E91

"There are some real gems out there if you know what to look for"

It was the first model of the BMW 3 series to be sold in the market as a 2006 model. It was launched in Mar 2005 and the production continued till a facelift revision was made in 2008 which was then convinced after the 2011 model year.

After the facelift, some models got an upscaled look, like the sportier front and nicer taillights, while others got an engine update like the BMW 335i model converts from N54 twin-turbo engine to a single turbo N55 engine.

Another appreciable addition in the line up was 335d, which is a bit tricky to find nowadays. It was phased out after the introduction of the F30 model in Feb 2012.

All part of the generation that ended the naturally aspirated inline 6 era. Now you can only get a used car of the BMW 3 series, and this guide will help you to figure out which specific car you should buy among a long lineup of E90 generation.

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BMW E90 3-series Models & Specs

The E90 chassis has models with various engine options available. If you are in search of a used 3 series, then go for a facelift or Post-LCI (Life-Cycle Impulse) model. Some of the high-performance post-LCI models of sedan E90 are as follows:

325i/325xi 2008-2012

Gen 1 N52 3.0 liter inline-six petrol engine | 215-hp and 200 lb-ft.

328i/328xi 2008-2012

N52N petrol engine in ULEV (Ultra-low emission vehicle) version | 230-hp and 200 lb-ft

328i/328xi 2008-2012

N51 petrol engine in SULEV (S-Super) version | 230-hp and 200 lb-ft

330i/330xi 2008-2012

N53 straight-6 petrol engine | 276-hp and 240 lb-ft

335i/335xi 2006-2010

N54 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine | 300-hp and 300 lb-ft

335i/335xi 2010-2012

N55 straight-6 turbo engine | 302-hp and 310 lb-ft

335d 2009-2011

M57 straight-6 diesel engine | 282-hp and 403 lb-ft

‘i’ stands for fuel-injected‘xi’ for four-wheel-drive system or BMW’s xDrive

E90 Specs and plus points

After the debut of the E90 series, the enthusiasts start hauling for its predecessor E46 as this legendary car set a high mark for BMW users.

Still, E90 was sold to a satisfactory figure as it was larger than the E46 and also presented with wider tracks, a longer wheelbase, and a spacious interior. It holds ample space up front and rear legroom than the E46.

The fifth incarnation was bigger but not heavier than E46 and provides a fantastic driving experience.

It holds a superb natural balance due to its near-perfect weight distribution. It remains surefooted due to its stunning body control and resolute grip during a ride even on a hustled twisty road. The cooling tank of E90 is arguably better than the E46 and the chances to blow up the expansion tank are quite lesser than E46.

Why buy an E90, lets see what it's plus points are?

We can see why the E90 became so popular, from the awesome engine options to the driver experience it offered.

After the facelift, it not only set new standards of driving demeanor and refinement but also retained the consumer appeal for the brand.

The high-performance drivetrain with a combination of informative steering and a quiet cabin presents a beguiled and comfy ride.

In a group test of one mile, the reviewers concluded that the 3-series just wiped the floor with the Mercedes C-class, Jaguar X-type, and Audi A4, and made them feel utterly outdated.

It remains the best vehicle choice for keen drivers and has won the Best Executive Car award for each year it was on sale.

All credit goes to its extreme refinement and green credentials. This is high time to buy an E90 model coz this forgotten model has become a bit cheap in the used market now.

Tips for E90 Buyers

If you are a tech-lover, we personally recommend you to choose a manual gearbox as it feels like a modern box. You get much more driving experience from the manual boxes, but we understand this is totally subjective and interestingly in some regions the auto boxes are preferred.

All models of the BMW 3-series are enjoyable and reliable and all of them offer manual gearbox option and super hydraulic steering.

The N55 engine is quite reliable when it comes to performance length.

We don’t want to leave an impression of confusion, so we simply recommend you to buy the nearest post-LCI model if you value performance and power above all.

BMW 335i/xi is a wonderful choice among petrol options and also the BMW 335d among diesel options is an unbeatable selection.

Find out what the best mods are for the E90 before you buy and make sure you choose the right engine and specification.

Here are some serious suggestions before buying a used car.

  • Always make a test drive on a rough road with a closed roof and windows to listen to any rattling sound. If any, find its cause.
  • Carefully monitor the movement of the rooftop while opening or closing. Check if at any point it gets stuck.
  • See the drips on the plastic around the window, there you may find potential leaks.
  • Look for any oil leaks in the engine bay.
  • Last but not least, Check the Carfax. Don’t purchase a car with a history of any accident.

E90 common problems and issues to look out for

The E90 are generally reliable and problem-free, especially if they are regularly serviced and looked after. This is a list of all the potential issues that have been flagged up, we are not trying to imply they are full of problems, and most used E90's will have had these issues sorted by now.

Some of the common problems with E9X models are as follows:

  • The most common issue E90 users face is the short ground clearance, causing scrapes all over the bottom side of the bumper and side skirts. This is further exacerbated when the wrong wheels and suspension are fitted.
  • Aluminum bolts for a lot of items in the engine bay like the oil filter housing, solenoids, cam sensors, valve covers, head, crank sensors, oil pan gaskets. All bolts need to be replaced while servicing.
  • The valve cover gasket tends to leak. While replacing check for other broken bolts also.
  • Cam sensors and solenoids may cover with oil. Sometimes cleaning is enough but more often they need to be replaced
  • Expansion tank hose may cover with leaked oil from the valve cover
  • The oil filter housing has a coolant intake. When the gasket fails, some black gasket mixes with coolant or sometimes coolant mix with oil.
  • Aluminum head bolts tend to stretch and end up breaking
  • The electric water pump can fail without warning and may also harm the thermostat nearby.
  • Oil separator hoses are on intake manifolds may break or crack and are not readily available to get replaced
  • Cabin filter assembly tabs tend to break and bolts tend to strip out
  • In the transmissions there is a plastic oil pan with built-in filters, this whole assembly needs to be replaced whenever you are doing a filter and fluid change
  • Weaker turbos are noted on both the N54 and N55
  • The high-Pressure Fuel Pump failed and needs replacement.
  • Two pretty expensive injectors may also tend to go out and need replacement
  • Carbon-buildup on intake valves resulting in misfires and stumbles, it does require regular cleaning plus make them walnut-blasted
  • Pretty flimsy cup holders in the dashboard tend to break more often
  • Due to electronically controlled steering locks, motors tend to break
  • Door-lock actuators may end up going bad in the locked position and then need replacements.
  • The optic (logic 7) audio system cannot be replaced with any aftermarket stereos and is not plug-in-play friendly, may need additional wiring or may have to run another amp.

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