For years, owners of the BMW 3 Series E46 models have been reporting ruptures in subframe structure of their cars. This problem was also common in the earlier E36 models, but they re-occurred in the E46 models from 1999 to 2006. These problems appear in the rear mounting points for the subframe, which can rip out from their spots in sheet metal.
This happens because the rear differential transmits the torsional load from the engine through the subframe, then into the chassis. This constant loading and unloading weakens the sheet metal and causes it to fatigue and separate from the chassis.
Some mechanics were reporting that the only way to fix this is to remove the rear suspension, driveshaft and weld some new reinforcement mounts into the cracked areas where support is needed. Yesterday, we received an official statement from BMW North America with details on a Class Action Settlement:
BMW has agreed to a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit concerning the Sub-Frame structures on 3 Series (“E46”) models produced from 1999 through 2006. Under rare conditions the attachment points of the Sub-Frame may develop a fracture or crack. BMW has prepared an inspection, approved repair procedure, and reimbursement policy in keeping with the terms of the proposed class settlement. Details will be forthcoming, pending the court’s final approval of the proposed class settlement. In advance of the final settlement, BMW customers with questions should visit www.E46subframeclassactionsettlement.com.
For more information and details, visit the website mentioned above.
Here are some more photos, courtesy of Tunermotorsport, showing the damage in the rear subframe.