Statement on BMW E46 Class Action Settlement

3-Series | May 30th, 2009 by 16
reinf e46 subframe 2

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 …

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.

gallery e46sf 011306 2

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

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.

16 responses to “Statement on BMW E46 Class Action Settlement”

  1. B M says:

    always thought that BMW was a top quality car maker… Well it happens to everyone to make such mistake. Good that they reacted positively.

  2. Jerad says:

    Ugh. I have an e36 and am always worried about tearing mine. It stinks this is only for e46’s…

  3. Merk says:

    Bmw is a top quality car maker that’s why they are fixing the problem. When mine ripped they took care of me like a king very much appreciated. Thanks BMWofNA

  4. larry crouch says:

    Our X3 crreaks and cracks like it’s coming apart when I asked my local dealer about the problem and the class action suit I was informed it was a bunch of bull.
    Can someone tell me what’s going on ??

  5. Steve says:

    I wonder if this only applies to US cars as my E46 also has a clunk and i would not be the least suprise if the subframe has the same cracks.

  6. Trish says:

    Would this cause the drive shaft to loosen up. I have a 2004 X3 that needs one replaced at a price tag of $1200.00. I have been told that the car is dangerous to drive like it is. If this is such a problem you would think they would pay to fix it in order to prevent a much bigger lawsuit. I also had a broken rear spring that needs fixed. The thing broke in half.

  7. OMGBIMM says:

    My X3 has the bounciest ride. It sways and bounces all over the place at the slightest imperfection at low speeds. Is this related?

    The Edmunds Inside line long term test on the BMW X3 2005 had them taking it out for an off-roading afternoon. They were on state maintained fire roads and they blew out the suspension. They didn’t understand it either.

    Is there something up with the X3’s suspension? After all, it is based on a 3 series…can’t remember which one though.

  8. OMGBIMM says:

    The X3, according to Wikipedia, is based on the E46 but does that necessarily mean it has the same subframe? I don’t know what ‘based on’ means in this context.

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’m having this problem right now w/ my 2000 323I. I had three mechanics who recommend me to check if there’s a recall on my car. Glad I found this article. Wish me luck. I’m taking it to the dealer tomorrow.

  10. Mike says:

    I have a 323Ti with a mfg. date of 02/2000, now at about 150,000 miles. It was just inspected by the dealer under the class action settlement. I was told no work was needed. Is subframe failure somenting I need to worry about? Should I get it reinforced?

  11. Autobahn says:

    We have one in the shop right now that we thought had this problem. It is an E46 wagon that creaked over bumps. Turned out it was the door seals. Plan on doing a write-up in the future at

  12. Baccilej says:

    Does anyone know if BMW had a recall for broken rear coil springs?

  13. chris says:

    mine is damaged and the lawsuit had a deadline so now i have to pay 2500 – 3500 for a horribly made sub frame. I guess the only way to get help is to have someone get injured. I guess i need to go down the highway hoping my back end looses itself and then get in accident so i can get hurt then sue. Then they would pay for it. If anybody has advise please do.

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