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  #1  
Old 11-14-2007, 10:05 PM
MagicEyes MagicEyes is offline
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Should I buy a used BMW?

I need to buy a car that's cheap but reliable. I've been looking at Toyotas and Hondas, but I've seen a few BMWs in my price range. Would it be a bad idea to buy a BMW? I know they cost more for repairs, but are they made well enough that it would be worth it? BMW owners, do you spend a lot more on maintenance and repairs?
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2007, 10:22 PM
dgrdfd dgrdfd is offline
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I am also interested in this topic. I thought about getting a nice black one that's maybe three years old.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:38 PM
anamnesis anamnesis is offline
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BMW's Certified Pre-Owned program brings a 2-year/50,000 mile Protection Program to the table on top of the car's factory 4-year/50,000 mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Certainly not the best in the industry, but not the worst either. Dollar for dollar, a three year old used BMW is about the sweet spot as far as value is concerned. I've never owned one but have several friends who do. One got a 2001 740i back in 2004 in the mid-to-high $20's, and I know there are 3-Series models from the last generation going for the high teens to low $20's.

As for reliability, I can't give much advice other than to say that my friend with the 740i no longer has it due to all sorts of issues with the suspension, transmission and driveshaft, many of which I suspect were self-caused because he would constantly tinker with the car and despite being knowledgeable, I can't say he really knew what he was doing all the time. He also drove the car pretty damn hard too, a lot harder than "average" anyway. He really hammered it a lot. Nevertheless, it's no lie that the major parts don't come cheap, but many of the major parts are definitely built to a higher standard so you get what you pay for. Parts for routine maintenance like filters and such are only a little more expensive than most cars, though.

If I were going to buy any BMW, I'd definitely buy used in the 2003-2004 range. If you do buy in that range, you'll probably get a 2-3 year used warranty depending on the balance of the factory warranty. With the debut of the new 3-Series, it's easy to find old 3 models (that, at least in my opinion, look better than the new one). I also think the last-generation (E39) M5 sedan is going to become quite the affordable classic in the coming years, if not already. Most of these cars can be had in the $20,000 range, or lower.
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  #4  
Old 11-14-2007, 10:51 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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I mentioned this in the last luxury car thread - Don't buy one with anything BUT a manual transmission. The GM automatic transmissions that some of them used are very unreliable and cost a lot to repair. Not all of them use GM trannies, some use ZF, but just save yourself the trouble and avoid auto trannies entirely.

All German makes seem to have generally less reliable electrical systems than Japanese or American makes. I heard this has something to do with the EU phasing out lead based solder but no cite on that. Bottom line is that you'll end up spending a fair bit of money on stuff like window regulators and other electrical doodads that will nickel and dime you to death and more so the older the car gets. The drivetrains seem to be generally reliable. The best you can do is find a reputable local Euro-car mechanic and minimize the bleeding, because the dealer will certainly make it worth his while.

So the bottom line is that if cheap and reliable is what you want, you have lots of better choices. If you don't need the RWD wintertime fun factor, I wouldn't bother.

I wouldn't want to be lumped together with all the other douchebags that drive them anyway.
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  #5  
Old 11-14-2007, 10:59 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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I have a '92 BMW 325 with 130k miles and a manual transmission. It's still reliable, and actually still pretty fun to drive, though the CD player has gone to heaven. I'd totally recommend this class as a used car, with the usual caveats about used cars in general.

Having posted the above, my car will of course give up the ghost first thing tomorrow morning.
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2007, 11:22 PM
kelly5078 kelly5078 is offline
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My wife has a '99 323i that's held up very well. But when something does go wrong, beemers are quite expensive to fix (significantly more so than my '95 Volvo).

I second the comment about the automatic transmissions sucking. But the clutch on a BMW standard is, IMO, far too grabby. My old Toyota's clutch was a lot smoother.
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  #7  
Old 11-14-2007, 11:40 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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'Cheap" doesn't apply to a BMW, not even a used one. Nor, according to CR, does "reliable" although BMW doesn't rate terrible by any means.

"Cheap and reliable" would mean a used Honda (or Toyota) or a new Honda Fit. Subaru comes in very high in reliability and Hyundai is very good value. Saturn is nice if you hate haggling.

It used to be CW that buying a late model used car was a better buy (that was when cars often only lasted for 5 years). Now, not so much. Used car financing is fairly high, and Manufactuors often offer 0% financing on a new car. The difference in interest will more than make up for the "drive it off the lot depreciation"- if you intend to dive the car for a good while.

Last edited by DrDeth; 11-14-2007 at 11:41 PM..
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  #8  
Old 11-14-2007, 11:58 PM
Ocean Annie Ocean Annie is offline
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Maintaining a BMW is expensive. I bought a used BMW from a private seller a few years or so ago. It was a great car, but the maintenance cost prevented me from ever buying another one. I think if you want a BMW or a Volkswagen, the cost of maintaining the car has to be a consideration. If you are willing and able to incur the extra cost, then go for it and enjoy the German luxury. The Germanís know how to make a great car.

Last edited by Ocean Annie; 11-15-2007 at 12:02 AM..
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  #9  
Old 11-15-2007, 12:03 AM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Feh. I've put maybe $2k - maybe - into my BMW in ten years.
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  #10  
Old 11-15-2007, 06:52 AM
FourPaws FourPaws is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unconventional
Maintaining a BMW is expensive. I bought a used BMW from a private seller a few years or so ago. It was a great car, but the maintenance cost prevented me from ever buying another one. I think if you want a BMW or a Volkswagen, the cost of maintaining the car has to be a consideration. If you are willing and able to incur the extra cost, then go for it and enjoy the German luxury. The Germanís know how to make a great car.
Volkswagen and German luxury are NOT synonomous. I used to own a VW Fox once upon a time. If that's luxury .. ::shudder::

I've owned two BMW's. They were great cars. As it's been stated, when they do break, it's expensive to fix. But mine didn't break any more than ordinary vehicles.
My 83 BMW 328 had 242k on the odo when I bought it, and it ran fine till we donated it to charity. It was old enough that i felt comfortable doing most of the repairs myself. Same with my 90 Volvo 240DL -- that had 240 ish on the od when I bought it. The BMW was much more fun to drive, though.

Last edited by FourPaws; 11-15-2007 at 06:52 AM..
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  #11  
Old 11-15-2007, 07:46 AM
Turek Turek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unconventional
Maintaining a BMW is expensive. I bought a used BMW from a private seller a few years or so ago. It was a great car, but the maintenance cost prevented me from ever buying another one. I think if you want a BMW or a Volkswagen, the cost of maintaining the car has to be a consideration. If you are willing and able to incur the extra cost, then go for it and enjoy the German luxury. The Germanís know how to make a great car.
I'm in the same boat: bought a used BMW from a private individual. I think I had every o2 sensor in the thing (and there were 4 of them) replaced at least once, some twice. It was a pain in the ass and expensive to maintain. Won't ever buy one again.
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  #12  
Old 11-15-2007, 08:09 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicEyes
I need to buy a car that's cheap but reliable. I've been looking at Toyotas and Hondas, but I've seen a few BMWs in my price range. Would it be a bad idea to buy a BMW? I know they cost more for repairs, but are they made well enough that it would be worth it? BMW owners, do you spend a lot more on maintenance and repairs?
Let me confirm the statements of others that cheap + reliable != BMW. Used is the only good way to buy a BMW, but be prepared for repairs, and when they happen both parts and (if you don't do it yourself) labor will be pricier than a comperable Japanese or American vehicle. (The same is largely true for Audi and Mercedes-Benz.) If cheap and reliable are your criteria, I'd recommend looking at Honda, post-1995 Subaru, Toyota, and pre-2000 Nissan, in that order. I don't mean to be a shill for the Japanese auto industry, but those guys know how to make blades and cars like nobody else.

Stranger
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  #13  
Old 11-15-2007, 09:27 AM
control-z control-z is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turek
I'm in the same boat: bought a used BMW from a private individual. I think I had every o2 sensor in the thing (and there were 4 of them) replaced at least once, some twice. It was a pain in the ass and expensive to maintain. Won't ever buy one again.
That's probably because of Bosch, the Lucas Electrics of Germany.
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  #14  
Old 11-15-2007, 10:02 AM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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Teehee, Bosch vacuum actuated central locking anyone? Look at my door locks! They're literally operated by thin air! (or not, as it was often the case)

Let me remind you, you're talking about a few year old model here, while most of the happy BMW owners here are talking about older generations, when Bimmers were more performance and less yuppie poseurmobile. Because they have a fairly large enthusiast base, it's not difficult to find repair and DIY resources for the older models, which were great. For the newest generation, not so much. The newest E90 3 series, ferexample, doesn't have a dipstick. you need to return to the dealer to check your oil.

I guess a good rule of thumb would be - don't buy a BMW that doesn't have square headlight housings. The newer ones just aren't the same kind of car.
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  #15  
Old 11-15-2007, 10:51 AM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throatwarbler Mangrove
while most of the happy BMW owners here are talking about older generations, when Bimmers were more performance and less yuppie poseurmobile.
Hmmm. My recollection is that since at least the late 80's, Beamers have been associated with mass yuppification. But YMMV.
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  #16  
Old 11-15-2007, 01:45 PM
Cemetery Savior Cemetery Savior is offline
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CR does a really nice lookback on almost all makes of cars (including BMW), for most models. They'll rate about 15-20 systems (brakes, electronics, etc.) for 10+ years retro.

I just received the Buyers Guide for 2008....and it rates that way. I picked it up at a magazine stand.

From everything I've heard (and I happen to love how they look), manual tranny, and they're very expensive to maintain. Colloquially, be prepared to have it in the shop about 2 weeks out of the year.

-Cem
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  #17  
Old 11-15-2007, 05:20 PM
nevermore nevermore is offline
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Consumer Reports has BMW (and Mercedes-Benz) among the lowest of the low for reliability and driver satisfaction for the last few years. That's all it took to eliminate any desire I ever had to own one.
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  #18  
Old 11-15-2007, 07:39 PM
control-z control-z is online now
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The magazine reviews still fawn over BMWs and say how great they are to drive. And I expect they probably are. But I think they're over-gadgetized, with stuff like the BMW iDrive system in the 7 series.
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  #19  
Old 11-15-2007, 09:01 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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While the cars have changed significantly, I had a '69 1600 that ran like gangbusters, and a buddy of mine a 2002 tii-a total screamer for a little four banger. The only problems I had were tearing out the rag joints in the driveshaft, and the CV joint boots cracking.
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