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Old 01-24-2011, 01:47 PM   #1
adamt
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buying a bimmer

Hi everybody,
I知 new to the forum, but was hoping that some of you experienced folks might be willing to help out a noob with a couple questions!

I致e always had a real soft spot for BMWs and am just entering the market for a vehicle, so I知 seriously contemplating picking up a preowned 3 Series, either an E46 or a newer E90. Before I take the plunge though, I was hoping I might be able to get some feedback on what my best option might be, and a bit of a sense of what I can expect in terms of maintenance, reliability and operating costs. Reality checks are a good thing.

I知 on a bit of a budget (thinking between $10 000 and $20 000, give or take), and will probably be spending quite a bit of time in the car (say 30 000 km per year), largely in the greater Toronto area.

I suppose the first thing I知 wondering is, assuming I知 not totally crazy to be considering one in the first place, what vehicle people would recommend? Do you think I壇 be better off with a later-model E46, or would something like an 06 or 07 E90 with fewer km痴 on it and possibly a Certified Series warrantee be worth the higher price tag? Are there any models / years that people have particularly good things to say about? Or, are there any that I might want to specifically avoid?

And then there痴 the question of maintenance. Obviously these things can vary a lot depending on how well the vehicle was maintained, but what sort of range of annual repair costs should I be prepared for?
I壇 obviously never expect a BMW to be as economical as, say, a Honda Civic, but could I expect a well-maintained, older bimmer to give me years of relatively trouble-free, relatively affordable driving pleasure, or am I likely to be faced with a lot of problems and hefty maintenance and repair bills, even in a well-cared-for vehicle? I definitely don稚 want something that痴 probably going to fall apart on me or become a colossal money pit after a couple years.

Any comments, tips, suggestions or warnings that anyone could offer would be tremendously appreciated.

Many thanks!

Adam
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #2
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I'm certainly not an authority on this topic - so take what I say with all necessary caution - but I'll take a stab at answering. The bulk of my experience has been with very old (20+ years) and very new (0-3 years) BMWs. I recently bought a middle-aged (2001 model year), well-maintained and beautifully-kept E46 with lowish mileage and the ownership experience thus far has been instructive.

The vehicle I bought had 110,000 km at the time of purchase and I've put on around 7,000 km in the intervening months. Despite passing a PPI with flying colours, the car was in a maintenance-intensive mileage range at the time of purchase and costs have added up. Including scheduled maintenance, I've invested around $2,630 in various things. Hopefully these ownership costs are front-loaded and will balance out as the miles add up. It's important to attend to problems as they crop up instead of deferring until the annoyance/risk factor outweighs the grudge cost.

I think it's best to enter into the 'relationship' with the expectation that costs, including those associated with regular maintenance, may be radically higher than those associated with a Civic or Accord, but the daily payoff in driving satisfaction and general enjoyment of the car will be equivalently greater as well.
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:24 PM   #3
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Either buy one with <50 000km or buy one with over 200 000km that has been well maintained. Old cars are more fun, more "raw" in driving feel, smaller.

However, some people just have to have new cars. If you buy a car around the 150 000km range, there could be a lot of stuff that is just about to need doing (mostly suspension).

With 10k-20k$, I'd definetly spring for a mint E36 M3, but then again that shouldn't be something you put through the rigours of everyday driving (especially winter) if you'd like to keep it mint...

So a more realistic option for you I'd say is go for a mint e39 for ~10-13k. Generally the older you go the more you will get for your money but it could be extremely tedious finding "the right one."
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:52 PM   #4
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The old school bimmer lovers will tell you to buy old, and the new school bimmer lovers will...well you get the point.

Honestly, to be totally unbiased, if you're looking for reliability and to have a good commuter, buy the newest one you can get your hands on, and the best warranty for a problem free, worry free BMW experience. This goes for any car make imo. If you want to spend less and have a toy to tinker with, then buy old.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:21 PM   #5
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If you can get E90 and certified, props to you. It may be a long shot and only with private sellers along good negotiation skills. The cheapest E90 I saw was the 323i at Parkview for like 22K. Add taxes and you may be in the mid 20s. I also think that the E90 323i look way too cheap and plastic-ish. I could be wrong, but I have only driven the 335i...
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Old 01-26-2011, 10:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the feedback!
Finding the $20K - $24K for a newer '07 323i or even 328, and possibly a Certified Series, isn't out of the question, but obviously at some point it becomes a case of diminishing returns.

Do you think the potential savings from a newer vehicle with a CS warrantee might come close to justifying the extra price? Or at that point would I be potentially spending a lot extra for not much gain? With that $5K - $10K price difference, it seems like I could afford a lot of repairs and still come out ahead in that sense.

And when the E90 did eventually start needing the repairs that all cars need sooner or later, would those tend to be pricier (and/or more numerous!) than what an E46 or E36 would need?
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Old 01-26-2011, 11:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamt View Post
Thanks for all the feedback!
Finding the $20K - $24K for a newer '07 323i or even 328, and possibly a Certified Series, isn't out of the question, but obviously at some point it becomes a case of diminishing returns.

Do you think the potential savings from a newer vehicle with a CS warrantee might come close to justifying the extra price? Or at that point would I be potentially spending a lot extra for not much gain? With that $5K - $10K price difference, it seems like I could afford a lot of repairs and still come out ahead in that sense.

And when the E90 did eventually start needing the repairs that all cars need sooner or later, would those tend to be pricier (and/or more numerous!) than what an E46 or E36 would need?
Buying a car is a diminished return, unless it is a classic...

With CS, the pricing is always higher, some people prefer the peace of mind knowing that there is warranty to fall back on..

I, however would save that money, but get that car, E46 or E90 inspected
first before buying.....

car will eventually breaks down so stay on top of maintenance...
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Old 01-26-2011, 05:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamt View Post
Thanks for all the feedback!
Finding the $20K - $24K for a newer '07 323i or even 328, and possibly a Certified Series, isn't out of the question, but obviously at some point it becomes a case of diminishing returns.

Do you think the potential savings from a newer vehicle with a CS warrantee might come close to justifying the extra price? Or at that point would I be potentially spending a lot extra for not much gain? With that $5K - $10K price difference, it seems like I could afford a lot of repairs and still come out ahead in that sense.

And when the E90 did eventually start needing the repairs that all cars need sooner or later, would those tend to be pricier (and/or more numerous!) than what an E46 or E36 would need?
Absolutely, you could be spending more in the long run on the new car. You can buy a MINT like-new e36 328 for 6-8k (mileage is irrelevant for a looked-after car). That's 14-12k you have left on repairs if overall your budget was 20k. Rest assured that with a mint 328i you will not even be spending 1k/year of ownership.
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Old 01-27-2011, 02:04 PM   #9
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And when the E90 did eventually start needing the repairs that all cars need sooner or later, would those tend to be pricier (and/or more numerous!) than what an E46 or E36 would need?
All BMW repairs are very expensive unless you know how to do them yourself. An E36,46 would be cheaper than an E90 but not by all that much. The parts are parts, most require OEM BMW. Labour is Labour, you need to pay it.

In buying an E90, I specifically stayed away from:

X-drive
NAV

More things to break later in my opinion. I got my E90 with just over 100K, just out of warranty and lots of stuff was needed. All known stuff with routine fixes and i was able to dodge the bullitt on a few using the forums, but they're not cheap to fix. Not for a school kids budget if you know what I mean. Water pump was a grand, a set of tires is large, a battery alone is over $200.

I would get an E46 3-series and then see if you really like Bimmers before you get anything newer. You can get one with higher miles well maintained and hopefully get 30-40K out of it before you decide to keep it or not without having to have spent much.

Don't get an M3, the maintenance of everything doubles compared to a 3-series. All cars are money pits.
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Old 01-26-2011, 09:54 PM   #10
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I like the way Flaviu is thinking. Lets be honest here, the worst scenerio would be shelling the top dollars for expensive car without warranty and hoping nothing will go wrong. I would get a super-low mileage, pre-owned certified series and just rest my balls and not worry. Than if that is too much, get a car where you have a portion of cash left over to keep it running.

The last thing you want to do is strech yourself and get a E90 without warranty and wait for a killer bill. That's the way I see it. I also the feeling that lot of E90s were leased due to uncertain economical climate. So an average joe that leases it, he does a very minimum. That means that some sucker will have to pay down the road for that...
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Old 01-26-2011, 10:24 PM   #11
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^^ for most leases the car is covered under warranty for the entire term.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:47 PM   #12
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^^ for most leases the car is covered under warranty for the entire term.
I know but I still hear crazy stories upon lease takeover, let alone what happens after..
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