• User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
  • User avatar
User avatar
By alex
#40026
My 17y/o is looking at older BMWs. I'll be checking over things for obvious signs of damage, wear, abuse, etc, but I've never owned or worked on BMWs. It's definitely going to be a higher mileage vehicle, I don't know that it will do much good to try to convince him he should get a Civic or Corolla in a similar price range with lower miles, and I'm figuring a 323i should be common enough that parts shouldn't be hard to come by. It's his money, there may be some hard lessons to learn or it may work out great. Regardless, I'd like to try to keep him away from any obviously troubled vehicles.

So any red flags to look out for?
User avatar
By lupo.sk
#40027
Bmws were bmws until about 2004. 2000 is okayish, it will have a bunch of issues but still DIYable w/o the need of superspecial tools. After that, meh.

The most important thing to ask is: did he drive a RWD car before? If not, get the car but take out a plug or two so he doesn’t end up wrapped around a pole somewhere. Or take him to a track where he can actually see what a RWD car does at its limit, preferably one with a skid pad to simulate sudden loss of traction.
alex liked this
User avatar
By alex
#40120
Thanks. I'll probably take him out to the dirt roads at my grandfather's place to get a feel for what happens when traction is compromised. That's where I learned.

Probably should have figured there was no way he wasn't going to want it once it was in front of him. Seemed to be well taken care of despite the miles. Needs motor mounts, nothing else immediately, other than some interior bits. He's willing to do the work to keep it going.


Image
XR4Tim liked this
User avatar
By amdavid
#40546
Damn kids...! At 15 going on 16 it's all mine can talk/dream about, especially a bmw as pictured. As stated, stay below a 2004, even those have plastic coolant connections that inevitably leak. I keep telling mine to stay away from German cars as first car, unless you really want to "learn" about spending money and working on cars....in that case, I'm going steer mine to the 944.....a gutless wonder on a curvy road.
alex liked this
User avatar
By alex
#40594
amdavid wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 2:25 pm Damn kids...! At 15 going on 16 it's all mine can talk/dream about, especially a bmw as pictured. As stated, stay below a 2004, even those have plastic coolant connections that inevitably leak. I keep telling mine to stay away from German cars as first car, unless you really want to "learn" about spending money and working on cars....in that case, I'm going steer mine to the 944.....a gutless wonder on a curvy road.
Last time I looked at 944s, I was pretty surprised at how expensive they had gotten, even for suspect examples, but it may be location dependent. He's been working/saving, and it was his decision... 2 days in he's still happy, we'll see how it goes over the t long term.
amdavid liked this
User avatar
By Fox 3
#53968
I have 2 BMWs, one a 2001 X5 purchased new, and another a manual 2007 335i bought used with 111,000 miles. For the 335i, I paid $8,700 three years ago and have paid more than $16,000 in repairs since that time, to good independent shops, never the dealer. Still have an awesome car that cost less than what I would have paid for a a new Camry. The prior owner for the 335 spent more than $25,000 on maintenance at the dealer post-warranty.

Bottom line, used BMWs out of warranty are for wealthy people, not kids, unless those kids are aspiring mechanics. Any person owning an older BMW can expect to spend at least ~$2,500 in unscheduled repairs every 8-10,000 miles, for the life of the car, if they're lucky. Significantly more depending on the model. You pay a lot less up front in exchange for continuing maintenance costs as time goes on. Pay now, pay later type thing.

They are not engineered for reliability, period. The only thing the BMW engineers appear to have cared about was the driving experience. Literally nothing else.

This is a really good video explaining the pervasive engineering failures as pertains to reliability/cost of repair, just happens to feature the 3 series your son just bought:

User avatar
By FlatSix
#54013
These are fun cars. Looks like he got one with the sport package, which is good. I bought a one-owner 2001 330i sport with 100k on it that my boys drove to 225k. It was a very fun car to drive but not the cheapest to maintain. I refreshed the suspension (shocks, m3 control arm kit from Turner Motorsports - a great parts source for these cars) and off we went.

Water pump - these are very important regular maintenance items on these cars.

weak points off the top of my head:

Fuel pump

window switches

Here's a great maintenance guide:
e46fanatics is a good rennlisty-type resource too

For Heaven's sake, don't get in an accident. These are frighteningly expensive to repair.

Super easy to do oil changes on these. check and see what size oil filter socket you need; I have one that probably fits and will send it to you for postage if you want.
User avatar
By Airkuhl
#54207
I have owned and enjoyed 3 BMW's. IMO there are 2 ways to own a BMW:

1) Lease a new one for 3 years and return it.
2) Buy an older one and have a good independent shop nearby.

I had a '93 M5 that was a great car. Mechanically solid and a blast to drive. But it had plenty of electrical gremlins in the cockpit. Warning lights, speakers, switches, etc. Not hard to fix but time consuming.

Wife leased a new '17 328xi wagon. Great, trouble-free car for the 3 years we owned it. BMW leases are generally cheap because the residual is high and you can get non-M models for under invoice. We paid $450/mo for a highly optioned one.

No way I would own a newer one out of warranty. My '09 335is E92 had a known HPFP issue and an exhaust rattle issue. Took 4 tries under warranty to fix both. After warranty it had a valve cover leak. Dealer quoted $1600, independent did it with factory parts for $300. It was a great car other than those issues, fun to drive, comfy, good looking. I still sold it right afterwards.
Last edited by Airkuhl on Sun Mar 14, 2021 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By FlatSix
#54364
Airkuhl wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:41 pm I have owned and enjoyed 3 BMW's. IMO there are 2 ways to own a BMW:

1) Lease a new one for 3 years and return it.
2) Buy an older one and have a good independent shop nearby.
+528, 330 and 550i
User avatar
By Cuda911
#54425
Love my '11 328i. 55k miles on it now. No issues.
Attachments
20200201_150638.jpg
User avatar
By 911Königin
#66144
Love a red BMW :rockon:
User avatar
By aridaen
#70414
I've owned both a '99 323i which got totalled, then went to an '03 325i and put over 150,000 miles on it before it got totalled too. I now drive a '15 335i and love it. I haven't had to do any maintenance on it yet, so I don't know what kind of pain it is, but the 323 and 325 were decent in reliability. One thing to watch out for is the intake boot that goes from the air box to the throttlebody, they are 2 piece and break down over time causing a vacuum leak and check engine light with lean codes. If there are no maintenance records on the car, I'd change that right away. I've also had to change the coils on the 325 and went back with BavAuto/ECS Tuning performance coils. I've rebuilt the Vanos once and had to change the hard plastic water lines under the intake, and had to replace the right rear wheel bearing, but other than those things, the cars were great and fun to drive.
amdavid liked this
Favorite tool of the day

Magnetic pickup, gets me out of trouble every time[…]

Mileage milestone on Cayman

Let me look further into that steering wheel u[…]

Yes I know and I appreciate that fact more than an[…]

Formula 1 2020 And Beyond

Great race. I really thought Hamilton was going[…]