Buying an old BMW...advice?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Go Dog Go, May 12, 2009.

  1. Go Dog Go macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    #1
    Hey there everyone! Here's my situation.

    I'm a 21 year old student, and I am looking for a new car. I am going to be road tripping/moving up to Washington for the Summer from Southern California, and I'd like to get a new car before then (about 1 month from now).

    I surf, road bike, but I don't have much stuff other than that. Just clothes. I was thinking about getting a Ford Escape because I could put my board on top or inside, and for sure fit a road bike in the back.

    I've always been a fan of driving (I don't race, but I love to drive). On the other end of the spectrum, I have my eyes on a CalypsoRed 1996 BMW 328i, Sedan, fully loaded.

    Now, I usually wouldn't consider a car this old, but the car is pristine. 1 owner, 70K miles, fully maintained, records, preventitive maintenance, and the best part...it's a 5-speed!

    So I'm up on the fence right now. If I get the BMW, I'll be getting a roof rack to put my surfboard on it. It would be a great car to drive, and is very nice. Also gets wonderful gas mileage.

    On the other hand, an Escape is very useful. Has lots of room, but is boring to drive, very plain, etc.

    I need some advice here. I am not a poor student (I've been working well-paid internships for the last 9 months), so a bit of maintenance here and there isn't an issue.

    Also, when I move back to school in the fall, I won't be driving much. Maybe just to the beach ocassionally (8 miles), and back home every few months (300 miles).
     
  2. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    #2
    how much?



    edit- oh, the car as a whole will last a long time, it's just little things that will start needing to be replaced that will start to add up. Why not try and find an e46? They are going pretty cheap now. I had a '96 328i when they were new, great car at the time, still a good car, especially if it is in the condition you say.
     
  3. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #3
    Unless you have money to maintain it, I would avoid any German car especially BMW's and Benz's. 70K may seem low, but that is when things gets expensive for a BMW.
     
  4. Melrose macrumors 604

    Melrose

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    Location:
    In a sidewalk.
    #4
    More than price to buy the car, be sure to check out the insurance cost. I was able to find several old 3s when I was looking, and they were in my budget, it was the insurance that gagged me.
     
  5. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #5
    Buy yourself a Subaru WRX. Better performance than the BMW, more practical than the Escape, and more reliable than either.
     
  6. iNash macrumors 6502

    iNash

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Location:
    Hanslope, UK
    #6
    Not always my E46 320i (2.2L) was a dream when I got it at 55K and was a dream when it left me at 110K apart from usual service costs, the only things I paid for were:

    Fuel pump (once) - Heavy foot
    Brand new rear suspension (once) - stopped following the road :eek:

    No mechanical faults whatsoever.

    I would also recommend the 320i as it is full of power and more economical (if you can find a good price one).

    Equally my E36/7 has had no issue from day 1 - 0miles up to her current 67K and she only comes out at the weekends for a serious hard drive for short periods aka the most damage...

    I've always found German to be the best car I've owned.
     
  7. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #7
    Oh I am not saying it is unreliable, but when something does break, it is expensive as hell to get it replaced.
     
  8. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #8
    This is exactly why I walked away from a BMW deal a few years back. Yeah, they are pretty reliable for the most part, but parts even for general mainentence get expensive. Plus, you really don't want to take a BMW to Joe the mechanic down the street. I was in a fairly rural area at the time, and didn't really have any BMW dealers or repair shops nearby.

    But I was so tempted. I had never driven one, and when the sales guy asked if I had considered a BMW, I laughed. He said they had one in my price range. After driving it, I understood the slogan, and how it won all the car mag comparisons. So, now I'm patiently until I'm in a better financial situation to get one.
     
  9. iNash macrumors 6502

    iNash

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Location:
    Hanslope, UK
    #9
    I see your point, although it's probably worth weighing up, small costs often for lets say a British car :rolleyes: and big costs less often for something German. Could end up being the same price overall.

    Very clever thinking, as you've said, their slogan says it all and when you get comfortable you will want to squeeze it that little bit more on a quite road, which in turn pushes up the cost of fuel/tyres :D
     
  10. Go Dog Go thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    #10
    The car in question is so beautiful. The interior looks like it has never been driven, along with the exterior. The engine bay is so clean, you could eat from it!

    It's well maintained, but alas, I think I may have to lean away from it. I don't even want to test drive it, because i know I will want it.

    I am going for the Ford Escape, or something similar. I figure, while I finish college, I could use a car with some space and maybe a tow hitch. Fold down the seats in the back for camping too :)
     
  11. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2006
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #11
    I second that. We have an older 7 series in our garage and parts are relatively expensive. I am a DIY'er so I save a LOT on labor costs. When I have brought it in for service it was $150-200/hour before I found an independent garage that specializes in German auto repair with a much lower labor rate.

    Many BMW models are known for having MANY small issues crop up when the miles pile up. Some are mere annoyances but others are more serious such as a phantom sub-system draining the battery over two or three days. Just as other cars, common wear items such as suspension links, rod ends and brake components can wear quickly. I just replaced some suspension links on our 7 and two of the rear links were $400; I did the labor then had a garage align it. The labor quote for two front links and two rear links was not a pretty sight.

    I love our 7 very much but it sits idle more often than not and maintenence has cost me a lot over the years. I need a SUV more than the 7 so the 7 will be leaving soon.

    Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.
    :)
     
  12. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #12
    If you want something smaller and cheaper, but still fun to drive, try the Mazda 3. It is a lot of fun to drive, and is one of the higher class cars in that category. Go for the hatch model for more storage space. I am a bit biased, though, since I have owned 3 straight Mazdas. :)
     
  13. techfreak85 macrumors 68040

    techfreak85

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Location:
    Places
    #13
    you know, there needs to be a non apple buying advice forum.(?)(ya i know submit it to the site feedback forum it just happens to be connected to this tread.:rolleyes:)
     
  14. coupdetat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #14
    Get a Honda Fit! I have an '08 model with a slightly stiffer/lower suspension and some very nice tires. It's incredible to drive, easy and cheap to maintain, and holds ridiculous amounts of stuff. It's not very powerful of course, but the steering feel, stability, and responsiveness definitely rival WRX's I've driven. I haven't ever driven a BMW to compare, though.

    Okay, okay, probably not the most useful advice for you. But I love my car. I'm 20 and in college, btw.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #15
    ^^^I think that's pretty good advice. If you're in the market for an Escape, perhaps a Fit would also be a good fit for your needs, and be more fun. It's getting rave reviews for its "fun-ness", and it's a very decent car. My girlfriend has the new one. I dislike the interior materials, but then again, it's not a luxury car. Also, I have never heard anyone else (people, reviewers) complain about it, so what do I know? I was only comparing it to my old car, which was also cheap.
     
  16. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    #16
    +1

    Almost a universal fact with any german car once it reaches 10 years or so of age, the electricals will start to go to hell. The LCD displays on the dash will start to go out, the climate control will act funny, the radio rotary encoders will fail, ect.

    I have a buddy with a 1998 328i and within the last year I have helped him put in a new radiator, new driver and passenger window modivators, replaced the volume rotary encoder on his radio, replaced a bunch of capacitors in the climate control module, replaced the ignition module, and most reciently replaced the gauge cluster LCD, which finally died totally.

    The bottom line is buying a used BMW is only worth it if you've either got the money to pay someone else to constantly fix the issues it will have, or are technically skilled enough to attempt to diagnose and fix them yourself.
     

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