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Buying a Used 3-Series



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Well 73K is just about at the cusp when a 3-series *might* be needing some things, so I'd certainly have all the usual trouble spots carefully examined.

    Certainly it's a better idea than buying a used Jetta IMO. Jetta reliability ratings are not good.


  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I'm partial to 3 series BMW's (driving an '87 right now). But, if you have to rely on a dealer to do all the repairs and maintenance, they ain't cheap to keep up.

    Have you considered an Acura TL in the same price range?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    That's a thought. There's a few 2003 TLs in my area for around $14k with around 70k miles (those seem to be the magic numbers, don't they?). It would likely be more reliable than a 3-Series, but it doesn't have all the safety equipment the 3-Series does, e.g. side curtain airbags and ESC. That is one reason I like the 3-Series. And of course, a TL is not a 3-Series. :) Another one I thought about is the S80; 2002s with about 60k miles start under $13k. Those have curtain airbags, not sure about ESC. But the S80 isn't a 3-Series either. Lots of choices...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,613
    Our '03 325i averaged about 26 mpg in suburban commuting... We were pretty happy with that. Sold it to friends, who are still driving it with about 60K miles.. Since the free maintenance expired, they've replaced one window regulator ($90 for the part) and had a dealer do the 60K service for $530.

    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    That is good to hear about the FE--I've heard the 3-Series does pretty well in that area, for a 6-cylinder. And the 60k service wasn't too bad either--that's not much more than what a dealer would charge for the service on an Elantra. :)
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,613
    They shopped it... the other dealer in town was $200 higher..

    It was a really nice car.. still is.. Our friends love it!

    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,271
    The E46 has proven to be durable and reliable. The six cylinders need a water pump at @60K intervals but other than that there really aren't any major problems. I also recommend that you have the car inspected by a good BMW tech. The E46 3er is a great car, and there are enough of them around that you can afford to be selective. As for maintenance and repair, here's a brief overview:

    On an E46 some services are determined by time, some by mileage, and some by the on-board Service Interval(SI) system(which calculates service based on driving conditions).
    The time based services are: Brake Fluid(every 2 years) and Coolant(every 3 years)
    The mileage based services are: Spark Plugs, ATF, and Oxygen Sensors(every 100K miles for all three).
    The SI system has 3 levels of service: Oil Service, Inspection I, and Inspection II. An Oil Service is called for at 15K intervals(or every year, whichever comes first). It is just an oil change.
    The Inspection I rolls up at 30K; it is an oil change, a cabin air filter change, and a comprehensive inspection of the car.
    Inspection II occurs around 60K and is essentially an Inspection I + an engine air filter change.

    If you are planning on flipping the car in a couple of years I'd just follow the BMW schedule. However if you're going to hang on to it for a while I'd advise changing the transmission fluid(slushbox OR manual) every 60K at least. Ditto for the final drive oil. If you take your 3er to the track I'd reduce those mileage intervals by 50%. I change the engine oil on mt 3er at 7.5K intervals due to the fact that it sees the track every so often and my wife's X3 chews up its oil in less than 9K miles(based on used oil analysis). Some people go 15K without any problem but I'm not one of them.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Thanks for the very informative post! I was wondering about those "Inspections" and their intervals.
  • Hello,

    I am currently looking to buy a used car....I have found 2 cars that I love...a 02 audi a4 and a 01 BMW 330i. Both have alomst 100,000 miles on them....should I buy and what should I ask the dealer? Thanks!
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,271
    My only experience is with BMWs. If you are serious about the 330i you need to have it thoroughly inspected by a tech who knows BMWs. I'd set aside @$75 per month for repairs and maintenance. Maintenance costs will be reasonable if you find a good dealer or independent BMW tech. Whatever you do, don't scrimp on maintenance.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Thanks for replying! I can definately do the 75 a month....I just heard problems with transmissions and such especially with the high mileage....I am in love with the car...but I don't want to be screwed you know.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,271
    I just heard problems with transmissions and such especially with the high mileage

    Some BMW automatic transmissions have failed at 100,000 miles, others have gone over 200,000 miles without problems. The key to a BMW's long term reliability is to keep it maintained by the book. If you buy the car, don't hesitate to ask any questions. I'll be happy to help.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Thanks roadburner....I decided not to buy.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Went for a 2000 328Ci coupe with Premium Package--leather, moonroof, xenons, etc. etc., 68k miles, grey/grey. Original MSRP $39k (window sticker was in the glove box). My price, $12,400 +T&L. Or about the same as a two-year-old base Elantra. :P Oh, it's a stick. :) One owner trade on a new Bimmer, bought and serviced where I got it. Dealer had the complete service records, including recent new brakes, tires, battery, major servicing, etc. Having some minor bodywork done to take out some scratches and dents (part of the deal), then it will be all miiiiiiiine. Except for a tiny hole on the passenger side door interior trim and a little dig on the rear bumper, it looks new (or it will after it leaves the body shop). It drives great, very smooth and rattle-free, great linear tracking and handling (of course).

    Time for my second childhood. :shades:
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,271
    Sounds like a great car. Just stay on top of the maintenance. I'd change the oil every 7.5K and I'd also replace the transmission and diff oils if they havent been done already. Keep the coolant changed-BMW coolant only-every three years and the brake fluid(DOT 4) every two and the car should run well for a long time to come.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,681
    Thanks. Those things have been done recently (oil was just changed today) and I put about 7500 miles a year on my car, so I should be good to go (knock on wood) for awhile. It will be fun driving a stick again--especially one with 193 hp. :) I told my son and daughter who are still at home I'd teach them how to drive it. I told them, if they can play video games, they can drive a stick. Eventually it will be my daughter's car... if she is a real good girl the next few years.
  • We agree to our 1st BMW-have wanted 1 for a long time. It's a 3rd car for when my wife doesn't need to drive her all-wheel drive Sienna minivan and I'm not using my Accord for work (outside sales).

    Anyway I think we did well to find

    a 2006 325ci Black with 10,500 miles for $23,500 CPO Only 2 options are heated seats and Steptronic Automatic

    The search really evolved..........we had serious negotiations on a 2000 325i with 68k for $11500 and a 2005 325ci with 48k miles-$19,800 CPO with the same options as the one we bought. We worried too much about out of warranty issues (and it drove a little sluggish) with the 2000. We like the 2005 but the grey color was a little bland-we drive 2 grey colored cars now and were attracted to the low miles and extra year of original warranty and certified warranty with the 2006. This will be kept in the garage-we'll drive in winter when roads are clear and put on about 5-7k miles per year.

    Any thoughts or advice-we take delivery on Tuesday.
  • docgarydocgary Posts: 17
    Sounds like a great deal! What part of the country do you live?

    Out here in the northeast (New Jersey), a 2006 325i CPO with under 20k mileage
    will never sell south of 25K - trust me - i've been searching for 6 weeks!!

    I've owned 2 BMWs -1994 325i and 1997 540i -
    at 10,000 miles, the car hasnt even been broken in!!

    I have found a 06 325i (would have preferred a 330)
    27K mileage, silver with black interior (the only interior worth having IMO)
    cold weather/premium package, maintenance package,

    This car stood out from the previous six I test rode.
    I'm not in need of a fast off-the-line speedster -
    Been there done that - and I have a motorcycle for that rush.
    This 57 yo ex porche owner is simply looking for that great handling,
    fun car that only BMW has.

    The prior six all had a degree of a "ridden out" feel -
    too much dampening in suspension ,body roll, generally a tired feel.

    This puppy woke up the second I stepped on the pedal. Very clean in and out.
    Garaged, well cared for.

    I will seal the deal this weekend -
    $25,000 OTD incl tax. (no $ down 60 months, 3.9%)

    If you get your deal and the car has no negative surprises,
    You have gotten a SWEET DEAL!!

  • Live in NH, bought in Peabody Mass. The sticker said 26900, internet price was 25,500. No surprises and we are very happy. We put 500 miles this week to go over 11k. I think the economy and a rear wheel drive car this time of year up North gave us great leverage. It's truly in better shape than my 07 accord and my wife's 08 Sienna. Love the look of the black coupe.

    My only 3 comments not complaints are that

    1. There is a ton of brake dust-although it just came off easily
    2. Maybe I've been driving it too enthusiastically but we are getting 21 mpg according to computer
    3. The speedo reads 3 mph higher than GPS.

    Anyway we are very pleased. Good luck with your car and thanks for responding.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Comments on your comments:

    1) Keep after the brake dust, if you don't it will become almost permanently adhered to your wheels. If you have no intention of tracking your car you might want to consider low dust pads. I've used PBR/Axxis pads on my BMWs and have had exceptional results (i.e. braking power similar to the OEM pads and virtually no dust).

    2) The beauty of your car is that if you keep your foot out of it, you can actually get over 30 mpg on the highway and more like 25 around town.

    3) All BMWs (and virtually all German cars) will read a couple three MPHs high at 70 MPH. I read a good explanation a couple of years ago on why that is (something to do with laws regarding speedometer error), however, I don't remember the details. That said, I suspect that you'll find that your odometer is pretty much "dead-on-balls-accurate".

    Enjoy your new ride. ;)

    Best regards,
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