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Buying a Used 3-Series

fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
Which of these is better buy, 1999 M3 2dr or 2001 330ci? I have seen that a used 1999 m3 can cost as much as nearly a 2002 or 2003 BMW 330ci. Thats pretty interesting despite that fact that the M3 is a super car. Id like to know which one is the better buy and why? I am looking for acceleration, handling, and overall performance. Which do you think will be more reliable? Looks also count, but performance is more for me in my opinion. Thank you very much for your time.
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Comments

  • vgnc1972vgnc1972 Posts: 1
    I am really in need of assistance. I always had a desire to buy a luxury car...I said to myself that when I reached a certain level financially and professionally, I would get one. I feel like I have reached that point now, so I am ready to "pull the trigger". I have gotten a lot of negative feedback about the car, such as the car is known to have a lot of electrical problems, expect major problems around the 50-60K mark, and maintenance costs are out the roof. Please, please, please...someone help and tell me should I really be concerned about those things.
  • mace242mace242 Posts: 12
    I just bought a 325xi in December and LOVE it. I haven't had any problems to speak of. The warranty is great and all maintenance is included at no charge for 5 years/50K miles which is a great feature as well. My mom has an '05 that she has had almost 2 years (also a 325xi) and she has had no problems whatsoever. It's only been to the dealership once and that was for the scheduled oil change. Obviously I don't know about problems at the 50k-60k interval, but I can tell you that I absolutely love my car. I look forward to driving it everyday. Good luck with your decision. :shades:

    P.S. BMWs retain their value for years so you can always keep trading it in for a new one around the 50-60k mark for a minimal (relatively speaking) cost.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    such as the car is known to have a lot of electrical problems

    LOL!

    expect major problems around the 50-60K mark

    LOL!

    maintenance costs are out the roof

    LOL!

    Hope this helps.
  • imran62781imran62781 Posts: 26
    i got my car a little over two months ago. its a 325xi. i feel the ride is pretty smooth, car is powerful enough for me, and i just like the way it drives (and looks of course). as somebody else said, i look forward to driving it. i have about 3500 miles on it and havent had any problems so far (knock on wood). the only thing i am concerned about is the run flats, which i'm sure you have read about. the only thing i can do is keep checking my tire pressure. if you get the car now, you will prob get continental tires, not the crappy bridgestone, so you won't have to worry about that either. what else are you looking at? i looked at the TL. i'm glad i didnt get that, i see way too many on the road, plus it just doesnt have the same feel. good luck with everything.
  • judyc135judyc135 Posts: 1
    A trusted friend is selling this car with only 23,000 miles on it in excellent condition-like new with all bells and whistles. He is asking $4,000. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds suggest a much lower price. What kind of problems might I anticipate with the car, what do you think of the price? Thanks for any help. :confuse:
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 131,011
    How does a 20-year-old car only have 23K miles?

    That said, if the condition matches the mileage (immaculate?), and it is a 2-door... and really a 325i, not a 325...

    Then, somewhere around $3000-$3500 would be fair...

    Is it a manual-transmission?

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    If it really has only 23,000 miles (hard to believe, but who knows?) you need to be very careful of a car like that....hoses, belts, tires, oil seals, etc. could be very old and no longer functional.

    A complete mechanical and safety inspection of any ultra low mileage car is in order.

    If the car passes the test with no problems and needs no repairs, it's certainly worth the price.
  • macdadmacdad Posts: 75
    I bought a 525 Dec 2006 and love the car (I realize it is not 3 series, just giving my 2 cents). It does have an enormous amount of "electronic gadgets" which would probably keep me from wanting one past the factory warranty. That said, I can see myself driving one for a long time.
  • THE 330ci BY FAR!!! It is a generation ahead, which means you get much netter looks, and as far as the performance goes, the 330ci is a VERY peppy car with performance very similar to the previouis generation m3 (whenever a new generation model comes out, it always has improved performance, so the newer 330ci may be equal to the older m3). Dont just go for the older car because its a m3. in 2 years it will be decade old technology, and plus the old m3's have become "wanabie" cars, like the hondas you see with giant mufflers on the back of them. Go with the 330ci, hands down. :)
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I think that you need to drive both and make your own decision. An E36 M3 offers a more visceral and involving driving experience, but don't take my word for it-similar comments were made by Car and Driver, Car, BMW Car, and Roundel, just to name a few. Since an E36 will cost less you might well have more money available for performance upgrades. On the other hand, while I don't know about the "netter" looks, the E46 is more sophisticated and offers more luxurious touches, but it is still a fine sports sedan. It all depends on your priorities. Ya pays yer money...
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    I would also expect that the M3 has been flogged harder than the 330. People don't generally buy M3s unless they expect to drive them hard, or else why buy an M at all?
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Interesting observations. How many E36 M3s have you driven? What about E46 330is?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think the 330 is the better buy. There's no reason why an used M car should cost so much--historically they are not particulary good at holding their value, asking prices notwithstanding. And an old BMW out of warranty makes a person nervous anyway. If you could find a certified 330, maybe a 2002 and up, that would be the way to go.
  • I have not driven the E36 M3, i know only what i have read and observed. in MY opinion, i would go with the 330ci. ;)
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Oh ok thank you very much for your opinions, its taking a lead on me, so far 330ci sounds like a better buy, anymore comments will be very appreciated! Wouldnt the m3 have better handling or better tranny or brakes then the 330ci? I mean arent the mechanical parts of the m3 made to handle more power then the 330ci if I put on lets say a chip or turbo?? im also wondering which one has the better braking and which one requires more maintanance and is more expensive to repair and maintane despite its age( I know a 99 is not going to last as long)? thanks guys, this is what makes this a great site, your support!!! ;)
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Would a chip(add more power) lower the life of the engine such as the supercharger does? would a turbo lower the life of an engine as well?
  • The m3 is made to handle more power, but, you have to remember that it is a generation older than the 330ci, which means when the 3 series was redesigned, the parts in the new one were much better than the old generation's parts, which means the parts in the 330 are probably as good or better than the ones in the old generation m3 because of the new technology. I dont know much about chips or turbos so i cant help you there, but i would say that the m3 is going to be more expensive and harder to reapair 1) because it is older (may have to order parts for it, versus having them in stock) and 2) because it was probably driven harder than the 330ci and could have much more wear. You should look at each car's technical specs to find out about braking, but, once again, the 330ci probably has equal or better braking due to its newer technology.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Wouldnt the m3 have better handling or better tranny or brakes then the 330ci?

    Yes, the handling and braking of the E36 M3 is better. It is also less "idiot proof" than the 330i; you have to know what you are doing in order to extract the best performance from it.

    I mean arent the mechanical parts of the m3 made to handle more power then the 330ci if I put on lets say a chip or turbo??

    Almost any vehicle will need a brake upgrade if you add forced induction. The E36 M3 is no exception. The best bang for your buck would be a Conforti Shark Injector and CAI.

    im also wondering which one has the better braking and which one requires more maintanance and is more expensive to repair and maintane despite its age

    Maintenance and repair costs will be roughly similar as, unlike the E30 and E46 variants, the US E36 M3 uses a 3.2 liter version of the garden variety BMW six cylinder engine.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Would a chip(add more power) lower the life of the engine such as the supercharger does? would a turbo lower the life of an engine as well?

    A chip-actually an ECU reflash for OBD II cars-will not affect engine longevity to on a normally aspirated car. A turbo or S/C is more likely to shorten engine life due to the increased loads placed on the engine. A lot depends on the maximum boost as well as how long the engine operates at high boost pressures.

    To reiterate: Either car would be an excellent choice. If you are a hands-on kind of driver you'll find that the E36 M3 makes an excellent street/track car which can be tweaked or modified to your heart's content. The 330i will be equally as quick only smoother and more civilized. You really need to drive both, evaluate YOUR priorities and then YOU need to make the call.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    the parts in the new one were much better than the old generation's parts, which means the parts in the 330 are probably as good or better than the ones in the old generation m3 because of the new technology

    Interesting. Which E46 parts are better? And in what way? What "new technology" are you referring to? Double VANOS?

    i would say that the m3 is going to be more expensive and harder to repair 1) because it is older (may have to order parts for it, versus having them in stock)

    That's funny; my dealer stocks almost any E36 specific part I've ever needed. As for ordered parts, they cost the same as stocked parts. An E36 is no more difficult to repair than an E46.

    it was probably driven harder than the 330ci and could have much more wear.

    Possibly, though I've run across more than a few thrashed E46 cars. Either car should undergo a thorough PPI from a good BMW tech.

    You should look at each car's technical specs to find out about braking, but, once again, the 330ci probably has equal or better braking due to its newer technology.

    And that "new technology" is?
  • A newer generation or a car = newer technology and engineering. Period. Why would BMW redesign a car and put the same old technology and engineering into it??? The m3 MAY be harder to repair, because it is MORE likley to be driven hard then the 330ci, and ordering parts involves WAITING, which can be an inconvenience. 330ci is a newer, all around better car. ;) ;) ;)
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Hey guys thanks alot for your comments and support!It really does help me :) Well here are my priorities: performance!!! But my problem is that will i have to sacrifice performance for reliability and maintanance? I mean the m3 is a performance car and Im wondering which car will be cheaper for repairs? Lets say i get both cars with 50,000 miles, which will be more expensive to repair? is it the m3 cause its a performance car? By the way I like the E36 m3's style versus the E46 style 330ci because it looks more aggressive and seems to have more of an aggressive stance. thank you all for your help!! :)
  • dsurtidsurti Posts: 9
    performance hands down i would say E36;

    M3:
    -heavier steering
    -LSD (limited slip diff)
    -a good clutch, not a "self adjusting" garbage clutch like the 330ci
    -does NOT have the CDV like the 330(clutch delay valve.. also garbage)
    -M3 is faster

    for smoothness/luxury.. 330ci

    edit: i'had a 2001 330xi automatic, 2002 325ci stickshift, and my cousin used to have a e36 M3 so i do know what i am talking about

    edit2: i just saw in another post of yours that you are looking at AUTOMATIC BMWs.. if that's the case, then my comments about the M3 and 330 gearbox do nto matter; i do not know much about the e36 auto tranny, but i do know the e46 auto tranny has had high rates of failure due to BMW's lifetime fluid.. in reality, it should be changed every 30k, but once the tranny has reached a certain age, doing a tranny fluid flush would probably do more harm than anything

    IMHO, you are nto really looking for pure performance if you want an automatic
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    Good points; your hands-on experience demonstrates the important differences between the two platforms. I forgot about the LSD on the M3. That's a BIG issue if performance is a consideration. And that CDV is "new technology" that almost everybody wants to get rid of. As for the ATF flush, most of the techs I know say that @60K is the upper limit for a change interval. That said, I waited until 100K on my wife's E39 and at 140K it is still going strong. As for automatics and performance, I think that ///M cars should all come with a third pedal.
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    I see, well i would go for a manuel but the problem is that these days m3s will come with at least 50,000 miles, and if i get a manuel with 50,000 or more miles wouldnt that be stupid in a sense? i mean would the clutch be worn out and all? plus i heard its very expensive to replace a beemer clutch, and i dont know how to drive stick and i fear ill damage the m3's clutch since i am a beginner if it comes with manuel. does anyone know how long it takes to learn to drive stick well?? :cry: thanks!!
  • I wouldnt rule out cars that arent BMW's, unless you are dead set on one (which is not a bad thing, BMW's are great cars). I think an S4 blends the qualities of an m3 and a 330ci very well. Mabie give it a look...??
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I've driven several BMWs to over 100K miles and I haven't had to replace a clutch yet. In any event, a good indie BMW tech can install an OEM quality clutch for a very reasonable price.
    And please...
    Bimmer=BMW Automobile
    Beemer=BMW Motorcycle
  • I wouldnt worry about getting the "Beemer" in a stick, if you are worried, go with the auto "Beemer", and once you've got the "fast" driving down, you can upgrade to a stick "Beemer". You could even participate in "Beemer" driving school to help you learn the stick.
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Umm Quatroporte12, s4, i was once a fan of it, but then i researched audis a and they unreliable, alot more then bmw. Wats more is the s4 doesnt look anywhere near as good as an E36 M3, lol. "a good indie BMW tech can install an OEM quality clutch" what is an indie BMW tech? do they have those in chicago? Sounds good if a clutch will take you over a 100 miles! How much is a new? Is it hard to learn to drive stick with an E36 M3? Is there anyone here that ones an E36 M3? Id like to ask you whoever owns an E36 M3 to give somewhat a review of their car if you may, I would really appreciate it!!! :) Thank you very much for all your replies, keep the advice and facts coming!!
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Hey thanks alot guys, well I would love to know how to drive stick and i would but i fear that I might ruin the clutch of the M3 because it will be my first manuel car to drive since no else in my family has a manuel car, let me know your opinions, thanks!!! Keep em coming!!
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Would a 2005 or 2004 GTI Be a better option? Performance is my strong point, after looks and maintanance follows...thanks!!
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    I used to own a 2001 330i, 5 sp, with sport & premium package (basically 330ci with 2 extra doors). At the end of 2004, I traded it for 1999 E36/8 M Coupe (basically, M36 M3 in a modified Z3 Coupe body).

    If you're looking for performace, go with M3. If you're looking for more luxury, go with 330ci.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    -does NOT have the CDV like the 330(clutch delay valve.. also garbage)

    Hate to burst your bubble, but E36 M3 does have a CDV.
  • If performance is what you want most, an M roadster is much faster than the m3. But it wil not seat four, if you need a car that can...
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Yeah i really do need five passengers. Um is the "CDV" a bad thing? is it really a pain? Does anyone here know if maintaining and repairing a E36 M3(1999) is more expensive than a 330Ci???????
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Um is the "CDV" a bad thing? is it really a pain?

    Yes. It's in all modern BMW with manual transmission. It makes it easier for novice to shift, but makes "spirited" shifting more difficult. It's a pretty easy thing to eliminate though.

    Does anyone here know if maintaining and repairing a E36 M3(1999) is more expensive than a 330Ci

    They are going to be about the same. If things break, then it's not the part, but labor that's going to be expensive.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    If performance is what you want most, an M roadster is much faster than the m3. But it wil not seat four, if you need a car that can...

    Unless you get a '01-02 M roadster (S54 engine), it's not going to be much faster than M3. Also, unless you replace the differential on the '01-02 M roadster, it's not going to be that much faster than 99 M3 in 0-60. The roaster will pull away at higher speed though.
  • dsurtidsurti Posts: 9
    oops didn't know BMW's idiocy went back that far..

    well as dave330 said, fortunately the CDV is easy to take out anyway

    from what i heard, the cdv can acutally cause more wear? this may seem counterintuitive as the purpose of the CDV is to reduce driveline shock, but during spirited driving and quick shift, the cdv will slow the engaging of the clutch and thus cause more slippage, therefore glazing the clutch etc..

    this is a good writeup from david zeckhausen, a good in NJ who performs the cdv-ectomy for bmws:

    http://zeckhausen.com/cdv.htm
  • dsurtidsurti Posts: 9
    I had a 325ci that i traded for a s2000.. i really wanted the M Roaster/Coupe but i coudln't afford to make the jump... i picked up a used s2k for a few grand less than what i sold my 325ci for

    the s2k, m roaddsters/coupes, m3.. real sport/performance cars imo
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Yup. It's really weird. I can almost see the justification for putting a CDV in a non-M cars, but it makes absolutely no sense on a M.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Yeah i really do need five passengers.

    Neither cars are good for 5 ppl. For short trips they're ok, but not on a regular basis.

    If this is going to be your 1st performance car, I'd recommend the '01 330Ci. It'll be a easier car to live with on a daily basis. In terms of performance, if '99 M3 rates a 10, then a '01 330Ci would be 7 or 8. The increased comfort on 330Ci will more than make up for the performance loss.
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    dave330i, why would the 330ci be an easier car to live with on a daily basis? Lol by the way when you say the M3 gets a 10 in performance and the 330ci would get a 7 or an 8 compared to it thats like saying an A+ is close to a B or a C, thats not too close IMO.. My biggest concern for the cars is the mechanical issues and maintanance, if anyone knows anymore mechanical issues please list them, thank you very much, or list your opinion of which one you would prefer of the two cars if you have not yet so. Thanks!!!
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    if anyone knows any more mechanical issues please list them

    Both cars are reliable. Either one will almost certainly need a water pump at 60K-70K, but that's no big deal. A new radiator should be fitted at @100K miles.
    Rear shock mounts fail at higher mileages, as do ball joints and control arms. One important point to note is the fact that US E36 M3s do not tolerate any significant over revs- valves meet pistons very quickly should you miss a shift. In my opinion any difference in reliability is not significant enough to consider it as a selection criteria.
  • fdg07fdg07 Posts: 14
    Hey thanks alot div2, I really appreciate it, so i guess they are both around the same reliability and maintanance, sounds great!!!
  • Was just reading a review of a 2001 m3 and saw this quote comparing the old one (e36)and 330ci. Thought i should post it...from edmunds.com reviews.

    "When the last BMW M3 was sold in North America (from 1995 to 1999), it was an emasculated version of the car available across the Atlantic. While Europeans were ripping about in 321-horsepower M3s, we made do with choked 240-horse variants. Sure, they were great-handling cars armed with that razor sharpness endemic to all BMWs. But with the release of the more powerful 2001 330Ci making nearly as much power as the old M3, an upgrade was clearly needed."

    If you would like to read the rest of the article the url is: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FirstDrives/articleId=46799
  • Dear All,

    I am looking to buy BMW 3 series (for the first time) and need some help on deciding what's the right price to pay for a Certified pre owned vehicle.

    I just looked at a 2004 black 325i with 28000 miles with sports package, power seats including passenger seat and power moon roof. I test drove it and liked it. The dealer asking price is 28k. Edmunds says 27.5 for such certified pre-owned car in CA. Any opinions on what a reasonable price for this car is? Am I better off buying a new one? I never bought a car from a dealer before so appreciate any tips on where I should start the "haggling".

    TIA,
    dinks
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,612
    Have you gone on BMW's site & checked the whole list of CPO vehicles? If so, you've had a chance to review the "asking prices" for the type of car you're looking for, plus getting a feel for what's available elsewhere in the country. Fair value for used cars has to do with what auctions bring in your part of the country (wholesale, of course) for the vehicle you're thinking of, plus profit, plus an allowance for CPO.

    Edmunds has a board (Real-World Trade-in Values, or some such) that used to give excellent target numbers. The guy who provided the best input (Terry) has been AWOL since early summer, so that resource is much less useful. There are a few industry insiders who still go there, so you might give it a shot.

    Dealers mark these things up to a fare-thee-well. What it'll actually sell for has to do with the local market for just that vehicle. If there are a fair number of ignorant people (or even one) willing to pay too much. . . In the absence of input from people who actually know something, you could start at 10-20% below what they're asking.

    As to whether you should consider buying new, I answered that question for myself a few days ago. I'm interested in a 3-series, sport package, manual, with fold-down rear seats, in electric red. There are exactly zero of these available anywhere in the USA on the CPO list, and the 9 red cars with manuals don't have anything even resembling the options I would choose.

    Besides which, if I buy new I get a smokin' deal on European Delivery, exactly the car I want, and it comes back into the country with the Austrian & Swiss windshield decals for the local autobahns (plus the one for Grossglockner) to remind me of where I've taken the car, as I sit in Phoenix traffic.

    Priceless.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sounds a bit high priced. I just helped a friend purchase a 2005 325i with 14K for $28.5K; also a CPO car but without premium package. Still, one year newer and half the miles.

    Nothing wrong with buying a used CPO BMW.
  • First of all, a 3 series is NOT a luxury car. If luxury is your first priority then you need to look at a Lexus or similar. However if you want the safest, best built, sports sedan in the world then you need a 3 series. I have owned 4 BMWs and sold them for a main dealer also. A BMW is not a cheap car, it costs a lot of money to produce a car with perfect 50/50 balance and look good too. Maintenance (once out of waranty) is also expensive because BMW do not comprimise on anything related to performance or safety. So yes, the brake discs are thiner and wear out quicker, but of course thick iron discs which last a long time produce more unsprung weight and take longer to lose any heat build up. So other manufacturers comprimise both safety and performance for cheaper maintenance costs. That is just one example, there are many more. But when all said and done, I would NEVER own anything other than a BMW.
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