HOME GUIDES Tips for Buying a Used BMW

Tips for Buying a Used BMW

blue bmw 3-series
Nathan O. Resident Auto Enthusiast - Carpages.ca
blue bmw 3-series

Buying a used BMW can be one of the smartest ways to get the features you're looking for without paying top dollar for a luxury car. But you need to know what to look for when buying a used vehicle. Failing to do your research or overlooking the hidden costs of owning a car can cause you to pay more than you expected in the long run.

Is a BMW a good car to buy used?

Owning a used BMW will require ongoing maintenance and repairs. The more you drive your used car, the more wear and tear you need to consider. The price of a used BMW may be higher than other used automobiles. But the prices of replacement parts and the services they require may also end up costing you more.

BMW cars are recognized for having a strong engine and rear-wheel-drive platform. You can find used BMW cars easily, helping you avoid the depreciation that occurs immediately after a brand new car leaves the lot. From a financial perspective, buying a used BMW that's five or six years old can be the best option.

Having the resources you need can help you find the vehicle for your needs, maximize its lifetime, and minimize the total costs of owning a BMW. The following are the essentials you need to know when buying a used BMW.

Is it Expensive to Own a BMW?

Owning a BMW can be costly. You have to consider expenses related to maintenance, repairs, fuel, and insurance. Compared to the average automobile, the prices for these and other factors can be higher when owning a BMW.  High-end parts and tires, synthetic oil, and premium gasoline requirements can increase the cost, depending on the series model you choose. Owners can often end up spending thousands of dollars more each year when compared to owning a less expensive car like a Toyota or Honda.

The depreciation of BMWs can also make it a more costly vehicle to own. The average cost of a six-year-old BMW 3-series is about $17,000. But a three-year-old model can sell for an average price of $30,000. That's a $13,000 depreciation in just three years. That's why choosing the right vehicle is so important. An older series model can offer the same features and performance at a fraction of the cost.

Why Is BMW Resale Value So Low?

BMW, like other luxury automotive brands, tends to depreciate in value more than general economy brands. They cost a lot when they are brand new but drop significantly in price when resold. In fact, a study shows that luxury cars tend to cost roughly 30–40% less when purchased used.

The popular used Mercedes model, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, was 34.5% cheaper second-hand, which equates to about $23,000 less. The Lincoln MKZ was similar at 33.7% and $14,328.

No BMW vehicle was included in the list of top 10 cars to buy new over used, but they'd be right up there because they are luxury vehicles. The study suggested that the low resale value was due to companies and individuals leasing BMWs out and then upgrading to the newer models.

Luxury cars like BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche often have low resale value because they factor in luxury car maintenance. Unlike popular vehicles, such as Toyota and Honda, it can be difficult to find parts. However, this may have been an issue in the past, but parts and accessories have become more readily available from the dealers. 

Compare these low resale value luxury vehicles to high resale economy models. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was only 8.9% cheaper as a used vehicle. The top 10 consists mainly of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai.

What does this mean? Well, luxury vehicles, like BMW models, are ideal second-hand vehicles to purchase. You'll save money, avoiding the initial depreciation that occurs when you buy one brand new. You'll also come closer to breaking even when you eventually sell it. 

What You Need to Know Before Buying a BMW

Preventative maintenance of cars can protect their lifetime value and minimize the out-of-pocket expenses you have to deal with as a car owner. In most cars, things can start to break down after 80,000 miles. Plastic components can begin to fall apart, and you may experience issues with the electronic components, including its power windows and seats.

When considering buying used BMW vehicles, car buyers need to consider all the features and components that can eventually break down. In addition to the engine, power steering, and transmission, you should look at the car's air conditioning, sound system, Bluetooth capabilities, and other features. These can be costly to repair or replace. So inspecting them thoroughly when looking at different models is critical to finding the right car for your needs.

Water damage can be one of the most important things to check for when shopping for a used BMW. Common areas where water damage can occur include the trunk and floorboards. Water damage can wreak havoc on the car's electronics whether you're buying a BMW, Toyota, or any other vehicle.

Look for cracks in the car's rims. These can cause air leaks that compromise the car's performance and safety. These cracks can be difficult to find, so make sure you look closely when inspecting different car models. Suspiciously low tires can be a tell-tale sign of hidden cracks.

Used automobiles can have engine issues you need to consider. The car's high-pressure fuel pump may not be in working order if you notice a rough idle after starting the car cold. Other things to check for when inspecting under the hood include the smell of burnt oil or any leaks. Be sure to share what you find with the dealer so that you can negotiate a fair price.

Take a test drive to get a better idea of the car's condition. The performance of a used car's mechanics may be the most important factor when compared to how old it is or the number of  miles it's been driven. As you drive the car off the lot, look out for any transmission issues as you shift gears. Rough shifting or unusual sounds from the car's drivetrain.

The dealer should share any information related to the car's history and any accidents it's been involved in. While we're not saying a private sale is always going to lead to scams, you get a lot more assurance when buying from a licensed dealer. Even the most reliable BMW may not withstand the effects of a collision or other accident. You need to know the car's history to determine how much repair it might require in the future. Whenever possible, have a used BMW inspected by a professional with experience in working on BMW cars.

Common Problems with BMW

The engine cooling systems of BMWs tend to have problems frequently. The water pump can fail, and coolant has been known to leak often.

Damage to the cooling system is something that has to be addressed ASAP. Failure to deal with it can cause overheating, which leads to severe engine damage.

The CCV — crankcase ventilation system — can also be problematic. Vacuum leaks can also occur, thanks to cracked hoses. Oil leaks can frequently create a smell of burnt oil emanating from the car’s hood. Fuel pumps and injectors can also falter.

The "Check Engine" light will be triggered when most of these issues occur.

Electronic system issues can arise, too. With there being so many different features, controls, and devices in a BMW, this should come as no surprise. 

Is a BMW Expensive to Fix?

Regular maintenance can extend the lifetime of any car. As a driver, you want your BMW to provide the reliability and safety you need on the road. When you search for a used car, you want to know how expensive it might be to make repairs. This is especially important if you expect to be driving many miles over the car's lifetime. The factory service schedule can give you an idea of how much work will be required to get the best experience out of owning a BMW. But you should consider more frequent maintenance if you want to keep your car in optimal shape.

You should always be on the lookout for common issues that can arise in a car. This can help you take the steps to prevent them ahead of time and avoid more serious problems down the line. If you search for problems early, the repairs you need may end up costing you much less. A responsible driver understands the importance of getting any minor issues checked out as soon as possible. Common issues include overheating or coolant leaks left on your driveway. Every driver should know how to check for leaks as well as coolant and oil levels.

Tires must be kept properly inflated, especially on all-wheel-drive BMWs. Make sure you check the specs for your car. Depending on the series model, the pressure required for the front tires may be different than the pressure required for the rear tires. If you notice any jolting when stopping or speeding up, your tire pressure levels may be off.

These and other issues are factors that will impact the cost of fixing your used BMW. But many things will determine your lifetime repair costs, including the series model of your car, the amount of use, and the road conditions you encounter when driving.

Do BMWs Break Down a Lot?

When you consider the BMW brand, you think of luxury. They're German-made vehicles, and German manufacturers are deemed to be the top automotive manufacturers in the world. Unfortunately, they've gained a reputation for being unreliable.

The origin of this idea of unreliability comes from a very limited, small-scale study from Berkeley.

Are BMWs unreliable? Do they break down a lot? According to the 2020 Consumer Reports Car Reliability Survey, BMW has improved its newer models. In the past, they were considered to be average in reliability — but now they are above average.

So, what does this mean for you? When purchasing used, you may be buying an older model BMW, which will have average levels of reliability. There's no reason to think you'll be buying an inferior brand that breaks down a lot.

They might not be considered the most reliable vehicle, but they're still dependable. They fall somewhere in the middle of the pack.  

How many kilometres can a used BMW last?

The lifetime of any car can be hard to determine since many factors can influence its performance. The parts of a vehicle can become weak and brittle over time, and they typically last around 130,000  kilometres before needing to be replaced.

Having a repair shop nearby that understands the mechanics of BMW cars can be essential to the lifetime of your car. Not all mechanics may understand the specifics of BMWs, and depending on the series model of your vehicle, you may need specialized attention to keep your car running longer. Also, a local repair shop can be less expensive when compared to dealerships.

Is buying a used BMW worth it?

Doing your research is the best way to know if a BMW is the right car for you. Are BMWs reliable? They are, but what you get out of your car will depend on what you put into it. Different BMW series models will have different needs. BMW 5- and 7-series automobiles are available in hybrid and diesel models. The 1-series models are typically smaller and may have less complicated components.

You should always keep depreciation in mind when deciding what car to buy. As with other makes and models, the value of a BMW will drop over time. But many vehicles have a higher resale value than others, but higher-end vehicles typically depreciate much slower than others.

The vehicle's history will also play a big role in your decision. You can access information about the previous owner, past repair and maintenance services, and any accidents it was involved in.  The more you know before buying a used car, the better you can determine which one is right for you.

Are BMWs reliable cars?

Your car's reliability can keep service costs low while increasing the safety and comfort it can provide. BMWs are recognized as well-engineered automobiles with solid construction and dependability. Every car will need routine servicing over time. The materials used in the construction of your car, its mileage, and other factors will determine its reliability. Newer automobiles have complicated electronic components that can require fixing at some point.

Knowing what to look for is the first step to buying a used car that can give you the benefits you're looking for. Whether you're looking to buy a 3-series BMW or a larger 7-series, knowing the true cost of owning it can help you make the right choice so that you get a high-quality luxury vehicle while saving money.

What to Look for When Buying a Used BMW

When checking out a pre-owned BMW, ensure that you test all the electronic features extensively. See if the windows work properly. Are the seats working? What about the climate controls? Don't forget about the air conditioner, Bluetooth, and audio system.

Take a look underneath the carpet to inspect any water damage or corrosion. Also, have a look at the cargo space of the vehicle. Water is highly problematic for a car's electronics system.

If the car is a newer model, observe the key holder. Does the key fit nicely into it? Don't forget about the wheels and rims of the vehicle. Hairline cracks can cause alloy rims to leak air. The damages can be minuscule and hard to spot. If the tires are lacking air, this could be an indication.

The hood of the car should also be inspected. If you smell anything strange, it could be an oil or coolant leak. Try test driving the vehicle to assess the quality of the transmission. Does it run smooth? Or are there any rough shifts or loud clunks?

Buying a pre-owned car is all about observing and assessing the mechanical quality and condition. How does it run? Don't get too carried away with worrying about how many miles the vehicle has clocked or how old it is.

Also, try to avoid cars that have been in accidents. A CARFAX history report will tell you everything you need to know. Lastly, have a mechanic who specializes in BMWs inspect it.

Do all of these things before you put pen to paper. It could be the difference between having an incredible pre-owned luxury BMW that runs or having one that doesn't — and costs you a fortune in repairs.