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2006 BMW with 97K miles


We are trading in a 2009 VW Jetta TDI with a billion and a half electrical problems which we reported to the dealer. They are willing to pay off our loan and we have financing from my bank to purchase a car. My husband brought home a 2006 BMW 3 series sedan with 97K milies on it to test drive. I got the blue book value on it and what they are asking is pretty much in line with that value. And they are willing to take the POS off of our hands.
I know virtually nothing about BMWs and he insists that all of the research he has done has shown that this is a workhorse of an engine and I don’t need to worry about the 97K miles. I am hesitant to say the least to invest that much money in a car with that high of mileage. So, Car Talk community. What do you think? Is this a wise investment or are we looking at a billion and a half repairs in the near future?

And yes, we plan on taking it to a reputable mechanic to get his take on it. And no this isn’t the same dealer from whom we purchased the VW.

Of the European brands BMW’s are better than others, VW and Audi for sure. However you are still dealing with more frequent and more expensive repairs than Asian and Domestic brands. The 3 series is generally a solid car, and it will go many more miles. But, there will be some pretty heft maintenance and repair bills along the way to 200K miles. BMW’s seem to throw a check engine light “on” more than average for newer cars and these can get pricey to fix. In many states where you have to pass emissions testing yearly it can be a real hassle.

In particular make sure if the car has a timing belt that it has been changed recently BEFORE you buy it. At 97K miles it is due, rather overdue for a new timing belt if it has one. Make sure this question is addressed in the presale inspection. You can research this on a website;

I pretty much agree with UncleTurbo. It should be more reliable than the VW but it will still be fairly expensive to maintain. If you really like the BMW and you accept this, then it’s not a bad decision, but be aware that there are other makes that offer similar features and a lower cost of maintenance if that’s what you really want. (It’s just a sample size of one and I haven’t checked my receipts for an accurate total, but I’m pretty sure I’ve spent less than $1,000 on repairs to my Acura over eight years.)

You do know that the “BM” in BMW stands for “BIG MONEY”? Nice cars, but expensive to repair and maintain. However, you are used to that from your VW.

You never “invest” money in a car–cars depreciate immediately. You “spend” money on a car.

Personally, I would pass on this one.

I’d prefer the non-turbo engine, which does this have? And like everybody else has said, don’t buy this expecting a low-cost experience, it requires maintenance ‘by the book’, which isn’t cheap, and uses premium gas. But of all the European options, this is a good one.

I have been a BMW guy for over 30 years starting with a 3.0 CSi (most beautiful coupe BMW has ever made). My current 1998 328i sedan has been one of the most reliable cars I’ve owned (now with 112,000 miles and sill looking and running like new. Just regular maintenance and wear components.

The most important factors when looking for a used one are condition and service records. The first owner did everything by the book, by the time the car passed to the third or fourth owner, they took it to Grease Monkey for service. As with any car, take it to a independent shop that specializes in the make. Do a car fax check. Take the VIN to a BMW dealer and have them run a service report.

One you own a BMW, you will never go back to anything else. Nothing is as silky smooth as a BMW straight six engine.

Good luck!

Thanks everyone. I appreciate your input. I’ll direct my husband this direction.

Good news: no timing belt on this car.

We figured that out. Although, I was driving a 1972 Toyota Carona when the timing chain broke and a piston flew through the engine block. It was 1986 when it happened, so I think it outlived it’s usefulness.

Maybe that guy that asked T&R about buying a diesel for 60 year life should talk to you, Mapgeek!

To the OP go to recent threads: one is called “Buyback” the guy has a new BMW that the dealer can’t get the check engine light to stay off. Now he’s wondering about what is a fair price for BMW to give him to take back his defective car.

Then there is; “A joke? BMW AC compressor failure can cause engine chain problem?” In this case BMW 328i a couple of years newer than one you are considering with less miles has a shot engine. The AC compressor is connected directly to the drive shaft, most motors use a serpentine belt to drive the AC, and when the compressor failed and lockup up it damaged the motor to the tune of a $4,100 repair estimate.

Neither of these owners is very happy with their current BMW’s. BMW’s have very sophisticated auto transmissions, and that’s great as long as they work properly. However, if a previous owner didn’t take care of getting the transmission properly serviced, a replacement is about 2X most other cars - like $4,000 to 6K.

After your VW problems, a BMW could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

The mechanic that looked at it said that it looks like the maintenance has been done on it. It looks pretty good. He did say there was some indication that there might be transmission fluid leaking. My husband found some paperwork about 100k mile warranty. He called the BMW dealer to find out if that would be covered, but the dealer wouldn’t give us any information because we don’t own the car. We’re going to call our dealer and see if she can find out for us.

Go elsewhere. For that money you can get a cheaper or newer car with fewer miles. BMWs are good, but their maintenance is not cheap. Get a few BMW logos and paste them on a cheaper car that looks like one. They all look alike now a days. Monetarily, it’s not a wise investment. But, if your neighborhood prides itself in having one parked in the yard, go for it.

I’d be reluctant to buy from a dealer that wuold not provide that information up front. I’d go elsewhere.

The first place I’d recommend going is the bookstore. Pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview and you’ll get far more information than all of us together could provide in this forum.

One last point: people who buy BMWs don’t buy them because their cost of ownership is low. They accept a high cost of ownership in order to get the European feel. My son has owned two of them. He’s had his fun, gotten it out of his system, learned that they’re expensive to maintain, and won’t get another.

Once you start driving one, you will realize that a gently used BMW is far better than most any other new car.