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Advice on purchase of used BMW


I am looking at purchasing a used BMW 330Ci. I am having it looked over by my mechanic but the questions is that the dealer wants to apply a premium price to the car.

It is a 2001 with 123000 miles on it, manual transmission. Doing some research based on Edmunds the price it gave me with the all the options was around 7000, the dealer is asking 10,700 for it. Now I have seen some BMW 325i - roughly in the same year range (2001 - 2004) manual transmission with less miles (75,000 - 90,000) for round 8,500 to 9700. I understand that these are not apples to apples here - just looking to get the best bet for my money

So the questions is - being a first time BMW owner - is really worth the extra money for the 330Ci vs a 325i. Part of my view is that the less mileage 325i will last longer - the mileage difference is almost 3 years based on normal use.

It’s just 2 vs. 4 doors and a bit bigger engine in the Ci, maybe a bit different suspension tuning. Not worth more to me, I’d prefer 4 doors.

Two-door coupes always command top dollar on the used car market… They always have…Stick shifts are becoming rare and therefore command a premium price…The dealer knows the market and he will get his money…Always remember, there is one born every minute…

With the manual transmission this car isn’t going to sell fast in the US. Offer what you feel is fair after your research and let the dealer chew on it for a bit. Don’t knuckle under, let them counter your offer and be content to sit a couple of weeks. This is not an easy car to move, and they are asking a premium price. Once they get no takers, the price will come down. It costs the dealer money to sit on a car, so time is on your side if you wait this one out.

I agree with Turbo…Make what you consider a fair offer on the car, ($7000?) and see what develops…Also, investigate what it will cost to replace the clutch in that car…That day can not be TOO far off…

Caddyman makes an excellent point. Unless the dealer can demonstrate that the clutch has been replaced, it may (or may not) be nearing that time…and I suspect a clutch job in that car costs about the difference between the dealer’s asking price and what your research suggests.

I’ve never driven a 330i or Ci, but I have driven a couple 325i’s from that era (autos) and a newer 328i with a manual. Even with the auto they’re amazingly quick and nimble. The driving experience of a manual transmission 3 series is a beautiful one (that IMO no other manufacturer has ever come close to replicating). Be prepared to pay for that experience with higher repair costs, but if you can justify that, you’ll love the car.

Friend has 3 series and loves it too. But he bought it new and it’s been quite good to him. He does not plan to keep it as the years and mileage rolls up and neither would he keep it if were his only car as it aged. His biggest complaint is that there are so few BMW dealers and parts in this neck of the woods where his summer home is. So my advice is, if you aren’t completely confident in the service where you will most be using it, don’t buy one, especially an older one. You will need the funds to back up it’s use, which begs the question; if you can’t buy new, do you think you can start this old and afford the repair jobs ? If you are just being frugal and like CCC says, can justify and afford the maintenance, go for it.

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Thanks for all the feed back on this - I am a DIY on cars so some work I can do my self to keep the cost of owner ship down but other items - clutch will need to be taken care of at Dealership

I am with Turbo on the wait - I did a national search on the car and prices are all over the place for same year and model. Less mileage less dollars in some places.

The car is for my son but he is in agreement to get the best car for the $ and does not want to over pay since he will be fronted some of the money from his hard earn savings.

He is looking at keeping the car at least for the next 5 years and drives around 5000 miles a year.

We have seen some good deals on 325i out of Chicago - Lower price and mileage then in local market - Indianapolis.

Well the inspection has shown that there is an oil leak - the splash pan had some oil in it along with a strong oil burning smell when sitting in idle. All tires are bad - not sure how old they are - so that is some $$$ to replace along with an alignment . Complete flush on the cooling system. Tapping noise from the engine - might be due to being cold - is not apparent after driving for bit. Clutch is all good. No codes in the computer. No accidents. Head liner needs to be fixed - coming lose by the doors and windows. lower control arm bushing needs replacement. Oil light coming on - goes away when accelerates.

run away

After the inspection report it is overpriced for sure. Get prices for the tires, they could be expensive. The oil leak is a concern, and it must be leaking on something hot to get the smell. The tapping noise should last only 30 seconds or so. If the tapping continues for a few minutes; not good. Tapping until the oil pressure comes up is OK, but this should be only a few seconds.

Compression check and readings? If you still interested in the car, start negotiating with the seller and see if you can get a deal you can live with. Not sure myself on this car, but it is 11 - 12 years old now so some stuff will show wear and tear. You’ll be getting an expensive to repair car, just at the point where you can expect more things to break and need those expensive repairs. This is not a car you buy and break the budget in the initial sale price. You need to figure $1,000 to 2,000 a year for a few years for reconditioning and repairs. If that kind of money isn’t available, keep looking. Any 10+ year old BMW will carry the same need for a repair budget.

“tapping noise”? Like MTraveler said, RUN AWAY. Plenty of 325i used cars out there without potentially MAJOR issues.

This car will be a MONEY PIT…It’s best days are behind it, way behind…

Oil light coming on and ticking noise = big big big problem. In my travels I’ve never heard a tick from a BMW engine…they’re so precise. There are thousands of early 2000s 325/330s around, most of which will provide much more reliable service than this one.

Now that you mention Chicago, it reminds me…in the early 2000s my dad traded his '96 328i with a 5 speed manual, at a dealership in Chicago. He was in the process of relocating from out of state, and the dealer gave him a verbal estimate of the trade value without seeing the car in person. When dad arrived and brought the BMW in, the salesman looked at it and said “ugh, you didn’t tell me it was a STICK SHIFT.” He took several thousand off the trade in value right there–apparently you can’t give away a stick shift car in Chicago because of the traffic. Point of the story, I guess, is that if you and your son really want a stick shift BMW, you might find one on the cheap in Chicagoland.

I was going to suggest that the few thousand difference would pale after a couple years of repair bills, but after the report, this is a disaster. It needs front end work and with an oil light coming on-could need a new engine before you’re done. You could easily double the cost before you are done.

Oh, man. An oil light that goes away when you accelerate is a warning that the engine has likely seen better days. The pressure is developed by the pump forcing oil through the small spaces between the critical wear surfaces (like those on the crankshaft) and their respective sleeve bearings. Once wear causes the spaces to grow too big, the oil flows through too readily and the pump cannot maintain pressure at idle.

Ticking just adds to the likelihood that my first paragraph is correct. Oil pressure is also what keeps the lifters expanded to fill the spaces between the rpockers and the valvestems.

This car sounds like it has been beaten to death. At the price of BMW parts and labor, this car is a really, really bad gamble. Run away. Fast. And never darken this dealer’s doorstep again. He’s not on the “up & up”.

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Thanks for all the input - we are walking away from this one. We found a couple in Chicago and are going to make a big day of it, some 325i and a 330i as well. All between 75000 and 100000 miles and 2002 to 2005.

@CCCommander35 must be correct for all manuals are very inexpensive compared to the limited market here at home - hard to find manuals.

good plan. good luck in Chicago.
I recently bought a 2004 330Ci convertible … also had to do a lot of looking and some fairly hard bargaining. i was actually looking for a 325 but went for the 330 despite not needing a larger / faster engine, because:
+mileage is actually slightly better for the 330
+much easier to find a well-optioned 330 than 325

as for transmission, i wanted manual but again, hardly any difference for automatic even with SMG.

Buying a used BMW is a huge risk. Unless you really know the previous owner(s), and have all the maintenance records, you could be in for some big repairs as a result of neglect or abuse. This is a sporty model, so abuse is quite a probabilility.

This one raises too many questions, so I would keep looking for something you can trust.

“Buying a used BMW is a huge risk.”

Could be, but there are a lot of BMW 3s on the parking lot at work. All the owners are middle-aged professionals, and certainly the right type to take care of their cars. I know of 2 that do maintain them well.