I’m in the market for a car. Wondering about a BMW, maybe a 325i or something. Anyway one question I have is about how expensive they are to maintain. Or repair if ssomething were to happen…probably 01-05 model.
The repair costs are above average. Maintenance mostly follows suit also.
Luxury cars tend to have luxury-level maintenance and repair costs, and BMW is definitely in that category.
On luxury cars if you want “more” reasonable maintenance costs try Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura. They basically are really nice versions of their non-luxury nameplate (Toyota, Nissan, Honda).
However as far as German vehicles go BMW’s are the best of the lot in terms of reliability and most interesting to drive.
Starting with my bias, I love 3-series BMWs. I own four of them.
I have often recommended them, but I would not recommend a 6+ year-old BMW to anyone who is not willing to do their own maintenance and minor repairs. Mine are cheap to own because I buy all my parts on line and do all my own repairs. If I took them to the shop for every little thing, it would be a different matter entirely.
Also if the things that distinguish a BMW from the competition don’t matter to you: (rear wheel drive, 50/50 weight distribution, legendary engine, steering that seems to be attached directly to your brain), then you will be happier in a Lexus/Infiniti/Acura.
Choosing among the model years of BMW you mention, you probably want the 2003 or 2004. When buying used cars, you generally want to buy a car toward the end of a model run (e46) rather than the first year of a new model run (e90). The idea is to get a car built after they figured out what the problems with that model were. Not that the '04 is completely perfect - it has the same weak window regulators and moonroof guides as all the earlier e46s.
And just to get the inevitable question out of the way, should you decide to buy that BMW, yes if it says premium fuel required, you have to use premium fuel.
If you are looking at a 325, you might consider an Infiniti G35. It will cost about the same as the 325i. Test drive both and see if you like them. BTW, whether you buy from a dealer or not, you can test drive one of theirs. You might not find older ones on a new car dealer’s lot, but maybe a 2004 or 2005. Just because you drive it does ot mean you will buy it. Of course, you might decide it’s the one for you.
The 325/328 were cars I would have owned, if they had had enough headroom…oh, well. Used they look OK, just expect to have to work on the cooling system, radiator, hoses, and thermostat either should have been changed, or will need it. Plenty of BMW forums for good info, too.