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High Mileage BMW's

I live in Los Angeles and there are a lot of BMW’s out here. I’ve considered getting one but most of the ones that i can afford tend to be high mileage. I don’t know much about the longevity of these vehicles, but i know there at least isn’t much rust damage etc in LA. How do BMW’s do once they are high mileage? Are they reliable or like some cars suddenly take on great need for maintenance etc. Is it a wise investment?

They’re cheap because the sellers want to get rid of them before major repairs crop up. And it’s not an ‘investment’, and if you can only afford a cheap BMW, it’s not ‘wise’, either.

My 1998 BMW 328i now has 105,000 miles, my 1989 535 did well over 150,000. All with basic maintenance and no major breakdowns. BMW, Audi and Mercedes will be more expensive than a Toyota or Honda, but it all comes down to proper maintenance – I’d take a well maintained German car over a poorly maintained Asian car any day. A new German sedan cost $50k+ new and is now selling for $15k or less. It is, however, still a $50k+ car to repair and maintain. Cars depreciate but parts and labor do not. A nice used German car is expensive and a bad used German car is even more expensive. If you want to date a super model, you have to pay the price. Well worth it in my opinion.

Ok, this answers my question. I used to have Volvo and it had been poorly maintained before me and was a pain in the ass because it was expensive to repair. when i say cheap i don’t mean $5k i mean cheap compared to original price. I’d expect to pay close to 15K for a good one but wasn’t sure how they held up. I know high mileage cars are very common here, most people drive 20K miles a year so it’s hard to find a low mileage vehicle even if it’s only a few years old. Thanks for the input!

Most of the cheap BMWs on the market also lack repair records. If you can find one with documented maintenance and repair, then you’ll be OK. But there are lots of 10-15 year old ones that have been through several owners, without maintenance records.

For a mechanic records really do not mean much (unless it is a reciept for a new engine) but I would stay away from any high mileage BMW or one that is old in years except the e-36 or the e-30. Both are timeless 3 series and the e-30 has no more electronics than any other car of its day and the e-36 has a minimal amount of electrical systems you must learn (primairly security and HVAC) Do not buy a high mileage 7 series no matter what and cheap 540’s just may have an engine problem. If you care to gamble a bit check out the e-39(great car and the 540 is a blast with the 6 speed) but they can get expensive to pay others to work on. I say stay away from the earlier 5 series the e-34 (potential engine problems). Wise investement? you will have to buy one of these because you love the car.

In my limited experience in owning BMW many many years ago, I’d have to draw on my friends instead. They are reliable cars. Maybe not as much as the Accords or Camrys overall but their transmissions and motors are second to none. The problem, is the very high price for parts and service. No different then friends Lexus. It seems as though you plant an upper end name on a car, you pay an upper end price the rest of your ownership years.

If you can’t afford a NEW BMW, you CERTAINLY can’t afford a used one…Ask what it costs to replace the transmission in the model you are considering. You will see what I mean…

Tell me about it. My 2004 5-series (acquired used) had a transmission replacement last year, out of warranty. I was lucky enough that my mileage was low and BMW North America only asked me to pay 25% of the cost for a remanufactured transmission, which was still almost 2 grand. Then a couple of months later it had to be replaced again, thankfully this time under the warranty of the replacement.

Now imagine if I had tried to do it cheaply and had the work done somewhere other than the dealership. It could have cost me more, twice! Any way you cut it, owning a BMW is not cheap. You better REALLY like driving them!

It certainly depends on the model. The 7 series cars, 5+ years old (unless the older 735i) are real money pits. As the models get smaller, the picture improves. As others have said 3 series can be pretty good, just expect repairs typical of any vehicle that age to cost more.

It would help a lop if Jraymond would give us some specific cars/years/miles to discuss.

They are reliable, but the cost of repairs is very high. Since the cars are older and higher mileage the frequency of expensive repairs goes up as the cars age. So, the money you save by buying a high mileage used car must be balanced against the cost of fixing the high mileage used car. If you can afford about $4,000 a year for repairs then you can afford to by a used high mileage BMW. If you are horrified at the thought of $4,000 a year for repairs, then pass on the used high mileage Beemer.

An extra bit of advice - Get one with a manual transmission.
At least in this instance, you won’t have to pay for the sticker shock of replacing an extremely expensive automatic transmission. Just a clutch job, and fluid change.

Also, make sure you can find one that the owner provides you with oil change receipts.
Preferably an interval shorter than 15k miles between oil changes.
If you don’t get a good oil change history, expect to have to tear the engine down to de-sludge the engine.


I have a 1994 BMW 525i. It’s working great so far…

If all you can afford to buy is a BMW with high mileage, don’t.
All cars can be expected to have occasional repairs nice they get high mileage. BMWs will simply cost much more…painfully more…than most.
And BMW owners might just be more prone to beating on them than Camry owners. Not good.

Most of us cannot afford what we’d really like, so we compromise and get something more sensible. Welcome to the club.

This is a 2011 discussion. Seems that BMWs are popular topics…

“This is a 2011 discussion. Seems that BMWs are popular topics…”

Timeless classics.

If you have a repair fund, this can be a very nice change from an Econobox.

A recession is a great time to buy a used BMW.
People are paying $5000 for rusted out Camrys.
You can get a nice used 2001-2004 with 100k miles BMW for $6000-$8000 now.
Stick to 6 cylinder.

Labor rate on a BMW is the same as a 1975 Dodge Dart.
Just make sure you have a local mechanic who can work on it. (Not a dealer)

Run-out (high mileage) German cars are Money Pits…All of them…They tend to be loaded with high-tech gizmos and gadgets and when that stuff fails, it takes the rest of the car down with it…

You want to drive a “Classic” European car? You need 3 of them. One to drive and two to pick parts off of…Or you need a lot of money to pay someone else to store all these old classics and pick parts off them. The Grim Reaper holds the trump cards. Rust and Automatic Transmissions.

Cars are intentionally designed so they will not last forever…Automotive enthusiasts can make a car last a long time, and brag about it, but the average car-owner consumer can not…

Please don;t dredge up old threads unless they’re relevant to a current subject.