What is the best used bmw past 2000 to get?

bmw
318

#1

I am looking for a used bmw for around $20,000 or less.


#2

Could you define what “best” means to you in this context?

I for example would consider the current condition of the car as primary. While there may be a general trend that newer models may be more likely to be in better condition, that is not always true.

I might consider a built in GPS system important, you might not care at all. Maybe you want towing capacity, I don’t.


#3

For that price range you can pretty much find whatever you want, including the M-series cars. That said, I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with an M3 that had 70k on the clock - - those cars tend to be driven very hard.


#4

As Joseph pointed out, we need to know more about your needs in order to define what is “best” but I can make some general observations:

  1. Though there are a lot of nice BMWs out there for under $20k, it will be out of warranty. Folks who are not mechanically inclined tend to be afraid of German cars that are out of warranty, but they can still be OK for non-do-it-yourselfers if you find a good BMW specialty mechanic. Here in Sacramento we are fortunate to have several such shops.

  2. 3-series or 5-series only. A used 7-series can be tempting because they loose so much of their original purchase price in the first four years, but trust me, there is a reason for that.

  3. 6 cylinder only. As Click and Clack pointed out after test-driving a 540 (8 cyl), they loved the car, but sooner or later that car would go to a shop for maintenance or repair, and when that day came, they did not want to be on the check-writing side of the transaction.

  4. As Shadow noted, you don’t want a used M-anything unless you are willing to spend a lot of Saturdays or money maintaining your car. Great cars, but generally abused by their original owners and expensive to own even if well cared-for.

  5. If you can drive a stick shift, and you don’t drive in stop-and-go traffic, stick shifts are generally the better choice in used BMWs. BMW enthusiasts tend to agree on this point and it is surprising to me that this is not reflected in the price of used BMWs. If you want a 5 series, finding a stick-shift 5 series sedan or SUV is tough, but they exist.

A $20k budget will get you up to the current body style. I don’t much care for the looks of the interior or exterior of the new body style, but they seem to be mechanically and electronically good, and they are aerodynamically excellent.


#5

Better to say what to avoid from that approximate time period and it would be the “new” 7 series (e-65 I believe). The new 7 (strange how the models that you yourself had contact with retain that designation even when there is an even newer 7 now) came out around 2001-2002 and they turned into cars with software glitches, many spent alot of time in the shop for issues not even related to driveability. Old 7’s have always been something to avoid. The only way you can go wrong with a 3 series from that era is to buy the wrong paticular car. 3 series is a great driver but they are not free of “issues”

A 3 series would present less chances of being a money pit than a X5, another one I would look over real good but not a dog by any means.