Hammer Time: And Now For Something Completely Different…

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

This 2009 BMW 535i has 45,000 miles and looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous. It offers nearly the same acceleration as a 550i, and far more space than the 335i, which is more sought after in the enthusiast world.

To me, if you’re a true keeper, all of this is good news. The better news? It’s a lemon!

Specifically, this late model BMW is a lemon law buyback. It happened back in the first year of its existence, due to BMW’s chronic fuel pump issues when it was first released. The recall has since taken place. The part has been over-engineered and the problem solved and warrantied for the life of the vehicle.

As for the title, it will be branded as a ‘Lemon Law Buyback’ until either the end of the time or the moment it’s exported.

These common 5-series models are not particularly popular in the export market either. So the question now becomes, “What is it worth?” The rough book on this model came down at right around $22,500. With the branded title and the bad history of way back when, it sold for only $17,300 at this morning’s auction.

There were two other vehicles that I ended up finishing in a firm but profit vaporizing second place.

This 2010 Impala LS has the tried and true 3.5 Liter v6 and 28,000 miles. The bidding went all the way down to $9000 and I jumped in at $9100. Once the price hit $10,400, a few hundred below the rough book, that’s where it stood. The auction fee probably put it right around $10,650.

Then there was a 2010 Honda Insight LX, which I still kind of regret not holding on to the bidding. The unpopular hybrid had some dings and small scuffs, but only 9,700 miles and a perfect Carfax history. Rough book was $12,800. I jumped in at $11,000 and walked off at $11,900.

Part of the reason was because we are getting right near the model change and 1 to 2 year old vehicles can take some nasty hits during this time period.

The other issue is the vehicle in question. Unpopular models can be hard to unload and experience has lead me to be more of a hedger than perhaps I should be in my daily life. I am more willing to bid up a low cost car than a high cost one due to the fact that it’s easier to finance on the lower end. There were a whole lot of second place finishes today and I deeply hate the fact that some potential deals slid right by my eyes.

However, the higher end of the used car world can be a tough market. Some folks try to wholesale the inventory and let that be that. But I’m always wanting to retail vehicles like the Impala and the Insight. My overhead is far lower than the new car dealers and I’m still of the persuasion that a good presentation can always beat up a big bowtie or giant H on the front of a building.

We’ll see. In the meantime, if you folks want to enjoy the sweet lemonade of a killer deal, you often have to throw some lemons into the mix. Branded titles and the unpopular ‘retail’ car are just two ingredients I try to throw into my personal recipe.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Volt 230 Volt 230 on Jul 23, 2012

    Why buy a potential headache?

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    • Slance66 Slance66 on Jul 24, 2012

      @SCE to AUX I'd consider it. I'm usually a cash buyer, so financing isn't an issue. The devil is in the details though. I'd want to have a good understanding of what caused the problem in the title or in the car itself. On reason this might appeal now is that used car prices are so damned high relative to new. There are not many bargains out there.

  • Jeoff Jeoff on Jul 24, 2012

    First year cars that have had to extend the waranties for quality issues are worth a look. They are cheap, have great warranties, and the issues are known and the manufacturer is working hard to save their reps. Got my 2004 questSL in 2004 with 2000 miles for 19K. Nissan had extended the warranty even further than the CPO would have been (helped for getting the gimpy power tailgate fixed under warranty).

  • Bd2 There's Telluride news you could be posting.
  • Tassos I listen to Andrew Tate podcasts. Also, the voices in my head provide plenty of entertainment. Biden dollars
  • Zerofoo “Can the sedan be saved?” Sure - just lift it a bit, add a mild all wheel drive system, and make the trunk a lift back. I don’t know a single middle-aged woman who doesn’t drive a CUV. Precisely none of them want to go back to a sedan. The sedan may not be die completely, but sedans will not replace CUV/SUVs any time in the foreseeable future.
  • Jeff Stevie Ray Vaughn Flood Down In Texas and almost any song from him.
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