New Or Used? : No One Loves My Bimmer Edition

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
new or used no one loves my bimmer edition

A reader writes:

Steve –

So glad to see you back at TTAC. I’ve learned so much more about auctions to go along with what you and I discussed a year-and-a-half (!) ago.

I have a question of a personal nature. Well, it’s still car-related, but it has to do with MY car, so I guess that’s what makes it personal.

I am approaching the end of my CPO on my 2008 BMW 535i sedan. I have kept it in excellent repair (in fact, I’ve had about $7k in warranty claims since July – oil cooler, oil filter housing, both turbos, water pump failure, and, just last week, a new valve cover gasket). The tires are 10 months old. It’s never been smoked in, and it’s optioned to the hilt (just missing rear air bags, the fancy window shades, and HUD).

I’m looking to get rid of it before CPO expires on Nov. 27, and jump into a 2014 Mazda 3. Trouble is, I’m not having much luck in finding what seems to be a fair price for the BMW.

This week, I had it appraised at a Carmax in Houston, and a BMW dealer not far away (a second BMW dealer would not even look at it, on account of it having 82k on the clock). The appraisals came in at $13.1 and $14k, respectively. That’s way way way under what Edmunds ($16.2) and KBB ($17k) say is the trade-in value.

Perhaps Carmax and Momentum BMW gave me low numbers because I wasn’t looking to buy another vehicle from either place (and I’m assuming either one would just wholesale my car). I dunno. I am quite baffled over the discrepancy between their offers and what Edmunds and KBB say. Is there another online source I should check out? Should I ask someone at my bank (Chase) to look at something I’ve heard called “Manheim” (which, as I understand, is a super-secret set of numbers dealers often use to arrive a trade/sell prices).

As an aside – one thing that both Carmax and the BMW dealer mentioned when they gave me the disappointing bids was a re-spray job on the trunk and driver’s rear quarter panel. I told them both that was done to repair some vandalism that occurred last year in NOLA.. and pointed out that they would have deducted even more had I left the scratches, etc. as is. Also, I had the work performed at a body/paint shop that is owned by the same company as the BMW dealer, so there.

I would sincerely appreciate any advice you have to offer. And, thanks in advance for taking time out of what I’m sure is a busy day to help.

Steve Says:

The trick to keeping the German machinery is to get the ones that have the most common powertrains with the fewest bells and whistles possible. Avoid 4matics and other all-wheel-drive systems. Cross out the active suspensions, dual turbos and navigation screens as well, and you are generally fine.

Unfortunately, your car represents the exact opposite of fine. Sell it.

How do you do that?

Forget about selling it to a re-seller. That’s like paying someone $1500 for a repair that costs maybe $200. Oh wait, you almost did that a few times this year. See, that CPO warranty saved your ass, and now it’s time to park this Barnacle Bitch of a car, and haul your ass to a less costly ride.

Sell it on Autotrader,, Craigslist, and especially… local enthusiast forums. This vehicle received the very best of care for the time you owned it. An honest guy like you deserves to be saved from the, “lowballers r’ us” brigade.

When you advertise it, emphasize the CPO history and all the repair work that was recently put into it. I know it sounds strange. But telling people you recently replaced the turbos in an under-engineered piece of shit car like this with a new factory unit is a big plus. It’s akin to the early 2000’s Chrysler minivan buyer finding out that your ride has a new factory transmission. Or an old Mark IV Jetta buyer finding out all four window regulators have been placed.

They won’t be surprised. They will be relieved. Your CPO warranty bit the bullets that the buyer wants to dodge. So let em’ know about it.

This is the time of year when people don’t have much money. There are no holiday bonuses. No tax returns, and no commercials that show oversized bows on overpriced cars. The used car market dies out a bit in October and November, so don’t be surprised if it sits for a bit.

As for pricing, I would recommend you average out the three most common mainstream pricing sites for “good to very good condition”; KBB, Edmunds, and NADA. Deduct maybe 5% for the accident and the fact that you want to get this car out of your life, and let the laws of economics take their course. Manheim offers a wholesale pricing guide called the Manheim Market Report. It’s useless for retail. You want retail prices and those three do a fairly good job at pricing the market.

Stay positive and make em’ pay retail because, let’s face it, that’s how you bought this son-of-a-bitch.

Consider this to be a golden opportunity to shape up on your picture taking and writing skills. Tell some stories and post 12 to 27 high res pics. Offer some healthy links that highlight owner based reviews for your audience. If you revel in providing better advertising than those lazy retail establishments then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a multi-thousand dollar return on your time.

It’s a risk I would take. So sell it straight and when it goes down the road, count your blessings… and your Benjamins.

Join the conversation
8 of 156 comments
  • Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 on Nov 07, 2013

    A few thoughts, lots of good stuff said already. 1. Can't understand how private party sale never seemed to occur to owner prior to writing to TAC. Glad to see he's now out there. 2. Can't believe there are owners out there not aware that buying parts directly from BMW doubles the price. And yes, you can find quality indies who will work with you if you buy the parts. 3. You should only own BMWs out of warranty if you're ready for a full blown hobby that requires self-education and some DIY. It's not just about transportation. 4. TAC should thank their lucky stars so many people care enough to comment. Shouldn't require registration to do so - c'mon man! Happy motoring, and good luck on the sale to the OP. Edit -- or should I say congrats on sale?

    • StupidSexyFlanders StupidSexyFlanders on Nov 07, 2013

      PP sale did occur to me before the sale. The point of my letter was to learn more about why there's such a huge gulf between what the online guides say, and real world values, and if there was a different source I should check out. I know the main reason for the difference is "profit", and I realized that PP would likely be the way to go even before writing Steven. Still, his feedback, and the constructive comments of others were useful. And thanks. It feels good to have that part of the transaction settled.

  • Fordson Fordson on Nov 07, 2013

    The first serious buyer bought it at full asking price? No dickering? Uh, oh... Sounds like if you had taken Steve's advice (average KBB, Edmunds and NADA prices) you would have listed it for maybe $19.5k. But you got just a ton of advice here from people who don't like your car on what a worthless POS it was, how nobody was going to pony up that kind of money for a six-year-old BMW out of CPO warranty, you'd be lucky to get trade-in, etc. You had people tell you that a six-year-old car with 82k miles on it, in a large Southern state with long distances between places, is way over average (?). There was one wise commenter who who went for actual empirical data rather than anecdotes from people who hate German cars. He said: "I just checked in my area (metro Boston) and found 17 2008 535s with under 90k on the clock. Prices asked ranged from 19k to 25.9k. Most had a little lower miles (mid 70s) and all but two were Xi." And there was another who said that he recently had been looking for cars just like this and found them going for around $25k. Pretty much what I found, too - maybe I saw the high end was around $23k rather than $25k-26k. Not $17k. And even you, the seller, admit in your ad that you are listing at around $3k less than private sale value. I would say your buyer actually saw VALUE in the fact that this was a loaded version of a desirable car, most of its life spent in the South, with all of the known trouble spots addressed already and having had excellent care. He decided to spend time on a deal that maybe seemed too good to be true, did the PPI and found it was for real, and pulled the trigger. Good for him. Car is a creampuff and you took really good care of it. So OP, you were wise enough to ignore Carmax and the BMW dealer, but unfortunately instead of going with the research that told you to ask $20k-$21k, you paid too much attention to the Greek chorus here at TTAC. You left money on the table because you gave too much credence to people who WANT to believe that your car is worth less than it is - that the ideal European luxury sedan is one that has the minimum of options on it, and that you should basically has asked less for it than for a base model. I wish you luck at the Mazda dealer.

    • See 4 previous
    • StupidSexyFlanders StupidSexyFlanders on Nov 09, 2013

      @burgersandbeer Acd and burgers- +1 to you both. Everything you guys said entered my mind as I considered the price. Picked up the 3 yesterday from Gullo Mazda in Conroe. Worked out the deal online and over the phone before heading up, so the in-person part of it was fairly quick and pleasant (aside from a racially insensitive remark from a sales manager who wrongly assumed "hey, we're all white here, so I can be a dick about certain groups of people." I didn't call him on it, but later let his underling know that while we may be in Conroe, that's still not cool). Anyway, loving my first 24 hours. Learning the quirks, like the iPod connection that refuses to remember where you left off upon restarting (BT audio does, though). Adjusting to a little more road noise vs. the 5er, and missing the 20-way seats and 300 torques. Other than that, it's all good.

  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
  • ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
  • SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.