By on November 6, 2013

bmw

 

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, Cars.com, 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.

 

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156 Comments on “New Or Used? : No One Loves My Bimmer Edition...”


  • avatar

    Hey Steve, great to see you back!

    Don’t fancy the BMW much, eh?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Not this particular one.

      I do have an 02 BMW 525i wagon that is on my driveway as we speak.

      http://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/ctd/4168859790.html

      That one is more my speed.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Typical craigslist pics. They’re careful to have the worn out part of the driver’s seat just out-of-frame.

        • 0 avatar
          Steven Lang

          Actually, I take three pictures of the front seating area (closest pic with flash) to help unravel that mystery since most folks like to see the dashboard area as well.

          The seats are fine. It’s nearly impossible these days to get the entire seating area in one pic. If it were a Town Car or an older Buick, that would be a different story.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            On any aging car, the driver’s seat is usually worn though at the spot you’re missing. If it’s perfect, it’s definitely a selling point. When the area is carefully cropped out, it just makes it look like you’re hiding something. Makes you wonder what else you’re hiding. So it’s not like you need to see the driver’s seat and the far away, grainy passenger area all in one pic.

          • 0 avatar
            Steven Lang

            I see your point. Anyhow, there are three separate front seat pics and the entirety of the front seats are already shown. I even threw in a flash pic for good measure.

            If I posted every single unique wish, I would need far more than the 12 pics that Craigslist allows. Autotrader provides more pics, but the gluttony of premium featured vehicles that require $$$$ for placement (regardless of the their asking price or history) makes that site worthwhile if you’re selling something unique enough that it can land on page one.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Thats a nice looking BMW wagon, especially for such high miles. I have always wondered, what is the reason for putting that long crazy “Key” in the ad? I see other dealers do it too, I can’t ever figure out why though. Care to shed some light?

        • 0 avatar
          Steven Lang

          It allows for automated reposting of the ad.

          Unfortunately, a lot of the uniqueness of my ads gets stripped out with these reposts. But CL is now getting to the point where there are so many reposts that this entire exercise is becoming irrelevant.

          I may be opting for manual reposting in the near future.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Thanks! And yes, I notice CL is getting more and more complicated and people take advantage of the loose rules. The other day I was waiting for a pizza and overheard two guys that apparently were into car flipping, they were talking about how they post their ads hundreds of times in all markets in the state over and over, how if they see a car they are interested in (or in competition with) they flag it over and over until its gone, and how they call up or email sellers with a bunch of lowball offers and then call later as “themselves” with a slightly higher offer. It was like everything I hate about CL and they did it.

      • 0 avatar
        mypoint02

        Nice! I have an ’01 525i wagon with 207k miles. It’s been a good car. I also have an ’07 530xi. It has the AWD you despise, but no turbos (I purposely steered clear of those). The ’08 E60s with the N54 were especially problematic – HPFP, fuel injector, turbo, and water pump issues abound. I agree with you. The OP should sell now and count his blessings. He should be able to get around $18k for it on the retail market.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Steve L just explained why, when I bought my 07 CPO BMW, I got a 328xi with no nav/iDrive. Just a nice normally aspirated 3.0L inline six. So far so good, only one CPO warranty claim for two leaking gaskets. CPO is over, but with only 64k on it, I think it will last me for years.

    Bids from dealers for my wife’s RX350 came in very low. They all just offer wholesale now. It sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      ChiefPontiaxe

      yeah except for that “x” in the model name

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      What’s the reputation of the cooling system on the engine in your car. Older versions of that engine had a reputation for fragile cooling systems: the expansion tank and radiator tank were made of a composite material, prone to just exploding under pressure; and the water pump impeller also was made of plastic. It was prone to disintegrate into small pieces, with predictably disastrous results for the car. 60K miles was the magic time when this stuff would happen. In my ’01, with the N54 engine, the (second) cooling pump was noisy at startup. When 60K miles rolled around, I bit the bullet and replaced everything except the fan: all hoses, radiator, expansion tank, water pump, thermostat and housing (more plastic!). The parts cost me $1000 and it took about 7 hours of my inexpert time. The local BMW mechanic quoted me $2,000 for the same job.

      So, you might do some homework on your engine to see if BMW rectified this problem and, in any event, at your mileage new hoses and a new serpentine belt might be a good idea. A catastrophic, sudden loss of coolant, as would result from a major hose failure or a tank rupture creates a risk of permanent damage to your engine; you may not be able to shut it down fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        mypoint02

        The E60 and E9x have far fewer cooling system problems overall than the E39 and E46. The weak spot now isn’t the radiator or expansion tanks, it’s the electric water pump. Both the N52 and N54 use them. It’s about $400 for a replacement (part only). Mine failed this summer at 75k miles and I replaced it myself. Not a fun job.

    • 0 avatar

      A few months ago I bought a 2009 328xi for my wife with just the basics. Although I would have happily gone without the “X-drive” I could not locate a car in Ottawa without it that was attractive. I guess that in Snowville it is not really an option, particularly since regular BMWs do not handle very well without serious snow tires.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    “My BMW has been rock solid, except for all that stuff I’ve had to replace.”

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Both turbos fried in a 4 year old car with 82k miles?

    Can’t be…
    Not possible..
    Didn’t happen.

    Turbos of today are as reliable as a wood burning stove, or so I’ve been told so many times by so many here, and besides, NormSV can get rebuild kits for $79.99 off of eBay from ‘Guangzhou House of Turbos.’

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Turbos aren’t hard to rebuild or tear apart for failure analysis… but I did that when I was in college for class and because I had ample time on my hands.

      All that aside, I LOL’d at this.

    • 0 avatar
      highrpm

      Deadweight, +1

      These German cars are not reliable by any stretch of the imagination. The OP’s car has a lot of new parts for the mileage. Look in the comments – there are other BMW owners with major and expensive repairs all below 100k miles.

      I was getting a lot of laughs from the VW fanboys in the Piech article a few days ago. I buy these cars frequently at auction. I get them cheap because there is always something wrong with the used ones, and most dealers just avoid them. I do know how to repair the common failure points cheaply, but it still irks me that an equivalent Toyota or Lexus doesn have these failures in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Maybe the seller just forgot to mention shutting the car when engine is hot, or not replacing oil on schedule.

      • 0 avatar
        StupidSexyFlanders

        Seller here – all oil changes happened on schedule. My problem wasn’t a turbo failure, but rattling wastegates – a common problem for that engine and year. Common enough that BMW put out a TSB on it, extending coverage period on turbos.

        • 0 avatar

          This was “fixed”, but at a cost of power. There were many posters on forums that wanted the old software back, and some folks spent Dinan money to get the old feeling back. The six-turbo had just come out, and the HPFP problem was just beginning. While it has been fixed, the car still has the stigma.

          I was recently shopping for a car such as this, and found the retails were all in the 25k range. There is a LOT of dealer profit if you give it to them for the lowball offer.

          Also, I agree…oct/nov and feb/april are the dead months…no money sloshing around…except for xmas bonuses for a few of my stockbrokers.

          I decided on a TDi, because it was new, gets 40 mpg at 80 mph, and I’m a sucker for German over-engineering….

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @StupidSexyFlanders

          My understanding is that the wastegate rattle is annoying, but not necessarily harmful in any way. Please correct me if I am wrong on that point. Question is, would you have spent the money to fix it without the CPO warranty? The turbos were just fine, but the wastegates are an integral part of them.

          • 0 avatar
            StupidSexyFlanders

            krhodes1 – you are absolutely correct. Not harmful, but also completely out of place for how that car should sound. And I didn’t want to try to sell it with that godawful rattle (I was already thinking back in August that I might like to part ways with the car by November). With the BMW SA quoting somewhere around $5k for twin turbo replacement, I probably wouldn’t have done that outside of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      But let’s hear some more about how the Japanese are so far behind by not adopting turbos.

      I think Honda, Toyota, and Mazda have had the right idea. It’s unfortunate that they are now being forced into the turbo game.

      Didn’t we learn our lesson in the 80’s?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Obligatory MST3K reference(s):

        youtube.com/watch?v=bs0osMzTZQA

        youtube.com/watch?v=SM9MW-QfEaw

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I did, I’m reading all this with great interest because of personally bad experiences with 4 cyl turbos back in the 80s. I have refused to consider one again since. Lately I’ve been weakening because so many of the cars that interest me have no alternative to turbos. I think I’ll find other cars of interest

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “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.”

    I am amused by this statement. Being confused as to why you can’t unload a car you think is a ticking time-bomb for a premium price? The hit you take at the end of a CPO period should be factored into the cost of ownership. If you don’t want to deal with it out of warranty, why would someone else?
    When selling a car, you should look at it as if you were trying to buy it. You would certainly bust a dealer’s balls about the paint work and you’d want a serious discount if buying from someone at the end of a CPO – if you’d touch it at all – regardless of the amount of work it’s had.
    That said, it’s a BMW, so someone with stars in their eyes will always pay more for it than they should. You’ll be fine.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    While I agree with Steve on the right way and the wrong way to spec a BMW (if it isn’t there it won’t break), you have had most all of the common things that go wrong fixed already. Keep the thing, assuming it is paid for. Repairs will be cheaper than paying for a different car. And going from a 5-series to a Mazda3? Really?

    Ultimately it matters not what some random guide says your car is worth, it is worth what someone is willing to pay you for it *today*. If you MUST sell it, wait until tax season.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      So you’re saying keep a 5 year old car that will total itself out in another 5 years, if not less?

      Behold, the automobile whose net worth drops to zero without plowing into a tree. That 7K figure just shocks me.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @restmonos – keep in mind that $7k is at dealer prices for parts and labor. The BMW dealer charges something like twice what my normal mechanic charges for labor. You can also save a lot of $ buying parts yourself. When the A/C compressor went out on my 330i, the dealer parts department wanted $900+ for the replacement. I found the oem Denso unit online for $300 and free shipping. It cost me $1k for parts and labor to have it done at my mechanic. At the dealer, if my math is right, that would’ve been $1400 labor and $900 in parts.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I’m an idiot and didn’t critically think before I typed (see my comment below)

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Really? I should go “shopping parts” on my $50K+ BMW the day after the warranty ends? what do I do, bring the parts loaded in a box down to my mechanic? I don’t think so, but thanks for reminding me why I was so happy to turn in my absolutely flawless 535i the day that the lease and warranty were up.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            @Lie2me – that’s what I do, and I don’t mind it at all. The car is worth it to me. Assuming there were significant savings, I’d do that on a Corolla or Lexus out of warranty. I see no reason to pay a dealer or manufacturer markup for my parts. I don’t mind a little extra legwork to save $.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Oh, I’ve done it in the past on lesser cars with lesser capitol to spend on them, but I’m not doing it any more, especially on a BMW. What if I where to get the wrong parts or inferior parts? Would my parts be warranted against failure? Chances I no longer have the patience for

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Those warranty claims are literally 1/4 of the cost of the brand new F150 I bought 3 months ago. F*ck me running. The Louis Vuitton of the auto world. I think a divorce would be cheaper than ownership of a 5 year old BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      $7k in BMW warranty claims = about $2500 in work at an independent shop

      Guys, don’t fixate too much on the $7k number. That’s the price that the Bimmer dealer comes up with when BMWNA is footing the bill. It’s very easy to rack up big bills when a dealer is looking for the problems and someone else is paying the invoice.

      Also, for every guy that buys a brand new BMW and then freaks out when the warranty is up, there’s a guy like me that buys them used for less than the price of a stripper F150 and just deals with any problems that arise. FWIW, my ’07 BMW required about $800 to keep on the road last year; it looks and drives exactly like the 2014 model, but I’m assured that it’s going to nickel-and-dime me (hasn’t happened yet). If that day ever comes, I figure I have a $45k head start on the repair bills before it would have made more sense to buy a new one.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        “Guys, don’t fixate too much on the $7k number. That’s the price that the Bimmer dealer comes up with when BMWNA is footing the bill. It’s very easy to rack up big bills when a dealer is looking for the problems and someone else is paying the invoice.”

        Actually it’s about completely opposite from what you are saying. The standard procedure for warranty work is to have a separate warranty pricing schedule. It does vary from mfg to mfg but in general if a customer pay time is 1 hr a warranty will pay .7~.8 hrs. They also won’t reimburse the dealer for the parts used at full retail. Many also have caps on the hourly rate they pay which may be lower than the rack rate listed on the wall for some dealers. Finally they must get authorization “before” starting work or they may not get reimbursed.

        In this case the OP did state somewhere here in the comments that he based that figure on what the dealer said it would have cost him out of pocket. If that was the case the BMW probably payed somewhere around $5K instead of the $7K he was quoted.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        That’s true. I have a BMW powered 80’s Lincoln. I bought it with my eyes wide open and I’ve sunk way more than the 7k in warranty the reader has spent – and the BMW powertrain has received $0 since I procured it as it’s the most reliable portion of the vehicle.

        If you’re not afraid to turn a wrench and have a great back up vehicle, used german luxury can be a rewarding experience.

        Warranty work is expensive as the supplier for the components is sharing that cost with the OEM. It’s the cost of doing business when you don’t align your SCCA documentation (PPAP) with what you as a supplier (the technical experts) believe to be a critical characteristic of your design. I’m not sure how BMW does it’s warranty, but the two major OEM’s I do business with do share that cost.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It must be the best part of having a high maintenance girlfriend is complaining about it.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I just checked Cars.com 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.

    He should definitely sell it himself.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Despite the performance delta & lack of brand cachet among enthusiasts, this is when the 2008 GS430 starts making a whole lot of sense. $7K in repairs on a 5 year old car. My god, the temptation to drive it into a lake would just be overwhelming.

    You think BMW corporate would be interested in knowing that a CPO owner desperately wants to offload his premier sports sedan for a compact Mazda?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You’d think that but you assume they have a commitment to deliver a quality product experience, care about excellent customer satisfaction, or any have personal integrity.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I actually think BMW is pretty good about those things. If those turbos had died just out of CPO, there is a chance BMW would have at least discounted the repair. They have a goodwill program that gives dealers some flexibility in helping customers with these repairs that should not be happening with low miles (or ever). Check out SIB 01 07 03 if you are interested. For some problems they will go beyond that.

        I’ve had some experience with this with the pixel display on the 540 I had. The car was 11 years old with about 130k miles. I think I was the 4th owner, and had no history of buying BMWs new, or even taking the old ones to dealers for service. BMW offered 50% on parts (which is the bulk of the expense with that repair).

        Many of the problems shouldn’t be as frequent and as expensive as they are, but that is a different conversation. They do care about customer satisfaction.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve had only good experiences with BMW when I got my 330i new. They replaced two sets of coils on recall (I had no failures), replaced my satnav system and radio (it was just out in 2003 and they took full responsibility for any issues). I’d buy a new BMW in a heartbeat. My Acura dealer, on the other hand, did nothing but charge Acura and bugger up my car with two tranny rebuilds (#1 they tried to charge me $3k, and I had to point out the warranty (!) #2 their error, forgetting a transfer case seal which puked trans fluid all over my driveway) and forgot to put the car back together right. Intake hoses were unclamped and drawing air, the steering u joint was loose, and other parts were missing. They didn’t replace any coils or plugs for a rough idle despite charging Acura for them (If it does not toss a CE light the car is OK says dealer). I swapped them out and problem solved.

          Here’s the problem with trying to use one person’s data….I had a great experience with BMW. I have had zero-zero warranty issues with a VW. My Acura Experience has been a nightmare, and the problems with the vehicle have been fixable, but the dealer is shoddy flat rate work with a hock shop front desk. I’ll never buy a Honda again !!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There wasn’t a 2008 GS 430. 2008 was actually the model-year in which the GS received the new 4.6-liter V8, thereby becoming the GS 460. As far as driving dynamics go, because I’ve experienced both, the E60 5-Series was much better than the previous-gen GS. But then, the Lexus is way more reliable. As far as the current iterations of these cars go, the 2013-present GS is everything the F10 5-Series should have been in terms of driving dynamics, and it’s more reliable, too…

      • 0 avatar
        abhi

        This.. I am getting close to market and my VW has me leaning toward the Asian Brands for the simplicity of ownership. I think I’m at a point where i’ll trade some drivability for a worry free experience.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Steve’s advice also applies to Asian brands. They have high volume core products that they do very well and other products where reliability suffers. For example, Honda/Acura made some compromises in automatic transmissions that work reasonably well for the smaller four cylinder models, but didn’t hold up well for heavier V6 model. The reliability reputation earned with fairly basic 4 cylinder Civics and Accords doesn’t translate to a Honda Odyssey or Acura TL.

          Another consideration is how well a brand stands up in your environment. I live in an area where newer cars don’t seem to rust, so Brand X rusts out is irrelevant to me. However, it I lived in Cleveland, I’d pay attention to local advice on rust.

  • avatar
    kyngfish

    So is it fairly standard to replace both turbos, an oil cooler, and a valve cover gasket before 80k miles? That seems REALLY unreliable.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I had someone on another forum try to claim that replacing camshaft sensors on some particular BMW model was “normal maintenance.”

      apparently in his mind, a more powerful engine stresses its cam sensors more. Yes, that was his actual argument.

      look, if you like a car enough to overlook the problems it has, that’s fine. I just wish people would be honest about it. It’s like Subaru; they’re far better now but people who owned older ones were batshit loony. “It’s been rock solid for 255,000 miles! I’ve only had to replace the head gaskets six times and the engine twice!”

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I just replaced the intake camshaft sensor on my Z3 N54 (3 liter) engine at 74K miles. It’s a $100 part, which took me 20 minutes to install, mostly because you have to disconnect a couple of other things to get to it. The exhaust camshaft sensor probably costs the same and can be done in less than 10 minutes, since it’s directly accessible. One bolt holds it in.

        What’s the big deal here? Both of these are magnetic sensors. High temperatures and permanent magnets are not a happy combination. That’s why the clutches on a/c compressors fail.

        I certainly agree that turbochargers and oil coolers are a big deal . . . and nobody has even brought up the serial high pressure fuel pump failures in these first generation BMW DI engines. Apparently the ethanol in our gasoline eats the gaskets in the pump.

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          “What’s the big deal here? Both of these are magnetic sensors. High temperatures and permanent magnets are not a happy combination.”

          The big deal is that a $60,000 BMW eats parts that a $12,000 Honda doesn’t. Stop making excuses for crappy quality.

          “That’s why the clutches on a/c compressors fail.”

          A/C compressor clutches are electromagnets, not permanent magnet. Even if they were, the Curie temperature of any automotive grade magnet is way higher than they’ll see in service.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The cost of premium cars is not a reason to expect reliability. Reliability was never part of the bargain in that price.

            What you do get is cutting edge technology in the powertrain, suspension, and safety features. In addition, you have higher quality interior materials, sometimes more complicated to produce body panels, thicker paint, etc. Premium cars typically offer a greater variety of options and colors leading to more freedom to customize the car – that is not free. Volume is lower, so prices have to be higher. Finally, I admit there is additional markup for the badge, with no tangible value in return on it.

            When you push the envelope using the same model cycles that volume brands use, you get some reliability hiccups. Fortunately for consumers, this technology that is so expensive when it first appears on premium cars moves downmarket faster than ever – trading a 5 series in on a Mazda 3 doesn’t sound nearly as absurd to me as it once did. Hopefully this doesn’t mean volume models will have reliability problems too…

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            Can’t add much to what burgersandbeer says. IIRC, the only car that sold itself on durability was Volvo (“We build them that way because we have to.” — a slogan Volvo used in the 1970s). Bulletproof reliability was never advertised by BMW as part of the value proposition. Lexus was the brand that added bulletproof reliability to the value proposition for a luxury car. And, good thing they did since the styling was derivative (and now is somewhat bizarre)and the original car was, essentially, a better Buick: better built with better materials.

            Of the items on the OP’s list, a valve cover gasket is a maintenance item at 60K miles. There’s no excuse for the turbos: even my Saab, which is older and has more miles, has its original turbo. And, I’m surprised the high pressure fuel pump was not on the list, since, I believe BMW in effect gave all owners of first generation twin-turbo DI sixes an extended warranty on that.

          • 0 avatar
            StupidSexyFlanders

            DC Bruce – “I’m surprised the high pressure fuel pump was not on the list, since, I believe BMW in effect gave all owners of first generation twin-turbo DI sixes an extended warranty on that.”

            You are correct. And that was the first thing I had replaced after I bought it – HPFP along with three fuel injectors.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      The early twin turbo set-ups in the *35s are known for failing. I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy one without documented proof that they’ve been replaced.

      I’m sure someone will come here and say, “Mine’s got 135k miles with no problems” but there have been enough problems that there are plenty out there to choose from that have had them replaced.
      My dad is going to be shopping for a used 335xi soon because he loves his 328xi so much. Hopefully it won’t eat away all of my inheritance.

  • avatar
    jcisne

    BMW = Big Money Worries

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I think Steven made this point pretty well, but IME, keep it, or take the time needed to sell it to a BMW fanboy (aka “enthusiast”). 80k 5-Series cars with all those warranty repairs are what they dream of!

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Like many of you have noted, I simply shake my head at the notion that a “finely engineered German luxury sedan” can’t make it to 80,000 miles without the equivalent of a complete rebuild.

    I have had friends who are a bit too brand conscious buy a BMW and describe it as the “best, most reliable car they’ve had” until I see them driving a Hyundai/Jeep Grand Cherokee shortly thereafter. “Where is the BMW”, I ask? The reply “blah, blah, blah, $4,000 repair estimate, blah, blah, blah”.

    And yet BMW, Audi, Porsche are all posting the highest sales and profits in their history.

    Guess I’m the idiot, but I’ll take my Chevy Tahoe.

  • avatar
    StupidSexyFlanders

    Hello All — I’m the one who wrote Steve about the 2008 535i. Thanks to all who have taken time to add to the conversation:

    A few points I wanted to address:

    jz78817 – “My BMW has been rock solid, except for all that stuff I’ve had to replace.” —

    Never said anything about it being “rock solid”, just that I’ve kept it in excellent repair, which has involved fixing a lot of stuff that turned out not to be at all “rock solid”. I will say this about the BMW — nary a squeak or rattle in 82k miles. It feels pretty solid.

    krhodes1 — “…going from a 5-series to a Mazda3? Really?”
    30-mile-fetch — “You think BMW corporate would be interested in knowing that a CPO owner desperately wants to offload his premier sports sedan for a compact Mazda?” —

    My needs and wants have changed. When I bought the BMW 2.5 years ago, I was making regular road trips to Dallas (every 4-6 weeks or so). Those trips have slowed to a trickle, so I no longer need a Bavarian Buick. Also, my overall yearly mileage has dropped to about 8,000 or so, and it’s mostly city, so a zippy little 3 works better in that environment. And on my two test drives of the Mazda 3 (2.5), I didn’t feel like I was giving up much, if anything, in the way of amenities or driving fun.

    tooloud10 — “…don’t fixate too much on the $7k number. That’s the price that the Bimmer dealer comes up with when BMWNA is footing the bill. It’s very easy to rack up big bills when a dealer is looking for the problems and someone else is paying the invoice.”

    Agreed. And I really have no way of knowing how accurate that dollar amount is. Every time I retrieved it from the dealer for yet another malady, I’d ask the SA how much it would’ve been outside of warranty. He just gave me approximate numbers, and I’ve kept a running total of those not-very-precise figures. Also, yes, it’s very likely that my indy could do it for half as much or less (but I’m glad I didn’t have to go that route, either).

    Between the time I submitted this letter and Steve published the column, I did the craiglist thing, following much of the advice he spelled out above. The clock is ticking on the CPO, yes, but I don’t feel terribly pressured or rushed.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Looks like the long-time reader took my advice to heart.

    http://houston.craigslist.org/cto/4167401979.html

    He did a great job with the picture taking. My hats off to him.

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      That is high praise coming from a professional auto retailer. Thanks! I got antsy as I was waiting for your column to appear, so on Saturday, I cleaned up the car, took the advice others had given to sell it myself, and went to work. I did ask myself, based on what you’ve written, “what would Steven do?” Glad to know I wasn’t too far off what your suggestions turned out to be.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Indeed. Your pictures didn’t leave me with many questions as to the condition of the car or the features on it.

        Speaking of features, the 2008 and 2009 E60 were a lot better, having been revised to include the bladeless key, the newer engines, the nicer headlamps, the electronic shifter, and lots of other stuff (all of which might break, but you know…). Some of the last MY2010 units were given the new “CIC” iDrive, right before the switchover to the 2011 F10 model.

      • 0 avatar
        Battles

        It’s great to have the full cycle (seek advice > get advice > we all discuss the advice > we see the car’s for sale ad) here in one article and discussion.
        Now all we need is for the buyer to come along and tell us how much he loves the car.

        For what it’s worth, I will restate that I don’t know what you guys in ‘Merica do to these much loved, hugely respected motors that are known and loved for their reliability (big Beemers, most VWs, Opel Omegas) to have such a bad time with them.
        I suspect it may be simply that ‘yurpeans want to believe that European cars are the best.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I’d like to know too. I’ve owned Saabs, Volvos, Peugeots, MBs, VWs, BMWs, and sundry Italian cars too. None of them have been remotely unreliable or particularly expensive to repair or maintain. I’ve had one mangy old dog of a Volvo 245T that WAS very unreliable, but that car was just plain used up and I never should have bought it.

          So do I live a charmed life? My friends must too – most of them drive Saabs, Volvos, and VWs and rarely have any problems with them.

        • 0 avatar

          My German friends here are astonished that we North Americans consider VWs, BMWs and Audis to be unreliable. They claim that the TüV inspections make you aware of things before they become big issues. That said, as much as I enjoyed driving a rental 335 Coupe with X-drive on the Autobahn I would never actually own one when you think of all the things that could go wrong with it.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Same issue DenverMike mentioned earlier with not showing the outside bolster on the driver’s seat.

        They are flattering pics though – the car looks mint from what you can see. I especially like the tire pic where you can clearly see the “DWS” marking. Was it a happy accident that DWS was visible, or did you move the car to make that happen?

        • 0 avatar
          StupidSexyFlanders

          Happy accident that DWS was visible, so I figured I’d shoot it. Thanks to all for kind feedback. Point well taken on driver’s bolster. If the car lingers, I may reshoot.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        That is one clean vehicle. Great ad listing.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Nice ad, although I like to see straight-on pics of front, rear, and both sides. Good luck with the sale.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    It is TIME to coin a new phrase to most precisely describe long-term German car owners:

    “Stuttgart Syndrome”

    Below is my paraphrase of the Wiki page for Stockholm Syndrome:

    “Stuttgart syndrome, or Bavarian-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which owners express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their cars, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or financial risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of reliability from their cars for an act of kindness.”

    You saw it here first, folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      This. And the relationship with British cars is even more complex, almost masochistic…

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      +2

      Equally applicable to Mercedes, Audi, and VW. I resurrected my 1997 Passat TDI (after it sat in my driveway for 5 years) and am fahrvergnugen’ it to and from work again. If something doesn’t stop working, break, or fall off every month or two, I am pleasantly surprised (I’m currently working on some tiny metal clips that will keep my side mirror glass from ungluing from its backing and falling onto I-405 like one did recently). Also spent about an hour an a half fixing my left front marker lamp over the weekend (cracked plastic, lens unglued from back when I removed it, bulb socket opening melted and cracked, bulb socket terminal rusted out, mating connector terminal rusted out, etc).

      Best wishes to the owner on finding a new home for that BMW!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I would reply that there is the companion “Tokyo Syndrome”. This is the amazing ability of Japanese car owners to overlook everything that goes wrong with their cars, and the equally if not more-so extortionate dealer greed of the Japanese makes. Subaru owners are in a class by themselves with this, but Honda and Toyota are right up there. To this day my buddy who had the Accord of many transmissions, rusted out brake and fuel lines, and many a CEL raves about what a great, trouble-free car it was. Meanwhile I put FAR less money into a succession of ancient high-mileage European cars.

      Reality is somewhere in-between. On average, a BMW WILL be less reliable than a Toyota. But it likely won’t bankrupt you either. If you can afford to BUY a $75K car, you can afford to FIX a $75K car. Of course where folks get into trouble is taking out a loan to buy it when it is a $15K car that still has $75K car repair costs.

      Even I think those early twin-turbo motors were half-baked at release though. But they do seem to stay fixed today, BMW HAS updated the parts over the years.

      Anecdote does not equal data, but my ’11 BMW 328! has had fewer warranty repairs than my Mom’s ’11 Prius-V. 1 vs. 3 in 2.5 years. And one of her issues stranded her – some sort of computer glitch – car would turn on but not go. Mine was just a broken power seat relay.

  • avatar
    salguod

    I just went through something similar, trading my ’10 Saturn Outlook XR with 83K for an ’07 Prius Touring with 112K. We didn’t need an SUV anymore and wanted a lower payment and much better MPG.

    KBB trade on my Outlook was $15,500, retail was $17,500. Carmax said $14K, other dealers $13,500. I tried CL for several weeks, starting at $16,999 and dropping to $16,500. Nothing, not even a scammer.

    I eventually talked a dealer up to $15,500 and made the deal. My next try would have been eBay since, unlike Autotrader, there’s no cost if you don’t sell. I watched many a private sale car on Auto Trader linger for a long time as I was trying to sell my Outlook.

    The best advice I got was from a Quora post on how to deal with dealers. They said, know what your trade is really worth, know what the other car is really worth, make a solid and fair offer and keep reminding the dealer that you’re a buyer whenever they meet your offer. That’s what I did and it worked for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Part of your curse likely had to do with orphan brands. People are fine with buying performance vehicles under orphaned brands, like the Pontiac G8. But the demographic that would buy a large three-row crossover like the Outlook is probably scared of such concepts, even though there are three other GM cars that share most all of their parts with the Outlook. The resale value *of* an Outlook over a comparable Lambda from one of the other brands was probably lower to begin with *because* people don’t like buying cars from discontinued brands, so you got bitten twice.

      • 0 avatar
        salguod

        Absolutely, but in my case I bought after the orphaning. It was likely a 440K sticker, I bought it 6 months old with 12K on it for under $30K. Comparable used Traverses were $4K+ more.

        I wondered if I would have been better off paying for the Traverse. KBB trade in on a similarly equipped Traverse LT is actually less, the LTZ which has 20″ wheels I didn’t is $1K more. Either way, I came out ahead.

        I needed to find the guy who knew this is an Acadia under the skin and, in fact, it’s the skin of the refreshed Acadia too. I couldn’t find him though.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It *is* the skin of the refreshed Acadia; those were my exact thoughts, especially with the rear fasica and the quarter-panel window that is now a wraparound and the taillamps…

    • 0 avatar

      The best thing you can do is ride into a dealership on a bicycle or with a friend. Get the best deal on the car you really want..CASH!! Then come in the next day with your clunker and watch their eyes roll! Then you MIGHT find The Truth About Cars.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Local dealer repair reputation in Houston is terrible and there are plenty of rip off BMW repair shops. No one wants that car here anymore. If BMW cared, they would fix it, but they seem to have decided a ten year obsolescence limit is best for their business.

    When there aren’t 20 year old models of a car on the road, the car has no prestige in my opinion. The Germans are going to crash.

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      “When there aren’t 20 year old models of a car on the road, the car has no prestige in my opinion. The Germans are going to crash.”
      That’s about the best way of expressing the very rambling notion I’ve had knocking around in my head for years.
      These brands are supposed to be built on heritage and legendary reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Heritage, sure. But I don’t think BMW *ever* sold itself on reliability. Neither did Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa, or the slew of brands that no longer exist. It was mainly Mercedes-Benz and Volvo that were supposed to be reliable. However, when they broke, these cars were supposed to be desirable enough that you’d want to fix and preserve them. That’s kind of hard to do when all of the moving parts self-immolate ten miles outside of the factory warranty…

  • avatar
    Fordson

    You people kill me – so “the truth about cars” is that owning anything other than a Toyota, a Honda, a Panther, a BOF GM SUV or a 15-year-old Buick sedan (all preferably beige) is a bad idea.

    I like TTAC, but the creeping-old-fartism groupthink in the comments gets to me sometimes.

    Most auto enthusiast sites are glad to refer to themselves as such. Here the emphasis is on staying locked into one mindset, maintaining a defensive perimeter around it, and reinforcing one anothers’ prejudices. Automotive ownership is viewed as a gauntlet to be run at top speed, eyes locked straight ahead, holding one’s breath.

    Hey, OP – don’t get the Mazda, either…because they rust…and THEN, you’ll be sorry!

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Nope, you can read the Monday Mileage Champions series. Listen to Jack Baruth and Derek Kreindler expound on cars that are great, but not fashionable (drive a Chrysler minivan lately?)

      Read up on Sajeev and Alex giving the low down on cars they actually own. Oh, and Robbie, Tim, psychoboy and a long list of other posters have more than their fair share of experience as well.

      As for Mazda —> ask Michael Karesh. The truth is your footwear has a bigger impact on the average person than the car they drive. We realize that. But at the same time, the cool thing about living your life as an enthusiast, and posting here is that you can admire the inner beauty of any machine while observing the warts that are readily apparent.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        What do you mean, “nope”? I don’t mean everyone thinks the same – I mean that you have these self-reinforcing cliques. And then the other clique. This one is one of the stronger ones at TTAC – the “nothing European is a viable car” clique.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Commenters here aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. When it comes to recommendations and advice, patterns emerge due to experience and mostly because they’re true.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree danio. I write here sometimes too, and subscribe to exactly none of the viewpoints expounded by Fordson. Well, except a Panther would be cool as a highway car. If I lived in the US….

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Experience is all well and good, but it gets ridiculous when the anecdotal is accepted as empirical.

          It gets into urban legend territory here, it’s so bad.

          Most sane people will think that after they’ve repaired a bunch of stuff on a paid-for car, that they will probably be looking at a period of low-cost motoring, but here the advice is to get rid of the paid-for car, that was a CPO car (so he paid more for the car than a non-CPO car), and throw the value of the new parts and install of those, out the window…and take on a new-car note.

          Yes – the HPFP and the turbos and the water pump were problematic on these…but they have now been replaced. I bet this is a great-driving car now. And he’s driving only 8k miles a year.

          Going from this to a Mazda3…and losing money in order to do it? I understand being a little gunshy after seeing all the work that had to be done on the car recently, but then to be panicked into dumping it at a loss…and have all these people encouraging him to do it and take the loss and the new car note, in order to reconfirm their prejudices against Brand X car – ? Irresponsible.

          • 0 avatar
            StupidSexyFlanders

            The car is not yet paid for. Do not care to risk the note plus repairs (yes, I know I deserve a lecture for leaving myself vulnerable in that way, but whatevs — I had a wonderful overall experience with the car, and am ready to move on). When it sells, I will recover my original down payment, so no real money lost, except for CPO deductibles and routine maintenance.

            I think of this less as panicking, and more as being pragmatic. Now if I were already out of warranty, then we could talk about panic. Either way, I have the $ to keep it on the road, but I’d rather spend the cash on other things. Also, my needs have changed, and….wait, I’m defending my choices to strangers. Nuts to that.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “I like TTAC, but the creeping-old-fartism groupthink in the comments gets to me sometimes.”

      hi, welcome to the internet.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned a few BMW’s and for me the low entry price + my knowledge makes them worthwhile, once you get through the maintenance cycle.

    Our 1995 525it with the M50 required less than $1000 a year to maintain, including replacing all hoses as preventative maintenance when the inevitable water pump went. That included tires, fluid changes, etc. We sold it for about 10% less than we paid 5 years later. So about $100 a month to own it.

    The replacement 540it required $3k the first year to keep running. Radiator, hoses and overflow tank (preventative), battery and alternator (not), intake gaskets, a few other bits. After than investment it was probably good for another few years, but we sold it to buy a Tahoe (which is pretty much a gas-guzzling appliance) when we bought a bigger trailer.

    I’m with Steve, the more complicated they are, the less reliable. That’s why 7 series are cheaper than 3 series in general.

    OP – post it on Bimmerforums as well. If for no other reason that competition will help you get your price. Ebay wouldn’t hurt either.

    Good luck!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I am quite baffled over the discrepancy between their offers and what Edmunds and KBB say.”

    The highest prices are for cars that are in “excellent” condition. You may think that your car belongs in the excellent category. But virtually no car matches the definition of “excellent” condition.

    The mileage is also high for the age, which doesn’t help.

    In any case, a car like this probably won’t be sold by a new car dealer. If it was traded in, it would go straight to auction. Auction prices in the real world are generally far below wholesale book, no matter what the book says.

    A dealer who took in a six-year old Accord with that kind of mileage would probably sell it on the lot. But with a German car, that probably won’t happen, and you’ll be the one paying the price. You should have probably dumped it at the about 60k mark if you wanted a dealer to pay something that more closely resembles the wholesale price (although even then, they try to pay as little as they can get away with.)

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      No, I didn’t use the “excellent” category. I used “clean” (or “very good”), which is a fair and honest assessment. I was still surprised at the discrepancy between online and real life values. This coming from websites that sell themselves on providing real world data. And, yes, there’s a lot of “coulda, shoulda, woulda,” to get into. But I was still too busy enjoying my car 20k miles ago.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        So long as you enjoyed your purchase, who cares what a bunch of dick heads on the internet think (myself included)?

        It looks like you benefitted from Steve’s advice which is great.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          You said it tresmonos.

          Due to my tastes (mainly regarding stickshift) I generally don’t do as well as I would like on my used car sales, but I drive what I want to and enjoy it, and isn’t that the point?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “This coming from websites that sell themselves on providing real world data.”

        They really don’t provide data that can be relied upon very closely. It’s best to assume that the numbers are too high, including when you yourself are on the buy side of the deal. (In other words, never pay anything close to retail book.)

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Almost six years old and 80k miles is a tough time to sell a car like that privately. From a buyer’s perspective, financing with reasonable interest rates is probably tough to find on a car that old. Also, $17k is a lot of cash to part with. It’s an awkward middle ground where neither financing nor cash make much sense.

    The $3k difference between trade offers and what you might get privately is a lot to lose for the sake of convenience though.

    I do not envy the OP here.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Say it with me: “No German cars until I can afford buy new, sell at the end of warranty, and take the depreciation.Or until I can lease and dump at the end of lease.”

    (Which is why I’ve never owned a German car and it will be a long dang time until I do.)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      As I have said on here roughly one million times, if you can afford to buy a $45K+ car new, you can afford to fix it once the warranty is out. Therefor dumping it is simply stupid. But on average, people ARE quite stupid. To buy a $45K BMW costs $650/mo for FIVE years at 1% interest, after a decent sized down payment. No matter HOW bad your luck is, you will never average anywhere near $650/mo in repairs year after year after year, even at the most expensive dealership in the country. For a $90K 7-series, double all the figures.

      So buy the car you can afford, and keep it until something else strikes your fancy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’ll simply your maxim: “no German cars after 1995”.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Sister-in-law still has the Jetta sedan she bought in 1997 and my almost 16 year old niece is learning to drive stick using it. (But then again look at when it was designed by VW, and of course this isn’t a 15+ year old Mercedes were talking about.)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          If we’re going to lump them all together then we’d need to find a common denominator of when they were all still “good”, I figure 1995 right before the OBDII change would be the last point where they all were worth their mettle… ha, a pun!

          • 0 avatar
            ThirdOwner

            I’d say 1990-95 was the zenith of German cars, which in my book is the combination of the ease of DIY and the car’s durability.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        *simplify

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      So your experience with German cars is limited to your sister-in-law and her 15-year-old Jetta?

      No offense, but…why would I “say it with…” you? I understand from another long-time poster that the recommendations here at TTAC are “from experience.” Help me out here.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Fordson, it’s a smartass comment. Almost all my comments have a tinge of wiseguy. I was poking a hole in something 28 said. Obviously I don’t expect that to be empirical evidence.

        You are obviously a passionate evangelist of either German cars or evidence based internet posting.

  • avatar
    NeinNeinNein

    The same things, over and over when it comes to the German iron around here.
    The fact is these are the best, most comfortable and some of the best looking and handling cars out there–period–fact.
    Another fact is that if you cannot work on the car (or be willing to learn) or be willing to spend $$ to fix it, you havent the business to stay in the game.
    Ownership may vary–your car may run 100K or more with tiny, niggling issues. Or it may blow a turbo, or a trans? Who knows? Some get lucky, some work on or spend $$ to maintain the dream.

    Whether you drive these cars for the thrill, or for the look or for both the fact is people love them. Some people rationalize the issues, some people falsely claim that it doesnt bother them and thats part of the experience. So be it. To each his own right?
    If you’re fine driving around in that Toyota going from A to B–great. If you wanna enjoy the drive or the look in a sleek German sedan or coupe–great.
    People out there driving around in these cars will statistically repair them more often and at a greater expense (about 20% over comparable Japanese / US parts as far as I can tell.) but thats the price—again, so what.
    Its your time and your money and if you’re lucky less than more.
    As KRHODES said–you pay upfront or at the back end—you pay wither way—usually more than a Japan-o-box–but you enjoy the ride substiantially more lemme tell ya.
    You can have an ugly wife or a hottie—prolly gonna do a similar job, prolly cost ya different, but which would you rather roll with?

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I’ve gone the hottie route before. Never again. Not keen on ugly, but I will take Plain Jane any given day.

      I guess your analogy is what separates those who live for the moment and those who live for life.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I love the apologists for European lemons. Here is the money quote:

    “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).”

    Usually, there’s a chorus of “it’s because owners don’t do proper maintenance” for why this happens, but it’s pure spin.

    $7k in warranty repairs on a 2008 is absurd, no wonder everyone leases BMWs.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      My favorite is oil filter housing. I’m trying to imagine how this part became defective and needed replacing.

      I’m not a professional mechanic by any stretch of the imagination but it seems being a BMW indy could be quite profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I wonder if it was the oil filter housing gasket, rather than the housing itself. That gasket was a common leaking point on the M54 engines at least. Also a great example of how much of an advantage it is if you can do the work. It’s a $4 gasket, with a lot of parts in the way.

        I’m sure 28 cars is right about BMW indy mechanics. They are all over the SF Bay Area, and good ones can have some much work they might have to turn some customers away. My appointments are usual a week out, unless it is a dire emergency (which it never is).

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Probably right on the gasket, so in Jacob’s list you have an oil cooler, a filter gasket, turbos, a water pump, and another gasket, this one for the valve cover. So outside of turbos (which might be pricy I can’t be sure) that might be $300-500 worth of parts and maybe 500 apiece on the turbos… on $7,000 worth of repairs. Somebody’s getting paid.

          I kinda want to become an indy BMW wrench myself, at least you could do well

          • 0 avatar

            I knew a tech at the BMW dealer in Chicago a few years back…he was pulling down $100K? a year. Theres gotta be 30, maybe 40 techs in this place. HE QUIT! after a bit more than a year. Couldnt take it! So, 28, be careful what you wish for. I think parts sales is less stressful.

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      I did not mean to come across as an apologist. What I meant by “kept in excellent repair” is that when something needed to be repaired, I made sure it got done. Perhaps “my English is…how do you say…Inelegant?” And I absolutely agree that $7k in warranty claims is absurd. That’s why, as of 45 minutes ago, it’s sitting in someone else’s driveway. The first serious shopper bought it today.

  • avatar
    StupidSexyFlanders

    krhodes1 – you are absolutely correct. Not harmful, but also completely out of place for how that car should sound. And I didn’t want to try to sell it with that godawful rattle (I was already thinking back in August that I might like to part ways with the car by November). With the BMW SA quoting somewhere around $5k for twin turbo replacement, I probably wouldn’t have done that outside of warranty.

  • avatar
    StupidSexyFlanders

    Well, that was quick. A nibble I got last night turned into a sale at full asking ($16,995) plus a tank of gas. It was a day-long project that included a mechanical inspection, a trip to the buyer’s credit union (yes, he took out a $15k loan on a six year old 82k mile car), and an interminable wait as he tried to get his insurance situation worked out. Now I can partially exhale.Tomorrow, I’m off to haggle with the Mazda folks. Thanks to everyone who took part in the conversation. I guess Steven knows which questions will spark a lively debate.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I’m not convinced a new Mazda is the best choice. Your BMW is fixed. No HPFP issues, new turbos. A new Mazda3 is just a complex, except it doesn’t have turbos. Besides, you will lose THOUSANDS right away on that Mazda with the initial depreciation. And, let’s face it, you will trade it in less than two years. You are used to driving a proper car….an Asian economy car will seem fun and tossable for about three weeks. Then you’ll miss the BMW terribly.

    This is definitely the time to declare “better the devil you know” and stick with BMW. Has Mazda perfected their DI technology? They had problems with it. BMW did too obviously, but they seemed to have fixed it.

    I’m not convinced that the Mazda will be any less of a headache (now that BMW is all fixed). Who knows whats lurking in these new skyactiv engines and transmissions?

    If I had to downsize on the basis of price and perceived reliability, I’d go find the last of the 5 cylinder VW Golfs. Reliable, cheap, and still drives like proper car.

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      Spyked – you make excellent, thoughtful points, and it’s entirely possible things will play out the way you predict. But sticking with this particular devil feels like more a potential burden than trying something else. I know the Mazda won’t be the same for my occasional trips to Dallas (or the Houston suburb of Kingwood, for that matter), but as I’ve said previously, the “proper” car is more than I need, or care to be saddled to.

    • 0 avatar
      salguod

      Have you ever driven a Mazda3? I’ve driven my ’05 5 speed hatch for 6.5 years and 135K and it’s a real hoot to drive. I’m sure not nearly the same as a BMW, but certainly better than the average “Asian economy car”. Reports on the ’14 indicate that it’s even better.

      I’ve had no mechanical issues at all with mine in that time. Brakes went ~100K, still on the original clutch, nothing really beyond standard maintenance. Unfortunately it is plagued with Mazdas rust issues, but it’s never let me down mechanically. Great, fun car.

      • 0 avatar
        StupidSexyFlanders

        My first Mazda 3 experience came in the form of a rental in San Diego in 2007. Drove it to LA and back. Perfect car for that environment. My daily driver at the time was an A4 that I bought months before the 3 came out. I thought to myself had the 3 existed before I bought the Audi, I would’ve been mightily tempted to choose that instead. Fast forward to today, I’ve driven both the 2014 3i and 3s. The bigger engine is worth the extra cost.

        I know I’ll be making some tradeoffs as I downshift from a 5er to a 3, but I don’t see it as making a huge sacrifice in the grand scheme. As I’ve said elsewhere, my needs and wants are different now. The 5 had felt like “too much” in nearly every regard from shortly after I bought it (yet I stayed with the indulgence for more than two years). I regret not a moment spent driving it, nor the money I spent taking care of it. That’s why I chose to let it go before things soured. Another BMW some day down the road is not at all out of the question, though there will never be another like the E60.

        Thankfully, rust is not so much an issue, here in Houston. My bigger concern is whether the AC can keep up between late April and mid-October. I’ve heard that can be one of the 3’s weaknesses.

        • 0 avatar
          salguod

          My comment was to Spyked, BTW, not you.

          The AC on my 3 is adequate on hot, humid Ohio days which we have a fair number of every summer. Not Houston level, I’m sure, so it may not keep up there. On long trips on a sunny, humid 95+ degree day, the dial stays at max cold and the fan stays at position 2 or 3 of 4 to keep up. I don’t have to keep it on recirc, so that may save you. Of course, the ’14 may have a better system than my ’05.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Well, all I can say is that the standard deviation in BMW repair-frequency data must be enormous.
    Some folks drive these things for 200-300K miles, with only routine maintenance; some folks barely make it out of the show room before disaster strikes.

    I guess I’m more toward the former, although, for # 1) below, I did follow the rule of ordering the simplest “vanilla” version available. The second car was CPO and “loaded”, so I had no choice, of course.

    Here are the BMW’s and their repair costs:
    1) 2006 325i, RWD, Manual Trans: 7 years old: repair cost = $960 for a replacement steering column.
    2) 2007 Z4 3.0si, RWD, Manual Trans; 6 years old: repair costs = $0. (Driven rather “aggressively”.)
    Both vehicles have less than 20K miles on them.

    Generally, the comment about not owning post-2005 BMW’s beyond the warranty period (original or extended), —or leasing them — makes a lot of sense. Starting with the E90 “entwicklung” for the 3-series, electronic do-dads took over, although the N52 engine (with no turbo) is a gem of silky smoothness and reliability, EXCEPT for the “mandatory” water pump replacement at 60K miles.

    So far the E85 Z4, in its last model year before extinction, has been bullet-proof. No problems. None.
    So watch, I am taking it in for its winter service before storage tomorrow, and it’ll make a liar out of me!

    ——————–

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Oh I don’t know….I guess my experience wasn’t all that aberrational. Dealer here does good repair work for fair prices, mostly. 750 il cost less than 12K and gave pretty good service for my low-mileage (8k) per year use. I had repairs, but they were less than depreciation costs on a new car.

    I found out later that 750s were among BMW’s more reliable models (at least late 90s models.) I’ve heard some horror stories about 500 models lately. Car then got totalled in a minor accident six years later and they paid me only 4K less than what I paid. I had to move fast and I couldn’t quite find the (heavily depreciated) Z3 I would have liked to buy.

    I’d consider one again. At the right point in the depreciation curve a BMW can be a good buy. Also, the used buyer has the huge advantage of knowing which models are the dogs. Until a few years ago the 500s were kind of the standard bearer for BMW. Then they weren’t.

    I would say that even when purchased at a favorable point on the depreciation curve, a used BMW requires some combination of free cash flow or mechanical skills—its not for someone living paycheck to paycheck.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Love Steve Lang and love TTAC! After 2 BMW’s, I’m convinced owners belong to a cult! Why else would they continue to say their cars are great when, in fact, these German turds break down more than a Yugo rental car!

  • avatar
    Edgy36-39

    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?

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      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.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    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 Cars.com 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.

    • 0 avatar
      StupidSexyFlanders

      I set my ad and price days before Steve’s column went live. So all pricing advice came after the fact. I checked out local comps on cars.com. Very slim pickings for a 2008 535i. The two closest matches in terms of mileage were retailing for just under $19k. There was another decent comp in craigslist at $20k, also FSBO, but it had under 50k miles. The 5er doesn’t bring the same money in Houston as elsewhere, apparently. Did I leave money on the table? Perhaps. Would have I jizzed my pants to get $20-23k?. Absolutely. But I still got what I consider to be enough to be happy. And I only had to deal with one prospective buyer. And nobody had to browbeat anyone.

      Thanks for the well wishes. I should know by COB if I can work out a deal (one dealer has already written an at-invoice offer. I’ll try to get another to do better).

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Yes, it is always worth something to not have to spend a lot of time doing the deal, and I DO believe in leaving some money on the table (both as a buyer and a seller) to avoid browbeating. I like both parties to be able to walk away with something. Not $2.5k, but something.

        Tell you what – if I were in the area, I would have been on your car like a duck on a junebug.

        Hey – are you sure your buyer was not one of those commenters telling you that your asking price was WAY too high – ? jk…lol.

        If you do anywhere near the care on the Mazda that you did on the BMW, it’ll be nice for years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      There is a lot to be said for selling a car quickly vs. holding out for the last dollar not knowing how long it will take, especially this time of year when car values tend to drop the most and sales slow down.

      Guides are just that–guides. The only numbers that count come from those who are willing to pony up the cash, everything else is just an opinion.

      The OP was also smart to look at the market to see what comparable cars are listed for and to undercut them, especially since he had higher miles than them.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Strongly agreed. If you try to push for an ideal price and get it wrong, the car obviously sits. Downward pressure on the price increases quickly the longer a car sits. Buyers see it listed for weeks on end and assume something is wrong with it, or that there are no other buyers and they offer less than they might have otherwise. When it is over, you might end up with less than if you had done a quick sale to start with.

        I learned this the hard way with my last car. If my starting point was less optimistic, I could have saved myself some hassle and ended up with more money in my pocket.

        • 0 avatar
          StupidSexyFlanders

          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.

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