Bark's Bites: When Used BMW M Cars Attack (Potential Customers)
Most people who write to me asking for car buying advice actually take it. That’s in stark contrast to what happens in the real world, where a friend will ask my opinion about a car in his search for confirmation bias. I’ve written about my frustration with this in the past, but just like politicians talking about social issues, I’ve evolved on this one. I now cheerfully offer roughly 5 percent of my attention to these requests and go about my day.
However, I do have one friend from the dayz of wayback who has asked for and actually taken my advice in a few cases — not so much on what car to buy, although I mildly influenced his Honda Pilot Elite selection a couple of years ago — but on the deals themselves. For the purposes of this conversation, we’ll call him Joe. I always knew Joe was a good guy back when we were in high school together, mostly because he had a part-time gig as a bagger at the same grocery store where my mom was secretly a second shift cashier. He could have used that as an opportunity to make fun of me for being poor, but he never did. So, yeah, good dude.
In additional to the aforementioned Pilot, Joe has a BMW Z4 for a fun, summer-focused whip. He’s enjoyed the little Bimmer, so naturally his eyes bugged out a bit when he saw a 2015 M6 Competition and Executive package with only 34k miles on the clock at a local dealership. For those who haven’t done a lot of M shopping lately, that’s a fairly difficult car to find. He pinged me on Zuck Chat and asked me to take a look.
Of course, none of the regular Bark readers will be surprised to know that everything about this deal reeked from the get-go.
Joe’s first question was, “How much should I pay for a car like that?” My answer off the top of my head? “$50k.”
Turns out that I was on the nose — that’s exactly what the dealer was asking. Further research seemed to indicate that was a fair price, almost exactly what KBB estimates you’d pay at a dealer. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the depreciate — this is a car that stickered for $139,000 in 2015, a scant four years ago (no, that’s not grammatically correct, but I’m coining a phrase, here). In other words, you can pay 36 percent of the original cost for a car with 34,000 miles of service. Another way to look at it would be that the car has lost $2.61 of value for every single mile it’s been driven. Woooooof.
So yeah, the price was fair — on the surface. But then I peeked at the Carfax, and I saw some stuff that immediately raised my eyebrows.Corporate Lease? Yikes
The original registration of the car was as a “Corporate Lease” for six months in California. That’s danger sign number one — it means it was leased out to a BMW corporate employee as a rotating six-month lease. For those who might not know, this is a big perk of working at one of the German OEMs or their captive finance arms — the rotating six-month lease. Basically, you get a mega discount on a new car every six months. You don’t always get your first choice of car, color, options, etc., but you DO get a new dope lux car twice a year.
I have known many people who work at BMW Financial Services, and they universally treat these leased cars like you treat your rental car in Orlando. I saw one such 340i show up at a BMX track a couple of weeks ago, covered in dirt and with a two-bike rack hanging off of the trunk in a recklessly paint-damaging fashion. So while it’s not a guarantee that this particular M6 was beat to shit by somebody…it probably was.Sketchy Service Records
This suspicion was further confirmed a little ways down the report. This particular M6 had not one, but two front brake jobs performed before 4k miles of service. Danger sign number two, and this is a biggie. My guess is that this car was used as a personal track rat by somebody who burned the front brakes out of it — not once, but twice.
The car then made its way to New York, where it was sold as a (likely Certified Pre-Owned) lease. It then became invisible to the eyes of CarFax for over two years, with the exception of mandatory vehicle inspections — nary a single oil change on the radar for the next thirty thousand miles. Now, this could mean that the owner performed all of the maintenance himself, or that he found a local shop to do all of the work, and that shop never reported to CarFax or any insurance company. This being a BMW lease, I found both of those scenarios to be highly unlikely, and believe that the car was probably just not serviced at all for that entire time. Danger sign number three.Nobody wants it
It has been bouncing around dealerships for almost a year, first being offered at auction in December of 2018, and finding its way to three different rooftops. Danger sign number four. While the M6 isn’t exactly a common car, it’s hard to believe that, in 10 months, there hasn’t been a single buyer interested at what appears to be a competitive price. I trust the market in these cases when I can’t put my own eyes on the car.Recon done in stages?
Lastly, the dealer where the car now resides has performed three different reconditioning services on the big BMW, about two months apart. I’ve never heard of that happening before — dealers typically prefer to knock out all the recon at once so they can get the car sold as quickly as possible. Either they were waiting for parts (and listing the car for sale in the meantime), or test drives were revealing further issues with the car. Unfortunately, while the first service indicates a standard oil and filter change, there are no details for the second and third.
While I was digging into all of these records, Joe decided to float them an offer — $45,000, a number that he knew to be very low, but he figured that it couldn’t hurt to try. The salesperson at the dealer responded thusly (spelling and grammar are his, not mine):
I wish I was able to discount our car like that, but we currently have it listed in the top 5 in the nation when considering model year, mileage, color, and equipment. Our vehicles are priced to sell, however my sales manager did mention he would be willing to take $750 off the price of the M6. I know that’s not anywhere close to $5k, but we just don’t have that kind of profit margins in our vehicles. We make money selling volume, we sell about 150 cars a month. We take care of reconditioning when the vehicles come onto the lot and we put them through a full safety check. Oil change is done, tires are great, brakes have a ton of life left, and it is road ready!
I hope you understand that we truly want to earn your business and we aren’t leaving anything on the table. Please let me know your thoughts and I look forward to your response.
If there had been a third paragraph, I imagine it would have involved a bridge for sale in Brooklyn or some Florida real estate.
I gave Joe all the info I had uncovered in the CarFax, and I advised him that it had been just over sixty days since the dealer had marked the car available for sale. At most sensible dealers, the sixty day mark is when they start to figure out that they need to discount to dump the inventory, or take it to auction — this should be doubly true for any dealer who “makes money selling volume.” I told Joe to offer to meet in the middle at $47,500, and he agreed that this seemed reasonable.
The salesperson seemed mystified about the services, and claimed that they didn’t have the service records, so there was no way to know what services had been completed, but it was probably “just a sensor, or squeaky brakes.” He also held firm on the price, saying they just didn’t have any more room.
At this point, I advised Joe to walk away from the deal entirely. Any M car that’s out of warranty without service records is a five-figure repair waiting to happen. But a funny thing happened in the meantime.I guess there WAS some more room
Even before telling Joe that they couldn’t discount any further, the dealer had already marked the car down by $1,100 to a selling price of $48,900 on their own website — or $350 more than they had told Joe they’d be willing to go. In other words, Joe’s email outlining the issues with the car’s history probably scared the sales manager into lowering the price, but he had been hoping that he’d be able to reel in Joe, since he was already on the hook. Utterly reprehensible behavior, to say the least.
The Bark prediction is that this particular M6 will be at the auction in 30 days or less, where it will be on the way to its fourth dealership home. If they’re smart, they’ll hit up Joe one more time before they send it — I think he’d still bite, even against my recommendation.
So if you find yourself in a similar car buying situation, don’t be afraid to hit me up at email@example.com and ask me to take a look. Maybe I’ll be able to save you a $50,000 headache, too.
[Image: BMW Group]
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