By on October 18, 2019

Image: 2015 BMW M6 Coupe

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 protected] 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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98 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: When Used BMW M Cars Attack (Potential Customers)...”


  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    Nice detective story and a good example of how you put together real clues to make solid, fact based decisions. You would think that, in this day and age, dealers would recognize the sheer volume of information out there and act accordingly.

    Instead, they are going to push for everything they can get and reel in some poor sucker.

    In my experience, out-of-warranty German cars are bad news and I don’t even want to think about one that has likely been abused.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    $2.61 per mile of depreciation, and yet stories like this are why I prefer to buy performance cars new. Even if it means delayed gratification.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Based on the experience that my business partner has had with his 650i M sport I really can’t think of a good reason to purchase one of these cars, new or used. He bought his used with 11k miles for 58k; down from a MSRP of 118k, while I am certain no one paid 118k for the car, that level of depreciation is the definition of ‘shock and awe’.

    I find these cars to be incredibly overrated; for the money required to own or lease one I feel they miss the mark of special.

    Well done Bark, you most likely saved Joe a year and a half of frustration with brief interludes of superior performance.

  • avatar
    ajla

    As a guy with a $50K-$60K vehicle budget the thought of buying something used with a $100K+ original MSRP makes me nervous.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm yeah.

    The cars I actually want to drive are the type I’m going to want either new or CPO so there is at minimum a warranty to fall back on.

    So far my local Buick dealer has been stellar with the exception of setting the tires to 40 psi during the first oil change/tire rotation.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Could be getting you ready for winter and not wanting a “comeback:” “Hey you guys changed my oil and now my TPMS light is on!!!”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah the door jam says “32” and I checked it immediately after service because that’s the kind of crap that places do.

        I went over to my local independent tire shop at my convenience. I’ve bought 4 sets of tires there for my fleet and always came back faithfully for rotations after every oil change (included in the road hazard warranty).

        The place was practically dead and they were more than willing to adjust the pressure no charge. I had them set it to 35 psi all the way around. I’m willing to take a little winter boost but not into the stratosphere.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          A good digital tire pressure gauge is $15 well spent.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            FreedMike,

            I had a digital one years ago that I loved; the ‘replacements’ have been disappointing. Can you recommend one that you like? Thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Just picked one up at an auto parts store. Works quite well.

          • 0 avatar
            SaulTigh

            I just picked up a TireTek ANSI Certified analog tire gauge and love it. In the “where have you been all my life” kind of way. Turns out my “old faithful” pencil gauge reads about 6 lbs high, which is why my tires always looked a little low but checked fine. $15 and well worth the money.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            SaulTigh,

            Thank you for that – had not realized that ANSI certified ones were available.

            This has been on my mind lately since I’ve been comparing readings from a number of recently acquired pencil gauges – the Miltons weren’t appreciably more consistent than the dollar ones from Menards (I love Menards – have considered moving to be closer to them – lol).

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            A $15 Bluetooth OBD tool and the right software is money well spent if you want to check your tire pressure on many new cars.

            Much easier and quicker than using a gauge and I’d hope the sensors are of a fairly high accuracy.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Scoutdude,

            That is a good tip. There is one vehicle in our fleet which has tire pressure sensors but only illuminates the light – doesn’t tell you which tire is low. Just checked with my scan tool and apparently I can’t read it from there either.

            Life lesson: When the low tire light comes on with such a vehicle and the tires all appear to be ok – check the SPARE first. :-)

            Recently had the pleasure of paying $45 per wheel for new TPMS sensors on that vehicle when ordering tires/wheels (the sensors apparently have a ~7 year life).

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            “Recently had the pleasure of paying $45 per wheel for new TPMS sensors on that vehicle when ordering tires/wheels (the sensors apparently have a ~7 year life).”

            Well worth it if a single life is saved/s

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Toolguy, yeah it does depend on the brand of vehicle and the tool/program.

            I’ve got Fords and use ForScan for almost full OE capabilities cheap. There are apps for other brands that give you access to near factory tool level capabilities.

            The other part of that picture is that for maximum utility you need to reset the locations so the info is accurate.

            And of course if you’ve got that you can tell which tire turned on the light.

            Thankfully the OE Ford tool can be found for under $40 and they were included with many trucks that have different tire pressures front and rear.

            I’m guessing it was a proactive choice to replace the sensors. I’ve still got OE ones in my 2003 Mercury though to be fair for some of the time we owned it I had winter and summer tires so the weren’t getting activated for months at a time.

            I have had to replace one in my 2009 E-series though it has near 200k, it would come and go, sometimes going several weeks w/o turning on the light. However it never said it had a low battery.

          • 0 avatar

            In my car just one click away you can monitor PSI for each tire on gauge cluster. I do it every morning when start the car. Of course I have mechanical one too – shows the same values but hard way. Mine is “Slime”, round one with enough resolution around 30-40 psi.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Inside Looking Out. That is a nice feature to be able to pull it up on the screen, I wish more mfgs would do that. On the other hand I can see why they don’t because they either have to rely on someone retraining the sensor positions when the tires are rotated or have an more expensive receiver set up that can automatically determine the location on the car.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    BMW makes unreliable vehicles. Their vehicles are designed to make it through 50k miles with maintenance. Beyond that, it’s a congo line of unending expensive fixes. It wasn’t this way 8 years ago, but it is today.

    You might as well show up to the dealership wearing a ball gag and assless chaps. At least you’ll be dressed for the occasion and prepared for what is about to happen to you.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      It’s been this way far longer than you think, especially once you go above the volume models. I had a coworker who was a serial lemon-law abuser to keep a fresh and free BMW in her parking spot a dozen years ago. She may have had a confederate at the BMW dealer, but maybe not.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The E65 7 Series (2002-2008) was probably the first BMW that was designed without longevity in mind. And that’s been the case for pretty much everything they’ve made since. That said, a lot of it is down to engine problems, and you can get away with it if you buy something with one of their I6 engines. The previous N54 had some issues, but the N55 is rock solid.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          “The E65 7 Series (2002-2008) was probably the first BMW that was designed without longevity in mind.”

          I’ve been told by Carl Nelson, THE west coast BMW expert, that it was the E31, but I know for a fact that the E36 was built with end of life instead of long-life as the highest priority. BMW trumpeted it from the mountain tops in 1991, and their self-recycling nature told no lies.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Arseless chaps you say? Oh myyyyyyy…

      Seriously though, you are absolutely correct. BMW vehicles have not been reliable for years, and buying one without some sort of “real” warranty is a huge mistake. And its not just the dealership labor rates – BMW charges through the nose for any OEM part. $25k for a new engine? Thats low stakes for a major BMW repair.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Assless chaps…someone’s been playing Cards Against Humanity!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      And yet I personally know multiple people with 200K+ on modern BMWs with nothing but routine maintenance. My ’11 328! wagon has needed *zero* repairs out of warranty, and the under warranty stuff was inconsequential (one relay, a couple doors seals, and a headlight washer nozzle). Taking a car out of warranty to the dealership is silly to start with (unless it’s free) – a good indy will probably be more knowledgeable and much cheaper than the dealer wrenches, who are mostly kids fresh out of school.

      There are SOME modern BMWs I would not touch with someone else’s money (including this one), but not everything they make is terrible.

      I have no interest in M cars to start with, the regular ones are more than fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        Cactuar

        I don’t understand the hate that BMW gets.
        Have you tried bringing an out-of-warranty Honda to the dealership?
        The prices for parts and labor are eye watering. I bet it’s the same for most manufacturers.

        Every used car owner gets taken to the cleaners at the dealership.
        That’s why there are specialist independent shops, or even better, plenty of DIY resources.

        My 27 year old BMW runs fine, still on the original M30 engine and auto transmission. The car was serviced regularly, and that’s the key. They are well tuned machines that need good upkeep. Just don’t take it to the dealer!

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I have a (very far) out of warranty Honda.

          Parts availability has started to get sketchy just in the last couple of years. And once in a while I run across an expensive part like the EGR valve ($400+; ouch). But most of the parts are cheap and last quite a long time. To compare with a particular BMW pain point, I had to replace the first radiator last year… at 23 years and 196k miles.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Recently acquired a ’01 Accord with the F23A1 4-cylinder engine. Distributor was leaking oil, a very common issue with these engines, which needs to be taken care of because the hot oil drips right on the main heater hose.

          Dealership wanted $700, $550 of which was for the OEM Hitachi distributor. After market distributor was $260 at Autozone. I fixed it on a Saturday afternoon in my garage. 3 hours of my time, a couple Youtube videos, a $14 seal kit and a $13 chain breaker from Harbor Freight and I’m back in business with no leak.

          I’m not particularly handy or experienced in wrenching, just took my time and was methodical about it. The internet has made home wrenching much more practical for the average person.

        • 0 avatar

          “I don’t understand the hate that BMW gets.”

          May be, but it is not as bad as Cadillac (and anything GM) hate.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Your 27 year old BMW shares little more with current ones besides a common wheel bolt pattern and hood emblem. You might as well be comparing your old Tandy computer to an Iphone.

          BMW is the top leased brand in the US. I think 3 out of every 4 new BMWs on the road are leased. People have to be insane to think that doesn’t factor in how they design and build the cars.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        krhodes, My e91 had it’s oil pan gasket, valve cover gasket, valve cover (pcv is in that), electrical short at the rear hatch and a number of small and medium issues. Problems started around 80k miles and peaked last year. Let’s not pretend this is a low maintenance car when everyone knows it’s not. It’s a fun car, but I don’t know any Lexus owner – cars with more lux toys than ours – that has had anything like the repair issues of this one. I’ve got 115k miles on it.

        Our ’11 X5 was a nightmare and confirmed that BMW isn’t a brand that engineers post-50,000 mile reliability into their cars. What an engineering disaster that thing was.

      • 0 avatar
        Drew8MR

        I think the 320/328s are probably the best of the bunch,since they are the lines bread and butter. Not likely to be tracked or driven particularly hard.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Nice work Bark, you gave Joe the tools to (hopefully) help himself.

    Man, years ago it made sense to buy the M version of a BMW if it had a few years on it because the depreciation curve would come back around. Seems that doesn’t apply to cars like the M6, I wonder if it will with the outgoing M3. I’m thinking about buying a 2017-ish M3 in a couple of years, don’t know if that makes any sense over a 340. What do you all think abut the M vs non M depreciation curve there? And yes, I’m one of the few who likes that generation M3.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My only thought is that Bark’s friend could have the car looked over at an independent shop, but I doubt he’d like dropping hundreds of bucks to confirm that he should run from it.

    I think buying a used luxury car can make sense as long as you a) know *everything* about the one you’re buying, and b) walk into it knowing it’s not like buying a Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      For something this pricey and exotic-ish and with this kind of history, absolutely a few hundred bucks spent on a thorough PPI would be money very well spent.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Personally, I think he might as well take whatever money he’d spend on an inspection and burn it ritually – you *know* the news here ain’t going to be good – but if he’s serious, and he can really afford $50,000 for a car, there’s no excuse not to get an inspection.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I’ve owned four BMW products, all out warranty. The 2004 325i was actually not that bad for reliability – never had engine issues – just niggling little things. 2003 MINI S liked to eat wheel sensors, leak oil, and squeak and rattle but never stopped working. The 2012 MINI Countryman was only owned for a year, and a 2009 Clubman for two. The former (made in Austria) was actually a solid if boring car, while the latter felt as if it was made on a Friday afternoon with spare parts assembled by drunken louts. A real bucket of bolts.

    Never. Again. I was drawn to the handling ability and the “fun” factor; but every repair, unless I did them myself was expensive. And with my big hands, working on a MINI or even the BMW was a nightmare.

  • avatar
    volvo

    It has been said here before but bears repeating

    If you plan to keep it and can’t afford that German car new don’t by it used. The new one probably would be cheaper in the long run.

    If you just have to have one MBZ, BMW and Audi are cars to get new on a 3 year lease and then turn it in.

    I owned one BMW a 1969 2002 which I bought new and got a good 16 years and 190K miles of service out of. By the time I was ready for a new car the German ones just didn’t make sense.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Found the car online – marked back up to $50k.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    When I was young and foolish, I would instantaneous bite at cars like this: heavily depreciated, low mileage, been on the dealers lot 90+ days and sales manager welcome offering even a better price after the inital inquiry! After buying it, it need major repairs and the repairs continued on too in the ownership duration. Better off buying a brand new vehicle!

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      If your friend insists on buying this BMW, then he should find out what it would go for at auction, offer 2,000 above that and stick to his guns. If they don’t accept that offer, they can send it to the auction and kick themselves for losing money on that car.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Just get the warranty fam

    I picked up an ’08 M6 convertible this past March from a BMW dealership and bought an exclusionary warranty to go with it, so now I get to daily the only manual V10 4-seater ever made in the history of humanity. Had 19k miles on it when I bought it and I had to fight an EAG buyer to get it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Bingo! I’m shopping for one for my ’15 Audi now that it’s out of warranty – who did you go with?

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Mike, since I got mine through a BMW dealership the warranty is from Fidelity, so it’ll be absolutely trouble-free for 4 years and 60k miles of daily driver use! I did shop around and found one company that would sell exclusionary warranty coverage to an individual on an M-car up to 10 years old in case I wound up buying my M6 from a private party.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I know this is a pedantic point but you could buy Dodge and Ford 3/4 and 1 ton trucks with a V10, manual, and 4 seats (Not the SRT-10 though)

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Technically you could have 2/3 seats in a single cab or 5/6 in a crew, depending on if the front seat is bench or buckets. I could also say the only 4-seat coupe/convertible, but I’m trying to find the least amount of words to say a Gallardo/Viper/R8 with back seats for friends.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    There is nothing so expensive as a used modern M car. They have horrendous maintenance schedules, are highly susceptible to abusive drivers, and were never very reliable to boot. I believe 2013 was the first year for the F10 M5, as well as the F11/F12/F13 M6. By mid 2014, I saw a glut of them on eBay and other sites with Lemon and Manufacturer Buyback histories on their CarFaxes.

    Which scared me away, properly.

    Your friend is probably better off just going with a standard 650i with the M Sport package. Then again, even those aren’t great for longevity. BMW hasn’t made a reliable V8…ever…and the current N63 is no better, even with the incremental improvements they’ve made. Actually, a 640i, with the sold-as-hell N55 I6, would be the best option.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      What is it with BMW and the V8s? You’re right that there has never been a good one.

      Always buy your BMW with six cylinders.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      My M62B44 is still hauling ass at over 230k. At ~180k I drove it for 33 hours straight, the last 4 of which covered 390 miles including two stops. Prior to that, I drove it to the arctic circle and back to the Bay area. I’ve seen several M60B40 with over 300k, and one with just over 400k when it was wrecked.

      So when you say they’ve never made a reliable V8, I don’t know what you’re– well, no, I do know what you’re talking about, and that’s not exactly reliability per se, it’s neglect tolerance. The European idea of reliability is that it’s supposed to go forever… IF. And only if. Maintained properly. You can’t treat it like an old Ford 300 or a 22R, with bottom-barrel oilchanges once an owner, and expect it to last.

      To be fair, modern BMW maintenance does often include ridiculous things like a total cooling system replacement every ~8 years, a timing chain guide every ~100k, and on the V8 in particular, a few oil seals don’t last forever either. The aftermarket has some, not all, of the nonsense figured out, but the basic requirement of diligent maintenance doesn’t go away.

      Back to the car in question, the space between the lines suggests that maintenance hasn’t been done even to the standards of an old Hilux. The plebian models need diligent upkeep, and the 6-figure S-motor ones need more of it, more often, at a higher cost, and with more dire consequences to its absence. Conclusion: run, don’t walk away. Or accept an adage common among some M-car owners, that it’s a six-figure car whether you pay for it now or later.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Plastic cooling system components under the intake manifold.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “it’s neglect tolerance. The European idea of reliability is that it’s supposed to go forever… IF. And only if. Maintained properly.”

        I hear this argument a lot from the Eurocar (and rotary engine) fans, but I have extreme doubts that buyers of a new V8 German cars (which are $70K to $200K+) are taking them to Jiffy Lube for $5 oil changes once a year and running it on unbranded 87 Octane.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “used BMW M car”

    Nope.

    I may at some point break down and buy a used 3-series convertible (E46 or E90) as my Last Ever Stickshift Car. That’s a questionable enough decision without adding high-strung M engines and inevitable previous owner abuse to the mix.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I bought something *really* stupid as a cheap, fun cash toy yesterday: a 2004 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas with 160K miles. That said, as long as the air suspension doesn’t conk out before 200K miles, it shouldn’t be much of an issue (and if it does, I’ll put a coil-over conversion on it). It’s not anywhere near as finicky as a proper M Bimmer.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Nice find! Hopefully it doesn’t bite you too badly.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Cage it and take it to the 24 hours of LeMons ‘if’ it turns into a burden.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Kyree, Doesn’t Arnott make replacement airbags for your XJ? If so, they’re probably $130/each. Labor isn’t too bad to install from what I understand.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’m green with envy, Kyree. Darn.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Kyree, I too was entertaining the idea of an MY04 base XJ8 a few weeks ago. Here is what I remember from my research:

        -The most notable problem is the air ride, replacing it with dealer parts is like 5K+. I found what I think were quick struts for $1,800 on some site somewhere to replace it.

        -Heater core likes to gunk up, change the coolant soon. Check heat now to see how strong it is.

        -People have reported unintended acceleration specifically in MY04, it may be linked to the next two points.

        -The throttle position unit likes to fail, not the sensor the whole housing. Supposedly a Jag part shared among other models like S-type, check receipts and it should be replaced.

        -I found a post from a Jag mechanic somewhere which claimed the unintended acceleration was/is linked to a sensor in the accelerator pedal itself. He claimed replacing the part to the tune of like 200 bones fixed the issue for several customers, evidently its one pedal unit and not just a sensor.

        -People have reported a “lurch” in MY04 after the car is parked which has damaged people’s front ends when they part too close to something. Supposedly this is fixed in a transmission firmware flash, research it.

        -The coolant reserve tank seal leaks or something and I believe the plastic tank can explode. There is a revised design I think of the tank, check receipts.

        -There is some kind of stupid procedure for changing rotors, something about brake sensors or brake locks. Look into this.

        -Check for paint bubbling, Jaguar didn’t understand how to paint aluminum correctly in MY04 and some bubbling is reported. Won’t cause corrosion from what I read but looks bad.

        -The moonroof can leak I think in the back seat if the drain holes get plugged, apparently this is somewhat common and can indicate outside parking.

        -The battery is in the trunk off to the right IIRC, evidently the cars are very finicky about the battery and misbehave as its going out.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Bucket list car for me…

        I am running out of time though. IMHO this is the pinnacle of of European luxury cars; they just ooze class.

        Good on you, from what I have read, the XJ is not horrible to own.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      My big BMW temptation are the 760 cars, but even if the V12 doesn’t kill me the electronics will.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      An e9x 328i is pretty much an anvil as far as modern German cars go, IMHO the e9x is a much better car overall than the e46. It’s not a rocket, but fast enough to entertain. And I think I would rather fix the folding metal roof occasionally than replace a fabric one, but I have no direct experience with them. Probably six to one half dozen to the other over the long haul.

      My infamous 328! wagon continues to run like a train.

      I will say that while I did not keep it due to a major life change, my M235i had zero warranty issues in the two years I had it. They seem to be very reliable as well, and the 2-series convertible is a lot more fun than an e93 – more like an e46 to drive, but fewer built-in dilemmas, modern ammenities and a decade less wear and tear (albeit at a higher price point).

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If I went E90 I think I’d be looking for a N55 335i, which seem to do OK (without the trouble of the N54 fuel pump). The NA engine is more than adequate in the sedan but the convertible is several hundred pounds heavier.

        The E46 minus folding roof is a good deal lighter, and does just fine with the NA engine in either 325Ci or 330Ci flavors. But a cloth roof in moldy Seattle is a pain in the butt.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Any E90 will need cooling system work and window regulators with regularity. You can add a steady diet of suspension components if the roads aren’t billiard-table smooth where you live. They were never meant to be on the road this long.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Any used BMW needs frequent cooling system attention. It’s just part of the cost of ownership. Consider your first cooling system overhaul part of the purchase price.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            In the good old days of the E36 and Z3, you could pretty much schedule cooling system overhauls at 62K intervals and be safe. That isn’t the case with the later refuse. Far more content has been coming from places you wouldn’t expect, or costed-down to compete with stuff made by slave-labor. The best way to drive a BMW from the past two decades is to lease it, and yes I know you can’t lease an E90 or most F30s at this point.

        • 0 avatar
          Adub

          Sorry to burst your bubble, but N55s have their problems. The fuel pump design still sucks and the Valvetronic does like to fail. That’s a 3k repair bill.

          You won’t get a small car that fast from any other company, but when it dies on the road the second or third time before 70k miles, you’ll want to shoot it.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        “An e9x 328i is pretty much an anvil as far as modern German cars go,”

        That’s exactly like saying that Marc Veyrat’s soufflé is pretty much an anvil as soufflés from Michelin-starred restaurants go.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      dal, If you do buy a used 3 series convert, the older the better. The top you’ll likely have to fix once, but the rest of the car will be in a constant state of need. The good news is that they’re cheap.

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    M6 corp lease is odd. I don’t know about BMW but I worked for Mercedes corporate and AMG’s were not on the available employee lease vehicles list there. Employees had them but they were senior management and were likely included in their compensation package. 90% of the employees had C300’s.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I am totally disappointed with all the CPO programs and off-lease cars. These are beaters. They come from the auctions. And more. When I see that car was sold in NY, DC, etc, I just pass by it. I think, getting used car is better from a private owner. People who lease then, treat them as disposables. Private owners care at least somewhat.
    And the dealers…. I remember checking 3yo RDX this year. The car had only 28K, but boy, it was scratched all over and leather looked like it was peed on. Interior smelled horribly. And the dealer? – dealer said, “its a good car and they will sell it for top $$$”. Ok.. Other dealers would also list these cars, they buy from auctions – one RDX had front damage, another had leather discoloration, and yet, they want top $$$. I wasted so much time looking at these. Decided to get a new car for same money.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I agree with you very much. CPO is not enough cheaper than a properly discounted new car to be worth bothering with, and they are typically cars that were not cared for. Go private party cherished, or go new.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I am totally disappointed with all the CPO programs and off-lease cars.”

      That’s because the really choice ones never make it to the general public.

      First crack at them is for the Leasing company employees. Second crack at them is by the dealer employees.

      What’s left available to the general public is mostly scheize.

      Read “Confessions of a Car Salesman” to learn more about the car sales environment, both new and used.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yeah, CPO warranties used to be better and cover more. It’s now a marketing term, more or less.

      The work dealers claim to do is also pretty funny. That checklist they will sometimes show you is mostly bs.

      If you do buy cpo, before buying the car, test every feature. Make sure the cruise works, backup camera, etc. And then take it to a mechanic. Carfax is as reliable as Charlie Sheen on a weekend coke bender.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right. When I bought my “CPO” 2014 Lincoln MKS, the dealer claimed they couldn’t come down on price, because they’d spent $900 in reconditioning costs. I noted that the tires—which would likely have been the most expensive cost on a 30K-mile Ford product—were the originals, and so asked them to produce the list of stuff they’d replaced. They couldn’t produce that list.

        I should have walked away after that. But I didn’t, because they finally caved on the price. Only for me to find out it wasn’t CPO in the first place, and that they lied.

        But what takes the effin’ CAKE is the purchase I made last month. I bought a 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION, brand-new, from the local VW dealer on Sep 9, 2019. After taking delivery, I noticed some hail dents, missing items (like the bolt cover for the rear wiper), and the thing started rattling like you wouldn’t believe. After it went to the dealer multiple times, and for a cumulative week, I decided to run a CarFax on it and found out that the brand-new car had been in a rear accident in January.

        Cue the dealership, who neglected to tell me this, refunding me a substantial amount of money and finding a replacement in my chosen color. I picked up the replacement Tiguan on Oct 9, 2019, a month after the first one.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, off-lease CPO doesn’t make sense – the CPO mark up isn’t generally worth the one year of extra warranty time.

      (Notable exception: buy a 2018 VWs, which has the 6/72 factory warranty, go CPO, and you end up with seven years’ warranty on a used car. As long as buying a used VW doesn’t bother you – and these days, I don’t really think it should – it’s a bang-up deal.)

      But…off-lease with an exclusionary warranty *does* make sense – for the cost of the CPO, you get an actual four or five year warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      They shouldn’t be buying anything from an auction. CPO and pre-owned stuff is usually all lease returns. They only send those to the auction if they are over mileage or were wrecked. So if you see one that came from an auction its because another dealer sent it there. Leasing and selling the lease return is essentially the luxury car business plan.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Ah,,, If car was leased 200 miles away and now appears 2 miles from your home, it has been sold at the auction. And yet, this is CPO, per company papers. Moreover, salesman told me that “if we don’t have one now, we will go and buy one for you” [and will sell as CPO]

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Everything ends up at the auction at one point or another, including the lease returns for resale by the leasing company. Its called remarketing.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I’m an employee at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America and can confirm we get really sweet deals on a new car every 12 months (not 6, although might be different for BMW). Can also confirm I have a leased C43 AMG and I treat it like a rental car.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Have a 2008 M5 6-spd with 120k miles and they are somewhat like airplanes; they need a lot of maintenance but they last a long time. I’ve done tons of work on the car; had the rod bearings replaced, rebuilt the VANOS pumps, added a supercharger – matter of fact dropping new ion current controller on the beastie this evening. It is a high-maintenance vehicle to be sure, but what V-10 8,000 RPM rocketship family sedan isn’t? Oh, right, there isn’t another one.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Every vehicle has problems, it’s just a matter of what and when.
    My experience with BMW was this: The 80s and 90s cars were a lot of fun. Dual mass flywheels that had to be replaced, not refaced, when the clutch wore out. About $1,000 in today’s money for the flywheel.
    6 cylinder cars with the exhaust hanging from one side. Sure to crack, or break off, at the Y next to the bell housing.
    Many had a battery soldered into the circuit board in the instrument cluster. Unless the repair tech had the necessary skills the board had to be sent out to fix. BMW said to replace the board for several hundred $.
    Problems with timing belts and chains and their tensioners.
    Then there’s that drive shaft doughnut.
    Fixed a few with broken seat mounting. Four 6mm bolts held the front seats in. Becomes the Martin-Baker in a crash.
    Yep ultimate driving machine. Dump it before 5 years or it will dump on you.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      Dual-mass flywheels run $250-400ish for OEM (not from the dealer). Apart from some early E34, all 80’s models had single-mass. Agreed that the DMF are unnecessary complexity. Fortunately, not one model doesn’t have multiple aftermarket or OE alternatives.

      Failed exhaust hangers will break any car’s exhaust. Rubber next to hot pipes doesn’t last forever on anything.

      Only BMW engine with a belt is the M20. It’s no different than any other car’s belt (granted, room to replace is a little tight). Chain tensioners and guide rails last longer than most cars last at all (except the M62, whose U-guide is idiotic and is a 100k item).

      Flex disks aren’t the most long-lasting coupling, but I’ve never seen one fail suddenly or an OEM one live fewer than 10 years.

      Which model had 6mm bolts on the seats? My E34’s are M12 if memory serves.

      Dump on it for five years and it’ll dump on you forever more. Treat it right, and you get a damn good car with a few warts (there’s no excuse for the cooling systems or some of the electronics).

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, the only point of WTF in my e46 were the expansion tanks…4-although the last one was a changed part number so it was fixed…yet for an appliance user owner (99% of the market) it could have been a warped engine…..the tanks weren’t expensive and they weren’t too tough to change.

  • avatar
    jeano

    We all have anecdotes. My 2009 M3 has been rock-solid reliable since day one and my wife still tracks it. However ,I will have the rod bearings changed this winter. I changed the exhaust valves on my C6 Z06 and did the IMS on my 996 911 too.
    All high performance engines have specific issues and needs, don’t play if you don’t want to pay.

  • avatar

    I bought my e46 new. M54 and 5 speed. It lasted 340k. In that time….I learrned :

    You can get BMW parts at normal prices-there is a large aftermarket out there, don’t buy anything but the OE supplier parts.

    Most of the car was well built. Screws, not one use eye-hazerd plastic clips. The M54 liked a quart every 1500 but beyond that never complained. The manual trans likewise, changed the oil every 100k.

    Body and interior were robust.

    Once the car got iinto the end of life, it kind of fell apart….after 250k or so, the plastics gave up, and the end of car had to do with rusty frame rails, but it was over 12 years old and I ilve in the Northeast. At that time the satnav screen also began to de-pixellate at 300k so I’d reached EOL.

    I do a lot of DIY anyway, and with the forums and normal aftermarket prices for parts, it wasn’t a bad experience. I had an indy for any work I wasn’t comfortable with.

    Math: Window regulator dies-$199 shipped from an aftermarket shop. Trick question is a thin wall 8 mm socket needed for one bolt. Forums and Youtube make it easy, the car is designed to be taken apart (no junk clips all screws). First one hour and a half, second one 40 minutes (at 150k miles/180k miles). Dealer-Part is $400, add an hour or two labor, plus tax and shop fees …. $1,000 day. Repeat this overall experience and that new lease suddenly looks like a smart deal.

    I know nothing about the current crop, but my e46 was as good as “they say”. My Cadillac, OTOH, was great design and good engineering betrayed by garbage parts quality.

    The Marketers are brilliant, they know exactly what a tiny sub set of buyers will pay – the depreciation is what reality will pay….

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    I think the main thing that scares me with this one is the maintenance records. I cant imagine anyone not using a dealer on this as they usually include maintenance for 50k miles don’t they?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I realize this it the M, and I agree with everything said about researching the history of an exotic vehicle purchase but yeah 50K…. whoa.

    In the 80/20 rule…. don’t be the 20.

    MY15 BMW 6 SERIES 2D COUPE 640I MSPORT

    9/6/19 $23,400 67,857 3.3 6GT/A Black Regular Southeast Fort Lauderdale
    8/1/19 $26,400 44,724 4.4 6GT/A Black Regular Southeast Palm Beach
    6/20/19 $24,500 75,942 4.5 6GT/A Black Regular West Coast Southern California
    2/11/19 $28,500* 23,570 2.6 6G/- – Gray Lease West Coast Nevada
    1/10/19 $37,000 8,925 4.1 6GT/A Black Lease West Coast Riverside
    11/30/18 $30,500 41,285 – – 6GT/A White Regular Southwest Dallas
    11/21/18 $36,175 31,501 – – 6G/- – Blue Regular Northeast New Jersey

    MY15 BMW 6 SERIES 2D COUPE 650I MSPORT

    8/14/19 $27,500* 41,947 1.9 8GT/A Black Regular Southwest San Antonio
    3/6/19 $30,300* 51,950 4.4 8GT/A White Regular Southwest Dallas

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      This is what gets me about the luxurious disposable diapers of reunified Germany. Even allowing for ZIRP, they are not worth the residuals necessary for their leases to make any sense whatsoever. I suppose China has been picking up the slack for what can’t be recovered shipping lease returns to eastern Europe, but it still feels like using payday loans to cover the interest on title loans.

      I was catching up with the former employer who supplied me with midrange Audis tonight. I still remember Audi offering heavily discounted residuals to try and get us to take their three year old garbage at 90% of new retail including every payment we ever gave them. It’s one thing to sell someone a car that retails for $66K for $59K. It’s another thing to take a total of $59K over a period of three years to pay for a car that cost $66K and had huge associated sales taxes. ‘Lucky’ for them, we resisted the option of buying a 42K mile, three year old A6 3.0T for $24K.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      @28-cars-Later, what do the asterisks mean on some of the prices of those auction listings?


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