I'm considering my first BMW, too!

I think we're done buying American cars for a while - recently, ours died, no warning, 100,000 easy miles, year 2000. Don't even want to talk about
it!
OK....let's talk BMW. I have always loved the styling and have driven one on occasion (not sure which models/years). Anyone I have ever spoken to loves theirs - or are they just trying to convince themselves that they did the right thing in shelling out the big dollars?
Would anyone be willing to help guide us in the right direction. I am looking for a used vehicle - have no money to put down - and there are just so many models, engines, changes over the few years I've researched. I live in Southern California and I love to drive. Haven't checked out the insurance situation yet - figured I'd wait till I have it narrowed down.
I'm mainly somewhat familiar with the 3-series and the 5-series. Don't even know if I could afford any others actually. I prefer an automatic transmission, although I'm not totally convinced that I wouldn't consider manual (I keep trying to picture how I would manage the stick while I'm drinking my coffee and talking on the cell...hahaha)
Is it crazy to consider a vehicle with high miles, say over 100,000 miles? Or one that is over 7 years old? Which engines? Pros and cons? Would I only want to get it cared for by a BMW Dealership service department? Will I be spending lots of time there? :) Also, what might be the best authority on how to figure out a fair price - edmunds? kelly?
Any info you can present would really help. I've checked over this site and there seems to be quite a lot of knowledgeable BMW lovers here. My husband and I appreciate your help!
Thanks so much,
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Like any used cars, you need to find one that has been "well-maintained". That is, get one with service records that shows the previous owner was diligent in its upkeep.
BMWs are excellent driving cars. However, there are maintenance costs as things like brake fluid and coolant need to be changed every 2 years, transmission and differential fluid every 30,000 miles, and engine oil and filter should be changed every 5-7.5K miles if its synthetic, probably more if its uses regular dino oil.
You should also have any car checked out by a competent independent who specializes in BMW. That will probably save you money in the long haul. To find a good indy, check out:
http://www.iaibmwsp.org/MemberShops.htm
Btw, I bought my 1990 E34 535i, 5spd manual used in 1995 with 38K miles on it. It now has 102K miles and going strong. I did have to replace my headgasket, known problem with this car, $1100 job - ouch, but otherwise, its just maintenance.
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topnurse wrote:

A couple of thoughts for you based on my personal experience. I drove Saab cars for many years, and finally got kind of disillusioned when GM put too much of their mark on the marque...
Last summer I bought a '96 BMW 328i (e36) and so far I've really enjoyed it. It started out with 77K miles on it and now has 90K. And thus far it has no proven to be any more problematic than any other car I've owned (Chevy, Saab, Nissan), and in some ways, less.
I do think that the inline-6 engines are the way to go. Smooth power, wide midrange tourque curve, etc. And quite respectable mileage. I have my heart set on a 530 for the next one... <g>
Like the previous poster pointed out, it's definitely worth checking the maintenence records and having a good mechanic check it out. Before buying mine, I also looked up the relative pricing on Edmunds just to see if it was in the ballpark. And I think I got a very good deal. Now, people think I must be loaded because I drive the 328 but in truth I paid less for this car than the previous 3 I had before! But for me it's not so much the image but more just the way the car drives. It feels solid, is very responsive and sure-footed. And just purrs!
Good luck on the hunt.
Karl Winkler http://www.karlwinkler.com/Giovanni.html
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Ive owned numerous models, from 0 miles on the odometer to a 7 series that had 189000 miles on it when I got it. Like said above, look for something that has been well maintained... records are a must!!!. Then find a good repair shop, Ive always had good luck with the dealer but local shops can be great too!! As to models, the 3s are great, small and sporty, if you plan on putting more than 2 people in on a reg basis, I would recommend a 5 series, get into at least a 535, or 530 so you have the nice power band.. Or if you are really brave and want the big luxury with a sport feel, look to the 7s I would recommend a 735 or 750(v12). As to prices, just shop, shop and shop, you will be amazed at some of the prices you will find. ie, the last 750 I bought, 1996 with 110k on the clock, was a $4800 creampuff!! One thing to be aware of, at least in my case, is you will never go back to American or Japanese vehicles, and your friends and family will have to tolerate your constant ravings about how great your bimmer is....
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BMW is good if you want to enjoy the driving experience. As an owner, if you do not get the facts about that particular BMW you will drive, it can be a financial nightmare, especially if you do not buy the extended warranty.
Ensure that the BMW has a full service history, in particular in areas such as cooling system, engine (including rocker covers, camshafts, and tappets), regular oil changes (including spraybar), front suspension arms, and air conditioner servicing. Also, check if the ceiling has issues. If not, you may find that you'll have to deal with this components yourself.
I would also ensure that *all* electrical items, including the heating, are fully operational. I have to replace bulbs in the automatch tranmission gear indicator and the right-turn indicator in the speedometer cluster. Refer to news message
| Ive owned numerous models, from 0 miles on the odometer to a 7 series | that had 189000 miles on it when I got it. Like said above, look for | something that has been well maintained... records are a must!!!. Then | find a good repair shop, Ive always had good luck with the dealer but | local shops can be great too!! | As to models, the 3s are great, small and sporty, if you plan on | putting more than 2 people in on a reg basis, I would recommend a 5 | series, get into at least a 535, or 530 so you have the nice power | band.. Or if you are really brave and want the big luxury with a sport | feel, look to the 7s I would recommend a 735 or 750(v12). | As to prices, just shop, shop and shop, you will be amazed at some of | the prices you will find. ie, the last 750 I bought, 1996 with 110k on | the clock, was a $4800 creampuff!! | One thing to be aware of, at least in my case, is you will never go | back to American or Japanese vehicles, and your friends and family will | have to tolerate your constant ravings about how great your bimmer | is.... |
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