I just got my first BMW. It's a 1999 528i. My question is should I be leery
of it since it has 168,000 miles on it? They are mainly Hiway miles as it
was owned by a car dealer as his personal car. the inside and out looks
immaculate and the engine compartment is spotless. I've been told that BMW's
can go 3-400,000 mile with no problems. Should I be leery or my recent
purchase? (I paid $9,300 for the car before tax/title/license after talking
That seems like a very good price!
300-400K miles is a little optimistic IMO; 250K is very realistic,
although people have gone more. However, at that price you could
replace the engine and still be ahead.
A BMW going 10,000 miles with "no problems" is enough of a trick. The only
way one will go the miles you mention without trouble is if it does it
inside the hold of a C-130.
You would be very wise to set aside a few thousand bucks for "just in case".
Good luck. That's an awfully high miles car for a dealer to own as his
personal car, by the way.
Well, there are certain things that might be reasonably expected at high
miles. Some suspension bushes. Maybe some of the cooling system. Shocks,
etc, as on any car.
But the major components seem to be pretty reliable.
So it depends on whether the usual suspects are coming round to their
second or third replacement...
*Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
Generally you are right, but BMW has proven they can screw up powertrain
components, too. The self-destructing water pump impellers in E36's, the
Nikasil V8's, and E46 M3 bearing problems come to mind, for example. BMW
stepped up to the plate (eventually) on all of these and did the right
thing, but they have also failed to do the right thing in the past (and to
this day on the self-destructing E46/E36 rear suspension mounts, for
I wish it were otherwise. If it were the replacement for my wife's '92 LS400
would be a BMW, but it's not otherwise and we'll replace the LS with an
IS350 instead of a used n-1 generation 5-Series. (I would not buy the
butt-ugly Bangle-ized 5-Series no matter how reliable it might be. You have
to look at it before you can get into it and drive it, after all.)
On the face of it I agree, but one should consider that not every "dealer"
has one car. I know guys who have their own cars along with their loaner
(for example...I doubt you are going to get a BMW loaner if you work at a
Dodge dealership), and then there are some dealers that offer monthly
expenses if you pass on a loaner car. So I think that just because it has
piles-of-miles doesn't rule out that a dealer or dealer employee put all
those miles on it. Conversely, just because a dealer put all those miles on
it doesn't rule out that the car was abused or neglected.
Just so you know, no dealer keeps a car for 168,000 miles. Seriously. They
drive demos and flip them over for near invoice while they're still current
model year, essentially driving a brand new car all the time for free. Why
drive a 6 year old, out-of-warranty car when you sell them for a living?!
Even if true, a typical dealer will lend that car to anybody and his sister
as a loaner, or, as a test machine for somebody evaluating the breed. It's
been abused in short bursts, count on it.
Seeing the original bill of sale and option sheet, plus the full service
history which should include *every single* item at the dealership (why
would he ever go anywhere else?), will help to establish the story.
3-400k with no problems is an overstatement. There will be problems, but
when you fix them, you have a near-new-car experience to greet you again.
An old bimmer can still be enjoyed. They take maintenance. But the cost
of that maintenance can be less than payments on a much lesser car that you
will enjoy a lot less. That's why old bimmers have fans.
I'm not saying this one can't still be a good car, just don't be blinded by
a happy story and a good steam cleaning. I'd rather look at a dirty engine
bay -- you can tell where the leaks are that way at least.
Men I have worked with owned very used old cars. Why? Well yes they can
drive demos and such, but to these men they are losing money with every
mile they drive. To these people cars are not an object, they are
A dealer I worked for drove a 1950's T-Bird. The finance man drove an
old Ford Courier. The salesmen drove beaters. They loved geting a
trade-in and the salesmen would fight to buy it if they liked the car.
We could always drive a new car home, but chose not.
So I say yes it is very possible to buy a high-milage auto from a
dealer, especially if it is a nice car to drive. I think my old Boss
has over 200K on his Maxima.
We're talking about BMW dealers here. They don't drive beaters, they are in
a prestige car business.
I was also assuming the dealer principle was the subject -- a car driven by
a salesman is no prize.
I don't think the OP said that it was a BMW dealer. Could have been a
non-brand used car dealer. I bought my high mileage Z3 at a non-BMW used
car lot and it was the dealer's car. I believe they had bought it at
auction and owned it for a year (probably needed to register it or sell it
at that time). From the OP's note, we don't know how long the dealer owned
it, or if the dealer was the original owner. Could be a similar situation.
That was my feeling as well. I've heard the "dealer selling his
personal car" story more than a few times. When I bought my E36 328i,
one of the other cars I was considering was a 528 very similar to what
you describe. The 328 was a 2nd private owner, immaculate, and only 75K
miles (just broken in as they say). It already had the new water pump
(and radiator.. ) replaced. It has 88K on it now and has only needed a
few things. To me, it drives like a new car.
So yes, it could be a good car, and the story could even be true. But I
wouldn't be certain of that without looking at detailed maintenence
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.