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Buying a used car

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I need to buy a new car right now as my father wants his truck back since he's giving the mother his 2006 330xi. She's selling her car.

I've been looking around for a while and the car I want is kinda specific. I want:
Black/Silver/Charcoal BMW 1999-2005 Body Style, 3 Series Coupe (325Ci,330Ci). It also needs to have a manual transmission and hopefully a sport package. Very very picky yes, I know, but it's the car that does it for me.

I don't want to spend too much money, just under 20kusd so that limits my mileage a little bit.

I found this car which fits everything I desire and appeared to be in great shape.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/01-BM...QQcmdZViewItem

I asked the seller to please take it into BMW of Houston and I arranged a Pre-Buy Inspection. Ofcourse he agreed, no problem and I paid for it. The head technician over at BMW of Houston told me everything was sound mechanically speaking, but his computer system could not read the computer's car and something was wrong with that electronic aspect of the car. The airbag light would not go off and the turn signals wouldn't blink in the dash.

He spoke with the owner , and he replied the car had just been into the upholstery shop to repair some stitching in the passenger seat. They removed the seat from the car to repair it and probably improperly put the seat back in, not connecting everything. Apparently the computer got confused with this as modules go through eachother and it threw off the airbag since everything wasn't connected. This computer not being connected caused problems with rest of them.

He's going to repair it at the cost of the upholstery shop for screwing the connection up or whatever and get back to me when it's done. Then I was planning on having him take it to BMW of Houston one more time to reinspect it to see if it's fine.

The car has almost 95K miles on it, yet seems to be in good condition, should I just forget about it with the electronic problem?? Does the car have too many miles??

I've never boughten a used car before , I would appreciate a little help. Thanks
post #2 of 3
Try posting on bimmerforums.com on the E46 (this is the body style) section.

Does the car come with service records? Ideally, you want to get a car that has had all of its work done at the dealer (or a good independent shop) and documented as such. There should be a little book with sections for each service where the dealer puts their stamp. If you know at what dealer the car was serviced, call the service manager and ask them what records they have. They used to give a printout but they stopped doing it a few years ago but if you are polite the should tell you over the phone if the scheduled maint. is up to date and what other work has been done.

Also, run a carfax report. It will show title history and should pickup (although not guaranteed) things like accidents and flood damage.

These cars can have some nagging electrical problems. While they are not always serious they can be troublesome to diagnose and fix. If the car doesn't run 100% afterwards, I would walk away from it.

So 90K isn't much for a car nowadays IF ITS BEEN TAKEN CARE OF.

I have a 1998 528i and used to have a 1998 323is (one prior the yours). The latter was a wonderful car and with 116K on the clock ran like a charm. Well, right up to the point where some yuppie cut me off with his minivan. Car took 45mph head on collision in stride so I'm thankful for that.

Also, keep in mind dealer fees are over $100 an hour. If you can't (or wish not to) work on the car yourself, please keep that in mind. But on the bright side, most of the work isn't hard and if you have a repair manual and some handtools you can do it yourself.

One thing about buying a used car, I think, is to not be afraid to walk away even if it seems like a good deal. Don't ignore asthetical problems like scratches, interior rips/stains etc, they show how well the car was taken care of (usually).
post #3 of 3
The BMW dealer can give you a complete service history, as long as it's been serviced with BMW dealers. Ask the service advisor, he knows. If it's been serviced with non-BMW dealers/shops, then they can't give you that information. As for the electronics problem, you need to be very careful. It might be because of a simple screw-up that can be fixed easily, however, it also might be a symptom for a larger problem. BMWs are notorious for nagging electronics problems, those that will cost you lots of money and time. Otherwise, as the other poster said, 95k on a manual transmission BMW is not much to worry about.
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