Cheap, high miles.
Can be clean as. But if the engine is tired. Pass. I'd rather buy a low mile car with a broken windshield.
Someone asked me about buying a BMW 5 series or a 7 series (from 1995-2001) and I started thinking about what I have had to spend on my car.
I bought my 2000 BMW 740iL 4 years ago with 159,000 miles. I now have 228,000 miles. In the 4 intervening years, I have had to do the following repairs and maintenance:
Replaced the battery twice, one was free as the battery was under warranty -- $200
Replace Tires - $400
Replaced the coolant reservoir and coolant level sensor around $120
Replaced the radiator -- $400 (includes labor cost at shop)
replaced rear brake pads $100
replaced passenger door lock actuator $250 (includes labor cost at shop)
changed the spark plugs - $75
replaced one ignition coil - $70
replace fuel pump and fuel filter -- $500 (includes labor cost at shop)
That adds up to $2115 in four years and 68,000 miles. I doubt I could have driven a new car and spent less than that in 4 years!
Even if I figure in the cost of 12 oil changes (some done by me and some at a shop) with an average cost of $50 each, that brings the total to $2715. Less than $3000 in 4 years and almost 70,000 miles.
So, I decided to figure out the TOTAL operating costs for my car. I added up the cost of the car + insurance + gas + maintenance and repairs + licensing and taxes. I added it all up and my total ownership costs is 23 cents per mile.
According to AAA, the average operating costs in the USA is 57 cents per mile (for all car styles). The average operating cost for a large sedan is 69 cents per mile. Those amounts for the miles I have driven would have been $38,760 and $46,920 respectively. I spent a total of $15,728 for my car including everything.
A few sites I have seen provide the average operating costs and the cheapest vehicle for 5 year operating costs was a Toyota Prius at approximately 30 cents per mile and the average cost of a small sedan at 46.4 cents per mile.
Despite the conventional wisdom, my 740iL has been extremely cheap to own and is more than twice as cheap as the smallest and cheapest average cars.
Lately, I have been trying to figure out what to do with my 3 cars (two E38 BMWs and my 92 Ford Truck). This has definitely made up my mind. I'm going to sell the newer 2001 BMW 740iL (133K miles) and keep my truck and just keep driving the 2000 BMW 740iL!