: Test Drove a 99 M3 Conv today, what do you think of it?

08-03-2005, 08:04 PM
In a nutshell, here's the car I test drove today. Silver 1999 M3 Conv with auto trans., black interior and 65,200 miles...asking price is $18,500 from a private seller.

Overall appearance was good with NO noticeable paint scratches, windshield chips, faded paint, scuffed rims, etc.

Overall performance was good (starts easy, idles, accelerates and stops fine, smooth on the highway with no excessive wind noise/no air leaks).

Appearance is nice,
New Tires;
Car is all stock except for Dinan CAI,
Never been wrecked according to Carfax report; and
Car has a 6 disc CD player in trunk (an accessory that I really wanted)

Seller has no maintenance records and no idea if and when the Inspection 2 service was last done on this car;
No warranty left on this car,
Currently on its 4th owner in 6 years;
Seller thinks it still has the original water pump with plastic impeller; and
Car has several minor flaws that may be expensive to repair when added together including...

1) Brakes make squeal sound when stopping...seller thinks pads may need to be replaced (EXPENSIVE???),
2) Rear Conv Top window is cloudy and small tear along the seam (REAR WINDOW NEED REPLACEMENT),
3) When rolling down the Conv Top, the cover makes loud thump b/c the bottom of the conv top (near window area) collides with the cover that opens up to store the conv top...this collision is NOT enuf to prevent it from working, but it appears to need some kind of adjustment or perhaps new straps??? (NOT SURE HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM),
4) "Brake Light Circuit" warning light comes on occasionally (but not during my test drive),
5) Missing driver side floormats (probably need to replace all so as to match), and
6) Tint on one side window (rear) needs to be replaced (probably need to replace all tint so as to match).

Overall, I like the way it looks (good condition) and drives, and feel the above problems are not MAJOR. However, I'm guessing the total cost to repair everthing above as well as to get the maintenance items done (Inspection 2 Service and water pump replacement) will end up costing me $2K or more. I'm assuming that the seller is NOT willing to Fix the above items and NOT willing to drop the price enuf to correct all of the above issues (he tells me that he recently dropped the price to $18,500 to account for the problems it has - but I think he needs to drop it another $2K).

So what do you guys think of this car??? Should I pass on it and keep looking or take the next step to negotiate with him (I had planned to spend $100 or so for a dealership to inspect the car where they might find even MORE problems)?

08-05-2005, 03:44 PM
A few comments:

I bought my '98 M3 vert via private party sale two years ago. It was a 1-owner car, completely stock, had 28k miles at the time and every option except auto tranny. It also had a couple of dealer installed options such as 6-disc CD and factory alarm. Paid $27K for it. According to the KBB and Edmunds used car values, this was about halfway between wholesale and retail pricing, which is what I consider to be a fair value for a clean car from a private party.

There were several other cars I had looked at that were cheaper, but didn't have full service records and weren't as clean. To me, history of ownership was very important in selecting a pre-owned car like this, and was worth paying a few dollars more to get some piece of mind.

However, with that said, even with all my diligence, these cars do have their quirks, and I have spent a non-trivial amount of coin on replacing a number of items that have failed (many of them electrical-related). These include brake light circuit sensor, engine coolant sensor, passenger seat power motor, driver side door lock actuator, and driver side mid-range speaker. In addition, I had to replace a plastic strip on the top that held the liner in place because it broke. My top works properly about 90-95% of the time, but the other 5-10% of the time, the hard boot catches on the bottom rear of the top, requiring a slight manual intervention to complete the open/close operation. My one-touch up driver side window sensor has a mind of its own, and usually requires me to keep the UP button depressed until the window is all the way up. Neither of these are big deals, but they are annoyances nonetheless.

As to your specific issues:

1) Get the brake pads checked out by a good mechanic.
2) Not sure of the cost here, but my guess would be $300-$400. My rear plastic window was clean when I bought it and is still in pretty good shape. (Car is garaged.)
3) No thumps in my operation, but note the quirk I mentioned above. New tensioner straps are not cheap and will run you close to a grand.
4) Been there, done that. About $85. (Or a $20 part if you do it yourself).
5) I replaced all the mats in mine when I bought it. It's a well spent $100 to freshen up a used car.
6) Can't help you here. Don't have tint and never liked it.

I recently had an Inspection II and it ran about $700 as I recall.

I guess to sum it up, my advice would be to take your time in the search. I don't know how long you've looked but there's no need to buy the first one you see. Cars like these are starting to show their years, and it may take some time to find the right one, but you'll know it when you do. And suck it up now that you'll have to throw some money at the car over your duration of ownership. These are not trouble-free Honda Civics or Toyota Corollas.

In the end, in spite of all the issues I've had, I still can't think of anything else I'd rather be driving! Good luck! :thumbup:

Oh yeah - one more thing - are you sure you want an auto?? Manuals are harder to find in the verts, but are sooooo much more fun to drive...