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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:23 AM
iandelaney iandelaney is offline
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Question Are the Bavarian rumors true?

As this being my first post in the forum, let me first say hello and introduce myself. I'm a college student in need of a car within the next 12 to 18 months to commute to school. Vehicles have been a lifelong passion of mine, and needless to say performance is something rather appealing to me. It would be tough for me to spend money on a car that I'm not interested in, simply for its reliability.

I'm interested in a 3 series 2006 or newer. Because of my price range I know I'm going to be finding a vehicle with higher mileage 80-90k or more. I don't feel comfortable purchasing a high mileage automatic transmission, and I don't need the extra power/maintenance responsibility of the turbocharged models so I'm looking for a manual 325i/328i.

To address the topic of discussion, I live in southern California, and everyone I talk to associates German cars with high costs of maintenance. I want to know how true this is, and if so, why. My theory is that a good majority of BMW owners in my area are more affluent, are buying them for their luxury, and are not interested in maintaining them themselves, in which case they pay the dealers' high prices for routine services. I hope that simply maintaining the car myself would avoid the rumored premiums associated.

I've looked through other threads on the forum (If you know of a good one I might have missed please share!), but haven't found a concrete answer; is there any reason a bmw with a manual trans might cost more to maintain than something Japanese? I'm aware parts tend to run higher and I'm alright with that, but is there anything else I should worry about in a higher mileage bimmer that wouldn't be common to all cars that have been on the road longer?

I really appreciate all personal experiences, opinions, and advice that might be helpful in my car buying process. If the wisest decision would be to wait until later in life when I can afford a younger car with some warrantied services remaining, I want to hear it from an enthusiast!
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2014, 01:28 AM
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Welcome to the 'fest. BMWs are highly engineered cars and they are almost always less reliable than Japanese cars. In your situation a manual 325/328 is probably one of the better 3er choices you could make. BMWs do generally require more frequent maintenance than other cars. If you can do your own maintenance that is a big help to your checkbook. BMWs are also very addicting.

The key to buying a used Bimmer is finding one that has been well cared for. BMWs do not take abuse and neglect well. They WILL make you pay for it.

A few other cars you probably should consider that would be relatively good college cars and also fun - Infiniti G35/37, Acura TSX, Mazda3.
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Last edited by tturedraider; 07-15-2014 at 01:31 AM.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2014, 02:07 AM
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Honda Accord Euro is pretty good value and reliable too

If you can't afford high maintenance, then better not to buy BMW
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  #4  
Old 07-15-2014, 02:54 AM
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CALWATERBOY DUE CALWATERBOY DUE is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iandelaney View Post
To address the topic of discussion, I live in southern California, and everyone I talk to associates German cars with high costs of maintenance. I want to know how true this is, and if so, why. My theory is that a good majority of BMW owners in my area are more affluent, are buying them for their luxury, and are not interested in maintaining them themselves, in which case they pay the dealers' high prices for routine services. I hope that simply maintaining the car myself would avoid the rumored premiums associated.

I've looked through other threads on the forum (If you know of a good one I might have missed please share!), but haven't found a concrete answer; is there any reason a bmw with a manual trans might cost more to maintain than something Japanese? I'm aware parts tend to run higher and I'm alright with that, but is there anything else I should worry about in a higher mileage bimmer that wouldn't be common to all cars that have been on the road longer?

[1] Compared to Honda & Lexus? Dude - Troll bait.

[2] Common Problems
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2014, 03:42 AM
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Bob Shiftright Bob Shiftright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iandelaney View Post
is there any reason a bmw with a manual trans might cost more to maintain than something Japanese?
It is likely to break more often because there is more stuff to break. And it does break. BMWs in general tend to be overly complex and complicated at the expense of reliability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wall Street Journal

The BMW 7 Series, for example, has more than 120 electric motors, including 38 just for the front seats.
On what Japanese car do you need a YouTube video and a laptop computer to change out the battery? On a Toyota, it involves undoing maybe 4 x 10mm nuts and is a repair that the average shade tree mechanic could probably do blindfolded.



I own a manual-transmission example of what is supposed to be the most reliable BMW sold today, and it has not been very reliable.

Of the top 100 reasons to buy a BMW, IMO "reliability" ranks around 97.
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  #6  
Old 07-15-2014, 04:51 AM
Flatland328 Flatland328 is offline
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I've only had my car a short while and haven't had to put money into it (warranty!), but this is the first car that I've ever owned where I had to take it to the dealer because the brake sensor lost its calibration. As mentioned above, BMW makes very complex automobiles to appeal to the people that want that kind of car. Often, those people tend to drive those complex cars aggressively on a regular basis because it's a blast to drive these cars hard, even a plain jane 328i. They inspire confidence which allows you to drive closer to the limit without fear. That puts extra strain on the parts. So, these cars require more maintenance than the average car.

On top of that, if you do a little research, you'll find that DIY on a BMW is about the same cost as paying someone to work on most domestic cars and paying for a dealer to do work on your car is like getting a bill from a hospital stay. If you are planning on putting a lot of miles on a BMW, you better plan for thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs. If that's a problem, there are better cars for you.
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  #7  
Old 07-15-2014, 05:24 AM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland328 View Post
I had to take it to the dealer because the brake sensor lost its calibration..
Like...a brake wear sensor??

@OP: Not sure what the horror stories here are about. This is my 5th BMW, and I can honestly say it's required less repairs than my friend's Accord.
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:06 AM
Nerdboss Nerdboss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland328 View Post
this is the first car that I've ever owned where I had to take it to the dealer because the brake sensor lost its calibration.
I need to know more about this. What sensor was this???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland328 View Post
On top of that, if you do a little research, you'll find that DIY on a BMW is about the same cost as paying someone to work on most domestic cars and paying for a dealer to do work on your car is like getting a bill from a hospital stay. If you are planning on putting a lot of miles on a BMW, you better plan for thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs. If that's a problem, there are better cars for you.
Not really. Parts are not much more than what they are for other foreign makes. Local Honda dealer also charges the same hourly rate as the BMW dealer.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:32 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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I've owned several BMWs and I can say I've put more into maintenance / repair of them then I have any of my other vehicles. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Toyota / Honda / Subaru with > 150K miles on the clock. I would have to think long and hard before doing that with a BMW. As to why...does it matter?
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2014, 10:16 AM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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The E46 had less design flaws than the e9x

The E46 had less design flaws than the e9x
Parts when things fail are expensive because you have
to pretty much buy them from BMW at this point.
The list of common failures is much shorter for the e46 mostly
window regulators on door seals. Not stuff that will leave you
on the side of the road with expensive repairs and you get
real tires and a spare.
It pretty much real expensive to repair any car these days if
you can't DIY. And even most of the shops that repair my Acura Integra
are populated by people in clown suits.

Last edited by ctuna; 07-15-2014 at 10:19 AM.
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  #11  
Old 07-15-2014, 10:21 AM
Nerdboss Nerdboss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
The E46 had less design flaws than the e9x
Parts when things fail are expensive because you have
to pretty much buy them from BMW at this point.
The list of common failures is much shorter for the e46 mostly
window regulators on door seals. Not stuff that will leave you
on the side of the road with expensive repairs and you get
real tires and a spare.
It pretty much real expensive to repair any car these days if
you can't DIY. And even most of the shops that repair my Acura Integra
are populated by people in clown suits.
I've always seen the opposite. The E90 is the more reliable car and the E46 had more issues. Nobody is overhauling the entire cooling system every 70k miles on the E90. Water pump/Thermostat is the big issue on the E90.
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  #12  
Old 07-15-2014, 10:31 AM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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I had trouble free e46 for 70k

I had trouble free e46 for 70k
Well almost three sensors under warranty and a door seal.
I have a e91 had to replace the ELV Steering Wheel Lock for 1100 at and Indy
and 1300 at the dealership .
Just had the front passenger seat recall and they scratched the wood
and plastic . And although this is a common problem they are denying
the recall to a lot of people that have this same problem in 06 and 07 where
its really common and is another 1k plus expense.
Also there is the common leaking gasket problems and broken head bolt problems
the can cost well over 2 k if you can't DIY the stuff yourself.
And the 500 dollar water pumps with the 500 plus install charge.
At and Indy more like 1500 plus at a dealership, well at least some dealerships.
Just payed 130 for and Integra Water Pump. But the install charge was 500 bucks.
And these are on the most reliable 325, 328 and 330.
Then the there are the numerous Turbo problems and I am not counting Hpfp.
The run flat tires , no spare , ridiculous battery registration and replacement costs.

Last edited by ctuna; 07-15-2014 at 01:09 PM.
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  #13  
Old 07-15-2014, 10:42 AM
Nerdboss Nerdboss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
I had trouble free e46 for 70k
Well almost three sensors under warranty and a door seal.
I have a e91 had to replace the ELV Steering Wheel Lock for 1100 at and Indy
and 1300 at the dealership .
Just had the front passenger seat recall and they scratched the wood
and plastic . And although this is a common problem they are denying
the recall to a lot of people that have this same problem in 06 and 07 where
its really common and is another 1k plus expense.
Also there is the common leaking gasket problems and broken head bolt problems
the can cost well over 2 k if you can't DIY the stuff yourself.
And the 500 dollar water pumps with the 500 plus install charge.
At and Indy more like 1500 plus at a dealership, well at least some.
Just payed 130 for and Integra Water Pump. But the install charge was 500 bucks.
And these are on the most reliable 325, 328 and 330.
Then the there are the numerous Turbo problems and I am not counting Hpfp.
The run flat tires , no spare , ridiculous battery registration and replacement costs.
These are early build model problems that were sorted out later in the product cycle. The same thing happend with the E46. Transmissions losing reverse comes to mind pretty quick.
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:27 PM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
The E46 had less design flaws than the e9x.
Are you serious? Disposable control arm bushings, self-destructing coolant tanks, water pump, radiator, disposeable window regulators, GM5 modules, ABS modules, sub-frames. Need I go on? Compared to my E46s, the E90 has been extremely reliable.
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  #15  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:52 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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All I can say is my manual coupe was reliable.

All I can say is my manual coupe was reliable
one of the most reliable cars I have had.
Never used a drop of oil with 5k changes.
Trouble free for 70k miles.

Last edited by ctuna; 07-15-2014 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:55 PM
kurt_cobain kurt_cobain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
BMWs are highly engineered cars and they are almost always less reliable than Japanese cars.
AAAABSOLUTELY INNNNCORRECT! SSSTOP DOING THE EQUIVILENT OF RACIALLY PROFILING AUTOMOBILES PLEASE...

HONDA and TOYOTA are great cars. THAT DOES NOT MEAN ALL JAP CARS ARE GREAT!

Misubitchi: CRAP CRAP CRAP!!
Nizzan: CRAP
Kia: CRAP!!
Mazda: CRAP!!!

I hate it when people assume all jap cars are reliable - THEY ARE NOT!! If any generalizations can be made, it's about the BRAND/company.
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:58 PM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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Originally Posted by kurt_cobain View Post
AAAABSOLUTELY INNNNCORRECT! SSSTOP DOING THE EQUIVILENT OF RACIALLY PROFILING AUTOMOBILES PLEASE...
Stop freaking out in every thread.
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:27 PM
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Buy Honda/Accura or Subaru ... drive quality is much better than the rest of Jap Cars (well apart from Nissan GT-R or Lexus LF-A).... and they are reliable
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:29 PM
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[QUOTE=ctuna;8463963]I had trouble free e46 for 70k
Well almost three sensors under warranty and a door seal.
I have a e91 had to replace the ELV Steering Wheel Lock for 1100 at and Indy
and 1300 at the dealership .
QUOTE]

CORRECT

E46 is very reliable cars

Early E9x have ELV steering issues and ABS issues too

They fixed that after 2009
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:48 PM
Flatland328 Flatland328 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerdboss View Post
I need to know more about this. What sensor was this???



Not really. Parts are not much more than what they are for other foreign makes. Local Honda dealer also charges the same hourly rate as the BMW dealer.
I asked the dealer to check my brakes when I went in for service because it was getting close (1800 miles) and it changed to further out (2200 miles). They told me that the car needed to be recalibrated because it wasn't remotely close to needing new brakes.

I specifically mentioned "domestic" when I mentioned cost. BMW is far more expensive than a domestic car to repair. They aren't much more than foreign cars for most repairs......but the repairs happen at a much more frequent rate. Hondas & Toyotas, while not as dependable as they used to be (complexity bites everyone) are far superior in terms of reliablity. That said, I have never wanted to own a Toyota car of any kind and the Accord might as well come with vanilla scented air fresheners in it.

I can't really speak too much to the dependability of other German cars, but my sister-in-law owned two Mercedes and I don't ever remember any exciting stories. She also had a Lexus SC500 with 150,000+ miles that she never did anything but put gas in it and it never gave her trouble. Not a German car, but an example of a luxury car not costing a bunch of money to maintain. I will say that the Lexus was totally worn out when she got rid of it.
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:59 PM
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rdkind62 rdkind62 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt_cobain View Post
AAAABSOLUTELY INNNNCORRECT! SSSTOP DOING THE EQUIVILENT OF RACIALLY PROFILING AUTOMOBILES PLEASE...

HONDA and TOYOTA are great cars. THAT DOES NOT MEAN ALL JAP CARS ARE GREAT!

Misubitchi: CRAP CRAP CRAP!!
Nizzan: CRAP
Kia: CRAP!!
Mazda: CRAP!!!

I hate it when people assume all jap cars are reliable - THEY ARE NOT!! If any generalizations can be made, it's about the BRAND/company.
Kind of odd that you say that every generalizes about a brand name, but Kia finished above BMW in Consumer Reports this year and has been named best in class in several categories.
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Old 07-15-2014, 03:03 PM
ptrcd003 ptrcd003 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland328 View Post
They told me that the car needed to be recalibrated because it wasn't remotely close to needing new brakes.
The "recalibration" consisted of replacing an $8 brake wear sensor that a child could replace in under 10 seconds once the wheel is off.
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:59 PM
Boraxo Boraxo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
Welcome to the 'fest. BMWs are highly engineered cars and they are almost always less reliable than Japanese cars.
High end japanese brands are highly engineered too - that has nothing to do with reliability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
The key to buying a used Bimmer is finding one that has been well cared for. BMWs do not take abuse and neglect well. They WILL make you pay for it.
I've babied mine (extra oil changes, periodic checkups, etc.) and am currently spending about $2k/yr for repairs since it hit 80k miles. And I'm only putting 6k/yr now. So the cost is still significant once you are 50k+ outside warranty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
It pretty much real expensive to repair any car these days if
you can't DIY. And even most of the shops that repair my Acura Integra
are populated by people in clown suits.
They are all expensive but BMW repairs are 2x more $$ than Acura (I own both). Examples: BMW brake service=$600; Acura brakes=$250. BMW oil change: $90; Acura $30.

My Acura (89k) has almost as many miles as my BMW (95k) and has required no repairs beyond routine maintenance like replacement of brakes, battery, coolant flush, etc. BMW is probably $5k+ now after door actuator, water pump, oil pan gasket, tensioner pulley, transmission seals, etc.

BMW makes great cars to drive but weak in terms of reliability - I am not sure if it is flawed design, inferior parts, quality control, etc. but management does not seem to care because the cars keep selliing...
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:29 PM
R608 R608 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt_cobain View Post
AAAABSOLUTELY INNNNCORRECT! SSSTOP DOING THE EQUIVILENT OF RACIALLY PROFILING AUTOMOBILES PLEASE...

HONDA and TOYOTA are great cars. THAT DOES NOT MEAN ALL JAP CARS ARE GREAT!

Misubitchi: CRAP CRAP CRAP!!
Nizzan: CRAP
Kia: CRAP!!
Mazda: CRAP!!!

I hate it when people assume all jap cars are reliable - THEY ARE NOT!! If any generalizations can be made, it's about the BRAND/company.
Who's generalizing now? Even what you said above is completely unfounded. Nissan's aren't necessarily known for Honda and Toyota-level reliability, but far from "crap" and if I dug up a CR auto issue I'll guarantee virtually all of them handily beat the Germans makes in overall reliability. Mazda? The RX-8 is a terror and the Mazda6 is a bit spotty according to my recollection but the Mazda3 and MX-5s are known for being trouble-free.
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:37 PM
R608 R608 is offline
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iandelaney, yes, from what I've read and experienced, the BMWs will typically have more issues and cost more to maintain. Doing the work yourself will save money, but unless you're very mechanically inclined and have the right tools and facilities available to you, not to mention the time required to work on the car, you'll probably find yourself having the car serviced for at least some things that may come up.

If reliability is a concern, you're looking at the right configuration. The turbos in particular would add some risk to the equation if you were looking in that direction. That being said, my car which is a pretty basic model with N/A I-6, RWD, MT, and no power options has given me plenty of headaches to date (@75K miles) including the following:
- Ongoing shifting issues that I can't get resolved
- Thermostat failed and required replacement
- TWO water pump replacements (these are electric pumps and replacement costs around a grand if you're out-of-warranty and don't DIY). The second one was OOW for me and left me w/o transportation with zero notice one night.
- Valve cover gasket replacement due to leak resulting from snapped aluminum bolts
- Oil filter housing gasket replacement due to leak
- Replacement of snapped aluminum head bolt (luckily I got away w/o having the head gasket replaced)
- Spark plugs and ignition coils replaced ahead of schedule due to idling problems (nearly stalling)

Oil changes run close to $100 at an indy and more at the dealer, much of which is simply the cost of the amount of synthetic oil these cars need each time. (At least that's only once or twice a year)

From what I've gleaned, virtually anything and everything is fair game for failure in these cars, though there are clearly some specific common trouble spots including the oil leak, snapped aluminum engine bolts, and cooling system issues I listed from my own experiences above. If you can afford to drop a grand or two into repairs each year once out-of-warranty and don't mind the hassle, it could be worth it to you. Six years on I still can't bring myself to trade mine for something more economical. I just like the car. But yes, unless you're lucky the BMW most likely WILL have more issues and cost you more than a "good" Japanese car of similar year and mileage.

UPDATE: Oh, forgot to mention tires. At least with the sport package these cars LOVE tires, especially if you drive enthusiastically. I'm hard pressed to get three seasons out of my summer tires which are only used half the year.

Last edited by R608; 07-15-2014 at 05:45 PM.
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