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Is there a certain region that produces a higher number of problematic used cars? I know obviously it depends on how much the car is driven, exposure to elements etc, just wondering if there are any places to specifically avoid - ex. i have heard that utah and colorado have a lot of cars with salt and rust damage.
 

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Need for Speed
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There is no best geographic location for problems on a used car. The only issues that come up are rust and paint issues on a car as you mentioned. In colder areas where they use salt and other antislip coatings on the roads come winter time is where you might have to be concerned. Buying cars from desert states, the bodies will be in better condition. Mechanically will they be better than other areas? Maybe not. I bought my car local because I didn't want to ship it or drive out. I found a clean example within 10miles of my home.
 

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Here in Mass I drove on salt more than I drive on snow. If we get 12 inches of snow, they put down 6 inches of salt, no kidding. Don't buy a 10 year old Massachusetts car.
 

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The UltimatE46 Enthusiast
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The cities aren't that great compared to the countryside - much more pollution which means the air filter is dirty is most cases even if they replaced it recently. Which may lead to potential MAF issues; could be lots of start-stop traffic so the engine's turned on and off a lot (short trips). In crappier cities, the streets/surrounding highways most likely have uneven roads so if the seller lives around there and DD's the car, the wheels/tires/suspension may not be in the best condition.

The trucks on the freeways around here are literally mobile industrial smokestacks. K&N's re-washables caused MAF issues for me before and they don't sell a replacement for the BMW Performance intake anyways so I always have to get others.

Another thing, BMWs are made in Germany - where it is cold. They are not very well suited for hot weather like SoCal. This applies more towards the older models like the E46.
If all of us check our window trim, I guarantee it's either cracked, falling out, can be molded by your finger, or all of the above.

It's funny though, my buddy's E39 M5 has the original trim and it doesn't leave a hole if you poke at it, unlike the E46 I had then and the one I have now.
 

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I will not drive my new BMW in the winter months from Nov-April/May. We gets LOTS of lake effect snow here in Syracuse N.Y. and the roads are salted like mad. Just as bad are the roads themselves after a hard salted winter; potholes EVERYWHERE! I have replaced windshields on my winter cars due to flying chunks of salt & cinders that is also thrown on the roads for traction. Buy used cars from the southeast or south/mid west, away from the big cities and the ocean's salt water spray. You can eat off the frames on these cars after years in service. If you dont wash cars off every week or more in winter around here, they have rust popping through in a very short time. I see cars less than 4 years old with rust pushing through everywhere.
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2013 328 M Sport; Estoril Blue II, Premium PKG, Lighting PKG, HK Sound, 8-Speed Sport auto Trans with Paddle Shifters, Cold Weather PKG, Technology PKG/Navi. :thumbup:
 

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Living Life At The Beach
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I will not drive my new BMW in the winter months from Nov-April/May. We gets LOTS of lake effect snow here in Syracuse N.Y. and the roads are salted like mad. Just as bad are the roads themselves after a hard salted winter; potholes EVERYWHERE! I have replaced windshields on my winter cars due to flying chunks of salt & cinders that is also thrown on the roads for traction. Buy used cars from the southeast or south/mid west, away from the big cities and the ocean's salt water spray. You can eat off the frames on these cars after years in service. If you dont wash cars off every week or more in winter around here, they have rust popping through in a very short time. I see cars less than 4 years old with rust pushing through everywhere.

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2013 328 M Sport; Estoril Blue II, Premium PKG, Lighting PKG, HK Sound, 8-Speed Sport auto Trans with Paddle Shifters, Cold Weather PKG, Technology PKG/Navi. :thumbup:
+1 NEVER buy a coastal car. Cars where I live that are driven on the islands start to rust on the underbody after 4-5 years. The salt air is a killer. Being just a little inland helps a lot, but the only sure cure is a garage. Next house I want a 3 car garage!
 

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California has an amazing number of good older cars. I was out in Sonoma last year and could not believe how many vintage cars were sitting on the street in good condition. You don't see that up in seattle. Everything outside is covered in moss.
 

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Is there a certain region that produces a higher number of problematic used cars? I know obviously it depends on how much the car is driven, exposure to elements etc, just wondering if there are any places to specifically avoid - ex. i have heard that utah and colorado have a lot of cars with salt and rust damage.
Thoroughly check the background of ANY vehicle from the NE. There are a lot of water-damaged cars coming on the market (Hurricane Sandy) all over the country. Be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection done before committing to a vehicle.
 

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Obviously in larger cities your going to get a lot of the repo and totaled cars. Good rule I go by is if your looking in a larger city don't go to any used car lot that sells most of their stuff for under $10k. Also anything that comes from a coastal city will have way more rust if the owner didn't take care of it.

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When I worked selling cars at a Chevy dealer in College, we had lots of guys fly down from Michigan and Minnesota every year to buy cars and drive them home. Texas is a good place to find vehicles that are rust free.
 

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This subject makes me think if it would be worth it to buy very rusty car which have still fine mechanics, and rust free car which have very high mileage and then build one good out of them. I guess should be some rare model, to make it really worth effort.
 

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Here in the Puget Sound area (AKA the "Pathetic Northwet"), I rarely see a car with rust. Mild, cool weather year 'round, relatively good roads, no road salt, and pretty passive drivers all lead to cars lasting a long time here. My biggest problem in keeping my car looking fresh is cleaning the algae out of the felt around the sunroof and in the rain gutters.
 

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Here in the Puget Sound area (AKA the "Pathetic Northwet"), I rarely see a car with rust. Mild, cool weather year 'round, relatively good roads, no road salt, and pretty passive drivers all lead to cars lasting a long time here. My biggest problem in keeping my car looking fresh is cleaning the algae out of the felt around the sunroof and in the rain gutters.
that algae and moss get everywhere if you park outside!!!!! My wife parked the X3 under a tree while I was deployed and she did not wash it often...took a full day of elbow grease to get it looking nice again!
 

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Pretty much any state south of Kentucky east of the Mississippi and below Missouri west of it will be good for car shopping. I have never seen a "native" TN or KY car with rust issues. In the South, we do not get enough snow for the frame to get eaten by salt; we do have high temps but short winters.

You cannot lump all coastal cars together. Many used cars in FL are kept in a garage and get underbody washes regularly. They were owned by retired folks who buy great cars (besides Buicks, Lincolns and Caddys), take care of them and drive them nice and easy. My Dad worked in Tampa and we spent a lot of time down there. Every car lot you saw had absolute JEWELS for sale. South FL is even better.
 

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Another thing, BMWs are made in Germany - where it is cold. They are not very well suited for hot weather like SoCal. This applies more towards the older models like the E46.
If all of us check our window trim, I guarantee it's either cracked, falling out, can be molded by your finger, or all of the above.
Don't fool yourself. BMW takes engineering for all weather situations seriously.
I've personally run into factory BMW teams running around Death Valley with instrumented cars with the extra sensors all feeding into a dash mounted laptop. Ran into the guys at my motel that night and confirmed what they were doing there.
Hottest temperature ever recorded in the US is 134 in Death Valley.
 

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The UltimatE46 Enthusiast
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Don't fool yourself. BMW takes engineering for all weather situations seriously.
I've personally run into factory BMW teams running around Death Valley with instrumented cars with the extra sensors all feeding into a dash mounted laptop. Ran into the guys at my motel that night and confirmed what they were doing there.
Hottest temperature ever recorded in the US is 134 in Death Valley.
Let me be more specific: I'm not questioning BMW's mechanics, engineering, or performance. I'm stating the fact that the build quality of "the little things" is going down the drain.

Besides the window trim falling apart on E46s with less than half the mileage of comparable E36s/E39s/etc., there are many other things that go bad on the newer models that were never an issue in the older generation of BMWs.
 

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Let me be more specific: I'm not questioning BMW's mechanics, engineering, or performance. I'm stating the fact that the build quality of "the little things" is going down the drain.

Besides the window trim falling apart on E46s with less than half the mileage of comparable E36s/E39s/etc., there are many other things that go bad on the newer models that were never an issue in the older generation of BMWs.
I owned an '86 325es and currently own an '01 325i, and it seems to me that the E46s have many of the same problems as the E30s. They can use a lot of oil. Both have issues with MAFs and ICVs. Radiators in both are not the most rugged ever made. Some E46s have the monitor issue showing a blown light bulb in the back; the E30's check panel always showed a blown brake light bulb. After 100k, both need complete cooling and suspension updates. Electricals can be finicky as can window switches/regulators. The E30 did not have the CCV and DISA problems, but they had bad HVAC systems.

I will say the E30 had a much better stock Alpine stereo system - after 25 years, the E30 stereo still sounded better with the complete factory system than the one in my E46. I wish they had not removed the weather band feature, either.

BTW - My window trim is fresh and not crumbling.
 
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