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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New to the forum and hopefully a new (or rather used) BMW owner soon. Buying a car for our son who has borrowed family cars, used public transport, rode his bike, etc... since he was 16 and dreamed of having a car of his own. He never complained once and is such a good kid and a great student and so with his 20th birthday looming, we figured it was time that we reward him with wheels of his own and a BMW would be such a surprise and dream for him. Now to budget - not unlimited. We have been looking at used 328's/335's and x3's. 2007 - 2009/2010 ranging from $8K - $12K. X3 would be the best due to us living in Nebraska and our son away at college and needing to haul more personal items from time to time. But the sedan would be fine, as well. Looking for some advice on mileage, model, years, repair thresholds. For example, we bought our daughter a used Acura MDX a while back and were told then that we needed to look at cars that had 100K+ on them or ones that had already had the timing belt replaced because MDX's with 80K - 90K miles would soon be in need of that costly repair. Just trying to get educated enough to make a good decisions and to purchase a car that will be reliable and not be in predictable need of expensive repairs in the near future. Thanks so much! Jim
 

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Welcome to Bimmerfest! I've moved your question to our General BMW forum, you'll get more feedback in here.

Tim
 

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buy an e46, easy to maintain, cheap, glut of parts, tons of diy, and can be purchased with awd.
 

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My brief input is... awesome idea as a parent.. maybe not such a great idea if you're worried about expenses on repairs..

All the turbo models (ie the 335i and potentially the X3 depending on which one you get) is probably a bad idea in terms of the MOST expensive option of your choices. So.. going with the 28i version of either would be better. Now with your son going to college I sorely hope you know someone local to his college that can fix things, since that's going to be the next of your concerns.. WHEN something goes, what options does he have?

Personally when my kids are old enough for such things as college.. I would probably lease/get something SUPER reliable (kind of like that acura MDX). I mean.. with lease deals now a days being so very dirt cheap I would think about those. Ie you can get a honda fit for 3 years and literally pay $59/month. Sure you could go over mileage at like 15 cents a mileage (don't quote me on that, each lease deal is a different price..) god that would be soo cheap. Of course it's not quite the same car as a BMW :)

Good luck in the search, hopefully you know someone that can help you find a good one to start off with.. and next is to find someone that is more local to the college to fix it reliably when something bad happens. The 328i or even the X3 28i is plenty fun.. I too would try to opt for the X3 in terms of that practicality (although revisiting the honda fit.. boy you can fit a lot of stuff in those!)
 

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Not the best brand IMO for college kid. But that said, maintenance is critical, make sure you get documentation and prepurchase inspection. Def stay away from turbo and awd for best reliability.

Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone - really appreciate you taking your time to help us. Very much appreciated. A lot of good advice and definitely time to hit the pause button to bring in your suggestions and recommendations. We assumed that the BMW models that we were looking at would be as bulletproof and reliable as the other imports out there so thanks again for the feedback and reminder on good due diligence.
 

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All cars break, I find BMW's not much harder to maintain than any of my other vehicles but I DIY. If your son will need someone else to maintain it than it may be the wrong brand.
 

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I honestly only ventured into the new German cars after I've been wrenching for 15 + yrs... The older models are more like the average cars. Unfortunately with the .. 2000+ ish, things start to get a lot more complicated.. harder to get to, more computers. I remember with an Audi i had i couldn't figure it out, the dealer charged me $150 diagnostic and gave me a few options, all which were $1500 or more. I couldn't afford that, so i did my own testing for another 4 days and narrowed it down to one unit. Still, the cost of the part was $600 and i got lucky and located a parts supplier for that piece and got it for $50. The idea is... It can get more expensive, parts, but mainly the mechanics charge a premium. You need to find a good and honest mechanic or they will put you into the poor house..

I have a 2008 535xi which is at 140k now with minimal problems, but something as simple as little oil gasket leaks are very very labor intensive. A $20 gasket could be 4 hrs to get to :(
 

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Thanks everyone - really appreciate you taking your time to help us. Very much appreciated. A lot of good advice and definitely time to hit the pause button to bring in your suggestions and recommendations. We assumed that the BMW models that we were looking at would be as bulletproof and reliable as the other imports out there so thanks again for the feedback and reminder on good due diligence.
While all cars break, BMWs tend to not be as bulletproof or reliable as japanese cars. BMWs tend to be MUCH MUCH more fun to drive, and are usually percieved as MUCH MUCH "cooler" for a number of reasons, but reliability isnt one. They are also more expensie to repair if / when something goes wrong than your typical japanese car.... most german cars are.

If your son is a DIY type who will want to fix the car himself (elbow grease) then it might be a good gift (for example, if you guys are a gear head type family).

If not, you will want to look at a Honda / Toyota something (but make sure its not subject to an airbag issue on one of the older cars in general).

I had a similar choice to you, with the same reason, but a slightly different budget... I wanted to spend less than 20k. I ended up buying him a NEW hyundai elantra limited. Thats partly because he needs to drive 15k miles a year, but mostly because I wanted him to have something easy to maintain since I am not a fix it myself guy.

I would look at a used lexus or infinity myself, given the reliability concern (and the fact that you already got someone else an acura). I love BMWs but if you were to get that you are likely signing up one of you (either you or him) for some fairly expensive repairs.
 

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You're very welcome. One more thought. There is a publication called Bimmer Magazine. They publish Buyers Guides in each issue, things to look for by model.

One month, they dedicated it to exactly your situation -- what used BMW to buy for your child. I can't find it in my stack of past issues, and their web site is a relic. But if you want, you can contact them, ask them the for issue number, and purchase a back issue. I think I remember they listed the pros/cons for 10 used BMWs.

If your son is interested in DIY, then I'd change my recommendation. BMWs tend to need more routine maintenance than Japanese cars, as already noted.
 

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Buying a car for our son - 328's/335's or X3 - 2007 - 2009/2010 ranging from ...

OP, modern BMW engines don't have a timing belt. They have a timing chain (2 if the car is an M3).

Whatever car you choose, make sure it undergoes a pre-purchase inspection (PPI). This is especially important when looking at a BMW. Parts for these cars are expensive, especially when you buy them from a dealer.

Maintenance records are absolutely critical. Run away from any car that doesn't have comprehensive maintenance records. The cooling system on any modern BMW is its Achilles heel. Why? The entire engine is aluminum. Overheating a BMW engine will leave you with a very expensive paperweight. The cooling system in an E46 or an E9x car needs to be replaced at 100 k miles without fail. Please note that the E9x has an expensive electric water pump. The E46 has a traditional mechanical pump.

Regardless of the brand of car you buy, have your son download OBDFusion for his smartphone. It comes in both iOS (Apple) and android flavors. The iOS version needs a wifi interface adapter, while the android version needs a Bluetooth adapter. The adapter plugs into the obd2 port in the dash. OBDFusion will enable your son to diagnose engine performance and emissions issues. It also allows for logging of data for later analysis.
 

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There was a sad story from the late 1980's when Lyle and Erik Menendez of Beverly Hills shot and killed both parents. One of the murderers got a new Alfa Romeo and thought it was too cheap a car. Don't fear for your life but make sure your child is ok with the car.
 

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BMWs are well-build and sturdy- not quite a Volvo but if he was in an accident a Bimmer is a good solid protection. These cars are very smooth driving, they urge the driver to 'drive' the car, and they are deceptively fast - BMW sedan = sports car w/backseat. As you've already read, these cars require more on the maintenance front than say a quality Asian brand; so as long as you and/or your son are prepared to deal with the additional costs and/or DIY work. One poster mentioned E46; I'd second that motion on good pick- sturdy, relatively easy to work on yourself if you so choose and overall this series is not plagued with many maladies.
Buying used, so pay a mechanic to look over the car before you buy....money very well spent on any BMW.
Good luck/Bill
 

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Might be too late to chime in here but here's my $.02 if it helps - we bought a 2008 328xi with just under 100k miles on it for our oldest and now our youngest is driving it with over 160k. It has been a great first car for both of them and very reliable. The only complaint I have is that it has no oil dipstick. I think it's hard enough to teach new drivers proper car maintenance much less when there's nothing physical in front of them. Good luck!
 

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I would definitely stay away from the turbo models. Also as many have noted here, BMW is not as reliable as high end Japanese. Unless you can either diy or have a large budget for repairs I would not get an older BMW.
 
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