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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey forum,

So I've been on here since 2015 when I bought my E39 6 SPD 540i. I've gotten news on it recently that's finally making me think it's time to sell/trade and get something new(er). Long story - though, I could fix it for $2-5k; or I can pay "a guy" $350 or so to pass me on smog. Performance not really an issue, car is in very good shape.

But: I'm seriously thinking about this: https://www.carmax.com/car/16827520. I'm looking for one in my area to test drive - this one is in AZ, and I'm in CA, so I'd have to pay $99 to have it transferred here. I like Carmax because I can buy the max warranty coverage through 4 yrs/$100k (or 125k) for $3200 and finance it. I've spent around $2500 on average annually on repairs, maintenance and cosmetic stuff for my E39. I drive 10k miles per year.

I've driven a couple of 2011 335i coupes, but those were previous model. Loved the power, handling and feedback was great; sightlines weren't as good as my 540i. I'm thinking with this sedan, sightlines probably better; love the updated interior; looks are good not great - I'd almost certainly swap out the wheels for something more aggressive and less Dad-like (I'm not a dad - that I know of anyway).

As 3-series go, how is this iteration? Is it meaningfully better than the 328 - there seems to be debate about that in some reviews. Do people love theirs? I've loved my E39, though the ever-present to-do list of issues is finally getting to me.

Any feedback and random thoughts would be much appreciated!
 

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F30s have been great. So if you have the money and just want a newer car then you’ll enjoy it.


Sent from my iPhone using Bimmerfest
 

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The F30 generation doesn***8217;t drive as well as previous gens. If you drove a E92 and liked the steering and feedback, you***8217;d be disappointed after driving a F30. I would get one with either 704 M suspension or M adaptive suspension. This is a luxury line so I doubt it has either. You should look for a M Sport or at least sport line.
 

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I've had a few 3 series: 2012 328i-retired. No problems when I got rid of it 60k. Car ran fine but the suspension felt awful. No engines problems though. 2012 335xi (Tuned, Koni FSD's, AG 19 rims, etc.). 65k currently and only replaced the water pump, battery,brakes. Most fun by far in any BMW I've owned!! 370HP/500tq. Yes, fast as hell so the N55 engine runs fantastic and is extremely reliable unlike the n54's. Also, had 2014 335i. JB4, suspension, borla exhaust, etc. but got rid of it because...didn't feel like paying $800+ month.

Unfortunately Im in a 2014 550i and the N63 engine sucks. Reliability issues are endless. BMW just replaced the HPFP under their service bulletin warranty thankfully. It still runs terrible, stalls at cold starts, idles terrible so I'm sure it's the fuel injectors, plugs, etc. so I can't wait to go back to a 3 series. My suggestion is either N55 or F30 engine. Great reliability and and fun to drive. Good luck! :thumbup:
 

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The CarMax in Fremont gets loads of BMW’s in. What I found is that when BMW’s come in from lease, if they are in immaculate condition and all maintenance has been performed, they’re usually sold by BMW dealers as Certified Pre-Owned. CarMax buys their cars at auctions, which is usually lease returns that didn’t make the cut. Once I figured that out, I realized that the CPO’s weren’t much more expensive, so I went that route and bought a 435i Hard Top convertible. Tons of fun!

The car you’re looking at is a 2011, which isn’t a lease return.

I think the 6-cylinder turbo N55 engine is great. I love mine. Don’t get fooled by the description of “Twin Power Turbo.” This doesn’t mean two turbos, it means one turbo with an advanced design. One big benefit of the six cylinder is lower RPM’s while cruising, which gives a quieter, more comfortable ride.

Whether you want to listen to sports car enthusiasts depends on whether you want a sports car. If that’s what you’re after, consider the 235, or pay loads for the M features. My car isn’t an M and I’m perfectly happy with all of the power and handling.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
THANKS. Yes, it's a 2012 - so two owners previously. First was a lease out of Monterey, CA; sold at auction to a woman in Tolleson, AZ who's had it since. Nothing of any particular note on the Carfax, no accidents, major repairs - the shop I was at today looked it up and it had its fuel tank replaced, which we thought was weird - but they didn't think that suggested anything too ominous.

To Alex's point, I have read many times about the drop-off in steering feedback after they did away with the famous BMW hydraulic assisted steering, which I've enjoyed for the past 4+ years on my E39 and which I enjoyed on the 2011 335 I test drove a few months ago. I will have to just test drive it for myself and see what the deal is; I know it's a different animal, but I have driven a 2017 330e and found it a lively drive, the steering didn't trouble me. Still, I'll test drive it for apples to apples.

I do like the updated interior; I do a solid amount of highway driving, maybe 65% or more of my 10-11k driven annually. I'm in my car for extended periods of time and the cabin matters to me, as does the more muscular vibe of the I6 (over the 4) at high speeds. I know it's silly, but the cup holders are vastly superior to those POS ones on the previous 3's. What can I tell you, I'm constantly bringing coffee and water etc for the drives.

With Carmax, I would probably spring for the max advantage warranty - it's $3700 (or $3800?) for 4 years/up to 100k miles (meaning 32k, which I'll hit in about 3 years), with a $100 deductible. I could cut $600 off and make the deductible $250 instead, so if I think I'll need a repair less than 4 times in the next 32k miles it's a better deal. Also, the car is at the higher end of KBB at $17k and Carmax doesn't negotiate. I could theoretically find a solid one elsewhere and buy an aftermarket warranty such as Endurance - https://www.toptenreviews.com/services/auto/best-extended-car-warranty-services/endurance-review/.

Any strong opinions about Carmax pro or con? The warranty? Also, the car lists as getting great gas mileage, but presumably that's in ECO mode which I will literally never ever use. The shop estimated people are getting more like 18-25 mpg, which is a modest upgrade over my 540i, on which I seem to average about 19 mpg.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Does anyone know - did BMW revise the body style somewhat for the 2013-on?

I've looked at a couple of others, for example: https://shift.com/car/c150560 - which is a lovely looking car, but there's something about the rear, when looked at in profile, that seems elongated and awkward to me compared with the black carmax one I posted. I prefer the wheels on this 2013 one, but I prefer the black one overall. Not sure it's because black hides some of the lines, or if BMW did actually change the shape in 2013? For the worse somewhat? The 2012 has a simple elegance - I wouldn't call it sexy exactly like the coupes (3's and 4's) - but it doesn't look as boxy and unsexy as the '13.
 

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No change in sedan design between 2012 & 2013. The two sedans you posted have the exact same design. The coupe is an M Sport model, which means it has a firmer suspension. That is a good thing for most of us. However, that car lacks leather, navigation, and the premium pkg.

Personally, coming from a 5 Series, I think you'd probably be happier in the F30 sedan rather than the F32 coupe. There are undoubtedly many good choices in this model year group you're looking in. Can you increase your budget so that you can look for somewhat newer models? If you can do that I highly recommend looking at 2016 models. That is the year the F30 received its LCI/facelift. Numerous improvements were made with the LCI.

If you can't increase your budget I would probably be inclined to choose the CarMax unit along with their extended warranty. However, having said that, the 2012 model is less desirable than the 2013 models and newer. There were just several improvements that came for 2013 and on.

Regarding CarMax, they generally have pretty good cars. They're also generally priced higher than other equivalent models from other sources.

You can use www.bimmer.work or www.mdecoder.com to check what equipment a BMW has using the last seven characters of the VIN.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That is all super useful - I can't really increase my budget at this point. I'm set on getting a warranty and everything in, would like to get out the door at no more than $21-22k-ish. This new service "Shift" seems to be similar to Carmax but with some enhancements, including slightly better pricing (even factoring in their "concierge fee") on both the car and their warranty offerings.

I googled but was unable to find meaningful info on the differences F30 2012 to 2013. I assume just tweaks since 2012 was the first year for that chassis?
 

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Starting in 2014 BMW started to make meaningful changes in the F30. I can't remember the details but I believe they include updated iDrive software and programming for the electronic power steering. They had also worked out a number of the early production bugs by then. If you are interested in driving dynamics at all, the 704 sports suspension is a must. It's slightly lowered (10mm) and the suspension tuning is sportier. Remember 2012 was the first year for the F30 and there were definitely details that were later worked out. Nothing serious but later models drive better.
 

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I am interested in driving dynamics for sure. I'd have to do a VIN check to see for sure?

Can you tell off the bat if this one has it or not? https://shift.com/car/c150560

Does the car have to have the sport or M trim?
That car is a Luxury line model and doesn’t have the 704 sport suspension, but it does have style 401 19” staggered wheels with the increased speed limiter of 155 mph rather than the standard limit of 130 mph. Probably won’t matter much in your daily LA driving. :) However, I know you mentioned in your initial post that you weren’t crazy about the standard Luxury line wheels and would probably want to upgrade, so that would save you some fairly significant money.

Additionally, that car is very well equipped with lots of tech extras, including surround cameras, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, head-up display, lots of extra goodies. It’s quite a nice car. It would probably make you feel like you had moved up a fair degree from your current E39.
 

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As an owner of a 2012 328i luxury line, I thoroughly enjoy my car everyday and it has been rock solid in terms of reliability (at 86k miles now). That said, I came from Honda/Toyota so my assessment of handling joy versus yours might be quite different.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just checked out the VIN decoder and that last (black) one has the 704 suspension and sport line. May go test drive today.
 

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I've looked at a couple of others, for example: https://shift.com/car/c150560 - which is a lovely looking car, but there's something about the rear, when looked at in profile, that seems elongated and awkward to me compared with the black carmax one I posted.
I shopped for cars with Shift, but I didn’t buy because they use a very deceptive business practice — the advertised price is the car owner’s price, and then Shift tacks in a pretty hefty commission fee.

Every car seller adds commission and overhead to the cars they sell, but Shift is the only one who advertises car prices without their overhead. It’s clearly done to deceive buyers, and I personally avoid companies who demonstrate a lack of integrity such as that.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I shopped for cars with Shift, but I didn’t buy because they use a very deceptive business practice — the advertised price is the car owner’s price, and then Shift tacks in a pretty hefty commission fee.

Every car seller adds commission and overhead to the cars they sell, but Shift is the only one who advertises car prices without their overhead. It’s clearly done to deceive buyers, and I personally avoid companies who demonstrate a lack of integrity such as that.
I hear you. I did notice the commission though - if you see the car on, say, cars.com the commission is included in the listed price. On their web site, they break it out pretty clearly. There are other dealerships which seem way more sketchy.

As I'm absorbing everyone's feedback, and googling on features, etc., I'm currently interested in this: https://shift.com/car/c181451

Has sport line/704 suspension; tech package incl. Heads Up and the enhanced BT/USB/Smartphone compatibility... I do wish I could find brown/venetian beige INT for the warmer vibe, but if I can get everything else right, that may have to get excised.
 

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And what about this? https://www.icusedcars.com/mobile/mdetails.aspx?vid=24448266

This is a 2015... seems like a good deal even though at 82k mileage is a tick high... badass exterior looks, I much prefer brown or beige interior but the red sport trim helps a bit...
Here’s a CPO at BMW San Rafael for $19,900. 24,000 miles, 2016.
https://www.bmwofsanrafael.com/VehicleDetails/certified-2016-BMW-320i-Sedan-San_Rafael-CA/3379245853

Downside is it has the 2.0L engine, so it’s not as fast, but they have a CPO 328i 2016 with 39,000 miles.

I’m not trying to push this particular dealership; I assume there are comparable prices everywhere. The CPO cars have some strong strengths: A car has to pass a checklist to be CPO: All maintenance must have been performed, no accidents, perfect condition in return. You get the factory warranty extended. Compared to a 2012 at $16,000 which needs another $3,000 for an extended warranty, the CPO’s seem a lot better to me.
 
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