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Discussion Starter #1
(Please excuse the copy/paste from the other bimmer forum; just trying to capture the wisdom of both places without retyping everything)

Well I've been reading this forum and several of the other popular forums and I think I'm just about ready to take the plunge on my first BMW and I think it will be an e39. I've been living overseas for the last 8 years, the last four in Germany, and will be moving back to Washington DC next month. I've been a train/subway rider ever since I left the US but I'll need a car when I get back. Anyway...

Here's what I've gathered from my reading and I just want to confirm that I'm tracking before I get myself into too much trouble. I'm looking for an auto transmission, and am torn on the 530i vs the 540i/545i. There seems to be a lot of the V8s available, often for less than the 530i. I know there are pros and cons to both. I'm leaning 530i, but it would be hard to pass up some of the deals I'm seeing on theV8s. Color combo I'm not 100% stuck on, but I would prefer a non-silver car (apologies to all the silver car owners out there). Ideally I'm looking for one of the shades of blue or gray, dark green would be next on the list, then black or white, then lastly silver. I'm looking for the tan/beige interior, gray comes after that, then black.

Budget, I'm willing to go as high as 10K, but obviously cheaper is better. The thing that really surprises me on these cars is the HUGE variation in prices that I'm seeing. There almost seems to be no logic at all. I know I'm only seeing asking prices and not actual selling prices, but wow those numbers go all over the place! Am I crazy to think that I can find what I'm looking for for between 7-8K? I'll be in DC, but I'm willing to travel to get the right car, up to about 300 miles.

Here's a list of my priorities, let me know if I'm missing anything:
Car needs to have maintainence/service records
I'd like to stay at/under 100K miles on the clock (a little flexible on this depending on how the car has been maintained)
Looking for a car that has had the cooling system replaced (if it hasn't, that will be first on the list)
Looking for a car that has had the transmission fluid drained/changed (if it hasn't, second on the list)
I'd like the sport and cold weather packages, premium package would be nice

So, am I missing anything? I know there are maintainance costs associated with a BMW and I plan to do most of the wrench turning myself, at least on the standard stuff. I've been a wrench turner in the past, but its been a while. I can handle normal driveway type stuff, but I don't think I'm ready to drop a transmisssion yet.

My goals are to make this a fun hobby while also having a nice car to drive. I'm hoping to get involved in a local club and really enjoy all that BMW offers.

Wish me luck!

P.S. If anyone knows of any cars available that might meet my needs, please let me know. I'll be looking to buy at the end of this month.
 

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Here's a list of my priorities, let me know if I'm missing anything:
Car needs to have maintainence/service records
I'd like to stay at/under 100K miles on the clock (a little flexible on this depending on how the car has been maintained)
Looking for a car that has had the cooling system replaced (if it hasn't, that will be first on the list)
Looking for a car that has had the transmission fluid drained/changed (if it hasn't, second on the list)
I'd like the sport and cold weather packages, premium package would be nice
You've got it down. Just save some money for maintenance. While these cars are very affordable to buy, unless you DIY, they are fairly expensive to maintain.
 

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I think the price variances will become more clear once you start test driving used ones. A $2k car will (hopefully) not compare to an $8k car.

These cars require maintenance which costs money. Deferred maintenance is common - especially on the cars you see selling cheap. Could need $10k in maintenance just to get it up to par with one selling for $8k. Then again, just bc someone priced theirs at $8k bc they just did $5k of maintenance in the past 12 months doesn't mean the car is worth $8k. It could still need a lot of work.

Better to find one that has been maintained ON SCHEDULE instead of one that has been fixed AFTER something broke. And with these cars be oming very cheap for the poorly maintained examples, there's a lot of abused ones out there, even if the paint is still nice and shiny.

I'd suggest seeing 3-4 in person before deciding. It's possible a 530i would be a quicker better handling car than a 540i - if the 540 isn't running the best. You may even prefer the engine responsiveness and smooth inline 6 of the 530i over the 540i. Honestly, a 530i sedan with a 5 speed is a very nice car. I'd probably choose one over a 540i with automatic. Now a 540i with a 6 speed and sport pkg... different story.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I hope you're right about the differences becoming clear after driving a few. I am certainly willing to pay a little more for a car that has been maintained on schedule. Looking forward to the learning process!
 

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Check all the windows while doing your test drive. At a stop, with no radio. All the way up, all the way down. If you hear any popping it will need a regulator. Very common problem.
 

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A $8500 car with 80k and no work yet might need a lot of things (rotors, CCV, thrust arm, spark plugs, cooling system)
A $6000 car with 120k may have had all those things addressed, and is much cheaper.
 
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