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Hi all, been looking around to replace my 2002 passat, am a vw tech since 96' and unfortunately 1st gen tiguan and Q5 are out of my budget. set my eye on a 2005 X3 3.0i with 145000mi. with no maintenance record. Did a quick inspection on him and everything seem good. Read a lot and am aware of the cummon problem. But still am a bit afraid to make the jump, since I could have for the same price a 2008 passat wagon that was trade in at the dealer. I know they have the M54b30 engine and that they are mostly bulletproof, how's the transmission on thoses? Are they that bad to own??

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What's the ask on this vehicle?

These can be very robust vehicles, but they can take a bit of time and money (less money if you spend more time) to get them to that level, especially if you do not have records.
 

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5,4,6 BMW X3 All...196K +
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The BMW e83 was/is a strong practical car. it is the true example of what we've known about BMW. Buying one used at this date is taking a chance.
There's so many features on the car GREAT...but each feature can also be a headache if it's not functioning properly. Many times one problem leads to another especially if it's not addressed soon. If you ask me its one of the last mechanic friendly BMWs...
However, the general mechanic doesn't understand or want to understand the BMW.
As a result you must have: time to read and study.
time and a second car when your waiting on parts to make repairs on your BMW when it can't be driven.
stacks of money to burn on a dealer or an indy and that's hit or miss to make repairs for you.
One must have also patience because a lot of the repairs call for not quick do-it-yourself jobs but patience...most times repairs are not quick and without thinking and pre-planning.
I could say more but I got to go!


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If you're a VW tech, then I don't think you'll have much trouble with an X3. There will be a bit of a learning curve on BMW's in general, but the X3 is a pretty solid German vehicle. It seems the typical life of a BMW is to stay with the original owner/lessee for about 3-4 years, then gets sold as a CPO to an unsuspecting buyer who gradually loses interest in keeping up with the maintenance demands of owning a BMW. It then gets sold at a big loss to the ignorant opportunist (hey look.... a BMW for only $10,000!) who drives it for a couple years until (s)he realizes what a moneypit it is. At this point, guys like us scoop it up for a song, catch up all the deferred maintenance, and enjoy driving it for many more miles. At least that's my typical story.

AM.
 

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Poor people who need brand recognition LOVE driving clapped out BMWs and Benzes! Unlike this poor person, who enjoys working on something that actually makes perfect sense.

If you can handle repairing a VAG product, you can handle a BMW with your eyes closed. The only learning curve is requiring LESS on VAGCOM to do simple things like replacing brake pads: the rears on the X3 don't require a computer to retract the caliper pistons, just a good old fashioned C-clamp!

I won't insult you by telling you how to inspect a car prior to inspection... but do be prepared to replace every fluid in the car immediately.

I don't have experience with the 5 speed transmissions, but I don't think they had the computer programming learning curve that the 6 speeds did.

But you can't find a Tig for the comparable price of an X3? Here in the States you can definitely grab one cheap... my mom's '09 Tig would be cheaper than my '08 X3 (with only 75k miles compared to my 152k). I thoroughly enjoy driving her Tiguan, but compared to the X3... there is no comparison. The Tig drives and feels like a front-driver, the BMW a rear-driver. To someone who's only owned 1 FWD out of over a dozen vehicles and a million miles, that means something.
 

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...If you ask me its one of the last mechanic friendly BMWs...
I agree, but I'd go with the N52 engine if you can.

I recently purchased a VW Atlas and a 10 year maintenance plan. I doubt I will ever wrench on it, too many computers.

I'll still be able to fix the X3 at home.
 

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If you're a VW tech, then I don't think you'll have much trouble with an X3. There will be a bit of a learning curve on BMW's in general, but the X3 is a pretty solid German vehicle. It seems the typical life of a BMW is to stay with the original owner/lessee for about 3-4 years, then gets sold as a CPO to an unsuspecting buyer who gradually loses interest in keeping up with the maintenance demands of owning a BMW. It then gets sold at a big loss to the ignorant opportunist (hey look.... a BMW for only $10,000!) who drives it for a couple years until (s)he realizes what a moneypit it is. At this point, guys like us scoop it up for a song, catch up all the deferred maintenance, and enjoy driving it for many more miles. At least that's my typical story.

AM.


Hey you forgot the outliers like me....

Original owner super commuters that never got tired of the amazing car AND kept up on all maintenance. Mine is only 243k miles new....;)

Op, in all seriousness these are solid cars but I’d budget and keep $3k US $s on hand to complete necessary maintenance items doing them yourself. Car was originally 50k new and parts still reflect that although there are FAR more aftermarket alternatives now than 5 years ago.

I don’t know your budget, but I’d opt for the newest LCI I could find and afford with least miles or known repair history. This would be an 08, 09 or 10 model....even better if you find a rare unicorn called a 2010.8 but I digress....

The n52 and transmission in the LCI refresh’s models are close to bulletproof if you maintain it.

For example, I just ordered almost $2200 in parts for me to replace on my x3 on my March vacation....and mine would be considered a perfect example that runs as new and all maintenance and MTBE repair items have been done at least once...some approaching change 2. YMMV but buying the car is only half the equation.


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I agree, but I'd go with the N52 engine if you can.

I recently purchased a VW Atlas and a 10 year maintenance plan. I doubt I will ever wrench on it, too many computers.

I'll still be able to fix the X3 at home.
I agree with the statement on the N-52. I wish mine was the N-52. It just seems like there are more specific videos and help. I know its all similar but theres a comfort level with finding lots of N-52 specific tutorials and soforth. For me, there is just enough differences with the E-82 to make a little bit of anxiety even though alot is the same.
 
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