Germany’s BMW is an excellent choice when buying a used car. It is a great way to enjoy the sophistication, performance, and stunning features without spending top dollar for a new BMW.
Even a used BMW is a luxury car that needs lots of research before committing your money. You also don’t want to overlook the costs of owning a BMW in the long run.
Steps to Consider Before Buying a Used BMW
1. Research and Research Some More
We cannot emphasize enough about research. It is your best friend when buying a used BMW. Be sure that you can afford the model you are looking at. There are many BMWs on the market. There’s a model for everyone from the compact executive 3 and 5 series to the X-series SUVs, convertibles, and sports coupes.
It’s best to test-drive the different models and know the one that’s practical for your needs.
2. How Much it Costs to Own a BMW
It will help if you approach buying a used BMW from the initial costs to the monthly expenses. BMWs are luxury cars and cost more to maintain than non-luxury vehicles. The monthly payment, if you are financing, can be anywhere from $800.
You will also be paying for maintenance, fuel, repairs, and insurance. BMW uses high-end parts and tires. It also has premium gas requirements. You will find that BMWs, like any other cars, also depreciate quickly. A three-year BMW 3-series can cost three times more than a six-year BMW 3-series.
It tells you about the depreciation rate. You can get an older series model to offer the same performance and features at a fraction of the cost.
3. Check the History of the Car
Learn about the history of the vehicle. You can discuss this with the seller since they will have information about the previous owner. You will want to look at the vehicle history report (VHR). This report tells you all there is to know about the previous owner, warranties, accidents, service, etc.
Get the VIN (vehicle identification number) and get the CarFax and Autocheck. When you have the CarFax, ensure that the vehicle has a clean title. Make sure that information about the previous owner lines up with that of the CarFax.
Regarding the information you get from the dealership, pay attention to issues with the electrical and mechanical systems. Get information about the parts that have been recently replaced or serviced.
Don’t forget to do a thorough check of the cooling system and its components like the thermostat and water pump. You will be surprised to find some BMWs have problems with their cooling system.
4. Check the Warranty
Some BMW owners have an existing warranty for the car. Check to see what’s covered in the warranty, like the car’s powertrain, rust protection, etc. You may also want to know if it’s possible to extend the cover.
If you are buying BMW certified pre-owned vehicle, you get a year of additional coverage beyond the 4-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty. After the limited warranty expires, your BMW Certified pre-owned warranty covers one year of unlimited vehicle miles.
You will also get roadside assistance for six years from the car’s original in-service date. However, there are limitations to CPO vehicles retailed on or after Jan 1, 2014.
5. Research the Dealership
Know if the dealership has experience handling luxury cars. This information is crucial when it comes to BMW. Know about the dealership’s track record of selling good-quality cars.
It is better to go with a dealership with certified service or factory trained staff backed by BMW. If the dealership has a BMW service center, it will not be a hassle to find service for your car.
6. Involve a Certified BMW Mechanic
If you are unsure what to look at when checking the vehicle history and parts, it will help if you involve a certified BMW mechanic. The mechanic will tell you about the service history. They will also provide info about service items to need or expect in the near future. Armed with the mechanic’s information, you can negotiate a lower price if you find that the vehicle is not well-maintained.
7. Take a Test Drive
You will get lots of information from taking a used BMW for a drive. You will not be driving for pleasure but rather getting the feel of how the car handles. Do not turn on the music. Instead, pay attention to the sounds. If you hear weird sounds, take it up with the dealership. If they try to wave off any concerns, it’s time to look for another dealership.
8. Plan for Insurance
Insurance is one of the recurring expenses over the time you will own your BMW. Because it’s a luxury vehicle, insurance costs more, and some insurance companies don’t cover luxury cars. As such, you may want to look for a different insurance company if your current does not cover BMWs.
9. Know about Pricing
Know the exact residual value rating. It tells you about the model’s quality and retention characteristics. After that, you can look up the resale value at various BMW sites and forums. You can also compare prices at a BMW showroom in your area.
To get the best deal for a used BMW, you will want to know the real value of the model you want. Look up the true market value on a reliable website that verifies a used BMW’s value. Different tools are used to gauge a car’s market value based on the car’s age, mileage, trim level, condition, etc.
You will find three prices.
- Trade-In-Value/ Wholesale
This is the vehicle’s trade-in value to a dealer who will sell it for a profit. If the vehicle is a recent trade-in, the amount listed is likely what the car’s dealership paid.
This is the higher price. It is what you would be expected to pay when buying the car at the dealership. If you are buying from an individual, the price will be lower.
- Vehicle’s Book Value
This is the price you will find in used-car pricing websites and pricing guides. It lists the car’s base retail value. You can put in the car’s mileage and condition to get an adjusted value of the car.
Ultimately, you get what you pay when buying a used BMW. An older car, though cheap, can mean higher costs of maintenance. It’s best to buy a recent, well-optioned vehicle that fits in with your budget. In the end, it’s about being realistic in getting the ultimate driving machine that a BMW can afford.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.