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What to Look for When Buying a Used BMW 3 Series

Owning a BMW is a fantastic experience, but for most of us, buying a new one off the lot isn’t an option because of the cost. Luckily, plenty of used BMWs are on the market just waiting for you to pick them up. If you’re want to purchase a used BMW 3 series, what should you be on the lookout for? Here are four things.

  1. Cooling System Problems

The BMW 3 series is an excellent line of vehicles, but it’s notorious for coolant system failures between 80,000 and 100,000 miles. The 3 series has three main failure points: the expansion tank, the thermostat and the water pump.

If you’re getting a BMW that has more than 100,000 miles on the odometer, find out if the cooling system has ever been serviced, and how long ago the service happened. If it hasn’t been, expect to replace all three of those parts at the same time to prevent cooling system failure.

  1. Frame Damage

Older cars are always at risk for rust or frame damage, and 3 Series BMWs are no exception. If you’ve found a good car you’re interested in purchasing, make sure to have it inspected at a BMW shop or a shop that has a BMW specialist on staff.

It isn’t a deal-breaker — especially if you’ve found your dream BMW — but it is an expensive repair, so make sure you keep that in mind.

  1. Too Many Stickers

The fact that stickers are on the car isn’t going to be a huge deal. However, it could be a clue into how the car was handled in the past. If the car is covered with racing stickers, chances are it was at least autocrossed. Again, this may not be a bad thing if it was done right, but it could also mean the car was driven hard. If the car has a snarky “eat my dust” or middle finger bumper sticker, chances are it wasn’t driven at exactly the speed limit everywhere it went.

Don’t worry, though — with the right tools, removing decals and stickers is simple. All you need is a razor blade and an adhesive remover. Slide the razor blade under the edges of the sticker, then spray beneath it with the adhesive remover. Repeat as necessary until the label comes off, then use the adhesive remover again to get rid of any remaining residue.

  1. Car History

This is a given for any used car — you should always write down the VIN and research the car’s history before you buy it. A site like CarFax or other similar resources will help you discover how many owners the vehicle had, whether the mileage is accurate and how well past owners have maintained it over the course of its life. It will also let you know if the car has ever been damaged or totaled. If anything in the car’s history doesn’t add up, you know this is probably a car you should avoid.

Picking up a used BMW 3 Series is a fantastic way to get your feet wet, so to speak, in the vast pool that is owning a BMW. Just do your research before you sign on the dotted line to make sure you’re getting the most for your money and aren’t buying a piece of junk.