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Thread: To all teens/20s thinking of buying a used BMW. (Limited funds, in school, 540, etc)

  1. #1
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    To all teens/20s thinking of buying a used BMW. (Limited funds, in school, 540, etc)

    It seems like there's one of these threads each week.
    And each week, the same good advice is given.
    I dug up some of my old replies and assembled this thread to refer future queries to.
    Feel free to add your stock response as well.

    The premise is always the same:

    Young kid between age 17-24.
    He can afford the car, and not much more.
    He has no real concept of "cost of ownership"
    Usually has some minimum wage job and/or is a student.
    His real career not yet begun.
    He's often in school (which means big debt these days)
    The person is basically broke, yet wants to drive a BMW or Benz, because he thinks he's a special snowflake.

    That's not my business, but I will say that you should do some homework about what repairs these cars typically need.

    The next step is often this:

    The kid buys the car....Car has 100k-150k miles and sometimes has has little work yet done to it (Or the service history is unknown)
    If the kid does have money to burn, the new owner immediately focuses on spending thousands of dollars to pimp out the poor car.
    (wheels, "slamming", headlights, bumpers, trim, spoilers, tinting, etc)

    Here is my response to these guys:

    Spending on cosmetic mods vs. budgeting for real mechanical issues:

    You sound like a customizer. This forum's true value is that it provides you an opportunity to learn real mechanics vs. just bolting on accessories. I never understand how people tell a new owner to spend (big) money on nonsense like lowering the car and new rims. Where do these people go when the real repairs come? How many miles does your car have? 100k miles can be a ticking timebomb. Can you please post the service history? A used BMW is a car that could require $3k to $10k worth of repairs, to make it DRIVE as good as it looks.

    I'll say this for the over 35 crowd: Spend money and time on real repairs, not wheels & accessories.

    1) Learn about your car. (sounds like you've been doing this....)

    2) Fix the common maintenance items!

    Engine:

    1. Air filter
    2. Cabin air filter
    3. New wipers
    4. New Battery
    5. New tires
    6. Change all fluids: Differential oil, transmission oil, flush power steering fluid
    7. Cooling system; water pump, radiator, thermostat and housing,
    8. Sepentine belt, tensioners, pulleys, fan, fan clutch
    9. Oil leaks: Oil Filter Housing Gasket leak, Valve Cover gasket leak.
    10. Replace broken headlight adjusters
    11. New brake pads and rotors
    12. Bleed brake fluid
    13. Replace all vacuum lines
    14. Spark plugs & boots
    15. Fuel filter
    16. Replace power steering reservoir and hoses
    17. Replace entire front suspension: Struts, control arms, thrust arms, sway bar bushings, etc.
    18. Change DISA value (flap breaks)
    19. SAP valve (Secondary Air Pump)
    20. Engine and transmission mounts
    21. Replace VANOS seals
    22. Fix cluster pixels


    Things you can replace before they fail:
    1. MAF Sensor
    2. O2 sensors (pre-cat)
    3. Intake boots
    4. Alternator
    5. Fuel fump
    6. Replace coils
    7. Camshaft and Crankshaft Position Sensors


    Set aside money for these possible failures:
    1. Fix ABS Module
    2. New Window Regulators
    3. FSU (Final Stage Unit) Errant blower motor
    4. CCV - Gets clogged. Rough idle
    5. Center support bearing (CSB)
    6. Guibo
    7. Rebuild transmission
    8. Catalytic Converters
    9. New exhaust
    10. A/C compressor
    11. Broken sunroof


    3) THEN...........
    Once that stuff is done,
    and you've spent $5k to $10k to have a good running car,
    AND still want to spend money,
    THEN blow some money on wheels and crap.

    This is just one guy's opinion.
    You'll do what you're going to do..

    Instead, if you want to focus on basic DIY and mechanicals, start here:
    Top things you'd replace (sight unseen) for a 100k E39 that's "never" been serviced?


    buying a 525i 2001!!!!!!
    One vote for saving your money for real repairs. You could be looking at $1000-$5000 worth of repairs on this car, depending on a few factors.


    On budgeting and finances:


    All I am saying is that you should save some of your money, and have a budget. Everyone here has a different financial picture. I am just advising you not to blow your entire wad on "looks", and then have no cash when real problems come up. In other words, keep a warchest of money. Save that for repairs. Don't spend ALL your money on accessory stuff. In theory, you could have $5k to $10k of repairs if everything that can go wrong DOES on a used BMW. Odds are it won't, but don't you prefer to be prepared for the worst? Maybe that's just me....


    Have a chance to get an E30 - getting cold feet. Advice needed, please.

    Anyone else think a college kid shouldn't buy a BMW? Even an old cheap one. You can't afford a car hobby at that age. One major repair can wipe you out. Your uncle is right. What is your major, anyway?


    I would not get into BMW restoration on a budget. Who is going to pay for ongoing repairs? You? Him? A teenager can barely afford a car, let alone an older BMW. This whole idea might backfire, in fact.

    This is not meant to offend, but here is the advice you should be getting from your parents:
    You're a student. Drive a used Honda until you have more money and a proper adult career.
    Not how to sneak your way into a car you can't afford.

    In fact, here is the advice your dad should be giving you:
    1. Get a beater Honda
    2. Finish your education
    3. Start your grown up career
    4. Save up a 1 year emergency fund
    5. Start your investing portfolio
    6. Pay off your student loans
    7. Save for a house/condo
    8. Buy a used BMW


    Deviating from this is what poor people do.

    Thinking of buying a 97 528i

    If you can't afford to spend $5000 on a car, you probably can't afford a 15 year old BMW, unless you are a mechanic. 2 repairs and it's game over for you.
    Stick to a Honda until you are an adult with a career and some real money saved. It really is the best advice for you. This is not to be taken as an insult.
    Last edited by OnTheFence; 09-14-2014 at 01:24 PM.

  2. #2
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    have e36 m3 and in college. nbd


    ...i know kids with much more expensive cars than i have, its not too expensive to own

  3. #3
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    Do they have any sort of income? What is their debt level?
    Do they have an investments or assets outside of their car?

    Did their parents pay for the car and maintenance?

    Everyone's situation is different, as I stated above.
    Mine is just 1 man's point of view, and I'm not saying it's right. (or the only way)
    Last edited by OnTheFence; 02-24-2012 at 02:42 PM.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, I see where your coming from with this. I see the "I'm broke, but want a 740i with 200K miles" post all the time.

    But with that said, I'm 25..
    1991 BMW E30 M3 - red/blk - Mint - *BBS* - (The Queen)
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  5. #5
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    I'm 22 and bought my E39 when I graduated high school. I worked in the Dean's office at the medical college at my university (minimum wage) and I also work at a local bar as a bar back every so often. At first I was all about modding my car. I bought new headlights, hids for my lows and fogs, and I also bought a set of staggered 19" wheels. 19x10 in the rear.

    After eating through two sets of very expensive rear tires (expensive on my college budget), I just bought a set of OEM wheels to save on the cost of ties. I'm actually getting my car aligned as I type. NOW I'd much rather have my car work correctly, rather than it look cool and not be reliable. I live ~400 miles away from home, so my car is my lifeline.

    If you want to mod your car AND keep the maintenance up, it is going to cost. My E39 is rolling over 200,000 miles and I'm steadily getting it back on track as far at maintenance is concerned. I'm saving mod whatever car I have when I have a career, not now.

    I've got money to either mod it or maintain it. Not both.
    Last edited by s car; 02-24-2012 at 03:13 PM.

  6. #6
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    Remember, "Function > Form", not "Form > Function"

    Got my E36 318is, looks like crap, but at least it runs nicely

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheFence View Post
    Do they have any sort of income? What is their debt level?
    Do they have an investments or assets outside of their car?

    Did their parents pay for the car and maintenance?

    Everyone's situation is different, as I stated above.
    Mine is just 1 man's point of view, and I'm not saying it's right. (or the only way)
    my friends and i all work year round and can afford what we have. i wont go into their financial situations but i have a good idea of what they are. i pay insurance, gas, and maintenance, but fortunately have no student loans or anything i have to worry about outside of that.

  8. #8
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    I didn't buy a BMW when I turned 18, but I did buy a sports car. I looked into cost of ownership on an E36 or something and got skeered. So, I bought a first-gen Miata.

    I had been driving my parents' SUV up 'til then, and they were paying my insurance and all repairs. The deal was that I could either keep driving that, and keep that plan (though I'd probably end up taking on my part of the insurance)... and if I bought my own car, all costs were on me. For everything. Repairs, upgrades, insurance, gas, etc.

    Well, I wanted the damn car, so I bought it. Right away, it needed a new roof, rear brakes and clutch slave cylinder. Being a total n00b to repairs, I took it to a shop. Somewhere near $900 later, I had all that done and zero dollars left.

    Fortunately, I had car enthusiast friends in college (they were the driving force behind the purchase), and they all taught me to wrench on the thing myself. Had I not started doing that, I'd have been broke. And the Miata is a silly reliable car aside from a few things.

    But still, doing brakes yourself could cost what, $80-100 per axle. Take it to a shop and it could be $300 an axle with the labor cost added in there. That's a LOT of gas/books/food/beer when you're in college.

    Work hard to play hard, and do it the smart way, and you CAN own a cool car when you're young. But if mommy and daddy aren't paying your way (if they were, you'd look at E92s and F10s) you need to do your research and look at some finances.
    2011 F-150 FX4 | 1997 BMW M3 #404 GTS2 | 2006 BMW M3 Convertible
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  9. #9
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    Currently 20. Bought an 01 330 sedan at 17. Worked as a server and made decent money and it was dealer maintained so didn't need much except for regular maintenance and coolant overhaul for the 30k miles I had it. Sold that at 19 and bought a ZHP we got in on trade that was mint and also dealer maintained, currently working at a dealer. Also have a 92 accord "beater". Sold that and currently drive a 95 325 while I finish my degree. Maintenance always came before mods for me but I am very mechanically inclined for my age and have been around BMW's all my life. But I will agree, a BMW or any other euro car isn't for your average teenager.

  10. #10
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    21 and bought an E36 M3. I got lucky with the price and parents helped get a loan on it. The payments are more than manageable otherwise I would have never gotten it. I will always drive my 97 olds cutlass to keep it in the best condition possible. I have the urges, and are resisting them, to spend money on engine and accessory mods. Both have less than 100k on them. I also plan on doing as much maintenance on both that I can. Both were also checked mechanically prior to purchase. It can be done, just with planning. Ive also had them for about 6 months with no problems
    Last edited by rocketboy287; 02-24-2012 at 07:51 PM.
    -Taylor

    95 M3 "Erika"

  11. #11
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    Bought my E36 M3 when i was 21. I pay for my own gas, insurance (expensive at my age, but you have to pay to play) and car payment. I was luckily able to get a loan on my own without a co-signer. I have a decent paying job as I'm in an apprenticeship for my career and work full time. I do most of the work myself except for anything that requires me to be hunched over for over an hour at a time since my back is messed up from a car crash. I'm glad this wasn't my first car though, 240hp may not sound like much. But if you do not know what you're are doing you could easily get yourself killed (not that i consider myself a great driver, i respect the car and try not to push my limits).

  12. #12
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    I was 21 when I bought an e36 m3... However mine had 45k miles and was just under 6years old at the time.

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  13. #13
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    Got my first BMW at 16. A 1986 325e/5 sedan alpine white. It was $1100 lol. Any way that car was awesome, never broke down, put some wheels, reiger body kit, tint, stereo, and a magnaflow on it and sold it for $3200.
    Bought a 1995 540i/6 with 208k the next day for $2300 and did this to it over 6 months
    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1490702
    I chopped friggin firewood for the money to do it up and it eventually paid off. Rich kid wanted my car and I said I'd keep it unless he would give me $9k for it

    ..... The next day I bought my 01 540i/6 for $7900..... When I was 19. I'm a decent mechanic went to college for it and I'm mechanically minded. It's not always age that determines what car someone deserves or can have. I think maturity and age can be very different. Maybe not in this case but don't always rule it out
    I still own an e30, but life has picked up speed and I no longer frequent this forum or own my e39. Thanks for 7 years of help everyone!


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwhiteman View Post
    Got my first BMW at 16. A 1986 325e/5 sedan alpine white. It was $1100 lol. Any way that car was awesome, never broke down, put some wheels, reiger body kit, tint, stereo, and a magnaflow on it and sold it for $3200.
    Bought a 1995 540i/6 with 208k the next day for $2300 and did this to it over 6 months
    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1490702
    I chopped friggin firewood for the money to do it up and it eventually paid off. Rich kid wanted my car and I said I'd keep it unless he would give me $9k for it

    ..... The next day I bought my 01 540i/6 for $7900..... When I was 19. I'm a decent mechanic went to college for it and I'm mechanically minded. It's not always age that determines what car someone deserves or can have. I think maturity and age can be very different. Maybe not in this case but don't always rule it out
    You did a great job on that 95 540. It got completely redone and in good style too.
    -Taylor

    95 M3 "Erika"

  15. #15
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    I threw away nearly two years worth of college progress working two jobs, one full-time and one part-time on top of taking the few classes I could manage a semester just to pay for this car (unwisely; : I bought it at the age of 19:tsk. While most of the kids my age that I knew were getting bimmers and mercs with bows on them I was working hard for a taste of what I'd always dreamed of; owning a BMW.


    I got this from another forum. This is very regrettable.
    Focus on short term thrills (and working like a slave in dead end jobs) vs. long term planning and growth.
    Letting a car get in the way of your education & career planning is bad parenting.
    I think young adults need better guidance than this....
    Last edited by OnTheFence; 02-25-2012 at 10:48 AM.

  16. #16
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    I know what you mean OP... Im probably selling my M in a few months anyway because my mom got a new car and doesnt need her 323 anymore... And i wont have to worry about insurance if i drive it

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketboy287

    You did a great job on that 95 540. It got completely redone and in good style too.
    Thanks! That car was amazing. Put 252whp 262trq down on the dyno when it was stock!!! The kid that bought it from me did not take the best care of it but he's selling it now. PM me if you want details. Car is in SoCal
    I still own an e30, but life has picked up speed and I no longer frequent this forum or own my e39. Thanks for 7 years of help everyone!


  18. #18
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    Had my e36 in high school, got my e39 in time for sophomore year of college. A little budgeting and a good job go a long way.
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  19. #19
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    I just turned 17! First car that I got as soon as I got my license was my fathers old 528i E39 automatic, because he got an E53 X5. Then I sold it and got a 530i manual which is amazing, I enjoy every second of driving it. It is bone stock and has had all maintenance done. Speaking of maintenance, none is dealership, all is ordered online and DIY'ed.

    Only mod I want to do is get the M5 bumper pretty much. I did also get a short shifter kit which allows me to shift much faster and smoother.

  20. #20
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    People thought I was crazy when I bought a northstar powered cadillac when I was 17 too. But I've always had a full time job in the summers, part time during school (now a junior in college) and I just got my BMW last fall. High priced maintenance is no new game to me. The cadillac and BMW though were and never will be my main form of transportation, so if they break down I can afford to let them sit while I gain funds. And I know if something REALLY bad happened (like headgaskets on the Northstar engine) my parents would probably help out. I'm spoiled I know :-P

  21. #21
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    I'm 20. Bought my first 90 325is for 1000k when I was 16. Only had a part time job and learned to do all maitnence myself. I now own an e36 m3 and work full time and have money for repairs and mods.... So guys my age don't let these old timers tell you what to do. If you always wanted the M like me. Do it! I drive 500+ miles a week for work and it has never done me wrong. Preform regular maitnence and your golden.

  22. #22
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    It's funny how your thread giving good advice to younger people just blew up into everyone justifying their purchases. This is meant to be a sticky-type post, not a discussion I'm sure.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnorak View Post
    It's funny how your thread giving good advice to younger people just blew up into everyone justifying their purchases. This is meant to be a sticky-type post, not a discussion I'm sure.
    it is kind of true. but there are people who know the risks, research the problems and costs, and halfway know what they're getting into.

    It's the people who have no job, no sense of mechanical knowledge, and think they can dive into any BMW and come out alive!

  24. #24
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    This post applies to any car. If I wasn't in the army u couldn't imagine having a hobby that is expensive.

  25. #25
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