BMW is well-known throughout the world as the brand that brings sheer driving pleasure. This reputation is true whether it’s a new vehicle or a used BMW that’s in good condition. Purchasing a used BMW 3-Series is worth it if you know what you are doing and choose the right one.
How to purchase a good second-hand BMW
Purchasing a second-hand vehicle, especially a BMW might be hard for a new driver. There are some tips to have in mind before beginning your car-hunting journey.
Try to purchase from a friend or a person you know. If you can’t, ask as many questions as you want about the vehicle, and don’t feel embarrassed about it.
Consider hiring and pre-paying a mechanic to take a look at the car for you and give you their honest opinion if it’s a good value for the money.
Check for damage
Always make sure to check whether the following areas of the car are functional or look damaged:
- Engine and gearbox
- Clutch and pedals
- Bodywork, check the underside of the car
- Wheel and tires – if you see signs of aggressive driving, there will probably be some engine issues.
- The interior of the vehicle – if a driver doesn’t take care of the interior, he most likely doesn’t take care of the engine either.
- Documents of the vehicle
Look for oil leaks or any fluids whatsoever, that would indicate engine damage. Most used BMWs have issues with the oil gasket, make sure to check that too.
Take it for a test drive
One of the most important things to do before making your purchase is to go for a test drive before making any major decisions.
Tell the owner that you do not want him to warm up the engine before you go visit it. You can always check whether the engine is hot before you get in. If it is, there might be something fishy going on. We want a cold engine so that we can see how the car starts on a normal day.
What are the best BMW 3 Series to purchase second-hand?
The BMW 3 Series has always been the best-selling BMW vehicle for a few reasons. It is a mixture of class, luxury and driving pleasure. It is also one of the more reliable BMW models and it has a more affordable price than 5 and 7 Series.
During the years, there have been both great and not-so-great BMW 3 Series models. Here are the best ones to purchase second hand from of each of the past decades.
Best 1980s BMW to purchase second-hand
If you are looking for an old-looking BMW, the best bet from the 1980s is the BMW E30. It’s a classic that is still enjoyable to drive today if you find one in good condition. The 316s and 318s BMW E30 are extremely affordable and refuse to stop working.
Best 1990s Series 3 BMWs
If the 80s seems a bit too far in the past, but you still want a “vintage” BMW, you could consider getting a 1990s vehicle. The BMW 3 E36 was released in the 1990s and was one of the most beloved vehicles of all time. It offered both a diesel and a gasoline engine, and the 325tds is a great choice.
The 1990s also offered the beautiful E46 from 1999, which came with amazing engine choices. The most common choice here is the BMW 320d, which was also one of the most common cars you would see on the road for a reason – a great value for money.
The 330d was even better in many ways, but a bit less reliable than the 320d. It delivered serious performance and over 40 miles per gallon, which is impressive for any BMW.
Despite the BMW 320d being very common and a good deal for the money, the BMW 330i and 320i are better choices for a second-hand vehicle, as they have been more reliable in the long run.
Great 2000s BMW 3 Series to purchase second hand
In the 2000s, you witnessed the rise of the E90 which popularized the BMW 3 Series as a bigger version of itself. Well, BMWs got bigger but not much prettier, design-wise. This was the decade in which the BMW 3 Series became as large as the previous BMW 5 Series. From the 2000s, we would recommend purchasing a BMW 330i E46, which is an amazing car.
Best second hand BMWs from the past decade
BMW E90: 2010
After 2000, BMWs have tended to have many electronic issues. The best vehicle in this generation to get second-hand is the BMW E90 325i from 2010 and make sure to get an automatic one. The manual gearbox tends to have some issues, or at least drivers have reported so.
2012-2018 BMW F30 – The most reliable second-hand BMW
If you are not looking to save cash on older models, the best BMW you can purchase second-hand is undoubtedly one of the most reliable ones – the BMW F30. Most second-hand BMWs often have issues with the timing belt, but this one doesn’t. It’s a great combination of reliability and driving pleasure and is also quite comfortable and large for a 3 Series.
More things to know about buying a used BMW
At what mileage do BMW 3 Series start experiencing difficulties and break down?
Generally, most German cars have the stigma around them that as soon as they go out of warranty, they break down. This is far from true for most models and BMW Series 3 tend to be very reliable. The first major issue you will experience with such a vehicle will usually be after you have driven more than roughly 100,000 – 120,000 miles with the vehicle.
What are the most reliable BMW models after the year 2000?
Some of the most reliable BMW models from after the year 2000 that can be good to consider buying second hand include:
- BMW 3 Series from 2006-2011
- BMW 7 Series from 2002 to 2008
- BMW 5 Series E60 and E61 from 2004-2010
- BMW X3 from 2006-2010
Why are used BMW Series 3 so cheap?
The main reason for BMW Series 3 depreciating so much when being sold second-hand is the fact that the market is oversaturated with them. Basic economic laws like supply and demand dictate the price of second-hand markets. People tend to purchase more new BMWs and newer second-hand ones since they are worried about previous owners driving irresponsibly and damaging the vehicle.