2001 BMW 330ci 136k miles $4k

#1

Found this car for $4k. Would you buy a car like this with 136k miles, but only two Florida owners? How reliable are these? https://www.fermanbmw.com/used-Palm+Harbor-2001-BMW-3+Series-330Ci-WBABS53491JU85472

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#2

Hi there. We’re big fans of the E46 generation 3 Series here at Klipnik. Here’s a link to our buying guide for the model, which I’d recommend reading:

https://www.klipnik.com/best-used-cars/practical-buying-guide-bmw-3-series-e46-generation-1999-2006/

This car is exactly the sort of example we suggest looking for, mainly because it has a strong service history, with regular dealer service visits documented on the Carfax report.

These are generally reliable cars, but they are getting older, so you should budget about $125 per month for repairs and upkeep.

I’d suggest telling them that you’d like to take it for an independent mechanical inspection prior to purchase and then look for a local BMW specialist to provide a pre-purchase inspection (PPI).

You could also ask them to provide you with some kind of warranty (e.g. 30 days) to ensure that nothing goes wrong right off the bat. They might not do it, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

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#3

Thanks! The dealer is willing to negotiate some ($5k OTD with taxes, fees, etc) but the local BMW specialist can’t do a PPI until Wednesday. Not sure if the car will still be available by then. It’s also hard to tell by the CarFax report which services were completed or if they were simple oil changes.

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#4

It’s a bit of a gamble to buy it without a PPI, but if the car drives well and has been to the dealer regularly for the last few years, it’s probably a fairly safe bet. If it were me, I would lean towards snapping it up if it’s pretty much exactly what you’re looking for (i.e. convertible, automatic gearbox, colors, etc.)…

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#5

Thanks for your input! I test drove the car yesterday and while it was very clean, there were a few issues. The biggest being the coolant light came on (intermittently) twice during my test drive. Other issues:

  • Cruise control was spotty. Sometimes worked, other times didn’t
  • Rear left headrest backing wasn’t attached. It was in the car but would require some reattachment
  • Volume knob didn’t work. Would have to rely on the steering wheel control
  • Button to unlock passenger door from inside the car didn’t work

Everything else on the car seemed very mint. It’s mostly that coolant light that concerns me. The dealer was willing to get to $5k OTD.

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#6

Thanks for the update. I agree that the coolant light is a significant concern. While it could be very minor (e.g. just a sensor), it also could be quite major (e.g. water pump leak). BMWs tend to need a cooling system overhaul at about this mileage (that’s one of their weak spots), so it would definitely be worth using the PPI option at this point just to make sure that isn’t needed right away…

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