Is there anything I should look for when buying a BMW 320Ci SE, and is this a good deal?

I am thinking of buying a BMW 320Ci SE Auto Coupe, 2.2-litre, 2004, one owner, full history, 34,500 miles, auto. It has extras including leather seats, parking sensors and approx £3000 of extras from the basic model. It's on sale from a Honda garage with a one-year guarantee for £9995.00. I have a 12-year-old Toyota Carina CDX auto that they are offering £600 trade-in for and I will be paying cash for the remaining £9395. Are there any areas related to the running of the car that I need to consider? Is this a good price for the car or would I be better looking for a secondhand similar car from a BMW garage?

Asked on 17 May 2010 by maggiemck

Answered by Dan Harrison
That seems a good deal on the BMW given that it was below average mileage (it’s usually estimated at 10,000 miles a year) and it’s coming with a one year guarantee. Plus £600 for your Toyota is a decent trade-in price as some garages won’t part exchange cars that are more than 10 years old. If you were to look for a similar car at a BMW garage you’d be unlikely to find a better deal unless you were very lucky. If anything, you’d probably end up paying more as they would be unlikely to offer you the same for your Toyota.

There are a few things to look out for on these BMWs. Many suffer premature front suspension balljoint failure. Bushes in front suspension wishbones often need replacing after three to four years which means new wishbones. A spate of snapping rear coil springs on four- to five-year-olds is increasingly common. The 17-inch wheels are easily damaged on the inner rims. Clonks from the rear either mean a coil has snapped or the diff has torn away from its mounting. It can also mean the rear suspension subframe has torn loose from the floorpan at its mounting points. Make sure the electric engine radiator fan works. Even if it does, a previous failure could have resulted in head gasket failure so check for the usual signs of this such as emulsified oil under the oil filler cap. MOT failure due to brake pipe corrosion is not unknown. There have been general warnings about BMW automatic gearboxes as these are sealed units and the fluid is never changed even when serviced. However, problems, if they do occur, tend to be after 120,000 to 150,000 miles, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
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