BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

I've always been a fan of BMW cars and always wanted to get one. I found one at reasonable price - a 2008 BMW 2.0 318i SE Edition at 75k miles with full service history, MOT and great interior. General consensus and opinion on the web is to stay away from second hand premium cars such as BMW and Audi. Would it be that bad in terms of reliability and servicing to buy this car? Why shouldn't I buy it? I'm not just buying for the badge but also great handling, quality of materials, performance and looks of course. I could afford the odd extra costs, but obviously wouldn't want to buy a money pit and something ridiculous to own and maintain.

I can also get a 44k miles Volvo S40 2.0, which seems more sensible, but doesn't excite me too much. Both are nearly the same price in insurance - around Volvo at £1300 and BMW at £1400.

What do you think?

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

Full service history can mean a number of things. What counts is how many services (and by a service, I mean an oil/filter change in particular) it's had. With that low a mileage, it could well only be 3 or 4 oil changes. Which for a 9 year old car is nowhere near enough.

Have a look at the MOT history site. 'Full MOT' doesn't really tell you much, it's the advisories, and more particularly the regularity of advisories over the years, which tell you a lot more.

Biggest problem with that petrol engine is the coil packs and injectors, I seem to recall.

Does it have big stupid wheels on it ? The last generation of 3 series could be really terrible on ride comfort with big wheels and really low profile tyres, even with SE suspension. MSport suspension was even worse.

Having said all that, a friend of mine has a 55 plate 118i (same engine)which he bought about 3 years ago. Nothing has ever gone wrong with it.

Oh : don't expect much over 30 mpg.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

Just checked the MOT history, it doesn't seem too bad IMO - here's an image of it, ibb.co/ctoxPk

what do you think?

Edited by John Travolta on 20/07/2017 at 13:03

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

Put the registration of the car up. I prefer to go directly to the DVLA website and read the data from there.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

LX58 WYW. Thanks

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - madf

Oldest son wanted a BMW 3 series. I said : money pits if you have to pay otehrs to service it. I said I would not - he could just pay.

318i Pertol 2003 1 owner 50k miles.

Coil pack failed after 6 months.

Brake rebuild cost £1k.

After that nothing has gone wrong in 4 years...

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

This one is a 2008 however, so I imagine it's a fair bit different - both engine and car itself.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - badbusdriver

Saying the volvo doesn't exite you suggests the BMW does. Is this just because it's a BMW?. Which is understandable if it is a high powered variant, but this is one of the least powerful 3 series of its time, with 143bhp, more or less the same as the volvo (145bhp). As a keen driver you may well prefer the thought of rear wheel drive, but that (little) power coupled to BMW's sophisticated chassis, means that you are unlikely to notice which wheels are driven. You certainly won't be able to get the back end sliding (unless wet/icy conditions with traction control off). The volvo on the other hand, uses Ford focus underpinnings, widely regarded as about the best car of its kind for ride and handling.

Not sure about any specific reliability issues for those two, but as they are both 4cyl n/a petrol versions, that's going to be a good start!

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

Thanks for the reply.

I do agree with you, it's not the highest specced model, but is on par with the volvo and this is what I can afford in insurance. I just like the interior and exterior of the BMW better. Are you implying the S40 specifically should be a lot more reliable, or just Volvos in general?

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

By the looks of the mileages on the MOTs, it had the same owner from new (or nearly new) up until late 2014 / early 2015. That person did a roughly consistent 7k miles a year.

It then did 21k in the next 12 months. Then, by the look of it, that owner got rid of it.

Someone else got it in July 2016 (

It is now being sold again, 12 months after that.

Ask yourself why it's being got rid of again so soon.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

Good points. Is that certain - that it has had 3 owners? So you're basically impyling that the car is a bit suspicious and should be avoided? What if they sold because of high mpg, change in life, or it still seems like too many owner changes?

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - Happy Blue!

Very strange MoT history post 2014. Huge miles in 2015; odd for an older car. and then only 1,200 miles in the next six months.

Keep away.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

Good points. Is that certain - that it has had 3 owners? So you're basically impyling that the car is a bit suspicious and should be avoided? What if they sold because of high mpg, change in life, or it still seems like too many owner changes?

It's not certain, no. But it looks that way.

People generally do consistent mileages.

First 3 years, it did 22k - 7k per annum.

Year 4, 6k.

Year 5, 6k.

Year 6, 6k.

Now (roughly) it got sold.

The next 5 months, it did 2k. Possibly some with the owner, some sitting on a forecourt.

The next year, it did 21k

Then it got sold again. The next 7 months, it did 1k miles.

Probably MOT'd for selling to the new owner July 2016 at 64k.

Then MOT'd in May this year at 73k when the owner wanted to sell it.

Now, none of that is guaranteed to be correct - hell, it might all be wrong. But it certainly looks like that to me.

Anyone else read that MOT history differently ?

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - badbusdriver

Thanks for the reply.

I do agree with you, it's not the highest specced model, but is on par with the volvo and this is what I can afford in insurance. I just like the interior and exterior of the BMW better. Are you implying the S40 specifically should be a lot more reliable, or just Volvos in general?

No, I'm not suggesting volvo's are more reliable than BMW's in general, maybe back in the 'old days'(!).

As I mentioned, the S40 is based on Ford focus underpinnings, and it's 2.0 engine is the same as you'd find under the bonnet of the mondeo as well as the focus. So mechanically the volvo is only going to be as reliable as the donor parts. That said, I had a quick look at the honest John reviews of both cars (good and bad section). While there were many problems listed which, potentially, MAY apply to the engine in 'your' 318, I don't know enough about all the different engine codes to know one way or t'other which apply. The volvo, on the other hand, had no problems that I could see relating specifically to the 2.0 4cyl engine (there was various issues noted for the diesel though).

Each to there own, but my opinion is the opposite of yours!, I prefer the looks of the S40 outside and inside, and of course, you do get volvo seats in a volvo, which is an added bonus!

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - madf

Anyone who has driven a BMW on standard tyres on snow will either buy winter tyres or change the car..

So if you live somewhere which gets snow.. think carefully. Too much power, no traction (and usually drivers who have no clue.)

Round here, BMW/Mercedes drivers provide free entertainment when it snows. Sensible owners drive something else in snow.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - John Travolta

I live in the UK.. almost no snow conditions from what I've seen and know, haha

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

Anyone who has driven a BMW on standard tyres on snow will either buy winter tyres or change the car..

So if you live somewhere which gets snow.. think carefully. Too much power, no traction (and usually drivers who have no clue.)

Round here, BMW/Mercedes drivers provide free entertainment when it snows. Sensible owners drive something else in snow.

A bit of stupid comment really. Any car, whether FWD, RWD or AWD on the wrong tyres in snow or ice will be useless.

I've seen someone pirouette a Land Rover Defender - on proper winter A/T tyres - on black ice before now.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - badbusdriver

Not a stupid comment at all.

Rwd cars behave different to fwd cars. In dry conditions with decent tyres, you aren't going to notice unless going very fast, but in very slippery conditions the differences are going to become apparent at much lower speed. You need to be aware of this if you are getting into your 1st rwd car.

I've been driving for 28 years and have never had winter tyres. And I've driven in plenty of icy and snowy conditions. Know your own, and your cars limitations and abilities in poor conditions, leave plenty of space, and read the road well in advance.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

Ah, yes. They behave differently. I agree.

Whereas the comment basically said "They're useless on snow / ice." Which is plain and simply wrong.

If he'd written "Do be aware, if this is your first RWD car, the handling is very different in ice / snow, and you may well need to invest in a set of winter wheels and tyres", then I'd have had no issue with it.

I live in (very) rural North Wales. Plenty of the hills, mountains, ans snow and ice in winter.The lanes round me never get gritted - we get heaps of grit dropped off by the council close to bends, uphill stretches, and that's it. I've been driving RWD BMWs (520d, 318d and 325d, and the wife has a Z4) for the last decade, and never managed to stuff one into a hedge yet.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - frankly

""I've seen someone pirouette a Land Rover Defender - on proper winter A/T tyres - on black ice before now."

Lol, reminds me of when I did that in a lr 90 defender just exiting a car park near a ski lift in Austria! ! only doing 10 mph at most....wierd feeling no control :-(

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - RobJP

""I've seen someone pirouette a Land Rover Defender - on proper winter A/T tyres - on black ice before now."

Lol, reminds me of when I did that in a lr 90 defender just exiting a car park near a ski lift in Austria! ! only doing 10 mph at most....wierd feeling no control :-(

The one I saw it happen to was going at a similar speed. 5-10 mph. Started taking a junction, and it just stepped right round on him. Maybe the rubber compound they used didn't work so brilliantly at very low speeds !

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - catsdad

I had a 318 SE, albeit a 2002 so a bit earlier than the OP is considering. It was during my company car days when I got a new car very 3 years. The BMW would be way down my list of favourites (SAAB 9-5, Mondeo 2.5 and Honda Accord 2.2 CDTI being my tops). It was uncomfortable on long trips as the standard seats are too short in the base and the steering wheel/pedals are not well aligned. Both issues may be better in later models.

I live in the warm south west and the BMW.was useless when it did face snow. I am not talking about handling underway, it just didnt want to move forwards on even a moderate slope. When it did oblige it set off a lot of warnings and dashbooard lights I didnt know it had! Having previously lived in the North of Scotland I do know how to handle snow and rear wheel drive: the BMW didnt.

Sorry to put a downer on the OP's proposed purchase but I recognise the enthusiasm I had before I got mine that was soon gone when I realised it was a pretty ordinary car under all the hype.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - argybargy

""I've seen someone pirouette a Land Rover Defender - on proper winter A/T tyres - on black ice before now."

Lol, reminds me of when I did that in a lr 90 defender just exiting a car park near a ski lift in Austria! ! only doing 10 mph at most....wierd feeling no control :-(

I once did that in a fire engine. We'd turned out to a report of a fire in a dock warehouse; there had just been a short, sharp shower. The surface adjacent to the warehouse was cobblestones, and they were wet. When the tyres hit the cobblestones we were only doing about 5 mph, but nevertheless the 12 ton machine proceeded to perform a full 360 degree spin without any input from me. Nothing I could do except sit there and wait till it finished, all the while eternally grateful that this wasn't happening on the edge of the dock with 20 feet of water beneath us. This graceful if involuntary demonstration inspired much ribald shouting from other crews already in attendance.

Edited by argybargy on 21/07/2017 at 08:32

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - SLO76
I don't rate BMW's as budget buys like this. Reliability isn't great, with a long list of common problems from rattling timing chains, coil packs, injector problems, complex suspension that constantly seems to need something (bushes, shattered springs etc) I don't even rate them as a drivers car in 4cyl petrol form to be honest. The 6cyl models are in a different league both in terms of driver appeal and reliability.

I had an E46 2.0 Coupe with an earlier version of this engine and the timing chain failed at 47,000 miles despite a full service record and this was the end of a long line of irritating and costly problems. I've never owned another.

As for the S40 Volvo, well that's an excellent option. It's based on the same floorpan and suspension set up as the Mk II Ford Focus and Mazda 3 both of which are widely accepted as the best handling cars in the class. The Volvo also shared the bombproof chain driven petrol Mazda L series engines in 1.8 and 2.0 spec which have no real vices if looked after. It has higher standards of interior quality and style than the Ford or Mazda and makes a great used buy as long as you avoid the problem prone PSA 1.6 diesel. The Estate V40 is an easier sell when you want to move it on though and arguably better looking.



Edited by SLO76 on 20/07/2017 at 23:02

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - badbusdriver

Just a slight correction SLO, the estate version of this generation of S40 is actually (weirdly) labelled V50. Not sure why, but that's car companies for you!

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - SLO76

Just a slight correction SLO, the estate version of this generation of S40 is actually (weirdly) labelled V50. Not sure why, but that's car companies for you!

Yup right enough.
BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - meldrew

New to this thread so interested to know what car was bought. With today's technology you can justify nor buying anything unless somebody else is paying for it! We have two BMWs (both hers!) and reliability and running costs are reasonable. You do not have to use a main dealer unless under their warranty where it is probably advisable.

BMW 3 Series - Car buying advice - is a second hand BMW too risky - SLO76
" You do not have to use a main dealer unless under their warranty where it is probably advisable."

Correct but most small garages fire the same oil (which they bulk buy) into every car they get on the ramps instead of checking then buying in the correct grade for that particular model. This is fine with simple older engines but it kills more complex and oil specific motors. The 2.0 petrol in my E46 318 was ruined by a supposed BMW specialist who bunged the wrong oil in which killed the timing chain within a month at 47,000 miles. Had I stumped up for the main dealer service that cost £70 more then the car would have ran for many years to come. Lesson learned.
 

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