Dream car or Budget, which comes first? Tell us your thoughts | No thanks
BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - meldrew

Its a hot day and my wife is sitting in the shade trying not to be upset. Her birthday present, 18 years ago has just been towed away on its final journey. Ihave kept detailed records and it was OK to 65k miles but after that began to cost a small fortune each year with repair mainly of the electronic variety.

The final straw at 99k miles was a failed ECU which added to other niggling faults made repair uneconomical. The question we are both left with is that our mileage does not justify the cost of a new car but just how reliable are BMWs, Audis and Mercs as they get older?This is the only car in over 50 years of driving that has ever failed to complete a journey.

We will celebrate the memories with a bottle of fizz in the sun later. The real lesson when cars get old is perhaps in the song by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler - knowing when to hold 'em knowing when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away and knowing when to run.

Cars a bit of a gamble but so is the rest of life too!

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - lucklesspedestrian

The only car I've owned which failed to complete a journey was a Datsun 140Y back in 1988. Turns out I'd been checking the gearbox oil rather than the engine oil for 18 months, so needless to say the mechanic who checked it over after recovery found it to be completely dry. I still call myself a twit (or similar) at least once a day for that one even 32 years on.

I'm using a 14 year old Merc CLK cabrio for my daily commute these days having recently came out of retirement. So far so good but I'm aware that a big bill could come along at any minute resulting in that sad final journey to the scrappies. Hopefully not for a while yet as I'm rather fond of the thing and yes, I check the engine oil weekly!

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - gordonbennet

Melders, nice to hear from you again and sorry for the loss of that little compact.

How reliable are those German brands, they aren't any longer sadly, if we compared notes on costs per mile covered the now 24 year old Merc sitting outside which we've had about the same time as you owned the BMW, the results of that calculation would make both of us weep.

Many years ago i was a bit of a kerbside cowboy, but more a Lone Ranger than Liberty Valance type i hope :-), back then i learned that rusting apart Japanese built cars were in a different league regarding reliability than others.

Why for so many years i tried different makes for myself, at one point we had three Merc 124's on the drive, the only one of which to prove in any way durable being the fairly basic (i was told poverty spec by a typical image conscious fool) Diesel version, the rest proved to be money pits, in the case of the estate with full history folder that had been a money pit from day one of its life and it never changed throughout, one thing after another with barely a bill to its name of less than £500.

Consistently throughout my previous work (all they ever needed was routine servicing, simple as can be) and my own car ownership i am yet to have a Toyota let me down in any appreciable way, same with Subaru but the latter is admittedly rather a niche choice, if i could have my time again i would have bought a Corona or similar as my first banger and stayed with the make all of my life and would now have considerably more zeros in my savings account than is the case, so you know what my suggestion is.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - John F

Melders, nice to hear from you again and sorry for the loss of that little compact.

How reliable are those German brands, they aren't any longer sadly, if we compared notes on costs per mile covered the now 24 year old Merc sitting outside which we've had about the same time as you owned the BMW, the results of that calculation would make both of us weep.

Depends on the brand. Our German built Ford Focus estate is nearly 20yrs old. Biggest bills have been a fuel pump, a coil pack, and two £100 welding jobs, all after well over 100,000 miles. Only once in its life (moving house) have we ever felt the need for a larger estate. Like you, GB, all those I know who have owned MBs for any length of time have had huge bills, not to mention the astronomical depreciation if bought new or nearly new.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - elekie&a/c doctor
BMW e46 models are probably one of the best models ever produced. Not too sure why you would scrap it for an Ecu fault . Was it not repairable , s/ hand parts? They is no way any current BMW, MB, Audi etc will reach 18 years old without a major catastrophe. You’ll be lucky to get 5-7 years .
BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - SLO76
I’ve never had much luck with BMW’s both as a trader and personally and neither has almost everyone I know who owns one when I think of it, there’s always something going wrong even in surprisingly young examples. I wouldn’t buy another and I never rated the 3 series compact either, the styling never really worked in my opinion and it wasn’t cheap enough. The later 1 series was an awful looking thing.
BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - meldrew

One of the nice things about this site is to hear other peoples experiences to compare with one's own. Your stories and views are appreciated. We kept this as a second car as the 1 Seriies really was ugly. The compact had a nice stance on the road and was a really good drive.

The ECU was the final straw as there were other problems including an oil leak that just would not go away however hard we tried to fix it. The other major problem was paint work after accident damage when a garage went out on a test drive without locking the bonnet down.....!! Even when it was working We Buy any Car said I would have to pay them! Also the worry of waiting for the next drama.

Like many here cars are too nuch a temptation to resist but I think we will settle for Mrs M's other car until things calm down. Time for that drink!

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - focussed

I only ever had one BMW, an E34 520i saloon bought used.

It felt like it was hewn from a block of solid steel, no squeaks or rattles, but it was the only car I have ever owned that had the plastic water pump impeller disintegrate causing an instant overheat.

You do wonder what goes through the designer's minds sometimes.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - Avant

Welcome back Meldrew!

"....just how reliable are BMWs, Audis and Mercs as they get older?"

The straight answer is - no more nor less reliable than average. People expect them to be more reliable as the materials that you can see are of higher quality; but the ones you can't, aren't.

From all that I see and hear, it does seem that Toyota are out in front when it comes to longevity and reliability.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - nellyjak

Agree...I've always found BMW's rather disappointing...nothing that special considering the hype.

For me, it's Toyota every time..a BMW my wife had in the past failed to complete a journey..none of the Toyotas she has had since (now 4) has failed in any way.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - edlithgow

Very bad here. German cars seem to use degradable plastic which does not stand up well to the heat and insolation of Taiwan,

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - gordonbennet

Very bad here. German cars seem to use degradable plastic which does not stand up well to the heat and insolation of Taiwan,

They all do that sir whatever the weather, our coupe did right on time, circa 10 years old engine wiring loom perished, shorting out a coil pack and spiking the ECU.

It joined the ECU from the estate that also went sideways thanks to MB dealer previously fitting an accessory into the ecu wiring harness which allowed water to enter the ECU plugs corroding the multi plug soldered into the ecu itself.

Don't worry if the wiring loom and ECU doesn't get you the head gasket usually fails between 100 and 110k (every petrol engined MB we had suffered this), and the oil cooler behind the oil filter housing might fail too if it feels like it, always assuming the radiator hasn't split between the transmission cooler and coolant allowing the latter to enter the auto transmission destroying that in the process.

There's lots more can go pear shaped too.

BMW 3 Series Compact - BMW Owned from New to Scrap - corax

They're an emotional choice. I bought a BMW some time ago to sample the smooth straight six engine and rear drive handling. And very nice it was too, but the car around the engine seemed to age quickly, and the problems it had were mostly electronic. It was easy to fix with the number of specialists around, but these days I just want a car that works all the time, even when it's old, and Japanese cars have spoilt me in that regard.

 

Ask Honest John

Value my car