Cheap BMW 3-Series - CarlW
I am considering buying a 3 Series BMW but only have limited funds.
I notice that you can now get a N reg "bargain" for about £2K, but i have not been involved with BMW's before. I am therefore hoping that you guys could give me some good pointers and let me know of any pitfalls to look out for.

Thanks, Carl
Cheap BMW 3-Series - DavidHM
Probably you'd get a better response in discussion {I agree ----> Kick - DD}, but...

Why is it (given that your budget is a modest but practical £2k) you're after a 3-Series in particular?
Cheap BMW 3-Series - Wally Zebon
I recently purchased an S reg 323 Coupe for £3K.

Problems to look out for are Nikasil. Get the chassis number or reg number and phone BMW and ask if it's had a new engine. If it hasn't then walk away. There's loads out there.

Other things to watch out for are leaking radiators. They leak at the bottom right corner where the radiator meets the plastic tank.

Check out www.e36coupe.co.uk/ for loads of info on 3-series including buyers guides and many many FAQs

Cheap BMW 3-Series - DP
I would agree with DavidHM. I had an E36 320iSE as a company car for a year in 1998 and I wouldn't particularly want another one.

It had a beautifully smooth and great sounding six-cylinder engine and the handling was very good (if a little soft). My lasting memories of it though are pretty negative. A brittle, spartan, cheap looking interior, buzzes and creaks everywhere at 80,000 miles, dreadful fuel consumption (24 mpg from what is a relatively modestly powered car), and less than perfect quality and reliability. In the year I had it the drivers window regulator disintegrated, an ignition coil burned out, and the boot started leaking. This was a 5 year old, 80,000 mile FBMSH'd example that had been well cared for by its previous keeper.

I daresay the 328i and M3 are different beasts altogether, but don't assume that badge means quality, reliability or even a superior driving experience. I would spend my 2k elsewhere.

DP
Cheap BMW 3-Series - LinuxGeek
Mate I won't buy a BMW with a budget of £2k because I don't think the car would be very reliable and you'll might end up spending quite a bit on the parts and labour. If I was you I would go for Honda Accord (T reg onwards). They're as good to drive as BMWs but at the sametime they're almost bulletproof. But maybe their image isn't in the same class as BMW.
All the best with car hunting, it could be a painful but fun experience!
Cheap BMW 3-Series - CarlW
Thanks for all your replies, the only reason i was looking at the BMW is that i like the looks and its now affordable. However i also like the VW Passat or maybe something like that as i need a family size car.
I'll have a look into the Honda Accord as reliability is important, also safety.
How about the Audi A4, any comments?
Cheap BMW 3-Series - local yokel
Carl

The 2k purchase raises a problem with me. A 2k car could be just as troublesome as a 1k, yet because it's cost you 2k, you have to pump money into it to "preserve" your original capital.

Get a potential £700 bill on a 1k, and you throw it, yet the same on a 2k, and you have to swallow it.

My advice would be to spend 1k, and bank the other 1k for a replacement/rainy day.
Cheap BMW 3-Series - adverse camber
I agree with local yokel. buying a cheap 'prestige' car is often a bad idea. If its a model which is only just affordable than you are likely to be getting the dregs. Far too many people buy them for the image but cant afford to maintain them properly. You are looking at a 10 year old car - it will have problems. Unless you are capable of doing your own work on it then running costs can be very high. I know various bits are available from gsf/europarts and the like but lots of electrical things will be heading for problems at this age and many bits will be dealer or scrapyard.

In general with a bm I would get a coolant change (with the correct coolant) as soon as you buy. Have the system pressure tested - lots of problems with failing rads and water pumps, leading quickly to engine problems.
Cheap BMW 3-Series - bod1970
I have a 10 year old BMW 320i. After just over a year of ownership it has been trouble free. The interior trim is still perfect, everything still works and nothing rattles.

Fule consumption is OK on a long run but poor around town.

As with any 2k car a good service record is essential.
Cheap BMW 3-Series - Collos25
It's to old and you could be looking at mega bucks on parts and repairs.2K will buy an awful lot of Ford,or Vauxhall on a much newer plate.
Cheap BMW 3-Series - Lud
Came across a red 316 a few years ago that belonged to a fellow who lived in our basement, who was leaving and wanted to sell it for £600. I said I'd look at it.

It had an MoT and started and ran more or less OK, bit thrashy, probably needed the valve clearances doing. Second and third gears were hideously noisy although it ran OK in top (four speeds). The clutch pedal was six inches higher than the others necessitating a Peter Crouch-like technique when changing gear. There was a big clonk somewhere in the front suspension. The interior, especially the seats, was utterly, utterly disgusting, more disgusting than one would have thought possible in a car less than ten years old.

I figured it was worth £300 and pushed it to a journalist friend, explaining that he would have to get it thoroughly done over by a proper mechanic and put in a reconditioned or secondhand gearbox. The mechanic he went to told him (wrongly, I'm sure) that the gearbox was all right and it really needed a back axle. Being an automotive slob, he just kept the ghastly thing as it was and ran it for a couple of years. BMWs are tough, but that one was probably the nastiest road-legal car I have ever seen.
 

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