Interested in buying your first BMW? BMW has come a long way since its classic selection of rear-wheel driven performance cars. It now offers a very wide selection of options for different consumers, but not all of it’s Series are created equally and there are some potential pitfalls unique to BMW that you will do well to avoid. This article is a review of modern day BMW’s, and some tips to help make the best out of your purchasing experience.
BMW has had a thoroughly rich history throughout the years, and throughout that history it has continuously succeeded in being a leader in innovation and creativity.
BMW has expanded its offering tremendously in recent years. Similarly to other performance brands, it has expanded into the sport utility vehicle space with the X Series. It also began making all-wheel drive models within the past two decades, and is even producing a front-wheel drive model.
Traditionally BMW has been able to stand above and beyond the competition with its inline six, rear-wheel drive performance-oriented models. They have been universally well regarded in terms of handling, suspension and all-around drivability.
However, in recent years BMW seems to have changed its focus from the driver into a focus on comfort. Unfortunately this has had a degenerative effect in the minds of many BMW enthusiasts (myself included).
Reliability is typically a major concern for most car owners, how does BMW stack up? Typically 20th Century BMWs have been well regarded for their reliability and longevity, with only a few caveats. Although, owning a BMW has never been the same in term of expense as owning a Honda, they have typically been relatively inexpensive to own versus other performance vehicles. This has changed dramatically over the past 10 – 15 years, as maintenance costs have skyrocketed.
YourMechanic did a study, and found that on average BMWs cost a staggering $17,800 over ten years of ownership! That’s more than Mercedes-Benz ($12,900), and Audi ($12,400). It’s not surprising that German Import vehicles lead the pack in expense. What’s surprising is that BMW is leading the pack when compared to Mercedes and Audi, and by a wide margin.
Most brands straight out of the dealership have low maintenance for the first few years. This makes sense, as you wouldn’t expect to spend a lot of money on repairs for a car that has 20,000 miles on it. BMWs are unique because they have free maintenance for the first few years after you buy your brand new BMW. What you’re looking for is the long term expense versus the short term expense.
Another study by ConsumerReports found that on average BMW’s costed next to nothing to maintain for the first few years. After the free maintenance warranty period ended however, the costs quickly began rising. By year ten BMW was on average the most expensive car to maintain, at an average of $1,125 a year spent in maintenance.
I know part of a BMW’s appeal, especially purchasing a newer model, is the “status” that it symbolizes. Personally I’m not that big on getting a car to fit a certain persona. However, I understand that some people want a BMW simply because of the brand recognition, and if you’re interested in a BMW because of its prestigious you’ve certainly found an excellent candidate.
Whenever I bought my first BMW 3 Series, many of my high school peers thought I was from a wealthy background and my family purchased the vehicle. Little did they know, I was working at a fast-food restaurant at the time and simply came by an old 318i for a really good price.
Today, BMW has expanded into an incredibly large number of offerings. For nearly the entirety of the 20th century BMW was well regarded for its classic inline six, rear-wheel drive vehicles. Enter the modern era, and everything has changed. BMW now offers the 2 Series, which is a front-wheel drive model. It also offers all-wheel drive options for many of its vehicles, and an SUV X Series.
Many consumers may find BMW’s ever-expanding lineup as a good thing, however many enthusiasts (including myself) are not very happy. Have you ever seen a company that was really successful in the niche it was in, try and expand into everything else, and lose focus? This is the worry with BMW, and some of the worries have already come to pass.
BMW now offers the largest amount of Series ever, but they have never been less unique from one another. Take a look for yourself at the modern 5, 6 and 7 Series BMWs. The biggest difference I’ve been able to tell is that they vary in size.
Always the stand-out measurement when considering BMW, Bavarian Motor Works has been best in-line for half a century in terms of handling and suspension. The 3 Series is typically impeccable in this regard, as they typically have a near-perfect weight distribution and are usually one step ahead in suspension development.
BMW has traditionally made its vehicles with the driver as the number one focus, and this is quite evident in many of its vehicles. I have never driven a vehicle in my life that can even come close to a 3 Series on sharp turns, and moving in and out of lanes on the highway.
Leasing V. Buying
One of the options that BMW offers to make their vehicles more affordable is the lease option. Leasing a car can be thought of as essentially renting. Leasing can be very attractive, as the monthly payments are typically significantly lower. This is because your really paying for the depreciation of the car vs. paying the entire car cost. If you like swapping cars every two or three years than leasing would certainly be a solid option for you as you will save money.
There are a couple of best practices when looking into purchasing a used vehicle, especially a BMW.
Since maintenance costs can be very high, don’t buy a used BMW until you have had it checked out by a BMW technician. The worst thing would be to find some hidden problems after you have purchased the vehicle.
There are so many places to look for deals when it comes to buying a used car. Autotrader, Craigslist, Ebay, and there are plenty of local used car dealerships. I have noticed in the past that Craigslist is usually cheaper than Ebay.
If you are worried about potential problems with a used vehicle, buy a Certified Used BMW at the dealership. You’ll definitely pay extra for the warranty, but it’s worth it if you don’t want to risk having any problems.
Overall, BMW’s expansion into a wider selection of cars has certainly opened the door for many consumers. BMW’s continued focus on research and development will ensure its place as one of the leaders in luxury/performance vehicles. The cost of this continued focus on further improving luxury however, is that BMW is making it more difficult for those of us who don’t own a yacht and three homes to keep up with the maintenance.
BMW is still the king when it comes to driver experience. When I sit in the driver’s seat of an M4, in my mind there is no other manufacturer that comes anywhere close to it. BMW has that all enticing charm to make you forget how much you’ll actually spend once you get in that driver’s seat.
It’s become a more difficult sell to anyone that isn’t wealthy when you factor in the enormous long-term maintenance costs of modern day BMW’s. That’s why I recommend to anyone interested in purchasing a BMW built in the last ten years to focus on models with very low mileage, as the cost of maintenance will be considerably less even if your paying more upfront.