Is it Better to Buy a Used or New BMW


bmw e36 red

If you’re deciding whether you should buy a used or a new BMW you have come to the right place. It’s a tough decision because I am sure you have heard of some of the horror stories that people have dealt with after buying a used BMW that turned out to be a lemon. On the other hand, if you have ever bought or considered purchasing a new BMW you have probably heard about the astonishingly high rate of depreciation that these vehicles suffer from.

If you are considering buying a BMW, it is better to buy a used BMW instead of a new BMW. A used BMW is a better decision because you avoid high depreciation, there are lots of different vehicle options, and the initial cost is far lower than a new BMW.

There are also additional factors to consider in deciding between a new or used BMW, and it is important to note that not all used BMWs are necessarily a great idea.

Why it is better to buy a used BMW

The biggest and most immediate benefit you get out of purchasing a used BMW is that they are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of one straight off the lot. The first few years of depreciation are particularly hard on BMWs, and buying one with some mileage on the odometer will save you a nice chunk of change. The best way to take advantage of BMW’s high depreciation rate is to hold off on buying one until it is two or three years old. Those first two or three years are the worst on BMW depreciation.

BMW E36
The BMW E36 is an excellent used vehicle.

Another benefit is that it opens the door to a wide variety of BMW generations. The 90s E36 BMW is getting old enough to where it can nearly be considered a classic, but I still see some of them being driven as daily’s in my town. I have personally owned several of them and my brother was using one as a daily up until he bought a truck a few months ago.

The E46 and the E90 are both excellent vehicles that are commonly driven to 200,000 miles and beyond. These vehicles can be purchased in excellent condition at a great bargain compared to what you would pay for a brand new G20.

One advantage of getting an older generation used BMW is that they are far less expensive to maintain. The most-recent model BMWs are significantly more costly to maintain, and buying them out of warranty brings more risk.

The negatives of buying a used BMW

There is always some uncertainty in purchasing a used vehicle, but more so with BMW. There is a lot of uncertainty because your enjoyability of the vehicle partially depends on how the previous owner maintained it. The older the BMW, the more important it is that it was well taken care of or you will likely end up paying for a lot of repairs.

This is why I STRONGLY recommend that if you are buying a used BMW with more than 2-3 years on it that you stay away from anything that does not have a solid maintenance history. Otherwise, you are likely going to end up holding the bag for maintenance and repairs that should have been done earlier in the vehicle’s lifespan.

Another issue is that BMW simply does not make its vehicles bulletproof like it used to. If you are purchasing a used E36 or E46 this will not be an issue, but E90s tend to be a little more problematic in their later years and G30s even more so. Maintenance costs are very important to consider with late-model BMWs. To avoid getting stuck with a lemon, I suggest that you do your research on the particular used model you are interested in.

The various electronic components/bells and whistles that are put in these new model BMWs tend to begin wearing out after the owner puts some serious mileage on the car. This is problematic for used car buyers because your maintenance costs will be substantially higher.

The benefits of buying new

You are buying a BMW at the very peak of its performance and maintenance is covered by a warranty. This is a huge advantage because you will not have to worry about any problems associated with these vehicles in later life. Everything is perfect, and you have nothing to worry about with your vehicle.

Not having any maintenance costs for a few years with a BMW is a major advantage. As I have mentioned in other articles, BMW maintenance is very high.

Negatives of buying new

burning money
owning a depreciating vehicle feels a lot like this

BMWs are extremely expensive. BMWs are luxury vehicles and that comes with a price tag whether you are paying it up-front for a new one or in maintenance with a used one. Most people are comfortable with having to make monthly payments on their vehicles, but on the flip-side, most people don’t want to have to make the extremely high payments that come with a BMW.

Depreciation is terrible. Depreciation is the enemy of anyone buying a vehicle fresh off the lot, but even more so for those buying a luxury vehicle. Don’t believe me? Forbes had four BMWs in its top 10 list of fastest depreciation vehicles. Business Insider also had four BMWs in its top 10 fastest depreciating cars list.

On the other hand, most people who buy new BMWs are not really worried about the fast rate of depreciation. The main concern is a nice car with no headaches, and a new BMW will give you that. I still think it’s helpful to mention though.

Your warranty period will end sooner than you think. The current BMW warranty period is for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you use your new BMW as a daily driver and you have a long commute to work you will put that 50,000 miles on the odometer faster than you expect. When I was commuting between school and my hometown twice a month I put 30,000 miles on my vehicle in one year!

Just be aware that the warranty period is not as generous as you think, and BMWs rarely have substantial issues until after the warranty period is gone.

My recommendation

If you can turn some wrenches and you enjoy repairing cars I would strongly recommend that you purchase a used BMW with at least a few years on it so you can take full advantage of the car’s inevitable depreciation.

If you don’t like repairing cars but you want a BMW I do not recommend that you buy it new. Instead, I strongly recommend that you lease a BMW. Check out my article on the advantages of leasing BMWs if you’re interested.

Stephen Metellus

I am a BMW enthusiast and owner of abetterbmw.com! I have been repairing, flipping, and parting out BMWs for nearly ten years. I love these vehicles and I hope you will find my articles and YouTube channel helpful for whatever BMW project you have in store!

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