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      08-29-2021, 09:05 PM   #1
GWIB
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Buying advice - E90 335i vs 320si - which one (if any) as a very first car ?

Hello ! New member here.
Went B2B through whole forum, and I think this section is the best place to post my query. I am looking for straight advice and opinion, nothing more. So without further ado...


Who am I ?
A 30 years old guy who never owned any car before. I did drive a family car, and sometimes friends' cars if I was asked to help. All in all I clocked in about 2000 km, not more (and that's me being rather optimistic). I do know how to drive, and if I am behind the wheel, I know how to behave, it's just that I did not have too many chances to gain experience. I never drove a car over 200 HP, let alone one with RWD.


What cars I found and I am interested in ?

1) 2009 E90 335i LCI with M packet
- N54 engine, 225kw / 306hp, 6MT, rear wheel drive;
- claiming 215 000 km (133 594,81 miles);
- LCI version (different taillights from pre-LCI), M packet (photos show few badges at front of the car + logo in the bottom of steering wheel);
- now important part: owner claims that turbos were done, water pump, thermostat, all fuel injectors, other pumps (I assume that means fuel pump too), ignition coils, brakes, and plenty of other things too - and owner would be willing to show me all invoices/bills for the work;
- priced at 15 674 ;

I already asked about this car on Reddit, and apparently it will be too powerful for my low experience behind the wheel. I was also advised to avoid N54 engines as too problematic - however from the ad itself, it appears that owner took care of all problematic parts (I already searched for this on Google), though only missing point is when was last oil change - I assume that can be found on invoices. Other opinion was that at that mileage it has insane asking price from owner, and that it will be a money pit as the mileage goes up. I was also advised to look for cars with N52 engine, however the situation in my country is that what few cars with N52 are on sale, it is apparent from photos that they are not exactly in great shape. This car I found (and the other below) is one of the best maintained from visual perspective - at least that's what photos show.

So few questions on this:

1) Obvious first - would this be a good choice for a first car ? Is 306 HP really going to be a problem for a technically novice driver like me ?
2) I estimate that I would spend about 10 000 in future repairs/replacements - am I in the ballpark ?
3) Can I expect to put another 150-200k km (93k to 124k miles) on this engine before it gives up for good ? That assumes I am not a dick and I take a proper care of the car.
4) Can I expect any kind of service from an authorized car service center for 12-year old car ? Or am I destined to look for parts in 2nd hand market, in case anything gives up ?


2) 2009 E90 320si pre-LCI with M packet
- N45B20A engine, 132 kw / 180 hp, 6MT, rear wheel drive;
- claiming 130 000 km (80 778,26 miles);
- pre-LCI version, but with M packet (photos show few badges at front of the car + logo in the bottom of steering wheel);
- owner claims perfect condition, car was in garage most of the time, kept up with service intervals, no tuning;
- priced at 11 610,16

Cursory search revealed that particular engine shares a same set of problems normally found on N45B16. Other than that I had a really hard time to find anything else. Another cursory search on this forum showed multiple owners with wildly variable experiences - for some, the car has been flawless, others went through the hell to have anything with engine fixed. While I would certainly ask to see any invoices/bills from service center, I did not gain any confidence about this car from searching (in particular, I caught some reports about aluminium parts giving up way too early on this engine). Like, the 4 reasons to go for this one would be a lower mileage (so longer lifetime of car in my ownership), because it is naturally-aspirated engine, so none of the BS I would have to deal with turbo engines (like the 335i above), and because that JapanRot red color is simply stunning on photos. And, lower HP, so not too hard on a beginner like me.

So same few questions on this:

1) Obvious first - would this be a good choice for a first car ?
2) I estimate that I would spend about 10 000 in future repairs/replacements - am I in the ballpark ?
3) Can I expect to put another 150-200k km (93k to 124k miles) on this engine before it gives up for good ? That assumes I am not a dick and I take a proper care of the car.
4) Can I expect any kind of service from an authorized car service center for 12-year old car ? Or am I destined to look for parts in 2nd hand market, in case anything gives up ?


My personal feeling is that I would love to go for that 335i despite being a high HP monster, so certain learning curve would be absolutely necessary. I also like that owner already stated that the extensive service was already done, and is able to prove it with invoices. But that high mileage might prove to be a great pain.
On the other hand, I would also love to go for 320si - naturally-aspirated, stunning color, a lot lower mileage, a lot lower price, and 180 HP would be just about enough for daily driving or occassional longer trips. But the engine itself is giving me a pause, and most of the search results have not been a happy ones, so there is that.

Unrelated to this post, but I was also advised to just look for F30 33X - N55 is apparently a lot more reliable, and the cars themselves should be a lot newer, so there is that. It's just that a search for good F30 (preferably 340i, but I searched for 330i too) revealed that, while old BMW is going to be expensive one even after buying it, F30 cars are simply out my financial capabilities.


So, that's it. I want to hear every single opinion I can from you guys. Reddit post did not really gain much traction, I hope I will hear more from veterans here.

Cheers,
GWIB
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      09-02-2021, 08:50 PM   #2
NorthernDancer
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1. how far away is a very good BMW garage that's not a dealership?
2. if you only have access to a BMW dealer, anything will be expensive
3. find out where the 335 guy gets his work done
4. do you have difficult safety inspections like the Germans?
5. can you live and work if your car is in the garage for 2,3 or more days?
Off hand I might go with the 335 because the owner can show you receipts for extensive work done.
Talk directly to the mechanic [if possible] who would be working on the car. Possibly same person the present owner uses.
Hopefully receipts show at least 2 oil changes per year.
Many of us in North America will get a PPI [pre purchase inspection] done before buying a car
Good Luck
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      09-03-2021, 07:20 PM   #3
GWIB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernDancer View Post
1. how far away is a very good BMW garage that's not a dealership?
2. if you only have access to a BMW dealer, anything will be expensive
3. find out where the 335 guy gets his work done
4. do you have difficult safety inspections like the Germans?
5. can you live and work if your car is in the garage for 2,3 or more days?
Off hand I might go with the 335 because the owner can show you receipts for extensive work done.
Talk directly to the mechanic [if possible] who would be working on the car. Possibly same person the present owner uses.
Hopefully receipts show at least 2 oil changes per year.
Many of us in North America will get a PPI [pre purchase inspection] done before buying a car
Good Luck
1) Not far, 2 such garages are directly in my city where I live, and from what I could find about them, they carry a good reputation.
2) My biggest concern is about spare/replacement parts rather than the price of a repair. I still think that cars beyond certain age are irreparable without searching for parts in 2nd hand market. Ideal case would be another 4-5 years that I can get parts directly from BMW, and have the repairs done outside of authorized car service centers. Should parts become very hard to obtain without reaching to 2nd market, that's where I draw the line for any car.
3) Will do.
4) Depends. Everything that is within specification of the car from factory will pass through. I would have to do heavy tuning or have that car in very bad state - I can either find somebody and pay that person to allow the car to pass (and have tuning stuff written down to papers for that car), or I will not pass, like bad brakes, bad lights etc.
5) Yes I can. My city has great public transport network (I live in Europe), and I have been using some form of public transport most of my life, so it's not a big inconvenience.

Of course, PPI is a no-brainer, this is something that people here actually expect, and if they would attempt to talk me out of it, then I simply won't buy the car.

I also would love to go for that 335i, despite my weak experience behind the wheel of any car, but this decision is heavily contigent on the point 2) I answered above. I simply cannot afford to sunk 15k+ into the car that I cannot get serviced with parts straight from BMW. Of course I understand that some stuff can be easily replaced by aftermarket parts (and I don't mean tuning, but maintenance), but I would absolutely want to source parts for any problem directly with engine straight from BMW, and not some shady reseller. If this is something I can expect down the line in 1-2 years, then any discussion about where to service the car is moot in my eyes.
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      09-07-2021, 07:44 PM   #4
ADEe92
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On number 2) BMW tends to be good with their parts. Once the cars hit 15 years old they tend to drop the price for the next decade or so to keep the cars on the road, once they hit around 25 years old then a lot of stuff goes out of production, but there are still aftermarket options.

Service parts for my e30 are still no problem, which is now 33 years old. Some things are getting harder, like certain trim pieces etc. but keeping it mechanically sound isn't really an issue.
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