A BMW M3 Car Buying Story

Categories BMW, Cars, Test Drives, Torque Affair

It’s not every day that somebody buys a car.  And it’s even more rare that somebody buys something worth talking about.

After months of gentle encouragement and going along on numerous test drives (which were actually quite fun), I convinced a co-worker to purchase a used E92 (or E90) M3.  Honestly I don’t know how much convincing it required – more like providing reassurance that he was making the right decision.

My colleague, who owns a Subaru WRX STI, bought his car brand new in 2004 and after many years of hard driving, it has finally started to show some problems.  His STI has over 120K miles on it and it’s clear that he has thoroughly enjoyed driving it.  It’s always nice to see people actually driving their cars and not worry so much about keeping the miles off.

Lately, the repair bills on his STI have been creeping up and even with putting $2K into repairs, there is still a significant amount of things with the car that needs to be fixed.

When he was considering buying new used cars, several options were on the table. Imagine my surprise, when I found him to be actually paying attention to what I was saying! Now remember – this wasn’t a situation where he wanted my advice – I just forced myself into his car buying journey and started working to convince him that he should get a completely ridiculous 550 hp E63 wagon.

Realistically, he plans on only keeping the car for a year and then replacing it with something else – most likely the Infiniti Q50 hybrid which we drove not too long ago.  It’s a car that he really likes and will most likely purchase.

Both of us were very impressed by the large amount of low-end torque that the car has making it quite an awesome experience to floor it at every stoplight.  I’m sure the salesman that came along wasn’t all that impressed with us.

We drove a number of M3s, all of which were a blast to drive.  We also threw the BMW M6 into the mix which neither of us liked and made us ultimately come to the conclusion that the M3 is actually a much better car which I talked about here.

After looking through a few other options, he kept circling back to the M3 and then that soon became the focus of what he really wanted.  And it came with a manual which was an added bonus.  At this point we started looking at places to buy the car from.

By reading Doug DeMuro‘s numerous articles praising CarMax, I had no choice but to highly recommend it to him.  Of course, one data point is enough for me to boldly proclaim this:

“CarMax cars are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Buy one now.”

People are generally surprised to find out about CarMax warranties and how good they are.  My colleague hadn’t thought much about CarMax and so we looked for M3s there and found one that he liked quite a bit.

When we were at CarMax, he had the great idea of getting a full inspection done on the M3 to make sure nothing major was wrong it that could potentially cost him a ton of money down the road. The plan here was take advantage of the 5-day return policy in case something was actually wrong with the car!  Excellent thinking!

He was about to jump on the CarMax deal when he randomly came across this black beauty at the local dealer – an M3 with lots of black.

Black BMW

This was a 2008 M3 with a few modifications that were nicely done.

My immediate reaction was “Don’t do this!  You’ll lose so much money!”  

But, I was actually wrong about this.

Trade-In Benefits

First, the dealer was willing to give him $10,500 instead of the original offer of $9500 for his STI which, don’t forget, needed a couple thousand dollars of repairs.  This was a great deal because even if my colleague were able to sell the car privately he would have to go through the hassle of fixing everything and put in the time to do so.  The trade-in sounds like a much easier way to go in this case.

Second, you have to pay sales tax on the difference in the value of the car and the the trade-in: this is actually huge because it means more than a thousand dollars in savings!

Third, the dealer agreed to sign a document concocted by my co-worker stating that he would only buy the car provided there was nothing major wrong with a full inspection done by the BMW dealer. What a great idea!

And so, my colleague drove the car to the dealer and they inspected, after which they informed him that the car was complete crap.

BMW front-end

No – just kidding – fortunately that wasn’t the case.

There was basically one minor thing wrong with it.  The battery in the car was the original one that came from the factory many years ago and just now barely starting to fail.

It’s crazy to think that the battery in the car was the original!  Every car that I’ve owned has needed the battery replaced almost as often as the tires.  But that could’ve just been my own experience.

Luckily, the dealer agreed to cover the $425 BMW quoted cost of replacing the battery.  In addition, the dealer also replaced the brakes and the tires were basically new!

With all of this, the CarMax car all of a sudden didn’t look like anything amazing.  The black M3 looked like a much better deal with everything they were doing in addition to the dealer trade-in.

Bottomline

The black 2008 M3 was the one that was ultimately purchased.  It only had 59K miles, with new brakes and tires in great condition – not to mention, a brand new battery!  If he decides to get rid of the car in a year, there’s a big chance that he will hardly have to pay for anything other than an oil change or two.

This deal ended up being so good that I’m now on the “trade-in” bandwagon.  There seems to be quite a lot of room for negotiation so chances are this could be better than selling the car yourself and then finding another car to buy.

Yep – I’m sold.  Trading a car is pretty much the way to go.

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