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Roger, BMW Master Tech
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 5895
Experience:  10 yrs. experience as BMW Master Technician, shop foreman and dealer.
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I'm looking to buy a second hand 3 series 4 years old at about

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i'm looking to buy a second hand 3 series 4 years old at about 100,000 miles what should I be wary of?


do you know the service / repair history of the vehcile?

what kind of transmission does it have?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Hello, My name is ***** ***** I will do my best to help you with this. Do you have a specific vehicle in mind and if so can you obtain and post the last seven digits of the VIN number? This will help determine vehicle specifics. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No just want general information. Looking at possibly a 3 series or 1series but I am worried that the service costs will be high.
Also what are they like past 1000 miles.
No problem. Glad to help with that. There are two engine variants you may run into. One is the N51 and the other is the N52. The N51 is a SULEV super ultra low emission vehicle and while this vehicle can be more expensive to own there is an extended emission warranty for 10 years 150,000 miles for many components. Most owners do not even know this and many dealers can inadvertently charge an owner for repairs that may be covered. To find out if the vehicle you are looking at is an N51 use and put the last seven of the VIN into the search and it will show you what engine is in that vehicle.I would avoid the 335 or 135 with the N54 turbo as this is going to need turbo's and carbon cleaning at high miles.The N51 and N52 is a pretty solid engine. There are some common oil leaks from the oil filter housing and valve cover gasket at higher miles so make sure to check for oil leaks. Try to find a vehicle with a good service history to try and prevent getting an engine that has engine gunk deposits. That can lead to problems. Open the oil filler cap and look inside to see how much gunk or build up you can see. If you see any sign I would avoid that vehicle.Over all this is a great BMW. I have seen these with over 200,000 miles. The transmissions can have problems above 100,000 but it is not overly common. The non all wheel drive vehicles tend to have less problems and if you can find a manual you would only have to worry about a clutch replacement as this transmission lasts a long time.I would recommend having a dealer do a 1 hour inspection on any BMW you decide to buy. Just to get a big picture of any hidden problems as the vehicle can be checked on a lift. Wheel bearings are not uncommon to fail. Rear shocks can start to leak at high mileage. I have seen a few front shocks fail on the 1 series but not as common on the 3 series. The water pump on the engine is fully electrical and is not run off the drive belts. This can fail at higher miles but it can also last quite a while. You will get a warning if this occurs and the electrical fan will run on high to allow you to bring the vehicle to a shop for repairs. The electric water pump will fail due to wear and tear but you cannot really predict when it is going to develop a problem.Over all the 1 and 3 with the N51 and N52 is a good BMW to own. Engine and body tend to hold up well. I would recommend this vehicle to a friend if they asked me.I hope this is helpful. Please remember to select positive feedback for my help today as this is the only way I receive credit for helping. Thank you!Best Regards,Roger
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the info. Don't really really know what the n51 and n52 engines are but will look into it.
Is it better to look for an 8 year old car that has done less miles ( say 56k) or a newer car 3 years old that has done 90 k if they are the same price?
In general I feel any vehicle with low miles is the way to go. The earlier body style for 8 years ago is the E46 3 series with the M54 engine. That is a really good engine with even less problems over all than the newer engines. But it would still be worth a good inspection to make sure that the suspension is good, there is no rust build up, and there are not a lot of oil leaks. Both options have there perks and I think depending on what you find either would be a good choice.I hope that helps :)Please remember to select a positive rating. Thank you!Best Regards,Roger
Roger, BMW Master Tech
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 5895
Experience: 10 yrs. experience as BMW Master Technician, shop foreman and dealer.
Roger and other BMW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm looking at this car. Do you have any suggestions or comments.
A little concerned about mpg I may get. It will only be used mainly for short journeys though.
Hello, You need to VERY careful with a car with a salvage title. That means this vehicle has had some major problems. It could be a flood car or have been in a major accident. I would shy away from any car that said salvage.