22 January 2017

Living with a Bimmer

Took the plunge and bought a cheap BMW. What could possibly go wrong?

I HANKERED after a BMW for a while. After searching and saving up, I bought myself a 325i saloon in the Summer. At first, it looked like a very clean and well maintained car. An original and unmolested example that looks like it hasn’t done any drifting in its lifetime. It had a low mileage (just under 100,000 miles on the clock) and a service history to back it up.

But after getting the Bimmer serviced and inspected. It unravelled some horrors, and there was a list of jobs that needed doing on the car.

It needed a valve cover gasket because it had a minor oil leak, which dripped onto the manifold. When the engine was up to temperature, the dripping oil steamed up. Creating a smell and a whiff of smoke under the bonnet. A bit embarrassing when in traffic, because people will think that my car was either: breaking down or on fire.

I took it to two garages, yet this wasn't resolved. The dripping oil and the burning smells persisted. It hadn’t solved anything as this still happened. I suspect that the job hasn’t been done properly. So, I went to BMW and got a new gasket cover, and I intended on doing the job myself to see if it will cure this oil leak.

It needed a new belt tensioner too, which has been replaced. That couldn’t have come any sooner because the cracks were showing. If that went whilst driving, I would have been well and truly fudged.

Then there was problem(s) with the car’s cooling system. It’s likely that it would have needed a new radiator and a coolant expansion tank. The car was losing coolant as quickly as I refilled it. I suspect that there was a leak somewhere.

Sometimes, my BMW did also cut out when slowing down or idling in traffic. Which was scary or embarrassing. There were been times when I’ve had to pull over and put on my hazard lights. The car has struggled to start again, but did again. Could this be that a new alternator or fuel pump was needed? Crikey!

With a growing list of problems on the BMW. What looked like a peach was turning out to be a lemon. It’s a shame really, because the BMW was a great car to drive – when not idling in traffic. The handling was sublime with sharp and composed steering, along with plenty of grip, feel and precision. 

The performance from that lusty straight-six engine was decent. It wasn't only quick, but what impressed me most was on how smooth it was with the power delivery. Fuel economy was not too shabby for a six-pot returning around 30mpg on motorway trips. But it did have a thirst for the old jungle juice on short trips and driving in town.

Elsewhere, the BMW felt solid in places, with decent build quality with top notch soft-touch plastics, and tactile switch gear on the interior. It's also a comfortable place to sit in, with a snug and cocoon-like cockpit. Giving the illusion that you’re in a sports car and not a saloon.

I don’t regret buying the BMW because I got experience of driving and owning one. You live and learn as they say. But I’ve reach the conclusion that I couldn't live with its fragility, and that it's a high maintenance car. Which would have been potentially bleeding me dry. Hence why some tell you that BMW is an acronym for Breaking My Wallet.

It was time to get rid of it and get something else. Quickly! Simply because I was driving a ticking time bomb. Not a case of if, but a case of when it would all come to blow! I've surrendered and succumbed to the fact that I couldn't afford to keep the BMW. So PX'd it, and replaced it with a newer car. Relieved.

Moral of the story? If it's too good to be true, it usually is. A BMW that I bought for less than £1,000 is proof in the pudding.

My recent experience has got me asking you this. Have you ever bought a cheap BMW – or a prestigious car like a Mercedes-Benz or a Jaguar? Whether it was good or bad and gained something from doing it? Leave me with a response as I would love to hear your tales...

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