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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

An old mentor of mine has a 2002 325i with 200,000 miles on it and I'm thinking of buying it for about $1,200.00. Seems like a good deal but hear me out.

The car hasn't seen any real maintenance in the past 10 years or so. He lent it to me for a few months now and I've been loving driving it, despite the automatic transmission.

The car has many issues: A/C does not work, one of the rear windows does not open, a bumper with severe clear coat issues, a "whistle" when I first start it in the morning (no turbo), but most importantly, it is leaking oil.
The first diagnosis I got at Meineke was "engine oil pan gasket" leak, which they charged some $350 to fix (I live in Ohio, US). Not entirely convinced, I took it to "Tire Discounters" and they identified the same "oil pain gasket" leak but also "rear main seal" and "front crank seal" leaks. They didn't even give me an estimate and strongly advised me NOT to buy the car as it would be probably cheaper to replace the engine.

My repair shop choices are not the best but I simply do not have time to schedule anything during the weekdays as I'm medical resident working 80+ weeks so I had to resort to what was available.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this. I like the car but have no real emotional attachment to it that would justify paying thousands of dollars (which I don't have) just to get it to baseline.

I do need a second car though so would be tempted to offer a little less just so my wife has a car to pick our daughters at school if needed.

I'd love to hear your opinion on this.

Thanks!
 

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320d SE Touring, manual, SE
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Don't buy it. You've already wasted $350 and that problem still exists. Forget brand snobbery and just buy a reliable Japanese/Korean car. When you've qualified as a doctor and earning $$$$$$$, that's when you should go for you bmw. In the meantime, you'd not be doing your wife and daughters any favours by spending money on maintenance for an old bmw instead of spending it on them.
Just sayin'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Don't buy it. You've already wasted $350 and that problem still exists. Forget brand snobbery and just buy a reliable Japanese/Korean car. When you've qualified as a doctor and earning $$$$$$$, that's when you should go for you bmw. In the meantime, you'd not be doing your wife and daughters any favours by spending money on maintenance for an old bmw instead of spending it on them.
Just sayin'.
I haven't replaced the oil pan gasket yet; that was just a quote. I do need a 2nd car, though, with the minimal capital expenditure as possible (assuming running maintenance costs would be similar). If I could buy a used Honda CRV it would be great! They are more expensive than same-mileage X3s, though.

Perhaps I should have rephrased the question to: is this repair, assuming the diagnosis is right, really that expensive? I know a bit about human physiology, not so much about car mechanics...
 

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'01 320Ci manual
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Don't buy it. You've already wasted $350 and that problem still exists. Forget brand snobbery and just buy a reliable Japanese/Korean car. When you've qualified as a doctor and earning $$$$$$$, that's when you should go for you bmw. In the meantime, you'd not be doing your wife and daughters any favours by spending money on maintenance for an old bmw instead of spending it on them.
Just sayin'.
He didn't pay the $350 from what I understand. And the offer is low.
BUT, 1200 means nothing if you need to spend another $4000 to bring it up to maintenance. And from the description of the car, I guess that much or more will be needed. There are cars worth the maintainance and others don't, this I don't think so.
When you have enough money you can buy a clean car for about $6000 and start from there. Or you can buy yourself a nice used m2 and a 535 for the wife when you start getting properly paid
So I agree with the advice above.
Ps, some photos of the car would be nice
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I haven't replaced the oil pan gasket yet; that was just a quote. I do need a 2nd car, though, with the minimal capital expenditure as possible (assuming running maintenance costs would be similar). If I could buy a used Honda CRV it would be great! They are more expensive than same-mileage X3s, though.

Perhaps I should have rephrased the question to: is this repair, assuming the diagnosis is right, really that expensive? I know a bit about human physiology, not so much about car mechanics...
Here they are. The car looks good. By the way, do we call BMWs "he" or "she" (like Mercedes)?

Wheel Tire Automotive parking light Car Vehicle

Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Automotive side marker light

Automotive parking light Automotive lighting Hood Automotive tire Vehicle

Car Speedometer Vehicle Odometer Motor vehicle

Land vehicle Car Vehicle Grille Automotive parking light

Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Motor vehicle


The front grills are loose but this should be very easy to fix.
 

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2001 325i Touring. 2007 E91. 1990 Chevy C2500 RCLB.
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If you’re not doing the work yourself this particular example may break your bank account. I hate to discourage a potential bmw enthusiast but this may turn into a money pit for you. Get a used Corolla until you have enough time on your hands to find a better example.

A car like that is more than fixing to get to baseline. It’s more like a restoration job.
 

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I'd pass. It sounds like you don't have the time to work on the car or the money to get all the items sorted out so it will run reliably. Unfortunately, it will likely become a headache for you and your wife. As others have written, I'd get a more reliable car like a Honda or Toyota. It may cost more initially but it will have less problems than the BMW. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you’re not doing the work yourself this particular example may break your bank account. I hate to discourage a potential bmw enthusiast but this may turn into a money pit for you. Get a used Corolla until you have enough time on your hands to find a better example.

A car like that is more than fixing to get to baseline. It’s more like a restoration job.
Yes, it did feel like we were restoring it. We've been doing small things like installing new hood shockers, fixing the windshield water pump, even putting a new BMW hood emblem on. Fixed a lot of minor things in the interior as well. We thought it would be the minimum we could do since he was letting us use the car for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'd pass. It sounds like you don't have the time to work on the car or the money to get all the items sorted out so it will run reliably. Unfortunately, it will likely become a headache for you and your wife. As others have written, I'd get a more reliable car like a Honda or Toyota. It may cost more initially but it will have less problems than the BMW. Good luck.
Yep, I don't have time, money or skill to do the heavier DYI. I can change oil, spark plugs, small things that would require basic tools and 10-minute YouTube videos.

Our first car was a Civic with 220k miles. Paid 3k. Didn't do anything other than oil in the last 2 years (the pandemic didn't help either). Now I'm doing more; may even paint the whole car. Just bought used compressor and a $50 paint gun.

But the BMW mechanical stuff seems daunting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you’re not doing the work yourself this particular example may break your bank account. I hate to discourage a potential bmw enthusiast but this may turn into a money pit for you. Get a used Corolla until you have enough time on your hands to find a better example.

A car like that is more than fixing to get to baseline. It’s more like a restoration job.
You guys are right. It seems that to drive the "Ultimate Driving Machine" you need to be either rich (buy a new one under warranty and don't worry about repairs/maintenance) or possess above average mechanical skills to do it all by yourself. It will take me a few years to be either so I guess Japanese it is!

Calling it a Summer fling now.
 

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2001 325i Touring. 2007 E91. 1990 Chevy C2500 RCLB.
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You guys are right. It seems that to drive the "Ultimate Driving Machine" you need to be either rich (buy a new one under warranty and don't worry about repairs/maintenance) or possess above average mechanical skills to do it all by yourself. It will take me a few years to be either so I guess Japanese it is!

Calling it a Summer fling now.
It won’t take a lot of mechanical skills to work on these. You just need to be able to stick to the procedure and put in the work.

I hope you’ll find a better e46 base to start with in the future. We’re here to help when you’re ready.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It won’t take a lot of mechanical skills to work on these. You just need to be able to stick to the procedure and put in the work.

I hope you’ll find a better e46 base to start with in the future. We’re here to help when you’re ready.
You guys are already helping. I even 3D printed myself an E46 keychain and a cup holder; I'll use them whenever I'll find the "one".

Out of curiosity, would fixing the rear main and front crank seals be really that complicated? The mechanic guessed 40h of labor. It seemed excessive to me. That threw me off completely and prompted me to post for the first time...
 

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You guys are already helping. I even 3D printed myself an E46 keychain and a cup holder; I'll use them whenever I'll find the "one".

Out of curiosity, would fixing the rear main and front crank seals be really that complicated? The mechanic guessed 40h of labor. It seemed excessive to me. That threw me off completely and prompted me to post for the first time...
Front main seal is not that hard. Rear main seal will involve dropping the transmission. That’s not a fun job. Check out my build thread if you’re curious about the labor involved. I took a lot of pictures ;).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Front main seal is not that hard. Rear main seal will involve dropping the transmission. That’s not a fun job. Check out my build thread if you’re curious about the labor involved. I took a lot of pictures ;).
I guess this comes with the territory. After spending a few hours reading countless posts, I realized part of the joy of owning a BMW is working on it yourself. It's about time I learn some of it!
 
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