One thing that I consistently witness is people buying used cars that they can afford the payments on, but cannot afford to maintain.  The main problem is depreciation, and how it applies to BMW’s on a whole.  Within 5 years, a 750Li will be purchased for nearly $90,000 only to be sold for a mere $25,000.  The guy or girl that suffers is not the original owner — they obviously had plenty of money to be able to drive it off the lot and the loss won’t kill them.  The big loser in all of this is the guy who saw the car at the San Diego Auto Show five years ago, and has wanted it ever since.  It never fails.   A customer will come to the shop extremely excited about their new acquisition and I have the unpleasant duty to inform them that the car, while it looks shiny and new, needs over $3000 in repairs/maintenance.  Hard pill to swallow.

So . . . First of all buy a car that you like.  You’d never guess it, but people actually do buy cars that they wind up hating for one reason or another.  Find out what you like, regardless of the logo on the hood.  BMW’s aren’t for everyone, so make certain that you want one before taking the plunge.  My wife has a 1998 528i that she loved as soon as she drove it.  She bought the car, then told me that she can’t get the seat up far enough for her to comfortably reach the pedals!  Luckily, she was missing an adjustment feature and all was ok in the end.  These are the things to look at.  If you need cup holders, make sure they are good, and if you want a sunroof, buy the car that has one. Don’t buy a green car if you want a red one.

Second, don’t buy a car and then have it checked out.  That’s the same as buying a house and then getting it inspected.  Have the car inspected before you buy it, and have it done by someone who knows that particular car.  I can check a BMW for you, but I’m not familiar with Benz or Nissan.  Believe it or not, we offer a Pre-Purchase Inspection for about $100.   What I typically do however, is a Post-Purchase Inspection, which unfortunately, can cost thousands.  Obtaining a CarFax report on the vehicle is a good start, but keep in mind that the report will not have any information on the present mechanical condition of the car; in addition, there are many body repairs that do not go through insurance companies and thus, never make it to the CarFax report.

Third.  NEVER buy a car sight unseen.  We now live in a world of instant gratification, or internet gratification.   I can’t tell you how many of my customers have bought cars online without seeing them in person, only to be extremely disappointed when the car arrived.  People lie about what they have for sale all the time.  Cars also always look better in photos than they do in person.  You can take a picture of a car that has been keyed on all 4 doors, trunk and hood and the scratches will not show in the picture.  So if you see a car online that you really like, go and see it, even if you have to fly.  Otherwise, stick to local cars so you can kick the tires before you buy.

Chris Keefer

Independent Motorcars

5836 Autoport Mall

San Diego CA 92121