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      07-27-2012, 11:32 AM   #1
ERinEC
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Who purchased their M3 sight unseen?

Any advice for making a purchase without seeing a car in person, or do used car buyers shy away from this? I've been looking for a used M3 for a few months now, but nothing has really filled my requirements that is within driving distance of where I live.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to fly one way several hundred (or thousand miles) to look at a car with the hopes of then driving it home or having it shipped.
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      07-27-2012, 12:07 PM   #2
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Where is the car located? It's common for us members to help each other out. I'm sure if the car is close to a forum member, they would be happy to go check out the car for you.
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      07-27-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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I had been looking locally, but nothing matched what I was looking for. I opened up the search a bit ~1000 miles. Seven hundred miles away I found EXACTLY what I was looking for - a 6MT low mileage (4000 miles) Alpine White E90 M3, with all of the goodies, including extended Fox leather.

I called the guy selling it, and asked him some questions about the car and other BMWs. He answered me with obvious knowledge of these cars. It turned out that he is a private dealer who deals in only higher-end sports cars (M3, GTR, 911, etc.). He gave me the entire history of the car, and I confirmed what he was saying with CarFax. I also had a friend in the auto dealer business run the VIN to check the story even more.

The car had gone to auction when the original owner was bought out by BMW. When he pressed the M button, the car went into limp mode, instead of beast mode. BMW changed the ECU, but the owner made such a stink that they gave him a new car. I knew the pain of the owner, since I had a 335i with HPFP issues that put my car in the shop for a month.

After some negotiations on the phone, we came to an agreement. I was going to buy this car for $52k, which was $15k less than sticker, and it was only 5 months old. My wife and I flew up to Atlanta, from South Florida. Waiting outside the terminal was the dealer in my future car. Love at first site.

We took turns driving our new car home, and we have not looked back since. I am extremely pleased with my purchase, and would do it again. Just remember to check the car out thoroughly before making that commitment. I hope you have the same results as I had!
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      07-27-2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERinEC View Post
Any advice for making a purchase without seeing a car in person, or do used car buyers shy away from this? I've been looking for a used M3 for a few months now, but nothing has really filled my requirements that is within driving distance of where I live.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to fly one way several hundred (or thousand miles) to look at a car with the hopes of then driving it home or having it shipped.

With anything.... buying unseen is risky business.

Always a good idea to get eyes on it and when possible, get a mechanic to look it over, before making a deal.

Best of luck!
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      07-27-2012, 01:15 PM   #5
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I brought mine sight unseen as well. There are a bunch of national car inspection services that are pretty good as they built their business around ebay motors.

I ended up asking the used car dealer to take it to the local BMW shop and we split the cost of a inspection. This was the last step in the process of checking carfax, etc... Buying cars remotely is done more regularly since the wide spread use of the Internet and it is common place now.

Most dealers understand this and are willing to work with you on things like this so just ask them. To that end, I built up such a good relationship with him I asked him to get windows tinted and paint protection prior to me driving it home 5 hrs.
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      07-27-2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghetto2315 View Post
Where is the car located? It's common for us members to help each other out. I'm sure if the car is close to a forum member, they would be happy to go check out the car for you.
The car I have my eye on is for sale by a forum member in Albuquerque whom I've yet to contact, other than a complimentary comment I made in the ad:
http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=717447

I would feel more comfortable buying from someone here since I think those active in forums are more fanatical about taking care of their cars. I understand that this is not necessarily a universal trait though.
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      07-27-2012, 02:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERinEC View Post
Any advice for making a purchase without seeing a car in person, or do used car buyers shy away from this? I've been looking for a used M3 for a few months now, but nothing has really filled my requirements that is within driving distance of where I live.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to fly one way several hundred (or thousand miles) to look at a car with the hopes of then driving it home or having it shipped.
Without regard to the member's car that you are thinking about purchasing, you should wait until you are in a position to see the vehicle in person. (And respectfully, I don't really know what you mean. You're looking to buy a $50-60k toy, but can't take a weekend to go pick it up?)

I rented a car and drove 600 miles to pick up my old M5, and took a train 350 miles for my M3. Unless you're not a particular buyer, the chances that will find what you're looking for in your vicinity are relatively slim. (Save those who live in SoCal.) I also think that you should be prepared to walk away if you show up and find that it was misrepresented.

I would not trust a hired car inspector for an ///M purchase. We used one of those on an out of state purchase of a Subaru. I paid top dollar for them be rigorous, and long story short they did a terrible job.. Guy must have been partially deaf and blind, or perhaps thought the saleswoman was cute.

All of this is not to say that you couldn't purchase sight unseen and have no regrets. But you asked if car buyers shy away from this -- yes, I'd never do it on an M3 purchase or equivalent. I'll never do it again period based upon our Subaru experience.
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      07-27-2012, 03:17 PM   #8
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I bought ours "sight unseen" from a BMW dealer in Texas and shipped to Kali. It was a '10, with only 15k miles on a lease turn in (bought and serviced at that same dealer), under factory warranty, CPO and they sent me high res pics and the info I needed in advance. I ran the Carfax, AutoCheck, etc. as well of course. I shipped it in an enclosed transport for a cheaper cost than flying to Texas and driving it back over two days.

Always a gamble doing it this way, but it worked out. Buying from a private party or non-dealer I would be more hesitant. There are deals to be had this way, but have someone local (forum member, buddy, etc.) drive it and check it out, and if you get the thumbs up, pay the nearest BMW dealer to do a PPI ($125-$275) if it is nearby, or a local euro indy shop (check Yelp, forums, etc.)

Be vigilant on a purchase like this, but you have to have some faith as well.
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      07-27-2012, 03:29 PM   #9
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Buying from a known source is best.

However, take a look:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=720450
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      07-27-2012, 03:36 PM   #10
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I bought mine sight unseen from a fairly reputable vendor. It had very low miles and asked all of the right questions. It was a very pleasant experience.
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      07-27-2012, 03:54 PM   #11
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I did, and after realizing how lucky I got that I didn't get a jacked up POS, I wouldn't ever do it again.
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      07-27-2012, 04:02 PM   #12
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I got my car online from New Jersey (I live in Los Angeles)

Only had like 30 pictures of it, liked it and got it. Went well
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      07-27-2012, 04:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LM3 View Post
Without regard to the member's car that you are thinking about purchasing, you should wait until you are in a position to see the vehicle in person. (And respectfully, I don't really know what you mean. You're looking to buy a $50-60k toy, but can't take a weekend to go pick it up?)
Money is not the issue to fly somwhere, it's the time required to get there and back.
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      07-27-2012, 04:15 PM   #14
ERinEC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorinzo View Post
Buying from a known source is best.

However, take a look:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=720450
Known source as in a BMW dealer?
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      07-27-2012, 05:19 PM   #15
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Just depends on how HONEST of a person you get selling you a car. Thats what it all comes down to. Done it twice. Went AWESOME both times. Exactly what I expected. Also must have been the two most honest car sellers I've ever dealt with.
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      07-27-2012, 05:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERinEC View Post
Money is not the issue to fly somwhere, it's the time required to get there and back.
You probably need one day.. In MD you should be a 24 hour (or less) turnaround time from cities as far west as Chicago, and nearly the entire eastern seaboard.

I just don't think it's worth the risk. Sight unseen has worked out for a lot of people, but there are plenty of horror stories as well. As previously stated, my sight unseen experience didn't pan out well at all despite my best efforts from a distance. I have an acquaintance who traveled to pick up a well documented car that was still under warranty (all looked entirely in order), and he arrived to find that it had shoddy paint work on both bumpers. If you buy sight unseen and the car is unacceptable, then what? You definitely don't have the time for that headache.

The only way you can be certain that a car will meet your standards is to go see and drive it for yourself.

Best of luck with your search.
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      07-27-2012, 05:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERinEC View Post
Known source as in a BMW dealer?

A known source as in... dealership of any kind or private party where you can get legit info as to the background or someone you trust can vouch for.

For me, there are so many variables in purchasing a used vehicle that I would have a hard time buying without personally inspecting.

These days it is also too easy to set up a website and post fancy pictures of cars (or other items) that you don't really own or are not the actual item that will be sent after you send payment.
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      07-27-2012, 06:02 PM   #18
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^ what he said. I purchased my car from a dealer 400 miles away. Drove all the way there (traded in my previous car), inspected and drove the car, bought it, and drove back the next day.

Not everyone has the time (or desire) to fly across the country and drive back but you should be able to find something within a days drive. Just work out the deal ahead of time then go get it!
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      07-27-2012, 06:05 PM   #19
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never, worked out the figures over email and phone, I put check deposit down at a BMW dealer to show good faith. Showed up, they never deposited my money, test drive, then went home with the car.
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      07-27-2012, 06:11 PM   #20
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Yep, bought from a Honda dealer in Indianapolis and flew from Atlanta with a one way ticket.

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=657469

I guess you basically have to accept that the car might not be right and have to be able to walk away.

Also, you have to be a good judge of character in terms of the sales person. If you can call and develop a rapport with him/her it helps when you ask that awkward question.
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      07-27-2012, 10:11 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LM3 View Post
You probably need one day.. In MD you should be a 24 hour (or less) turnaround time from cities as far west as Chicago, and nearly the entire eastern seaboard.

I just don't think it's worth the risk. Sight unseen has worked out for a lot of people, but there are plenty of horror stories as well. As previously stated, my sight unseen experience didn't pan out well at all despite my best efforts from a distance. I have an acquaintance who traveled to pick up a well documented car that was still under warranty (all looked entirely in order), and he arrived to find that it had shoddy paint work on both bumpers. If you buy sight unseen and the car is unacceptable, then what? You definitely don't have the time for that headache.

The only way you can be certain that a car will meet your standards is to go see and drive it for yourself.

Best of luck with your search.
Thanks for your input. I could certainly deal with a one day turn around to go pick something up. The drive home would no doubt be a hoot while also getting familiarized with the car.
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      07-28-2012, 07:49 AM   #22
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i've bought one car sight unseen, and would never do it again.

it costs me thousands in repairs after I received it to put it back in a condition i wanted it in.

its not worth it..fly out there or just wait

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