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      11-17-2009, 06:48 PM   #1
lyjw88's Avatar

Drives: C63s coupe
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Boston

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Tips for buying used cars?

Any tips or things to watch for when buying a pre owned car that's listed online (out of state)?
Should I make a trip to see the car in person before purchasing it?
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      11-17-2009, 06:58 PM   #2
One cam is enough
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Drives: VF
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Location: mulletville

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Yes, or have someone you trust in the area check it out and get it inspected for you.
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      11-17-2009, 07:12 PM   #3
Major General

Drives: 135i, current is350
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Socal

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Definitely do a prepurchase inspection at a dealer of the car's manufacturer. A lot of them offer the service for 200 dollars. Run a carfax. And for some company you can pull the service record off of owner's circle.
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      11-18-2009, 01:16 PM   #4
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Drives: 1998 BMW 740iL
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Location: Pikesville, MD

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1998 740iL  [3.00]
Read up about the car type on forums dedicated to that type of car, to learn about typical problem areas. Then make sure those problem areas have been adressed.

A lot of people put stock in getting a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) done, but that will only tell you what's good or bad now, and the condition of the typical wear items (like brake pads, rotors, clutch, tires, etc). It won't tell you what might break 100-1000 miles down the road. Only people knowledgeable about the type of car you're looking at can tell you what might be very likely to break in the near future.

Then add up the costs of repairing replacing those possible problem areas (if they haven't ben recently dealt with either under warranty or by the PO) added to the purchase price, and see if you think it's worth it.

When I bought my 740iL, sight unseen, 6 states away, I got a carfax report (which really only tells owner history and any major stuff that has happend, like wrecks that had to be reported, etc), and I did research with the E38 boards on what to look out for. I determined that the price, plus the cost of repairing the common fault areas that had no record of being done, was worth it. Paid for the car, then drove up and picked it up. That was 3 years ago, and I've spent a mere $1k in repairs over that time period for a reliable daily driver, much of that $1k comprising of replacing known problem parts even though they hadn't failed yet.
1998 740iL

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      11-18-2009, 01:32 PM   #5
Spec 1
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Drives: '91 E30, '05 ZX6-R, '06 300C
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Location: Portland, OR

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I've always done Pre-Purcahse Inspections at shops. They caost around $200 but it's cheap ionsurance to know what you're getting into. Almost bought a 2003 540i last year and after running the PPI I found out the car was a "lemon" and was going to need $5,000 in parts & repair over the next year. Ran away from that thing fast! Definitely worth the $200.
'91 M42 E30 - All sorts of goodies.
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