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      04-11-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
MaxL
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Short report on buying M3 in USA

I've got a 2009 E90 M3 from south of the border two weeks ago (review & comparison to my 335xi here: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=373283). The only reason I bought from US was because I could not find the car I wanted in Canada, and not for the lack of trying - I searched in every possible way for almost a month. I was probably rather specific in my needs - only 2009 (did not want new car but wanted new iDrive), only sedan and with DCT.

So anyway, I imported it and this is the second BMW I am bringing in within a year, so I know what I'm talking about :-)

1. Savings - there are some, but you will most probably be disappointed. After delivery, taxes etc, you save just few grand. I saved probably 6K-7K, but I would not do it just for this level of savings.

2. Risk - same as for a US citizen buying a car in the US. Canadians have all the same means of protection and disputes with US dealers as do US residents. If buying a relatively new car from a dealer, the risk is close to zero. You can get carfax, which is rather reliable, especially on leased vehicles, service records (any BMW dealer can give them to you) and all title history (all ownership transfers). In my case, I got a car with 5k miles, which I knew was leased for 5 months, went back to dealer on early lease termination and then spent another 4 months on dealers lot waiting for a new buyer. The lucky break was that the car was originally sold by the same guy I bought my first BMW from (I called him for recall clearance letter, and he was like - oh, I sold this car the first time!), so he told me all about the first owner.

I still was paranoid when the car came in - I've noticed that reading lights had no lenses and panicked - thought the car was in a crash and they forgot to replace lenses when they fixed it . Then I looked at a new M3 at BMW Toronto and realized M3s do not have lenses in map lights

Anyway, the dealer in the US was top notch (not a BMW dealer - independent) - the car came without iPod adapter and ski bag. I complained that both things were mentioned in the online ad, and he mailed me new ones same day.

3. Paperwork and time. Last time I did everything myself, but this time I had no time, so I outsourced everything. I spent total of about an hour on arranging a shipment and customs. I hired a shipping company ($850) and a broker ($150), and they took care of everything. So, in all honesty, I can say that buying from USA took me about two hours more of my time than buying from Canada.

One note though - please do not forget to tell the seller to put temporary plates on the car, or you will not be able to drive it even to inspection center in Canada... This is very important, or you will end up with major pain in the ass! My US dealer mailed the plates to me, but before I received them, the car was dead weight...

After that the registration was same as for any other used car - safety, driveclean, sales tax and got plates.

No modifications were necessary, just like on my previous BMW. I specifically asked guys at Canadian Tire and they told me that nothing needs to be done as the car passes all things they need to check as-is. the only thing you have to do it turn on DRLs in iDrive before arriving. They reminded me about it when I scheduled appointment, so it is not like it is some kind of cheating...

Also about recall clearance letter - both time I printed our service history letter from dealer. This is no cost service BMW dealers in US perform if you ask - you just need to fax proof of ownership. It may be necessary to make some calls before you find a dealer that does not pretend he does not understand you.

4. Warranty - warranty is fully transferable, and is just as good as Canadian. The service is just as good, and you still get loaners. Of course, free maintenance is not transferable...


5. Resale - I sold my US 335xi without much, if any, penalty. I just ignored the guys who wanted to use this fact as an excuse for a discount, and found several who did not care (even had a small bidding war). The car is just as good, especially when you are selling a car that soon will be too old for CPO anyway.

So, to summarize - do not modify anything in the car, unless you fail inspection, and do not pay for recall letter, just get service history printout. Do not worry about warranty. When dealing with the seller, take all normal precautions, but do not go crazy - americans buy used cars from american dealers all the time, and they do alright.

Is it worth it - very much a personal preference. I would probably not do it just for price savings, but did it because of better choice in the US. It turned out allright - I've got a car that is practically new and is exactly the way I wanted it without any wait and for $20K under US MSRP. When it arrived I was crazy about every little imperfection, but then I doubled the number of leather (micro-)scuffs and tire wear in the first two weeks of use, so now I realize the car was new for all practical purposes when I got it.
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      04-11-2010, 09:21 PM   #2
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Great report!! Congrats on the car. Where are the pics??

Although I might be flogged as a traitor, I am considering the same thing.

There are some going for low 40's!!
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      04-11-2010, 09:45 PM   #3
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Very interesting report. I would surmise that the savings would be even higher if you go with a 7 Series or an M5/M6.
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      04-12-2010, 12:51 AM   #4
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Just curious on the broker and transport ?

Did you use TFX to ship the car or a standard shipping company ? Did the broker handle all of the paperwork and clearing customs ?

Also how far did you have to ship the car ?

D.J.
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      04-12-2010, 05:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darren johnson View Post
Just curious on the broker and transport ?

Did you use TFX to ship the car or a standard shipping company ? Did the broker handle all of the paperwork and clearing customs ?

Also how far did you have to ship the car ?

D.J.
I used Hansen's Forwarding. They gave the lowest quote and were nice to deal with. They picked up in two business days after I signed papers, and took three days to deliver the car from Washington, DC - I think that's reasonably fast.

They also recommended a broker, but brokers are not hard to find and I am not sure if one is nay better than another.
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      04-12-2010, 06:03 PM   #6
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Thanks.

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      04-12-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Great report!! Congrats on the car. Where are the pics??

Although I might be flogged as a traitor, I am considering the same thing.

There are some going for low 40's!!
There are way more selection in the states so who cares if you're a traitor
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      04-12-2010, 11:28 PM   #8
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Hi MaxL,
Just to confirm, you faxed the vehicle history report to RIV and they provided you with the Form1 without requiring a recall letter from BMW Canada? I believe once you get the Form1 then you are home free as the next step is the inspection at Cdn tire (is this correct)? Secondly, have you had any warranty work done on the vehicle (I'm asking since there was a thread saying that BMW Canada will void the warranty if the mods were not done by BMW dealership in Canada).

Snippet from RIV which I'm sure you guys all have read already:

Note 1: BMW Canada informed Transport Canada that ALL modifications MUST be performed (and documented) by an authorized BMW Canada or MINI retailer and must be completed before a recall clearance letter can be issued by BMW Group Canada. Contact an authorized Canadian retailer for information on exact nature and costs of modifications required. Modifications vary by model and may be expensive.

I'm also in the same boat, buy local(slightly used) or head south but was unsure of the incremental cost of the mods.

Thanks.
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      04-12-2010, 11:42 PM   #9
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I did not fax anything - I emailed them a file my dealer sent me from US. He was too lazy to print it out -still worked. RIV emailed me Form 1 within few hours (standard response time up to two weeks, so do not expect same processing speed - I got lucky), and I took it to Canadian Tire next day.

Regarding warranty - I think what they are saying is warranty may be void if you do modifications elsewhere. I did not do any modifications, so I had no problems. My US 335xi got fuel pump replaced under warranty - no charge, and loaner was provided. My US M3 has been in the shop twice - again, warranty was honored. They have not fixed the issue both times, but that's a different story - not really relevant to the origin of the car.

Anyway, keep in mind that after all expenses price savings are not that large.
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      04-13-2010, 12:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxL View Post
I did not fax anything - I emailed them a file my dealer sent me from US. He was too lazy to print it out -still worked. RIV emailed me Form 1 within few hours (standard response time up to two weeks, so do not expect same processing speed - I got lucky), and I took it to Canadian Tire next day.

Regarding warranty - I think what they are saying is warranty may be void if you do modifications elsewhere. I did not do any modifications, so I had no problems. My US 335xi got fuel pump replaced under warranty - no charge, and loaner was provided. My US M3 has been in the shop twice - again, warranty was honored. They have not fixed the issue both times, but that's a different story - not really relevant to the origin of the car.

Anyway, keep in mind that after all expenses price savings are not that large.
cosidering you are talking used against used, how are you guaging your price savings? There is a 10K range on some cars in Canada! Montreal is really cheap. Toronto is expensive. If it were new to new, then we have an even playing field? But with used, I don't know. Like I saw a low mileage (under 10k) for $50,000 USD. So times 1.191 (duty plus GST/PST), that comes to $59550. Add about $1500 for the small stuff. And you are talking about ~61k, on the road!! Anything close here is like $77 on the road. $16k savings is pretty big! 20+% off!!!

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      04-13-2010, 12:17 AM   #11
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Hey maxl, do you need to change the speedo?
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      04-13-2010, 12:20 AM   #12
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Hey maxl, do you need to change the speedo?
I think unlike the CAD version, the US has both mp/h and kmp/h...don't think it is required as a friend bougt the previous version M from US and kept his speedo intact
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      04-13-2010, 07:48 AM   #13
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Hey maxl, do you need to change the speedo?
Been answered many times, try searching.
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      04-13-2010, 08:26 AM   #14
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Been answered many times, try searching.
I have conflicting stories. According to my dealer buddy, the kph must be the dominate number.
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      04-13-2010, 10:34 AM   #15
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I have conflicting stories. According to my dealer buddy, the kph must be the dominate number.
Not true.

When I brought up my M3, I didn't have to change the cluster.
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      04-13-2010, 10:26 PM   #16
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Quote:
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I have conflicting stories. According to my dealer buddy, the kph must be the dominate number.
The fact that MaxL just imported his without doing it is proof enough isn't it?

RIV told me that the speedo would have to be changed as well and they are wrong - I think they're just providing information to callers based on what's on the Admissible Vehicles list - I think they are just reciting what's on the form instead of providing exact info for your particular car.

Below is an excerpt from the same doc that Wunderbar911 posted from above from RIV for all 1995 - 2010 BMW car

"Modifications may include: daytime running lights and metric odometer and speedometer labels."

"May" indicating the mods are dependant on your particular car's configuration, and if you have the kms on the speedo on the car you choose to import (E90, 92 & 93 ) you are golden
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      04-13-2010, 11:07 PM   #17
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My wife's imported Subaru Tribecca has the original (large mph small km/h) US spedometer too. I guess it just needs to have km/h somewhere.
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      04-14-2010, 07:46 PM   #18
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Is there a concern with resale? I have various dealerships that are clients (so this was not told to me as part of a sale) and they all concur that resale value is lower on imported cars. It might be different on a private sale but I would bet if you take the car to a dealer to trade it in and they find it is imported, it will hurt trade in value. Why? I have no idea but it seems to be a consistent message across a range of manufacturers and dealers. I have even heard some dealers will not even take an imported car on trade.
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      04-14-2010, 07:55 PM   #19
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Is there a concern with resale? I have various dealerships that are clients (so this was not told to me as part of a sale) and they all concur that resale value is lower on imported cars. It might be different on a private sale but I would bet if you take the car to a dealer to trade it in and they find it is imported, it will hurt trade in value. Why? I have no idea but it seems to be a consistent message across a range of manufacturers and dealers. I have even heard some dealers will not even take an imported car on trade.
It really comes down to supply and demand. If there is a lot of supply and little demand for a particular car - resale will suffer on an imported car. If there is very few to choose from - probably won't be much difference.

I have heard the same about dealers - wouldnt imagine that is something they would want to inventory, so you would be at the whim of a wholesaler or private sale.
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      04-14-2010, 08:01 PM   #20
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It really comes down to supply and demand. If there is a lot of supply and little demand for a particular car - resale will suffer on an imported car. If there is very few to choose from - probably won't be much difference.

I have heard the same about dealers - wouldnt imagine that is something they would want to inventory, so you would be at the whim of a wholesaler or private sale.
I guess as long as you go the private sale route it wouldn't matter much. If not, then the savings up front could be lost on the back end but if you keep the car long enough then, again, maybe that doesn't matter either.

It's like everything else, a trade-off. Is the hassle worth the savings? Is the loss of free maintenance worth the savings? Is the resale risk worth the savings? For some yes... for others no.
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      04-14-2010, 08:02 PM   #21
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Is there a concern with resale? I have various dealerships that are clients (so this was not told to me as part of a sale) and they all concur that resale value is lower on imported cars. It might be different on a private sale but I would bet if you take the car to a dealer to trade it in and they find it is imported, it will hurt trade in value. Why? I have no idea but it seems to be a consistent message across a range of manufacturers and dealers. I have even heard some dealers will not even take an imported car on trade.
There is truth to that.There can be as much as 20% difference in the value of a 1-2 year old car that has been imported.The longer you keep the smaller the difference will be.Ihe plus side is that you are carrying less money over the term of ownership but pay a penalty when you go to sell the car.Most higher end imported cars cannot go through the manufactures CPO program which also has a negative affect on the value.In Ontario since January 1st a dealer by law has to declare the orgin of all used cars which is another factor for lower values.
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      04-14-2010, 11:45 PM   #22
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It really comes down to supply and demand. If there is a lot of supply and little demand for a particular car - resale will suffer on an imported car. If there is very few to choose from - probably won't be much difference.
I certainly agree with that -

With a newer car with the less history (well documented of course) it has, the confidence in the car can match that of a domestic origin car in the buyer's eyes. I believe the resale concern is one of the "unknown" - people just feel a little weird about buying a car from the US. Perception is of course reality, so therefore the impact to the market is real, but a car is a car is a car....

I looked at an '08 M3 DCT full load on a local private lot - I pressed the sales guy for the history and he turned over the paperwork - the car had been purchased by them from an auction in California after a buy back by BMW under California's Lemon Law legislation - the car had originally been sold and licensed in Utah.

Now this is the kind of sh!t that gives import cars a bad name -
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