BMW repair costs
September 4, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Are BMW repair costs disproportionately high?

I am considering buying a used BMW 2000 325i .
I've heard rumors that repair costs for BMWs are really high.
Is this true? or an urban legend?
posted by allelopath to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
I once had an old BMW (can't remember exact kind). I think it was an 86 - this was in 2002. I took it for a tuneup at my regular place (which I love and trust), and they quoted me $975. For a tuneup. I sold the car post haste.
posted by tristeza at 9:32 AM on September 4, 2007

Yes. They are.

The cost of everything related to BMW is disproportionately high, including the initial price of the car itself.

(and I love BMWs, but they're just not worth it)
posted by The World Famous at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2007

You figure it out: 1999 to 2005 BMW 3series Reliability with Estimated Costs of Repair
posted by furtive at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2007

They're crazy high. My brother in law doesn't even like working on BMWs for the simple fact that, after spending hours diagnosing the problem, once he quotes the price, the customers either 1) think he's trying to screw them and/or 2) take their business elsewhere, leaving him out the diagnostic time.
posted by notsnot at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2007

Genuine BMW parts cost more than comparable Chevy parts. A thriving trade exists in aftermarket parts made in China, but if you go that route, at what point in the parts replacement cycles are you still driving a BMW? An 8 year old BMW with average mileage and wear is likely to need long term service items, such as suspension parts, brake work, belts, cooling system hoses, air conditioner repair, and transmission service; examine the car's service receipts carefully, particularly for the last 2 years. Many 3 series BMW owners drive the cars "enthusiastically," but maintain the cars only adequately. 5 series cars of that vintage have often been treated better, and cost only a bit more.

Dealer service labor is generally fairly steep, but on a par with Lexus, MB, Infiniti, etc. In most major urban areas, there are generally some independent BMW specialist shops that may be able to save you some money, although the best stay busy, and don't need to discount their work below dealer labor rates, significantly. CarFax and other rating services generally describe 3 Series BMWs as only average in terms of reliability, but "expensive" in terms of cost of repair.
posted by paulsc at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2007

Indeed they are. And service is harder to come by also. Many of the "while-u-wait" service places (oil change etc...) don't have parts for the relatively rarer BMWs.

I had a 1999 BMW 540, and got so sick of the maintenance costs I traded it for a Honda Civic. Best day of my life. Example: A SET of tires on a Civic costs as much as one tire on the BMW, and needs to be changed one-third as often.
posted by chocolate_butch at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2007

The costs are high. I have owned several BMWs and the way I save money is to do the work myself. I buy the parts online and take a Saturday to do the work. So far so good. But, as paulsc pointed out, the costs are on par with the high-end vehicles.
posted by mjger at 10:43 AM on September 4, 2007

I think it's fairly safe to say that all German car service is expensive. Especially-so if you go to the dealer.
I had a 318i back in the early 80s, and I can remember the breath-taking repair/service costs even then. Today, I'm driving a used VW and the service/parts costs are still higher than normal.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2007

BMWs are cars to buy new and sell before they hit 80K. Buying one used is just financing the orignal owner's good time.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:55 AM on September 4, 2007

Not only are the parts (from the dealer) more expensive, they are frequently identical to parts in "lesser" cars. For example. the windshield washer motor in my BMW was made by Lucas and was exactly the same as the VW part - but at twice the cost.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2007

They're high, but as Thorzdad noted, so are most high-end German cars.

If you're buying from a dealer, look into the inclusive service plan. I leased my used BWM and it was included. My father just purchased a used BMW and picked up a 3-year, full warranty (you pay nothing for work done on the car, with some minor exceptions) for something like $975. It pays for itself right quickly.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2007

@Neiltupper: I can't believe The Prince of Darkness is still in business.
posted by punkfloyd at 12:09 PM on September 4, 2007

Regarding BMWs - theoretically, not all mechanics know BMWs, which is why they are harder to find mechanics for. Currently, BMW pulls the top of the class from various auto mechanic training schools, interviews them, and then holds them to a very high standard while training them for an additional 6 months. So think of it as having a problem a graduate degree holder has to solve versus someone with only a Bachelor's in the subject.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:31 PM on September 4, 2007

I have owned 4 BMWs. My feelings about them are exactly opposite from doctor_negative's. I buy them after they are 5 or so years old and the original owner has paid for the bulk of the depreciation. I then proceed to drive them into the ground over the next 10 or 15 years. I'm currently driving a 1995 540i I purchased in 2000 for $17K. It was at 60K miles at that time and has 173K miles on it now. I've probably spent $3K on repairs over the last 7 years. The interior shows some wear and the paint has looked better but it still drives like it is new (slight exaggeration).I don't think I could have purchased anything I would have enjoyed as much for the $20K total.

The one reason I am able to do this economically is that I have a VERY good mechanic. If you didn't know he is an auto mechanic you might suspect he works for NASA.
posted by Carbolic at 3:04 PM on September 4, 2007

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