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Old 12-07-2008, 03:34 AM   #1
rockon
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Default Another 318ti buying advice please

Hi all, I'm looking for a used car under $5k and running across a nice White 318ti 1996. I have seen the car in person but the owner was not there at that time so I couldn't have a chance to test the car. It's 5spd manual with nice/big alloy wheels. It looks like it has all power windows, power door locks etc. The exterior of the car is in very good condition. All of the seats and carpet look great, clean and not worn out. I talked to the owner on phone and he said the car has 175k miles and he's asking for $4999. I did a quick check on edmunds site and the fair price for this car is around $3300. What do you think? I have never owned a BMW before, so I wonder what kind of maintenance routines are like for this car? Can you do it yourself or you have to take it to shop/dealer? Any advices are greatly appreciate! Thanks!
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:55 AM   #2
CirrusSR22
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Despite what some will tell you, a BMW is just like any other car to maintain. You change the oil every so often, same with an air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, coolant, etc.... Certainly no magic involved! For example, here's the prices of a few common maintenance items from a large, online BMW parts retailer:

Oil Filter: $5.20
Fuel Filter: $16.81 (a 50,000+ mile item, it's a BIG filter)
Air Filter: $11.61

The 318ti does not even require synthetic motor oil, so it takes 5.3 quarts of the same Valvoline (or whatever brand) you'd put in a Chevrolet, Honda, etc.... Changing oil on a BMW is easier than most other cars made due to the oil filter sitting on "top" of the engine. It's a breeze.

The transmission fluid in the 5-speed is 1.1 quarts of plain-old Dexron III ATF that you can get almost anywhere. That's just a few bucks per quart.

The brake fluid, again, is just plain old DOT 4. Available at every parts store out there for a few bucks per pint.

A full set of quality German front brake pads is about $50.

A brand new Sachs clutch kit is about $200, but can be found for well under $150 on eBay if you are patient. That's quite a job though to replace that when the time comes. Although, 318 series clutches have commonly been known to go over 250,000. There was a recent letter in Roundel magazine and the guy had a 300,000+ mile 318ti with the original clutch.

A factory spark plug NGK/Bosch is a bit pricey at about $7 each, but there are some cheaper options like Bosch platinums. There is a spark plug boot puller tool that is clipped to the spark plug channel! The tool is right there, so ingenious. A spark plug socket to use is also included in the tool kit in the trunk. Things are very well though out for the most part.

Power steering fluid once again is plain Dexron III ATF. Cheap.

A quality OEM serpentine belt is about $17.

Maybe more than you wanted to know, but the bottom line is, a DIY'er should have no problem doing any of this basic stuff. It really is just like any other car; in fact, it's EASIER than most cars I've worked on just because things are so well thought out, vs. just thrown together.

As for the price, hopefully someone can chime in with current data. I haven;t been in the market for a 318ti in a number of years. I do think though that the KBB/Edmunds/etc. estimate are low. The 318ti is a bit of a "cult car" and the demand is much higher than average.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:29 AM   #3
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Thanks for your very informative response! The maintenance routine that you described some very similar to what I've done for my honda and that makes me feel a bit more comfortable now. It sounds like this car has less computer control components than other high performance cars that I've heard like Audi, Mercedes etc. Is this true?
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:10 AM   #4
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Rockon;

I take it you are looking at this one;
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/ctd/947600330.html
Nice wheels, yes, but I think the mileage is too high for that price... and the interior is ok, but not great. Plus it's a dealer, they have no idea how well it has been maintained... Yes, BMW's can run forever, but they have to be taken care of...

For less miles and $$$ this one seems better;
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/cto/941128062.html
it's clean, lower miles and a leather interior...

For a little higher price, this one seems best;
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/cto/943470145.html
I't a sport model, has an upgraded suspension, a great style of interior and seats, and has much lower miles...

Of course I haven't seen any in person, but if you really want the first one, don't pay anywhere near $5000 for it, $3500 is more like it... they are a dealer and probably only paid 2k to 2.5k at auction for it...

Look at several, make an informed choice... Good hunting!
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:31 AM   #5
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Thanks CirrusSR22 for 1st very informative response and wolferj for few good leads!


Yes the first one was the one I'm talking about and you're right about dealer's cars and they know nothing about its history. What do you think about the price of the third one? I will check it out and hope it's still available


Thanks!
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