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Thinking about buying a BMW as a daily

 
Old 01-19-2019, 04:42 PM
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Default Thinking about buying a BMW as a daily

For the last 10 years or so of me driving I have always driven manual transmission Japanese cars. My first car in high school was a 1969 Datsun 510 station wagon. Then in my early years of college I had a 2000 Honda Prelude Type SH. I’ve had my S since 2013 and I don’t plan on ever getting rid of it. Having Japanese cars, especially Honda’s, is cool and all but I want to drive something different. BMW’s have always appealed to me and I am curious to know what it’s like to own one. After getting to drive an E30 325is for the first time about two years ago, that curiosity has grown significantly. Now I am in a position where I can buy another car and currently, my attention is on the E82 and E92.

With both the E82 and E92 I will be going with a 2009 or 2010 model year 135i or 335i respectively. Both cars must be equipped with a manual transmission. I am aware that the normally aspirated variants are more reliable but I want to drive a turbocharged car. I have read a good number of the maintenance threads and common problems associated with an N54 equipped car. I have zero experience with owning a German car and wanted to reach out to those of you who came from a similar background. I also wouldn’t mind hearing from people who have owned German cars first and went to Japanese cars or those of you who have only ever owned German vehicles.

Before you ask, “Why don’t you go with an N55 equipped car?”, the only reason I am not choosing to go with an N55 platform is because it has limited tuneability. I like tinkering with my cars and modifying them. After my experience with the Honda Prelude where the platform was limited, I don’t want to return to a platform where I feel restricted. My priority will be maintaining and not modifying but it after a while I will be looking to modify. Between the E82 and the E92, I don’t see either of them as being vastly superior over the other. One just so happens to have a shorter wheel base than the other.

Like any car, reliability as only as good as how you maintain your vehicle. Changing your oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, transmission fluid and any regular maintenance item is key. When it comes to vehicle maintenance, I work on all of my cars except when it comes to big jobs such as changing out a clutch. I am also thinking about getting a warranty (aftermarket) on the odd chance that something major breaks. From what I understand, things like water pumps, turbos, and fuel pumps tend to go out on these cars frequently. I am also aware that I will need to buy torx bits now because, well…BMW.

Given what you know about my automotive background, what sort of advice would you give me? Are there major differences between the E82 and E92 chassis? Should I consider leasing a new car to get an idea of what its like to own one of these cars? I don’t mind waiting and doing a bit more research before making my decision. Thanks for your input!
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:49 PM
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On a side note, I am keeping the S. I am only retiring her from daily driving duties and reserving her for weekends and special occasions. Not to mention it would be nice to actually be able to take more than one person at a time in my car. Also the quality of the roads in LA are not the best and some people driving on them have no business behind the wheel. The last thing I need is someone driving like an idiot or not paying attention hitting me in my S.
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Old 01-20-2019, 12:38 PM
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Own a 328ix, nearly 140k miles. Some issues but nothing major. Never stranded somewhere.
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Old 01-21-2019, 05:49 AM
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I can't see someone saying stay away from any one BMW as a daily driver in stock form. They are all meant to be daily drivers. Once you start tinkering, then it's Pandora's box.
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:42 AM
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Wait - you're going to buy a less-than-reliable older BMW (that was known for issues) and then you're worried about tuning limits on the newer, more reliable engine? And you're going to daily drive it in modified form?

If you're going to daily drive it, you won't have to worry about tuning limits because you should limit your upgrades to keep the car semi-reliable. The N55 has one turbo instead of two, is moderately more reliable and is newer. It is, far and away, the better choice for a 135/335 as a daily driver. It will be less expensive to replace parts and, because it's newer, be less prone to have age-related issues. Get the N55 and save yourself a ton of headaches. Modify it properly but don't go overboard or you'll severely regret it.

These cars are not cheap to maintain. I looked at one recently that had $11K (Canadian) in repairs over the last year. Think about that before you buy. Sure, you can get a good one and have minor issues or you can get the opposite and pay 65% of the car's value in repairs. They're cheap for a reason - they cost a chunk of money to keep on the road, ESPECIALLY if you tune them for more power. Every one you buy will need a new water pump soon, if it hasn't had it done. You may need a new turbo (or two) in a while, depending on mileage. Oil pan gaskets will leak - it's a guarantee. The clutch will need replacing soon if you modify.
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mosesbotbol View Post
I can't see someone saying stay away from any one BMW as a daily driver in stock form. They are all meant to be daily drivers. Once you start tinkering, then it's Pandora's box.
So I've been hearing. I'm not going to be messing with it right away just changing minor details such as brakes and tires. I'll really start messing with it once im comfortable with working on it.
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBoy View Post
Wait - you're going to buy a less-than-reliable older BMW (that was known for issues) and then you're worried about tuning limits on the newer, more reliable engine? And you're going to daily drive it in modified form?

If you're going to daily drive it, you won't have to worry about tuning limits because you should limit your upgrades to keep the car semi-reliable. The N55 has one turbo instead of two, is moderately more reliable and is newer. It is, far and away, the better choice for a 135/335 as a daily driver. It will be less expensive to replace parts and, because it's newer, be less prone to have age-related issues. Get the N55 and save yourself a ton of headaches. Modify it properly but don't go overboard or you'll severely regret it.

These cars are not cheap to maintain. I looked at one recently that had $11K (Canadian) in repairs over the last year. Think about that before you buy. Sure, you can get a good one and have minor issues or you can get the opposite and pay 65% of the car's value in repairs. They're cheap for a reason - they cost a chunk of money to keep on the road, ESPECIALLY if you tune them for more power. Every one you buy will need a new water pump soon, if it hasn't had it done. You may need a new turbo (or two) in a while, depending on mileage. Oil pan gaskets will leak - it's a guarantee. The clutch will need replacing soon if you modify.
You see! This is the kind of information im looking for! I sound like I'm kind of contradicting myself when I say I want reliability but also want maximum tunability. You can't really have a modded car, especially a BMW, and expect reliability. I've learned that from my 07 S with just changing the exhaust and putting a high flow cat. Stupid o2 sensor CEL just kept coming back...

I guess I'm approaching it the same way I approached my S2000. The allure of owning a car equipped with the German 2jz is what got my fixated on the n54 motor. The reason I picked the n54 over the n55 is because I know I will eventually start modifying the car and people generally agree that the n54 is the one to mod. I won't be modifying the car right away though. Really the only actual "mods" I'll be doing within the first year or 2 of owning the e82/92 are brake pads, tires, charge pipe, and some exterior pieces.

I will be doing more research on both n54 and 55 motors though. Im sure I don't fully understand either of them all that well. Either way im not in a rush to buy a car. Im still in the research phase and the more information I get, the better.

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Old 01-21-2019, 10:14 PM
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I love love love my 2007 bmw 335i. Mine has over 130k miles and I drive it everyday. It’s my adult car. They are dirt cheep and can be had for under 10 thousand and are super nice. My is a manual trans and I have all the bolt ons. Plus I run E85 with bigger hybrid billet wheel twin turbos from pure. It makes Well over 500whp and 500 tq. And unlike my s2000 its not a lag monster. Your talking 500+tq at under 3k rpm. If you factor in fun to drive / big power and even bigger power with very basic mods/ luxury/ comfort. Absolutely noting will compared with a n54 335i for the $8,000to $15,000 price range. For a true performance car and if you also factory in things like comfort and class nothing comes close to this car for a similar price.

now for the bad

I absolutely do not recommend this car to anyone unless they are a true car guy that is use to doing a lot of wrenching. The car is only expensive to maintain if you have to pay for labor. It’s not expensive if you source parts your self and work on the car your self. Yes the car compared to Japanese cars is very unreliable. And compared to the s2000 it’s also much harder to work on. These cars will need the oil filter housing gasket, valve cover gasket and oil pan gasket change every 60-80k miles. Compared to a Honda the oil pas gasket in a Honda is a super simple job but for the n54 it a $1000+ job that is labor intensive that requires droping the sub fram and many many hours of work. But like I said all this cost nearly nothing if you do the work yourself. The electric water pump do die every 50-90k miles. The turbos will go bad at or under 100k miles.

I got to say it again. From a stand point of fun to drive/power/ potential hp with minor bolt ons/ powerband/comfort/class/gas millage. And price nothing comes close to a early e90/e92 manual transmission 335i

but if your cant even do a simple thing like a clutch job yourself at home I do not recommend this car for you. This car will bankrupt you and making people like you hate this car. If you can’t do a clutch job that your can’t change turbos on this car. Hell you probably can’t even do a oil pan gasket job on this car.

old high millage out of warrante high power turbo German cars should not be owned by non car enthusiasts. Car enthusiasts =people can do there own clutch jobs and engine swaps at home.

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Old 01-21-2019, 11:12 PM
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I had an N55 for a year and a half. It's late so I'll be brief. I never had a single issue with regards to reliability. I extensively tracked mine and beat the ever loving crap out of it. Pm me for more details. I loved the car and and chose to give it up due to extraneous constraints.
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Old 01-22-2019, 04:11 AM
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I just sold an n55 135i 6MT with all the options. Awesome car. My third BMW. I did no performance mods. I love that engine. I want it in my S2k. The trouble with BMW is a part of you is always wondering if/when the car might drain your bank account. I totally agree a non enthusiast should not own a BMW out of warranty. Don't assume this will make the car cheap to own, though. Do some searches on what typically fails on BMWs (such as plastic radiator end cap). Have you driven one of these cars? The is decent on power. I never bothered with a tune but I'm sure it's great. It's worth mentioning the 1 series has different wheel offset from most cars so wheel availability is small compared to other cars (3 series wheels don't swap).

The 135i was designed to use run flats. My experience with standard tires was that the rear felt a bit off. It's generally accepted that BMW used soft subframe bushings to improve ride quality issues brought about by run-flats. I installed bushing inserts that helped but the car still felt a bit off. Some people go all out replacing with M bushings but they are $$$.

I sold the car because I got tired of having two impractical cars. I've switched to a hatchback and find it immensely more useful.
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