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A Buyer's Guide to Getting a Pre-Owned BMW

Pre-Owned BMW

Most people dream of buying a BMW. However, the vehicle's price tag is excessively high for most to afford. Owning a BMW does not have to be a dream that remains a fantasy. One can buy a BMW preowned that is in good condition for a fraction of the vehicle price tag. Before buying one, it is essential to learn some vital tips to help you get a BMW preowned in its excellent condition that fits your budget.

What is a BMW preowned?

A BMW with one or two previous owners or one with a few miles on it is preowned. According to, if you come across a BMW that is a few months or a few years old with thousands of miles on it, is also preowned. When buying such a vehicle, it is essential to go for a certified BMW preowned and investigate carefully to get one that meets your requirements.

What is a certified preowned BMW?

Like other auto manufacturers, BMW also has a (CPO) Certified Pre-Owned program, which ensures that one can only buy from a dealer who is a member of the program. A certified BMW preowned model has to meet certain qualifications to be a CPO model. The BMW has to be inspected thoroughly by a BMW inspection team of certified technicians, reconditioned, and approved by Pre-Owned managers and Service Managers to qualify as a BMW CPO model.

However, before the certification starts, the BMW preowned must meet conditions like being a late model with less than 60,000 miles on it, an exceptional maintenance history, and a good CARFAX report. Apart from having the peace of mind of owning an inspected and tested BMW CPO model, you will also get a 1-year warranty covering unlimited miles.

Why buying a preowned BMW is a good investment.

Pre-Owned BMW

BMW's are luxury vehicles and most people think a person has to have lots of money to own one. However, you will be surprised to find out that you can own your dream BMW at a lower cost compared to that of a well-fitted SUV. If people were given a chance to pick between a BMW 328i and a Sport trim Ford Edge, a significant number, if not all, would go for the BMW. That is because luxury vehicles like BMW are hard to resist.

Since 1928, when the BMW manufacturer began its production, the vehicle improved its special breed character. The vehicle's manufacturer focuses on improving its engineering for better performance and safety. Also, BMW designers always aim to create a driving experience that is beyond luxury. That is why most BMW enthusiasts keep on upgrading to enjoy the wide range of its benefits. Others maintain their cars since they cannot find another vehicle that offers the same driving experience as a BMW.

What to look for in a BMW preowned before purchasing one

Look for a model that would work best for you. BMW manufacturers have produced a wide range of different models throughout the years they have been in business. These models come with different features and performance capabilities. Therefore, before buying a BMW preowned, ensure it is the right model for you. For instance, if you have more than two family members living with you, buying a BMW Z4 will not be good even if it drives and looks like a dream. If you always dream of owning a BMW, but your budget is below the vehicle's price tag, search for a car that is a few years old but with a good service history.

It is essential to note that most BMW's are rear-wheel drive. Therefore, if you reside in areas where you encounter snow during winter, look for an all-wheel-drive BMW. Also, when buying a BMW preowned, it is essential to note the depreciation rate. Similar to other vehicles, BMW's also lose their value fast. However, the more expensive the BMW is, the lower the depreciation rate. Another factor to consider is the cost of maintenance of the BMW model you choose. Some models are expensive to maintain compared to non-luxury vehicles. Also, older parts can be difficult to find.

Decide on a budget

Before you begin searching for a BMW preowned, set a budget. After you know how much you are willing to spend on the vehicle, you can begin looking for the vehicle of your dream. According to, it is essential to consider additional costs like the (APR) annual percentage rate, sales tax, as well as extended warranties. It is also essential to note that even a BMW preowned, especially a certified model, will be a major investment. Therefore, ensure you can afford not only to buy but also maintain the vehicle. Consider looking into service plans for cars to help manage your long-term costs. Calculate the vehicle's down payment carefully and the amount you will have to spend for the next few years. Also, ensure you are aware of the kind of interest that you will have to pay. Besides, plan for the vehicle’s maintenance. Expect the unexpected and ensure that you can afford to pay for it without missing other priorities.

Plan for insurance

Pre-Owned BMW 2

When thinking about the expenses of owning a BMW, ensure to include its insurance plan. Since a BMW is a luxury vehicle, you may be required to pay more for insurance coverage than what you are used to with other vehicles. You may also be required to find a different insurance company. This is because not all insurance providers cover luxury vehicles.

Search for the best deal

When buying a BMW preowned, ensure to search for its true market value. Make sure that you look up your exact model of interest. To get the true market value of the used BMW you are interested in, compare other dealers' price tags and the national average. Also, consider using reliable sites to compare prices of used BMW. You can also use some of the pricing tools available online. Under the true market value of BMW preowned, you will come across four prices listed, which include:

• Certified Used Vehicles: This is when the vehicle's value includes a certified used warranty.
• Trade-in Value: It is what the dealer paid when the car was a trade-in. If you go for a used BMW that was a trade-in, the vehicle is worth more than what the dealership paid for.
• Dealer Retail: According to, this is the value estimated by the dealership. Chances are, the vehicle is worth more or less what the buyer should expect.
• Private Party: This is where a buyer decides to buy the BMW preowned directly from a private owner than a dealership.

With the above options, it is essential to pick one that fits your budget. Go to your dealership with the exact price in mind, be realistic about the offered deal, and spend within your budget.

Note: When purchasing a BMW preowned beware of sellers who demand money in advance through money transfers. This is a common tactic on reputable sites such as eBay. According to, when the seller receives your money through the money transfer, they disappear, leaving you with no vehicle.

Conduct thorough research on the dealership

After getting your ideal BMW model, it is time to research the dealership. Ensure to choose an experienced dealer with a good reputation in handling BMW's and one with an excellent record of selling reliable vehicles. Getting your vehicle from a dealership with BMW factory-trained or certified technicians is a good idea compared to choosing a car dealer backed by a different manufacturer. Also, it can be quite a challenge to get reliable service for a BMW. That is because you need a highly trained technician with knowledge of foreign vehicles and one that can order the required parts when needed. To enjoy peace of mind, it is essential to search for a BMW dealership with a service center to avoid future complications. That may not be the cheapest option, but the best for your BMW preowned vehicle.

Look at the vehicle's history.

Pre-Owned BMW 3

This is one of the most vital steps to take when purchasing a BMW preowned vehicle. The (VHR) vehicle history report can tell a lot about the vehicle's past, including the previous owner, warranties, possible liens, service, and accidents. According to, you need the (VIN) vehicle identification number to find the VHR. After locating the VIN, search for a free vehicle report online. Ensure to get reliable VHR's such as AutoCheck, (NMVTIS) National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, and Carfax. When you get the VHR, ensure to be on the lookout for essential red flags such as VHR irregularities, major accidents, and tampering with the odometer.

However, according to, it is essential to be alert and not rely on the report alone. Simply because the report is clean, it does not mean the vehicle is in its best condition. Therefore, ensure to watch out for visible red flags. You can also invite an experienced technician that you trust to help you check out for any hidden red flags. Apart from the VHR, one should also know about the vehicle's warranty if it has an existing one. Verify what the warranty covers, and if necessary, inquire about warranty extension. It is also essential to research the warranties that can transfer to the next car owner.

Be keen on mechanical issues

When purchasing a BMW preowned from a dealership, it is essential to note that the law requires them to disclose certain information to their customers about the vehicle. Therefore, ensure to request the information and go through it carefully. Also, check out for any problems with electrical or mechanical systems. If you are not conversant with how the systems work, you can involve a reliable technician with high skills and knowledge of foreign vehicles. Ask the dealership which parts have been replaced or serviced recently. According to (, you can also start up the vehicle and listen to the engine. Please do not assume the cooling system and its components. Check if the thermostat and the water pump are working effectively. Some BMW models are known to have cooling system failures. Therefore, ensure to invest your money in a vehicle with all systems working perfectly.

Request for a test drive

Vehicle inspection and history reports are great. However, nothing matches the amount of information you can gather from taking your BMW preowned for a test drive. That can help you really feel how the vehicle handles and performs. You may be tempted to enjoy the ride and relax, but it is vital to focus on the driving. While on the test drive, ensure to switch off the music and focus on how the vehicle sounds and feels. If you note any sounds from the engine, ensure to inform the dealership. Those are signs of problems not taken care of as required. If the dealership tries to wave off the issues, try a different dealership that takes care of your needs and concerns.

Close the sale

Pre-Owned BMW 4

If you like the vehicle after the test drive, try to negotiate with the seller. If there are problems you noted the dealership had not listed in their advert, use them as your bargaining points. Let the seller know that you will spend more money fixing the issues, not unless they offer to fix the problems for you. The cost of those repairs should be deducted from the vehicle’s asking price. After agreeing on the final price, finalize the sale. However, it is essential to ensure go through the paperwork carefully before signing. If you do not understand something, ask before signing. If you are not in agreement with a stipulation in the contract, find a different dealer.

In case of any financing involved, ensure your asset finance agent is present. If you do not need any financing, you can sign the bill of sale and the title. Once this is complete, you now own your dream vehicle, and you can drive it home. When searching for a prewoned BMW, take your time and conduct thorough research. Involve an experienced mechanic to inspect the vehicle for any mechanical or electronic issues. A certified mechanic can help you determine the vehicle’s overall condition before making a purchase. Make a wise decision on your purchase and enjoy your new ride.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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