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Are BMWs Good Cars to Buy Used?

Are BMWs Good Cars to Buy Used?

The allure of a used BMW is undeniable. The iconic BMW badge represents luxury, performance, and the ultimate driving experience. Owning this prestigious brand seems like a distant dream for many budget-minded shoppers. However, buying a used BMW can make it more attainable. But is purchasing a pre-owned BMW worth it? Or will it turn into a money pit of expensive repairs?

Buying a used BMW is a major decision with both big pros and potential cons to weigh. On one hand, you can get a premium sports sedan or SUV at a significant discount compared to new. However, maintenance and repairs will be more costly. Reliability varies across different models and model years. Do your homework and BMW ownership can be a great experience. Fail to do so and you may end up with a never-ending headache.

With in-depth research and realistic expectations, a used BMW can provide an unbeatable blend of driving enjoyment, luxury, and performance at a relatively affordable price point. This guide will examine the key factors to consider when purchasing a used BMW in order to make an informed decision.

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The Allure of BMW

One of the main reasons people are drawn to BMW is the prestige that comes with owning this iconic luxury brand. For over 100 years, BMW has cultivated an image of superior engineering, performance, and status. Driving a BMW makes a statement and conveys success.

In terms of engineering, BMW is known for making vehicles that are both luxuriously appointed and precisely designed for the driving enthusiast. BMWs are famous for their smooth powerful engines, responsive handling, and incredible braking power. Even their SUV models offer a sporty driving experience.

BMW has also been on the cutting edge of automotive technology and safety. Their models consistently debut intelligent driver assistance features like lane keep assist, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and more. Owning the latest BMW means accessing the most advanced safety and convenience innovations in the automotive world.


Potential Downsides of Used BMWs

While BMWs are coveted for their prestige, performance, and luxury appointments, buying a used model does come with some potential downsides to consider.


More Expensive Maintenance and Repairs

BMW maintenance and repair costs are significantly higher compared to non-luxury brands. Parts and labor rates at BMW dealerships come at a premium. Brakes, tires, batteries and other wear items will be more costly to replace. BMW engines and transmissions are more complex, and require specialized diagnostic equipment and technician training, which also drives up repair bills.


Could be Buying Someone Else’s Problems

When purchasing a used BMW, you won’t always know how well the previous owner maintained the vehicle. There’s a risk you could buy a BMW with underlying mechanical issues or deferred maintenance that the owner is looking to offload. Do your due diligence with a pre-purchase inspection to avoid buying someone else’s headache.


Higher than Average Depreciation

BMW vehicles tend to depreciate faster than other luxury brands. A new BMW can lose 50% or more of its value in the first 4-5 years. While this makes used BMWs more affordable, it also means you’ll take a larger depreciation hit if you decide to sell or trade-in the BMW later on.


Maintenance and Repair Costs

One of the biggest considerations when buying a used BMW is the maintenance and repair costs. BMW parts and labor rates tend to be more expensive compared to non-luxury brands. This is simply the reality of owning a German performance luxury vehicle. While the exact costs can vary dramatically based on the model, mileage and service history, you should budget for maintenance and repairs that are approximately 48% higher than average according to RepairPal.

Some of the more common repairs on used BMW models include:


  • Brake pad replacement – $400-$800
  • Tire replacement – $300-$500 per tire
  • Battery replacement – $200-$400
  • Oil change – $80-$150
  • Spark plugs – $250-$500


It’s highly recommended to have a thorough pre-purchase inspection done on any used BMW by a trusted independent mechanic. This will identify any existing or potential issues. It’s also wise to budget $1,000 or more annually for preventative maintenance and unexpected repairs.

One way to reduce maintenance costs on a used BMW purchase is to buy a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) model, which typically comes with an extended warranty covering repairs for 1-2 years. While the purchase price may be slightly higher, the warranty coverage provides peace of mind and can potentially save thousands in repair bills down the road.


Reliability of Used BMW Models

When shopping for a used BMW, reliability is a major factor to consider. While BMWs have a reputation for requiring more expensive maintenance, a well-maintained BMW can be very reliable and provide years of enjoyable driving.

In general, the best years for BMW reliability are 2016 and newer. These newer models have fewer issues and benefit from continued engineering advancements. However, a properly maintained BMW from any year has the potential to reach high mileages with few major repairs.

It’s important to research the common issues for the specific BMW model you are considering. Some models may be more prone to certain problems like oil leaks, water pump failures, electrical gremlins, etc. Checking forums and talking to BMW mechanics can provide insights on which years or generations have the best track record.

Overall, factors like prior maintenance, driving conditions, and your own diligence in addressing issues early are just as important as the year when it comes to used BMW reliability. With reasonable expectations and preventative care, a pre-owned BMW can be an excellent and rewarding vehicle for Canadian drivers.


Best Used BMW Models for Canadian Buyers

When shopping for a used BMW, it’s important to focus on models that deliver the best blend of performance, luxury, reliability and value retention. Based on expert recommendations and consumer reviews, here are some of the top pre-owned BMW models for Canadian buyers to consider:


BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is one of the brand’s most popular models and a smart choice in the used market. As BMW’s iconic sports sedan, it delivers an unbeatable driving experience along with practicality. Key highlights of used 3 Series models include:



  • Fun, sporty handling and performance
  • Luxurious interior with quality materials
  • Good fuel economy for its class
  • Models from 2016+ have excellent reliability
  • Wide selection of body styles – sedan, wagon, coupe, convertible




  • Can be expensive to insure
  • Tight rear seat space in coupe and convertible
  • Advanced safety tech only in newer models
  • Models before 2016 prone to more repairs


BMW 5 Series

For shoppers who want more interior room and luxury, the 5 Series is an excellent used option. This midsize sedan balances driving enjoyment, comfort, technology and prestige.



  • Roomy cabin with premium features
  • Strong engines deliver smooth, powerful acceleration
  • Composed handling ideal for long highway drives
  • High scores for crash protection
  • 2016+ models again have better reliability




  • Ride quality is firm even in comfort mode
  • Cargo space is just average for class
  • Advanced safety features limited in earlier years
  • Rear seat doesn’t fold for added cargo flexibility


BMW X3 and X5

For BMW buyers needing an SUV, the X3 compact crossover and X5 midsize SUV are smart picks in the used marketplace. These models allow you to get modern BMW performance and luxury in a practical package.



  • Impressive handling and acceleration for an SUV
  • Spacious, upscale cabins with BMW’s latest tech
  • Good cargo and passenger room
  • Available third-row seating in X5
  • Better reliability in recent model years




  • Less fuel efficient than rivals
  • Firm ride quality
  • Cramped third row in X5
  • Advanced safety features cost extra


Getting the Best Used BMW Deal

When shopping for a used BMW, it’s important to find the model you want at a fair price. Here are some tips for getting the best deal on a pre-owned BMW:


Consider Certified Pre-Owned at Dealerships

Opting for a certified pre-owned (CPO) BMW at an authorized dealership is one of the best ways to get a great used car. CPO BMWs come with extended warranty coverage, a full vehicle inspection, and the peace of mind that any issues were addressed. While CPO models cost more than a standard used BMW, they provide added reassurance.


Look into Third-Party Extended Warranties

If you buy from a private seller or non-CPO dealer, consider purchasing a third-party extended warranty. This provides additional protection beyond the original factory warranty. Reputable providers like Endurance and CARCHEX offer different levels of coverage to suit your needs and budget.


Negotiate Based on Condition and Mileage

When negotiating price, be sure to take the vehicle’s condition and mileage into account. Well-maintained BMWs with moderate miles will command a higher price. Check sites like KBB to find fair price ranges. Point out any flaws or wear-and-tear noticed during the test drive. Be reasonable with your offer based on comparables in your area.

Doing your due diligence when buying a used BMW will help you land the right model at a competitive price point. Focus on late-model CPO vehicles or budget for an extended warranty on private sales. With some negotiation and research, you can get behind the wheel of a pre-owned BMW that perfectly suits your needs.



In summary, buying a used BMW offers a number of pros and cons to weigh. On the plus side, you can get a luxury performance vehicle for a more affordable price point and still get most of BMW’s acclaimed driving dynamics and brand cachet. However, the higher cost of maintenance and repairs is a significant downside, so budgeting properly for upkeep is critical.

When shopping for a used BMW, focus your search on 2016 or newer models, certified pre-owned vehicles, and well-maintained examples with complete service records. Negotiate a fair price and consider an extended warranty for added peace of mind. Do your due diligence to understand the ownership costs and avoid buying someone else’s problems.

Overall, buying a used BMW can be worth it for the right buyer who goes in with realistic expectations. These vehicles deliver an amazing driving experience and great tech when purchased carefully. However, they require higher maintenance budgets to keep them running smoothly long-term. Weigh the pros and cons carefully to decide if a used BMW aligns with your needs and budget.


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Questions About Buying Used BMWs

Yes, used BMWs can be very reliable in Canada if properly maintained. When buying a used BMW in Canada, aim for newer models with lower kilometres that have a complete service history. Get a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted BMW mechanic before purchase. Used BMWs with over 200,000 km may start developing issues.

Maintenance and repairs on used BMWs in Canada is more expensive compared to non-luxury brands, with an average annual cost of around $1,200. However, if you purchase an Extended Warranty for your used BMW it will cover most major repairs outside of routine maintenance. Shop around between dealerships as labour rates can vary.

The BMW 3 Series and 5 Series consistently rank among the best used BMWs to purchase in Canada thanks to their combination of performance, practicality and lower repair costs. The 2006-2013 BMW 3 Series and 2010-2017 5 Series in particular stand out on reliability surveys. SUV models like the X3 and X5 are also good used BMW options.

It’s generally not recommended to buy a used BMW in Canada with over 200,000 km. At this high mileage major issues like engine or transmission problems are more likely to occur. Stick to used BMWs under 180,000 km and be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection done on any high mileage models you are considering.

Yes, purchasing an off-lease used BMW can be a smart choice in Canada. These vehicles are typically well maintained and have lower mileage since they have only had one previous driver. Confirm the service history is complete and aim for off-lease BMWs with less than 60,000 kilometres for the best reliability and value retention.

With proper maintenance and care, you can expect a used BMW purchased in Canada to last between 150,000–250,000 km or 10-15 years. Stick to models 5 years or newer with less than 100k km for the best chances of hitting 200k km or more. Review maintenance records prior to purchase.

Tips for buying a used BMW in Canada include: test drive extensively checking for issues; get a pre-purchase inspection done by a BMW specialist; ask the seller lots of questions and confirm maintenance history; purchase certified pre-owned if available for the warranty; negotiate a fair price using market data.

BMW dealerships often provide the most thorough inspections and best post-purchase support, but sometimes have higher asking prices on used models. Private sellers generally offer more room for negotiation but you sacrifice peace of mind. Get any private sale BMW inspected before purchase. Dealerships may offer Certified Pre-Owned models.

The average annual cost to insure a used BMW in Canada is approximately $3,000 depending on your specific model, location and driving history. This is higher than non-luxury vehicles. Shop quotes from various providers as rates can vary. Consider higher deductibles to reduce your premium.


Yes, used BMW models sold in Canada require premium 91 or higher octane gasoline. This adds to the overall operating costs. With premium fuel expect to pay 30-50 cents more per litre over regular gasoline. Fuel costs for 12,000 km of annual driving can be $500 higher per year.

Budget $1,000-1,500 per year for repairs and unexpected maintenance on a used BMW once the original warranty has expired. Models over 5 years old or high mileage BMWs may require closer to $2,000 annually as components wear out. Extended Warranties help reduce repair bills.

Common issues on higher mileage, older used BMWs include: oil leaks, electrical faults, water pump/thermostat failures, suspension problems, instrument cluster and electronics malfunctions, expensive transmission repairs and worn interior pieces. Issues amplify after 200,000 km.

The BMW 3 Series historically has had the lowest repair costs among used BMW models in Canada according to multiple reliability studies. This includes both sedan and wagon versions. The X3 and X1 SUVs also rate well for lower maintenance requirements for an SUV.

The complete maintenance history should come with the service records of any used BMW purchased from an official dealership in Canada. For private sales, the owner should have the original maintenance invoices for work completed over the years. You can also call any BMW dealership with the VIN to inquire about records.

BMW’s Certified Pre-Owned program provides an extensive CPO warranty that covers vehicles for up to 6 years/160,000km from the original in-service date. This extensive coverage helps provide peace of mind on repairs. Check specific terms with selling dealership.

Yes, buying an Extended Warranty from BMW or third party provider for a used BMW in Canada is highly recommended given the potential repair bills outside of the regular maintenance. Make sure to understand the contract terms and coverage details fully of any extended protection plan.

When test driving a used BMW, listen for odd engine noises, pay attention to transmission shifting smoothness, check that electronics all function properly, ensure brake pedal feels firm, inspect tires for wear and watch for any warning lights that could indicate bigger issues.

Yes, BMW’s advanced xDrive AWD system is very capable in winter driving conditions often faced in Canada. Properly maintained used BMW SUVs equipped with xDrive have excellent traction and control on snow and ice covered roads. The system is designed to handle cold temperatures.

The average cost for a full set of replacement tires for popular used BMW models in Canada ranges from $800-1,200 installed. Specific tire sizes and brands compatible with your BMW’s rim size impact pricing. Performance-focused tires wear quicker but provide better grip. Shop quotes for best local pricing.

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