Owning a Luxury car such as BMW or a Merc has always been a far-fetched dream for the middle-class. They cost your entire life’s savings to buy, insurance is just about your annual housing loan and when anything goes wrong, from the very smallest thing like breaking a headlight to something suicidal like a transmission failure, just be prepared with a divorce attorney. But wait is it all that bad? No manufacturer would want to make a car that fails exactly after the warranty gets over(except for a few Mercedes) and not all luxury cars cost a bomb to repair. If you use the right amount of ingenuity and buy something that sits in the sweet spot then you are bound to enjoy years of happy miles with your German soulmate. Here are four rules that you might want to follow. We consider the most popular choices, the BMW 320d/320i and the Mercedes c200/c220 CDI for this thread.
Rule 1 – Bargain as much as possible and try to bag a steal
10 years ago a brand new 320d or a Mercedes c220 CDI would’ve cost somewhere around 33 Lakh rupees along with a few options. So when you look up the prices on the second-hand market, you’ll see them going for somewhere between 6 to 18 Lakh rupees. Yepp that’s a huge price range and first thing’s first, just avoid the cheapest and the most expensive ones, for an E90 320d that’s about 6 – 10 years old, 13 Lakh rupees is top money that too for a really good low mileage vehicle. Try to find any vehicle that sits in the sweet spot, between 8 and 10 Lakh rupees. In other words, bargain hard. These vehicles might be posh high-end German sedans but that doesn’t mean you should be soft on the price. Owners tend to ask too much money for them but there are good reasons as to why they are being sold. These vehicles are going to be expensive enough to maintain and you might need cash for unexpected issues so don’t get deceived by the clean and shiny car.
Rule 2 – Ensure that the vehicle doesn’t have more than 2 previous owners
This is absolutely vital, you might find low mileage luxury cars for a steal but they tend to have 4 previous owners. While you might argue that the low mileage is an added benefit, just remember any previous owner would have bought the car with the same intention as you do. A cheap BMW or Mercedes to run about. Such vehicles tend to be poorly maintained and abused. Try your best to get a clean first owner vehicle even if its slightly high mileage, if the mileage is convincing then go for a second owner vehicle. By the way, low mileage here refers to anything between 50k kms to 80k kms(For Diesel). First owner vehicles tend to be owned by the rich aristocrats and enthusiasts with deep pockets who maintain their vehicles top notch. Even if it cost an extra few thousands, try to get a first owner example with a full-service record.
Rule 3 – Inspect the vehicle thoroughly
Maintenance is generally thought to be a hassle with expensive German vehicles but there are some good ways to get around this. Firstly make sure the car you’re checking out has a new set of tyres as they tend to be very expensive, if not bargain on the asking price. Take an experienced mechanic from a Bosch service station or make a checklist of all the common problems with E90 BMW’s or c220 Mercs(There are thousands of online forums)and inspect the vehicle thoroughly. Spending a good amount of time on inspection will save you tons of money. Don’t bother much about the mileage of the vehicle, the engines tend to last at least 3 lakh kms under proper regular maintenance. Check if the parts that need replacing such as Battery, Clutch, timing belt, shock absorbers are replaced. Stay away from vehicles that come equipped with adaptive suspension. Diesel BMW’s and Mercs will need a change of Turbo once they hit 1,20,000 Kms and this is a very expensive job, if it has been replaced by the previous owner then don’t bother about the mileage, if not walk away. By the standard rule-book, if you’ll be doing a lot of driving go for a diesel, if its just on the occasions the petrol is the one to opt for. Remember these vehicles will require a lot of maintenance if they are daily driven so they make more sense as a second car for weekends. Going for a petrol is a worthy thought as they require less servicing and won’t suffer from carbon buildup inside the Engine.
Rule 4 – Insurance and Servicing
These luxury vehicles on the second-hand market are out of warranty beauties. So you don’t have to ball your head to the expensive service plans of the dealers, even before you start looking for a used BMW or Merc, search for a good service guy who has a good experience working with German vehicles. This is the toughest part, as such service centres are the rarest but even if you manage to find one that’s 20 Kms away from your house, go for it! Bosch Service stations often do a good job when it comes to servicing and repairs on German vehicles. Stuff like oil changes will easily set you back by 30k at an authorised BMW service station.
Insurance isn’t any prettier either as Bumper to Bumper policies easily cost a Lakh rupees and that’s a hefty price for a middle age, out of warranty car. Scrap the original insurance of the vehicle and go for a third party one. Let’s be honest, paying a huge Insurance premium which doesn’t cover general wear and tear or electrical failure is useless. Third party insurance should cost anywhere from 25k to 40k depending upon the age of the car. If anything goes wrong with your vehicle, don’t panic. In this day and age of the internet, just look up the faults online and be a part of a club pertaining to the vehicle. E90 BMW’s have many owners forums where every commonly occurring issue is discussed. As for parts, there are several online retailers like Ebay.com, Oriparts.com, Spareshub.com, indiamart.com etc. Try to source the best OEM parts available and get it repaired from any service station that specialises in German sedans.
Buying a used luxury sedan, especially a German one is always a gamble but these “Money Pits” offer the purest driving pleasure and safety that a brand new sedan like a Ciaz can never match. Thanks to the gods of depreciation, today you can pick good examples for the sticker price of a mid-range Honda City and though it may not be sensible enough, just remember “life is short” and you can never put a price on how a car makes you feel. Owning a fine German machine is an indulgence that everyone deserves to experience atleast in their lifetime. Follow the rule book and these machines will serve you as a loyal dog without having to sell your kidneys.
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