Purchased a Lemon - 2004 BMW

My daughters partner purchased a second hand 2004 BMW in December from a car yard for $9000.

Problems started within 3 months and it’s been on going. He finally got them to agree on warranty cover that he paid $1000 extra for. They were 3 major oil leaks. They occurred a couple of weeks later along with something else (can’t remember what). They paid the oil leaks even though they said they weren’t covered as the other issue was covered so they fixed both however this was at a mechanics of their choice, not of his choice and it took weeks. Apparently They admitted in email that there were issues with the car when it was sold.

Now the electrics have gone. Another phone call made and they will cover as it’s included in the warranty.

However the problems have been one after the other. They clearly sold a dodgy car and he just waits for the next issue, which is completely unacceptable. The whole circle of waiting days to see if they’ll cover and then getting it fixed which also takes ages and the cost of hiring a car or Uber’s…

Is there anything he can do?

Any advice appreciated.


  • +2

    The car model is not the problem, millions in Europe use them as cheap older cars and they can last 400k km. I knew someone with one a similar age and it was fine.
    Sounds like it was used heavily such as for taxi or for deliveries along with skipping maintenance or just using a quick patch up job to hide oil leaks.

  • -3

    90% of used Australian, American and European cars are lemon.

  • +2

    I had a 2004 E46 320i (6 cylinder). Was a fantastic car that was great to drive and funnily enough despite all the stereotypes - reliable. Owned it for 11 years and sold it with about 160,000km on the clock and I swear it still drove almost like it was new.

    I would recommend finding a good independent mechanic and getting an honest opinion about the car. If you jump on some BMW forums you'll get some good mechanic recommendations. The good thing about a car that age is that there should be plenty of second hand parts available from wreckers.

    • but the e46 was for the most part the BMW fold - goo dead reliable. It's the BMWs that were designed in the early 2000s where they started to go wrong (e.g. e60 / e90/92)

  • Get rid of it at the highest price you can get it for.

    Good luck!!

  • I drive euro cars because they are inherently "nicer", but I never keep them outside of factory or factory extended warranty.

    As wanky as its going to sound, if you can't afford it, don't buy it. Euro cars are great if you have the pockets to run and maintain them only.

    Another rule of thumb - don't get the base models. These are typically bought by badge snobs and contains the cheapest plastic parts from factory. If you go for proper M/AMG/RS cars, they have been properly engineered and tested + more durable, high performance parts.

    There can be only 1 reason why anyone would buy a $9k 2001 BMW - and that's to show the world they drive a BMW. Problem is, everyone knows its an old heap of junk that is extremely cheap in the current market value, so you are really defeating the "show off" purpose already

    • +1

      I don't know I don't quite agree with what you are saying. I bought a BMW 218i gran coupe as a demo. It cost 3k more than a Mazda 3 Astina brand new.
      There is a difference still between an entry BMW and a top tier Mazda. The comfort and drive is still nicer when we tested them and also there are some really nice add one such as an emergency sis feature that is really well thought out.
      I have no regrets with the purchase. Even if one day it might cost to repair if it provides an enjoyable experience while you have it then why not.
      For the Op I would really. Get the warrant stuff sorted out then sell it. The next owner will be better off for it and your son in law can purchase another Japanese car.

  • +1

    I've got a 1991 Honda Civic I paid $5K for 18 years ago

    It's now worth about $200 (to a wrecker) but I'm loath to sell it

    because it's totally reliable - it just works - and never breaks down.

    • +1

      If it's a hatchback, put it up on Gumtree and FB as an EOI. 90's JDM cars are rising in price lately, just not sure if it's reached the ED Civic yet.

      • AE86?

      • yeah looking at an ad now for an 89 ed sedan for $3k. Seen high prices for the hatches and clean examples on Kates jdm on facebook. Prices are usually lower in Sydney + Melbourne though

      • nah - sedan - I read that hatchback Civics are normally thrashed by boy racers - sedans driven to church by little old ladies on Sunday

        this was the second - sold by a young woman whose grandfather had died leaving it

        it was as new condition - and a Japanese Honda mechanic lusted after it and wanted to buy it from me

        until I had a ding (corner bumper - misjudged the braking lurch forward changing lanes in stationary traffic on a steep downhill)

        then he was no longer interested

        reminds me of another lifetime lesson - from a crappy paint VW kombivan with newly reconditioned engine I bought in Greece and drove through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany last century no problemo - I enjoyed driving around nice towns and seeing snooty ladies look down their nose at the crappy paint …

        the most expensive part of a used car can be the paint - get a good engine with crappy paint and you can have trouble-free motoring for a low price

        as I said to an overseas-born work colleague looking for a used family car - 'buy the cheapest car your ego can afford - if you need shiny new to feel OK about yourself - that can cost you an extra $5K+pa - if you don't feel a need to spend money you don't have to impress people you don't like, then you can save that money to enjoy elsewhere - like early retirement !

  • +1

    I can't help on the BMW, but I have daughters and I can say right now if my daughters partner bought a 17 year old BMW I would tell her I don't really approve of the guy.

    I have no issues with people buying demo or slightly used euros, or not buying euros at all. I am just not a fan of people who waste money on 17 year old Euros.

    • +1

      'experience' is the name we give to our mistakes

      An expert is someone who has made all the mistakes.

      I have a lot of experience …

      • Come on buddy. Surely there are some things that don't require experience. Where did this idea have a "lets try it" stamped on it? It should go into the same category as "let's try stealing" you shouldn't really do it…. And while I do concede I'm sure there are people who have stolen. I stand by the fact I also would not want my daughter dating people who thought "lets try stealing" was a good idea.

        • What if said guy was actually handy or mechanically minded and actually knew what he was buying? Believe it or not there are still people around willing to get their hands dirty and not just look at a car like an iPhone that has to be upgraded every other year.

  • In a few years time, we're going to have lots of people buying cheap BMW twin turbo V8 with the Hot Vee and posting it on OZB.

    The repair costs of the Hot Vee is staggering. Fantastic performance, but not designed for any simple repairs due to the packaging.

    • I'm surprised there's no whinging about their x35i dying, I kinda expect those to die before the hot vee v8's giving up.

      • Lots of people have whinged about the older twin turbo x35i (N54) dying… they eventually replaced it with the single turbo N55 a few years later.

        N54 was more complex and not as reliable. As complex as it is, it's still much more mechanic friendly than the BMW hot vee.

  • If you're looking for an intelligent solution to some sort of life problem; the bargain basement basket cases on ozbargain is the second last place I'd goto before the homeless shelter; for perls of wisdom in life.

  • Rule 1: Dont buy a used European car
    Rule 2 Definitely dont buy a used BMW more than 10 years old (Common knowledge)
    Rule 3 Dont buy used cars from a car yard more than 10 years old or more than 160,000km to ensure you qualify for statutory 3 month used car warranty (NSW)
    Rule 4: Dont get involved in other peoples business (Mind your own business)

    Sorry OP
    All 4 rules are broken
    You are beyond help

    Only advise I can give is to get rid of the car ASAP but since its not yours that advise is useless because the buyer is going to tell you where you can go.

  • I don't think it's the worst decision to purchase a used BMW, but I wouldn't do it as a daily driver and I wouldn't do it if I couldn't fix things myself.

    A little bit of research will show that typically used BMW's will have leaking valve cover gaskets and issues with the water pumps.

    If you can't do these things yourself, then you are gonna be up for some $$$ in labour costs.

    • if you really want to lose money fast, I understand the top model BMW 740 or whatever is the way to go

      I think I read in the UK you can buy one maybe 3 years old for a small fraction of the new price

      Overseas I've been for a ride in a rich friend BMW 740s - 2 different cars in 2 years - I remember feeling the bumps from the suspension and thinking 'yeah - time for a new one … '

      he'd bought his son the coupe version of the 640 or somesuch

      when you've got too much money, plenty of people are willing to help you take a load off …

      a fool and their money are soon separated …

      now where can I get some Raspberry Fool … ? mmm … https://tinyurl.com/4ztdypjj

  • I would invent a time machine, never buy that car and instead buy a 2013 Hyundai i30. That's the best advice I can give them.

    • far canal - hee oon die ? as Amerikans say

      I drove a new rental one for a month around Southern England - it ran perfectly fine, but

      what - a feeling ?

      nah - I would never buy one

  • +1

    Sorry dude. I was in the same situation. What are you expecting? Sell the car and accept the loss. Else waste your time running the car for one month and waiting for repairs for 4 months

  • Irrespective of brands, things break as they age. The poor kid should've bought the newest car his $9k could get him as oppose to a badge…

    You could go to *CAT and try your luck down the ACL route but trying to establish merchantable quality or fit for purpose could be a stretch? I think a reasonable person could expect something this old to have issues, whether the dealer misrepresented the goods is a different story and hopefully they did.

  • +5

    Ok. I'm a mechanic who specialises in euro cars. There is a lot of opinions on here, but that's all they are, opinions.
    Firstly, he bought a car, and it came with an aftermarket warranty. So far any issues have been fixed. But he is worried about any future problems. This seems to be the way a lot of yards operate. They sell the cars and any issues they get covered by the warranty rather than go over the vehicle properly before it's sold. But generally the aftermarket warranties are good today, as the industry was forced to change.
    He is covered by the ACCC laws which state that the goods must be suitable for purpose, and perform to what a reasonable person would think they should. So spending 9000 on a car you would expect a good couple of years out of it without major problems. Being a mechanical device, minor issues are expected. So no recourse here. As repairs have been made under warranty the caryard has done everything right.
    Most euro cars are as reliable as any other. They are highly engineered but require proper preventative maintenance. Changing the oil and filter is not preventative maintenance. BMWs have a lot of plastic components in the engine bay. Plastic heats and cools and after a period will crack. These need to be replaced. BMWs are known for timing chain guides to break. Do these need to be replaced. The ongoing maintenance is not cheap. Buying one may be affordable, but most people can't afford the proper ongoing maintenance. If the service books aren't stamped by a dealer or a specialist, then it's most likely had oil changes only. That's a bad sign.
    If he is struggling with it, trade it in on another car. Get a late model Hyundai or Kia or a Toyota. These cars tolerate services rather than preventative maintenance.
    There are lessons here. Don't buy a car without having it inspected. Don't buy a euro without it having a full service history from dealers and specialists only. And even then, have it inspected. And if you can't afford 600 to 1200 yearly for proper preventative maintenance, don't but a euro car.

    • Great Advice..

      As a mechanic who specialises in euro cars, assuming you've done preventative maintenance, is a Audi, BMW or Merc generally more reliable the other?

    • The consumer guarantees are touch and go for a 17 year old car, even if $9K was paid. The OP can roll the dice at their local xCAT, but I wouldn't like their chances.

  • Common issue. We have a 2005 E90 from new. Just had an engine overhaul last year. Massive oil leaks but all fixed.

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