This is the story of my E90 BMW 325i
That’s right, you read that m’fkin’ title right. It’s gonna be a long one, so hopefully, you have your popcorn with you. I highly recommend you read this fully because I’m gonna share some very important information that’ll help you avoid the mistakes (serious mistakes) I did when buying this. Alright then, let’s get started!
I was always into these so-called modern classics and I always had an eye on the E46 3 Series but those probably don’t exist in India, and are most likely more difficult to maintain. And so, I decided to look for an E90 3 Series, especially a 325i. Not because I wanted to spend more on fuel, but I wanted to experience that 2.5-litre naturally aspirated straight-six power; I thought an E90 325i slots somewhere in between an E90 320i and an E90 M3. And so, the hunt began a year ago. But again, good 325is are very hard to find in India, most likely due to the fact that they’re gas guzzlers. There was one in Delhi and one in Kerala, both for a good price, but for some reason, neither of them made a lot of sense to me to go there and bring it to Bengaluru where I live.
So I decided to go check out the one that was listed for sale here for more than what it was actually worth. It only had 51,500 km on the odo (the listing was old, but when I actually saw the car, it had 51,500 km). You know, before searching for a 325i, I did some online research on the potential problems I could face with the N52 engine, and since this one apparently had only 51,500 km, I thought maybe I’ll have trouble-free motoring for another 20,000 km at least. But anyway, in the photos, the car looked in great shape, obviously, but the reality was something different which I’ll get to in a minute or two.
There are only two Golden Rules for buying a used car. Rule 1: Take a trusted mechanic along with you; Rule 2: Don’t forget Rule 1.
I contacted the seller asking if the car is still available for sale because it was a 6-month-old listing. And he said that he didn’t sell the car for 6 months because he was not getting “good offers”, whatever that means. And I was like, alright, fair enough. We decided on a time to meet and.. the first thing I immediately noticed when the car arrived was that the right projector headlight not working. He said it’s just the bulb that needs to be replaced, and I was like.. okay, cool. I “checked out” the rest of the car and took a test drive, and everything seemed “fine”—or so I thought, except for the parking brake light that was on the whole time. He said, it just needs to be “flashed” with an OBD scanner and everything will be fine. That didn’t make a lot of sense, but I decided to ignore that light, just like I ignored the headlight issue.
And then I checked out the engine bay and the boot and nothing seemed alarming—for my dumb little brain. I also noticed that the windshield rubber beading had worn out, and I was like.. no big deal, I can change it. But it is in fact, turned out to be a very big deal, which I’ll tell you in a minute.
The seller assured me that the car has no other issues whatsoever except for the aforementioned headlight bulb and the constantly on parking brake light. I was too excited about finally finding a 325i in my city, and I forgot the aforementioned two rules. I mean, I didn’t forget, but it was more of ignoring those two rules, because as mentioned, I was over-excited. I’m not entirely sure what had possessed me that day, but I decided to blindly believe the seller’s words and didn’t go deep into the engine bay.
And so, I offered him a price on the very first day of checking out the car; I offered him a fair price, to be honest, but he was expecting more. After going back and forth a li’l bit, we settled down on a price that was in fact more than what it was actually worth paying for, but there was no other 325i on sale here and I wasn’t interested in anything else. So I ended up paying him some advance and two days later I decided to pick it up. No, scratch that; two days later (May 6, 2022), I made a huge mistake of purchasing this particular car.
I took a friend along, and we all three were sitting in the car transferring the money.., signing papers.., and while we were doing that, the infotainment system was throwing a low oil warning. And that was just the beginning of a long nightmare that would follow. The low oil warning didn’t show up when I test drove the car just two days before that day. But the owner assured me that there’s nothing to worry and I can simply call up a mechanic to my home and he’ll top up the oil. And he also bullsh*tted me that he had replaced the windshield beading once but got worn out due to parking in the sun.
We started driving back home and the low oil warning started showing up more and as we got closer to home, the warning said this: “oil level is below minimum”. In addition to that, I was also getting a low coolant level warning. In fact, it said something like “coolant level too low”. I stopped the car and texted him, “Hey, look I’m getting these warnings, is it safe to drive?” And his answer was an obvious one: “yea, no problem, please continue”. At that time, it started to feel like he didn’t know what he was talking about. I mean, I thought to myself that this dumb m’fker probably knows nothing on how to maintain a car.
I reached home and relaxed for a bit.., and as if the bad luck of purchasing this car wasn’t enough, the same evening there was heavy rain and gusts, and as I was driving along a service road, out of nowhere a metal board came flying and hit my car on the left side. But luckily, I found the mirror cap again at the same place where the car got hit.
But the more bad news was that water leaks into the cabin through the right A-pillar. There’s probably a sealant issue. So, potential E90 buyers, please make sure that there are no water leaks through the A- or B-pillars. Pour some water over there to check.
Moving on, the next day I called up a mechanic who was a friend of the mechanic who worked on this very car in the past. Meaning, he knew this car very well. And there was more bad news; bad news max pro ultra. We found the following issues: oil leaks in the engine bay due to worn-out head gasket, coolant leaks due to worn-out coolant pipes (he denies it in his response, but there were coolant leaks), worn-out rear brake pads (this guy who sold the car to me, had also lied to me that he had replaced the brake pads), rear left reversing light failure, and the right projector headlight malfunction.
The projector headlight bulb was fine (I bought a new bulb to determine this), but a month later, another mechanic near my home found out that the problem was with the ballast—which is a lot more expensive than replacing just a bulb. A few days later, I also found out that the driver-side AC vent adjustability mechanism was broken.
Worn-out gasket is one of the common issues with the N52 engine, but I wasn’t expecting it to fail at just 51,500 km. But anyway, the car spent the next three days in a garage fixing the oil and coolant leak issues. During that time, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat properly, and believe it or not, I was googling how to deal with anxiety. Because I had spent a lot of my savings on this thing and I was like.. sh*t man, what the f**k have I done?! Obviously, I was constantly regretting my decision.
Whatever the oil that was in the car, was nasty. The car got fresh fluids, both oil and coolant. One of the lies the previous owner told me was that the car’s fluids are good enough for another several 1,000 kilometers. But anyway, we didn’t touch the beading, because I was told that the windshield needs to be removed in order to replace that, and there’s a very high possibility of windshield cracking during that process. Yes, there are videos online that show you how to do that without removing the windshield, but no one here was confident enough to try that. I decided to somehow try and temporarily fix it myself (with a tape, of course).
A few days later, I called up the mechanic who did the gasket replacement, to replace the rear brake pads and the broken brake pad sensor as well. A month later, a different mechanic near my home, as mentioned before, fixed the headlight and reversing light issues and he also fixed the dents.
And a week later, the same mechanic near my home recommended replacing the engine mounts, the noisy serpentine belt and clean-up the oxygen sensors, because the idling was very rough. Now the main thing that is left is to re-do the windshield beading.
To sum it up, here’s the list of issues the seller sold the car with:
- Oil leaks due to worn-out head gasket
- Coolant leaks
- Water leak through right A-pillar, most likely due to sealant issue and not the worn-out beading alone
- Right projector headlight ballast malfunction
- Worn-out rear brake pads and broken brake pad sensor
- Weakened engine mounts
- Weakened serpentine belt
- Broken driver-side AC vent adjustability mechanism
- Missing wheel arch covers for the headlights
- Reversing left light failure
- Plus a few more minor issues
So, what were the lessons?
1. The biggest lesson was to not rush when buying a used car, even though it looks great visually. Okay? NEVER EVER RUSH! Remember, no used car is worth ruining your peace of mind. The car isn’t going anywhere; there’s not gonna be a m’fkin’ queue to buy a used car. Be patient!
2. Always take someone along with you so that they might discover something you might miss.
3. If you feel that the price is more than what the car is actually worth, just come back saying “I’ll let you know”. There’s a very high chance that the seller might agree to your price.
4. This is very important. Take a mechanic along to inspect the car at least on your second visit. It’s a good idea to take a mechanic along for the first time itself as mentioned at the beginning, but if you couldn’t, at least for the second time. Remember, it is always better to lose a few 100s rather than losing a significant chunk of your savings. If you don’t know a mechanic, ask a friend, or a friend’s friend, or a friend’s friend’s friend. Do something, and take a mechanic along. If the owner doesn’t agree to get the car inspected by a mechanic of your choice, you need to back off because there’s a very high possibility that you’re dealing with a shady seller.
5. Don’t miss the hints. There’ll be certain hints that something is fishy. Such as the one I missed. After negotiating the price, we talked about servicing the car, and he said that he gets the car “serviced at home” by a trusted mechanic, and he would introduce me to the mechanic. When I asked his number, he opened his phone, but then immediately backed-off saying he’ll give after taking his permission. He probably feared that I might call the mechanic and ask about the car before the deal was sealed.
Another thing I learned about this particular seller is that besides his full-time job at a prominent tech company (Philips), his part-time job is to find a really well-maintained used luxury car,
use it abuse it for a year, without bothering to replace anything, not even fluids, and sell it off to an unsuspecting victim. Pick a good car, ruin it, sell it. That’s his life mantra. Why do I say that? Because I remember him saying that the old X1 he had at the time of purchasing the 325i from him, was his 11th or 14th BMW or something like that. And I’m seriously concerned about the potential victim who’s gonna buy his abused X1.
I discovered more issues days after I sent this email. And I emailed him because he stopped responding on Whatsapp. Nope, I didn’t take legal action because I didn’t wanna spend more money on lawyers after bleeding so much money already.
A few days after discovering all the problems the car had, I tried texting him, calling him, emailing him, asking for some refund (as compensation for making me spend a ton of extra money), but I was getting no response, unsurprisingly. But he called me back after I asked if he has no balls to speak to me, and he tells me using extremely abusive language that no matter what problem the car has, he’s not gonna give me any refund. Trust me, he said that even if there’s a p** leak (ucche leak) or pubes leak (shaata leak), he’s not gonna refund (translated from Kannada). While the mistake was obviously mine, you gotta watch out for such pathetic individuals disguised as human beings.
Don’t lose your peace of mind!
With that ladies and gentlemen, we are offering you used car inspection service (for a small fee) because I certainly don’t want anyone to go through the same mental harassment—trust me, it’s awful. You can hire a mechanic through us who will personally inspect the car you’re interested in and let you know their findings. Currently, the service is gonna be available only in Bengaluru. If you’re in Bengaluru and looking to buy a used car that you’re interested in, drop us a mail and we’ll work out how to make sure that you don’t lose your peace of mind.