I am a student at Loughborough University and have been looking at replacing my current student runaround which I bought while working last year (Mondeo V6 51 plate) with a 3 series touring. I want a 6 cyclinder engine so looking at the 320i to keep in the same insurance group, though weirdly it's cheaper to insure that the Mondeo. Just fancy something more practical for putting bikes etc in the back, yet comfortable and fun to chuck into corners when the mood takes me there.
Last weekend I went to look at a 320i touring e46, 2001 with 102k on the clock. I noticed that it needs new rear tyres, new rearmost auxiliary belt and one of the window regulators is on the way out; the thing that concerned me most was a little yellow sludge under the oil cap which was worse after a short test drive. My research indicates that tis is likely to be caused by condensation (it was a cold day and the car has been off the road for a few weeks only being started now and then) - and confirmed by picking the brains of the mechanics at a BMW specialist today. I had no advisories on the last MOT and comes with full SH.
The bodywork was ok apart from bubbling over one arch, exhaust and brakes good, rims were very good and engine wasn't making any strage noises - no honking/buzzing with the oil filler removed.
Worryingly the advice they gave me for buying used 3 series BMW's is just not to buy one at all, unless I have a lot of time on my hands or money for repairs! Some of the problems listed were suspension bushes, ball joints, ignition coils, springs breaking, excessive rear tyre wear, brakes and probably a few other things I can't remember. I can't help but think they were being a little subjective - after all they do have to work on them day in - day out..
Just wondering if some 3 series drivers could offer their objective opinion - would it be a good buy around that sort of mileage? Is it likely to be a money drain? Bear in mind that I'm a student so I can't keep shelling out money on expensive repairs. I do like to do simple things myself such as brakes, belts, plugs, fuel/oil filters etc, I would say I am a 2 on the Haynes scale of spanners. Also, the majority of my driving is motorway with a monthly return trip to Exeter.
Thank you in advance,