BMW 3 Series Used Buyer’s Guide

2012 BMW 328i
​The compact entry-level 3 Series reigns as ​BMW’s #1 volume-leading bestseller and is the most popular model in the marque’s lineup. It was introduced in 1975 as the successor to the New Class 02 Series and has remained in regular production ever since. With a base price that competes with many other contemporary midsize family sedans such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion, the 3 Series is arguably the most mainstream of all of BMW’s present-day crop. It’s far more than just a basic commuter car, though. The 3 Series, like its larger sibling, the elite ​7 Series high-end luxury saloon, epitomizes the BMW trademark amalgamation of style, luxury, and performance but unlike that premier flagship vehicle, the 3 Series is attainable and has attracted a broad array of new customers ranging from suburban families to urban millennials. What was once previously exclusive to only the more ​affluent of citizens is now one of the most commonly-seen vehicles on American roads today.

However, the widespread popularity of the BMW 3 Series also saddles it with one of the worst depreciation percentages on the market today: a painful 46.9%. That might not mean anything to someone who leases from a dealership every 3 years, but it really sucks for those who bought brand new from the showroom. But as the old saying goes: “One’s loss is another’s gain.” High depreciation for the 1st owner can be a bargain buy for the 2nd or 3rd in line.

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Buying a used car? EricTheCarGuy is here to help!

Just about all of us have had to buy a used car at some point. A car purchase is fun and exciting. Out with the old and in with the new as some would say. Unfortunately used cars often come with gremlins from previous owners. There is nothing worse than finding hidden surprises in your new ride. This applies to cars from private sellers and dealerships. Not all dealerships are created equal and they can often overlook problems on trade ins and auction cars. Luckily there is some excellent information out there to help you make an educated buy. EricTheCarGuy on youtube has posted a 4 part series that shows exactly what to look for on a used car. This could save you thousands! Check out his videos below before making your next car purchase.


How To: 06 Nissan Altima Temp Control Removal / Installation

In this write up we’ll be showing you how to remove the temperature control from a 2006 Nissan Altima. The temp control is the control panel on your dash that controls the air conditioning, heat and fan speed settings. Our AC controls are manual but this procedure should be the same for the automatic temp control. This is also identical for the 2005 Altima model year.

Tools Needed

Philips head screw driver
Small flat head screw driver or prying tool

Disconnect your Battery – Always remove the negative terminal of your battery before working on your car. This will keep you and your cars electronics safe while you do repairs. Remember that you could potentially have to re-enter your radio code after reconnecting the battery so be sure to have that handy. Radio presets, seat memory, trip computers and info screens may also lose information and presets when you disconnect the battery.


Step One

Using a small flat head screw driver or prying tool, gently pull the trim piece away from the dash. You should feel the clips release as you pull the trim towards you. It’s best to pull the trim out with your hands once you have enough room to get a good grip on it.

When you pull the trim out you’ll see that the passenger air bag warning light is still attached. Using a small screw driver you can release the connector from the air bag light.

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A Sneaky Trick That Car Dealerships Pull

Bet you aren’t too surprised to hear the word “sneaky” describe a car dealership. Well, this isn’t a post about how they try to upsell you or get you to pay more than a fair amount for what a car is worth. This is about another thing that car dealerships do, that you might not even realize.

Take a careful look around at all of the cars in a parking lot sometime. Count the number of cars that have a dealer sticker or decal on the window, emblem on the bumper, or license plate frame on them. Chances are good that the number will be pretty high. Maybe even your own car has one. This is because dealers slap them on after you purchase a vehicle. Maybe you noticed it and didn’t care, or never really thought about it or maybe you didn’t even notice it at all. What car buyers don’t realize is that the car dealership really has no right to put that on the car.

Think about it. As a consumer, you are paying for the car that you ultimately drive off of the lot. It is your owned property. A dealer has no right to put something on the car without your permission, but they do it every day knowing that many car owners won’t notice, won’t care, or will be too lazy to take it off.

These dealer stickers, decals, emblems, and license plate frames are essentially free advertising for the dealer. Everywhere you drive, you are promoting their brand to any car that passes you by or is stopped behind you at a red light.

If you are going to advertise a car dealership, shouldn’t you be compensated? If a dealer was willing to lower the price tag on a vehicle in exchange for advertising, that would be one thing. But what dealers are doing is taking advantage of the unassuming customer, which isn’t really fair. In most cases they aren’t even telling the new car owner what they are doing, they simply do it and then hope for the best.

If your car is currently promoting a dealership, and you don’t want it to be, luckily these promotional items can be removed fairly easily. Warm a sticker or decal and peel it off slowly so that the adhesive doesn’t leave a mark. A license plate frame can easily be removed by taking the license plate off of the car using a screwdriver. Be careful removing an emblem and use a fishing line or floss to cut through the foam and then use an adhesive remover to soften the remaining foam before taking it off to avoid gouging the paint job.

What are your thoughts on car dealers adding promotions to a customer’s car without their approval?

The Pros and Cons of the Different Drivetrains

When purchasing a vehicle, either new or used, there is a lot that you need to consider. A car can be a big investment and you want to make sure that you are making the right choice. One thing to keep in mind when considering what your next vehicle should be is the kind of drivetrain that it has. There are four different types of drivetrains, although two are very closely related to one another. Here is a list along with pros and cons for each:

Front Wheel Drive (FWD)
A front wheel drive vehicle is relaying the power from the engine to the front wheels. With FWD, the front wheels are pulling the car to create movement and the rear wheels are simply following. The rear wheels don’t receive any power from the engine.

PRO – A FWD car or truck typically gets better fuel economy and emits less carbon dioxide. It also performs better than a RWD vehicle in the snow because all of the weight of the engine is located over the driving wheels.

CON– Since it is “nose heavy”, handling can be difficult.

Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)
A rear wheel drive vehicle is relaying power from the engine to the rear wheels. Like a bicycle, the rear wheels are responsible for pushing the car forward.

PRO– The weight of the drivetrain on a RWD vehicle is spread more evenly so it has better balance than a FWD vehicle.

CON– A RWD vehicle is more prone to loss of traction on slick roads and does not perform well in poor weather conditions like rain or snow.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD)/ All Wheel Drive (AWD)
A part time 4WD system lets the driver select if the power from the engine is relayed to only two wheels or to all four wheels. A full time 4WD system permanently engages all four wheels and is essentially the same as an AWD system. The term AWD can be used for vehicles that have more than four wheels in which all of the wheels are powered.

– AWD vehicles have the best traction in any kind of driving condition.

CON– An AWD vehicle is much heavier than a FWD or RWD vehicle, which hurts acceleration and uses more fuel. AWD is the most expensive drivetrain option.

What to Do When Bringing a Car out of Winter Storage

For various reasons sometimes people need to store a car for the winter. It’s important to take certain precautions when storing the car and when spring finally comes and you are ready to start driving the car again. If your car has been sitting idle through the cold winter months and you are ready to take it out of storage, it’s important to make sure that the car is ready to hit the road.

The first thing that you should do is change the oil and check all of the fluids in the vehicle. Oil that has been sitting for a long period of time can become contaminated. Running a vehicle with contaminated oil can do a lot of damage on the car’s engine. It’s not worth the risk.

Check the quality of the tires before driving the car. Check the tire pressure and inflate them as needed. The owner’s manual will tell you what the tire pressure should be if you aren’t sure. The cold air can affect the tire pressure as can the fact that they have been sitting in the same position for numerous months. Tires were developed with the intention of being rotated frequently.

Test the battery and check the lights. A battery that has been sitting for a long period of tie without use can become corroded. Light bulbs may die when the car isn’t in use so they may need to be replaced.

Before taking the car out, be sure to clean it as well. If it’s been sitting in a garage it may have gotten dusty. If it’s been sitting outside it has had to deal with the elements and there is possibility that insects or even animals may have found their way inside. Take some time to clean it up.

The first trip that you take in a car that has been stored should be a short one. Stick close to home in case anything happens. Keep the radio off and listen to how the car is running. If you hear any funny noises or the car doesn’t seem to be running the way that it should, it’s worth taking it to a mechanic to get it checked out.

Reasons to Keep Up with Scheduled Car Maintenance

Unless you live in a city that has a good public transportation system, chances are good that you rely very heavily on your car. Without reliable transportation it’s difficult to do most of our everyday tasks. Unfortunately many people don’t worry about car problems until it’s too late. In order to keep your car working well, it’s important to keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance. If you are good with cars there are some things that you may be able to do on your own like oil changes, filter changes, fluid top offs, and a tire pressure check. For more complex tasks like brake maintenance, tire alignment, and belt checks it’s better to leave it in the hands of professionals. Here’s why regular maintenance is important:

Saves Money
It does cost money to bring your car in for maintenance work, but it’s better to pay some up front than a lot later on. Maintenance keeps repair costs down and helps prevent payments on expensive parts or having to pay for a new car altogether.

Increases the Life of the Vehicle

Like anything else, cars will deteriorate over time. Keeping up with maintenance can increase the life of your vehicle (and prevent you from having to buy a new one) for years.

Avoid Break Downs
Few things are worse than breaking down on the side of the road on the way to an important destination. Unfortunately, it happens, but the best way to prevent it is to make sure that your car is in working order by keeping up with maintenance.

Maintain Safety

Like any other part of the car, the safety features can begin to wear over time. It’s important to ensure the safety of yourself and your other passengers at all times.

Preserve Resale Value
If you want to get as much money as possible for your sale or trade in, a comprehensive record of completed maintenance will help.

If you are unsure of your car’s maintenance schedule, check the owner’s manual or contact the dealership.

Know When to Change Your Car’s Oil

If you own a vehicle, it is your responsibility to take care of it. Vehicle owners should adhere to suggested manufacturer’s regular maintenance guidelines. An important way to keep your car running smoothly and efficiently is to change the oil. Over time, the oil in a car becomes less effective as a lubricant and gets dirty and creates sludge. This dirty oil and sludge will wear out the engine and eventually cause engine failure. Since an engine is costly to replace, it’s important for vehicle owners to do their part and get regular oil changes.

The proper amount of time to go between oil changes depends on who you ask. Some people will tell you to stick to the “3,000 mile or 3 month rule”, meaning that you should get an oil change after 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. However, many car experts claim that that rule was designed only so that oil change service companies could make more money.

If you want a more accurate idea of when you should change your oil, follow the vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations. Recommendations vary between 3,000 and 10,000 miles but a good rule of thumb is to get an oil change every 5,000 miles or so. This will keep the oil in good working condition and prevent the sludge and other build up that ruins the engine.

Some car manufacturer’s don’t even make a recommendation and instead tell car owners to pay attention to their dashboard. If an oil reminder light comes on, that means that it’s time to change the oil. This strategy is implemented because the need for oil varies depending on factors like driving style. While this may save a driver from getting an unnecessary oil change, they need to understand that when the light comes on they need to change it soon. They can’t drive around with that light on for weeks.

If your vehicle is on the older side (seven or more years) it’s important to get oil changes more frequently. So, in the case of an older car the “3,000 or 3 month rule” still applies. It’s also suggested to use high mileage oil in an older car to keep it running for a longer period of time.

Oil changes are relatively cheap and quick. There is no excuse to not get them done. An additional tip is to change the oil filter when you change the oil. The old oil filter will have old oil gunk on it, so get rid of it.