I’ve been speaking about getting a new car for a long time, something to replace my Honda Civic, and it looks like it finally happened. Initially I wanted an Audi. First the A4, then the Audi S4, and then Chris got me thinking about the Audi S5. I also looked at the Lexus IS250 / IS350 and even though tons of friends told me how fun that car was, a couple of friends (who I take car advice from) convinced me of otherwise (not that it wasn’t fun, but that there were deficiencies that made other cars better in its class). Then I started asking myself if I wanted new or used. Of course I would like something shiny and new, but in the class of cars I was looking at, they depreciated so fast I would save a lot of money buying used. Then I heard about the Tesla Model S and fell in love, but it wasn’t coming out until 2012. I figured my Civic could probably last me until then or until I could decide on something I wanted.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, I had to buy a car soon and that’s when I enlisted Derek’s help. He asked what my price range was and what type of cars I was interested. I decided I would have a budget of $50k and the types of cars I was interested were sporty small/medium sized cars. He suggested a new or used BMW 135i or BMW 335i would suit me. He also told me to start the process of getting approval for an auto loan. After comparing the costs of a new vs used vehicles and discussing with Derek, I think it made more sense for me to get used. I would be able to save ~40% if I bought a 2 year old BMW. Another interesting thing is the warranty is extended by 2 years if you buy BMW CPO (Certified Pre-Own) and the free maintenance will continue from when the original owner purchased it. That actually sold me on getting a BMW. I don’t have to worry about maintenance for 2 years and the warranty would last 4 more years.
After researching auto loans online, I went with PenFed which had a 3.25% rate for 60 months for used vehicles. I was able to apply for up to $50,000 which was convenient. Unfortunately I found out the next day that my loan was not ready, despite the fact I had expressed it. I called in to find out what was wrong and apparently they saw 2 mortgages on my credit report and asked if I had a rental property or had a co-signer. I explained I had recently refinanced and that may be why 2 mortgages were showing up. I faxed in proof that I had paid off my previous mortgage and my loan was pre-approved. I understand I may actually be able to get better financing at dealerships, but I wanted to have an alternative option to fall back on.
That weekend, Derek and I went car shopping. We hit up both BMW Northwest and BMW Seattle. BMW Bellevue didn’t really have any cars I wanted to look at, plus I’ve heard horror stories about how they treat customers. I had decided early on that the BMW 135i was a bit too tiny for my taste, but I did like the BMW 335i. Derek was trying to convince me to get the coupe, but after looking at the coupe vs the sedan, I preferred the look of the sedan more. It was unfortunate that it was raining the day we went, but I still had fun test driving. It’s weird that the 1st car we looked up ended up being the car I ultimately purchased. It was the right color and it had a really nice set of options. It came with the premium and sports packages, navigation, HD radio, iPod adapter, and some other nice perks. The only thing we figured it was missing was the cold weather package. And as Derek says, it’s also missing a nice set of wheels. I think it comes with the stock sports wheels.
But we didn’t purchase that day since my auto-loan check hadn’t arrived yet, and I didn’t want to be cornered into using their financing. While I waited for my check to arrive, I continued to monitor for new cars. It’s funny how Derek was more worried about the car’s history than I was. He went through the Carfax report trying to figure out what everything meant and did a much better inspection of the car than I could ever have. I guess that’s why he’s the guy to look to for these kinds of things. He was definitely a better negotiator than I was as I probably would’ve admitted defeat a lot earlier on.
The check finally arrived and Derek and I scheduled to go down on Thursday. I confirmed Thursday morning that the car was still available and we drove down to BMW Northwest. This is the first time I actively participated in negotiating a car’s price, since my dad was the one who did all the negotiating for my Honda Civic. It was an interesting back and forth and my sales guy brought out the infamous 4 squares sheet. Though after our first round of negotiation, he pretty much scrapped that sheet as he knew we wouldn’t bother with it. All in all, I had a rather pleasant experience and it was a lot better than I had expected it to be. Derek and I were able to get the price knocked down by ~$2000, and got them to throw in some mats + fix the siding which popped out a bit more than normal. We were also trying to get them to replace one of the tires because the treading looked non-existent, but they wouldn’t budge on that.
Something else I found out about the car is that the original owner had purchased extended maintenance, which means not only do I have an extended warranty, but my free maintenance is also extended to 11/2014. We discussed financing and BMW was able to offer me 2.90% for 60 months which I took. Of course they tried to up sell the warranty and other protection plans, but they weren’t pushy at all. When I declined them, we just moved on. I had put $5,000 down and apparently I was able to charge $3,000 to my credit card (Derek found that out for me). At 2% cash back, that’s an extra $60 in savings! Another fun fact, BMW Northwest being in Tacoma has a lower sales tax than King County (9.6% vs 9.8%). That’s an additional ~$60 in savings.
Since they had to fix the siding, I was unable to take the car home that same day. It’s a bit sad after buying such a nice toy that you can’t take it home immediately. Fortunately my sales guy called me up early this morning and told me my car was ready. I wouldn’t be able to get down there before he left, so he offered to drive it up to me, which worked out great. Interestingly, they replaced the tire that we had requested but was denied during negotiations. Both Derek and I found that to be very weird, since when have you heard the dealer throwing in such a big bonus after he’s already sold you the car. Either he really wanted to make me happy or my only other explanation was that the tire really didn’t meet CPO specification and they were required to replace it.
I’ve been going through the owner’s manual and this is one complicated beautiful piece of machine. There’s SO MANY buttons. While driving over to Derek’s after I got the car today, I accidentally hit the paddle shifts and it went into manual mode. I didn’t know how to change it back to D. I shifted from M5 down to M2 and then back up to M5. At a stop light, I ended up shifting to N and then back to D and things worked normally afterwards. I would later find out that my gear stick can move left and right while on D, which is how you switch between manual and automatic.
The car comes with navigation, but it turns out in order to use it, you have to have the navigation DVD in the system. I found that a bit weird, but it’s not like I’m going to use the DVD player for anything else. Another interesting thing is the cruise control stick is completely different from any other system I’ve used previously.
It took me forever to figure out how to program the garage opener. Apparently hold the remote 4-12″ away really means hold remote right next to it. I also found it a bit weird that my car has to be on in order to use the garage door openers. It’s nice now that I have both doors programmed into it.
Derek’s been teaching me lessons in the art of owning a BMW. Here’s what I remembered so far:
- Never touch the paint.
- Never go through a car wash.
- Don’t rev car beyond the moving target in the tachometer.
- Get 3 sets of wheels, one for each season + a spare set.
- Don’t ever drive in the snow.
- Park far away from everyone.
Now I’m afraid to go to Costco. ;p
After replacing this car in my Progressive auto insurance plan, my 6-month rate increased from $403 to ~$750, almost doubling it. Most of the increase came from the collision, which itself was almost $400. I increased my deductibles for collision and comprehensive from $500 to $1000 and my insurance rate is now ~$650. Still quite high, but I guess that’s what you get for owning an expensive car.