We’ve all been there; we bought a used BMW at some point in time and it ended up costing far more in repairs than any car from a more affordable, reliable brand would. For example, a used 3 Series will easily cost more in repairs than a Camry or Accord from the same year, with similar mileage. And yet they’re the same size, hold the same amount of people, and ultimately do the same thing. BMWs, being expensive, complex German cars are often expensive and complicated to repair. So why do we keep doing it?
For us BMW enthusiasts that can’t afford brand new cars with fancy warranties, it’s because we don’t have any other choice, do we? Sure, we could go out and buy a Camry for a lot less money than a 3 Series of a similar vintage and the Toyota will be far more reliable during the same ownership period. More than that, any repairs will be far less costly on average, due to cheaper part prices and less complex repair procedures. But would those cars fill our inherent need to drive something special? No, probably not.
There’s nothing wrong with a Camry. Or a Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, or any other affordable midsize sedan. They’re all great cars that will provide years of trouble-free, comfortable driving. But they won’t have that special zing, will they? The Accord, admittedly, is typically pretty fun to drive but it isn’t a 3 Series. And I’m just using the 3 Series as an example, as it’s the most popular BMW on the used market but this applies to all Bimmers and their more affordable, reliable counterparts.
I regularly find myself in such positions because I’ve only owned older German (and one Swedish) cars. My list of cars is as follows: E36 1996 BMW 328i, 2012 Volkswagen Passat, 2006 Volvo S40 2.4i (I inherited my wife’s car), 2005 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro, and an E46 2004 325i. All of which, with the exception of the Passat, have given me many headaches, far more so than any comparable affordable car would have. And if I’m being honest, there were many days when, while lying underneath a German car that just wouldn’t cooperate, I wished I had bought a Honda instead.
However, when shopping for cars, I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on something less fun to drive. Maybe I’m an automotive masochist but I love the relationship I have with my dumb, annoying, but fantastic German cars. Why are BMWs, and their German counterparts, worth their potentially high repair costs? Because they’re that good to drive, dammit. Of course, you can always buy a BMW Extended Warranty for additional peace of mind.