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      04-08-2021, 08:14 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by pikkagtr View Post
MK7 gti
Best.......commuter......ever
OP is familiar with merc and BMWs.
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      04-08-2021, 08:52 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by BMWCCA1 View Post
Used i3 is a cheap possibility. You don't want a stick for your commute, anyway, and a recent REX version would have ample range. They are so cheap when they get to be three-years-old (about 1/3 of original MSRP) and you can get them CPO. Batteries come with an 8-year warranty. Simply throw it away when done.
This. i3. Your round trip commute is well within its range. Near zero maintenance. They are ugly, no one wants them and they are probably cheap to acquire.
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      04-08-2021, 09:10 AM   #25
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Any other recommendations?
What's your budget?
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      04-08-2021, 09:18 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
For reliability, I would absolutely avoid anything with the N20.
aside from the timing chain -- which you can avoid by buying a later model -- what other issues are there that every other BMW engine doesnt also have, e.g. VCG, OFHG.

there is a problem with my initial post / recommendation -- i forgot that you cannot get an F22 xdrive with a manual transmission.
Timing chains, plastic oil filter housings cracking, injectors, turbos, thermostats.....
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      04-08-2021, 10:30 AM   #27
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MK7 GTI or 128i/328i with N52/N51 engine.

I own both the GTI and 128i with 6MT. There could not be a better pairing for low cost vehicles!
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      04-08-2021, 11:01 AM   #28
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My wife works in DC. Drives a Tesla MY, best commuter/DD vehicle for his area. End of story. Not German, not manual, no cylinders and not something you can work on. But you'll make up on not paying for gas and parking is easy. I guess a Model 3 would be even better. If you are willing to think outside the box a bit...

We have the Performance model, my guess is that you'll be surprised by how much fun it is compared to the 2014 550i. I have a 2018 X5 50i which has the same engine as your 550i. Good luck.

Used 3 series are pretty good values and there are so many BMW dealers in the area that you can probably swing a really nice CPO deal.
The dual motor Performance models, accelerate like a bat out of hell...
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      04-08-2021, 12:49 PM   #29
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BMW Motorcycle. You'll find one that fits all your criteria points. LOL
As a bonus, you can always lose the cops in that crazy daily DC traffic.
Bimmer cycles are the sh!t
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      04-08-2021, 12:59 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray_Panther View Post
MK7 GTI or 128i/328i with N52/N51 engine.

I own both the GTI and 128i with 6MT. There could not be a better pairing for low cost vehicles!
BAT has both 128 and 135 MT cars right now, sure to fetch a premium there vs other sites but they look pretty nice!
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      04-08-2021, 02:34 PM   #31
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Bimmer cycles are the sh!t
Well, it’s not a GoldWing for sure.
But i was sticking to BMW theme...
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      04-08-2021, 02:54 PM   #32
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RIGHT NOW on BAT, a very nice 2010 128 in blue. Of all the others mentioned, I think I would seriously look at he i3 as BMWCCA1 is mentioning.
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      04-09-2021, 03:52 AM   #33
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Timing chains, plastic oil filter housings cracking, injectors, turbos, thermostats.....
I’m pretty sure n20 has aluminum oil filter housing just like the n52, b48 actually has plastic oil filter housing. I haven’t heard of too many turbo problems either, unless of course the stock turbo is asked to do too much. Tstats do seem to not last long in many turbo bmw engines, but I haven’t heard about the n20 in this regard too much either. As for the injectors, these are not like n54, and there’s only 4 of them. If they are an issue. I would not mind an n20/n26 as a daily, the latter has a lot of the stuff covered under Sulev warranty if you are in a Carb state. What’s the point of going with b48 if still needs to have timing chain replaced and now it’s in the back? I could understand b58 but b48 would be a pass.
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      04-09-2021, 03:56 AM   #34
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Anyway, I’m for n52 or an n20/26 as a commuter. Or an i3 if you want something “unorthodox”.
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      04-09-2021, 05:45 AM   #35
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
Timing chains, plastic oil filter housings cracking, injectors, turbos, thermostats.....
I’m pretty sure n20 has aluminum oil filter housing just like the n52, b48 actually has plastic oil filter housing. I haven’t heard of too many turbo problems either, unless of course the stock turbo is asked to do too much. Tstats do seem to not last long in many turbo bmw engines, but I haven’t heard about the n20 in this regard too much either. As for the injectors, these are not like n54, and there’s only 4 of them. If they are an issue. I would not mind an n20/n26 as a daily, the latter has a lot of the stuff covered under Sulev warranty if you are in a Carb state. What’s the point of going with b48 if still needs to have timing chain replaced and now it’s in the back? I could understand b58 but b48 would be a pass.
The early N20 had the plastic oil filter housing, and they are notorious for cracking. Will push all the oil into the cooling system. Makes a huge mess.

For the turbo, it is actually the wastegate rod that seizes and breaks. Means replacing the turbo. We do so many, our parts dept actually keeps 4 or 5 in stock.

The injectors start to leak, which will cause misfires on startup. This is very, very common.

The thermostats, it is the MAP heater that fails. Have replaced so many I could replace it with my eyes closed.
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      04-09-2021, 07:50 AM   #36
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Thanks for all the feedback and input. This is great.

Honestly not too familiar with the N20/51/52 engines but I'll definitely use that to drive my search. Watched a couple of Youtube videos (especially the one from FCP) that highlight some of the common issues with these engines and nothing looks too hard not to be able to tackle it myself. Let's put it this way, anything is better than the N63 to work on, especially cramped in a 5 series.

As for budget, I was looking for something to buy cash - one time discretionary expense that my wife won't raise hell about. Basically, I was looking for <$10K. Something reliable without being worried about commute abuse or paranoid about some cabby in DC bumping into.

I 100% agree the Teslas make the most sense for commuting, but at that price range my wife will basically force me to sell the 550i or pretty much block any hopes of upgrading it in the near future. Three nice cars for only 2 drivers in the house, it won't fly.

Never owned a VW but willing to give MK7s a look if parts are cheaper and they're just as reliable.

As for the i3, never bothered to check how much they are until you guys pointed it out. Definitely adding that to the watch list if something comes up on the lower ends of the $10Ks yet new enough to keep it within the battery warranty period.

I've got until at least September before I need the car, but definitely planning on pulling the tigger before then if the right car at the right price comes up.
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      04-09-2021, 08:28 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spielnicht View Post
As for budget, I was looking for something to buy cash - one time discretionary expense that my wife won't raise hell about. Basically, I was looking for <$10K. Something reliable without being worried about commute abuse or paranoid about some cabby in DC bumping into.
i think an E90/N52 will be the sweet spot for you. i just sold my well maintained 2009 E91(wagon) /N52 with 140K miles for $7K. i kept a 2006 E90 / N52 for my kids because it still has less than 40K miles. ince you start looking for them, you will realize just how many E9x are still on the road with many of them over 15 years old...the definitely run with proper maintenance.

if the seller cant produce receipts for recent maintenance, be prepared to do a bunch of catch up stuff. find a good indy shop to do the PPI. the good news is that everything is documented over on the E90 forum and there's youtubes for all of it. good luck with your search.
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      04-09-2021, 08:13 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spielnicht View Post


As for the i3, never bothered to check how much they are until you guys pointed it out. Definitely adding that to the watch list if something comes up on the lower ends of the $10Ks yet new enough to keep it within the battery warranty period.
For a 22 mile commute in DC (used to live in NoVa, I feel your pain), I would seriously consider a BEV i3 if you want to stick with BMW. If you really want an ICE, manual transmission BMW that's easy to work on and parts are cheap, I'd go for the cleanest RWD E46 I could find. Good luck with your car search.
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      04-10-2021, 12:18 AM   #39
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I'm curious, why is the 550i a bad commuter car? I don't own one but I'd have thought that it's perfect for commuting. Gas consumption?

How about leasing a 330i/330ix? Monthlies are advertised for cheap, and a 15k mi/year lease should cover your commuting miles with a lot to spare. Drive it, don't worry about anything, turn it in.
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      04-10-2021, 07:28 AM   #40
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200k on my 06 330xi. Just normal maintenance, which i enjoy doing. 5k oil changes and thats about it. I change out gaskets myself when the time calls. Just did the OFHG. That was a 2hr job, easy!!
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      04-10-2021, 08:33 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
For reliability, I would absolutely avoid anything with the N20.
My n20 has been the single most reliable BMW I’ve owned. Over 1,000,000 miles driven on various BMW platforms and that one takes the cake. I’m willing to bet the “issues” with the n20 are still less per 1,000 produced than many others. Just more vehicles produced with this engine than most others.

A strong second is the m54 e46 lineup. It will have little issues here and there, but it refuses to die.
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      04-11-2021, 07:39 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth One View Post
I'm curious, why is the 550i a bad commuter car? I don't own one but I'd have thought that it's perfect for commuting. Gas consumption?

How about leasing a 330i/330ix? Monthlies are advertised for cheap, and a 15k mi/year lease should cover your commuting miles with a lot to spare. Drive it, don't worry about anything, turn it in.
A 550? LOL The N63 is the only thing less reliable than the N20.
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      04-11-2021, 08:13 AM   #43
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paging @Efthreeoh

How many miles you got on N52 now?
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      04-12-2021, 08:48 AM   #44
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Thanks again for all the additional insights. Definitely narrowing my search for the following (in order):
  • i3
  • 128i
  • E90
  • E46

Coincidently FCP Blog just posted this article on exactly what I was looking for. It's reassuring to see so many overlaps with your recommendations. You guys definitely know your BMWs. I'm getting there, but I only have 4 years of ownership experience.



Quote:
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A 550? LOL The N63 is the only thing less reliable than the N20.
Exactly. BMW novice mistake 101. Coming from a 2013 C350, I wanted a bigger car and a V8. Didn't want to spend E63 or M5 money at the time and so I was left with the 550i or an S6. Glad I made the decision to go with BMW but had I known more about the N63 (even if tu), probably would have talked myself out of a V8 and got a F80 M3. Oh well.
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