Home » Update: I Have Just No Days To Sell My BMW

Update: I Have Just No Days To Sell My BMW

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Like so many automotive journalists, I own multiple cars. Unlike so many of my colleagues, this was never my intention. T’was a BMW that got me into this mess, and now I want out of it. I’m finally ending our unruly relationship, and I’ve only got five short days to do it.

I recently bought my dream car, a beautiful 2000 Audi TT roadster with turbo power and all-wheel-drive grip. I decided after years of average cars with average power, I deserved something a little more exciting. That meant it was time to get rid of my famously frustrating BMW. I made the call back in April, it had to go. But between the demands of real life and a cold used car market, I failed to get it sold.

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I’m moving in five days. The clock is ticking, and the BMW has to go. I’ll be updating this article daily until it’s gone. Scroll down for the latest.

Time to go.

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Not Going To Plan

It was never supposed to be this way. A year ago, I was driving an old Mercedes E240, and it bored the pants off me. It was comfortable enough, but slow and laggardly. I wanted something with more vibes, so I bought a nice BMW 320D on Facebook Marketplace. With the 2.0-liter turbodiesel under the hood, it pulled well and handled great. It didn’t have working A/C, but I paid $3,700 and felt like I’d scored big. The BMW was supposed to replace the Mercedes, a nice upgrade that was better on fuel to boot.

Then the troubles started. Shortly after my purchase, a small RPM fluctuation led me down a garden path of transmission flushes and related repairs. The car developed hesitation issues in anything but the coolest weather, and then it threw the whole drive pulley as a nice additional surprise.

Busted Pulley
This was stupid and I hated it.

 

I tackled these problems one by one and got the BMW to a healthy, running state. I even had a mechanic tackle the air conditioning. The problem was that took me a whole year. In the meantime, I felt like I had to keep my Mercedes on hand. I didn’t feel like I could sell the car because I hate being without transport. The luxury of having two cars meant I could get around even when the BMW was out of action. (Except for those rare cases when the Mercedes broke at the same time.)

In any case, in April, I had the BMW healthy and I felt like I could sell the Merc. It took me ages – over a week! – but I finally got it gone. I then followed that by laying down the cash for my dream car, a beautiful Audi TT. By this point, I wasn’t even considering keeping the BMW long term. Now that I had it running well, it was the perfect time to sell it before something else went wrong.

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An Audi TT.
At long last, I got a car I actually wanted.

There was a hitch, though. When I bought the BMW, it seemed like a great deal. Most were selling for around $7,000 and up in good condition with functional air con. My car looked good, had decent tires, and I figured I could maybe get something near that. Using Gumtree (Australian Craigslist), I listed the car in April for $6,500, and heard nothing. Relisting the car for $5,500 got me a couple of rude low ballers and then crickets.

Sadly, the market has changed. As I put it so simply last month: used car prices have tanked. New cars are no longer hard to come by, so the inflated demand for used vehicles is gone. Normality is returning, but it’s killing my chances of getting a good pay day for the BMW that I whipped into shape.

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Remember I said I was on a clock? I’m not kidding. I’m moving—and a long way away at that. I’m only going to have room for one car, and I can’t take the BMW with me.

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Now, it’s mid-June, and I’ve got about five days to get this thing gone. Past that point, I’ll have just about enough time to drop the car at a wrecking yard for scrap value. That would be ridiculous given that it’s a fully running BMW sedan from 2008 with a perfectly serviceable drivetrain and interior. Trim-wise, it sits somewhere in the middle of the pack. It doesn’t have heated seats, but it does have an infotainment screen, featuring BMW’s rudimentary symbolic GPS navigation system.

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I stand by my statement that the interior of my E90 is pretty okay.

Or, you know what, who knows? Maybe I’ll just park it at a friend’s house and give them the keys. Or I could simply ditch the car on some distant highway. As an aside, I seem to remember the difference between abandoning a car and abandoning the fuck out of a car is whether you even bother to close the door as you walk away.

Ditching the car would be an economically poor decision, but I can’t abide low-ballers. I can’t stand people who message me nothing but numbers or instantly demand my “last price.” In the rare occasions that I’ve entertained the delusions of these jagaloons, they’ve always failed to follow through with a sale anyway.

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It’s probably one of the cheapest 320Ds currently on sale at this point.

Right now, I’ve bitten the bullet and listed the vehicle on Facebook Marketplace. I’m willing to deal with the influx of “Is This Available?” messages in the hope that one real human might contact me with genuine interest. It’s up for $4,500. I’ve washed it, vacuumed it, and taken some new photos to show the car exactly as it sits today. I’m thinking that’s going to help me move this thing faster.

I didn’t just pluck that figure out of thin air. I had a look around at what else is on the market first and chose my price to blow all of them out of the water. Carsales.com.au has a 2010 BMW 320D that’s selling for $11,500 with 212,000 km (130,000 miles) on the clock. There’s a 2011 model with less mileage for similar money. Closer to my own car, there’s a 2009 model with 240,000 km (150,000 miles) on the clock for $6,250.

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Based on mileage and age, I’m pricing my car fairly aggressively.

At $4,500, with just 111,000 miles on the clock, my car should be looking pretty good compared to those other options. However, it’s not really that simple. I’m not just going up against the other 320Ds for sale in the market. It’s worth considering what else is out there for a similar price.

Having a quick scan around, I found a 2009 Honda Jazz for just $5,000. It’s in good condition, and it’s great on fuel without the reliability questions that linger around an older BMW. That would be a great buy, and it’s manual, to boot. Really, though, it’s slim pickings in this price bracket. You could have a 2004 Holden Astra for $4,300, or a 2007 Nissan Tiida for $4,700. Neither has the handling or torque of the E90 platform with a turbodiesel under the hood.

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Saferbet
There are great options out there for reliable transportation, though they would lack the drive and handling that the E90 offers.

I’m hoping my aggressive pricing nets a quick, clean sale like I had with the Mercedes. That said, that buyer never transferred the registration into their own name so let’s hope this sale goes a little more straightforward than that one.

I am a car enthusiast, but I tell you what. I hate selling cars. You’re forced into tangling with bureaucracy, but you don’t even get the benefit of working with an experienced state-sanctioned bureaucrat. Instead you’re bickering about prices, registration, and paperwork with random members of the public. And there is nobody so unreliable, so impossible to work with, as a random member of the public.

At this stage, things are still looking bleak. I’ve had a few nibbles, but nothing serious. At the very least, my new photos seem to have generated more interest than my earlier ad from April, which used random images from the last six months.

I’ve sold a lot of cars in my time, some easily, most with some frustration. I’ve never had to do it on a timetable before, though. This week could suck, or I could be blessed with a quick sale and cash in the bank before supper. Wish me luck.

Update, 4 days remaining: Day 1 went terribly. Very little interest at first. One woman seemed keen to come by at 5 PM, but never showed. Had a flood of queries at 10 PM, because apparently that’s peak hour for buying used cars. I don’t even get it. With ten inquiries in an hour, I suspect my pricing strategy is starting to work.

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Thus far, day 2 isn’t faring any better. I had someone keen who kept messaging repeatedly, insisting they had cash ready to go. When it came time to meet, it all fell apart as it always does. Five minutes after our meeting time, they told me they were twenty minutes away. Forty minutes later, they asked if they could have a $1,000 discount off the bat to make sure they weren’t wasting their time. On the one hand, I wanted to get the car gone. On the other hand, I can’t abide people that pull these juvenile negotiating tactics.

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Old mate seemed super keen and ready to deal. This wasn’t much surprise to me; I’ve often been able to sell cars quickly and easily at my stated price when they’re cheap enough.
Lolfail
20 minutes on Facebook Marketplace can mean anything from 45 minutes to 3 hours in my experience.

 

Lolfail2
Excessive use of “bro” and “brother” is a serious red flag for me when selling cars.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to haggling. I am opposed to people that keep me waiting and then try and pressure me into dealing on their terms. Honestly, had he checked out the car in good faith and made the offer in person, I might have considered it. In my experience, though, the typical types that do this don’t have the cash to back themselves up and they just try to beat you down further in person. I went through this with the Mercedes, and I’m not putting up with it again. Old mate got blocked. Sorry “brother.”

Update, 3 days remaining: More no shows, more lowballers. Someone that wants a $500 a week payment plan. I’m getting 5-10 messages every night between 10pm and 6am, which seems ridiculous. Message me while I’m awake, I don’t sell cars in the vampire hours!

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You’re a broke university student, but you want to buy a BMW for $5,500? Yeah, that makes sense.

Some suggest I raise the price to a more “normal” figure. I’m not sure that’s the move. Keep in mind I had the car listed for $5500 for weeks with no real bites. That figure was much closer to others listed online and interest was minimal.

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In any case, I think I may have to do something drastic to get this thing gone in time. I’ve had ridiculously low offers from one of those “We Buy Cars” services. I guess I could try to roll up to a used car dealer and see what they’d give me but I have no idea how that even works. I suspect I wouldn’t get a great figure but I’m running out of time.

This is going down to the wire and that’s exactly what I didn’t want.

Update, 2 days remaining: Well, this has been about as much fun as getting punched in the face by a determined otter. Queries continue to flood in. People seem shocked and offended that a sub-$5000 doesn’t have a certified gold-plated service history or complimentary chocolates in the glove box. More no-shows, in fact, I’m yet to have a single person actually come and inspect the car. Truly wild, I just don’t even get it at this point.

As a laugh I tried throwing up an ad on a different platform for a higher price, and that made no difference. Zero inquiries except for one reader from Queensland who wanted to say hi. Hi! None of the ads are working so I’m exploring alternative options. Honestly, I’m at the price point where it makes more sense to keep it for 20 years and sell it as a “classic” but I don’t have a barn for it.

I’ve dropped the price a little further, but honestly, I don’t even know what’s going to happen at this point. Someone’s due to come by in a few hours, but I’ve believed that before. I’ve never had this much difficulty selling a car. I suspect my current location isn’t helping, being quite far flung from the inner city. Half these people seem super eager but can’t find their way down here. Get an Uber!? I don’t know. Figure it out.

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Honestly, when Peter floated this rolling update idea, I thought it’d be a right laugh. Right now, I’m just sad.

Update, End of the final day: Failed to sell the car. Don’t know where I’m going to put it, if I’m honest. Might end up parked at a friend’s house for an extended period until I can find something to do about it.

Frustrating, but I suppose not surprising. I had similar trouble selling the Mercedes; that took a week.

The story’s not over, I just really wish it was!

Image credits: Lewin Day, Carsales.com.au, Facebook Marketplace

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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

Regarding the hate for “is it still available” I ALWAYS open with that because sometimes sellers DO forget to take the ad down if it’s sold or if they change their mind. Its really frustrating to see the same ad stay posted long after you’ve been told no. It isn’t that common but it does happen.

I don’t just ask if its available though. I follow with “if so I’d like to meet/look at it/buy it/SHUT UP AND TAKE MY DAMN MONEY!!.”

Leo T.
Leo T.
24 days ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

I hate the pre filled out message in Facebook marketplace place, I’ve hit the send message button that has the “hi seller, is this item still available?” already filled out. The amount of apology messages I’ve had to send because I fat fingered the message

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I figure you’ve been around long enough to remember when Buy & Sell Classifieds were print only. In those days, the first question you would have to ask a seller would be “Is this still available?”
It made perfect sense, because the ad was penned 1 to 2 weeks previous, and offered no real time details. If it was a good deal, the answer was generally “No.”
This era pretty much ended with the rise of Craigslist 20 or so years ago. Since then, and especially since the proliferation of smartphones, classified ads are real-time. This means the answer is right in front of you.
Now that Facebook has become the Marketplace of choice for most, some masochistic human-hating jerk has decided to offer “Is this still available” as an easy response button, leading to the annoyance and frustration of pretty much every seller since.
So, for the sanity of your fellow humans, please skip straight to the “I’d like to meet/look at it/buy it” part. Tjat part is perfect.
You might even get a better deal due to the seller’s lower blood pressure level.
There will be the rare response of “sorry it’s sold,” which will be annoying, but for very one of those you will have saved the frustration of like 50 other sellers.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

I very rarely peruse Facebook marketplace and only even look at Facebook when absolutely necessary, MAYBE once a year. I made a page there many years ago when I was told I needed one for *reasons* and have done my best to ignore it ever since. I don’t care for Facebook. If it was burned to the ground I would be unawares. So I was unaware of the button, thank you for bringing me up to speed.

Craigslist is my preferred marketplace. It’s hardly real time. Zombie ads do exist there. So asking if the item is still for sale is prudent.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cheap Bastard
Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I hate Facebook too.
Forgive me,
I thought you were referring to Facebook Marketplace, as it is the preferred place for classifieds in most places. I had to create a Facebook account just for Marketplace.
You get the best exposure but you also encounter the lowest common denominator of people.
Craigslist is pretty much dead around here, and it’s where I would expect to find more derelict ads, so I agree in that scenario you would have to ask.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

CL is pretty active here in the SFBA which is great for a cheap bastard like myself. I think I’ve gotten more appliances and furniture from CL than anywhere else. If FB marketplace offers any advantages over CL I haven’t found them yet. I do see disadvantages though, like having to make a $%&#@ FB account to use it and I have to assume every perusal gets you on a list you’d rather be left off of.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’ll have to keep CL in mind if I come down there car shopping.
I guess the only advantage to FB would be less derelict ads lol

Or Some
Or Some
1 month ago

Honestly, raise the price. Yes, raise it. I’ve sold 15 cars privately. If a buyer sees that your car is far cheaper than similar ones, they’ll assume it’s got major issues.

To sell it quickly, you want to price it slightly cheaper than the general range. $500 less than the next cheapest maybe.

Also, try all the platforms. EBay motors, Craigslist, carsales, literally any platform that lets you list a car. Coverage is good.

Geoff Tuck
Geoff Tuck
1 month ago

A few months ago I sold my 2000 Toyota Landcruiser through FB Marketplace and Gumtree – I reckon I had almost 100 inquiries, most were as you mentioned “Is this still available” or my personal most hated “what’s your best price?”

Out of all of these messages I received around 15 would arrange to meet up, only 5 of these actually showed up, 2 showed genuine interest and only one made an offer that I accepted.

Sorry to sound all pessimistic, but selling cars in this economic climate is really hard, good luck with the sale Lewin – I’ve got my fingers crossed for you

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago

“I bought a nice BMW 320D…”

Um, unlike Mercedes-Benz (until 2015 change), BMW doesn’t capitalise the letter after the model and “engine displacement” for diesel, injection, electric, etc. So, it’s 320d, not 320D.

And,

“Mercedes E240”

Mercedes-Benz always put the space between letter and number: E 240.

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
1 month ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

No one cares.

Greg R
Greg R
1 month ago

Many years ago I was selling a Kingswood wagon, priced reasonably low, but no takers. So I relisted for an average price and still got what I originally wanted. Also when selling with reg make sure you get the buyers details, I am in Qld, here the transfer form asks for their name, address and licence number, as well as their signature. This came in quite handy when the buyer of one car didn’t transfer or renew reg, I was able to prove that it was sold.

Ricardo
Ricardo
1 month ago

Has it got a RWC?
That is the ‘golden ticket’ in getting a fast sale from my experience because most people don’t bother getting one and leave it up to the buyer.
By having one already to go you are paving the way for them to get the car into their name.

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