Looking for a used BMW for around or less than $10,000? There are tons of options to choose from, and it can be tough to figure out where to even start. We'll discuss a few of the best BMW's under $10k in this post. However, please keep in mind it's not an exhaustive list. Tons of BMW's can be found under $10,000 and best is subjective. Nonetheless, hopefully this post is a good starting point to get your research underway.
A Few Things To Consider
Most BMW's under $10,000 are going to be 10+ years old and likely have around 80,000 to 120,000+ miles. We're keeping this list to cars that can consistently be found around or under $10k. We also want to stick with cars that fall in that price range with less than 100,000 miles. That said, BMW's do have more demanding maintenance as they age. Most of the cars on this list may need some preventative maintenance and repairs.
In your search for the best used BMW's try to find models that have some important maintenance done. Things like suspension, bushings, and gaskets often need repairs once they surpass 10-12 years old and 100,000+ miles. We'll also try to throw in some helpful pointers on a few common issues with each car and engine. Check to see if at least some of the maintenance and repairs are done to the BMW in question.
1) Best BMW's Under 10k - E90/E92 335i
The E90 335i sedan and E92 335i coupe are on the list for good reason. 2007-2010 models are powered by the N54 twin turbo 3.0L inline 6. 2011-2013 models receive the N55 single turbo 3.0L inline 6. We're mostly focused on the earlier N54 models since they can consistently be found in the $5,000 to $10,000 ballpark. Clean models with less than 100k miles and a good maintenance history will run on the higher end. You may also be able to find some 2011 or 2012 N55 models right around $10,000. However, they'll typically be high mileage so you may have to stretch the budget a bit for the newer N55 engine.
Why The E9x 335i Makes The List
First off, the N54 engine is without a doubt the most capable engine on this list. 300 horsepower and 300 torque from the factory are already respectable numbers. However, a tune and basic bolt-on mods can easily push the N54 into the 400-500 horsepower ballpark.
The E90 and E92 are also solid chassis' with the good old fashion hydraulic power steering. Handling might not be up to par with the same generation M3. However, the E9x 335i put down similar numbers to the outgoing E46 M3. Point is - the E90 generation 335i is probably the most capable all-around car on this list.
What To Look For Before Buying An E90 335i
One major concern with the N54 engine is reliability. The engine internals are very strong and it's rare to see any issues with the block, internals, cylinder head, etc. It's a stout engine that can easily eclipse 200,000 miles when well maintained. However, just about everything around the engine can be problematic. You can read about the N54 common problems here. That post also isn't an exhaustive list considering the age of the N54.
We recommend looking for an E9x 335i model with the following maintenance:
- Index 11 or 12 injectors
- Walnut blasting
- Valve cover, oil pan gasket, & oil filter housing
- Water pump & thermostat
These are good maintenance items to see completed. Of course, you also want to look for the basics like oil change history. Otherwise, there are still plenty of other problems that can go wrong with the N54. Rather than spending money on engine mods, we recommend setting aside the first $2,000 for potential preventative maintenance and repairs. For the DIY crowd, the N54 powered E90 & E92 335i is definitely a great bargain. The N54 performance alone earns it a spot on the best used BMW's under $10,000.
2) Best BMW's Under $10k - E46 330i
Take out the E46 M3 and most of the remaining E46 models fall under the $10,000 price point. We're picking the 330i since it's the sportiest model available other than the M3. E46 330i models use the M54 3.0L inline 6 engine with 225 horsepower and 214 torque. It might not sound like a lot for todays standards. However, the E46 is a great overall chassis.
A clean E46 330i with less than 100,000 miles typically comes in around $6,000 to $8,000. 330i ZHP models offer a little more performance, but they typically run just over $10,000. Nonetheless, the E46 330i is among the best used BMW's under $10k.
Why The E46 330i Makes The List
We really like the E46 chassis for several reasons. Compared to modern 3 series BMW's the E46 is relatively small and light weight. It's a fun chassis with plenty of manual transmission options available. 225 horsepower isn't much by 2020 standards. However, it still makes for a fun, sporty experience in the smaller E46 chassis.
You also have the choices between coupes, sedans, and convertibles. We believe the E46 330i offers a little something for everyone. We also think the E46 is still a pretty good looking car.
What To Look For Before Buying An E46 330i
The M54 3.0L engine in the 330i is a pretty solid engine all-around. Given the 15+ year age these engines will definitely need occasional repairs. Look for a clean E46 model with proper maintenance. Also, check for a few of these repairs:
- Water pump & thermostat
- Valve cover
You can read more about E46 330i common problems here. Don't expect Honda or Toyota like cost of ownership. However, the M54 is a good engine. It's definitely an improvement over the above mentioned N54 in the 335i.
3) Best BMW's Under 10k - E83 X3
We're switching it up with a totally different style BMW. For those looking for a solid year round daily driver the 2004-2010 BMW E83 X3 is a solid choice. All gasoline models in the US are powered by a 3.0L inline 6. However, early models receive the M54 engine while later model X3's receive the N52. Prices can run anywhere from $5,000 to just a bit over $10,000 for the newest E83's. There are plenty of options out there and it's not hard to come across models with less than 100,000 miles.
Why The E83 X3 Makes The List
An X3 may not be appealing to those looking for a small, sporty car. However, the E83 X3 is still pretty nimble for its size and has a respectable 268 horsepower in the 2006+ N52 models. All X3 models are AWD and offer plenty of space to suffice as year round daily driven SUV's.
What To Look For Before Buying An E83 X3
Check out later models with the N52 engine if you're looking to have a bit more power. Both the M54 and N52 engines are solid and provide decent reliability. Again, these cars are aging so some repairs will likely pop up from time to time. Check out the below posts to see a few things you should look out for specifically. Anyways, the E83 X3 earns a spot on the best BMW's under $10k list for its overall practicality.
4) Best BMW's Under $10k - E60 550i
This one is a little bit of a wildcard. The E60 550i was available in the US from 2006-2010 with the 4.8L V8 N62 engine. As a 5 series it also has a bit more focus on luxury compared to the previous BMW's on this list. It's also the only V8 on the list and makes a solid 362hp and 360tq. To find a clean E60 550i with less than 100,000 miles you may have to stretch the budget just above $10k. Some examples with about 120,000 miles can be found for $8,000.
Why The E60 550i Makes The List
As we stated, this pick is somewhat a wildcard. The 550i is a large luxury BMW with an equally large 4.8L V8. Those looking for something sporty and nimble will probably find more joy in the smaller E46 or E90 3 series. That's not to say the 550i isn't a solid overall performance car, though. It also has the size and luxury to suffice as a comfortable everyday sedan.
What To Look For Before Buying An E60 550i
The N62 has come a long ways in the past 5-10 years. There are, however, a few concerns over reliability. It's not a horribly unreliable engine, but there are a few repairs that used to be very expensive. Fortunately, repairs became cheaper with the introduction and acceptance of some useful tools. The 550i is a good bargain for someone with solid engine knowledge and/or doesn't mind some involving DIY's. Look for some of the following maintenance on an E60 550i:
- Valve stem seals
- Coolant transfer pipe
- Valve covers
Learn more about some of the N62 550i common problems here. You may even be able to find a good deal if some of these items were never handled. Again, they can be pricey if you don't find the right mechanic and can't DIY the repairs. For the handy crowd, the E60 550i is a unique find that we believe would make for a fun experience.
Again, there are tons of awesome BMW's that can be picked up under $10,000. Take out most of the BMW M cars and you can find almost any 2010 or older BMW right around $10,000. We wanted to avoid going too far back in this post. As cars get older and older they naturally require more up-keep. That said, if our readers want to see more content like this we'll definitely make more of these posts and expand into more models. In the meantime, a few other awesome BMW's under $10k include:
- E30 series
- E36 3 series
- E34 5 series
- E39 5 series
- E70 X5
Again, this still isn't an exhaustive list. We drilled into specific models in this post. However, there are other great E90's outside of the 335i that run under $10k. The same can be said for the E46 and E60. The best BMW's under $10k is certainly subjective. Do some research and figure out what BMW might best meet your personal preferences and needs for a car.
What are your favorite BMW's under $10k?
Drop a comment and let us know! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, too.