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What’s with Kelley Blue Book? – Part 2

June 14th, 2011 4 comments

Exactly a year ago yesterday, I wrote an article detailing how poorly pricing guides value the M Coupe compared to their true market value. Recently, JT, an M Coupe owner from California, used a contact of his at KBB to re-evaluate the true market value of the M Coupe (Bimmerforums thread). I thought I’d re-run all the same cars I used last year, and see what each of the guides now say they are worth.

2002 M Coupe - 7,000 miles

2002 M Coupe - 7,000 miles

2002 M Coupe

7,000 miles
Condition: Excellent
Private Party

Asking Price: $49,500
Kelley Blue Book: $26,010, $16,820 (2010) +55%
NADA: $22,937, $25,025 (2010)
Edmunds TMV:$20,693, $22,141 (2010)

2000 M Coupe, 13,505 miles

2000 M Coupe - 13,505 miles

2000 M Coupe

13,505 Miles
Condition: Excellent
Dealer Retail

Asking Price: $23,800
Kelley Blue Book: $24,220, $16,280 (2010) +49%
NADA: $18,687, $20,400 (2010)
Edmunds TMV: $13,682, $15,186 (2010)

2000 M Coupe - 67,142 miles

2000 M Coupe - 67,142 miles

2000 M Coupe

67,142 Miles
Condition: Good
Private Party

Asking Price: $17,000
Kelley Blue Book: $16,895, $10,880 (2010) +55%
NADA: $17,000, $14,325 (2010)
Edmunds TMV: $9,986, $11,635 (2010)

1999 M Coupe - 56,980 miles

1999 M Coupe - 56,980 miles

1999 M Coupe

56,980 Miles
Condition: Excellent
Private Party

Asking Price: $19,850
Kelley Blue Book: $17,895, $10,710 (2010) +67%
NADA: $16.625, $13,800 (2010)
Edmunds TMV: $9,655, $10,758 (2010)

1999 M Coupe - 118,000 miles

1999 M Coupe - 118,000 miles

1999 M Coupe

118,000 Miles
Condition: Good
Private Party

Asking Price: $15,900
Kelley Blue Book: $11,495, $6,960 (2010) +65%
NADA: $13,550, $10,625 (2010)
Edmunds TMV: $5,567, $8,020 (2010)

First of all, I need to apologize for everything I’ve said about Kelley Blue Book not doing any research. When the errors in their values were brought to their attention, they stepped up and made the change. For S52 M Coupes, I say they now have their prices pretty close to spot-on including mileage and condition. KBB values on the my sampled M Coupes rose between 49% and 67%. Bravo! There is definitely still some work to be done on the S54 side however. As you can see from the steel gray coupe above, it gets a little credit for being a couple years newer, but none whatsoever  for it’s more exclusive S54 engine. Currently, similar condition and mileage S54 coupes carry about a $5,000-7,000 premium over an S52. This is not yet reflected in KBB prices, but baby steps…

As for NADA and Edmunds, I’d have to say I’m pretty disappointed with Edmund’s “True Market Value”. Edmunds has been my personal go-to car resource for quite some time. There were discussions with them about M Coupe values a while back, but it appears nothing has come of them. They’re the new KBB of the pricing guides. NADA continues to do a decent job with higher prices across the board. Part of that is they don’t publish a private party price, so the prices I posted are for “Clean Retail”. One noticeable change is that the low mileage coupes got far less credit for their mileage than they did last year.

Overall I’m encourage by the direction this is going, and hopefully the other guides will follow KBB’s lead on M Coupe prices. Now to explain to them the difference between an S52 and an S54…

Buyer’s Checklist

June 25th, 2010 10 comments

While most of us are searching for the perfect color combination, there are many other things to look for in an M Coupe. To start, look for a complete set of maintenance records, so you can judge the car’s service history and verify its mileage. You should also consider ordering a title report from AutoCheck® or Carfax to verify a clean title and make sure there are no unknown accidents in its history. A Pre-Purchase Inspection by a mechanic knowledgeable of these cars is also a must regardless of the coupe’s apparent condition and mileage. Any inspection should include the usual checks for engine compression, cosmetic flaws, body and chassis corrosion, accident damage, malfunctioning accessories, etc.

There are many things specific to the M Coupe that should be checked as well. The list below encompasses most of the common issues you should be aware of and have checked out when looking to purchase an M Coupe. It was originally compiled by wildag (www.dreamingwell.com) in this Bimmerforums thread. I’ve edited it to be more coupe specific and added a few of my own thoughts.  I plan on editing and adding to it as I come across more information.

Water Pump:
The water pumps on Z3s fail like clock work around 60k. If the car is over 50k, and hasn’t had the water pump replaced, expect to replace it. The usual symptom of a failing pump is a noisy bearing. I highly recommend to upgrading to a water pump with a metal impeller like the one from Stewart. Part costs ~$150 and labor is 2 hours. (Water Pumps on Ebay)

Differential Mount and Trunk Floor Welds (Subframe Failure):
This I’m sure is the issue you are probably most aware of. As far as I can tell, the problem is not as widespread as you may have been led to believe, although it could be a significant problem. The issue is commonly referred to as subframe failure which is kind of a misnomer. The Z3’s differential mount and rear trunk floor welds are prone to tearing. To inspect, remove the carpet in the trunk and look for spot welds along the back floor. These spot welds should be little flat circles. If they are sunk, or cracked, there will soon be a problem. Under the car, look at the C shaped mount to which the differential is bolted. Inspect for tears in the corners of C. Also look at the bottom of the trunk floor for signs of tearing or separation.

Randy Forbes and Dinan both have kits that strengthen the diff mount and trunk floor. These can be used as a preventative measure. A comparison of the two kits is discussed here. If the coupe you are looking at has been reinforced, it’s a really big plus.

A lot more information can be found in this Bimmerforums thread and the Z3Power Website.

Alignment Bushings and Brake Pads:
While driving the car at least 40mph, lightly hold the steering wheel and press the brakes with force. If the car swerves, or does not stop in a smooth straight line, you’ll need to inspect the following: front control arm bushings, tie rod bushings, brake pads and rotors. The control arm and tie rod bushings may be cracked or broken, causing extra “play” in the steering alignment. The brake pads and rotors may be too worn or warped.

Rod Bearing Failure (2001-2002 M Coupes):
The S54 engine in 2001-2002 M Coupes had a very significant design flaw that can be fatal to the engine. The rod bearings on the crank shaft can become misaligned, causing the crankshaft to move out of alignment. Replacing these bearings with an updated version is a permanent, but costly fix. All S54 owners should ensure that this problem has been corrected. BMW covered this problem under warranty on other models, and has been known to cover this issue on a case-by-case basis for the Z3. If purchasing an S54-engined M Coupe, check the maintenance records to see if either the bearings or entire engine have been replaced. Expect to pay $800-$1200 to have it done on your own dime.

Manual Transmission Shifting:
The manual transmission shift lever may lean to the right (5th gear) or may be difficult to put in 1st and 2nd gear. This indicates worn shift pins, most often due to excessively aggressive driving or mileage. Replacement parts cost around $100. It could also mean the 5th gear detent needs to be replaced. The transmission needs to be removed and special tools are required for either of these services. BMW does not publish service instructions for the Z3 transmission, so a seasoned transmission specialist will need to be consulted. These issues may sometimes be resolved with a simple fluid flush and change.

Slight Seat Rocking:
With hard acceleration or braking, both the driver’s and passenger’s seat may rock slightly. This is caused by two very soft rubber bushings that have deteriorated. You can order a fix it kit from Doug Whalen or find one on Ebay. It takes about 3 hours to fix both seats. (Seat Bushings on Ebay)

Dash and Center Console Lights:
The lights behind the gauge cluster and HVAC controls in the center console may burn out. The lights themselves are very cheap, but replacement can take a few hours.

Check that dash and center console lights are illuminated when the head light knob is pulled out. If they do not illuminate, try turning the head light knob in either direction. If the lights dim heavily when they’re supposed to be lit, do not have a consistent slope of illumination or are completely dark, the head light knob circuit needs to be replaced. Parts are about $90 and installation takes an hour.

A/C Control:
Check that turning the “hot/cold” HVAC knob (center) has the desired effect. If the knob turns very easily, or not at all, there’s a problem with the tension cable. If the knob moves too easily, the HVAC control may need to be replaced for about $150. If the knob doesn’t move, especially from hot to cold, the tension cable needs to adjusted; 2 hours of work.

Check that turning the fan speed knob (right) has the desired effect on all 5 settings. If the knob only works on the upper most settings, its likely that a resister in the fan control has broken. Parts cost about $30 and require 2 hours of labor.

Blown Speakers:
Check that the stereo speakers all sound normal. The subwoofer and kick-panel speakers will degrade over time. The subwoofer is very expensive to replace, but there are many aftermarket options. The kick panel speakers can be replaced easily.

Sagging, Squeaky Glovebox:
The glovebox may sag, or not align correctly when closed. This is caused by poor design of the glove box door and latch. This can be fixed for about $20, and 2 hours of work. (Glovebox Fix Kits on Ebay)

Rear Shock Mount Bushings:
The rear shock mount bushings wear quickly in spirited driving. You will hear a solid “clunking” sound inside the cabin from either side of the rear. This indicates that these bushings have worn and need to be replaced. Parts cost ~$30. While Roadster install time is around 2 hours, Coupes require disassembling almost the entire trunk carpet, and therefore takes around 3 hours. I would suggest installing Rouge Engineering Rear Shock Mounts, as they will allow much easier replacement of these bushings in the future.

Parking Brake Cable Tension:
The parking brake cable can stretch over time. This may cause the parking brake to not fully engage, and the cable may rattle against its retainer clips during normal driving. The rattling sound will appear to come from outside the car and over the driver’s left shoulder. The cable can be re-tensioned using simple tools; takes about 30 minutes to learn. In some cases, a retaining clip and spring inside the rear wheel hubs may have failed, causing the rattle. These can be replaced for ~$20 and take about 30 minutes.

Uneven Tire Wear:
Moderately uneven tire wear on all four tires is normal. The factory recommended camber and toe setup will cause this uneven wear. Tires that are heavily worn on only on one side of an axle indicate a suspension geometry problem. This may be due to sagging springs, bent arms or NASCAR circuit driving. These kinds of issues can be quite costly, and should be remedied before purchase.

Thanks again to wildag for initially compiling this list and allowing me to post it here. Please let me know if I’ve missed any other issues that M Coupe shoppers should be aware of in their search.

What’s with Kelley Blue Book?

June 13th, 2010 2 comments

If you’ve been shopping for an M Coupe and need a loan, you were probably very surprised by what the bank told you your dream car was worth. Most banks are now willing to loan 90% of the Kelley Blue Book price for a used car (if you have good credit). The problem is KBB says the car is worth about half of what the market says. Some banks may be willing to look at Edmunds True Market Value or NADA price quotes as well, but they really are not a whole lot better.

These organizations’ price estimates are largely based on a simple depreciation scale  rather than the market and seem to no way factor in rarity, desirability or collectability. KBB does not even seem to factor in the S54 engine in the later cars. For an example, my personal dream coupe gets docked for not having a sunroof and for being Steel Gray. It obviously does not seem to gain anything by being one of two made in its configuration, a final model year car, having the S54 engine, ridiculously low miles, etc. A similar M Roadster is actually estimated higher as convertibles are typically more desirable in the average market, but that’s certainly not the case in the M Z3 market.

“KBB says…” is probably the most annoying phrase ever uddered to an M Coupe seller as well. Potential “buyers” expecting to buy an M Coupe at KBB value will be sorely disappointed. I don’t blame those sellers who don’t even return communication of any interested parties that even mention that phrase. For those reading this, know that this is not a bargaining point. If you are able to find a coupe priced at blue book, buy it and consider yourself lucky as it’s a rare occurrence by uninformed sellers.

Some coupe owners have talked to Edmunds about their low estimates, but no one really has any solid data to back up what is the market value. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to collect sale prices on M Coupes. Perhaps in the future we can have some more realistic numbers from these organizations.

Here are some examples I ran of similarly optioned, relatively stock coupes (I won’t even get into modification values) of various years and mileages currently on the market that I think are priced fairly versus their suggested retail value as given by each of the three organizations:

2002 M Coupe - 7,000 miles

2002 M Coupe - 7,000 miles

2002 M Coupe

7,000 miles
Condition: Excellent
Private Party

Asking Price: $49,500
Kelley Blue Book: $16,820 (I wish!)
NADA: $25,025
Edmunds TMV:$22,141

2000 M Coupe, 13,505 miles

2000 M Coupe - 13,505 miles

2000 M Coupe

13,505 Miles
Condition: Excellent
Dealer Retail

Asking Price: $23,800
Kelley Blue Book: $16,280
NADA: $20,400
Edmunds TMV: $15,186

2000 M Coupe - 67,142 miles

2000 M Coupe - 67,142 miles

2000 M Coupe

67,142 Miles
Condition: Good
Private Party

Asking Price: $17,000
Kelley Blue Book: $10,880
NADA: $14,325
Edmunds TMV: $11,635

1999 M Coupe - 56,980 miles

1999 M Coupe - 56,980 miles

1999 M Coupe

56,980 Miles
Condition: Excellent
Private Party

Asking Price: $19,850
Kelley Blue Book: $10,710
NADA: $13,800
Edmunds TMV: $10,758

1999 M Coupe - 118,000 miles

1999 M Coupe - 118,000 miles

1999 M Coupe

118,000 Miles
Condition: Good
Private Party

Asking Price: $15,900
Kelley Blue Book: $6,960
NADA: $10,625
Edmunds TMV: $8,020

What Can I Do?

First, consider talking to a credit union. Credit unions have a little more flexibility than banks and may be willing to work a little more with you. Next, go somewhere willing to look at NADA rather than KBB. It is by far the most accurate of these three organizations (although not quite there). Some credit unions will also be willing to look at comps to find a fair price. Because coupes are rare, these are pretty hard to come by. I’m hoping this site will be helpful with this in the future if I can continue to collect sale prices. Finally, be patient and save up the difference between what you can get for a loan and the price you’ll have to pay for your dream coupe. Good luck!

See Part 2 for an update on KBB pricing

Where to Look

May 4th, 2010 11 comments

I’ve spent quite a few years compiling a list of sites that would hopefully cover nearly all currently listed M Coupes for sale.  Here it is in the order I see most potential:

Edit: You can now click on the “Sale Listings” link at the top of the page for a complete listing of all coupes from these sources updated daily.

My Favorite

These are the sites I visit most frequently as they tend to have the most turnover and overall listings.

  • AutoTrader
    Most of the people serious about selling their cars will post them on AutoTrader.  Asking prices are generally a little bit on the high side.  All the new listings are marked as such so it’s easy to find the changes.
  • Google Craigslist Search
    If you’re going to find a “steal”, it will probably be on Craigslist. It also has the least informative listings and more potential for scams. Because Craiglook got shut down, I wrote a query for Google to search all Craigslist for me.  The downside is that it sometimes links to expired or removed listings.
  • Ebay Motors
    Obviously the most turnover of cars and pretty good prices, but there are generally only 1-3 coupes listed at any given time.

Forum Classifieds

Classified sections of car forums are one of the best places to look for a coupe for a number of reasons.  Forum members tend to me more knowledgeable about their car and its maintenance requirements, they obviously have a passion for the car so it will probably be better taken care of than most, and other forum members will be familiar with the car to give second and third opinions about it.  They are also sorted by activity date so the most recent listings will be on top.

  • Bimmerforums Main Classifieds
    You have to wade through a lot of 3-series and roadsters, but most of the best cars are listed here.  I’ve tried a few different variations of searches to try and filter the listings but haven’t found anything that consistently gives me the results I want.
  • Bimmerforums Z Classifieds
    This section is meant primarily for parts, but some people post their cars here as well.  Often times they are moved to the main classifieds, but to get the right coupe you have to find them before anyone else does.
  • Bimmerfest
    Unfortunately Bimmerfest does not categorize their classifieds at all so you need to wade through all the BMW listings.
  • Roadfly
    Roadfly usually has a pretty nice selection but seems to be priced higher than other sites.  They also seem to charge for images so very few of the listings include photos.
  • BMW CCA
    M Coupe listings are usually sparse and prices generally much higher, but there have been exceptions over the years.  Often times listings are not listed elsewhere though.

Other Classified Sites

These sites’ listings are generally covered by one of the above sites, but not always.

  • Cars.com
    Not a whole lot or turnover of cars and most are listed elsewhere.  There are unique listings sometimes though and new ones are marked as “Newly Listed”.
  • Carmax.com
    They rarely have a coupe, but have had a couple in the past for great prices.
  • Vehix.com
    Basically worthless…but you never know.
  • AOL Autos
    Most the times the listings are duplicates of above sites, but not always.
  • Trovit Cars
    This site collects listings from a bunch of other sites.  It’s not always accurate though and there are quite a few duplicates. It does include Automobile Magazine classifieds which do not pop up often but for some reason always seem to have great prices.
  • Oodle
    Similar to Trovit but sometimes has different cars.  Sorry, but it looks like you have to search from Fort Collins, CO.  I couldn’t figure out how to generalize my location.
  • Ebay Classifieds / Kijiji.com
    No coupes yet, but I’m sure there will be with this local classifieds backed by Ebay

Canadian Sites

I’ve heard of quite a few coupes going back and forth across the border, so it must be doable. If you’re willing to expand your search further, or if you’re from Canada, here you go.

So there it is, all my secrets and a few years worth of accumulation.  If you have any sites to add to the list or need help customizing a search more specifically to you, please post in the comments.  If you happen to find a steel gray/imola M Coupe on one of the links above before I see it, be an upstanding citizen, don’t steal it, and let me know immediately. 🙂

Do I Want a Sunroof?

April 30th, 2010 3 comments

The BMW M Coupe may be one of the few cars where you may not want a sunroof.  Sunroofs came standard on the M Coupe with the option being a “sunroof-delete”.  Very few dealers ordering for their lots wanted to de-content their cars, so very few have this rare “option”.  It’s been reported that only 16% of coupes are sunroof-deletes (452 of 2858 to be exact).

BMW M Coupe Sunroof-Delete

Glenn's Sunroof-Delete Coupe at Red Rocks

Why Wouldn’t I?

First of all rarity.  M Coupes are rare cars to begin with, but if you’re one of the few and proud to own a sunroof-delete, you truly have something special.

Second, the M Coupe was designed to be raced.  Having a heavy glass panel on your roof raises the car’s center of gravity and takes away some structural rigidity.  So if you plan to track or autocross your coupe or if you want your coupe to be more in tune with the intentions of it’s original design, go sunroof-delete.

Third, the sunroof of the M Coupe only tilts, it does not open.  It seems almost an afterthought by the designer (see #2 above).

Fourth, the roof of a sunroof-delete coupe looks more clean.

Why Would I?

First, you dont’ like paying more for less.  There seems to be a price premium on sunroof-delete coupes, and if not in price, they seem to sell faster.  Many people don’t like paying more to not have something they typically have to pay more to have.

Second, you like the open-air feeling in the interior.

Third, you like fitting in.

Last, there is actually a little more headroom, especially when the sunroof is tilted.  This could be critical for taller people who need to fit a helmet at the track. (thanks Chuck)

Personally, I think I’m neutral on the issue.  I don’t think it’s a make it or break it issue in my own car purchase.  I typically love having sunroofs in my cars.  The reasons above are what evens things out.  There’s something about having a car in a configuration you know there are less than 5 of.